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-   -   Rough Skin (http://forums.upnetwork.net/showthread.php?t=6525)

DaveTheFishGuy 02-08-2015 12:30 PM

Rough Skin
Along the coast of one of the Sapphire Islands, a cove cuts into the usually-constant line of white coral sand. One side is fringed with mangrove swamp, ensuring that the whole bay is a perfect sanctuary for seagoing Pokémon that desire respite from the harshness of the open ocean, providing shelter along with a nursery for younger creatures. On the other side, the land is more stable, and moored in this natural port is a relatively small submarine. Deep blue in colour, above the waterline she sports an upper deck with two reinforced windows, while at her bow is a yellow starburst pattern, reminiscent of those found on Sharpedo. Indeed, the vessel is partly named for the species, harsh black script being found on both port and starboard sides below the front of the small tower that comprises the upper deck... 'Rough Skin'.

Though the sub is certainly as well-armed as the Pokémon she resembles, this is no warship - it's a home! Dave, resident fisherman of Fizzytopia, has commissioned the sub to serve as his Secret Base, along with an alternative method of transportation throughout the sea to spare his Pokémon. A retractable gangway leads to the 'ground' level, a circular doorway opening to reveal a rather basic, but decently-furnished living room. A sofa and cushion provide seating for when Dave entertains visitors around a large table. A PC sits on a desk to provide any computer-related needs, a large antennae hard-wired to the hull of the sub enabling it to receive wireless signal from anywhere, no matter how deep she dives. A Surf mat sits underneath a Wingull poster, while to the right side a Scythe hangs on the wall, which Death the Duskull often lingers near for perhaps a little too long. In opposing corners of the living room are a pair of ladders, one leading upward and one below decks. Scaling the first will lead you to...

...the Wheelhouse! The only place on the sub aside from the doorway that sees light, two reinforced windows stand on both port and starboard sides of the upper deck, expertly engineered to withstand the greatest pressures that the Rough Skin herself can take. This provides a viewing gallery not only for above the water, but also below, allowing all the sights of Diving with a Pokémon but with none of the wetness. The only thing of note in the whole floor is the scale model of the Rough Skin in the centre, which acts as both a monitor for the interior of the vessel with hidden sensors, along with a unique control system - pushing down on the model causes the sub to dive, and so on. An unconventional helm for an unconventional ship. Shimmying back down the ladder, crossing the living room and sliding down the other ladder will take you to the bowls of the ship...

...the Hold! The immediate room may give you the impression that the sub is sinking, but far from it! The entire stern end of the ship has been flooded under intense scrutiny and control via underwater doors in the underside of the vessel, which can be closed at will. This allows Dave's Water-types the luxury of coming and going as they please from the homeliness of the Base to the expanse of the sea. The entire system can be flushed in dire circumstances, but this is unlikely to come up. Opposing the water lies a door, leading to Dave's private quarters. A kitchenette allows him to store and prepare food for himself, and special filters enable even seawater to be converted into drinking water, allowing the Rough Skin to stay at sea for weeks at a time until she needs to refuel... as long as Dave can hook enough food to keep himself going, of course. A bookcase and television provide entertainment during quiet nights at sea, while a small bed bearing a Totodile doll sits in the corner, for the rare chances that one of his more friendly Pokémon don't want to curl up to him.

Base not open for RPing yet!

DaveTheFishGuy 02-08-2015 12:33 PM

No extremely soggy mail yet.

DaveTheFishGuy 02-08-2015 12:37 PM

Base Decorations
1x Grey Glass Table
1x Blue Checkered Table
1x Blue Sofa
2x Pokémon Chair
1x Surf Mat
1x Hydro Pump Mat
1x Sea Poster
1x Sky Poster
1x Totodile Doll
1x Water Cushion
1x PC + Table
1x Scythe
1x Submarine Model
1x Fridge-Freezer
1x Sink
1x TV + Stand
1x Blue Bed
1x Blue Tall Bookcase
1x Anchor

DaveTheFishGuy 02-08-2015 03:35 PM

Because everyone needs a way to keep track of those annoying birthdays...

7th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn456.gif Sally's Birthday
10th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn367.gif & http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn366.gif Moist & Adora's Birthday
17th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn224.gif Suzi's Birthday
29th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn198.gif Susan's Birthday

2nd: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn118.gif & http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn118.gif Magrat & Verence's Birthday

1st: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn069.gif Agnes' Birthday
9th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn046.gif Cuddy's Birthday
16th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn020.gif Darktan's Birthday
17th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn704.gif Liessa's Birthday
19th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/sp309.gif Elsa's Birthday
22nd: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn387.gif A'Tuin's Birthday
24th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn294.gif Shawn's Birthday
27th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn170.gif Henry's Birthday

13th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn453.gif Jason's Birthday
30th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/sp048.gif Nijel's Birthday

12th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn321.gif Tethys' Birthday
18th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn701.gif Wake's Birthday
20th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn188.gif Gytha's Birthday

3rd: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn509.gif Maurice's Birthday
9th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn322.gif YB's Birthday
22nd: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn278.gif Glenda's Birthday

4th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn324.gif Fred's Birthday
16th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn193.gif Teppic's Birthday
31st: http://i.imgur.com/cIy8QhN.gif Cohen & Dave's Birthday!

16th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn552.gif Rhys' Birthday
19th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn023.gif Bolas' Birthday
22nd: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn057.gif Horace's Birthday
23rd: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn618.gif Igor's Birthday
29th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn228.gif Angua's Birthday

4th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn458.gif Sybil's Birthday
8th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn562.gif Dios' Birthday
12th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn194.gif Twoflower's Birthday
30th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn330.gif Rincewind's Birthday

2nd: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn544.gif Conina's Birthday
9th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn318.gif Sam's Birthday
19th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn431.gif Greebo's Birthday
21st: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn353.gif Ysabell's Birthday
23rd: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/custom/death1.gif Death's Birthday

7th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn369.gif Axelia's Birthday
11th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn211.gif Carcer's Birthday
16th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn109.gif Nobby's Birthday
30th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn418.gif Gavin's Birthday

3rd: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn422e.gif Tide's Birthday
6th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn159.gif Kara's Birthday
8th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn404.gif Carrot's Birthday
9th: http://i.imgur.com/ftbLGLT.gif Detritus' Birthday
10th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn603.gif Mustrum's Birthday
17th: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn117.gif Trevor's Birthday
21st: http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn338.gif Mahad's Birthday

DaveTheFishGuy 02-08-2015 03:37 PM

Adventure Journal
To be collated later.

DaveTheFishGuy 02-08-2015 03:37 PM

Team Insights
To be collated later.

DaveTheFishGuy 02-08-2015 03:38 PM

Generic Placeholder post
Because who knows what else I'll need!

DaveTheFishGuy 05-12-2015 06:48 PM

These are the Voyages...
It had been a few months now, time enough. It was the same whenever he got anything new - he didn't want to use it in case it got ruined, was no longer pristine. 'But it's a submarine. It's starting to rust just by being in the water' he told himself. Water was the ultimate solvent - no matter the material, water would dissolve it eventually. Water always won.

Nodding to himself, he strode up the gangplank, boarding the Rough Skin for far from the first time. He'd been living in the vessel since the day that he acquired her, but this time was different. "Everyone aboard who wants to be?" he asked, receiving a chorus of cries from around the living area. Plenty had opted to stay ashore, usually those who liked open spaces and solid ground beneath their feet, but just as many were here for the ride, along with yet more in the water alongside. Waving a temporary goodbye to the Pokémon still ashore, Dave flicked a couple of switches inside the door, one of them causing the metal door to slam shut, while the other retracted the gangplank into the hull.

Inside, he shimmied up a ladder, taking him from the living quarters to the Wheelhouse, a relatively Spartan room. Two huge, reinforced windows took up both port and starboard sides, giving a great view of the lagoon on one side and the land on the other, while in the centre stood a scale model of the ship herself. Despite looking like a statue, this was actually a highly-sophisticated control interface. As the fisherman walked up to it, he gently stroked two panels by the door on the port side of the ship, just where he'd been on the real deal. Twin clunks sounded from outside as the mooring lines were reeled in, and there was a gentle jolt as the submarine began to drift out from the shore of the bay.

Looking around, he saw most of his most trusted friends looking out of the windows. A Houndour and Luxio sat together, tails wagging and swishing respectively as they looked over the water, while a Skiploom twirled through the air as she smiled at her friends chilling out on the land. Meanwhile, in the corner, a Croagunk sat stoically, not interested by what was happening outside. Dave smirked, he could always count on Jason to know what was really important, and what was just showing off. Reaching down, he tapped the rear of the control model, a juddering sensation suddenly gripping the vessel as the engines fired up, propellers at the stern starting to turn. "Right then, here we go..." he muttered, mostly to himself as he lightly pushed the model forward. The vessel lurched slightly, before transitioning into a smooth glide as it began to move forward, heading for the mouth of the lagoon. The Pokémon around him cheered as they noticed the outsides moving, and he afforded himself a grin. Next stop: The Open Ocean.


After about half an hour, things were going pretty good. They'd steamed out of the entrance to the lagoon into the vast sea that surrounded the Sapphire Islands. Changing course, he brought the Rough Skin along the coast at a decent distance out, before deciding to test out the ship's other abilities. "Alright, let's take her down." he said, pressing the model downwards. Immediately an odd gurgling sensation echoed around the hull as the ship took on water. Smoothly, while still heading forward, it began to slip below the surface. This was the real test. He'd wanted a ship capable of showing him the wonders beneath the sea, and while so many of his Pokémon could use Dive, there was nothing like observing it from a comfortable platform like this. Within seconds, the water was up to the huge windows either side of the top deck, which continued to slide beneath the surface, which rolled up the sides until the last of the sub dipped beneath.

The fisherman sighed. Being underwater always felt good, but this was a new experience. As the sub continued to descend, he levelled her out so that she glided a ways off the seabed, and set the autopilot. Walking to the starboard window, he joined Gytha in staring out as the underwater scenery rolled past. The Skiploom perched on his shoulder as the beautiful sight of a coral reef swept into view, Water-type Pokémon of all kinds flitting about - a shoal of Luvdisc skimmed along the rocky outcrops where Corsola sat, filter-feeding. He smiled, watching the scenery flit by. Coral heads were broken up by sandy flats, but habitats were mostly the same. Aside from making the odd course-correction, he could have stood watching the natural wonders for hours.

In fact, it began to feel like hours. He only realised just how mesmerised he was when he heard a hiss behind him. Certain facts began to make themselves painfully obvious in his mind. Firstly, he had nothing that regularly hissed on deck - Rhys was back on land and Bolas was down in the living quarters. The only Pokémon up here who hissed was Carrot, and the Luxio only hissed when he felt threatened. And Carrot never felt threatened. An icy chill crawling down his spine, he slowly turned to face port.

The first thing he noticed was Carrot facing the window, his adolescent mane sticking on end, along with his tail. Angua cowered behind him, the Houndour not exactly one to scare easy herself. The reason soon became clear. Beyond the window, the side facing the offshore depths, a huge, angry Gyarados regarded the submarine, easily keeping pace. "Shit." he muttered. Gyarados weren't used to such large incursions into their territories, especially from things so... unfamiliar. The Rough Skin's Sharpedo-like colouration couldn't be helping either. Ordinarily this shouldn't be a problem, Carrot could probably take the leviathan out of commission with a well-placed Thunder attack, but they were in here, and it was out there, no way to attack it.

But this wasn't a problem for the Gyarados. An orange orb began to grow within its gaping maw, and within seconds a ferocious Hyper Beam tore through the water. The aim was off as it streaked toward the sub, but that made it no less terrifying as it glanced the front of the ship, a warning shot across the bows. The ship rocked violently, warning sirens blaring and red lights flashing, almost throwing Dave to the floor as he staggered back to the controls, bringing the vessel to an all-stop. But what now? He had no idea how long they'd been travelling through its territory, turning back could be as risky as continuing. He could surface, but then they'd be vulnerable to attack from below, with no way to see it coming. The serpent seemed surprised that its target had stopped, but quickly figured that this just made it easier to hit. Another Hyper Beam began to grow within the Water-type's mouth. Why hadn't he installed defence shields on this boat again?

As he closed his eyes and braced for the inevitable, another noise echoed around the vessel, a deep, booming, yet oddly-haunting call. Soundwaves slammed into the Gyarados, throwing off its aim and causing its next attack to go wide, missing the sub by miles. Dave blinked, that had looked like a Hyper Voice attack. Both the Gyarados and the sub's occupants looked around wildly for the interloper, but they didn't have to wait long. A rotund creature swam into view, fins flapping like wings as it wobbled through the water. A softer call echoed from its wide mouth as it placed itself between the Rough Skin and the Gyarados. Dave couldn't believe it. "Tethys?"

The Wailmer turned, smiling at his trainer for a moment before turning back the recovered sea serpent. Recovered, but still incensed. The Gyarados' eyes narrowed at the Ball Whale, causing Dave to gulp. Despite Tethys being one of the largest Pokémon on his team, he was still dwarfed by the pseudo-dragon. But the fact that he'd gotten involved showed something was different... he knew the Wailmer had been getting stronger, but this was showing something else entirely. The Gyarados went on the offensive again, this time swirling its tail around to generate a vortex, casting a Twister through the water toward all targets of its aggression. Dave and everyone else aboard braced for impact, but Tethys had other plans, swimming rapidly in a circle to generate a cyclone of his own, releasing a Whirlpool in response. The two vortices clashed, wind and water fighting against each other before cancelling out.

The fisherman breathed a sigh of relief. This was incredible... Tethys just stopped a powerful attack from a likely high-level Pokémon, a Gyarados no less! The serpent roared in frustration as its plans were scuppered, its body undulating as it swam forward. The end of its great length glowed light blue as it approached, before swinging it forward, the Aqua Tail aiming to swat away the smaller Pokémon and likely dent the sub too! But the plucky Wailmer was nowhere near done just yet, charging forward too, head lowered before ramming into the oncoming tail with all his Strength. Level imbalance met type effectiveness, and both bounced away, somewhat literally in Tethys' case, their attacks again cancelling out. The leviathan hissed, now getting extremely riled up, swimming forward with jaws agape, intent on getting rid of the pesky Wailmer by just swallowing him whole! But not even this seemed to bother Tethys, who simply hung in the water in his normal good-natured way... and began to glow.

"...well that explain a lot." Dave muttered, watching as the Gyarados slid to a halt in the water, watching the relatively tiny ball of light start to grow... and grow... and grow. The centre of Tethys' being was bloated and stretched to many times its original size, pumping up almost like a balloon. Soon it was equal in size to the Gyarados, but quickly outstripped it, inflating like a Zeppelin, soon about as large as the Rough Skin herself. At this point, the glow faded, revealing a creature fairly similar - a rotund body, the blue lighter, the cream changed to white. Two more pairs of fins had sprouted from his body along his increased length, which was now ended in a wide, powerful tail fluke, designed to heft one of the largest bodies on the planet through the water. The http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn321.gif opened his gaping maw, releasing a song even louder, deeper and more hauntingly beautiful than ever before, sure to echo off the ocean basin for thousands of miles.

The Gyarados was still displeased, but from a vastly different angle. Now it was the small-fry, facing down an opponent over double its not-inconsiderable length. Adrenaline surging from the Evolution process, Tethys wasted no time in releasing another soundwave, a second Hyper Voice slamming into the Gyarados to send it reeling like a concentrated sonar blast. Hissing in pain, the prideful serpent charged forward, fangs bared in a bid to Crunch the blubbery hide of its huge foe, but Wailord are masters of controlling their depth. Tethys sank with almost no effort, the Gyarados charging over him with its teeth clashing together on nothing but water.

But that wasn't even the worst of it. Its momentum had left it hanging straight over a unique part of Wailord anatomy. Dave couldn't help but grin, giving a small wave to the Gyarados as he noticed what the cetacean had planned. The mammal's blowhole noticeably increased in size below the serpent, before an enormous torrent of water erupted upward, catching the Atrocious Pokémon completely unawares with Tethys' most powerful attack! The Water Spout pushed the Gyarados upward, hitting the surface and beyond. Quickly, Dave dashed to the front of the wheelhouse, pulling down a viewport and raising the sub's periscope, spinning it around. Sure enough, the Gyarados was sent flying into the distance, landing with a splash several hundred yards away. He grinned to himself. Worth it.

Walking back to the side, he saw the huge creature turn, floating over to the other side of the window. He placed one hand on the glass, smiling. "Excellent work, Tethys. It only seems like yesterday that I hatched you, and from my first ever egg no less! You've come a long way, and grown so much... especially today." The vibrations of his voice carried through the glass and into the water, somehow, causing the Wailord to beam with pride. "Guess I won't need this bucket of bolts so much if I've got you to ride the waves on, huh? C'mon, let's head back to base. I think this has been enough of a maiden voyage."

As he stepped back to the controls, Gytha on his shoulder and Carrot and Angua rubbing against his shins, he smiled. He was getting there, slowly but surely. He was helping his friends, and they were helping him. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jason open a yellow eye and give an approving nod. As he turned the Rough Skin about, the haunting noise of Wailord-song echoed around the entire hull, and into the ocean beyond. He'd heard a saying once, back in Pastoria: Little ripples had a habit of turning into big waves...

DaveTheFishGuy 10-02-2015 02:34 PM

School of Hard Crocs
There was a slight nip in the air - a definite sign that Autumn was on the way. But for now, the sun was high and shining bright, holding strong in the Sapphire Islands. A cool sea breeze wafted inland, keeping the weather nice and balmy, if not as tropical as it had been during the height of summer. Dave was still wearing khaki shorts, enjoying the warm, having spent much of his summer underwater doing research. Research that had paid dividends if the most recent member of his growing team was any indication - he was the owner of the first ever Placarmour specimen to be captured, which he was taking as a big milestone on his path as a Trainer - especially one dedicated to marine life.

But for today, he was on land, in the wide open field surrounded by forest, the sea, and the bay in which the Rough Skin was moored, her gangplank extended to the ground. His various Pokémon milled around, free to roam as ever in the surrounding woods and sea as they pleased. Most stuck nearby, but he accepted that some had to get about, stretch their legs, or wings... or fins. But right now, he was busy training. A few Pokémon were gathered around him - a purple frog with an intense yellow stare, a green bundle of cotton hanging in the air, a black canine curling up next to a blue-black feline, and a few others besides. All of them were gazing with varying levels of interest in the same direction, where two Pokémon faced each other down across the grassy field.

The two were friends, and that friendship allowed them the trust of a sparring match. While the fisherman was issuing commands to the tan-coloured insect that hung in the air, a bipedal crocodile a few metres away was reacting purely on instinct. "Alright Rincewind, let's see those new moves. Try a Bug Buzz!" he commanded. The Vibrava's wings lived up to the name of his species, vibrating in the air with a grating tone, which soon took on the sound of a hundred angry Beedrill, a red soundwave washing out from the adolescent antlion toward his opponent. This was move practice for the fledgeling Dragon-type, and his friend was providing a decent punching-bag - albeit one good at dodging. Rhys plunged into the ground, claws scrabbling at the loose earth as he made to dig to safety, but before his tunnel could close the noise followed, insectoid energy lashing the Krokorok's tail for an effective blow. The archosaur popped up a few metres away, unable to hit his levitating opponent with the technique.

"Alright, nice work! Now how about a Heat Wave?" Dave suggested. Once again, Rincewind's wings flicked out of their default hovering mode, and a wall of superheated air washed forward from the insect, tongues of flame dancing within the orange, shimmering wave. Rhys again sank into the soft soil, the hot air lashing at his dry skin as he did so, still getting clipped - despite how much time he spent burrowing, he hadn't fully mastered the Dig technique just yet, and that was costing him. As he resurfaced a few feet away, the Krokorok was clearly tiring. But he nodded, ready to continue helping his friend test his strength.

Rubbing his chin, the fisherman pondered. Could it be time for Rincewind to master... that move? Shrugging, he figured there was no time like the present. "Good work buddy, now it's time for the big guns - Draco Meteor!" he ordered. The Vibrava's shielded eyes narrowed, targeting his rival and friend as his very body began to shimmer, a huge buildup of mystical energy taking place within. Arching his body into a curved shape, the Ground-type formed a huge orb between his head, tail, and outstretched legs, slowly building greater and greater power in the ultimate display of Dragon-type strength, aside from those techniques known by the Gods themselves.

...but something was wrong. Despite all his focus, Rincewind's technique was still lacking, and suddenly the orb destabilised, collapsing in on itself. Panicking, the Vibrava released it, but instead of an almighty meteor shower, one small, solitary orb of power spat its way toward Rhys. Though it hit the crocodile, it barely did anything, the Dark-type reaching up to rub his shoulder where it had hit. Rincewind sank to the ground, panting visibly as his wingbeats flagged, a huge amount of energy spent for almost no real effect. Stepping forward, Dave knelt down by his friend's side, reaching down to pat his head, only for the adolescent insect to turn away, a look of clear frustration in his eyes. Ever since he'd met the once-cowardly creature, he'd known of Rincewind's yearning for the skies, for power, for his draconic inheritance. He'd even stashed away the first three Heart Scales his trainer had happened across, knowing that they were essential to his knowledge of the technique he'd just failed to performed, and a few weeks ago he'd unearthed them from his hiding place, presenting them to Dave before a trip to the Move Tutor. But so far, that had all been for naught.

"Hey, buddy. That was a lot closer than before, you're getting there, honest." Dave muttered in an attempt at consolation. Glancing up, he caught Rhys' eye and jerked his head to the side with a smile, dismissing the other Ground-type to go rest up. "I promised you that I'd help you become the strongest Dragon you could be. We got you there, admittedly with some help." At this, a pink blob of goo oozed out of the human's jacket pocket, squirming up to his shoulder to perch and survey the scene. Regarded as the weakest Dragon-type around, Liessa felt as much of a drive to improve as Rincewind did, their encounter with the Goomy in the Friend Safari triggering his evolution into his current stage, and helping to sell to the Soft Tissue Pokémon that Dave was a capable trainer who could help her transform as well.

Sitting down next to the sulking Vibrava, the fisherman reached up to pet the Goomy's soft, slippery skin. "...I think the problem is that... you don't have any real Dragon-type tutor of your own. If Rojo was..." the human's voice cracked slightly, "...still here... I know he could help. If he'd felt the inclination, of course." he added, swallowing hard as he fought back tears. The Druddigon could have been a perfect mentor to the struggling insect. As a Trapinch he'd been essential in restraining the gargoyle when he'd initially tried to escape Dave's new ownership, and had been given a slight nod of respect for that feat. It could be that the prodigious Pokémon could see the larva's inner power shining through, but there was no way to know. Not only had he traded the Cave Pokémon back to Levin, at the other trainer's request, but the unthinkable had happened - Rojo had died, apparently at the fangs of Levin's own rampaging Gyarados. His heart had almost broken when he'd heard the news, as had those of the few team members who had looked up to the Druddigon.

Feeling a nudge against his hand, he looked down at Rincewind, who seemed slightly misty-eyed himself, even behind the protective screens that covered his vision. He rubbed the insect's head, forcing a smile onto his lips. "I guess we'll just have to make him proud anyway, from wherever he can see us." he murmured. A prayer to Giratina and maybe a request to Death might be able to help with that. But this wasn't the time for mourning, this was the time for pushing forward. "I think I might have an idea... we don't have a Dragon, but we do have someone who was damn-near raised as one, among them, under the tutelage of one of the greatest Dragon-type masters this region's ever seen." Standing, he walked over to the edge of the ridge upon which the Rough Skin was moored, looking along the edge of the bay. A quarter of the way around was an estuary, fringed with a thick mangrove swamp where he knew a few of his teammates liked to hide. Igor, Twoflower and Tide were among them, but there was another who he needed right now.

Raising his cupped hands to his mouth, he let out a strange hissing noise that echoed across the water, before doing so again. After a few seconds, he saw a wake forming in the water, leading straight toward him. He smiled, stepping back from the ridge as it grew closer, before whatever was causing it left the water, almost flying through the air, wreathed with a coating of water. As it dropped to the ground, the cloak dispersed, revealing a form similar to Rhys, only blue and shorter. Another crocodilian, but one more suited to the environment traditionally associated with them - a Totodile. He nodded respectfully, and received the same motion in response. She hadn't been his very long, and he was trying every day to properly earn her blessing as a trainer. Slowly but surely, he was getting there - but he noticed Rhys was keeping a close eye on the situation from the sidelines. Kara's arrival on the team had triggered his own evolution in a bid to display his position as Top Croc.

Kneeling down, he looked the Water-type in the eye, though in a peaceable manner. "Thank you for coming, Kara. We could use your help - well, Rincewind could, mostly." he began. "He wants to learn how to be a better Dragon, but we don't really have one around to be a teacher. But you spent a lot of time around them, I figure you might understand them more than anyone here. Could... could you help him? Show him what he has to overcome, the strength he has to unlock... how to be." he asked. The Big Jaw Pokémon looked stoically back at him for a moment, before nodding, stepping forward. Grabbing a Potion from his bag, the human walked over to Rincewind, spraying him down and restoring his spent energy. "I'll give you orders as best I can, but this isn't going to be just throwing attacks like it was with Rhys. This is going to test you, my friend." he muttered, and the insect nodded. Standing straight, Dave backed off, nodding to the other Pokémon. "Kara, please. Do all you think necessary to test him." he stated, receiving a nod in reply.

And then suddenly, she was off. Rincewind barely had time to rise into the air before the Totodile barrelled into him, wreathed in water as the Aqua Jet carried her forth, smacking straight into the Vibrava's belly. A screech of pain burst forth from the antlion's mouth, forced back from the speedy impact. Dave himself blinked, having not expected her to begin so... quickly. "Supersonic." he uttered, and the screech of pain morphed into a warbling soundwave as Rincewind righted himself, the noise piercing into Kara's brain and causing her eyes to glaze over as confusion took hold, leaving her momentarily out of commission as her 'pupil' recovered - but the lesson lingered - Dragons can be faster than they seem.

"Earthquake, quick!" the fisherman urged, and Rincewind dove, landing heavily before smashing his glowing tail into the ground. The soil rocked, shockwaves spreading outward to shake Kara up, dealing some nasty damage while causing the various onlookers to wobble a bit, trying to recover their footings. The Totodile nearly fell herself from the attack, but managed to catch herself, seemingly shaking off the confusion as she went into a graceful twirl, moving in a mystical manner, the focus in her eyes recovering as her claws seemed to sharpen... as the ballet came to an end, the Totodile was looking more dangerous than ever despite the damage she'd suffered - all thanks to the Dragon Dance she'd learned amongst her previous teammates - Dragons should always seek to increase their power.

This really was going to be tough - Dave barely knew any of Kara's real strength, lacking the nerve to try training her properly so far. He thought back to the first attack Rincewind had learned to show that despite appearances, he was a Dragon now... "Show her your own draconic power - Dragon Breath!" he commanded, and the Vibrava puffed his thorax up, green fire building within his maw, but Kara's increased speed caught them both off-guard. Dashing in, the Totodile scrabbled across the ground before launching herself upward, jaws agape, fangs coated in evil energy just as Rincewind released his own attack. The green flames licked along the Water-type's back for a moment, before she closed in, strong jaws Crunching down on the Vibrava's tail. The stream of mystical fire was interrupted by another screech of pain, Rincewind writhing desperately in mid-air in a bid to loosen his aggressor. Surprisingly for anyone who knows anything about Totodile, after a few seconds he was able to shake Kara off, sending the Totodile down to land heavily and gracelessly into the soil with a thud. But she'd proven her point - Dragons can be brutal.

As the hissing insect wheeled around, Dave realised why it had been so easy to break her hold - the archosaur struggled to get to her feet, muscles locking up as a grimace played at her toothy features. The Dragon's breath had left her paralysed! He noted a smirk on Rincewind's features, and raised a hand to his brow. Not the time to get cocky... especially since Kara could see it too. The human and the Totodile shared thoughts for a moment - this proved nothing. Defeating the Big Jaw thanks to a stroke of luck would help Rincewind in no way at all. He wouldn't grow, he wouldn't learn properly, he wouldn't master Draco Meteor... he wouldn't become a proper Dragon. He knew it as well as Kara, and he knew the Totodile would put her all into this. And that was why she started glowing.

It began slowly, as if this process had been denied for a while. He knew that she was well above the level most Totodile would evolve at, and he suspected either she or Duke had their reasons for not allowing her evolution just yet. But this was as good a reason as ever. The small form roughly kept its shape, but grew outward in every way, soon doubling in height as well as filling out, now looking pretty chunky, though of course it was incredibly likely to be muscle rather than fat. Some of the ridges that had grown down its spine moved up to sit atop its cranium like a crest, and of course that jaw filled out too, becoming wide and heavy-set to increase its strength. As the glow faded, a cream and blue pattern was visible on its belly, almost caveman-like. The creature was still short and squat, but vastly more powerful than before. The http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn159.gif grinned toothily, and there was no sign of paralysis in her body anymore, while the smirk was completely wiped from Rincewind's face. This was... unexpected - but Dragons should never be expected.

The adrenaline boost from evolution, along with the pump-up from her own technique, combined in a big way. The new Croconaw surrounded herself in water once more, forming a curtain that reached upward. Clawing quickly, the reptile swam up the Waterfall, launching herself up to slam into her sparring partner like a freight train. Still stunned by what he'd just witness, Rincewind was in no state to dodge, finding himself soaring backward as the newly-evolved creature landed gracefully on the grass. Dave blinked, actually picking up on her lesson this time. "Rock Slide." he ordered, and the Vibration Pokémon transitioned into another dive, slapping the ground with his tail and summoning up several slabs of stone that hung in the air before him, before a flick of his wings sent them sailing toward his 'tutor'. Kara spun and pirouetted, dodging a couple of the rocks as they crashed around her, but she was still unused to her larger, bulkier frame, and more than a few boulders smacked into her body for a fair amount of damage. Dave grinned. He was learning too - Dragons can master all kinds of terrain, from sea to mountains, from forests to deserts.

Hissing in pain, Kara rounded on her pupil, having weathered far more damage in this exchange than she was expecting - even if she wasn't planning on evolving today. Taking all that pain and frustration, she charged down the Vibrava as he tried to pick himself back up into the air, closing in with her improved speed and lunging. Limbs Flailed wildly, raining down blow after blow with clawed arms, stout feet, thick tail and heavy skull, each impact doing more and more damage to Rincewind before the Vibrava could squirm away, taking to the air and out of reach. "Let's see if this does it. Solar Beam." Dave uttered, the antlion's wings starting to glow brightly as they absorbed sunlight. It wasn't a perfectly sunny day, but a few moments out of reach should give the technique time to gather full power. Still, Kara's lesson this round wasn't lost - Dragons never backed down, even in a corner.

Seeing that her pupil was clearly charging something big, Kara's jaws curled into a grimace. Water surrounded her body again as she loosed an Aqua Jet upward, but she didn't target Rincewind - she shot straight up, like a rocket. Once she was several metres above the hovering insect, she released the technique and spun in the air, jaws pointed down as they opened wide. A stream of condensation began to stream out behind her as she fell, her teeth coating themselves with frigid power, eyes narrowed on her target. Focused on his own technique, Rincewind couldn't move fast enough to get out of the way, and the Ice Fang closed on his midsection. A scream echoed around the area before both Pokémon slammed into the ground, Kara holding firm onto her prey as she pinned him with her heavier body. For a moment, Rincewind was limp in the Water-type's grasp... but slowly he started to wriggle, the glow from his wings growing brighter and brighter, before cutting off. For a moment, Dave worried that his partner had fainted under the relentless assault... before a huge beam of golden-green energy smashed upward, straight into Kara's belly. The Croconaw let go as her jaw went slack in surprise, the force sending her sailing through the air to land heavily a few metres away, skidding to a halt as the attack subsided. The fisherman grinned. Obviously Rincewind was learning too - Dragons never gave up.

Wearily, both combatants struggled to their feet, Kara slowly pushing herself onto her hind legs, huge jaw hanging open as she panted for breath, while Rincwind pushed his body up, wings flicking as he attempted to climb into the air again. But for now it was useless, leaving him weak and impotent on the ground. Kara smirked, striding toward her felled prey, intent on sharing one final lesson. But as his wings pumped, Rincewind was clearly still stuck on the last one - Dragons never gave up, never surrendered. As his closed eyes opened to look onto this most brutal of tutors, Rincewind understood - and then he too began to glow.

A chill made its way down Dave's spine as he watched, not helped by Liessa's clammy form nuzzling into his neck. All the other spectators had shushed. Even Kara stood stock still as the insect was overcome by a familiar white light, flooding his body. His juvenile, segmented body merged and enlarged, forcing itself upright into a bipedal stance. His four spindly legs filled out, becoming two thick, powerful hindlegs along with a more dexterous pair of arms, equipped with small claws. His tail also filled out, thickening to counterbalance his new stance. His head enlarged, the two small antennae sweeping back like a crest to hang over the back of his head, while two small pairs of wings fused together into one single, much larger pair to carry a much heavier body. An altogether different creature was visible as the glow faded, green of body, while red around the edges of the wings and the eye covers, now towering over Kara. The http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn330.gif threw back his head to loose a melodic roar, impossible before in his more insectoid forms, but now he was more than just a larva. Rincewind had finally reached his destiny - Flygon, the Mystic Pokémon.

Eying his teacher, the fully realised creature grinned, a gesture which Kara returned. New wings pumping, Rincewind rocketed into the air with ease that had seemed a long way off just a few minutes ago, easily performing twirls, loops, rolls and other acrobatic feats before landing again. Neither creature made to resume fighting - the battle was over, and both of them were winners. But just to be sure, Rincewind rose into the air again, cupping his hands together as his body once again surged with Draconic power. A massive orb formed within his grasp, churning and throbbing, growing and shifting. Aiming over the Rough Skin and toward the bay, the Flygon focused, shifted a bit, and squeezed. The huge gathering of energy collapsed, but this time a huge stream of energy particles burst forth, sailing out over the water before detonating in a huge firework display, a perfect execution of Draco Meteor. Dave grinned, but then he'd not stopped grinning since the Dragon had first started glowing.

As the Flygon touched back down, the fisherman threw himself at the newly evolved creature, wrapping his arms around him - a gesture which Rincewind eagerly returned, now that he could. "Congratulations buddy, I'm so proud of you." he said, before stepping back and running an arm along the Mystic's shoulder, giving Liessa a chance to throw her own body at her role-model, receiving a hug of her own. Looking down, Dave patted Kara on the shoulder, of course making sure to do so respectfully. "Thank you, Kara. And congratulations yourself. It was nice to see what you could do." The Croconaw nodded in response, shooting a grin at Rincewind before surrounding herself in water once more, blasting across the bay back to her mangrove home, to rest and lick her wounds. And probably find a nice, juicy Barboach to slurp down.

"Well, I think that's all for today." the human concluded with a sigh. "Might as well get some grub going. You guys feel free to relax - I'm sure you've got a lot of flying to do, buddy." he winked at Rincewind. The Flygon nodded, before plopping Liessa on his back and bursting upward into the air, soaring through the sky. Heading back up the gangplank to the Rough Skin, Dave grinned. He just hoped that wherever he was, El Rojo was feeling as proud as he was...

{Congratulations! Your Kara evolved into Croconaw!}

{Congratulations! Your Rincewind evolved into Flygon!}

{Rincewind learned Dragon Claw!}

DaveTheFishGuy 04-06-2016 03:47 PM

Personal Targets
Winter was always rough out in the open sea. Storms could build up far out from land, growing in intensity with no land to disrupt their absorption of water from the ocean below. Waves could build for hundreds of miles before breaking on a distant shore, and hurricanes could slurp up more and more moisture to become continent-spanning forces of destruction. Even here, in the tropical Sapphire Islands, the bite of winter swept up from the Glacier Islands far to the South, bringing the temperature down to levels that made the natives shiver, while breakers rolled in from the open sea, their icy bite closing beaches and forcing people inland, or at least indoors.

...not that this was much if you were raised in Sinnoh, of course. Dave was more than comfortable in this weather. In fact, in Pastoria City this was pretty decent even for a Spring or Autumn day, let alone Winter. By this time of year, ice would have encased the Great Marsh and locked the town in snow. The fisherman was happy outside, though most of his Pokémon had retreated to the safety of their habitats, be they the forests, the mangroves across the bay, or the interior of the Rough Skin herself. They weren't as used to these temperate climes as he. The core members of his team remained, willing to brace the occasional chill in the air. It was on one such day, sky overcast, but not threatening rain, that the trainer was outside, double-checking the submarine's exterior panelling. She hadn't been to sea for a while, and wouldn't until the waves had settled down, but it never hurt to make sure she was weather-proof.

Angua's bark was the first thing that caught his attention. The Houndour's keen nose was almost always how he knew that someone, or something, was approaching. Shimmying down the ladder he'd been climbing, he turned, walking over to the Fire-type as she stared at the forest across the plain, focusing on the small path that ran through it. Aside from crossing the mangroves, it was the only way to reach the mooring site by land, and so was the obvious path any visitors might take. He reached down, petting the hellpup behind the ears, calming her down and causing her to sit, though a low growl still rumbled in her throat. As they watched, a figure appeared between the trees, slowly crossing the field toward their position. As it got closer, it became obvious that it was another man, if older than the fisherman. Maybe late thirties. His appearance was a little ragged, but fitting for someone who spent a lot of time on the road, certainly not rough, or homeless, a trenchcoat and a deerstalker protecting him from the elements. As he approached, he removed his hat, revealing a face lined with stubble, lank, dirty-blond hair blowing back in the sea breeze. "Dave Wells?"

The fisherman blinked, almost surprised that his name was known. Angua's growl deepened, but a quick look quieted her. "...that's me." he replied, cautiously, a flash of purple caught the corner of his eye - he didn't have to turn to know that Jason had just appeared on the gangway behind him. The Croagunk wouldn't be menacing toward the trainer, or intimidating... just there, flexing his muscles with the rhythmic croaking that showed his breathing. "But you appear to have me at a disadvantage, sir." he added, able to sense movement all around him. Carrot sidled up to Angua, nuzzling against his girlfriend and yawning softly, the Luxio's fur giving a brief flash of blue electricity. He didn't even have to look up to know that somewhere, amid the overcast sky, the red-capped gaze of Rincewind would be silently observing too. He had good friends.

The man chuckled, not seeming phased by the three Pokémon at his back. And why should he? Houndour, Luxio and Croagunk, though the right shape, were hardly intimidating in stature. But that was why his powerhouses were out of sight. Not only was Rincewind covering the sky, but a pastel-green lump of rock down on the beach would be discovered to be Detritus' Tyranitar-hewed shell if disturbed, plus the huge bulk of Tethys rested offshore. "My name... call me... 'Sundance'." he replied, earning something of a snort of derision from the fisherman. "I take it you get the reference." he added, with a slight grin at his features.

"You could say that. That movie was one of the few things that bought my father and I together." Dave replied, clearly bristling, and not just from the chill in the air. "...not like we saw eye-to-eye on much else." he added, muttering a bit. "So, 'Sundance', what brings you all the way out here? Don't exactly got a lot of visitors, and you're a hell of a ways off-course if you're lost. Nearest town's a good five miles along the coast." he asked, tilting his head a bit.

The stranger chuckled dryly, unfolding his arms for a small bow. "Rest assured, Mr. Wells, I am not lost. I sought you out entirely deliberately. I've heard tales of your exploits, especially your little, ah, début in the Desert of Illusion. Averting such a catastrophe could only have been achieved by a skilled trainer. With skilled Pokémon." he explained. Dave grit his teeth. He was proud of his work in the Arcane Realm, but he was getting sick of being made out to be some kind of hero. He'd just done what anyone in his position would have. "In particular, I heard that your Remoraid possesses uncanny aiming ability, even for its species."

That caught his attention. "Suzi's a good shot, that's true enough. What's it to you, Sundance? ...wait, no, don't tell me." he muttered, raising one hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "You're using the pseudonym Sundance because you're some kind of master of accuracy, right?" he asked, his inner cynic leading him down the path of logic. Another dry chuckle from the other man's lips proved his suspicions.

"Very good, Mr. Wells. Yes, I pride myself on being the finest Pokémon marksman in the whole of Fizzytopia. I have a reputation, which affords me certain... benefits." Sundance replied, somewhat cryptically. "So when I hear of some new up-and-coming trainer with the potential to rival me, well, that won't do. I have to seek them out and see how I measure up to them. Preferably with me on top." That grizzled face was now smirking dangerously, causing the hairs on the back of Dave's neck to prickle. "So, Mr. Wells, I come to issue a challenge. We have ourselves a little shootout. Not at each other, but testing our Pokémon's aiming abilities. Our two best sharp-shooters try to see who's most on-target."

The fisherman nodded, even if he wasn't too sure about this situation. Twin growls now sounded behind him, Carrot and Angua voicing their suspicions in harmony. he cast an eye over his shoulder, shaking his head just a bit to warn them off, cutting the noises in their throats. This could be interesting... and he had all his exits covered. Almost fifty Pokémon surrounded the area, even if some were less loyal than he'd like. Even if this guy was fully-loaded, that only meant six. "...sure, I've got an idea of who to use." he replied, relaxing slightly. "But not up here. My candidates are... limited in their movement." he nodded down the coast of the cove, around from the Rough Skin's moorings to where the ground sloped down into a beach, just before the tangle of Mangroves. "Down there." As he turned to lead the way, he looked back at the duo at his back, speaking softly. "Get the word out. Have Suzi and Trevor meet me down there as soon as possible."

The pair of mammals nodded, before darting away. Carrot shot back up the gangway, likely to clamber down into the hold and use the submarine's external doors to communicate the message to anyone inside. Angua darted ahead, down to the beach, no doubt seeking any aquatic messengers of her own. "But of course, an even playing field is only fair. If you're using the Remoraid I heard of, forcing it to fight on land is hardly balanced." Sundance replied as the two walked down the coastal slope. "Not that it matters, of course. I guess it'll just determine how little you lose by." he added, causing a flash of heat to sear down Dave's back, the lad shooting the older man a glare.

"Guess there's only one way to find out." he replied softly, the two soon reaching the beach. Sure enough, his messengers had done their work, his chosen sharp-shooters resting in the surf. A pale blue fish, fins arranged to be reminiscent of a gun's grips, mouth at the very front for maximum aim, bobbed alongside one of similar origin, though more vertically oriented, a grasping tail beneath and a turret-like head atop, held steady with a fanning dorsal fin down its back. He smiled at the two, knowing their bond went deeper than mere biology - he knew that the Remoraid and Horsea were something of an item, even if he wasn't too sure as to the full extent of their relationship. Still, he suspected that whatever it was, it would help out with this challenge. "Well then, Sundance, here's my two competitors. Now how about yours?" he asked, turning back to the visitor.

The stranger looked over the two, tilting his head. "Huh. I thought for sure you'd have evolved your Remoraid by now. Maybe it isn't as powerful as I thought." he muttered, causing Dave's eyes to narrow, Suzi mirroring the expression. Withdrawing two PokéBalls, Sundance tossed one to the ground, and the other into the surf nearby, releasing his chosen shapshooters. At his feet appeared a large, fuzzy arachnid, golden fur sparking with electricity as its many eyes looked around the area. The water housed another arthropod, this one unfolding its segmented body, but the main feature was the absolutely ridiculous claw sticking from the side. Dave stared at it - the creature resembled a Crawdaunt, but with a far larger appendage. He recognised the Galvantula at Sundance's feet, but this other Pokémon was new on him. Possibly a Kalos native - he was still getting used to the new discoveries. He slid out his PokéDex, flipping the turquoise device open, and scanned the crustacean with it.

"Clawitzer, the Howitzer Pokémon. The evolved form of Clauncher. Water-type. Their enormous claws launch cannonballs of water powerful enough to pierce tanker hulls. By expelling water from the nozzle in the back of its claw, it can move at a speed of 60 knots." the machine reported in that smooth, almost smug way that PokéDexes are wont to speak in. Dave closed the database, an eyebrow raised. "Blimey, that's some speed." he muttered, at which the huge shrimp snapped its huge claw closed with a loud CRACK! "Well, you certainly seem to have me outgunned in terms of raw power, Sundance. But we'll just have to see if that can translate to accuracy." Dave afforded himself a small smirk at that, the barbed comment causing the other man to blanch a little.

Wordlessly, the visitor swung a pack from his shoulder, opening it to retrieve a box, which he set down on the sand. Pressing a button, the construct swiftly unfolded, exposing its contents. Dave had to tilt his head to work out what it was, but snorted a but once he had - a small, but obviously fully-functional, clay pigeon launcher. The machine spun a large barrel-like chamber, six slots dotted around the centre, each filled with small discs. It tilted up and down, before stopping, settled on a trajectory. "I designed it myself. Well. I had input on its design. Capable of launching over 500 metres at up to a 75 degree angle. Able to be aimed manually or set to random. To give us an even playing field, of course. There's no way my Pokémon could be trained to follow it if it changes angle and force every shot." Sundance explained, producing a remote from his pocket that clearly operated the device. "We'll take turns. Galvantula, then your Remoraid, then Clawitzer, then your Horsea. Each target scores a point. First team to fall three points behind the other loses. Sound fair?"

The fisherman mulled it over for a moment, gaze turning to his pair of Pokémon. Both fish nodded, which he returned. "Sounds fair." he replied. "I think we're ready, so feel free to kick things off whenever you'd like."

Sundance grinned, looking to his Galvantula. "Rapid Thunderbolt as soon as you can." he said, the spider nodding in reply, the hairs coating its body bristling and sparking with electricity. Raising the remote, both the trainer and his Pokémon looked over the bay, where the turret was aiming. "Pull!"

At that, Sundance pressed the remote, causing one of the discs loaded into the machine to fire outward at a steep angle. The shooter immediately rotated so that it was primed for the next shot, while Galvantula's bright, beady eyes took in the trajectory, the height, the wind, and the arachnid flashed as a small jolt of voltage left its body, streaking through the air before striking the target, causing the disc to shatter into dust with a flash of light. Dave, and both his Pokémon, gaped slightly at the display, before the fisherman caught himself, looking down to see Sundance smirking at him. He'd never seen a Thunderbolt attack used so briefly... or so quickly. This might actually be tricky.

"Well. This'll be interesting then." he murmured, looking to Suzi. "But nothing we can't handle. Ready, love?" he asked, the remora giving an affirmative click in response as she turned to look over the bay. "Alright then, let's try a rapid Water Gun. Pull!" At the command, Sundance pressed the remote again, the turret casting another disc out over the water, at a lower angle this time. Suzi reacted instantly, eyes locking onto the target and releasing a burst of water from her mouth. Rather than the usual torrents he was used to seeing from her, this was a small, almost bullet-like shot, streaking through the air to close fast on the clay. It wasn't a clean hit, but the burst hit with enough force to snap a good third of the pigeon off, sending the rest to splash into the water below. "Yeah!" Dave yelled, pumping a fist, before looking over to Sundance, who nodded reservedly.

"Not bad for a beginner. But you'll need to improve your technique if you want to win this." he replied, before looking down to his Clawitzer. The arthropod looked back, bright yellow eyes flashed behind a black, mask-like stripe. "Pull!" Another disc was sent firing out at a fairly neutral angle, around 45 degrees. The Water-type brandished its outrageous claw, training the appendage on the flying target's path, before loudly snapping shut. The impact sent a blast of water outward similar to Suzi's but oh-so-much stronger. The orb was almost solid as it streaked outward, smashing the disc dead-centre and shattering it into pieces that rained into the water. The execution was smoother, faster, more impressive that Suzi's attempt, causing the fisherman to gulp slightly. What other Pokémon did Sundance have, if this hulking brute was one of his best snipers?

Shaking off the momentary nerves, the younger man looked down to his second choice, smiling warmly at Trevor. If the small seahorse was cowed by the larger Water-type's display, he didn't show it. But then the Horsea line was a draconic lineage - whether Trevor knew that or not, he couldn't say. But he'd always had much more attitude than his body should be able to hold. The fish simply nodded in response to an unanswered question, knowing what he had to do. "Pull!" Dave said, and yet another disc was slung out. Again, this one was low to the deck, almost skimming out over the water. Trevor puffed up before releasing a blast of water similar to his comrade's, a small, bullet-like like shot that streaked after its target... only to miss by mere centimetres. The small orb of water splashed into the water, followed by a larger impact as the disc sunk as well, leaving the fishy trio stunned. The Horsea slumped a little in the water, gaze lowering in embarrassment, before his girlfriend nuzzled up to him with a reassuring click. Trevor nodded, puffing back up, red eyes narrowing in determination before casting them back to his trainer. Dave simply smiled, flashing the seahorse a thumbs-up. "Don't worry bud. You'll get the next one, I know it." he said, causing Trevor to nod.

The trainer then turned his gaze back to Sundance, bracing himself as the older trainer simply held up a finger on one hand, while the other remained a closed fist. "One-nil to me, Mr. Wells. Better get your team up to spec, or this'll be the fastest challenge I've ever cleaned up." the older man smirked, causing Dave to grit his teeth, suppressing a small growl in the back of his throat. "Pull!"

And thus it continued. Disc after disc was fired out into the bay, each one being nailed by a bullet-like blast of water or jolt of electricity. Trevor's form improved instantly, not letting his unlucky first shot get him down, and the score was held for a good few rounds. True to Sundance's word, every release was at a different speed or trajectory, no two being entirely alike, and yet all four Pokémon were able to keep pace. Suzi and Trevor had a few wobbly hits that merely clipped the pigeons and snapped parts off them, but they still counted, keeping them in the running.

There was a change in fortune about fifteen rounds in, though Dave was too focused on the action to pay attention to how many turns had been taken. Sundance's Clawitzer was preparing to take a shot, bringing that massive claw to bare, keen eyes watching for the movement it knew was coming. "Pull!" cried the older trainer, and the turret fired a disc out... almost straight up, the machine hitting its 75-degree apex. Clawitzer's eyes widened as it worked out the trajectory, and leaned backward to attempt a more vertical short. But that huge arm overbalanced it. The snap of its closing exoskeleton echoed out, a blast of water shooting up... and missing the disc by a good metre as it descended, plunging into the drink just offshore as the crustacean rolled backward. It soon righted itself, the only damage being to its pride as it looked to its trainer, abashed. Sundance's glare could have cooked the huge prawn where it stood, causing Dave to roll his eyes. No matter how well-trained, Sundance still clearly wouldn't tolerate failure from his Pokémon.

"I guess that makes us level again." he said, simply, earning a glare of his own, a small smirk curling on the fisherman's lips. He was slowly figuring the sharpshooter out. "Pull!" he called, and Trevor soon obliterated yet another target. Again, things went back to being steady, but the fisherman could almost sense Sundance's frustration. He got the feeling the stranger was used to doing opponents in completely by this stage of the contest.

Things went back and forth - Suzi missed a shot a couple of rounds later, but was swiftly followed by another blunder from Clawitzer. More good luck followed a few rounds later. It was Galvantula this time, caught off-guard by a near 0-degree shot from the turret. The disc skimmed the surface of the water, before splashing down for good just before the bolt of electricity could catch up. The spider shrunk inward a bit, legs folding as its trainer's glare burned down on it, while Dave afforded himself a small fistpump. He considered asking the obvious, but given how quickly the other man's face was moving toward thundering territory, he decided against it.

The minutes ticked by, but both his Pokémon seemed to have found their form. Neither of them missed a single disc for the next few rounds, while Sundance's selections seemed to be struggling. Next to slip was Clawitzer again. The launcher released its disc at a fairly neutral angle, but much faster than usual. By the time the crustacean had taken aim and fired, the target was way out of reach, the shot falling a few feet short before the pidgeon plunged into the drink. Dave didn't even have to look to know that Sundance's face would be a mask of incandescent rage. But he did anyway. Clawitzer was almost cowering as its trainer stared down at it, causing Dave's building smirk of contentment to stifle, the fisherman's brow furrowing instead.

There was a heart-stopping moment a few minutes later when Trevor missed another shot, the turret firing just too flat and too fast for the Horsea to track properly, not even managing to launch his attack before the clay dropped into the water with a muted splash. Dave simply smiled reassuringly at the Horsea - while there was a vast amount of skill involved in this... 'game', there was an almost equal measure of luck. Sundance smirked for a moment, before the next shot was lost by his Galvantula, a fast, high-angle shot going just too quickly for the spider to hit, even with its increased vision. During the contest, Dave had wondered why his challenger was using the arachnid, discretely checking his PokéDex before realising that some Galvantula had the Compound Eyes ability, increasing their accuracy, even for powerful attacks like thunder.

Ultimately, it was a strange, slow shot that decided the match. It was a neutral 45-degree angle, but the disc fired much more slowly than normal. Clawitzer, trying to make up for its earlier mistakes, overcompensated. A blast of water streaked through the air a couple of metres in front of the projectile, which dropped into the water with a loud splash. Dave raised both fists into the air in silent triumph, while Suzi and Trevor both gave delighted twirls in the water. Turning, the fisherman froze instantly. Sundance was giving his Pokémon a Look, the capital L being most justified, while Clawitzer was just numb, going limp on the floor. He couldn't help but feel sorry for the oversized shrimp. Well, until that glare was turned on him. "So. Uh. I guess I win." he offered, attempting not to cower backwards under the older man's glaze.

"No. This... this isn't possible. No-one beats me at this game. This is MY game, with MY rules!" the stranger exclaimed. The hairs on the back of Dave's neck were right up. He could sense that the other guy's sanity was beginning to slip. Desperate men could take desperate actions. "I can't let you win, Mr. Wells. And there's only one way to make sure that no-one will hear of this. Galvantula! Discharge both of them."

Dave's eyes widened in horror as the Bug-type's fuzz sparkled, a stream of electricity blasting outward to land between Suzi and Trevor, lashing out to strike both fish for crippling damage. "No! Stop, that's not fair!" he protested, aware that he sounded like a six-year-old. But he didn't care. His friends were being hurt. Both Water-types recovered, smoking a little, but they were stronger than their evolutionary stages were letting on. Two pairs of eyes narrowed. They were spent from their contest, and injured to boot, but they weren't prepared to take that lying down. Both mouths opened, disgorging twin Bubble Beams onto their aggressor, the streams of aquatic power bursting and popping around Galvantula to cause the chelicerate to stagger backward, pedipalps flailing.

"Weakling! Clawitzer, Sludge Bomb!" Sundance called, his other Pokémon raising that ridiculous claw into the air, snapping it a few times to release a salvo of poisonous projectiles. Suzi took point, her mouth opening to release a stream of wet earth, which was mirrored by her beloved. The Mud Shot and Muddy Water washed away the incoming explosives, causing them to detonate in mid-air or in the water around them, while their attacks carried on to strike the huge shrimp, binding its legs and washing into its eyes, affecting its speed and precious accuracy.

A feral-sounding growl tore from Dave's throat. There were few things that could anger him, but seeing such a devious assault launched upon his friends was one of them. "It's over, Sundance. You lost. I won't brag. I'd never heard of you before a few hours ago, who would I tell? Just go. Take your Pokémon and what pride you can muster and leave, before I have to get serious." he muttered, calm and flat like the surface of the sea before a monstrous hurricane swept in.

The other man merely sneered. "Boy, you don't even know who I am. None are allowed to be better than me. Accept your fate. Galvantula, Thunder. Clawitzer, Dragon Pulse. He commanded. Both Pokémon readied their attacks, the spider sparking dangerously while the shrimp levelled its monstrous claw again, before both released immense amounts of energy, one as a huge blast of electricity while the other emerged as a multicoloured, dragon-shaped stream, closing quickly. Both fish shrunk back against each other, defiance in their eyes as the attacks bore down impacting so hard as to kick up spray and steam.

But as the smoke cleared, it was clear that there was... nothing there, just empty water. A few metres away, the surface rippled, the two fish reappearing, having managed to Dive to safety. Slowly, they approached the shore again, but there was something in their eyes, matching the anger of their trainer. Their exertions in the accuracy contest had improved their strength, and this unexpected attack was pushing them to their limits. Limits that they had to extend by any means necessary. And only one way was an option. Both Water-types looked to each other, before nodding... and glowing.

All eyes were on the duo now. Sundance's, his Pokémon, and especially Dave. His oldest friend and her chosen partner were both enveloped in a bright white glow, their forms becoming indistinct as they morphed and warped. Trevor remained relatively similar, his form becoming longer and bulkier, his snout lengthening, his fins becoming more jagged and spiky, but Suzi was becoming quite a different animal. Her compact, streamlined form folded in on itself before erupting outward again, a large head rearing up while several long tentacles sprouted from below her body, trailing in the water. As the glow faded, Trevor was still recognisable, the http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn117.gif merely a larger, meaner version of his previous form, but Suzi was entirely changed, the http://www.upnetwork.net/fb/sprites/pn224.gif levelling her cannon-like snout toward the shore.

Dave's face split into a wide grin, which he turned on Sundance, who seemed to have lost his nerve. "For a minute there, I thought we were in trouble. Well, there you are Sundance. That Remoraid you heard so much about has evolved at last. Along with her boyfriend." he stated, feeling more confident than ever. "Shame you didn't run when you had the chance. I don't even need to order them now. They can take care of you all by themselves." Before the stranger could even issue a command, both newly-evolved creatures acted. Suzi puffed up, the Octillery's snout flaring as she exhaled a burst of flame that spread wider and wider, becoming a star-like shape that billowed outward. The Fire Blast slowly moved toward Sundance's Galvantula, but that wasn't all. Trevor exuded a gout of flame himself, a vicious Firestream blasting from the Seadra's snout to help the huge, fiery construct rocket along, faster than the spider could react. A scream of pain tore from the Bug-type as it was enveloped and roasted, hairs scorched and body cooked. When the flames died down, the Electric-type was limp on the ground, smoking gently, out of the fight.

Seeing what happened to its comrade, Clawitzer brandished its huge weapon toward the duo as they turned their gazes to him. Trevor looked to his girlfriend, before twisting his snout in as close to a smirk as he could get. A blast of almost black water left his mouth as he used Suzi's species' signature move, the Octazooka washing over the crustacean and affecting its already-compromised accuracy even more, ink washing into its eyes and nearly blinding it. Its claw wavered, sliding back and forth impotently, which Suzi took full advantage of. Several dark green orbs left the Octillery's mouth, arcing through the air to rain down on the later Water-type with a series of explosions, the Seed Bomb ravaging the oversized shrimp as the two living artillery pieces waged war. This proved to be just too much, the prawn slumping to the deck alongside the cooked Galvantula, both of Sundance's sharpshooters dispatched in as many minutes.

At this display, Sundance was actually shaking, stepping backward to run right into a rock that had not been there a few minutes ago. A large, square, stratified, pastel-green rock. Turning, the drifter regarded it for a moment before trying to walk around it. A feat which was rendered impossible as a claw shot out of a hole at its base, gripping his ankle. The man grunted, struggling weakly against his binds as the rock rose up, Detritus' imposing face appearing next to the claw, giving a defiant roar to his trainer's aggressor. Dave stepped up to the other human, Suzi slithering out of the water to squelch across the sand, enjoying being able to move by herself on land for the first time, while Trevor remained in the water, still bound to it, as he would be for his entire life.

"I should really thank you for giving them both the push they needed. But I won't. There's a reason I stay away from people. I'm not a nice person, at least to other humans. You could probably call me a sociopath." the fisherman stated, voice barely above a whisper. "Now. You've had you game, and lost. You've tried to attack me, and failed. Leave now, or I'll have Detritus Rock Wrecker you over the horizon. This is, by the way, the Crustle the killed the Beast in the Desert of Illusion. That rock's part of his hide, part of his prize. Or compensation. He's been through far worse shit than dealing with a piece of scum like you." He never raised his voice, not even once. That was probably what sent a shiver down Sundance's own spine.

The stranger nodded, wrenching his foot free of the Rock-type's relaxed grip. "Alright, I'm going. But this isn't over, Mr. Wells. Someday I'll get you back for this... humiliation." he spat, before hurriedly recalling his fainted Pokémon and dashing away, leaving his miniature clay pigeon launcher behind. The four watched him scramble back up the slope and across the plain to the forest, and out of sight. As he vanished, the orange streak of Hyper Beam rained down from the sky above, impacting just behind the fleeing figure, Rincewind clearly having some parting words of his own to share with the interloper.

Exhaling loudly, Dave allowed himself to slump against Detritus' rocky shell, the Crustle supporting his trainer easily. Wiping a sheen of sweat from his brow, the human looked down at the sensation of something against his ankle, Suzi having dragged herself closer and starting to crawl up his leg. Reaching down, he scooped the cephalopod up in his arms, giving her a squeezing hug, which she returned, arms wrapping around his body. "Nice going, love. We've both come a long way since Pastoria, huh?" he asked. His oldest friend has now achieved her final form. That was some kind of milestone, at least. He offered Trevor a small nod, the Seadra returning the gesture. He still had some growing to do, and he had something stashed in the Rough Skin's hold that could help with that... when he was ready.

Setting the mollusc down, he let her slide back to the water to rejoin her beau. "You two go relax. You've earned it." he said, both nodding in understanding before sinking out of sight into the depths of the bay. Detritus grunted behind him, causing Dave to reach back and run a hand along that green shell of his. Their greatest adversary was now a piece of his friend's being There were few better parallels you could draw for maturity and growth. But he still had a long, long way to go. "Thanks man. Stay alert, yeah. Just in case." he muttered, the Crustle's shell shaking in a nod before his head and claw withdrew into it. As the fisherman began to walk back toward his dwelling, Angua and Carrot appeared at his sides as if from nowhere. He knew they'd have his back if they needed it. But they hadn't. This time. Both rubbed up against his legs as he walked, causing him to chuckle dryly as he headed home, another milestone reached. One of many.

{Congratulations! Your Suzi evolved into Octillery!}

{Suzi learned Gunk Shot!}

{Suzi learned Rock Blast!}

{Suzi learned Constrict!}

{Suzi learned Octazooka!}

{Congratulations! Your Trevor evolved into Seadra!}

{Trevor learned Hydro Pump!}

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