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Old 09-28-2015, 06:10 PM   #3
Raves
...try a little harder.
 
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Location: Life and love make fools of us all. Gods reject the existence of love and life.
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The Fear Response

“For the fortieth time, we can't.”

You mean you won't.

Hidden within the alleys of Fizzytopia's commercial district, a young man and his pokemon were in heated discussion over publicity. Having been to the daycare centre and picking up his pokemon, dropping off his Zangoose for another week's worth of...therapy, as it were (the shadow pokemon didn't mind too much, the fretful petting was rather comforting and amusing), Alex had once more decided to head back home out of sight via his Honchkrow's flight, but was hindered by a small floating figure, its face resembling a skull with one crimson eye like a tormented soul within a glass jar.

Lapis the Duskull had once again stopped him from finishing his weekly chores, with Tantalia the Timburr shaking her head as the pair bickered. The ghost had finally had enough of hiding away from whatever danger Alex was trying to protect them and himself from, despite the rather lethal message several months back, and what with the Requiem pokemon knowing that Alex beat them before, she was confident that the Spovelli Family Rockets were bluffing.

For one, her eye knew the skull may have been related to someone he knew on a more personal term, having agreed to wed her as part of her rite of passage, but the pair agreed that it was business rather than romance, but that said skull wasn't actually hers. Despite Lapis' explanation, Alex was distraught, and the ghost knew why by the stench emanating from him emotionally.

He was terrified.

Granted, it wasn't often that someone sends human remains to another with a threat, and it took something special like ruining a kingpin's plan and being accused of killing them despite their suicide attack failing to really piss off the rockets like that, but from what the ghost knew of them on the news they were small time crooks, the Spovellis, and weren't likely to put bounties on one's head, when they had the resources to completely and utterly destroy something.

The ghost was adamant about this, but Alex was deep in denial and concerned about self-preservation, and it wasn't healthy for him. He had grown a bit paranoid, and was not one to do anything without extreme preparation beforehand, taking every precaution. He couldn't even do a simple trade without absconding faster than a Yanma's wing speed on the completion of said trade for Arceus' sake!

Something had to be done, and though the team wanted him to man up, they didn't have the raw emotional force to actually get him to listen. It was hard enough convincing him that the commerce district was safe and secure, and getting him here long enough to actually catch up to the current generation was trouble: the Egg House had been revamped, licences to learn moves authenticated (Nuhuko was irked that he'd never knew he could learn Moonblast) and candies were no longer the be-all-end-all currency, that was for Pokedollars, and his large stash of coins was going nowhere fast.

The Duskull had finally snapped today, and the pair had debated fiercely over the matter for the past 30 minutes. Tantalia had grown bored, and with little grace popped the ball of her companion Isaac off Alex's belt, the human not noticing due to his spat. Rubbing his skull, the Cubone was dragged off into the crowds by the fighting type.

-+-+-

'What is going on, Tantalia?'

'Master and Lapis ar-goo-ing again over Master's scaredness...and I want go exp...ploh? I think that is word...' Tantalia uttered slowly, her intelligence not as advanced as expected. The Cubone tilted his head before smiling under the skull.

'Oh, okay then. You hungry? We could get food. It isn't too far.'

'Ooh, yes! I getting bored of same stuff ev-ray day...why Master so scared these days, not sure. What scary about rock with holes?' mused the Muscular pokemon as the pair wandered through the street.

'Um...Mjolnir said it is skull. Friend of Alex he says. A threat by Rockets. Says that be Alex if he crosses...' he glumly rattled in response, before sniffing the air down an alleyway. 'Mmmm...fresh bread. Yum.'

The Timburr stood quietly for a moment in deep concentration, as though processing the information in her head, before her belly gurgled. 'Hee hee...though that sad, bread would make me feel better. Let's go!'

As the pair waddled down the alley, their speed slowed down as they neared a corner, and Isaac motioned for the Timburr to keep quiet. As the pair listened, they could hear a commotion, then a dull thud and whimpering.

“Come on, cough up the balls, brat! We've got quotas to meet!” a voice snarled at the sound of whimpering, followed by another thud. Peering around the corner, the two pokemon could see a young boy cowering, gripping a bag as tightly as he could while a man in black with a prominent red R on the shirt was kicking him, while against a dumpster an unusual grey rabbit was quivering in pain as a reddish crab with rounded pincers pinned it to the wall in a strong vicegrip, the Corphish keeping the Bunnelby under capture.

'That not right. That jerk is bad! And also alone! We should help!' the Cubone barked before Tantalia held his shoulder, shaking her head.

'But he looks like Rocket...they mean.'

'Bu-but...boy is getting mugged! That petty theft!'

'What petty? Is that a cake?'

A wail grabbed their attention once more as the Rocket turned from kicking the body to taking a swing at the boy's face, smashing his foot into the nose and forcing the victim to scream as his nose started gushing with blood. Taking the opportunity, the grunt snatched the bag and darted down the alleyway as the Corphish slammed its free pincer into the bunny, knocking it out and started to drag the pokemon with its trainer – and they were headed towards Isaac and Tantalia, who witnessed this.

'That not right! They kidnapping the...what is that grey thing anyway?'

'It getting freed, is what it is,' the fighting type growled as she motioned for the Lonely pokemon to prepare for battle, focusing her energy to fight as the Cubone looked around him for anything that resembled stones. As the grunt barrelled round the corner, smug that the robbery went off without a hitch, he suddenly took a tumble and crashed into the ground as the low kick tripped him. Cursing loudly, the Rocket turned with a glare to the culprits as the Corphish rounded the corner before being beaned by an ancient power flinging a trash can at it.

“Bah! Just some street punks! Get rid of them, Corphish!” he demanded, the Ruffian lobbing the rabbit aside and rushing Tantalia, claws glowing as it approached...and then swiftly got knocked aside by the Timburr's pound, the log sweeping around as Isaac rolled out of the way and rammed his iron head into the side. The grunt was understandingly not amused as he enlarged another ball from his belt and released the occupant, a lithe, black cat with mean looking claws and a large crown of feathers. “Shred these little freaks, Weavile!”

'Oooh errr...that one looks mean...' the Cubone hesitated, feeling the pressure of facing down a fully evolved pokemon, and a fast one at that. The grunt was going nowhere though, as he was focused on battle. 'But he has stolen things! He can't get away with that!'

-+-+-

“I'm not repeating myself Lapis! We're perfectly safe at the hideout! Nobody will ever find us, we have escape routes and a well defended position!”

And you still remain in denial about that fucking skull! As I've explained several times, it isn't hers despite the traces of her DNA! There's no guarantee that the Spovellis even sent this! If they had, then why haven't they attacked the base!?”

“Because that's costly! They'd never go head on against someone who's that well defended! They'd get someone on the inside! That's why I'm not trading with anyone!”

What does THAT have to do with growing a pair and admitting they can't damn well harm you!? You've already kicked their asses once, you can do it again! Hell, we're only getting stronger! You're scared, that's what you are! Scared and in denial!

“You know NOTHING about me! Who was it that grabbed your sobbing self out the daycare? You're getting too big for your britches, trying to order me around! I'm the trainer, and you're my pokemon! YOU are meant to listen to ME!”

And you need to listen to reason! People are out there slaying tyrants while you're brooding, an-AAAAAAHHH!

“OW!”

The arguing pair clutched their heads in pain, as though something smacked them simultaneously. Looking up, they saw nothing until a tapping sound made them turn to the source. Alex's most recent pokemon was frowning at then, tapping her foot on the ground as her blue eyes fixated on theirs.

“What was that for!?”

The Gothorita said nothing, as always. Since she arrived, Paine had been her namesake, a pain. Refusing to talk, the psychic type instead pointed to the ground beside Alex where a ball lay opened and empty. A couple of seconds later, the trainer realised what had gone wrong.

“Damn! Isaac and Tantalia! They musta wandered off while we were arguing!”

I'm not surprised, how long were we at it?

Pointing to the clock, Paine shrugged before turning her vision towards the crowd, as though scanning for their location...and then gave the faintest of smirks for the shortest instant as she pointed in the direction of commerce.

“Man, I wish you'd pipe up, Paine! You're the quietest mind I've heard!” Alex gasped as he charged towards the centre, oblivious to surroundings as the lolita turned to Lapis, made a few motions with her hands, and smirked.

'I don't quite follow, sorry?' the ghost quizzed, as a faint voice resonated within her skull as Paine communicated one of the rare times she ever did.

'Fear is not a negative emotion. People only believe it to be so because they cannot embrace it. Fear is what drives people forward. Your allies are experiencing this first hand. I would not be too concerned, as you are correct. The Rockets do not expend resources on one individual, no matter how hated that individual is. They have always targeted the weak and vulnerable, and for one unfortunate grunt, their day is about to teach them what negative fear truly is. Terror.'

-+-+-

'Oooof!'

'You okay, Isaac?'

Back in the alley, things had taken a turn for the worse. While the pair had defeated the Corphish with relative ease, the Weavile's speed and power was above theirs. Even though Tantalia landed a blow or two, if rather impressive ones judging by the bruises on the Wily pokemon, their foe was fleeting, evading the repeated strikes and swiping back with force, and for the lower levelled Cubone who had never battled, it was taking its toll.

'I don't think so. I can barely stand...unless...' the Cubone made eye contact with the Timburr, giving a nod. With a loud snarl, the Weavile circled around the pair, Tantalia covering her ears in pain while Isaac stood firmly, and with the last ounces of his strength uttered a cursed song that would surely cause the energy of those who hear it to perish in due time. The elegy coursed through the clawed beast, who hissed at the note as it slammed a claw into Isaac's flank, knocking him over against a metal dumpster and out cold.

Tantalia was spared the attack, mercifully, and the Weavile was wide open. Raising her log, she lunged forward using it as a vault to gather momentum before slugging the cat in the back with a punch, the Muscular pokemon feeling a bit more refreshed as the Weavile's vitality was drained, screeching in pain from the super effective attack. Darting around, the cat was intent on causing pain just as intense, and as the air around it began to chill, the Timburr steadied herself for a big hit while the grunt backed up.

Giving a second screech, the air between the cat's hands suddenly froze into a shard of ice, which grew ever larger, far beyond a normal Ice Shard until it was the size of a harpoon, and just as razor sharp! With one more screech, the feline hurled the icicle directly at Tantalia, who brought her log up to block the attack, as reflexes taught her...but was horrified as the sturdy wood gave a sickening crack and split spart as the missile crashed through it and into her, smashing her back into the wall as the wooden beam was utterly destroyed, the Weavile cackling then coughing as it made its way back to the Bunnelby and hoisted it over shoulder.

“Hah! Looks like we got ourselves a bonus too!” the grunt laughed as he approached the unconscious Isaac and lifted the Cubone up against the dumpster with one hand as he reached for a sinister handle with the other. “Cubone skulls are worth a lot these days, and it's not like anyone'd miss this one! Just a couple moments while I cut this little runt's head clean!”

Tantalia's eyes widened despite the pain. This grunt seriously wasn't going to..not on her watch! No! But the pain...as the thug slowly drew out the knife, the Weavile's cocky sneer towards her faded as it collapsed to a knee, and the Timburr then remembered. The Perish Song! While Isaac was too weak for the song to have the full effect of completely sapping the energy of those who heard it, it was enough to leave the enemy in just as bad a position as she was. And Isaac was in grave danger! A shadow passed overhead as a feather, black as night floated down, and the Timburr's gaze of horror turned into one of anger.

With sheer force the fighting type pushed herself off the wall and slapped the grunt in the ankle hard enough to make him miss the lunge at Isaac's neck, instead clanging off the dumpster. Snarling, he swung his foot at the Timburr, catching her in the chest as the Weavile dropped the rabbit in anger and rushed with a darkness-imbued claw, slashing at Tantalia as the grunt shook himself off and tried to regain focus and composure in the night.

It was the opening the Timburr needed. Landing beside a hefty iron pole, the Timburr gave a deep crimson glow as the Weavile lunged forward, before countering the strike with a mighty swing, a crack and loud scream bursting from the feline's jaws as the pole snapped a rib or two, knocking the dark type into its owner and bowling both over. Shaking itself off, the Weavile's death glare was met by Tantalia's, when footsteps from behind and a deep crow alerted the fighter to reinforcements.

“Isaac! Tantalia!”

Gritting teeth, the Timburr stared down the crook, the Rocket who had just got up and realised he was in a spot of bother with another human, out of breath but packing a pair of trained pokemon with him. The Timburr stared hard at this filth who dared to bully the weak, who dared to threaten her friend's life for money, who dared to wear the Crimson Rocket in the presence of Alex, still brandishing the knife to the trainer's shock, to the fighting type's anger, who dared to have his rat break HER log! And she was glowing with fury.

The glow enveloped her as her trainer watched, with bewilderment in his eyes, then a grin slowly creeped into his face. Tantalia grew in size, her iron bar also engulfed in the energy, warping into a beam, muscles erupting from her form and soon no longer did a Timburr stand, but a Gurdurr, who stood level with the vicious clawed pokemon, and boy was she ever furious. Hefting what was now a steel beam to her side, Tantalia grappled with a dumpster and effortlessly lifted it over her head, the glaring Weavile's sneer bugging out as the dumpster was thrown with incredible force, not so much a rock than an avatar of impending doom, and the Wily pokemon could only raise its claws up in frail defence before being flattened against the wall with an extremely loud bang.

She then leered at the twitching legs that used to be a conscious Weavile's owner, and Alex then saw himself in his eyes, the grunt gibbering and dropping the kid's bag before making a break for it back the way he came. As Tantalia started after him, a flap landed on her shoulder.

'He isn't getting far. Guess where that alley leads. Here's a clue: Someone there we know is just begging to try out some fun new moves she learned as a result of what she is...' the Duskull giggled grimly. Indeed, past the boy the grunt scrambled over a high wall and landed in a reinforced area, where an Onix and Darumaka were watching a giddy purple feline with interest, the sudden thump of the grunt surprising Totsuka.

'Hey guys, how many bones do you think I can break?' she chuckled as shadow energy cloaked her, the snake and daruma doll thumping and jumping in excitement as the Shadow Zangoose rushed at the grunt, who could only scream in response to the rapidly approaching furball...

-+-+-

The five of them sat at a cafe, for want of a better term in Lapis' case. The loud bang attracted the attention of Fizzytopian authorities, who headed into the alley to find an injured boy and an even more injured Weavile, who would be taken into care until its real owner was found. The investigations led to an arrest of a Rocket grunt, and the news reported that as a result of sudden trauma, the man had gone mad and would be sent to an institution for the criminally insane. On questioning the daycare staff, they chalked it down to an attempted theft gone horribly wrong when he disturbed the Zangoose's naptime while wearing a Seviper leather belt.

As the group waited, Paine remaining stoic as always, Alex kept a firm glance towards Isaac and Tantalia, who looked somewhat shameful of themselves. Lapis, on the other hand, was trembling with anticipation.

“Listen you two,” he began. “I'm not mad at you for running off. Pissed, yes, but not mad. You're lucky neither of you were seriously hurt. What were you thinking?”

A few mumbles, then Tantalia began to speak, the Duskull translating.

She's saying she's tired of us always keeping out of other's business, and wanted to go on an adventure, go exploring the place, but you're always saying no. They got involved simply because he was in their way and doing bad stuff, and they didn't think he actually had a Weavile, but couldn't back down. Because...oh...oh my.'

“Because...?”

Because Totsuka told her, in the daycare, of your trip to Cortoza. How you battled some of the toughest grunts the Rockets had, how you didn't back down in the face of three fully evolved pokemon, some of the strongest dragons, how you pushed onwards despite the deaths of wild pokemon, despite the cruelty, despite the peril with Harpe...just to see the look on Spovelli's face when he realised he'd just been schooled by a kid.

Silence. Then a chortle. Then a snicker, which followed into incredulous laughter, the sort you give when you see something so absurd yet genius happen. He fell off the chair, he held his ribs, he laughed harder than he had in a long time, and then flushed rwith tears in his eyes he crawled back onto the seat.

“Oh my gods...what a...what a fucking troll...fucking hell...gimme a minute...” Alex gasped as he tried to compose himself...then saw the blank face of Paine and the stifling faces of the two troublemakers and lost it again, this time together.

'Ah, so that's what you mean by fear. He feared for us because he cares, so fear drives him forward.'

Paine simply nodded curtly before looking at the clowns rolling around like Phanpy in a tent, and sighed. It was several moments before they had regained some dignity and took their seats once more.

“I gotta apologise, actually. Why I'm scared of fools I beat before, I've no idea. You're right, Lapis. I need to man up and do something. If they want me, then they can come and get me. No, they can come and get US. And when the Spovellis come calling, we'll give them the warmest welcome we can give em. We'll get something to eat, then prepare. That's double for you, Tantalia,” he grinned, pointing at her as he eyed his dusty phone, noting a message from someone he knew from recently. “You're not done growing just yet.”
__________________
Stale Water.

Unruly Premonition.
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