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Chapter 17.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 17: Cash Course.

Majestic City Arc.

Ramon sits in the PC bed, gazing through the window. The setting sun shines down the plain white room, black square patterns etching throughout the floor. Cool breeze brushes against him from the vent, his hair tuft tilting. The fox sighs.

This is the second time I've encountered him. He lowers his brows. …And almost got killed.

Sounds like a big deal,
a voice in Ramon's head states.

The Zorua looks around. Nomar?

Hey.

Didn't know you could talk to me outside of dreams.
Ramon blinks.

Hehe, yeah. Didn't I tell you spirits are capable of using Telepathy? Nomar snickers.

Oh. Ramon shrugs. My apologies for forgetting there.

It's fine.
Nomar then whimpers. What's...not fine though is your condition. Sorry that you ended up stuck here.

...Yeah: The whole ordeal was beyond my control. If it weren't for Clinton, Justin, and Ada, I...would've been dead.
His paws lie on the cover, staring at them. I feel like helping them find their friends and family isn't enough. With those two times they saved me, I should repay them similarly! He shifts, gripping the sheets. Ashamed that I can't do it now, though…

At the very least, you're alive right?

Yeah. Thanks to them.


A huff emanates. I believe they only did it to make themselves look "good" and "innocent."

Nomar: Ada and Justin were trying to heal me once that guy went away. Clinton tried shooting that person as I was close to death, risking his own life for mine.
Ramon's head shakes. I don't believe anyone who pretends to care about me will go this far to gain my trust.

You'll be surprised.


The Zorua raises his brow, turning. ...What?

His ears twitch, eyeing the window afterwards: A bunch of police cars pass by the center with immense speed, sirens blaring. "Huh?" Many more vehicles drive by one after another, the fox standing up before grunting.

Careful, brother, Nomar says with concern.

Ramon simply nods before hopping down, wincing.

Please, Ramon...

The Zorua lowers his ears. Sorry… He looks at the window, having a glimpse at Justin, Ada, and Clinton being in one of the cars. HUH!? Without a second thought, he jolts towards the window, pummeling against it. His breath hugs the glass along with his paws, the vehicles vanishing into the distance. He winces once more.

I SAID BE CAREFUL! OH MY GOSH! Nomar yells in dread, Ramon lowering his ears and whimpering.

A-Again: Sorry… The fox moves back. But also, I saw my friends being in those cars. I...wonder why.

Most likely arrested for a crime they've committed.
Groans. Like all human trash.

Ramon taps the ground, looking to his side. I...think I didn't see any of those locked things cops would use to arrest someone.

Handcuffs?

Yes!


If Nomar was alive, he would've shook his head. Perhaps your vision could be messing with you? I mean, those cars did go by pretty fast.

Regardless…
Ramon casts a dark ball, shooting forward. The window shatters as he winces, glass scattering everywhere. He hops through afterwards, running on the grass. I'm finding out why!

. . .

Night casts upon the alley, the mayor's tower resting beside, darkness emanating. Only a couple of lights fill the void, many corridors and corners etching every spot. Roaming around are Clinton, Justin, and Ada, rushing from one spot to the next. Tagged along are four police officers, wielding their guns. One of the officers has long, blonde hair that reaches to his elbows, adjusting his cap.

"Hey classic man," Justin says, Clinton turning around. "Why do we have police officers with us again?"

"Because they're here as backup. You know, in case this operation goes horrible," the elder answers. "Besides, Ada told them about the ID card: They'll help regardless."

"Huh. Guess I should've known that."

Ada's head tilts. "But that begs the question: Why don't we have a ton of cops tagging along?"

"They're there to surround the alley's entrances. In case anyone involved in this 'Cash Course' tries to escape," the first cop explains.

The seven roam the corridors, turning one corner to the next. Soon, they stop at some stairs ahead. The stairs lead down, all taking small steps forward. By the end, there is a gray door with a device attached to the wall beside. Everyone looks at each other.

"Cash Course is here, right?" the second cop asks.

Ada's hand caresses her chin, squinting. "I see this device here, so maybe?"

"Try using the ID card," Clinton suggests. "Probably has something to do with it."

The teen takes the card out, leaning it against the device. The device lights up, turning green while scanning. Then the device bleeps, the door clicking. Ada retrieves the card, four cops leaping in front of her.

"Alright. We can take it from here," the second cop says. Ada lifts her hand, purple claw casting around. The cop's eyebrow raises, casting a blue bo staff while taking out his pistol. "Like I said: We got this."

Ada squints, her claw disappearing. She folds her arms. "Alright then."

"Fam: Why do you have a gun when you can use Magic?" Justin points out.

"I'm a cop for starters, kid."

"Aight, but you can shoot endless rounds from your hands, though." Justin scratches the back of his head, chuckling. "Makes using a gun, uh, pointless."

The second cop snickers, shifting his blonde hair. "Consider this: It looks cool on me."

Justin is about to raise his finger and talk more, but then looks beside him. "...Aight, you know what: Fair point."

The cops burst the door down, stepping forward. "FREEZE!" all of them yell, spreading out: Guns ready.

"...Oh shit," the first cop says, her expression warping.

"Yo, what is it?" Justin asks.

Many men in business suits glare at them, weapons in hands. They look as vile as the big bad wolf, scars and tattoos engraving some of them. Some have their hands in their pockets while others are at the counter to the right, simply lowering their drinks. The group throws up their guns, some even forming their Mystical Projectiles.

The second cop's eyes enlarge. "Everyone, take cover!" he shouts.

The bullets and projectiles run ablaze, rearing ahead. The first and second cop roll forward, ducking behind a wall. The others get shot several times: Staggering, blood oozing. Then their heads are pierced, blowing them away. The two cops land outside.

"Holy shit!" Clinton exclaims, he and the teens hiding behind the walls: Justin and Ada are on one side, Clinton is on the other.

Everyone gazes at the fresh corpses, eyes rattling. The sheer dread splatters on those lifeless, bleeding bodies: The cops' mouths agape, their eyes as big as the sun.

The teens tremble, crumbling into clenching fists. The two descend to their burning home, screams echoing the many villagers as they melt. Eyes gaping, mouths stretching. They saw it all. They heard it all. The teens kept hearing and seeing those calamities over and over. More and more and mo—

"Hey," Clinton says, eyeing the teens.

The two remain lost in the flames and the screams and the—

"HEY!"

The two finally snap back to reality, shaking their heads before looking at him. "Are you two alright? We got a massive shootout to worry about." Clinton stares at them, concerned.

The teens remain silent and stare at the corpses, sighing before looking back. "Yeah...We're fine," Ada says. "Sorry."

Clinton thinks for a moment, tilting his head. "Well...Tell me if something's up, okay?"

"Hey, not to ruin anything back there, but—" the second cop shoots at a criminal ahead. "We'll need some help here!"

Clinton sighs. "I wonder how with all of these guns firing!"

"Easy: Mystical Shield," Justin says.

"But from wh—" Justin barges inside, casting himself and the others around with his shield. "Oh...I knew that."

"Riiight," Ada says, chuckling.

The three take cover behind the other walls: Ada and Justin hide with the first cop while Clinton is with the second, all shooting the group afterwards. The second uses his gun and Mystical Projectile at once, ducking before firing again.

"Man these criminals are stacked!" the cop says. "I've never seen SO many of them hanging around like this in my life."

"And you've been a cop for how long?" Clinton asks, reloading.

"Eeeh, for like three months or so."

"Then you're a rookie, huh?"

"You got that right, sir!" The second cop shoots rapidly, smirking.

"Someone close the door now!" one of the criminals yells, reloading. The man on the far left rushes to a device by the wall, tweaking with it before pressing a button.

. . .

Ramon appears by the building's wall, panting before looking at the door downstairs. As the Zorua moves forward, he winces, leaning against the wall. Ugh...I'm still in pain, it seems, he thinks, coughing before standing up. But I'll pull through for them!

Don't strain yourself,
Nomar says, distress.

Soon the door starts closing, the Zorua yelping. I gotta hurry before it's too late! He rushes over, grunting and wincing along the way.

Nomar whimpers. Ugh...This is painful to watch.

Ramon soon pushes himself forward, passing the door within a nick of time. He rolls around, bumping into a nearby sofa. Oof! Whimpers. Jeez, that hurts! He pants, leaning on the sofa. Gosh, it feels like my body will explode if I don't be careful.

Literally what I've been telling you this whole time: Be. Care. Ful,
Nomar reiterates.

R-Right… The Zorua sighs before looking behind the sofa, a ton of criminals firing at the two cops and his friends. Well Nomar: Looks like I'm not seeing those three in any handcuffs. His head tilts. Though, I'm curious about why they're here with the cops? Hmm…

The second cop sighs heavily, reaching in his pocket and taking out an ammo. "Alright, I'm going in." Reloads.

"What?" Clinton says.

The officer dashes out, rolling around before jumping up. The first notices the second's action. "Hey, what the hell are you doing!?" she yells, reloading before shooting.

The second cop forms the blue staff, clenching its mystical features. "Hope you scums enjoy being blown away by my—" both hands grip the staff, twirling around while dodging the many bullets. "STAR BO!"

The cop slams his staff in the middle, a star symbol forming around him. The symbol grows drastically, glowing before blowing the many men away, crashing them against the walls. Some even fly behind the counter, a ton of drinks spilling and glasses breaking.

Ada and Justin's mouth agape, ogling the cop. "That. Was. BADASS!" Justin shouts. "I wished my Magic move could do that!"

"Same here!" Ada agrees as the cop stands up, chuckling.

"Thanks for being amazed by my wonderful Magic move," the second cop says, smirking.

The first sighs in relief, leaving her spot. "Glad that you're my partner, man," she says. Then some of the criminals get up, the officer aiming at them. "Brace yourselves: More of them are coming!"

Ada and Justin look at each other before nodding, Ada casting her purple claws while Justin spawns his blue blades. The two rush towards the criminals, jumping over the cop and slash them. Clinton remains in his spot, shooting the thugs. He hits one of them in the shoulder, the man groaning.

Justin evades the punches and kicks from the lawbreakers, tripping three of them afterwards. Another one aims at him and shoots. The teen's blades deflect the bullets, hitting the man's shoulders. The man backs away groaning as Justin rushes forward, jumping before kicking him.

Ada claws multiple criminals, blasting some away with her strength. "Hey!" the second cop yells, the girl turning towards him. "Duck!" The cop shoots, the girl jumping in response. She flips backwards as the bullet hits the criminal behind her, the man flying off and colliding against the wall. I said duck, not do a backflip! The cop shakes his head while the girl lands.

Ada looks to her right, the other cop shooting one criminal's leg. He groans, falling to the ground. She then looks to her left, Justin spinning in place and blowing away nearby thugs. She sighs, dusting herself off.

Looks like things are getting taken care of, she thinks. However, one guy rushes towards the blonde cop with his knife, leaping forward. Ada gasps before running. "Hey, behind you!"

The cop lifts his brow. "Hmm?" He turns around, the criminal inching close. "Oh shi—"

Ada claws the criminal's face, the man spitting saliva as blood trails, colliding against the counter. He groans, sliding down. The teen flips herself forward and lands, breathing before exhaling.

The officer lifts his thumb. "Heh, maybe you two kids got this, after all."

"You're welcome," Ada says, smiling while brushing herself off. All of the criminals are either knocked out or groaning with discomfort: Unable to move, in other words.

Clinton, Justin, and the first cop rush towards the two. "You guys are alright?" Justin asks. Everyone nods, the boy wiping his forehead. "Phew! That's good to know."

The second cop looks at Clinton, smirking. "These two are amazingly skilled," he says.

"Yeah. They can take care of themselves, for the most part," Clinton replies.

Ada quirks her brow. "Excuse me, 'for the most part?'" Her eyes roll. "Every situation we've been through, we had no trouble handling it."

"Then explain the Gothitelle situation the other day."

Ada huffs. "I wasn't completely focused, okay!" She sighs, folding her arms.

"Um, I'm pretty sure that you were, fam," Justin adds.

Ada whispers, "Justin, you're not helping!"

"Fam, I thought you like being honest about things."

"I am but...ugh." Ada sighs heavily, shaking her head. "Never mind."

"Regardless: You two were kicking butts out there." The officer's staff fades. "The name's Isaac, by the way. A pleasure meeting you two."

"Ada's mine. And this is Clinton and Justin."

Justin waves. "Yo, what up."

"You two should join the police force when you get older." Isaac pauses, putting up his gun. "We need raw strengths and good fighting skills like yours."

Ada lays her hand against her chin. "Hmm...I'll think about it."

"Same here. Joining the force sounds cool and all, but not so much in this city, fam." Justin scratches his head, looking off to the side.

Isaac shrugs. "Yeeeah...understandable. I sometimes question why I joined when they only focus on the situation getting worse, not when it first becomes a problem."

"I know, right?" Clinton says. "Changes must be made with the law enforcement here. That way, it can be taken seriously."

The group then looks up at a sign above the counter.

'Cash Course.'

"Let's search around, everyone. See if we can find something else here," Isaac suggests.

After roaming around, Justin spots the stairs leading upwards. "Yo, I found some stairs," he says before forming a perplexed look. "I'm also—" Eyes widen. "OH SHIT! I'M HEARING FOOTSTEPS!"

"Let's hide behind the counter," Isaac insists.

Everyone nods and jumps over the counter, remaining hidden while taking a peep. Clinton also slaps Justin on the head for the swearing, a yelp coming from him afterwards.

Appearing on the stairs are four criminals wielding their weapons. Isaac, Ada, and Justin look at each other, all nodding in unison.

"Shit, looks like something big happened here," one of the men says, gripping his bat.

The three Sorcerous summon their primary Magic moves, jumping. Isaac aims his gun at the criminals, firing. The bullets pierce through two of the criminal's shoulders, leading them to collide against each other.

"What the hell!?" the same guy shouts before getting kicked in the face by Ada.

The last criminal looks at the three, Clinton and the other cop appearing from their spot. "...AAAH!" He charges towards them with his knuckle brasses. Ada and Justin smirk, the two jump and roundhouse kick the guy. He crashes against the other goons, all groaning afterwards: The four are knocked out.

Isaac's bo staff disappears, nodding. "Alright. Let's move," he says. He runs up the stairs, everyone else following along. Ramon leaves the sofa and follows after them, panting heavily. He grits his teeth.

. . .

They run.

More and more upstairs, picking up the speed after each step.

Everyone looks ahead: Nothing but the dark abyss. "Man this is some long stairs," Justin comments, breathing at an abnormal pace.

"Yeah. Makes me wonder how those criminals hear all those noises earlier," Isaac replies. "Also, I didn't even see a single elevator here. It's like these guys want their legs to be jacked or something!"

"I know, right?" Ada joins. "Maybe all of our legs will be buffed by the time we reach the top."

"Hah. I don't think my old ass will get fit anytime soon, even with these long stairs," Clinton says, chuckling.

Soon, blue lights appear up ahead.

"Yo, I see something!" Justin shouts.

"Shh! Keep it down," Ada suggests.

Everyone makes it to the top, Isaac noticing something before hiding behind a wall. "All of you, stop!" he whispers, his arm out. The four hide beside the cop, poking their heads out simultaneously.

Plenty of criminals and henchmens are relaxing on the sofas, wandering around, or playing video games with one another. Some are even watching TV, which is attached to the wall's corner.

"Daaamn. There's so many of them chilling here," Justin whispers. He then gets slapped in the head by Clinton again, rubbing. "Ow!"

"Your mother really didn't teach you any manners, huh?" Clinton states.

"Does washing my hands count?"

"Keep it down, you two," Isaac says, glancing around. Staring from one spot to the next, he eventually eyes two men guarding the hallway's entrance: A round man walking towards them, carrying his cane. Isaac shakes his head, gripping the wall's edge. "Well I be damned..."

"What is it?" Clinton asks.

"Look who's by the hallway."

Everyone stares, eyes enlarging. "Mayor Nickel!?" they all say.

"What in the world is he doing here!?" Ada asks, astonished.

Nickel stops, clearing his throat. "I need you to guard my office for a while," he says, straightening his black tie. "I'll be busy throughout the next meeting. I need no interruptions, please."

One of the guards nods. "Yes, Boss," he says, him and the other guard moving out of the way. The three walk away, two sets of guards standing in their place. Clinton stares off, gripping his fist.

"I should've known he would be the cause of these abnormal crime rates," he says, glancing. "I don't know why he'd let so many people suffer through poverty like this. Regardless: It's sickening."

"What the hell?" Isaac says, catching everyone's attention. "I'm even seeing the detectives here, too!"

"What?" Clinton and the others look, many men in gray clothing relaxing and watching TVs with the criminals. "...So that's where the detectives have been this entire time." Clinton's fist shakes. "This...this is truly dirt in human form. I cannot believe this shit!"
 
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Chapter 18.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 18: The End of Abnormal Crime Rates Part 1.

Majestic City Arc.

"So...now what?" Justin says, staring ahead. "We know that Nickel is the culprit behind these many crimes." He rubs his nose. "Along with the detectives, too."

"...This sucks so much," Isaac mentions, his hand on his chin. "We can't just barge right in to arrest Nickel because of the many criminals here. We'll get ourselves killed."

"Then we need to think of a distraction," Clinton suggests. "With what though, I have no clue."

Justin lifts his finger, his hand pressing his chest while closing his eyes. "Maybe I can dress up as a clown and entertain them. That way, you guys can sneak by easily." His thumb lifts. "It'll work! Guaranteed!"

The four look at each other, uncertainty rising. Ada's hand rests on Justin's shoulder. "Justin, these guys aren't little kids. They're adults: They're not going to be fooled by any child's play like this."

"Well I don't consider my clown plan as child's play."

"Point is: We need to think of a clever way to distract them, not fool around and mess up."

Clinton folds his arms. "She's right, you know." He blinks. "Huh. Looks like there's something you and I can agree on, after all."

"Um, thanks?" Ada raises her brow.

Justin shrugs and folds his arms, looking up. "Alright. Guess we'll go with whatever boring plans you guys have."

Isaac looks at the lights, tapping his chin. He glances at it for a moment before staring at the crooks' relaxation. The cop nods, his fist slamming on the palm of his hand. "I'll distract them."

"With what?" Clinton asks.

"The lights." Isaac points above. "I can blow them out with my Mystical Projectile. That way, they can't see."

"Yeah, but there's the hallway lights though," Justin mentions.

Isaac looks at the hallway, lights shining from it. His fingers snap. "Shit, you're right."

"So what now?" Ada tilts her head. "How can we reach Nickel?"

Isaac looks down, losing himself into thoughts. "...Honestly, the only shot we have is if the hallway lights aren't bright enough for them to see."

"What if it is?"

Isaac lifts his gun. "Then you all may need to defend yourselves while running to the hallway. It's the only plan I can think of that could work." He sighs.

"Are you sure that you'll be alright?" the other cop asks.

Isaac looks at her, nodding. "I'll be fine, Lina." Everyone looks at each other, uneasiness spreading like a virus. Afterwards, they nod at Isaac.

"We'll go with the plan then," Clinton says, taking out his revolver. Ada and Justin frown, Ada's hands engulfing in purple auras while Justin's fists shroud in blue energy. Lina has her handgun ready, Issac charging his blue beam.

"Okay then…" Isaac pauses, nudging the trigger. "Let's roll." He positions his hands at the lights, shooting his bullets and Mystical Projectile.

CLINK!

TINK!

"What the!?" one of the crooks yells, more and more lights shattering.

The place turns dark, the crooks alerting themselves, readying their guns. The two guards head towards the commotion.

"Now!" Isaac shouts.

Everyone runs, dashing and gunning the criminals. Isaac summons his bo staff, swinging it towards two guards and tripping them. The light from the hallway shines bright enough for some of the crooks to see, all shooting at the group. Isaac gets in front of the group, spinning his staff around as many bullets bounce off.

The cop then shoots at the crooks, some of their shoulders are hit. "Woohoo! Now this is what I call justice in action, baby!" Isaac shouts, grinning. His gun clicks, slipping it in his pocket upon the shell going empty. Mystical Projectiles roar from his hands afterwards, some of the crooks ducking behind sofas in response.

. . .

Ramon reaches to the top of the stairs, panting heavily. What a long way up. Ugh, he thinks.

Nomar sighs. You straining yourself is going to be the DEATH of me…

Sorry…
Ramon then eyes at a huge gun fight ahead, hiding behind the wall afterwards. Whoa! There's a lot more going on here than before! His ears cover. It's insane! Justin and the other three dash towards the hallway, the Zorua gasping. I gotta catch up! And fast! The fox rushes towards the hallway, panting more and more. He dodges the many bullets flying by, hopping and leaping over them. "EEK!"

Nomar whimpers. Holy crap! There's so much firing at us!

I know, right!?
Ramon whimpers as well, lowering his ears.

Isaac looks to the side before Ramon passes him. The officer quirks his brow. Where did that Zorua come from? He jumps from a bullet screeching by his ear, twirling his staff. "I see how it is, you criminal scums!"

. . .

Running after running after running.

The four do only that: Run, turning to their left even and continue. Soon, they encounter two guards guarding a red door, all hiding behind a nearby wall. From there, Nickel's voice is heard behind the door.

"Looks like that's Nickel's office," Clinton says to the three. "Alright, we'll need to think of a way to distract these guys. Who got any ideas?"

Lina shrugs. "I got none."

Clinton looks at the teens. "What about you two?"

Justin and Ada think for a moment before looking at each other, a simple grin spread across. "Our 'Sneak Attack,'" the two say.

"Sneak Attack?" Clinton scratches the side of his head.

Justin replies, "You'll see."

The two roll out of their spot and pin against another wall, closing in the guards. "You hear something?" one guard asks, adjusting his tie. Justin rubs his hands while snickering.

"Nope," the second guard replies, hands behind his back.

Justin and Ada jump out of their spot, slapping the guards' heads. The two spin around and land, both blinking. They look at the guards, the guards looking back: Raspy laughs ensue while the elder faceplants.

"Not sure why we went with a light slap…" Ada says, shrugging.

Justin nods. "Yeeep…"

The guards walk towards them as the two back away. Clinton and the cop are about to leave until Ada's hand raises. "No: We can handle this."

Justin's blue blades cast on his hands while Ada's purple claws surround hers. The two guards summon weapons of their own: The first wielding nunchucks, the second wielding a hanbo staff. The first spins his nunchucks around, flinging it side to side as the second readies himself. The teens look at each other before nodding, both bumping their fists.

"Bring it on," Justin says, smirking at the guards.

The guards dash towards them as they dash back: The first guy swinging his nunchucks at Ada, the girl ducking. She then slashes him, his blue shirt tearing off as he backs away. Justin clashes his blades with the second guy's staff, the two pushing back and forth.

Justin then trips the guard, the man falling within seconds. The guard flips over and swings his staff at the teen, Justin shielding himself with his arm before groaning. Ada kicks the other guard away, rushing forward. She jumps and claws his face.

"Gah!" the first guard shouts, blood spitting out as claw marks form. He falls, rolling around before ramming against the wall.

"Shit!" the second guard exclaims, stopping his swings. The teen smirks and swipes, the guard ducking. "You missed."

"The wind didn't," Justin counters, winking.

"Huh?" The guard is then forced into the air, screaming. His staff drops along the way, unable to bring back his control. He crashes against the wall, sliding down. "Ugh…" The two guards are knocked out.

Justin's blades fade, the boy whistling while dusting his hands. "Now that's a smooth fight, huh Ada?"

Ada's claws vanish. "As if you getting hit by the staff earlier counts as 'smooth.'"

"Oh baloney. It was smooth to me."

"Regardless: That trick you two did was dumb," Clinton scoffs, folding his arms.

Ada scratches her head. "Well, the 'Sneak Attack' isn't necessarily meant for combat..." She looks up. "It's something we used to do as little kids: Slapping someone across the head when they least expect it."

Clinton quirks his brow, tapping his arm. "So why did you use it lightly?"

Justin shakes his head. "We...have no clue, dawg."

"Uh huh...Gotcha." The elder's hand nudges his head once more.

"Besides, we normally use that trick on our friends, not on those we don't know of," Justin elaborates before snapping his fingers. "Yo, remember the time we did that to X and he got super mad?"

"Yeah. My gosh, his anger can be so hilarious sometimes." Ada giggles, covering her lips.

"Who the hell is X?" Clinton asks, tilting his head.

"Just an old friend of ours," Justin answers.

Everyone reaches the red door, Clinton opening it. The door leads to another red door upstairs, Clinton raising his brow.

"Why would Nickel need one door guarded…when it leads to another?" he says.

Justin shrugs. "Who knows?"

Everyone walks up, Nickel's voice slowly becoming louder and clearer. As they reach the top, Nickel's voice is as clear as the mirror. They lean their ears, screams and shouts echoing through the door's chambers.

. . .

"My contract!" Nickel shouts, gazing at a hologram in front of his desk. The office comprises many windows with the scenery of the city, concrete cylinders separating the ceiling from the floor. On the hologram lies an unknown figure sitting on a throne, caressing the edges. "I want to extend it because I not only value Conjure's viewpoint, but also want to secure my wealth!"

"Team Conjure!? And Nickel's wealth!?" Ada and Justin whisper at the tone of someone yelling, spreading the look of shock. The same look reaches Clinton and Lina like a disease.

"Nickel, you son of a bitch," Clinton says, clenching his fists.

The figure crosses her legs, tapping the throne. "I appreciate your willingness to continue working for me. However, you've done your part in guiding Jester to the Emotion Spell," the figure says, menace rising from her tone.

"The Emotion Spell? What's that?" Justin asks.

Clinton stares off, his ear remaining on the door. "I have no clue but...it sounds familiar."

"Wait, you know and don't know at the same time?" Justin tilts his head. "Huh?"

"My age, boy," Clinton explains.

"Shh. I'm trying to hear what they're saying," Ada jumps in discussion, her head pinning the door.

Nickel stares at the figure, gripping his chair. "Oh please, extend the contract! I could be of use to you by finding all of the Spells out there!" He shoves his chair, ignoring the broken pieces flying across. He slams to his knees, holding his hands. "Oh please, madam! It'll be an honor to continue business with you!"

"You didn't agree on joining me permanently: Only temporarily. You yourself preferred that contract, remember?"

Nickel starts nibbling his fingernails. "W-Well yes b-but now, I changed my mind! Please let me join you!"

The figure shrugs. "A contract is a contract, Nickel. And it has ended." She waves. "Good luck not getting caught."

The hologram fades.

Nickel stares down, his face drowning, his eyes shaking. Oh no...I… He strokes his head. I don't want to go back! Back to those days again! he thinks, biting his thumb.

RAM!

The door slams down, the mayor turning around and jumping. "Oh shoot!"

The cop points her gun at Nickel, the others standing beside her. They glare.

"Mayor Nickel: You're under arrest for forming a criminal organization out of nefarious deeds," she says, her finger nudging the trigger.

"...Clinton, Justin, and...Ada too, was it?" Nickel sighs, covering his face, shaking his head. "I was hoping you three wouldn't find out about this."

"Well the jig's up, huh Nickel?" Justin says, gripping his fists.

"Honestly, I knew something was up the moment you kept making excuses about the crime rates here. And it became evident after we saw those 'detectives' of yours' hanging out with criminals," Clinton says, bitterness reeking.

Nickel's hands are behind him, sighing. "Yeah...I lied about the cops and detectives doing their best to lower the rates." His eyes close. "But you wouldn't understand my decision. None of you will."

"Regardless—" Clinton points at Nickel. "Those abnormal criminal rates end here!"

"Hmm..." Nickel lays his hand against his chin, looking up. "Are you certain about that?"

"Hmm?"

Nickel smirks and snaps his fingers, a small, mystical portal casting beneath Lina. Justin and Ada jump back. "Yo lady, look out!" Justin shouts.

The cop looks at Justin confusedly before gasping, her stomach is punched. She's lifted off the ground, a purple fist flinging her through the roof. The cop screams, going higher and higher until she's no longer in view.

The three stare up, eyes widening.

"...Holy shit!" Justin says, clenching his teeth.

"Now then—" Nickel clears his throat, the three slowly looking back at him: Their eyes tripping and trembling. "Do you still wish to arrest me?"
 
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Chapter 19.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 19: The End of Abnormal Crime Rates Part 2.

Majestic City Arc.

The three gaze: Eyes shaking, Nickel's fingers rubbing.

"Well?" the mayor says to them. "Will you?"

The three look at each other for a moment, lowering their brows. They nod, looking back at the mayor: Clinton cocks his revolver, Ada summons her claws, and Justin spawns his blades. "Yes," the three say. Ada and Justin rush forward, Clinton pulling the revolver's tip.

Ada swings her claws at Nickel, the round man dodging. "Huh?" she says, swinging once more. Nickel ducks under her arm, pushing her back. Justin swipes from behind, Nickel dodging the boy's swings.

"Man, you sure know how to move!" the teen exclaims, spinning his body around afterwards. Nickel hops over the teen, the boy stopping at the cylinder wall. Clinton fires at the mayor, bullets sprinkling towards him.

Nickel tilts from side to side, the bullets passing by him like a racecar. He cartwheels to the left, dodging each of them. Some land next to Justin, the boy yelping back. "Yo, watch where you're shooting, Clinton!"

The elder's revolver clicks before he digs in his pocket. The empty end is all he can ever feel. Shit, I'm out of ammos, he thinks.

Justin and Ada dash after Nickel once more. Nickel taps his lips, yawning. He kicks Justin's stomach, the teen flying off and rolling around. Once the boy stabs the ground, Ada thrusts her claws forward. The mayor evades them, punching the girl's face. Ada backs away, rubbing her cheek as she blinks.

"You just punched a kid," Clinton comments.

"And?" Nickel says, rubbing his hand. "They took the beating very well. In fact, watch this."

Justin stands up, tilting his head. "Watch wha—" a sudden jab to the face backs him away. "What the hell!?" A purple fist travels into a portal, Justin scratching the side of his head. "Dawg?"

"Justin, what are you—" Ada blocks an incoming fist, the fist disappearing into the portal it came from.

Nickel laughs with humbleness, his hand on his chest. "I adore my Magic move so much." The middle-aged man lifts his finger, closing his eyes. Clinton rushes behind him, grabbing his office chair. "It's so amazing that it can even hit someone behind me. Watch." Nickel snaps his fingers, a portal appearing beneath the elder.

Clinton lifts the chair before looking down. "Oh shi—" his stomach is rammed by Nickel's Presto Jab, dropping the chair before falling to the ground. "Ugh…"

Nickel turns around and gasps, Clinton covering his stomach. "Well would you look at that: I was right!"

Justin looks at Ada. "Man this guy is tough," he says, readying himself.

"Yeah..." Ada gets in a posture as well. "He's a challenge, alright." Another portal forms beneath her, the girl backflipping away from the fist. As she lands, she looks at Justin and nods. Justin nods back before the two dash ahead.

Nickel snaps his fingers, two Presto Jabs charging towards the teens. Justin blocks the fist with his blades, being pushed back while grunting. Ada hops over the fist, twirling. She tries clawing the middle-aged man before Nickel moves: Ada stabbing his desk instead. The mayor snaps once more, a fist punches Ada in the stomach. She gasps, shooting across the room.

"Ada!" Justin shouts, the girl twirling around aimlessly. She regains her control and lands, sliding across.

"I'm alright, Justin. Just focus on kicking his ass!" she says, standing.

"Gotcha, fam." Justin dashes, jumping. "Take this!" He swings his blades only to come to a complete halt. "What?" The purple fist blocks the blades, shielding Nickel. Justin groans, pushing his blades. The fist pushes back, blowing the boy away. "Whoa!"

Ada runs ahead, jumping over the boy. She flips forward before kicking the mayor. Nickel moves out of the way, Ada aiming at the destroyed desk. "Crap!" she yells, crashing. Justin rolls around and lands on his back, glasses shattering from a distance.

Justin looks up, Ada lying on the broken desk before Nickel lifts her by the shirt. "Yo, put her ass down!" he yells, jolting up.

"Oh? You want me to do that?" Nickel replies, the brown-eyed teen dashing forward. "Well fine!" The mayor throws Ada towards him.

Justin gets hit, the two blasting off. "Gah!" he shouts, colliding against the wall. He groans, Ada trapping him. The girl also groans, her legs bleeding from the glasses. "...Well shit." The boy stares up, Nickel standing right in front of him, menace radiating. Justin gulps, the mayor rubbing his own fingers in anticipation.

Nickel sighs, his head shaking. "You two's fate will be the same as the lady from earlier." His hand lifts, his fingers halting. "My sincere apologies, young ones."

"Waaait!" Clinton shouts. Nickel turns around, fingers remaining still. "I want to know: Why? Why are you doing this? Why are you making many people's lives miserable? To the point where crimes and poverty are larger than usual…"

"..." Nickel sighs. "Because I simply want more money."

"...What?" Clinton lowers his brows, forming a fist.

"I've been tired of living in poverty since my youth. Having to search for bread countless times, having to run from people who'll potentially kidnap me...It's such a dangerous world out there, especially when poor." Nickel grips his fist. "Since then, I'd pursue a goal to no longer be in that life. After going through countless trials and errors, I…finally found the perfect job: Becoming a mayor."

Justin frowns. "If the job is so perfect, then why are you running a criminal organization?"

"That's the point I'll get to, child. You see…" Nickel looks out of the window, stars sparkling and glistening. "I found out that mayors only last in the office for two years. So I formed this Cash Course out of fear of becoming poor again." His eyes close. "With this organization, I can earn as much money as possible." He looks back at Clinton. "So even after I'm no longer the mayor, I'll still have enough money in my pockets to survive."

"So…Let me get this straight: You let crimes run wild after forming a criminal organization JUST so you can no longer become poor?" A simple nod from Nickel is all he can give, leading Clinton to clench his fist. "Nickel, you do realize you still get paid, even after you stop serving in office."

"Yes. But the government will pay me less, hence why I made this plan."

"So!?" The elder slams his fist. "You haveenough money to take care of yourself, asshole!" Glares. "You became filthy rich the moment you're the mayor!"

Nickel glares back. "I'm doing everything in my power to stray away from poverty! Even if I'm rich, there's a possibility that all of the money I gained will be gone!"

"What you're doing will make all of your hard earned money disappear. Hell, I don't think the majority of the money you earned is through hard work. Seeing how you created this organization to ruin other people's lives. And for what, to no longer become poor?"

"Shush…"

"Nickel, what you're doing is not only harming us but also yourself. You've reached that goal. You're no longer poor: You're rich!" Clinton throws his arms up. "You're as rich as anyone wishes to be! So the fact that you created this organization to increase poverty and crime rates shows how utterly IDIOTIC this plan is."

"I said shush…" Nickel grips his fist, shaking.

"You've ruined your life the moment you decided this."

Nickel stomps. "I've heard enough!" He glances at the teens, caressing his fingers. Clinton notices a portal forming beneath him and the teens, eyes widening. "I know what I'm doing is beneficial. And I'm not going to let anyone stop that." Nickel stops rubbing, biting his fingernail. "I'm not going back! Never!" As his fingers are about to snap, his ears shift, eyes blinking. "Hmm?"

Footsteps spawn from the stairs, Justin and Ada tilting their heads. Soon, Nickel is jabbed in the face, backing away. In front of him is Ramon, his paws shrouding in dark energy. "What in the!?" Nickel forms his fists. "Why you—" the mayor's hit by a blue beam coming from Ramon, the Zorua's paws surrounding in blue auras.

"Aaah!" Nickel screams, crashing into his sofa. He groans afterwards: Knocked out.

"Ramon!" both Ada and Justin shout, becoming surprised by the Zorua's appearance. The two then heal each other: Ada touching Justin's stomach, Justin touching Ada's legs, both glowing blue. Ramon rushes over to them.

"Are you two alright?" he asks, panting softly.

"Yeah. We're aight since we're healing each other," Justin answers. "Also, what are you doing here, fam? You should be at the PC recovering right now."

"I agree." Ada's face droops. "You look like you're not in the best condition, still."

Ramon inhales, closing his eyes. He exhales. "I know...But I saw you two and Clinton traveling with a group of cops earlier so…" His eyes open, the fox smiling. "I can't help but to follow you."

"After what the cloaked guy did to you, you should be resting instead of helping us." Ada then looks off to the side, shrugging. "Then again, we were on the verge of death not too long ago. So...thanks for saving us."

Ramon nods. "You're welcome. I suppose that this is my way of repaying you two, since you saved me from the cloaked guy...twice."

"Yep," Justin says as he and Ada stop glowing, the glasses sliding off the girl's leg, the two fully healed.

"Well I be damned: You've arrived just in time, Ramon," Clinton says, covering his belly, standing on his knees. "How are you feeling? Still in need of healing?"

Ramon looks at the elder and nods. "Yeah. I haven't fully recovered yet, but I can at least move around here and there."

"Oh! Which reminds me!" Ada leaps up. "How did you use Mystical Projectile?"

"Yeah, fam…" Justin tilts his head. "I thought only Sorcerous could use Magic moves."

Ramon blinks before gazing down at his paws, the blue auras fading. "Honestly...I don't know." He squints. "A memory just occurred to me that I can use it. No other way to explain it, really."

"Huh. Interesting." Ada puts her hand on her chin, staring off. "Everything about you is interesting: The Prospective Lab and you using a Magic move." She taps her chin. "How peculiar…Does that mean you're able to—"

"Uh, save the talking for later. Right now, we got this bozo to deal with!" Justin mentions, pointing at Nickel. Nickel gets off the sofa, groaning and shaking his head. He brushes himself off, glaring at the group, gripping his fist.

"That's it! I've had enough of you all!" he shouts, rubbing both of his fingers. "I'm killing you right away!" His arms flail forward, snapping his fingers from left to right.

Many portals appear from above, behind, and even below the four, purple fists come springing forward. Justin pushes Ada and Ramon forward, rolling away from the fists. Clinton jumps from three fists ramming towards him, all colliding into one spot. He looks ahead, another fist charging his way. He closes his eyes, gnashing his teeth.

Crap, he thinks, the fist inching closer and closer. Until it halts, Clinton opens his eyes at Justin, Ada, and Ramon in front of him: The teens have their hands out while Ramon's paw lifts, surrounding the group with a ginormous Mystical Shield. The shield looks mainly blue, with the purple coloring being in the middle.

Clinton sighs, lying on his back. That. Was close.

"Dude, you can use Mystical Shield, too!?" Justin exclaims, his brow raises.

"...Apparently so," Ramon answers, tilting his head.

"You're becoming more and more intriguing from these discoveries, Ramon," Ada states before summoning purple claws.

The shield fades, Ada dashing towards Nickel. Nickel snaps his fingers, several portals forming beside him. Multiple fists jet towards the girl, honing in like a rocket. Ada hops over many of them, twirling around before running off. She jumps, thrusting her Enchantment Claws.

Nickel springs his arms forward, a purple Mystical Shield casting around. As the teen claws it, the fox speeds past it, jumping towards the mayor. Ramon Sucker Punches the mayor's face, swinging his paw: The jab has no effect, dark energy disappearing.

"Huh?" Ramon says before being smacked by the mayor's arm, rolling away. "Oof!"

"I didn't attack, you fool," Nickel explains, his shield fading. Ramon grunts, panting as his legs shake. Nickel walks towards the Zorua, gripping his neck before lifting. "You should've stayed at the Center. And now, you're about to die: You and everyone here that tries to foil my plan."

Nomar whimpers inside of Ramon's head. Oh no...

"Your plan is already 'foiled' the moment the police are involved, asshole!" Justin shouts, dashing. He swings his blades, Nickel jumping back before his shirt is cut. Ramon drops to the ground, panting more and more. "By the way, I'll knock your ass out if you lay another hand on him."

"Same here," Ada says, standing beside the boy.

Nickel slides, squinting. "Hmph." His fingers snap, a portal appearing beneath the Zorua. A fist jabs him, the fox gasping, coughing out blood. He flies towards the ceiling and crashes, cracks casting around him.

"GAH!" Ramon yelps, eyes widen in immense pain.

Ramon! Nomar shouts with terror.

"Oh no you did not!" Ada shouts, the Zorua falling to the ground. He groans heavily, twitching.

"HE DID, FAM!" Justin grips his blades, glaring.

Nickel's hands rest behind him. "Technically I didn't touch him: It was my Presto Jab that did."

"That. Still. Counts!" Ada enlarges her claws, narrowing her brows and gnashing her teeth. "YOU SON OF A BITCH!" She dashes towards the mayor and swings, Nickel dodging the behemoth claws whistling.

What!? Ada can make her claws big!? Justin thinks as he helps her, swinging his blades.

Nickel keeps ducking and dodging, hopping over the attacks while moving side to side. Ramon eyes the teens, the two doing their best to hit the corrupted mayor. Gazing, he remembers what Justin said to Nickel, trembling. Are…they the friends I needed? Do...Do I... His ears lower, looking down. Do I trust them? They seem so caring and…genuine… The teens scream with fury, trying to slash the round man over and over, red filling their visions. ...about me.

Nickel jumps and snaps his fingers, five portals appearing behind him before firing the fists. "Even if I'm ratted out, I will find a way to remain rich! And no one's going to ME!"

Ada and Justin nod at each other, Justin spreading his arms. He jumps in front of Ada, spinning around as he knocks away the fists. Nickel flips forward, dodging Justin's spin. "Ha, you missed!"

Ada jumps towards him, her claws further growing. "No we—" she swings, hitting Nickel. "DIDN'T!"

Nickel is pushed to the side, jetting off. "AAAAH!" Nickel slams against the wall, smoke forming from it. Ada glares at the crashed spot, remaining in the air. She lands down, Justin rushing by her in time. Ramon stares at the two, stunned by what he witnessed: Teamwork.

Once the smoke fades, Nickel groans, covering his stomach. Soon Isaac and the other cops arrive, seeing the four.

"Is everyone alright?" Isaac asks.

Justin shrugs. "I mean, there's an injured Zorua behind us. And an injured old man." Justin jumps and looks behind him, Clinton glaring. "I-I mean, classic man."

"I see." Isaac then looks to the side, Nickel attempting to stand up. He points his gun at him along with many other cops, pinning him down. "Not so fast, criminal scum."

"Ugh…" Nickel responds.

"Watch out: He can snap his fingers to summon fists from portals," Ada says.

"Well in that case." Isaac puts his gun away, sitting down and stroking Nickel's hands. He takes out his handcuffs and locks the mayor's hands. "And just for extra measures." Isaac grips onto Nickel's fingers.

"Oh...darn it." Nickel sighs.

"Mayor—" Isaac grimaces. "Ugh, even calling you a mayor is a disgrace. Ahem: Nickel Willham, you're under arrest for forming an illegal organization. You have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." The cop then snorts. "Man that sounds so badass to say!" The cops give him a bizarre look before he picks Nickel up.

Justin and Ada high fives each other, smiling. "Woohoo, we solved a crime, fam!" Justin says.

"Yeah! Amazing, isn't it?" Ada cheers.

Ramon watches them, smiling. Looks like the city's biggest issue is over, thanks to us, he thinks, sighing in relief.

. . .

Everyone is outside Cash Course, many officers having the criminals and crooked detectives entering their cars. An ambulance truck is there as well, with the backdoor open for the three dead cops, all laying on a stretcher in covers. Next to one of the cars are Isaac, Ada, Justin, Clinton, and Ramon. Isaac shoves Nickel inside of the vehicle's back, tapes wrapping around the mayor's fingers.

Does he really have to tape my fingers like this? Nickel thinks as Isaac closes the door.

The cop looks at the four. "Thank you all for solving this case that has been going on for years now," Isaac says.

"It has." Clinton glances at Nickel, his arms fold. "And you're welcome." He then takes his attention towards the teens. "You did amazing earlier."

"Ha! I had a feeling you'll admire my skills, Clinton!" Justin says, folding his arms while smiling.

"Honestly, if it weren't for Ramon jumping in at the last minute, we would've been dead," Ada says, looking at the Zorua. "So...in all honesty, thank you."

Everyone is eyeing Ramon, the Zorua chuckling with nervousness. "You're welcome. I had to do what I felt was right."

"Agreed." Isaac looks down. "Although, rest in peace my partner." He takes his hat off, leaning it against his chest. "I don't know where she went, but from what you guys told him, she's most likely dead. Which sucks because she's a rookie, too."

"Yikes." Justin winces, scrunching up. "Sorry about that, man."

"Yeah. But at least she's in a better place now." Isaac sets his hat back on. "With that said, I'll let you update you all on Nickel's arrest and the future of this city."

"Good." Clinton sighs heavily. "Because these criminal activities made me feel eternally tired." He eyes up, the stars sparkling. "Justice is finally served."

"Yep." Isaac then opens his vehicle's front door. "Take care, everyone. And get some good night rest, too."

"We will!" Ramon says, smiling. As Isaac enters inside, Nurse Joy walks towards Ramon. "Hmm?"

"Hello, Ramon. Are you doing alright?" Joy says, her tone concerned.

"..." Blinks. "Oh, right. I-I'll, uh, return back to the Pokémon Center. Sorry for worrying you by escaping."

"Indeed. We take our patients very seriously." She bows. "It's a crisis if one were to escape from their rooms." Joy then looks at the fourth ambulance. "We'll take our ride this way instead of walking."

Ramon nods. "Understood."

The four follow Nurse Joy to the truck: The teens and the fox agree to sit in the back while Clinton sits in the front. After all of the crooks enter the cars, the vehicles drive off.
 
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Chapter 20.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 20: Farewell, Majestic City.

Majestic City Arc.

Many citizens spread throughout Majestic's plaza, gazing at the tall stage. A tan-skinned woman in gray attire appears on stage, holding a microphone attached to the lectern. Beside her are several men in black suits, hands behind their backs while staring at the crowd, lips straighten. Everyone talks and mutters to one another, the sun shining down.

The woman taps her microphone, the crowd becoming silent. She moves forward. "Salutations, people of Majestic City," she says, adjusting her coat. "My name is Tresha Salvador, one of the executives of the Wizlore government. As you may know, Mayor Nickel Willham is arrested for forming a criminal organization, let alone in secret. We've let a corrupt man rule Majestic for this long. As an apology, we'll provide a better future for it."

Ramon, Ada, Justin, and Clinton are beside the crowd, staring at Tresha in pique. "With the rampant crimes running loose, one could imagine the poverty and injustices this city has been through. Moving forward, there will be more law enforcers taking their jobs vigorously. And better detectives who aren't in cahoots with criminals." She frowns. "This level of corruption will never be tolerated again."

A reporter raises his hand, Tresha eyeing him. "Yes, sir?"

The reporter's microphone is against his lips. "Have you found a replacement for Nickel?" he asks.

Tresha simply gazes at him with sternness. "We're working on it," she replies, taking her attention back to the crowd. "With that said, the future of Majestic City will be different. The government of Wizlore will do whatever's necessary to support this city as always. Making it better than what it is now." Nods. "May you all have a blessing day."

The executive lowers her microphone as the crowd separates from one another, some remaining in their spot to talk about the situation. Ramon and the three leave the plaza, walking on the sidewalk.

. . .

Clinton bites his sandwich, munching in delight at his home. He's sitting in his chair with the other three, all eating. Justin is sitting next to Ada while Ramon is beside Clinton, all parallel from each other. Clinton drinks his cup of water before setting it, sighing.

"It's good to be back home again," the elder says, smiling.

"Yeah. Let alone putting an end to those wacky crimes!" Justin says, hands behind his head.

"Agreed. Although, I doubt crimes will ever end." Clinton's arms fold. "There's always going to be someone who doesn't know how to abide by the rules. Whether for a good reason or not, I can't say for sure." He sighs. "Regardless, I'm happy that it's no longer abnormal."

"Indeed," Ada follows, wiping her lips with a napkin.

Clinton looks at the girl. "To be honest, I'm impressed by how well you and Justin handled the fight against Nickel." He chuckles. "Makes me wish I was born as a Sorcerous to pull those stunts off."

Ada giggles. "It's what I get for being gifted, I suppose."

"Is it really gifted though when there's a lot of Sorcerous living out there?" Justin mentions.

Ada rolls her eyes. "Oh hush, Justin. You know how impactful Magic type is. Besides, only some humans are born with it."

"Ah, that does remind me…" Clinton sets his sandwich down, staring at the teens. "I'm remembering why your travels and Justin's last name sound familiar to me."

Ada and Justin eye each other, their brows raising. "Come again?" the two say.

Clinton turns to Justin. "I met your mother, Delia Phoenix."

"YOU WHAT!?" Ada and Justin yell, Ramon lowering his ears.

"Yeah. I met her the same way I met you three." Clinton looks off to the side. "How déjà vu is that?"

"Very," Ada answers.

"When did you meet her? Like at what point in time was this?" Justin questions.

The elder stares at the ceiling. "A…couple of days after the Synchronic Village incident. From what she told me."

"So a few months back…" Justin grips his fist, shaking. "Why didn't you tell us sooner about this?" His voice shakes.

Clinton looks at the boy for a moment, shrugging. "My memory can slip up sometimes because of my age. So I end up forgetting about things until something reminds me of it."

Justin pushes his chair back, standing. "Yet, you can remember all of the injustices going on in this city!?" he shouts, frowning and clenching his teeth. "She's my mother, dude! I want to know if she's okay! If she's with the others. And to...to…" Tears slide down, stroking the table. "Hug...her."

"Justin…" Ada lays her hand on the boy's arm as Ramon whimpers.

Clinton looks away, squinting. He then sighs. "Kid: I didn't know that you, Ada, and Ramon were going to come here in the first place." He gazes down. "...With that said, I should've told you all about it after you've gotten here. Despite my age, I've let this city's poverty and crime issues blind me. I was so focused on it, so eager to get the whole ordeal done and over with that I've forgotten about Delia."

Justin sniffles, arms and fists trembling more and more. Clinton looks up at him, staring in his brown eyes before saying, "I'm sorry."

Ada stands up, resting her hand on Justin's shoulder. The boy turns his head a bit: The two looking at each other, silence rising. Justin's eyes tremble, more tears shedding. Ada's eyes tremble, uneasiness spreading throughout.

Justin then turns back to Clinton, wiping his tears. "I'm sorry, too. I…shouldn't assume you'll know about us, man." He sits back down, Ada following along.

Clinton nods as everyone remains quiet, staring down at the half-finished meals. Eventually, the elder breaks the silence. "By the way, you asked if she was with the 'others,' right?"

Justin drinks his water. "Yeah?"

"Well, I saw her with two people: A teen around your age and a Leafeon wearing a cloak."

The two gasp. "Merlin and Serene!" they say.

Clinton's eyes widen in surprise. "Ah, you know those two?"

"Yes: They're great friends who used to live at Synchronic Village, too," Ada answers. "It's...good to know that they're with Mrs. Phoenix after what felt like centuries hearing about them."

Justin hits Ada's arm softly. "Ah come on, I told ya that you can call her by her first name." He smiles.

Ada whines. "But it'll feel wrong and unacceptable! Have you ever called X's mother by her first name?"

"Heck yeah, all of the time."

Ada squints. "And you're wondering why she doesn't like you."

Justin gasps, jumping a bit. "What!? Beckham doesn't like me!?" His hand rests on his chest, falling over on Ada. "I thought she looooooves me, man!"

Ada rolls her eyes, shaking her head. "How couldn't you tell from the many eye rolling and screaming whenever you and X caused mayhem?"

"It's called sarcasm, fam." Justin snickers. "Besides, most Intellicates don't use last names like humans do."

Ada squints. "That's why she preferred to be called Mrs. B."

"Okay but with that logic, it can literally apply to any human parent." The boy smirks.

"Whatever."

Clinton and Ramon laugh, smiling. "You two are really like this to each other, huh?" the elder says.

Ada points down. "This is what I have to deal with growing up."

Justin springs up, giving her finger guns. "And you LOVE it, too!"

Ada folds her arms and shakes her head, rolling her eyes while smiling. "Anyways, you said only Merlin and Serene were with Mrs. Phoenix, right?" Ada looks at the table. "...Are you sure my father wasn't with them?"

"Hmm…No. I don't recall seeing another person with them," Clinton answers.

"You sure your memory isn't playing tricks with you again?" the girl questions further.

"No." The elder's hands sit on his hips. "I'm as sure as a plane crashing because a baby is controlling it."

Justin lifts his brow, mouth hanging, eyes widening. "That's...one hell of a comparison, fam. Damn."

Clinton glances at the boy. "Lan. Guage."

Ada looks down, sighing. "I see..." Her back is soon patted, leading her staring at Justin.

"We'll find him too, Ada. Don't worry." The boy smiles, lifting his thumb.

Ada shrugs before smiling back. "Yeah…"

Justin blinks for a moment. "Hold up—" he shoots Clinton a quick glance. "Where's my mother now? Why aren't we seeing her and the others?"

"Oh. They left to go see my friend in Serenity after her and Merlin wanted to learn more about this region."

"Serenity?" both Ada, Justin, and Ramon say, all looking at each other with rising brows.

"It's a place nearby Avalon Forest, where a bunch of trees surround the roads ahead," the elder explains. "I can show you if you're interested in heading there now." He looks out of the window, the sun descending. "Erm...tomorrow, actually. Since it's getting late."

Justin and Ada look at each other for a moment before nodding. "Yeah, that'll be fine," Justin says.

"By the way, Justin: Your mother is a very lovely person. I enjoyed my time chatting with her and your two friends." Clinton smiles.

"Thanks!" The boy smiles back.

Soon, Ramon speaks, "Sorry to interrupt, but I have a question of my own." He pauses for a moment. "Do you know anything about the Prospective Institute incident? Anything you can recall?"

Clinton looks up, thinking. "Hmm…" Shrugs. "Not a single thing, unfortunately."

"...Oh." Ramon looks down, lowering his ears. "Really was hoping I'll get some answers at this point, too."

"It'll be alright, Ramon. All of us will receive answers to the things we don't know about," Ada says, looking out of the window. The dim sun is no longer present as the darkness shrouds. "At least...I hope so."

Ramon shifts, staring at his sandwich. His mind wanders, the void drilling in. The voice of Nomar echoes, saying the very words: 'Gloria Falls.' He gazes for a little longer before pushing the chair back.

"I'm not hungry anymore," the Zorua says before hopping off, walking towards the stairs.

Justin pushes his chair back and stands, yawning. "Same here. Gonna eat the rest of my food tomorrow." He follows the Zorua.

Ada looks at Ramon, sighing. She gets up and follows the two, leaving Clinton behind with four unfinished sandwiches. The elder gets out of his seat, grabbing the plates. He walks to the nearby kitchen and opens the fridge.

. . .

Ramon rustles in bed beside Justin, groaning. Inside of his mind lies his dream, surrounding him in colorful flowers: From red to blue, from yellow to green, and so forth. He's also talking to Nomar, both close to each other as a light shines down. Nomar sniffs one of the flowers, sighing with peace.

"What!? You want me to stop asking about the lab incident!?" Ramon shouts. Nomar nods at him. "Why?"

"Because I fear that when you finally get the answer, you'll be taken away," Nomar replies. He looks back at the Zorua. "I can't let that happen."

"My friends will protect me from those kidnappers, then!" Ramon shakes his head. "Whoever they are!"

"Ramon, I've already told you that humans can't be trusted. You notice how selfish that Nickel man was, right?" Nomar glances at the ground. "Letting crimes run wild so he can earn more money. How cruel."

Ramon lowers his ears. "Yeah…"

"And those crooks working for him, along with the detectives, are no better."

The Zorua shifts. "Ye-Yeah, you're right about them. But...my friends aren't like them!"

"They will when they grow older. Trust me, I know humans well enough to see their destruction."

"Because of the incident that happened to you, you generalize all humans as evil?"

Nomar sighs, nodding. "Yes, Ramon. I've shown you imagery of these men kidnapping you, and another group of humans killing me. Is that not a hint of the evil within?"

"I…" Ramon looks away. "...You got a point there."

"Like I've said: Don't tell anyone about where you're heading. Once you revive me, I'll help you remember your past." Nomar lays a paw beside Ramon's fur. "I promise I will not hurt you in any way nor shape." He hugs him, whimpering. "All I want is for us to...go back home. Free of human interactions...Alright?"

The fox looks at the ground, the flowers tilt by the wind. He then sighs, nodding. "Alright. I'll ask less questions and...keep everything to myself."

"Good."

"I, uh…have one more question, though: How are you able to know what's going on around me?" Ramon asks, tilting his head.

Nomar smiles. "Through Telepathy, of course. Ever since I'm able to communicate with you, I can watch everything you do in your life."

"Oh." The fox looks down again. "Didn't think the dead could do that."

"Yeah!" Nomar chuckles. "You're quite the curious Pokémon, aren't you?"

"I wanted to know about things going on in my life, that's all."

"I know." Nomar smiles up. "It reminds me of the time we were hunting down some prey, and you kept asking why we're killing them."

"Prey?" Ramon tilts his head.

"Certain Pokémon are considered prey to us. We hunt them down because that's how we survive in the wild."

"Oh...Wait, did I kill some Pokémon in the past!?" Ramon's eyes enlarge.

"Yes. You had to in order to live." Nomar hugs the Zorua once again. "I know it sounds terrifying, but it's the truth."

Ramon blinks , staring off to the side. His eyes tremble, wanting to scream.

Nomar lets go of the red fox, sighing softly. "Looks like I can't keep my Telepathy up now. I'll let you know when we're getting close to Glory Pride City, okay?"

Ramon gazes at him for a moment before nodding. "Al-Alright…"

Everything fades into darkness, leading the Zorua to open his eyes. He lifts forward, turning around to look at the full moon. I'll remember my past. I'll know what happened to me at the Prospective Institute and why I was taken away. I know I will!

. . .

The four walk along the sidewalk, passing by several buildings. Justin's hands are behind his head, a couple of civilians walking by chatting with each other.

Ada and Justin are wearing their original clothes: Ada's black jeans no longer have rip marks, the same can be said for Justin's white shirt and blue jeans. The boy is also carrying a gray bag, a strap wrapping around his neck.

Ada keeps Yvonne's journal covered in her red jacket, hands resting in her pockets. She looks at Clinton. "Thanks for fixing our clothes, Clinton," she says, smiling. "I didn't think that you could knit them together."

"Same here," Justin agrees, smirking.

Clinton chuckles. "It's something that my grandmother taught me when I was a kid. Didn't think I'd put that skill to use until now."

The girl nods. "I see."

"Hey Clinton," Justin shows his gray bag. "Thanks for giving us this bag that has a couple of money in it."

Clinton nods. "I figured since you three travel on your own, having a bag full of money will help you in the long run." Sighs. "I can't imagine the struggle you went through before we met."

Justin chuckles, scratching the back of his head. "Yeaaah...You ain't lying about that." Justin slows down a bit. "Wait, you did the same for my mother too, right?"

Clinton looks at the boy, his brow quirks. "Yeah? ...Why wouldn't I?"

"Aight. Just making sure."

Ada looks up, flying cars speeding by. "So Forest is your friend's name, right?"

"Yes. He's the guy who knows a lot about the history of Wizlore," Clinton says. "Which is kind of funny since he isn't from this region."

"Huh…" Ada lays her hand against her chin. "Interesting."

"I would join you three, but I feel my responsibility in this city is still unfinished."

The three stop, looking at Clinton. "What do you mean?" Justin asks.

Clinton turns around, looking back. "I want to see what the new mayor is like: See if he, she, or they will fix the many damages in a city that's about being ahead of time." Clinton's hands slip in his pockets, gazing at the glistening sun. "Even though I'm glad the neverending case of abnormal crime rates is done, I believe I should stick around. In case the justice system starts slacking off again."

"Mhm. Gotta make sure them higher ups ain't being a lazy bunch." Justin snickers, the three chuckling along.

"Yeah." Clinton frowns. "But seriously, I want this city to improve. Improve upon the mistakes that happened here." The elder faces forward. "I...hope the new mayor starts with giving the homeless here a chance to live a better life."

"Agreed," Ada says, everyone continues walking.

"And besides—" Clinton shrugs. "I'm an old man, anyways."

"Okay, fam." Justin walks close to Clinton. "I thought you don't like to be called 'old?'"

The elder rolls his eyes. "I can call myself old however I darn please."

"But you don't want others to call you old!"

Clinton turns towards the dark brown teen. "That's because you're not me. It's simply an insult for you to call me old."

"But...you can insult yourself whenever you like?" Justin scratches the side of his head. "That doesn't sound right, man."

"Treat it as self-deprecation, kid." Clinton whistles as the four come across a corner, turning to their right.

"Say, how come the government didn't acknowledge us solving the biggest crime ever?" Ada mentions.

Ramon forms a peculiar look. "Yeah...she got a point there."

Clinton shrugs. "Beats me. I assume Isaac forgot to let them know about it. Or they didn't have much time to congratulate two teens, a Pokémon, and an elderly man."

"Wow...Sounds stupid," Justin replies.

"The Wizlore government is...unpredictable, to say the least." The elder comes to a complete halt, holding his arm. "Well, looks like our road ends here."

The four look ahead at a sign across the street: 'Majestic City to Avalon Forest Right Pathway.'

The sign has an arrow pointing at the exit, cars flying by. Justin is about to step forward until a truck roaring by, yelping back. The truck honks, fading in the distance.

"Look both ways before crossing, silly," Ada says, shaking her head.

"Pfft, I knew that. I was just, uh...baiting a vehicle to pass by." The boy sticks his tongue out. "Yeah."

"Justin—" Ada's arms fold. "Why would you ever want to bait a vehicle?"

"It's so that I, uh." The teen squints. "Carrots."

"...Okay then."

Clinton quirks his brow, shaking his head. "Why are you two like this?" He smiles.

"Haha" Ramon shifts.

"Anyways, this is how you get to Serenity. Again, it's not far off from Majestic City so you shouldn't have a problem getting there."

"Now that's a kickass moment, classic man!" Justin says, throwing his fist in the air.

"These filthy languages of yours will be the end of me, kid." Clinton lets out a sigh. "With that said, I hope you three make it there in time."

Ada bows her head. "Thank you Clinton for helping us throughout these past few days." She smiles. "Here's hoping that we meet each other again. Whenever that time comes."

"Heh. Perhaps, kid." The three are about to walk away until Clinton speaks. "Hold on: There's actually one more thing I wanted to say. To Justin specifically."

Justin slips his hands in his pockets. "Yeah?"

"I…recently remembered one message your mother wanted me to tell you: 'We may be apart, physically. But we're never apart, mentally. Because I always love you, Son. And I hope to see you in person again, soon…'"

The elder looks off to the side. "I was going to tell you this last night, but...I figured it's appropriate here, considering our goodbyes." Justin stands there in silence, staring at Clinton. He then wraps his arms around the elder, the shirt covering his face. "Huh!?" Clinton's arms lift, the elder blinking.

The boy sniffles, hugging for a while. He moves away, Ada patting him on the shoulder as Ramon nuzzles his leg. "Thank you, man...For telling me that message," Justin says, wiping away his tears.

Clinton stares for a brief moment, lifting his thumb and smiling. Justin looks back before doing the same, closing his eyes.

Then the three look both sides of the street, the cars stopping at a red light. They run across, making their way to the other side. Afterwards, they turn around and wave at the elder, smiling. "Until we meet again, farewell!" Ada shouts.

Clinton waves back, warmth sprouting throughout like a flower bloom. He smiles, turning around with his hands in his pockets. He then walks away.

The three nod at each other before doing the same, exiting the city. Poking from behind a wall is the blue ribbon Drowzee, spotting the trio. She runs after them before jumping from a car hovering above.

"Eeek!" she exclaims, shaking in place before another one screeches towards her. She yelps, closing her eyes while covering herself. Her ears twitch to more vehicles passing by, the Drowzee moving forward despite her eyes being shut. She makes it to the sidewalk and opens her eyes, following the group.

On top of one of the buildings is the cloaker, glaring down. The sun shines on his face, his blue and black fur revealing a bit. He sits on his knees, stroking it.

Your friends may have saved you twice. He closes his eyes, releasing sighs. But they will not save you for long...
 
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Chapter 21.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 21: Meeting Mesmeren.

The trio walk along the sidewalk of Avalon Forest: Justin's hands in his pockets, head tilting towards Zorua, lips moving. Ada stands beside him, her arms folding, squinting while tapping. Ramon strolls between them, eyeing up. The trees hover over everyone like an umbrella, the sun peeking through.

"What do you call a Magnemite without the screw?" the boy asks.

"Erm...I'm not sure," Ramon replies.

"A magnet." Justin snickers, slapping his knee. The Zorua raises his brow, tilting.

Ada's hand covers her face, her head shaking. "Wow...That was terrible," she says, rolling her eyes.

Justin's hand lifts up and down. "Oh please, you can't admit that my jokes are amazing."

"Yeah, in your dreams. I still remember the time you told that pokeball joke to everyone at Synchronic." The teen stares ahead, shivering. "It was...so bad."

Justin shrugs. "My comedic flavor wasn't on point back then, aight?"

"And it's still not on 'point.'"

"Aight. How about you tell a joke then?" The boy grins. "Since you're an 'expert' at jokes."

Ada huffs, looking at the bushes while blushing. "I never said I was an expert at all," she grumbles.

Justin elbows the girl. "You sure actin' like it. Heh."

Their chatter continues, Ada playfully punching the boy's shoulder while he laughs. Ramon smiles at them, his ears shifting, his tail wagging. The fox giggles. "Honestly with how much you two banter, I'm starting to believe Justin's mother about you two liking each other."

The teens look at the Zorua, shaking their heads and hands. "What!? No way!" they shout.

"I appreciate Justin as a great friend, but being more than that is not happening," Ada elaborates.

"Yeah. She's like, way out of my league, fam," Justin agrees.

"Really? I believe you two would go well together." The fox smiles once more. "I've seen how much you two care about each other, and overall wanting to help each other out."

Ada tugs her arm, staring off at the ground as a car passes. "While all of it is true, it doesn't mean we should be in a significant other relationship."

Justin huffs. "And besides, we go together as well as oil and paint."

"Don't you mean 'water?'"

"They don't mix with paint, either!" Justin gazes ahead. "I know because of experiences." He shudders. "Just the thought of getting them off is...Ugh." He shakes his head, stroking it.

Ada eyes up the boy, raising her brow while Ramon snickers. "Well, if you two insist on believing you don't go well together, then go ahead." The Zorua then stops, staring at the bushes. His brows lower, gazing.

This feeling... He scans around as the other two continue ahead, his fur peeking. It's there again! Like I'm sensing someone or something nearby! His ear flickers to a soft voice, turning around to his side. The blue ribbon Drowzee lies on the ground, rubbing her head.

"Oww," she whimpers, sitting up.

Ramon rushes towards her, lowering his ears. "Are you alright?"

The Drowzee looks at him. "I'm fine..." Then she gasps, slamming her hand against her chest. Her heart pounds like a rhythm. "Y-You felt it too, right!?"

Ramon blinks, his head backing up. "What?"

The Drowzee lowers her anxiousness, shaking her head before standing on her feet. "N-Never mind."

Ramon tilts his head. Is she the one causing me to feel her presence? he thinks.

"Hey Ramon!" Ada shouts, the Zorua turning around. "We were wondering why you didn't keep up with us." She then looks at the Drowzee, her brow quirks. "Say, weren't you the Drowzee we saved a while back?"

The tapir holds her hands together, shielding her face. "Y-Yes. And I w-wanted to say thank you afterwards."

Ada folds her arms. "But you disappeared before we even got a chance to meet you."

The Drowzee winces, looking away. "A-And I'm sorry for doing that. I...wasn't thinking clearly."

"I see." Ada smiles. "At least this lets me know that you're not ungrateful."

"I-I did come off that way, didn't I?" The Drowzee covers her face more. "Again, I'm so sorry!"

Ada and Justin look at each other, scratching their heads before staring down the Drowzee. "Uh, you can stop covering your face now," Justin says.

"Hmm?" The tapir blinks before lowering her hands. She puts them behind her, staring off while caressing them. "M-Mhm..."

Justin tilts his head while Ada forms a peculiar look. "Oookay then." Ada's hands into her jacket's pockets. "Why were those Conjure groups after you, anyways?"

The Drowzee blinks. "They're...known as Conjure?"

The teen nods. "Indeed. I'm not sure what their motives are, but I know that they're up to something far from good." Her fist clenches. "Especially after what they did to my home..."

The Drowzee eyes the girl: The shaky fist, the squinting eyes—Anger writes all over. "Oh..." The tapir looks down. "I...d-don't know..."

"Hmm?"

The Drowzee pokes her fingers together. "I don't know why they're after me."

"Oh." Ada's hand nudges against her chin. "Hmm...Whatever their reasons, at least it's over now."

The Drowzee nods. "Y-Yeah."

"Say, what's your name, Drowzee?" Ada asks, smiling.

The tapir strokes her arm, shifting and looking off. "M-Mesmeren," she says before twirling her fingers.

Ada descends to her knees, her hand displaying. "Ada is mine. The two beside me are Ramon and Justin. A pleasure meeting you, Mesmeren." The girl smiles.

Mesmeren stares at the open hand and then at the girl, uneasiness creeping throughout as her heart sinks. Her hand quakes, inching close to the girl's. She nudges it, gripping it like a candle before looking away. She shakes, closing her eyes while Ada quirks her brow.

"Um, you're supposed to look at someone when you shake their hand," the girl points out.

Mesmeren turns towards the teen instantly, lips quivering as she feels like she's going to explode. "S-Sorry!" she exclaims.

Ada then stretches her arms. "So you live in Avalon Forest, Mesmeren?"

The Drowzee shakes her head. "No. I...travel around on m-my own, pretty much."

"Well that makes the four of us, huh?" Ada smiles. "Hope your travels go well. Besides, erm...what happened with Team Conjure."

"H-Ha...yeah."

Ada stands. "Thanks for the gratitude. I appreciate it a lot." She lifts her thumb at the Drowzee, leading her to look away.

"Y-You're welcome!" she squeaks before covering her mouth. Stop embarrassing yourself, me! She stares at the trio, the look of uncertainty painting them. "E-Erm, sorry about that."

Justin puts his hands behind his head. "It's cool. Nothing to beat yourself over."

Ramon nods. "Agreed." The Zorua lifts his lips. "Whatever is going on with you, you can ease yourself from it. Alright?"

Mesmeren gazes at the Zorua, shock spreading throughout. She slowly smiles back, nodding. "Al-Alright."

Ada waves at Mesmeren. "I wish you good luck on your travels!" The trio walk away from the Drowzee, carrying on with their day while chatting.

The distance between them fades, the tapir wailing. J-Just say it! she thinks, biting her lips, trembling. She then opens her mouth: Inhaling, exhaling. "W-Wait!"

The three stop, turning around as the Drowzee runs towards them. "Hmm?" they say, Mesmeren panting while stroking her knees.

The Drowzee eyes up, flusher at the attention given to her. She stares down, nudging the ground with her feet while poking her fingers together. "Um, well..."

"Yeah?" Justin replies.

"I, um...d-don't have anywhere to go so." She looks up, pitying. "May I...come with you?" Justin and Ada look at each other, suspicion spreading across like wildfire. Mesmeren shrugs, staring off to the side immediately. "I-It's alright if you d-don't want me to come...I understa—"

"Sure," Ada answers, smiling down.

Mesmeren blinks and gasps, her hand to her maw. "R-Really?"

"Yeah, man. You're alright in our book," Justin says. "And besides, if you're going to be lost, then let's be lost together."

Ada's eyes roll. "Justin, we actually have somewhere to go, remember?"

The boy's arms fold, puffing his cheeks. "Fam, I'm just trynna make her feel welcome, that's all."

Ramon snickers, his paw against his maw. "You two are hilarious, you know?"

Justin raises his brow. "Are you sure about that? I mean, I'm understandable. But Ada? ...Zzz."

"Do I have to roundhouse kick you now?" Ada asks, her hands sliding into her pockets. Justin laughs, his voice becoming raspy.

"Ah...I'm good." He scratches the back of his head.

"U-Um..." Everyone looks at Mesmeren again, her face glowing red as she looks away. She caresses her ribbon, twirling it. "Th-Thank you so much for letting me join you..." She then smiles, her lips jittering.

"No problem, man. Although..." Justin rubs his nose. "Walking is starting to get boring. So—" he smirks at Ada, taking off running. "Last one to Serenity is a rotten egg!"

Ada gasps. "Oh you're going to be the rotten egg this time!" She dashes after him.

"Whoa! Wait for me!" Ramon chases the two. Mesmeren remains still for a moment before scrunching up.

"U-Um! H-Hey, wait!" the Drowzee says softly, running ahead.

Meanwhile, the cloaked figure looks from behind a tree, the distance between him and the group are further apart. He squints, snarling before following.
 
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Chapter 22.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 22: Serenity.

Screeching across the ground are Ada's heels, wobbling.

"Whoa!" She falls down, groaning.

Standing beside is Justin, chuckling. He puts his hand in his pocket, holding the other out.

"Clumsy much?" He grins.

Ada frowns before rolling her eyes, grabbing his hand. "At least I got here first, Mister." Stands.

"Who says I was last, Missy?" Justin looks to the side, Ramon and Mesmeren catching up. Ramon reaches the two before Mesmeren does, both panting. Mesmeren puts her hands onto her knees: Exhaling, grunting even. "Looks like you're the rotten egg, Mesmeren."

The Drowzee eyes up, blinking. "H-Huh?" She lowers her lips, eyes descending into misery. "I-Is that what you...think of me?" Whimpers.

"What? No no!" Justin shakes his head and hands. "It's like a joke you make when you race against someone and they come last."

Mesmeren sniffles, holding her hands together, pressing them against her. "R-Really?"

"Yeah, man. I don't literally think you're a rotten egg: That's just plain rude if I did."

"Oh..." Mesmeren twirls her finger around her ear, looking up. "Sorry for not getting it..."

Justin lifts his thumb. "You're good."

Ada turns towards the village ahead, her hands on her hips. "With that said, we're here at Serenity, everyone!"

Several buildings and homes spread on the right and left side: Trees surrounding them like a barrier, either beside them or behind. Civilians and Defects hang around the shops here along with other parts of the village. There's also a road ahead that splits into two, a fountain being in the middle: The fountain contains a statue of a man holding his stick, posing in a heroic manner.

"And how would you know that?" Justin asks the girl.

Ada casually points to the sign beside her: 'Serenity: The Peace Within'.

Justin scratches the back of his head, chuckling. "My bad for not noticing."

The group sighs in relief, moving forward. Everyone gazes at the houses: The clean windows, the smooth texture on its exteriors, and the many Flying types resting on top of the roofs. Some are even relaxing near the fountain, socializing with the local villagers here, including the Pokémon: Intellicates or Defects.

Ada smiles, admiring the blue sky free of terrorizing clouds. "Justin, doesn't this remind you of Synchronic Village?" Her hands slip in her pockets. "With the beautiful sky giving us this gorgeous view of Serenity, seeing how alive it is."

"Yeah. One thing this village is missing though is our friends visiting us," Justin points out.

Ada nods. "True." She sighs, staring down. "If I was able to pay a single buck to revive Synchronic, I would."

Justin sighs along. "Same, fam." Smiles. "I still remember the time we pranked Merlin by dropping water balloons on his head." Justin points at one of the houses, an Intellicate Pidgey sleeping on top. "We were on top of houses like those."

Ada's finger wiggles. "Oh no no. That was you and X. You tried to shift the blame on me when Merlin found out about it."

"Did I?" Justin smirks.

The girl looks at the boy, squinting. "Don't act like you have amnesia now."

"U-Um excuse me," Mesmeren interrupts. "Who's X and Merlin?"

"They're childhood friends of ours. X is just as childish as Justin while Merlin is the bookworm of the group."

"Group?" The Drowzee tilts her head.

Justin sets his hands behind his head. "Yeah. There's like four we've befriended, with two of them being Intellicates."

"I see..." Mesmeren pokes her lips. "So what happened to them? Why aren't they with you?"

"Well...It started with Merlin providing us news about the Prospective Institute and..." Justin explains the rest of the Synchronic incident, the tapir looking down.

"Oh...I-I'm sorry for asking. I..." The Drowzee looks away, stroking her arm. The group stops, taking their attention towards her.

"It's fine. You were curious about our friends." Justin smiles. "Hopefully, we'll be able to find them soon."

Mesmeren slowly lifts her lips. "I-I hope so, too."

Silence is in the air for a brief moment: The chatter, the footsteps, and the wind are the only things being heard from the village. The Drowzee then breaks it. "So, um, this is why you two are heading to Serenity?"

"Yes," Ada says, walking forward along with the others. "We're looking for a man named Forest, who most likely knows about them by now."

"Forest?"

Justin shrugs. "Some guy that Clinton knows."

Mesmeren blinks. "Oh..."

"We hope after finding him, he can lead us to our friends and Justin's mother," Ada mentions. "Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for my father. I...hope he's okay." Trembles. "Just the thought of him being gone is..." She shakes her head. "I'd rather not think about it. All I hope is that Justin and I find our friends and family. Eventually."

"I see."

Silence fills the air once again, the group keeping their eyes on the path. Then Mesmeren continues speaking. "So what about Ramon?" She turns towards the Zorua. Ramon blinks before shrugging, staring off.

"They're helping me recover my memories," the fox says.

"Memories?"

"Yep." Justin scratches the side of his head. "And now to explain that to ya, Ramon said he woke up in the Prospective Institute by himself and..." Justin spills the beans on Ramon's amnesia.

The Drowzee widens her eyes. "Wh-Whoa!" She caresses her arm.

"Crazy, right? The only thing he can remember is his name despite all of that." The boy's head tilts.

"I see...That explains why you're helping him."

"You got that right, dude. Or dudette." Justin shrugs.

Mesmeren blushes. "I-I'd rather be called Mesmeren to keep things simple..."

"Justin rarely calls people by their names. He always says 'dude', 'man', or 'fam'. That's his thing," Ada mentions.

"O-Oh."

Justin is about to say something, lifting his hand up, but decides to postpone.

As the four continue, Mesmeren stares at them, poking her fingers together. These three all have their own goals in mind. Meanwhile, I'm just...tagging along. With no goal of my own... She sighs, her lips lowering, gazing off to the side.

"Is something wrong?" Ramon asks the Drowzee while Ada spots a familiar yellow statue nearby, running ahead.

Mesmeren shakes her head. "It's nothing."

Ada touches the statue as Ramon walks close to the tapir. "Are you sure?"

Mesmeren nods, walking forward. Ramon gazes at her for a brief moment, perplexion slithering throughout. He follows.

Ada's eyes glow blue, the statue vibrating. Once the glow fades, two individuals walk towards the group. The first is an elderly man with tan skin and blue clothing, carrying a brown cane. The second being a bipedal creature that's covered in white fur, two tufts growing on both his back and chest: Abomasnow. Two scars are on the Pokémon's eyes, and plenty more on his chest.

The group backs away.

"Whoa now. We're not asking for any trouble," Justin says, his hands lifting.

The elder chuckles. "Trouble? I only stopped by to introduce myself. Doesn't look like you're from around here," he replies, his hands resting on his cane.

"Oh." Justin snaps his fingers, showing the elder his finger guns. "Then you'd be right, sir."

Ada squints at the boy. "Did you have to act like a hotshot?"

The elderly man chuckles once more. "It's alright. I enjoy a great sense of humor here and there." Setting his hand behind his back, the man nods. "The name's Forest, and this is my companion, Mokuri. I'm the chief of this village here, so be my guest to explore it as much as you like."

The trio jump at the word 'Forest,' all looking at each other. Mokuri raises his brow at them, unsure of their motives. "Did I say something wrong?" Forest asks.

The three shake their heads. "Nah, you're good, Chief," Justin responds.

"The name's Ada. To my right is Justin, left's Ramon, and behind me is Mesmeren." Ada moves out of the way, the Drowzee yelping at her exposure and hiding behind Ramon despite her size. Ada poker faces at the tapir's action. "...Anyway, we're here to—"

"Find Justin and Ada's friends," Ramon says.

The teen glances at him, folding her arms. "Wow, Ramon. Didn't expect you of all people to cut me off."

The Zorua lowers his ears and whimpers. "M-My apologies."

Forest tilts his head. "Justin and Ada's friends?"

Justin walks close to the elder. "Yeah. And a friend of yours told us that they're with you, right?"

"A friend of mine? How would you know that? And what is this friend of mine's name? And how would you know that I know your friends?"

"...Clinton," Justin states bluntly. "We met him over at Majestic City to the north. Also he told me that two of my friends came here to see you, including my mother who's with them."

Forest taps his head with his cane. "What's your mother's name?"

"Delia Phoenix."

Forest blinks. "Ah, I see!" Smirks. "That's how you know about me. If only the classic fella told me that I'd have visitors, then I would've expected your arrival. Hah!" He shakes his head. "This is the second time he has done that to me."

Justin scratches the back of his head. "Even you call him classic?"

Forest leans against his cane. "It's classy and less offensive than old. Could you blame me?"

"No, I guess?" The boy shrugs.

The elderly man nods. "So you must be Delia Phoenix's son, then."

"I just confirmed that not too long ago, fam."

"Hmm..." Forest caresses his short, gray beard, squinting at the boy. He taps on the ground, humming in silence.

"So...are you going to tell me where she's at?"

The elder raises his finger and points at Justin. "Yes: She left to go see Glory Pride City, along with four individuals that were with her."

Glory Pride City!? both Ramon and Nomar thought, Ramon's eyes widening.

"What the—" Justin sighs, gripping his fist. "Just when I thought I was close to finding her, man..."

Ada's hand rests on Justin's shoulder. "I thought the same, too..."

Ramon blinks for a moment before his brow lifts. "Wait, four?" His head tilts. "I thought two of Justin and Ada's friends came here...Who's the other two?"

The teens squint at each other. "...Yeaaah, good question," they say.

Forest strokes his beard again. "I believe they were a Buizel and Flareon, with the latter wearing a necklace."

"X and Ethan!" Ada says.

"You know those two as well?"

Justin nods. "Yeah, they're also our friends."

"I see, then." Forest slams his fist onto his hand. "To recap: Justin's related to Delia and you two know those people, meaning you most likely know—"

"Merlin and Serene? Yes, they do," Ramon concludes. He soon gasps, lowering his ears. "Sorry for the interruption!"

"Ah, it's fine. Makes this understanding go by quickly, really." Forest turns around. "Although, aren't you curious about why Delia left?"

Justin caresses his chin before nodding. "Yeah, actually."

"I've told her and your friends about the history of Wizlore. Since then, she wanted to go see the statue of your ancestor there."

Justin raises his brow. "My what?"

"Your ancestor—" Forest looks behind him. "Pauline Phoenix: One of the two historical figures who discovered Magic type in humans, changing the world of Pokémon and ending a deadly 12 year long war."

The teens look at Forest with blank expressions before jumping back. "SHE DID WHAT!?" they yell, Mesmeren and Ramon covering their ears.

"S-So loud..." The Drowzee whimpers.

Forest snickers. "Your mother reacted that way too, Justin. Along with your friends." He tilts his cane forward. "If you want to learn more about it, then I suggest you follow me. All Wizlorians should learn about it, in all honesty." He and Mokuri walk forward, the group looking at each other in uncertainty.

"A 12 year long war...?" Ada says, her hand on her chin.

"Sounds like something you tried to explain to Ramon the other day, but couldn't remember what it was then," Justin states, his hand against his chin as well. "I didn't know it...had something to do with my ancestor, though."

"Yeah..."

"Are you four coming?" Forest asks, catching their attention.

Everyone looks at each other once again before nodding. "We are," Ada says.

Soon, they wander around the village of Serenity, following the elder and his companion Defect. "First, I'll have to go check on my students," Forest says.

"Students?" the group says, looking at each other.

A large building to the left outshines the other buildings: Containing a brown double door with several windows adjacent from one another. The brick walls spreading throughout are colored red, an ounce of brown applying to them. Everyone walks towards it.

As they walk, Ramon looks at an entrance leading to a forest up ahead. The place looks darker than Avalon Forest, as if less of a life is present there. A couple of men wearing blue clothing patrol the entrance, glaring around the forest. The Zorua glances, suspicion casting onto him like a spell.

"We're here," Forest says. He pushes the doors open, walking inside along with everyone else.

The inside is littered with gym environments: Training equipment such as punching bags and weightlifters lying on both sides, the clean and solid floor occupied by two brown benches opposite of each other. Few people are training each other: Some striking the bags, others withstanding push-ups.

"Welcome to my dojo, everyone," Forest says, gazing ahead at a large blue carpet in the middle.

"Yo, this place is huge," Justin says, looking around.

"Agreed," Ramon follows, knowing how much bigger the place is to him.

Mesmeren clings to the Zorua, eyeing every corner. "There's quite a lot of people tr-training here," she says, poking her fingers together.

The fox eyes the tapir up, overwhelmed. "U-Um, mind giving me some space, please?"

"Hmm?" Mesmeren blinks for a moment before yelping, moving back. "Eek! Sorry!" She shakes her head, stroking her arm.

After soaking in the dojo, the group eyes ahead at two people fighting: One's a human while the other is a bipedal, bunny creature with pink eyes and brown fur. The Lopunny ducks from the girl's fist, pushing her away afterwards. The teen slides across the carpet, clenching her fist before rushing forward.

The rabbit smirks and jumps over her, twirling around. While this happens, a bipedal chicken creature with a V-shaped crest on his head and red skin gazes at the fight, sitting on the bench. His arms rest on his knees: The Blaziken glancing, stroking his hands. Other people are sitting behind him, watching with anticipation.

The Lopunny lands on the ground, tripping the girl. The girl falls, grunting. As she attempts to get up, something pins her down: The Lopunny's foot. The teen sighs, a man in a black and white shirt blowing his whistle afterwards.

He walks towards the Lopunny. "The winner is Courtney!" he shouts, the crowd clapping and cheering.

Ada flinches from the bunny's flexibility, folding her arms. "That was impressive," she says, watching the Pokémon flipping herself backwards.

Courtney aids the teen, smiling. "You did amazingly in that fight. So don't beat yourself over the loss," she says without hesitation.

"Thanks! You did fantastic as well, Tombun!" the girl says.

Courtney gives her a thumbs up before turning towards the Blaziken, who's clapping while standing. He smiles, the bunny embracing the warm weather throughout her. She walks towards him, moving her arm forward. The Blaziken moves his', fistbumping the rabbit.

"I'm getting one step closer to the final round, Sylock," Courtney says, enthusiastic. "I'm honestly stoked for this, ya know?"

Sylock moves his hands in place. "I do, in fact." He smiles once more. "You've been training for days over this. You deserve the medal at the end."

"We both deserve it, Sy. You've been working as hard as I was. Probably a little too hard, though." Courtney snickers.

The Blaziken huffs, squinting at her before pointing at himself. "I didn't see that guy when I was using High Jump Kick on the punching bag, okay?"

"Suuure you didn't." Courtney pokes Sylock's arm, chuckling some more.

"Besides, we both know that one of us is going home with that medal."

"And that person will be me." The Lopunny winks.

Sylock smirks. "See you in the final round, then."

"Courtney. Sylock," Forest says, catching the two's attention. He and the group walk towards them. "How's my two students doing?"

Courtney and Sylock bow down. "We're doing wonderful, sir. After beating this match, I feel myself getting close to the 15th round," Courtney elaborates. Sylock nods.

"I see. I'm proud of you two. Dedicating yourselves to training in this facility, even participating in this little tournament of mine."

"I mean, I gotta get strong eventually, right?" Courtney elbows Sylock, the Blaziken chuckling softly. "Gotta show the world I'm tough."

"And I, uh—" Sylock shrugs. "Just wanted to defend myself more...effectively. That's all."

"Ah. It's always good to have a goal in mind when training. Otherwise, all of your efforts will feel meaningless," Forest explains, resting his cane onto his shoulder.

Sylock nods. "By the way Sensei, is the next round our last one?"

Forest smiles. "Why yes indeed. However—" Forest turns towards the crowd and the other students. "We'll continue the tournament later tonight! For now, we'll take our break."

The crowd cheers, leaving the benches. Courtney looks at the main four, raising her brow. "Oh?" She eyes Forest. "Master and Mokuri, do you know these guys?"

Mesmeren looks away from the Intellicates as Ada and Justin hold their hands out. "The name's Ada," the teen replies.

"And I'm Justin. A pleasure meeting ya," Justin follows. Courtney shakes Ada's hand as Sylock eyes the boy up and down, glancing. Justin glances back, the Blaziken has yet to shake his hand. "Uh...?" He then feels his hand being shaken by Courtney, glee spreading across her.

"Don't mind Sylock. He's usually hesitant to shake hands with strangers," Courtney explains. Justin forms a peculiar look at the chicken.

"Right..."

"Courtney is my name, by the way. A pleasure meeting the two of y'all."

Ramon walks forward. "The name's Ramon and behind me is Mesmeren," he says, eyeing up the Lopunny.

"Sweet." Courtney looks at Mesmeren, who covers her face as she looks away. "Uh...is she alright?"

Ramon looks at the Drowzee as well, everyone giving her attention now. Mesmeren stares at the ground for a moment, shrugging. She then turns to the group, forming a flushed look. "Huh!? Why's everyone looking at me!?" She yelps, her arms quaking. "Di-Did I do s-something wrong!?"

Courtney and Sylock squint at each other, eyebrows raising.

"No. We were just curious about you, that's all." The Zorua gets on his hind legs, his paws resting on the Drowzee's arms, staring into her eyes. "Is something on your mind?"

Mesmeren forms the look of wariness, shaking and squirming. She shakes her head. "I-I'm fine."

Ramon gazes. "Are...you sure?" Mesmeren nods, her smile crooks. The Zorua sighs, getting on all fours before smiling back. "If you insist."

Ada takes her attention towards Courtney. "Say, you're pretty good during that match earlier."

Courtney snickers. "Thanks."

"I'm impressed by your movements and how flexible you are. Reminds me of myself whenever I get into fights."

"Oh really?" Courtney says, folding her arms while smirking.

"Yes." Ada's hand pins against her chest. "Thanks to my father and Justin, I've managed to gain a lot of fighting techniques over the years."

"And you still lose to me, despite all of that." Justin grins. He then receives a punch to the gut, groaning afterwards. "Oof!"

"Yet, you still let me hit you whenever you make those snarky remarks." Ada's waves her hand.

Courtney snickers, Justin covering his stomach. "I thought I'd receive a roundhouse kick." He chuckles.

"Eh. I changed my mind."

"Oh. So next time when I make a sly comment, I'll receive a less painful exp—"

"Next time will be a kick to the face," Ada says plainly.

Justin blinks, partially surprised. "Never mind."

"I'm definitely convinced that you two have a thing for each other," Ramon states, the two staring at him within a flash.

"No. We. Don't!" they yell, their faces glowing red with cherry as Courtney and Forest laugh.

"Well as entertaining as this chat is, we better head over to my house." The elder's cane points at Justin. "This boy and his friends want to learn about his distant ancestor. And I'll provide them with that information."

"His distant ancestor?" Courtney gasps. "Wait, does that mean he's Delia's son!?"

"Yes."

Courtney springs towards Justin, shaking his hand. "Bucko, your mother is a very, VERY awesome gal. I even like her crafting skills, too!"

Justin blinks from the sudden handshake, chuckling. "Well this is the first time I've ever heard someone complimenting her skills."

"Really?" The Lopunny shakes her head, folding her arms. "Now that's a crime against the living, right there."

Forest snickers. "I see that we're all getting along just well." He turns towards the exit. "Come along, now." Forest and Mokuri leave the dojo, the group following suit.

Ramon eyes Mesmeren, the Drowzee staring down at the ground while pressing her fingers together. She sighs softly, the fox lowering his ears.

I'm not sure what's going on with you, Mesmeren. But...I hope that you're doing okay, the Zorua thinks.
 
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Chapter 23.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 23: The Legend of Pauline Phoenix and Vincent Silver.

"Ugh...This house," Justin says, rolling his eyes. "Is so freaking small!"

Forest's home contains three sofas and a table in the living room's center, a kitchen being next to it. A door sits beside the living room, leading to the bedrooms. Two slender, silver swords are leaning against the wall beside the front door, not moving a muscle.

Everyone except for Forest relaxes on the sofas, Mokuri sitting on the wooden floor while closing his eyes. His grassy fingers nudge each other, meditating.

Ada looks at the swords, scabbards covering them, the handles hanging low. "Who's swords are those?" Ada asks.

"That would be ours!" Courtney says before smirking, pointing at herself and Sylock.

"Oh? They look fantastic."

"Thanks!"

"Where did you get them?"

Courtney waves her hand around. "We got them from our master, Forest. As a reward for helping him and Mokuri fight off against a lotta criminals here long ago." Her hands rest behind her head. "We've been respected by the folks here since."

Sylock glances off, his head resting on his hand. ...Fakes. All of them are, he thinks.

Ada smiles. "Sounds like a similar situation Justin, Ramon, and I went through at Majestic City."

The Lopunny pounces forward, inching close to Ada. "WHAT!? You mean THE Majestic City!?"

"Yes."

"What happened?"

"Well...it started when we met this man named Clinton and the mayor of that city, Nickel, who..." Ada tells Courtney the rest of the Majestic City situation.

Courtney's eyes widen. "Oh wowie: What a terrible fella that Nickel mayor was. I hope that city gets someone miles better than him."

"Agreed." The girl puts her hand underneath her chin, glancing down. "Although, it's odd that we don't get celebrated for helping the city. Unlike you and the others who helped Serenity."

Courtney tilts her head, her finger nudging her lips. "That is mighty strange, alright."

Justin gazes at the ceiling, grumbling at its closeness. "Dawg, how can you live like this?"

Forest walks towards his bookshelf in the corner, scanning through it. "By knowing the ins and outs of this lovely home, of course." He smirks. "I'm not as tall as you all, which also helps."

Justin squints. "Aight then."

Ada looks at the bookshelf. "You know, Merlin would've loved to read those many books you have there."

"He has, actually," Forest replies.

"Go figure. He doesn't care if it's generic information or not, he finds words to be so interesting."

Justin yawns, his foot relaxing on the couch's edge. "I envy his ass. Because I can't read through a single word without falling asleep."

Ada giggles. "At least I know I'm not the worst reader ever."

"Shut it, fam." Justin pouts.

Forest takes two books. "Perhaps both of you can become better readers." Turns. "Anyone can."

"That's true," Ada says, smiling. She soon sighs, looking down. "I hope he's doing okay out there while with Mrs. Phoenix...Really do miss him."

"Was the separation that bad?" Courtney asks, her hands resting on the sofa, staring at Ada.

"Yes...I assume he or the others told you about it, right?"

Forest sits on the left sofa as Courtney nods. "Mhm..." Courtney shakes her head. "I've said it to Delia and the others before, but: I'm sorry for what happened there. I...can't imagine how it feels to escape that nasty event without your friends and family."

"Mhm..." Ada grips her jeans, voice drenching in haze. "I hope they're all safe and sound. Merlin, X, Serene, Ethan, Mrs. Phoenix, Terran, and my fath—" a force lands onto her shoulder with grace. She looks beside her, Justin's shaky smile displaying its best warmth possible.

"We'll find them, Ada. No worries," the boy says softly.

Ada gazes at him for a moment, the sheer gleeness expanding throughout him. She stops gripping her jeans, nodding. "You're right." She smiles back before taking her attention towards Forest, who's resting against the sofa while reading. "Sorry about the commotion there. Was...not in the right state of mind, I guess..."

"So that's how you make an Oran Berry pie, huh?" Forest says, holding the book. "Interesting."

Mesmeren's ears perk up, turning towards the elder eagerly. Oran Berry pie!? That...can't be real, right? She salivates a bit, Ramon blinking at her.

Is she alright? he thinks, shrugging.

Ada quirks her brow. "Uh, sir?"

Forest looks at the girl, snickering. "My apologies. I got distracted by this cookbook I picked up."

"Cookbook? Thought that one was about my ancestor," Justin says with confusion.

"Nope." Forest sets the book on his desk beside him, holding up the second one. "But this one is."

The second book has vibrant purple coloring, the interconnecting triangle and circle symbol sprinkling throughout, and the following words on its cover: 'The Birth of Wizlore'.

The background has a couple of humans and Pokémon living alongside each other in a forest, the sun casting its light on them. Ramon's eyes widen, rainbows spawning over the mainlands.

"Whoa..." The Zorua says, captivated.

Justin snaps his fingers, pointing his finger guns at the cover. "Nice."

"I've been reading this book as many times as I can remember. I'll let you know when I get to your ancestor, Justin." Forest flips through the many pages of the book, humming.

Justin leans over to Courtney, his hand hovering his lips. "Does he usually get distracted like that earlier?"

The Lopunny shrugs. "Eh, sometimes."

Forest stops. "Alright. I've reached the true historic part. So prep yourselves: We're in for a lesson."

Everyone except Mokuri gazes at the elder, anticipation rising. Mokuri simply turns his head to a small degree, eyes remaining closed.

"Now then..." Forest clears his throat. "Wizlore has many aspects that changed the Pokémon world for centuries. Those aspects are Magic type and Intellicates." He flips a page. "But how did those two change society? Who was the first to discover them? That's where two iconic figures enter: Pauline Phoenix and Vincent Silver."

Vincent Silver, huh? Justin thinks.

"These two sail across the seas to find a region they've never seen before. Stumbling through many trials and errors, they came across a region filled with many Pokémon. These Pokémon weren't no ordinary ones, however. They were able to communicate and perceive knowledge similar to humans: Intellicates were their names. Most of these them were even capable of switching between their evolutions by will: They were known as Transvians."

Transvian...That Yvonne guy was working on that, Ramon thinks, looking down before tilting his head. However, this book said 'most,' implying there used to be more Transvians back then compared to now. His head tilts. Maybe it has something to do with the war Ada mentioned? He shakes his head. I'm not sure.

Another page flips. "One day, the two noticed the native Pokémon of Wizlore struggling to build a town. Once they helped them, Phoenix discovered her Magic typing after saving one from a fallen boulder. After helping them build the town, Phoenix and Silver called it 'PV Town' before sailing away. This discovery led to an unexpected change in all of the regions upon hearing this news: More people became Magic type, more Pokémon became Intellicates and Transvians."

"Humans with Magic type were known as Sorcerous, while those that didn't have it were called Faults. Defect was the name given to a Pokémon who lacks human communication. No one knew why this phenomenon happened after the discovery of the Wizlore region, nor why some newborns were given this gift. Regardless, many considered this revolutionary era as the Sorcery Ascension Era. Not only for Wizlore, but also for the entirety of the Pokémon world."

Forest clears his throat once again. "However, with all things good lurks the evil within: Enter The Dne War."

"The Dne War?" everyone except for Mokuri, Sylock, and Courtney says, Justin raising his brow in suspicion.

Another page flips. "This war was a result of the many debates involving the concerns of this new life for humans and Pokémon. The morality of Defects, the abuse of Magic type: Many Sorcerous skewed this gift to the point of reviving an evil deity known as Dne."

"Dne was a malevolent God whose power was beyond that of man and Pokémon. They terrorized the land of Wizlore with an iron grip, doing the same for other regions too. Dne took the many lives of oppositions in their ruling, sending a message."

"The war lasted for 12 years, Dne's followers slowly growing over the years. These followers were people who acknowledged Dne's extraordinary powers and worshiped it, believing it was the future of society."

Page flips. "However, Phoenix and Silver led a rebel group, risking their lives to save the Pokémon world: They ultimately sacrificed themselves upon defeating Dne. No one knew how these two defeated this ruthless being, but society knew their sacrifices were filled with mourn: Both them and the many Transvians that died during the war." Forest nods.

"At the end, two statues of Phoenix and Silver were built in PV Town, which was renamed Glory Pride City. Society felt glory from the war, and pride from the founders of Wizlore. Despite the victory, the grieving remains. Transvians went extinct due to the war, leading society to incorporate many ways people and Pokémon can remain safe."

"Peace has been restored in the Pokémon world, but there's still room for improvement."

Forest closes the book, smiling. "And that's how your ancestor made a huge impact on the Wizlore region," he says to Justin.

Ramon and Justin blink in surprise. Well that explains how Transvians went extinct...But— Ramon glances down. Something tells me there's more to this story.

Justin stares at his hands, glaring. "...So Pauline and Vincent did all of this..." Gripping his fists, he stares off. "And I'm just now learning about it."

Ada rests her hand onto the boy's shoulder. "Same here."

"We're learning about it, too," both Ramon and Mesmeren state.

"I'm surprised at you and your mother's response," Forest joins. "Considering it's your ancestor, you'd know about the accomplishment she made in her life."

"Yeah. But I...guess living in a small village with little knowledge about the world explains it..." Justin sighs, slipping his hands into his pockets.

"I mean, there were newspapers being sent to our village during that time," Ada adds.

"Yeah, but we don't even read those, remember? Only Merlin does."

"Oh. Right."

Justin gazes at the ceiling, squinting. "I really hope my mother is at Glory Pride City, along with my friends..."

"Don't we all." Ada wraps her arms around her legs, looking at the ground.

After a few moments of silence, Sylock taps on Courtney's shoulder, her mouth agape as she snoozes away. She wakes up and yelps, shaking her head.

"Huh!?" Courtney rubs her eyes, seeing the audience stare. "Oh...uh..." She scratches the back of her head, looking away. "...Sorry. I, uh, fell asleep halfway because I heard it when Delia was with us."

Ada rolls her eyes. "That's totally not rude at all," she says. Justin raises his brow at the girl. She looks back. "...What?"

"Seeing you being sarcastic for the first time is the scariest thing ever, fam," Justin says before snickering.

"Justin: Are you seriously going to joke around after someone blatantly disrespected the story about your ancestor!?"

The boy shrugs. "I mean, she said she's heard it before so..."

"That doesn't excuse her for falling asleep, though! She should've at least, I don't know, go outside or something if she didn't want to hear the story again!" Ada pouts. "If that were to happen to my ancestor's story, I'd be really upset with the person in question."

Justin lifts his hand up and down. "Oh relax. It's not that big of a deal. Boredom happens so it's all good."

"It's not that big of a deal? IT'S NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL, YOU SAY!?"

The two teens commence the banters as Mokuri and Forest sigh, Sylock raising his brow at the commotion. The Lopunny laughs in a nervous manner, scratching the back of her head. "I...guessed sleeping on that story was a terrible move, huh?" she says.

"You don't say," the Blaziken signs, glancing at Courtney. Ramon and Mesmeren look at each other, shaking their heads with deadpans.

Soon, Justin finally turns towards Forest. "So about Glory Pride City..."

Forest points at the window, the woods behind a couple of houses. "Beyond Gloomy Woods lies the Windmill Forest to the far right. Passing by there is the Lake of Purity. And then afterwards, you should reach Glory Pride City."

"...Sounds far."

"It is."

Justin groans and rolls his eyes, tapping on the sofa. "Looks like this trip won't end anytime soon."

Ada lifts her finger. "Look on the bright side: We got to know about your ancestor and a bit more about Wizlore." She then snaps her fingers. "And I finally know the name of that war!"

"Yeah..."

Ramon perks up, feeling as though a light bulb spawned above his head. He opens his mouth—

No, a familiar voice says in his head. The fox raises his brow.

What? But Nomar, this seems like the perfect time to ask Forest about Doctor Yvonne and the Prospe—

Please, Ramon...


The Zorua looks down, lowering his ears. Okay...

"Hey, is something wrong?" Ada asks the fox, everyone taking their attention towards him.

Ramon looks up, smiling with brute force. "N-Nothing. I was, uh..." I got to think of something quick. "Thinking about carrots."

Ada lifts her brow, folding her arms. "You looked depressed, though. Like someone took you away from your family or something."

"I..." U-Um. "Was feeling down because I could not for the life of me understand why Justin says carrots a lot!"

Silence.

"...Pfft haha!" Courtney, Justin, and Forest break the silence, covering their stomachs.

Ada shakes her head, her eyes roll. "Honestly, I don't understand his usage of the word carrots, either. But it's nothing to get completely down over. He's just a goofball, that's all."

"Haha, carrots!" Justin exclaims, Ada glancing at him afterwards.

"I haven't laughed this hard since the time Mokuri belly-flopped into a frozen stream of water at Dendemille Town," Forest says, snickering. The Abomasnow groans, shakes his head while stroking his stomach. Mesmeren giggles at the phenomenon while Sylock stares at the group, lost.

Nice save, Ramon, Nomar says, giggling along.

I feel terrible about the lie, though. Ramon sighs.

"At least nothing could go completely downhill on our path towards Glory Pride City," Ada states.

BOOM!

The group jumps from the explosion outside.

Justin casts his Sorcery Blades, jolting up. "Ah man, fam. You just HAD to say that cursed phrase, huh?" He dashes out of the door afterwards. Courtney and Sylock look at each other before nodding, grabbing their swords. Everyone follows the boy.

. . .

A ton of Conjure members terrorize the village, many people and Pokémon running away from them. Some of the grunts fire their magic at the buildings, leading them to collapse onto the ground. Forest frowns, gripping his cane.

"What's the meaning of this?" he asks, a villager running past him. A couple of guards charge towards the Conjure members with their handguns, but a stream of water pushes them away, flying them past the group.

As the guards are knocked out, Jester rides on his mystical river, smirking.

"It's them..." Ada says, casting her purple claws.

Forest looks at her. "You know them?"

"Yes. They're Team Conjure: No good menaces who're the cause of our home being burned down." Ada glares ahead. "They're going to pay for what they did."

Mesmeren whimpers at the sight of so many of them, hiding behind Ramon. Ramon glances at the group, preparing himself. Courtney looks at Sylock before smirking, readying herself as well. Mokuri and Sylock follow suit.

"Might wanna get behind us, Forest. Because it looks like we have a fight coming up." The Lopunny sighs in relief. "And I don't mind that at all."
 
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Chapter 24.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 24: Showdown at Serenity!

Flames spread throughout the buildings, some collapsing down: Shattering into pieces.

"Please help us, Chief!" one of the villagers screams, running away along with the others. Forest grits his teeth, frowning: The entirety of Team Conjure wreaking havoc upon his village.

Jester looks at his arm blade, a locator device peeking out. It looks similar to a satellite, spinning around while buzzing and beeping. He strokes his chin, glancing. The device stops, aiming at Forest's home. Jester then taps on another Conjure member besides him.

"It's located in that house over there," he says.

The individual takes off his black shades, his long blonde hair flowing with the wind, gazing at the house. His skin is also dark brown compared to Jester's lighter one. "Good."

SCREECH!

Two Mystical Projectiles zoom past them, the two tilting their heads.

"The heckle was that!?" Jester coughs. Justin, Ada, and the others rush towards them. "Oh...It's you pixie farts."

The group stops, many Conjure members hurling around them. "Says the guy that has the word 'pixie' in his Magic move," Justin mentions.

Jester shakes his fist. "Hush, you!"

Ada looks at the blonde hair Conjure. "I see you got a new friend there."

"I prefer the term 'ally.'" The young man's hand lays behind him, touching the end of his silver lance. He glances at the group, Mesmeren's spine rattling at the sight of his green eyes. She yelps, closing in on the Zorua and covering her face. The Conjure quirks his brow. "Friends do not have beauty. But an ally...certainly does."

"Are you implying that I'm beautiful?" Jester asks.

"No." Everyone raises their brow at the Conjure, some stretching their faces and squinting in perplexion.

"What?" Justin, Ada, and Ramon say with blank gazes.

The blonde hair Conjure lays his hand against his chest. "Allies have beauty in the manner of remaining loyal and honest. They never betray each other because of their dignity. Friends, however, lack this beauty. They're never loyal nor honest. They'll think of every opportunity to hinder one another for their own desires. Thus, they have filth." Softly sighing, he closes his eyes. "This is what I meant by beauty."

"Sounds like nonsense, to me. Friends wouldn't do such a thing to each other!" Ada says. "At least, my friends wouldn't."

"Of course you'll find it nonsensical. Kids like you would disagree with adults on anything. Therefore, you'll learn the hard way."

"I've known Justin since my childhood." The girl's hand swifts to the side. "Who are you determining whether he'll betray me?"

"I wasn't determining anything. I was merely stating facts on what friends can do. Ask any adult—" glares. "They'll give you the same answer."

Ramon stares off, distressed dancing in his mind from his brother's words. He glances, drowning in thoughts. Then Ada's claws extend themselves, the Zorua's ears flickering.

"Like I'll believe you terrorists, anyways!"

The dark brown Conjure lifts his chin, gazing down before closing his eyes once more. "Hmph. Very well then. You're in the way of beauty flourishing in this world so—" he glares at the girl. "Off with you! For I am Arthur, one of the supreme commanders of Team Conjure!"

Justin runs towards Arthur and jumps. "Oh shut the hell up!" He thrusts his blades, clashing against Arthur's lance.

"Bold of you to attack me first, boy." Arthur fires Mystical Projectile at Justin, blue sparkles radiating. Justin gets hit, flying towards Sylock. The Blaziken evades, the teen rolling around groaning.

"Justin!" Ada shouts, being greeted with another sparkling beam coming from the grunts. She throws up her Mystical Shield, groaning.

"I'm fine! Don't worry!" Justin jumps up, dusting himself. "Let's just take care of these assholes, yo!"

"No need to tell me twice."

Ada rushes towards the two Conjure members and leaps up, swinging her giant claw. Jester and Arthur jump off their mystical river, landing on the ground as it gets cut in half.

Courtney and Sylock nod at each other, ushering beside the teens. The Lopunny leaves a white trail behind her, dashing towards two Conjure members. She Quick Attacks them, pushing them down with ease.

Another grunt leaps towards the rabbit, surrounding his arms in blue auras. Sylock gets in front of Courtney and jumps, spinning around. He High Jump Kicks the Conjure's face, striking him towards another grunt.

"Good thing the move landed that time." Courtney snickers, giving Sylock a thumbs up.

The Blaziken lands, twirling his sword. "Pfft, don't remind me."

Justin looks at Sylock and lifts his hand. "Ayy, that was some sick move you did there." Sylock quirks his brow, glancing at the teen. His hands ignite in flames before looking at the Conjures, Justin squinting his eyes while lowering his hand. "...Aight then."

Arthur rushes up behind the boy.

"Justin, look out!" Ada shouts.

"Hmm?" Justin is greeted with a lance close to his face, blocking it in time. "Oh crap!"

Sylock swings Fire Punch at the Conjure commander. Arthur shields with his lance, sliding across the ground. Jester pushes forward with his mystical water, casting his arm blades and slashing Ada. The girl blocks, clawing afterwards. The two engage in a barrage of slashes, evading one another.

Courtney is about to help Ada until she jumps from a Mystical Projectile, sliding afterwards. She turns around: Three Conjures rushing after her, one of them possessing many blue magical daggers around him. Courtney smirks and holds her hands together, jittering from side to side: Agility.

Ramon and Mokuri fire their range moves at the many Mystical Projectiles: Ramon flings his Dark Pulses, Mokuri shoots his Razor Leafs. The sharp leaves and dark energies collide against the Conjures, blowing them back.

The fox and yeti shield Forest and Mesmeren, the latter ducking behind Ramon.

She trembles, looking around her surroundings. "Th-They're everywhere! Eek!" The tapir covers her head, whimpering.

"Just stay close to me. I'll do my best to protect us," Ramon says, charging another dark ball before blasting at another Conjure.

Mesmeren looks at the Zorua panting heavily, remaining close to her. Why? she thinks. Why am I so afraid to help him? I've helped him before! Why is it different now? She gazes at her hands, lowering her ears, her eyes half-close.

Ramon looks up, eyes widening while quaking: A Conjure member swings her purple sparkling hammer down, twirling in the air. "Everyone, get out of the way!" he yells.

Mesmeren shakes her head and yelps, the Zorua pushing her. Mokuri grabs Forest and jumps away, Forest clinging like no tomorrow. The grunt slams towards the ground, a shockwave blowing the four away.

The Abomasnow turns around and lands on the ground swiftly while the other two roll. They eventually come to a halt, Ramon's face being close to Mesmeren's. The two groan before staring at each other, blushing. Ramon jolts up immediately.

"E-Erm...sorry about that," the Zorua says, shaking off dust.

Mesmeren shrugs, caressing her arm while staring off. "I-It's...fine."

"Hey! Ain't no cuddles here: It's chaos time!" one Conjure member shouts, her and the other Conjures surrounding the two: Their energy orbs ready. Ramon and Mesmeren's backs are against each other, Ramon glaring around.

"Hey Mesmeren, you can use moves as well, right?" Ramon asks.

The tapir looks at him, pointing at herself. "Moves? Um...y-yeah."

"Good. Because I'll need your help on this, honestly."

"My...help?" The Zorua nods. She sighs. "I'm not sure if you want my hel—"

"Behind you!"

Multiple beams screech towards Mesmeren. "Eek!" She whimpers before pushing her hands forward, closing her eyes. Many of them freeze in place, surrounded by pink auras. "H-Huh?"

The Drowzee opens her eyes, revealing their glowing light blues as she looks at her hands in shock. The Conjure members eye her in perplexion before she frowns, Confusion the projectiles back. The beams blow the Conjures away, crashing them into nearby buildings.

Mesmeren's eyes revert to normal, gazing at her hands in astonishment. Am I dreaming? Th-There's no way I'd do something this b-brave!

Ramon Sucker Punches a nearby grunt before firing a dark ball at another, blasting those two back. He looks behind him, Mesmeren continuing her gaze. He rushes by her side. "Something's the matter?"

"I—" the Drowzee stares at the Zorua. "I-I...somehow managed to blow all of those attacks away. With Confusion..."

Ramon smiles. "Sounds amazing!"

Amazing? Mesmeren looks at the knocked out Conjures. I...never heard someone telling me that before...

Ramon tilts his head. "Did I say something wrong?"

Mesmeren stares back at him, awkwardly moving her lips to smile. "N-No...You're fine."

The two stare at each other, warmth resonating within. Then Ramon's ear twitches, a couple of Conjures shuffle their way towards them.

The two have their backs against each other again. "What's not fine are these Conjure fellas."

"Mm, r-right." Mesmeren lifts her arms up, positioning herself in an uncomfortable way as the Conjures surround them.

Mokuri finishes slamming one grunt to the ground, dodging Mystical Projectiles after another. He flings his sharp leaves at the other Conjure, blowing him away before jabbing another one running close by.

The hammer Conjure dashes after Forest, gripping the edge. Forest twirls his cane, frowning. The Conjure launches up, twirling around. Mokuri spots her while holding two grunts, slamming them together before rushing after her.

He gets in front of Forest, his arm shrouded in green auras. He swings towards the hammer Conjure, hitting her in the stomach. Purple blood spits out of her before she flies off, screaming into a nearby forest.

Mokuri grips his arm, wincing from his Wood Hammer. The elder's hand lays onto the Pokémon's back, smiling. "Thank you, Partner," he says, his tone calm. Mokuri looks at him with one eye closed, smiling back.

Courtney kicks one Conjure in the face before jabbing the other. The grunt blocks the punch, showering multiple daggers towards the rabbit. She jumps back, taking her sword out while twirling. She deflects the daggers before grabbing one of them, tossing it towards the Conjure. He casts his Mystical Shield, the dagger bouncing off. As it fades, Courtney grabs the Conjure's arm.

"Huh?" He's lifted off the ground: Courtney spinning him around, hitting the other Conjures along the way. She then throws him towards the fountain, the man screaming before crashing into it.

"Hope I gave ya a nice little Return back home!" Courtney blinks for a moment before slamming her hand against her face, her head shakes. "I could've sworn it sounded good out loud..."

Jester and Arthur keep fending themselves: Arthur blocking every Fire Punch and Sorcery Blades with his lance, Jester clashing against Ada's Enchantment Claws with his arm blades.

"How's everything going on your end?" Jester asks, groaning.

"Currently in an unfair match," Arthur replies, ducking Sylock's leg.

"Unfair? You're the one to talk, hypocrite!" Justin shouts, slashing the Conjure commander.

"Well it sucks to be you right now! Because at least I'm in a fair one on one ma—" Courtney's Jump Kicks Jester, the man blocking her red legs in time.

"You were saying?" Arthur comments, lifting his brow. Courtney backflips from the blades, landing swiftly.

"Sh-Shut up!" Jester's voice shatters before Ada tackles him away.

Jester groans, noticing his Conjures struggling: Mokuri Razor Leafing a ton of them, Ramon Sucker Punching multiple of them, and Mesmeren Confusioning some of them across the village.

The convoluted hair commander squints. "This is NOT good."

Ada claws the commander before he blocks in time. Courtney rushes after Jester, punching him in the gut with Quick Attack. He coughs, gnashing his teeth. Ada then hops over the rabbit, roundhouse kicking him.

Jester rolls around the ground, groaning as Arthur is thrown next to him. Sylock dusts his hands off, deadpans.

"Drats!" Arthur shouts, coughing.

"Heya, that was some smooth combo we did there, Ada," Courtney says, smirking.

"No kidding! High five for that one!" Ada lifts her hand, colliding it against the rabbit's cheerfully.

"Ugh." Jester stands up, gripping his fists. "Enough of this nonsense!" He floats in the air, waving his arms around.

Courtney quirks her brow. "Uh, what is he doing?"

The mystical river casts around Jester, Ada gritting her teeth. "Everyone, move out of the way NOW!"

"Too! LATE!" Jester shouts with haywire, thrashing his arms forward. The large river charges towards the group, swishing like crazy. Ada tries to dodge it, but—

SWOOSH!

She's engulfed.

"Ada!" Justin yells before the river swallows him as well. Courtney and Sylock hop over the river, Arthur eyeing them.

"Hmph," the lance user scoffs. "See if you can dodge this." His hand lifts, purple auras sparkling around it. He instantly brings it down, strong winds blowing the two Intellicates into the river.

They start gasping for air, thrashing around. The river roars towards the other four's direction, Mesmeren gasping as she trembles.

"Where did this river come from!?" Ramon says, eyeing Mesmeren. "Can you use the move again on that river?"

"U-Um, I-I'll try!" Mesmeren throws her hands up, using Confusion on the river. It's coated in pink auras for a moment before the auras fade, the Drowzee whimpering. "I-It's not working!"

Ramon grits his teeth, firing Dark Pulses at the river. It propels the energies, refusing to stop. Mokuri looks at Forest, pushing him to the side. The elder grunts, falling on his back.

"Huh!?" The stream cages the three Pokémon right in front of him, Forest's eyes widening. "Mokuri!"

Everyone is trapped inside of the floating river, bubbles ushering out of them.

Jester bursts into laughter, manipulating the river into a giant orb. He hovers it above. "You see? You SEE!?" Smirks. "I AM the best commander of Team Conjure! Never mess with the likes of COMMANDER J, THE MAGNIFICENT!"

Arthur glares at the wacky man. "If I hadn't used my Righteous Winds, you wouldn't get those two in the river," he addresses, pointing at Courtney and Sylock holding their necks.

"Yeah yeah, whatever smartie."

"I'm starting to regret considering you as my ally." Arthur sighs.

Righteous? Justin thinks, glaring at the commander. The hypocrisy continues! Also shit, I can't move!

Jester grins. "Last time I met you brats, I wasn't able to continue the suffocation. This time is different, however!" The grin intensifies. "Because who knows when my objective here will be complete, haha!"

I...can't...breathe, Ramon thinks, eyes widening, his body flailing. He winces.

Mesmeren squirms in place, wincing while her eyes close. Oh gosh...I'm going to die. I didn't think this day would come so soon...Serves me right for who I am, I guess...

Ada flails, grabbing her neck and releasing more bubbles. Crap! I can't move from my spot, she thinks, her mouth puffing up. What should I do? What...can I do? Her vision starts blurring, the muffle laughter echoing through her ears. I...guess I'll never be able to find you...Father...

Ada closes her eyes, her movements slowing. Justin looks up at the girl, eyes crackling with dread. No! Ada!

"Ooo. Looks like I'm about to kill one, Arthur! Can't believe I'm getting my first kill in this job." Jester snickers. "Boss is going to LOVE this."

"I'm certain the only thing she cares about is the mission, not your victims," Arthur corrects.

"Arthur, stop being a party pooper."

The lance user stares blankly. "Does this look like a party to you?"

"I DIDN'T MEAN IT LITERALLY, NIBWAD!"

Arthur glances. "'Nibwad' isn't a word."

Jester slams his palm on his face. I'm starting to regret partnering with this guy.

The emptiness cuts out the sounds, the visions, the feelings: Everything. Silence looms, with only a heartbeat pumping here and there. The beat slows down one after another, Ada floating in place.

Ada, my child, a voice says in her head, calm yet determined. I need you to never give up. Push through these gruesomeness and become strong. Stronger than I ever will be.

An image appears, showing a little girl looking up to a grown man. Tears stream down her cheeks as the man holds her hands, smiling. Do this not only for yourself, but for those you cherish.

The voice fades, the image withering into dust. Father... Ada thinks, her hands twitching. I'm so sorry for giving up there. Claws extend, her eyes opening. She glares directly at Jester, swiping ahead. She swipes again. And again. And then again! She swims from her spot, fiery igniting her eyes.

Everyone goggles at her. Oh shit, Ada is moving! Justin thinks, opening his mouth with a smile before gasping. Why did I do that!?

"Hmm?" Jester raises his brow. "What the hell!? Wasn't she supposed to be stuck!? HOW'S SHE MOVING!?"

Almost there... Ada continues swiping, her heart beating fast.

"No need to worry. I'll push her away with my winds," Arthur says with serene, moving his hand back before thrusting it forward.

Strong winds blow the teen back, the girl groaning. What the hell!? she thinks, eyeing down at Arthur. I see how it is. She fires multiple Mystical Projectiles at him, the lasers screeching out of the river.

"Hmm?" Arthur blocks them with Mystical Shield, the winds stop blowing. Ada swims faster.

Jester gulps, backing away. "Uh beauty boy, I need your wind. Like—" His eyes enlarge. "RIGHT ABOUT NOW!"

"In just a mo—"

Ada leaps out of the river and slashes Jester's chest, tearing off parts of his uniform. "Gah!" He falls, the river vanishing afterwards.

The group lands in freedom, hugging the ground. Ada flips herself forward, landing onto the ground with grace. Arthur dashes towards her, readying to swing his lance. She turns around and fires her Mystical Projectile at him, the Conjure commander grunting and crashing into a nearby building.

"Hmph!" she says, brushing herself off.

Everyone gasps for air, Sylock rushing towards Courtney's side. "Are you alright!?" he signs, his hands spazzing. Courtney coughs, looking at the Blaziken.

"Yeah, barely. That dang river sure gotten me lovin' air more now," Courtney says, laughing in a raspy way. "Guess I know to look out for anyone that spawns magical rivers, haha."

Sylock sighs in relief. "You being alright is all that matters to me." He then hugs the Lopunny, Courtney blinking. She then smirks, hugging back.

Ramon and Mesmeren are next to each other, coughing and absorbing the sweet air. "That was rough," the Zorua says, panting.

"Y-Yeah...Thought I was a goner there, to be honest," Mesmeren responds.

"Same here." The Zorua then flickers his ears and blinks, Mesmeren's whimpers grabbing his attention.

"If only my Confusion was powerful, I would've stopped the river." The Drowzee covers her face, tears escaping them. "I-If it weren't for Ada swimming towards that guy, w-we would've been dead..."

Ramon rests his paw on Mesmeren's leg. "Don't beat yourself over it. At least you tried to use Confusion on that river."

"Y-Yeah, but...I-I wish I prevented it from escalating! I wish my Confusion was strong enough to stop that river! I—"

Ramon stands on his hind legs, his paws on Mesmeren's arms. "Look, you tried. And trying is better than not trying at all." He smiles, his legs shaking.

Mesmeren uncovers her face, gazing into his eyes. She blinks for a moment, the last tear drips onto her leg. She sighs, nodding at the Zorua. "I-I...see."

Everyone soon rushes by Ada's side, glee spreading.

"Give it up for you being awesome as usual, Ada!" Justin says, readying to fistpump her.

The teen collides her fist with his', snickering. "Well that's a rare compliment coming from you."

"Haha! But seriously, thanks for saving our asses there. How were you able to swim towards him?"

Ada shrugs. "Beats me. I just...thought about using my Magic move and started clawing my way towards him. Must be a weakness to his Pixie Flush."

"Huh." Justin pokes his lips. "Not sure why I never thought of doing that."

Courtney waves her hand up and down. "Either way, that was a fine move on your end." She gives Ada a thumbs up.

Soon, Jester groans and stands up, everyone being on their guard within seconds.

"Although, let's not celebrate yet," Ada says, her claws ready.

"Right you are!" Arthur exclaims, everyone looking at his direction. Forest groans, the tip of Arthur's lance poking his neck. Some debris slides off from Arthur's shoulders, hitting the ground.

Everyone gasps, Mokuri whimpering. "Aboma!" he shouts, clenching his teeth.

"Continue harming my teammates and I, and your chief will be dead." Arthur grips his lance, glaring.

"You son of a—" Justin grips his fists, glaring back. "Let him go!"

"Not until he leads us to what we're looking for." Arthur eyes Forest. "The Transmutation Spell. Where is it?"

"Transmutation Spell?" the gang says in utter confusion.

"I have zero clue what you're talking about," Forest replies, raising his brow. The lance drills a bit into his neck, the elder yelping. Mokuri whines, trembling as his eyes wander in horrorland.

"You're not the first old person I've killed. So please don't play the silly 'I don't know' game and lead me to the Spell already." Arthur squints, the rest of Team Conjure recovering from their knocked out state. "We know it's here: We just need you, the guardian of it, to guide us."

Forest looks at Mokuri, distress spreading throughout. Forest's head paints the Abomasnow as his smaller, bipedal self: A mere Snover looking up with plead. After a moment of silence, Forest closes his eyes, sighing. "Alright. Just come this way."

He leads Arthur to his home, entering inside of it. Shortly afterwards, the two exit, with Arthur wielding a book in his hand. "Thank you."

The book is shrouded in red coloring, a intertwining circle and triangle symbol being its front cover. Everyone looks at it in curiosity as Arthur puts it in his pocket. He snaps his fingers, a hologram spawning from his hand. "We got the Spell you're looking for, Mistress."

A shadowy figure appears sitting on a throne, nodding. "Good. I'll see you at base then."

Soon the hologram fades before Team Conjure glows blue. Arthur kicks Forest away, Mokuri rushing towards him without a second thought. Jester sticks his tongue out.

"Bye bye, LOSERS!" he yells.

"Oh no you don't!" Ada rushes towards him, her claws preparing. She swings towards Jester only to hit the air, he and the other Conjures fully vanishing. "..." Ada falls on the ground, eyes rattling. "You have got to be KIDDING ME!" She frowns, gripping her fist.

Justin's hand rests on the girl's back. "It'll be fine, Ada. At least we made it out alive, thanks to you."

Ada looks at Justin for a moment before sighing, standing up while her hands are in her pockets. "Yeah, I suppose so."

Courtney and Sylock go to aid Forest. "Are you alright, Master!?" Courtney says, anxiety boosting her tone.

Forest groans and coughs, rubbing his back. "He...didn't have to kick me so hard." He then looks up at the three Pokémon, Mokuri lifting him up. "Besides that, I'm fine."

The others rush over to him before he looks around: Many buildings are smothered in flames, to the point where even his dojo is engulfed in it. Ignitions are running wild. "Although...I can't say the same for Serenity."

The flames spread towards Forest's home, the teens sprinting ahead without question. Everyone follows before Justin and Ada form a huge shield around the house. Ramon lift his paw and—

No, Nomar tells him, preventing his Mystical Shield. Ramon quirks his brow, letting Justin and Ada protect the group.

Many screams and shouts echo throughout the village, a little boy crying next to his parents as a Bunnelby shrieks in the flames showering him. Mesmeren squirms, sticking close to the Zorua. Ramon gazes at the many flames expanding everywhere, eyes shaking. Sylock grips his fists, Courtney shaking her head while folding her arms. Ramon looks up at Ada and Justin, the two remaining still. Justin glances, a single tear shedding as Ada grits her teeth. The fox lowers his ears, sighing.

Soon, red trucks burst through the village, many red vest people exiting from it, with some being Water types. All except for the Water types are carrying water holes, shooting streams at the flames while the Water types use their Water moves.

Forest smiles in a weak manner. "At least the firefighters are here," he says.

"...Yeah," Justin replies, him and Ada lowering the shield.

Everything falls into silence: Nothing but the flames being put out and the reliefs of villagers can be heard.

The elder turns towards the teens. "Thank you for trying to save this village. All of you," he says softly.

Justin nods. "You're welcome..." He remains silent for a moment before looking at Forest. "Although, there's something I got to ask you." His hands sit on his hips. "What are Spells?"

Forest stares at his home, releasing a heavy sigh. "I...may as well explain those to you."
 
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Chapter 25.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 25: Spells.

Everyone is sitting on Forest's sofas: Justin next to Ada, Ada next to Courtney, Courtney to Sylock, Sylock to Ramon, and Ramon to Mesmeren. The elder walks towards them with a purple book in hand, sitting down on a chair beside them. Mokuri sits on the ground next to him, Forest flipping through a couple of pages. He stops, taking one long gaze at the book, lowering his brows. He then eyes the group.

"Do you two have a clue on what Spells are? Any guesses as to what they could be?"

Justin and Ada look at each other for a moment before staring back. "I suppose it relates to Magic type, right?" Ada replies.

"I'm...with Ada on this," Justin follows.

Forest continues his gaze, nodding. "You're on the right track." He glances down at the book. "Spells." Pauses. "They are books created by Sorcerous to enhance society, further bringing peace to the world of Pokémon. There's eight types of Spells: Transmutation, Immunity, Teleportation, Time, Illusion, Nature, Emotion, and Revival. These were filled with might and unworldliness only expert Sorcerous could use. However, the Wizlore government are the only ones that could utilize the Time, Nature, and Revival Spells."

"What do these Spells do?" Ada asks, her hand to her chin. "And how come the Wizlore government are the only ones to use the Time, Nature, and Revival Spells?"

The cane wielding elder looks at her. "These Spells do all kinds of unique, mystical abilities. In fact, there should be a page somewhere that describes them in great detail. Let's see..." Forest flips a couple of pages before stopping. "Ah, here it is. Now then, the first Spell, Transmutation, allows the user to...form...ot...in..."

Everyone blinks at the elder. "What?" they all say, Mokuri responding in his Pokémon language.

"..." The elder blinks. "Oh right!" He shakes his head, chuckling. "I forgot that I spilled coffee on the Spells Information page last time I read it." He shows everyone the page, stains coating the words as if they are melting. "And now I'm finding it difficult to read."

Ada rests her hand on her head, shaking it. "Well that's just great." She folds her arms. "Do you know what these Spells do by memory then?"

"Nope." Forest smiles. Ada grunts with annoyance, sighing. "Although, I think I know some stuff about Transmutation. It has something to do with letting the user transform themselves and others into anything. Or something related to that."

"Huh...Do you know how someone can use it? As in activating it by any means or...?"

Forest shrugs. "I have no clue." Taps his head. "I only know what it does rather than how you can use it." He flips to the page he was at. "As for the government question: Those three Spells are by far the deadliest of the eight Spells. Because of what those Spells can do to anyone, having them fall into the wrong hands will cause nothing but madness..."

"Hmm..." Ada crosses her legs, her finger resting on her chin, her brow raising.

The Lopunny stretches her arms. "By the way, do you have to read the book word for word?" Courtney asks, her head resting on her hands, elbows on knees. "Couldn't you summarize them in your own words?"

Forest scratches his head. "If I were to do that, I'd have a hard time explaining it."

"But you didn't have a hard time explaining the Transmutation Spell."

"True, but there's bits about it that I might be leaving out...Especially since the Spells Info page is ruined, thanks to me." The elder chuckles, rubbing the back of his book. Sounds of shuffles rise from it, rough and coarse. "I really should get a new copy of The Birth of Wizlore, come to think of it."

"Right." The Lopunny sighs, tapping her chin.

Forest stares back at his book. "Spells were used for many years until humans began abusing them for their own purposes, including those working for the government."

A page is flipped. "Many riots and violence ran rampant across the globe: People transforming others into Pokémon or unknown creatures, people disappearing out of thin air, people reviving others from the dead and manipulating the natural habitat itself—This was the corruption from using eight different Spells, which led to the revival of Dne."

Ramon gazes down, lowering his brows. So...humans did all of this? Not only through Magic type, but also through Spells, the Zorua thinks, uncertainty traveling throughout. He trembles. I...I think what my brother and Arthur said about humans...might be ri—

"H-Hey Ramon," Mesmeren says, the Zorua trembling. She holds her hands together. "Are you okay? You're...shaking."

Ramon comes to a halt, turning his head towards the others: Their attention is on him. The Zorua sighs, nodding. "I'm fine. Don't worry." He nudges the sofa's edge.

"You sure?" Justin asks, staring with concern. Ramon gives a small smile, everyone looking at each other with uneasiness.

Forest and Mokuri gaze at the Zorua for a moment, raising their eyebrows before the elder flips another page. "Pauline Phoenix and Vincent Silver utilized these Spells to defeat Dne during the final battle. After the war ended, the Wizlore government destroyed many of the existing Spells so Dne wouldn't return." Forest closes the book.

Ada's finger rests on her cheek, tilting her head. "I don't get it."

Everyone looks at her.

"Oh? What is it that you don't get?" Forest asks.

"Well forest starters, she said she doesn't get this thing called 'It,'" Justin replies, snapping his fingers before displaying his finger guns, snickering.

Courtney is the first to burst out laughing while Ada, Sylock, and Mokuri glare at the boy. Ramon and Mesmeren stare into utter confusion, Forest chuckling along the way.

"I like you, kid."

Ada folds her arms. "My goodness, Justin: We're talking about your ancestor and Spells here. Be serious, for once!" She scuffs.

The Lopunny covers her lips, smirking. "Nothin' wrong with trynna brighten the mood, eh? And besides: That Forest joke was bound to happen eventually."

Sylock gradually looks at her. Were you planning to tell the joke yourself? the Blaziken thinks.

The girl clears her throat. "Anyways, I'm referring to the government's decision to get rid of the Spells. How did they destroy many of them when you have one, Forest? ...Or rather, had one."

The elder caresses his beard. "...That's simply because I was tasked to guard the last Transmutation Spell by the Wizlore government." His brows lower, gripping his cane.

Courtney gasps. "You have? ...So that means you're—"

"A Spell Guardian," Forest finishes. "I was given this role after saving Serenity from criminals raiding it a long while back."

Sylock moves his hands. "Was that why those humans in suits wanted to talk to you privately?" Forest simply nods, Sylock staring off to the side with widened eyes.

Ada leans forward. "What's a Spell Guardian?"

"A Spell Guardian is someone who's tasked by the Wizlore government to protect the last Spell of its kind. It can be a group of Spell Guardians protecting it, or one person like myself." Forest stares at his book. "It doesn't matter what social label we're given, Fault, Sorcerous, or Intellicate: We must protect those Spells at all costs."

"Interesting..." The girl frowns, tapping her arm. "But then here's what I don't get: Why would the government keep those last remaining Spells even after people abused them so much?"

"Ada...has a point," Ramon says, standing on fours. "Shouldn't they get rid of them entirely? That way, evil beings such as humans wouldn't abuse them further."

Everyone immediately jolts towards the Zorua.

"Sorry, evil beings such as who now?" Justin and Ada say.

"I—" the Zorua pauses, sitting back down and curling himself with his bushy tail. "S-Sorry. I...have no clue why I said that."

Mesmeren's hands shake, her fingers nudging each other, the nerves spiraling. Her lips quiver.

Forest raises his brow. "I...see then." He sighs. "As for why the Wizlore government doesn't get rid of the Spells entirely: That much, I have no clue."

Justin presses his hand against his chin. "Don't the book know about that? Maybe?"

Forest shakes his head. "Even the authors of The Birth of Wizlore don't know." He opens the book and turns a page, showing it to everyone. They all lean forward.

"While many Spells of their type were destroyed, the last remaining ones are left untouched: Protected by Spell Guardians, under oaths of the Wizlore government. Why the government chose to keep them alive is a mystery..."

Forest looks at the ceiling. "Think it said something like that."

Courtney blinks in surprise before pointing at the page. "Yeah, you got that all memorized word for word, Sir," she says. "Somehow."

The elder turns the book around, smirking. "Haha! Looks like my memorization skill is still alive and kicking! ...Somewhat!"

"Aboma!" Mokuri shouts, smiling and raising his arms in enthusiasm.

Forest shuts the book, closing his eyes. "So...anyways." He looks ahead. "Any other questions on your mind, you two?"

The teens look at each other for a moment before gazing at the ceiling, raising their brows and tapping their chins. They both shrug.

"Got none, as far as I'm concerned," Ada replies. "Although, I still found this decision bizarre from the Wizlore government..."

The Lopunny pounces up. "Y'all know a lot of conspiracy theories could be forming outta this, right?" Her fist slams on her hand. "Hell, there could already be some right now."

"I'm thinking of one as we speak, fam," Justin says.

Courtney wags her tail. "Oooo!" She rushes in front of the boy, hopping in place. "And what is that, mind I ask?"

Justin lifts his brow, his back against the sofa. "Uh, I was thinking that maybe the government wanted to create multiple versions of the same Spells again, but couldn't because they don't have the resources to do that." His finger lifts. "So they made Spell Guardians to protect the last remaining Spells. That way, it can give them enough time to make more Spells for themselves."

"..." Courtney deadpans, looking away. "Sounds like crap."

"Wha—"

"Why would they want to give Spell Guardians the last remaining Spells IF they themselves wanted to create more of them?" She lifts her hand. "They might as well keep them Spells to themselves, ya know? Makes more sense than just...handin' them to randos, who are most likely out of their sight."

"Oh." Justin scratches the back of his head, chuckling nervously. "Well shit: You made me look like a dumbass, there."

Ada chimes in, "I got a conspiracy theory for you, Courtney: The government may have backup Spells this entire time, lying to us all about these Spells being the last remaining ones."

Courtney's paw presses her chin, staring down. "Damn...If you put it that way: That sounds most likely the case."

The girl points at the rabbit. "Even moreso, considering the fact Justin, Ramon, and I aren't even celebrated for solving the abnormal crime rates in Majestic City!"

"HA!" Courtney smirks, her hands by her hips. "The Wizlore government sure are some oddballs, alright."

This Lopunny is an oddball, Nomar says in Ramon's head, giggling.

Ramon and Mesmeren stare at the conversation in complete blankness, eyebrows rising along with eyes blinking. Mesmeren turns to the Zorua.

"Do you...know what they're talking about?" she says, caressing her hands.

Ramon shakes his head. "Something about...conspiracy theory?" He sighs, lowering his ears. "I have no clue." His head tilts. "What even is a conspiracy theory, anyways?" He's soon met with the Lopunny close to his face.

"GLAD THAT YA ASKED, PARTNA!" Courtney shouts.

"S-Some space would be necessary..." Ramon scoots back a little.

"Ahhem: A conspiracy theory is a theory that anyone makes on a large organization mabob due to a particular event." Courtney smirks, winking. "Our theories earlier were about the Wizlore government, for example."

"Oh...Still don't understand it."

Courtney lifts her hand up and down. "Oh you'll get it, eventually." The Lopunny then gasps. "Wait a second: Why aren't we asking the guy who works for the Wizlore government if he kno—"

"I just said I don't know," Forest states.

"But you do work for them, right?" Sylock signs, lifting his brow.

Forest points his cane at the Blaziken. "Correct. But the agents who promoted me never told me why the last Transmutation Spell didn't get destroyed, no matter how many times I asked them. In fact, they told me that they don't know!" He strokes his beard. "Somehow, I doubt that."

Courtney snaps her fingers. "HA! Even he knows that the conspiracy theories are legit!"

"I never said I agree with them, but okay." The elder chuckles along with Courtney, Justin, and Ada.

Soon, things go quiet for a moment before Forest continues to speak. "By the way, who were those groups we dealt with earlier?"

"They're Team Conjure. We told you about them before we fought them," Ada says, scratching the side of her head.

"Wait, you did?"

"...Yes."

"Huh." Forest looks off. "I suppose my memorization skill isn't there, after all." He shakes his head. "With that said...I want you to stop Team Conjure from gathering all of the eight Spells. Or else—" he pauses, looking at the sunset. "Something sinister will happen..."

Silence. Pure and utter silence after those words.

Everyone looks at each other, chills climbing up their spines, especially for Mesmeren's case. She tucks her head as much as she can, trembling behind her hands.

Once the two teens exchange their gazes, they look back at the elder and nod. "We'll stop them," they say.

Forest stares at them for a moment before nodding back. "Good to know." He stands up. "Unfortunately, I'll have to go call the Wizlore government and...tell them about the news. So my room will be off limits for the time being."

He turns towards a hallway leading to two bedrooms and a bathroom: The bathroom on the right side, the first bedroom on the same side, and the second on the left. "They...probably know by now, considering the importance of this village. But still, I'll call them about it. It's protocol for us Spell Guardians, after all."

"I see," Ramon says. "That...probably won't go well, I'd imagine."

Courtney sits beside Sylock again, crossing her legs. "An important item was taken away from him by some random group. What do ya think?" she states.

"U-Um, not to interrupt the conversation or anything, b-but—" Mesmeren lifts her finger as it shakes. "Where do we sleep?"

Everyone goes silent.

Justin claps his hands together. "That's a good ques—"

"You can rest here, for now. You have my permission," Forest says, walking down the hallway.

"Annnd there's our answer."

Ramon stands. "Can we sleep on the sofas here, or in Courtney and Sylock's room?" The elder points to the second bedroom, his hand resting on his room's doorknob.

"Ah swe—"

"Sorry: Y'all will have to sleep on the sofas," Courtney says.

"And why's that?" Ada asks, folding her arms.

Courtney simply points to Sylock. "He isn't as relaxed with y'all as I am. Basically not used to someone being in the same room as him. Besides me, anyways."

Sylock closes his eyes, snarling while signing at a steady pace. "I. Have. My. Reasons."

Ada, Justin, Mesmeren, and Ramon stare at the Blaziken: Blank uncertainty. "Noted," the trio says while the Drowzee looks away.

As everyone is about to get off the couch, Ramon shouts, "Wait!" They eye him. "There's one more thing I wanted to ask Justin and Ada about. I forgot to mention it during our stay at Majestic City."

Ada scratches the side of her head. "That is?"

"Why did that Conjure member's move hurt me so much?"

"Um..." Ada blinks, lifting her brow. "Which Conjure member?"

"Oh, um: The one from three days ago when we were saving Mesmeren."

Courtney tilts her head. "Y'all saved this Drowzee from those thugs?" Justin, Ada, Ramon, and Mesmeren nod at the Lopunny. She puts her hands behind her head. "Huh. Should've known them Conjure fellas kidnap some mons, too."

"Y-Yeah..." Mesmeren shrugs, twirling her fingers around.

Ramon looks back at Ada. "Anyways, I remember you getting injured by his move too, but got up as if it barely scratched you."

Mesmeren pokes her fingers together. "A-And then there's me feeling a ton of pain from that water-like move earlier."

Ramon turns towards Mesmeren, his tail pointing at her. "This too."

"Oh. Well it's very simple: You and her are weak against Magic moves," Ada states.

The two Pokémon tilt their heads. "Hmm?" they say.

Ada scratches the tip of her nose. "It slipped Justin and I's minds when we were talking about Sorcerous with you. Our apologies." She remains on the sofa. "Magic type is super effective against Dark, Psychic, and Fairy types, if I recall correctly. They also take neutral damage from itself along with other types, beside the three I mentioned."

"Oh...So that's why those Magic moves hurt me more than it hurt you," Ramon concludes, staring off. "Interesting."

"Funnily enough: Magic is also weak against those same three types it's Super Effective towards. Hence why that trainer's Gothitelle did a real number on me with her Psychic move."

"Huh." The fox's head tilts. "Any reason why that's the case?"

Ada shrugs. "None, as far as I'm concerned."

This whole Magic type thing or whatever is quite bizarre, don't you think? Nomar says, echoing throughout Ramon's mind.

Agreed...

"Wait, you've gotten beaten up before?" Courtney asks. Ada nods, Courtney tilting her head and folding her arms with intrigue. "How tough was she?"

Ada releases an exhausting sigh. "Very: She kept dodging my Mystical Projectiles, moved incredibly fast, and then got me to use my shield three times before flinging me around with Psychic."

Courtney widens her eyes. "Daaamn, what a ruthless girl she was."

"Indeed." Ada then gasps and looks at Ramon. "Oh right: Sorcerous could only use their Mystical Shield three times. After the third, they can't use it again until the battle is over."

"Why does the move function in that way?"

Ada shakes her head. "Again, I have no clue why other than the fact it's something all Sorcerous deals with when Magic type."

"I...see then."

Soon, Courtney and Sylock walk towards their bedroom door as nighttime arrives. Everyone else sleeps on the couch, Mokuri waiting by his master's room for him to finish his report.

. . .

Two Zoruas rest on a large boulder, gazing at the sunset. The white flowers around shift to the side, the wind whispering along the way. Nomar lies his head against Ramon's, closing his eyes before smiling.

"It's almost as if all of this is real..." Nomar nudges the fox. "The boulder, the flowers, and the wind blowing against them as I sleep on your head." Snickers. "It's such a familiar feeling...A sense of...sweet home, in a way."

The red Zorua looks at Nomar. "I see..."

The blue Zorua opens his eyes, lowering his ears. "It's depressing that all of this...isn't real." Nomar blinks before shaking his head. "I mean, in a sense where the surroundings are made of your imaginations. But I, myself, am real and can be within your imaginations." Ramon looks at Nomar with a plain expression, tilting his head. Nomar sighs, poking Ramon's tuff. "You get what I mean, silly!"

Ramon chuckles softly. "I think so?"

Silence.

A pond in front of them swishes, gleaming from the sun. The foxes stare down at the pond, their reflection fading.

"...Hey brother—" Nomar's eyes half shut. "Do you believe what I'm doing is right?"

Ramon quirks his brow, flicking his ears. "...Yes? Why did you ask?"

Nomar remains silent for a moment, nothing but the tiny pond waves radiate the air. He then looks back at Ramon, smiling while closing his eyes. "Just wondering, that's all." Sighs. "I've noticed how concerned you've been about my decisions, and uh...it made me feel unsure about it at first." He nuzzles the Zorua. "Good to know that you believe in me."

Ramon gazes at Nomar, smiling back slowly. "Yeah..." He looks back at the pond. "I'm still curious about this Yvonne guy, though. The things he's written in the journal and...whoever the subject was that succeeded in Project Transvi—"

Nomar pats Ramon's back with his tail. "Don't worry about it. I'm certain that it has nothing to do with your past, considering humans kidnapped you and all."

"Understandable, but...I'm curious if that subject is somewhere out there. Whoever they are," Ramon says, looking up at the sky. Nomar remains silent, the wind blowing against the two with serenity.

"Perhaps we can find them once you revive me, Ramon."

"Thanks..."

More silence arises until Nomar speaks, "One more thing I want to tell you before you eventually wake up..." He turns towards the Zorua. "You were right about humans earlier. Don't feel bad about it." Ramon gives the Shiny Zorua an neverending gaze, lips sealing. He then nods, Nomar hugging him afterwards. "Everything will be fine. I promised."

Ramon looks off to the side, closing his eyes. He sighs.

. . .

The sun shines down at everyone outside, Justin and Ada stretching themselves out. Forest walks towards Courtney and Sylock, smiling at them as Mokuri stands by like a bodyguard. Some of the dojo students are also there, staring at the group.

"You two worked so hard in my tournament yesterday. Training to the best of your abilities, and even inspiring other students around you."

"You're absolutely cool, Tombun!" one Beedrill student says, flying around in place.

"Same here!" another student says, being the teen Courtney faced yesterday.

Courtney gazes at the students, smiling. "D'aww." She waves her paw up and down. "Thanks y'all!"

The elder sighs. "I apologize that you two didn't reach the final round because of those terrorists."

Courtney pats the elder's back. "It's fine. Granted, I was hoping to fight Sylock in the final round, but I guess that time ain't meant to be," she says while Sylock shrugs.

"I would've pummel you, for sure," he signs, smirking.

The Lopunny smirks back. "Looks like someone already believes he's won though." Her, Sylock, Forest, and the students all burst into laughter, with Sylock covering his beak. Soon, her hands rest behind her head. "While it's mighty sad that this fighting tournament crumbled down into dust, at least I'm confident about this next decision of mine."

"Oh?" The elder caresses his beard, his cane behind his back. "I think I have a hunch on what that could be. But do tell."

The rabbit slams her fist onto the palm of her hand. "I want to travel with Ramon and friends to Glory Pride City." She presses her hand against her chest, closing her eyes. "There's a worldwide fighting tournament taking place there, and I want to participate in it." She stares intensely at the elder. "I believe winning that there tourney would let the world know I'm the strongest Lopunny ever to live!" Her hands rest on her hips, smiling. "I can see myself inspiring all the Lopunnys in the world to become confident at reaching their goals, too. Heh."

Forest blinks, looking at Mokuri for a moment before smiling back. "Quite the intriguing goal there, Courtney. I'm rooting for you to be the best you can possibly be. However—" he puts his hands behind his back. "Don't be too confident in yourself. It can lead to results that won't be in your favor, and decisions you'll soon regret making."

Courtney waves her hand up and down. "Oh I got this in the bag. Besides, I gained interest in that Ada girl. Her strength is definitely something during that fight against those Conjure fellas." The Lopunny gives Ada a thumbs up while winking. "I believe trainin' with ya will help me prove to everyone that I'm not the feminine type of Lopunny."

Forest nods. "If you insist, then."

The girl looks at the Lopunny. "Training, you say?" Ada cracks her fists, Mesmeren yelping. "I wouldn't mind having another training partner with me, then. This would also explain why you haven't left with Mrs. Phoenix and the others to Glory Pride."

"Haha, yeah." Courtney elbows against Forest, the elder chuckling. "Although, I was in the middle of a tournament, so that's really why I couldn't leave yet. Plus I wanted to look after the village. Up until now, anyways."

"Understandable."

Mesmeren lifts her shaky finger. "U-Um—" gulps. "S-Sorry to interrupt, but: A-Are her fingers alright!?" She points at Ada's fingers, shivering.

"Hmm?" Ada looks at her. "Oh my fingers are fine. Knuckle cracking is normal and harmless to humans." She wiggles her fingers, her face lacking discomfort. "See?"

Mesmeren perks up. "O-Oh..."

Sylock walks towards the elder, moving his hands. "I'll go with her, Sir." Forest eyes him. "I...want to make sure she's safe at all costs..." Sylock looks away. "I—"

"I understand, Sylock. You don't have to explain your reasoning any further," the elder says, smiling.

Sylock gazes at him for a good while, eyes quaking with guilt. He forms a fist, nodding. "Thank you, Sensei Forest."

Ramon quirks his brow. That's bizarre, he thinks. He then stretches himself out, yawning. "You two can come with us. What do you three think?" he asks the others.

Justin, Ada, and Mesmeren look at each other for a moment before nodding. "They seem like chill peeps. So yeah, fam," Justin says. "Although, Courtney's motive sounds a little specific to me."

The Lopunny lifts her brow, folding her arms. "And what might be so specific about it?"

Justin scratches the side of his head. "I mean. Well. Uh—" he claps his hands. "Carrots."

Courtney simply glares. "Are you saying that cuz I'm a Lopunny, boy?"

"I am climbing out of this deep hole before it gets deeper, fam."

Everyone starts laughing, Mesmeren blinking for a moment before giggling along.

Forest then nods, smiling once more. "That settles it then. I'm happy for the decision you and Sylock made. I wish the two of you good luck on your journeys!"

"Wait!" Courtney shouts. Ramon and the others stop in their tracks, Courtney giving a look of concern to Forest. "Will the dojo get renovated? Will everything here be alright?" She shifts her scabbard. "Will...y'all be fine without me and Sylock?"

Forest nods. "Mokuri and I got things under control now. Plus, I'll let the Wizlore government know if anything drastic happens here again."

Courtney stares at Forest for a moment, holding her hands together and pushing them against her chest. She nods, smiling. "Alright then."

Everyone waves at Forest, Mokuri, and the other dojo students, walking towards a nearby forest.

"Take care, everyone!" Ada shouts. Everyone at the village says their goodbyes as well, Forest keeping his smiles up.

The group walks past a sign:

'Now Entering Gloomy Woods'
 
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Chapter 26.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 26: Journey into the Gloomy Woods.

Large shrouds of trees shield the woods from any sunlight, shadows seeping every corner. The hoots of Hoothoot echo, the trembles of bushes rustle, and the creaks of branches snap. The six look around, narrowing their eyes.

"...It's quite dark in here," Ramon points out.

"No kidding," Ada agrees. "Makes me wonder what it looks like at night."

"Let's say in short: You're not going to see a single damn thing," Courtney answers.

"Really!?" Ramon, Justin, and Ada shout, startling the Drowzee.

Courtney presses her finger against her lips. "Shh! Keep it down, will ya?" She stops, eyeing around with caution. "Don't want to alert any strong Defects, now."

"Str-Strong Defects?" Mesmeren asks, widening her eyes.

The Lopunny stares ahead for a brief moment, sighing. "Yes. Gloomy Woods has a lot of them strong Defects roamin' here. Trust me: Be on the lookout for them."

Courtney and Sylock keep glancing around as Mesmeren holds her hands together, gulping. Ramon, Justin, and Ada stare at each other for a brief moment, the boy shrugging afterwards. Everyone moves forward, each step being steadier than the last.

Mesmeren sniffs the air, salivating. "Mmf," she murmurs, closing her eyes and licking her lips. Ramon looks at her, tilting his head.

"Um, Mes—"

Mesmeren jolts past everyone, reaching a bush filled with Oran Berries thanks to the small sunlight: Those blue spotted features captivate the Drowzee, her tongue hanging with glee. She takes one of the berries and bites it, shaking her head with glee. "Mmm!" She bites another. And another. And another!

Everyone stares at the Drowzee with perplexion, lifting their brows. "Hey um...Mesmeren—" Ada clears her throat. "You never consider those berries to be rotten or anything?"

The ribbon wearing tapir turns around, some juices spilling out of her stuffed mouth while carrying many Oran Berries. She swallows, looking away with a blush. "S-Sorry...I really like Oran Berries," she says, lowering her ears.

"Hey don't feel bad about liking them things: I once ate an Oran Berry pie, and it's some of the most delicious pie I've ever tasted in my life," Courtney says, licking her lips while rubbing her belly.

Mesmeren perks up. "Wh-What? I th-thought Forest was kidding around when he said that!"

"Nope! Those things are real, and I highly recommend giving it a try." Courtney then turns towards the others, snapping her fingers. "That goes for y'all, too."

Sylock sticks his tongue out, shaking his head. "Yuck! No thanks," he signs.

The Lopunny pouts. "Of course you'll despise it. I told ya about that one being cooked poorly by a garbage chef, Sylock!"

"Well that 'chef' gave me a bad impression on Oran Berry pies and possibly pies in general." The Blaziken folds his arms, his face wincing.

"Look, at least give it another chance by a good chef!"

Ramon, Justin, and Ada stare blankly before the trio snicker. "Look fam, I don't know what that guy is...doing? But I find you two hilarious together."

Courtney smirks. "For one, he's using sign language. And two...huh—" Mesmeren returns back to the others with so much Oran Berries as Courtney elbows the Blaziken. "I guess we make for an interesting duo, eh Sylock?"

"We're boring, actually," Sylock counters, his hands behind his head.

The rabbit pouts. "Okay, that's how I know yer ass is lyin'." Her arms fold while Sylock grins.

"What did he say?" Ada asks.

"He thinks he and I are a boring duo," Courtney answers with annoyance as Ada and Justin snicker once more.

"Heh. To be honest, I'm thinking about trying some Oran Berries," Ramon says, staring at Mesmeren's giant pile. "Curious to know what they taste like."

Mesmeren looks at the Zorua as the group continues ahead. "O-Oh?" She blushes. "Well, I'd hand some to you but um..." She stares at the pile, chuckling nervously. She soon yelps from one of the berries lifting off from it, surrounded by purple auras. She looks behind her, Ada's hand coating in the same auras.

The berry descends in front of the Zorua, Ramon blinking. "Hmm?" Turns around. "Oh."

"Figure I'd lend you two a hand there," the girl says, smiling.

"Thanks," Ramon and Mesmeren both say, the fox biting into the Oran Berry. He looks around, chewing on the gush and fruitfulness of the berry, nodding.

"Whoa...This tastes really good."

"I know, r-right!?" Mesmeren looks at the Zorua, giggling. "I loved them so much that I gained the ability to sniff any nearby."

Ramon smiles. "I see. That explains why you were salivating yesterday."

Mesmeren pauses, her face intensifying in red. "Y-You noticed?" Ramon nods, the Drowzee shielding her face behind the Oran Berries. "Th-That must be so embarrassing and disgusting to see. Sorry..."

"Hey, no need to apologize for loving Oran Berries." Ramon closes his eyes while wagging his tail, smiling up at the Drowzee. "I see no harm in it."

Mesmeren trembles. "But I-I was being weird about it...A freak. Like I wasn't supposed to—" a paw touches Mesmeren's arm before she can finish her sentence, the Drowzee gazing at him.

"Hey, I'm telling you that it's okay. You're free to drool over your love towards Oran Berries. It's just a preference, after all: It's not hurting anyone." Ramon smiles warmly, the Drowzee's rumbles ceasing itself.

Mesmeren nods. "O-Okay..."

The two roam around further, eyeing the shadowy corners. The Zorua comes to a halt, jolting his brow.

Mesmeren stops, looking beside her. "What's wrong?"

"...Where is everyone?"

"U-Um...What do you—" Mesmeren looks around: Nothing but Ramon, berries, trees, and bushes are there. "O-Oh no..." She quakes, dropping the berries.

The fox tenses up from them and looks at the tapir, leaning close to her. "Relax. I'm sure we can reunite with them eventually."

"...I-I hope so." Mesmeren whimpers.

. . .

"Ada? Ada!?" Justin shouts, his hands over his lips. He and Sylock roam around the dark woods, brushing aside any bushes in front of them. "Damn, how did we get separated from them?" He looks at Sylock: His eyes widening, his hands trembling. "Hey uh, are you—"

Sylock's claws seek into his left hand, one of his eyes twitching. Blood seeps out, the boy staring at the Blaziken with wide eyes, perplexed. He remains still, not wanting to move a muscle.

The Blaziken looks at him, moving his hands rapidly. "WHERE'S COURTNEY!?"

Justin lifts his hands up. "Look, I don't know what you're saying, but I'm going to assume that you're worried about our buddies, too." He locks eyes onto the Blaziken's hand, red liquid dripping on the grass. "I wish I knew where they're at."

The Blaziken remains silent, squinting down. He snarls before turning around and runs off. Justin stares at the Blaziken, blankness spreading across him. "Um—"

An aquatic shuriken projectile bats against the Blaziken, blasting him into the teen. Sylock grunts, the two colliding against a tree. "GAH!" Justin yelps, clinging on the tree barks.

Both of them look at each other with bewilderment. "What the hell was that!?" Justin exclaims, raising his brow. Sylock covers his bleeding hand, shaking his head.

Soon rustles spark up, the two eyeing ahead: Bushes shake and tremble, shifting side to side. Sylock squints as a blue blade casts on Justin's left hand, the boy grabbing the hilt.

Rearing its head from one of the bushes lies a blue frog creature with red eyes and a long pink tongue. Two more Defect Greninjas poke their heads out, the three leaping up afterwards. "What the..." Justin gazes, the Greninjas clinging onto the tree branches: Two hanging upside down while one sits on top, its fingers' bulbous tip nudging its face. The darkness hides these ninja amphibians, only their red eyes can be seen.

Justin gulps, casting another blue blade as Sylock frees him. The Blaziken looks around: Seeing the first Greninja on the left, the second on the right, and the third in the middle. "We're surrounded," Sylock signs, lowering his brows.

"Looks like we're surrounded by these guys," Justin says, gripping his blades' ends.

Sylock looks at the boy, glaring. I just said that.

Justin looks back. "...What?"

. . .

"Justin! Ramon! Mesmeren!" Ada shouts, her hands over her lips.

"Sylock! Where are ya!?" Courtney shouts as well, doing the same motion as Ada's. The two keep calling for their friends, their voices echoing into nothingness. Footsteps pressing the grasses down, the two girls stopping their tracks and sighing.

"Shit. How did we get separated from them?" Ada asks, laying her hand onto her head. "We were all together not too long ago. And I was behind Ramon as well." She shakes her head. "Hmm..."

Courtney folds her arms, looking up at the dark leaves. "Huh...You truly can get lost in the woods that used to be joyful." Ada looks at Courtney as a leaf detaches itself, falling with elegance. "The woods that used to be serene...Very brightly lit, too..." Courtney hangs her hand out. "And now..." The dark red leaf lands on her hand, curling up. "It's all mellowed out. Gone." Courtney sighs, looking back at Ada. "Ain't it sad? Seein' what these woods have become?"

Ada blinks for a moment, lifting her brow. "Clarify."

"Hmm?"

"About Gloomy Woods." Ada walks close to the Lopunny. "Did it not look like this before?" Courtney shakes her head. "Huh...How did it become this way then? To the point where someone can easily get lost."

"..." Courtney grips the side of her arm, dropping the leaf. "Ain't no point in hidin' how I feel about this place, huh?"

"What?"

ROAAAR!

GROOOWL!

The two jump. "What in tarnation!?" Courtney exclaims, eyeing the bushes rustling in front of them.

Two Defects emerge: One being a yellow humanoid creature with a brown armor-like chest while another is a blue bipedal creature with a giant mouth hanging open. Courtney slowly gets her sword out, backing away. Ada casts her purple claws, the Alakazam twirling its spoons as the Exploud rams its fist to the palm of its hand.

Courtney glares. "I'll explain later. Right now, we have these two to worry about."

"Got it."

. . .

Clittering. Jittering.

Mesmeren presses her hand against her face, her teeth clanging nonstop. She eyes around, lowering her ears: Shaking beyond belief. "M-Mm." She murmurs, stroking her chest before her lips squirm.

Ramon squints at the darkness, turning his head from one side to the next. The Drowzee sticks close to him, her arms suddenly wrapped around his head. The Zorua blushes.

Does she have to cling to me like this? She's...bigger than me. I think we even look awkward this way while walking. Silence rises between them, nothing but the footsteps are heard. "...So—"

Snapped comes the twig as Mesmeren screams, hugging the Zorua's head. Ramon flinches and yelps, gasping in the lockjaw. Mesmeren looks at the headlock, dropping Ramon immediately. He gasps for that glorious air.

"I-I'm so, so very sorry! I...This place scares me m-more after we got separated fr-from the others..." She pokes her fingers together.

"It's—" the fox sighs. "...fine. I understand, considering I have no clue where the others are, too."

The two keep going.

The Zorua whimpers. "Justin! Ada! Where are you guys!?" No response. Ramon lowers his head, sighing. "I hope they're okay..."

Mesmeren eyes the Zorua, her hands pressing her chest. Melancholy casts within her eyes. He looks so down about his friends, she thinks. I-I'll see if I can cheer him up a bit... "...Y-You know, my pare—" the Drowzee's eyes widen before she stops, gritting her teeth. Y-YOUR WHAT!? Trembles. WHY WOULD YOU USE THEM AS A WAY TO ENLIGHTEN THE MOOD, ME!?

"'You know?'" Ramon stops, turning around. "What do you mean by that? I never knew about what you'll tell me until now."

Per-Perfect opportunity to change the subject completely. "I-I mean, it's a way to start a conversation."

"Oh...Wasn't really familiar with that. That's neat."

Hopefully he doesn't bring up what I was about to—

"Were you going to say parents, by the way?" Ramon asks, tilting his head.

...Too late. Mesmeren shrugs, looking away. "Y-Yeah. I was...going to say that my parents would tell me to hum while twirling around."

"Huh?"

"It's bizarre, I know. But it helps c-calm me down whenever I get lost." Mesmeren smiles meekly. "Y-You should give it a try."

Ramon shrugs. "I...suppose I don't mind doing that." He looks down, chuckling in a nervous manner. "Yeah...Maybe I should stand on twos for this."

He gets on his hind paws, turning himself around in place. "Hmm hmm hm—" Ramon falls on his back. "Oof!" Mesmeren presses her hands on her lips, giggling. Ramon looks at the Drowzee before laughing himself, standing on all fours. "That wasn't my best humming twirl attempt."

"T-To be fair, I haven't shown you how to do it properly."

"I see. Well, at least I tried to pull it off, right?"

Mesmeren stares at the Zorua for a moment, gripping her chest a bit before nodding. "Y-Yeah. You're right."

"What's your humming twirl?"

Mesmeren's face reddens at the question, the tapir backing away. "Wh-What!?"

"...Is it wrong for me to ask?" Ramon looks up with concern, the tapir looking off to the side. "You don't have to show it to me if you don't wa—"

"N-No...It's fine. I'll show it to you."

"Are you sure?"

Mesmeren closes her eyes and smiles, her hands behind her back. "I-I'm certain!" She stands on one foot, keeping her eyes closed. Ramon watches with intrigue, sitting down. The Drowzee spins around, humming an ecstatic tune. She then comes to a complete halt, opening her eyes and shaking her hands. "Tada!"

The Zorua wags his tail. "Ah, impressive!"

Mesmeren strokes her arm, staring off. "N-Not really. Anyone could do it."

"At least you found your way to remain calm, thanks to your parents," Ramon says, smiling.

Mesmeren bites her lower lip, shaking. "...I-I guess so..." The Drowzee looks back at Ramon. "Hey, um..." Wiggling in place, she fiddles her fingers. "Do you remember any sort of hobbies you like to do?"

"Hmm?"

The two keep moving ahead. "I...know that you've lost your memories and all because of the Prospective incident, b-but surely you know something from your past li-life that you like to do, right?"

"Hmm..." Ramon looks up at the trees.

Mesmeren leans closer to the Zorua. "N-Nothing you can think of?"

"Well—" the Zorua turns towards the Drowzee, smiling. "I do enjoy learning new things as a part of my hobby. Such as the humming twirl thing earlier."

"O-Oh..." Mesmeren blushes, looking away.

"Perhaps learning has always been something I'm into, even before losing my memory."

"Th-That's good to gain interest in." The tapir smiles back in a shy manner.

"Speaking of memory, do you know why Conjure was after you? Or you still don't know?" Ramon asks.

Mesmeren shakes her head. "St-Still have no clue..."

"I see then."

"Although—" Mesmeren stops. "I did hear them saying something about 'there's one of mistress' dream targets.'"

Ramon looks at the Drowzee, straight face ensues. "What?"

Mesmeren gives him the same look. "I don't know if they said that as some sort of pun or what." Sighs. "Wh-Whatever they meant by that phrase, I'm...certain it's not good. I'm not even sure who this mistress person they're talking about is. It's...bizarre."

"Agreed..."

Silence springs into the air once again before the two continue onwards.

"B-By the way, Ramon..."

The Zorua eyes Mesmeren. "Hmm?"

"Th-Thank you for listening to what I have to say..." The Drowzee twirls her fingers around, moving her lips up shakily.

Ramon blinks for a moment before nodding, smiling back. "You're wel—"

SWOOSH!

A large bone swings between them.

"AH!" Mesmeren screams, the two jumping to the side. She falls on her back while Ramon slides across, gnashing his teeth.

"What in the world was tha—ACK!" The fox is thrown in the air by an unknown foot, slamming against the tree behind him.

"RAMON!" Mesmeren shouts before staring ahead, her eyes growing and quaking. She covers her mouth, begging to scream.

"Who...did..." Ramon's ears twitch to the slamming foot, blinking. His head gradually lifts up, the decaying black cloak shifting in front of him. He stops, gazing into the familiar red eyes of death, the cloaker's blue ears poking out. His Bone Rush lifts as Ramon strokes the grass, shaking to his core. "...That."

The cloaked individual swings down.
 
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Chapter 27.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 27: Triple Trouble in the Gloomy Woods Part 1!

Ramon jumps to the side, the figure's bone ramming the grass. He slides across the greens before the cloaker ushers, swinging his yellow paw.

Ramon's eyes widen, gritting his teeth. "Shoot!" He ducks the Force Palm, eyes rumbling at the sight. So fast! The fox rolls forward, crunching multiple twigs, leaves rising in intensity. He stops and turns, the figure dashing after him.

As the Zorua keeps dodging his moves, Mesmeren sits there: Trembling, her teeth clattering. She strokes her cheeks, eyes jittering. What should I do? What should I do!? she thinks, pinning against the tree behind her.

. . .

Ada groans, sliding across before slowing herself with her claws. Courtney does the same thing, jabbing the ground with her sword. The two stare at the Exploud and Alakazam, the Pokémon snarling at them.

They move forward, the Exploud slamming its fist against the palm of its hand. The blue biped then jumps, its foot coating itself in white energy before jetting down to Courtney. The Lopunny yanks her sword out, blocking the Stomp.

Ada dashes towards the Alakazam, extending her Enchantment Claws' length. The yellow humanoid's eyes glow blue, twirling its spoons around. The teen gasps, pausing in place before being pushed back by Psychic. She claws the ground, gripping it. Wincing, she shakes her head.

You'd THINK I've learned my lesson dealing with Psychic types by now... She sighs, extending her claw once again before swinging it. The Alakazam simply lifts its spoon, surrounding the teen's claw in light pink auras. It pushes the claw back, staggering Ada. "GAH!"

The Exploud punches Courtney over and over, thrusting its glowing white fists. Courtney blocks them with her sword, grunting. "Never knew Explouds would be this fast!" she exclaims, dodging another Pound afterwards. She leaps to the side and swings her sword at the Defect, the Exploud shielding itself with Protect.

Protect, huh? Figured it'd be one of those strong abandoned Defects... She then receives a punch to the gut, gasping. She flies off, crashing all over the ground before colliding against a nearby tree. She groans, covering her stomach.

The teen looks behind her, seeing Courtney lying on the ground. She is about to help her until multiple blobs of psychic energies trap her. "Huh!?" The Psyshock smashes into her, blasting her towards the Lopunny. She yelps, sliding across the grass.

"C-Crap..." She and Courtney then stand up, panting heavily as the Defects walk towards them. The Alakazam keeps twirling its spoons while the Exploud cracks its knuckles, the two snarling.

Courtney gropes her arm, grinning. "These two are mighty strong alright...Just how I remember these wretched woods..."

"Keep your guard up." Ada summons her Enchantment Claws once more, steadying. "This may take a while..."

. . .

Justin and Sylock have a stare off with the Greninjas, Sylock squinting as the Greninjas grips on the branches. Soon, Defects leap off, falling towards the two.

"Here they come," Sylock signs with one hand before his other ignites.

Justin smirks, twirling his Sorcery Blades. "Good job dumbasses for jumping right towards us!" he says as he and Sylock jump forward.

Justin swings his blades while Sylock uses Fire Punch: All three of the Defects disappear, the blades and fist hitting green dinosaur-like plushies. "Hmm?" The two become confused by the Substitute dolls before the Greninjas reappear above them, casting Water Shurikens. "Oh crap!"

The Defects throw, the shurikens crashing the two towards the ground. They groan, Sylock gritting his teeth. Ugh... he thinks, stroking the grass, painting some with his bleeding hand. He pants, looking over to a nearby long strain of leaf. He grabs it, wrapping it around his hand. There. That's better.

The Greninjas appear on top of the trees, their red eyes glittering within the shadows.

Justin stands up, brushing himself off. "Aren't y'all some sneaky son of a gun," he says, forming his blades once more. The Greninjas jump from the branches, falling towards the two. Justin frowns and jumps, swinging his blades. The Defects fade, leaving behind Substitute dolls as Justin hits them.

"Bruh." One of the Greninjas appears beside him, ramming him with Water Shuriken. The boy shields with his blades as Sylock jumps towards the Greninja, punching it in the face. It crashes to the ground. "Ayy, you got one!"

The frog ninja slides across before vanishing into the bushes, the other two kicking Justin and Sylock away. The two grunt and land swiftly, glaring. The Greninjas vanish into the shadows, Justin and Sylock's backs pinning against each other.

"Be. Careful." Sylock's non-bleeding fist catches on fire, the Blaziken snarling. Silence and emptiness is all the two can hear and see, Justin gripping onto his blades firmly.

"Hmm...I got an idea." Justin twirls his blades, small winds forming. Sylock looks at the boy, raising his brow. Then a Greninja appears from behind a tree in front of the Blaziken, casting its big shuriken. Sylock looks back and widens his eyes in shock.

"Gotcha!" Justin exclaims, swinging his blades forward, winds blowing at the Greninja. The frog ninja disappears, a Substitute doll being in its place. "Oh you have got to be ki—" the teen coughs out purple blood, groaning from another Greninja ramming him with its dark shrouded body: Feint Attack.

Justin slams against the tree from earlier, groaning. The Blaziken gnashes his teeth before getting hit by another Water Shuriken, groaning and crashing against Justin. The boy tries to move afterwards, but screams, his body shrieking like many needles piercing through him.

The blades fade away, Justin slowly pushing Sylock off. Sh-Shit... Justin's eyes widen, three Greninjas materializing out of the darkness, readying their Water Shurikens. "SHIT!" With no time to think, the boy thrusts his arm forward, casting a huge blue shield around him and Sylock.

The frog ninjas ram the shield before jumping back, hopping on top of the branches. Soon, the Defects jump from one branch to the next, fading in and out due to their quick movements. Justin and Sylock gaze up, the teen gulping.

"...Aight. I have a question ya, Sylock." The Blaziken looks at the teen, grunting. "How the hell do we take these guys down?"

Sylock stares at the boy for a moment before sighing, looking up at the hopping amphibians.

. . .

Ramon keeps swerving from the Bone Rush, his heart thumping and pumping with strenuous adrenaline. The destructive cloaker swings his bone many times before kicking afterwards. Ramon's eyes widen, the fox trying to use his Mystical Shield.

No! Nomar shouts in the Zorua's head.

"Hmm!?" Ramon is met with a knee to the face, yelping before sliding across the grass. "Gah!" The Zorua stops himself, gripping onto the ground. What do you mean 'no', Nomar!? Ramon grits his teeth angrily, his nose leaking purple blood. In fact, you told me no yesterday when I tried to help Justin and Ada protect Forest's home!

The cloaker dashes towards the Zorua: Two bones forming, spinning them around.

I don't want anyone to know that you have Magic moves! Nomar states in a concerned manner.

The figure throws his Bone Rush, Ramon jumping over it before casting his dark energy ball. Why does it matter!? He flings his Dark Pulse, the figure slicing it half. Ramon lands on the ground. Justin and Ada already know I have Magic moves, so why try to hide it!?

The cloaker throws another Bone Rush at Ramon, the Zorua dashing out of the way and Sucker Punching him. The cloaker slides back, Ramon stepping away with his shadowy paws active

I just...don't want others to find out. Not even your Drowzee friend, who I'm 100% uncertain about her motive.

Mesmeren? She's learning about this Magic type stuff as I am!
The red Zorua then gasps and widens his eyes, the cloaker punching him in the face without warning. "AH!" He fumbles all over the ground before crashing into a tree near Mesmeren, the Drowzee jumping.

Mesmeren turns to the figure gradually, her eyes shaking endlessly. The cloaker rubs his paws while walking towards the two, glaring. Mesmeren's heart pounds like no tomorrow, the Drowzee stroking the tree: Shaking. H-H-He's much m-m-more scary when face to face! Tears cloud her vision. I'm going to die. I-I'm going to die to this strong guy because I'm...I'm. Whimpers. I'm so pathe—

"H-Hey!" Ramon shouts, snapping Mesmeren back to reality. She looks at him. "Help me take him down, please." The Zorua grunts, shaking himself before glaring back at the figure.

Mesmeren stares at the Zorua for a brief moment, lost in thoughts and words on the situation. She then nods meekly, moving forward a bit and lifting her hands. "R-Right."

The cloaker stops for a moment, closing his eyes. "Despite knowing that you'll die at any given moment, you still have the will to fight back." He opens his eyes, his paws shrouding in yellow auras. "Perhaps that's why Xander chose you."

Ramon and Mesmeren raise their brows. "Choose me? ...For what?"

"You know exactly what I'm talking about. Considering you were involved in the incident, too."

Ramon grits his teeth, slamming his paw down. "HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT I DON'T KNOW!?" Snarls. "I don't know who Xander Yvonne is! Nor this incident, how I was involved in it, and what I 'did' to cause it!" He frowns. "How about explaining all of this to me instead of constantly going after my throat!? Because frankly, I'm sick of you hunting me down."

Xander Yvonne, huh? This cloak wearing fella s-sure has a strong attachment to him, Mesmeren thinks. I wonder why.

"Hmph." The cloaker folds his arms. "Nice performance."

Ramon lowers his ears, blinking within utter confusion. "...What?"

"I know how your kind works, Zorua. Filled with top notch lying techniques and performances. And in this instance, you're pretending to have amnesia so that you can avoid the sins you've caused at the Prospective Institute." He cracks his fists.

"You have got to be kidding me." Ramon's paws are shrouded in dark energy.

"Your lies may have worked on your friends. But it won't work on me." The figure crouches. "You know what you've done. And I'll kill you for it." He dashes towards the two, paws out and ready.

Mesmeren's hands glow red as she yelps, sweating. O-Oh dear!

The cloaker slams his Force Palm between the two, both jumping to the side. Ramon pounces against him with Sucker Punch, pushing him back. The individual grunts before getting Wake-Up Slapped by Mesmeren, rolling towards the side. Mesmeren looks at Ramon sternly, sighing afterwards.

"Whoa! Nice combo we did there, Mesmeren!" Ramon says, wagging his tail while smiling.

The Drowzee blinks for a moment before hiding her face, blushing. "O-Oh. U-Um, thank you!"

"Watch out!" The Zorua jumps in front of the blue ribbon Drowzee, colliding his dark paw with the cloaker's yellow one. Strong winds exert itself from the collision, the two grunting.

"Eek!" Mesmeren backs away, shaking.

Ramon and the cloaker jump away from each other, panting heavily.

"...Not bad. I see that you've gotten better at fighting back, despite having a helper," the cloaker says, casting another bone.

"Considering our previous encounters, hearing a compliment from you is the least thing I expected," Ramon comments.

"Hmph." The figure throws his Bone Rush at the Zorua, leading him to jump over it. "Gotcha."

"What the—"

The cloaker is about to Force Palm the Zorua until the Drowzee pushes him back with Psybeam, groaning from the pink strands. "You son of a..." He growls, glaring at Mesmeren as Ramon lands on the ground with grace.

"H-He said h-he doesn't know anything about th-the incident!" Mesmeren lifts her hands, preparing another DNA-like strand. "Le-Leave him alone!"

"Hmm...Were you the one that helped him in the alley? Behind the dumpster?"

Mesmeren's eyes shake, her heart feeling as though it has stopped beating. "I...How did you—"

"Figured that was the case since I've seen you follow the Zorua and his friends." The cloaker appears in front of the Drowzee within a flash, Mesmeren eyeing up with sheer terror, trembling. He smacks her towards the side, the Drowzee yelping in pain as she rolls around. "Keep butting in and I'll kill you, too."

"Mesmeren!" Ramon shouts before the figure kicks him, wailing. He slams into a large boulder far from them, cracks forming behind the Zorua. He coughs out blood, eyes shifting from side to side. C-Crud. He falls, jittering. He's...so...powerful...

The cloaked individual glances at the Zorua, his paws shrouded in yellow auras again. He walks towards him, readying his Force Palm before receiving a small rock to the head. "Hmm..." The cloaker turns around, Mesmeren's eyes glowing light blue as tears run down.

"I-I said leave him alone!" The Drowzee pleads. "Please..."

The figure glares before moving his paw up, coating Mesmeren in light pink auras. His eyes glow blue, pushing the Drowzee forward with Psychic. She crashes into the same boulder, gasping.

"I guess you can die with him, too."

Mesmeren coughs up purple blood, eyes twitching from the immense strength. OH GOSH! It...Ugh! She falls to the ground, whimpering and tearing up as she coughs more blood, painting the grass. It hurts! It hurts so much! Pl-Please just...make it stop. She strokes it, closing her eyes as tears slide like a waterfall.

Ramon gazes at Mesmeren, eyes widening in pure shock. He then glares at the cloaker, growling. "You...You didn't have to do that!" He dashes towards him. "WHY DON'T YOU STOP HARASSING ME AND MY FRIENDS!" The Zorua starts glowing white, growing in size.

The cloaker blinks, pausing in place. Hmm?

Ramon jumps, the back of his head extending itself to what appears to be hair. His forelegs have transformed into arms, claws forming at the end of his paws. And his backlegs become more biped, the Pokémon landing directly onto the figure, pinning him down. The cloaker growls as Ramon stops glowing, looking like a bipedal fox with a large red hair and black mane on his chest. There's also a tuft of hair covering his left eye.

Mesmeren eyes Zoroark in a weak manner. Wh-Whoa...

Ramon growls in a low tone, his claws glowing white. The fox's eyes grow with rage, slashing the figure's cloak left and right. The cloaker growls in pain, shielding himself with his arms.

"You've been a real pain! Honestly!" Ramon shouts, his voice sounding lower than his Zorua self. "Hurting me over and over! I'm so sick of you!" He keeps shredding with Fury Swipes, gritting his sharp teeth and snarling. "I tried reasoning with you by wanting answers about my past! But all you've ever given me was a deadly game of tag!"

Ramon then claws the cloaker's face, the top of his cloak leaving him as his identity unveils. "GAH!" The blue canine yelps, blood spewing from the claw marks as the rest splatters the grass. His black snout twitches before he glares at the Zoroark, red eyes fuming with volcanos. "You bitch."

Ramon tries to claw the Lucario until his arm is grabbed. He tries his other claw, but that one is grabbed, too. The claw mark Lucario headbutts the Zoroark, Ramon yelping away. Once he's off, the blue jackal tackles Ramon, screaming loudly. He slams him against the same boulder, further cracks snapping loudly from the collision. Mesmeren cowers and whimpers, trembling.

Ramon coughs, the Lucario's arm pinning him. The two pants: The Zoroark's light blue eyes staring into the opponent's.

"Ugh..." He grunts, glancing. "Who...even are you? I never got your name, come to think of it." Ramon spits blood onto the grass, keeping his gaze locked.

The black cloak now looks more deteriorated than before, barely holding onto the Lucario. As blood drips from his left, he speaks:

"My name is Travis."
 
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Chapter 28.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Disclaimer: Despite providing a warning of this fic containing blood and death at the beginning, this chapter further elaborates on it with body parts. Viewers discretion is advised.

Chapter 28: Triple Trouble in the Gloomy Woods Part 2!

Snarls vibrate from the Zoroark, Ramon gripping his fist, grinding his teeth. The Lucario glares into Ramon's eyes, blood sliding off his lips.

After what feels like centuries of glances, Ramon looks down and sighs. Travis raises his brow, his paw glowing yellow. "About time you've accepted your fate," he says, his paw facing towards the fox.

"Wait!" Ramon shouts.

Travis quirks his brow once more. "Don't bother with your tricks. It's over."

"But—" Ramon looks back, his ears lower, his eyes teary. "At least give me a reminder. If you truly believe I'm lying to you, then provide one more context to why you couldn't stop chasing me. Tell me exactly why you wanted to kill me...All of it." He unravels his fist, shaking. "...Please."

Travis keeps glaring for a moment until his eyes widen, his heart thumping. What the? His appendages twitch. My aura is going against my thoughts on him...Could he be telling the truth after all? The Lucario looks off, shaking his head. No. He's lying about his amnesiac state. I know he is.

The blue canine clears his throat. "I don't know why I should tell you since you're outright a devious liar. But sure, I'll humor you just this once." Travis' arm further presses against the fox's chest, Ramon groaning. "To avenge my beloved friend, Xander Yvonne."

"A-And why's that? Elaborate further than just revenge."

"...Xander's life was going so well. So...peacefully." Travis gazes at the dark trees, a few leaves hurling their down . "He was always a man of determination. The willpower to experience all kinds of ideas." Smiles. "He wanted to improve both mankind and Pokémon alike, and I admire him for it. Because he cared about others, not just himself."

The Lucario then sighs, glancing back at Ramon. "It was until you came into the picture where everything had gone down to ruins. You see, Xander was working on this project called 'Project Transvian', hoping to find a way to turn a Pokémon into one."

So...he must be the one who wrote that wet note then. Ramon looks to the side, concerns sprawling. He then eyes back. "Why did Dr. Yvonne form the project? Besides wanting to turn a Pokémon into a Transvian."

"...He did it for my other friend, Noctis." Travis sighs. "Noctis once thought he wanted to evolve into his final form. But as soon as he did, he regretted ever being in that form..." The Lucario lowers his ears. "He wished he could devolve back, but couldn't due to not being a Transvian. Xander felt sorry for him..." He grips his fist, tears streaming down. "I wished he wasn't so selfless as to make the project become a reality. Because after trying so hard to make the conversion work...he met you." Glares. "Something tells me not to trust you." The Lucario grits his teeth. "And after hearing about the incident along with rumors of a Pokémon surviving it, I knew you were the cause of it."

Mesmeren gazes at the two, her hand against her chest. Oh dear...I-I can see why he cares so much about this Y-Yvonne scientist...

"I...My sympathy towards your friend, Yvonne..." Ramon shakes his head before frowning. "But also, your conclusion makes no sense! Why would I stay at a facility after destroying it? Let alone not remembering a single thing from it!"

"Cut the crap, Ramon: You intentionally became one of Xander's subjects so that you can sabotage the facility!" Travis yells.

"Then why would I remain there? If my entire goal was to destroy it, don't you think it would be a good idea to escape afterwards?"

Travis' heart jumps, the Lucario's eyes widen. His appendages twitch once again. "Grr, you stayed there so that you can steal Xander's journal and use his hard work for nefarious deeds!"

Ramon snarls. "Oh my god, you're killing me with how many times you're evading my honest answer, especially with that response. Sure, it's possible that I could've remained at the institute after destroying it and grabbing the journal...But also why wouldn't I just do that before ruining the place? Let alone staying in it."

Travis' appendages shake more, his eyes trembling. Ugh, my aura is acting up again! I know he's not telling the truth! Stop being sensitive! "So you're admitting that you DID cause the incident, lying about your amnesia this entire time!"

Ramon squints his eyes, growling. "No: I'm going off from your assumptions of me, and none of it adds up." He groans. "Don't you get it!? I. AM. NOT. THE. CAUSE!"

Travis grits his teeth, his appendages twitching at a rapid pace. He trembles, growling. "SHUT UP! I KNOW YOU KILLED XANDER AND DESTROYED THE PROSPECTIVE INSTITUTE!" Travis shouts, tears sliding down like a waterfall. "He...He was a dear friend to Noctis and I. And then you ruined it all!" STOP BEING SENSITIVE! HE'S LYING, DAMMIT! I KNOW HE IS!

Ramon gnashes his teeth, tears streaming down his cheeks. "Why can't you just believe me!? Why do you insist on me being the cause!? Why!?" He grips his fist.

Travis looks at the Zoroark for a moment, eyes trembling with intensity. He then lifts his paw, readying a Force Palm. "Ju...Just shut up and die!" He gets pushed to the side by Confusion, rolling around as the light blue auras fade. Ramon drops down, stroking the grass in freedom while panting. He looks to his left, Mesmeren's eyes reverting back to normal. She gropes her chest, panting at a speedy pace.

"Mesmeren..." the Zoroark says in a soft tone before turning to his right, the Lucario grunting. Travis stands, staring directly at Mesmeren. Snarling, he casts his white bone.

"Oh no you don't!" Ramon dashes on all fours, growling. Travis is about to throw his Bone Rush before being tackled, the two rolling around and latching onto each other. They snarl, their teeth clenching with menace.

. . .

The Greninjas hop from one branch to the next, Sylock and Justin keeping their eyes sharp. Justin groans, lowering his brows.

"Shit, how do we take these guys out? Cuz I only have two chances left for my shield, fam." The boy gazes at his shield, blue auras flourishing throughout. He then snaps his finger, eyeing Sylock. "Say, I heard Blaziken can be born with that Speed Boost ability. Do you have it?"

The Blaziken looks at him, shaking his head. The boy grunts. "Welp, that blows." He stares back at the Greninjas. "I guessed the only option we got is us fighting them, with me putting up the shield when it's right. Would that be alright with ya?" The boy blinks for a moment, twitching his ear to see if he can hear a single word from Sylock: He can't.

Justin turns his head. "Well?" Sylock simply nods at him, the boy squinting. "Dude, you could just talk to me straight up instead of nodding and remaining silent..." The Blaziken then gradually glares at the Greninjas, to which Justin lifts his brow, frowning. Bro...

Sylock grabs the edge of his sword and unsheathes, Justin lowering his arm. The blue shield fades, the three Defects wasting no time to strike. Justin casts his blades and swings at one of the Greninjas. The Pokémon fades, a Substitute doll taking its place. Oh no you don't! The boy jerks his blades towards the side, hitting another Greninja's Water Shuriken before another one kicks him. He blocks with his blade, sliding across while grunting.

The Blaziken clashes his sword against the third Greninja's Water Shuriken, gritting his teeth before backing away. He shrouds his legs in dark red auras, jumping. He High Jump Kicks the Greninja, but it Substitutes. Dammit... Sylock thinks, kicking the doll away.

The Greninja returns and slaps him to the side, the Blaziken clawing the ground, stopping himself. He snarls, glaring at the Greninja dashing after him. Its Water Shuriken meets his sword, the two pushing each other.

Justin slashes and blocks the aquatic shurikens, jumping away from the two Defects. The frog ninjas leap forward, readying to strike. Justin smirks, kicking the amphibians to the side. The Greninjas collide against a nearby tree before immediately getting up, rushing towards the boy.

After he lands, Justin prepares his winds and swings his sword forward, the winds dashing directly at the Defects. The two jump to the side, the winds dissipating. "Uh." The teen looks to his side, the first Greninja jabbing forward with dark energy. Justin blocks the Feint Attack, moving back slightly.

"Knew you'd do that crap." He swings his blade, the Defect fumbling around the grass before jumping back. Then the second Greninja shoots its Water Shuriken at the boy, leading him to scream and ram against Sylock. "Ugh..."

The biped chicken pants, grabbing the side of his arm, his sword remaining out. All of the Greninjas shoot their Water Shurikens, Justin dashing his arm up. The Mystical Shield engulfs the two, the aquatic projectiles bouncing off. They groan, exhaling strenuously. The boy looks at the Blaziken as he eyes back, both nodding.

"One last time..." the teen says, summoning his blades upon standing up.

Sylock gets up as well, groping his hilt before his other fist casts flames. As the shield fades, the two jolt towards the Greninjas.

. . .

Courtney ducks from the many leaves the Alakazam tosses, white energy trailing behind her. The Exploud runs towards Ada, engulfing its fist in flames before using Fire Punch.

Ada winces while blocking the punch with her claws, being pushed back a bit. She clenches her teeth. They're so...strong, she thinks, her heels scratching the grass.

The Lopunny kicks the Alakazam back with her Quick Attack, the Defect shielding itself with a clear sphere, crossing its arms. Huh. So we're facing TWO abandoned Defects, then, Courtney thinks, jumping back and landing swiftly. Yeah, no. That is FAR from good.

The yellow humanoid turns towards Ada, its spoon glowing dark pink before expanding itself. Its arm swings, Psycho Cut waves ushering forward. "AH!" Ada screams, flying off from the landed attacks and thrashing into a tree.

Courtney grits her teeth, rushing towards the teen before being encased in light pink auras. "Ah cra—" the Alakazam throws her across the Exploud with Psychic, slamming her into a boulder beside Ada. Courtney widens her eyes, coughing out blood. Ada stares at the rabbit, eyes rumbling side to side.

"RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" the Lopunny cries, shrieking at the top of her lungs, gripping her fists.

. . .

Sylock and Justin jump from the echoing scream, the Blaziken widening his eyes and lowering his sword. Courtney!?

The teen looks to the side. "Was that Courtney screa—" a large stream of water hits the boy as he yelps, colliding against Sylock. They crash into their main tree, both groaning heavily. Justin quickly raises his shield, letting it take the incoming Hydro Pumps.

Sylock snarls, pushing Justin off. He gets up only to wince afterwards. Ugh... One eye closes. Must...save...her.

Justin groans, his arm staying up. "A-At this rate fam, we might be screwed: This is my last usage of the shield. And those three are kicking both of our types asses..." The boy expands his eyes, gazing at the ninja frogs hopping around nonstop. "Shit, man..."

. . .

SLAM!

"GAH!" Ramon yelps.

The Lucario's arm presses him against the tree, zero spaces remaining. Mesmeren raises her hand, her eyes glowing light blue. Travis snaps towards her, his eyes turning pure blue before hammering Mesmeren against the boulder. She coughs up purple blood, stuck by Travis' Psychic.

"Now then—" the blue canine glares at the fox, his paw shrouding in yellow auras. "Got any last words before I end you?"

"Yes..." Ramon sighs, gazing down. He then eyes back. "Why do you hit so hard after I use my Dark moves on you?"

Travis and Mesmeren blink at the Zoroark's question, raising their brows.

"Wha," the two say.

"Really? That's what you wanted to say before you die? Not even going to ask me about my childhood memories with Xander nor anything? THAT'S what you're curious about?"

Ramon nods, lowering his ears while smiling awkwardly. "Y-Yeah. I've been wondering about that for so long, and it's been bothering me from time to time." The Zoroark whimpers, staring at Travis with puppy eyes. "I know you think I'm lying to you, but the least you could do is tell me about it!"

That's...a very unexpected question to ask in a life or death situation, Mesmeren thinks, wishing to tilt her head.

The Lucario has the look of perplexion, his maw slightly agape at the entire ordeal. "...Justified, that's the name of my ability. It powers my physical moves every time I get hit by Dark moves."

"Thank you—Wait, ability!? The heck is that?"

Travis squints. "You know what that is."

"No, I seriously don—"

"Shut it." Travis squeezes Ramon against the tree, the Zoroark groaning. His other paw glows yellow, raising it. "You've already mentioned your last words. So die." The Lucario pins his Force Palm against Ramon's head, the Zoroark yelping. He drags the fox's head, his appendages going haywire, his eyes widening. HE IS NOT INNOCENT, AURA! SHUT UP!

Mesmeren stares ahead, mortified. "Pl-Please, don't kill him!" she pleads, tears forming. Ramon grunts, gritting his teeth.

. . .

Ada and Courtney stroke their arms: Legs shaking, breaths racing. The Exploud closes its mouth, wiggling it as Courtney grips her hilt. The Alakazam twirls its spoons, glaring at them. Ada eyes the blue biped, taking a step back.

"What...is it doing?" the teen asks.

Courtney squints, light blue auras sparkling around the wide mouth Defect. She then gasps, widening her eyes. The Exploud crosses its arms and leans back. "Shit, he's about to—"

"RAAAAAAAAAAH!"

The Exploud unleashes a giant group of supersonic waves, roaring at the top of its lungs. The Boomburst pushes the two, the blue waves dragging the trees along. The two scream, fumbling in the air. Ada slams against one of the trees, coughing out purple blood upon cracks casting a on it.

The noise echoes throughout the Gloomy Woods.

Justin and Sylock turn to their side, the waves vibrating towards them. "You heard that?" Justin says, raising his brow. The Blaziken nods, glaring.

Travis quirks his brow, his ears twitching. "Hmm?" Looks to his right. "What the?"

Mesmeren blinks. "Wh-Where's that coming from?"

I don't know where it's coming from either, but... Ramon eyes the Lucario's arm. Now's my chance! He grabs him, Travis yelping. The fox twists him around, throwing him against the same tree. Mesmeren falls down, the blue auras fading instantly.

"Grr...Why you little—"

The Zoroark scoops up a large chunk of dirt, throwing it towards Travis. "GAH!" The Lucario screams, gripping his face and covering his eyes. His paws tremble, caressing his eyes while growling in agony.

Ramon dashes towards Mesmeren, picking her up and setting her on his back. "Hang on!" he says before running on all fours, not giving the Drowzee enough time to think. Luckily, she grips onto the hair, yelping and ducking along the way.

The Lucario stops rubbing, opening his eyes to no longer see the two at his sight. He snarls, grinding his sharp teeth, gripping his fists.

"I'LL KILL YOU EVEN IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO, RAMON!" he shouts, his appendages jittering rapidly. His shaky paw touches his claw marks, wincing. Blood drips onto them, the jackal trembling. "...I need to go to Serenity. See if anyone's kind enough to treat this wound..." Travis grips his fist, squinting. "Despite wanting to go after him."

The Lucario turns around, staring ahead at the darkness. "Ugh..." He shakes his head. I know what I'm doing is right...I just know it. The jackal runs off.

. . .

Sylock's fists clench, engulfing in red orange auras. Justin eyes him, keeping his Mystical Shield up. "Uh..."

Sylock grits his teeth, glaring at the hopping frogs. Bits of flames spark around him, blending with the auras.

Something...tells me to back away, Justin thinks, moving back.

The Mystical Shield then fades, the boy jumping. "Ah shit! I didn't mean to—" three of the Greninjas jolt off, preparing their Water Shurikens. "CRAP!" Justin summons his blades, sweat dripping down. Within a flash, Sylock disappears, flames trailing. Justin looks to his side. "Huh!?"

Sylock punches each of the Greninjas' face, shooting them towards the ground. As the Defects stand up, the Blaziken leans his head back and chars the first one with his fury Flamethrower. The Greninja's skin deteriorates, its tongue ripping off as the Pokémon flies back. After the flames fade, the Greninja is left crisped against a boulder.

The Blaziken lands on the ground before two aquatic shurikens charge towards him. He dodges forward, quickly jabbing the second Greninja with Fire Punch. As it yelps, he grabs its tongue and twirls it towards the third Greninja, slamming the two against the same boulder from earlier. Sylock catches the tongue on fire, spreading it throughout the frog. He then moves the Greninja back and forth, bashing it over and over against the third.

Blood spews out of the two like a water hose, the second screeching in agony. Sylock's eyes expand, seeking his claws into the Greninja's tongue. You're. In. My. Way. He increases the bashing speed, snarling and growling. He doesn't even care about the blood coating his claws: He's too prioritized.

The boy stands there, hands trembling, eyebrows raising. What the hell? he thinks, sweat dripping onto his shirt, painting it dark blue. Is this what Blaze or whatever it's called can do to a Pokémon? Just... Justin presses against the main tree, gnashing his teeth as his blades fade.

Soon the bashing halts, the second Greninja quivering and wailing as the third is left unmoving. It coughs out many red liquids before Sylock yanks it towards him. He punctures the tongue one claw after another, holes of blood gushing. The Blaziken have the Defect close to him, staring into its red eyes with his browbeating blues. To the Greninja, it looks as though Sylock's eyes are crossed, shaking to their very core.

Leave, the only thing Sylock can think of before slamming the Greninja's tongue to the ground, stepping on it. The Defect yelps and tries to form another Substitute, but Sylock kicks it to the air, ripping its tongue off. The Blaziken jumps, his knee coating dark red auras. He flips around before landing his High Jump Kick, firing the Greninja further towards the sky. The Greninja screams, bypassing the leaves: Never to be seen again.

Sylock lands down, turning towards Justin. The boy continues his gaze, gripping the tree in pure dread.

"H-Hey man," Justin says. "You...didn't have to kill them, ya know?" The Blaziken glares at the teen before looking beside him, dashing past the boy. The teen yelps, jumping from the sudden speed. Holy crap, he's fast! The dark skin boy blinks for a moment before gasping. "Yo, wait up!" He chases after him.

. . .

The Zoroark runs and runs, squinting to dodge any incoming bushes or trees. Mesmeren clenches the tip of his hair, closing her eyes.

Ch-Change back...

Ramon raises his brow. What?

Change back to your Zorua form. Pl-Please,
Nomar pleads.

Why? And how do I even do that, anyways?

Just stop and change back!

HOW, NOMAR!? YOU'RE NOT TELLING ME EXACTLY HOW I CAN DO THAT!
Ramon snarls. I don't even think I CAN do that!

Mesmeren tilts her head. "Is something's wro—" her sentence stops when Ramon glows white, decreasing himself. "EEK!" The Drowzee falls off, rolling around.

Ramon stops running, turning around once his large hair is gone. The glow fades, showing off his Zorua's appearance: Red hair tuft and all.

"Hmm?" Ramon says in his softer tone, gazing down at his forepaws and then his bushy tail. Although, his left eye remains covered by his newly formed hair: It's similar looking to his black fur. "I...I have no idea how I changed back into a Zorua..." Actually, what even was I after I evolved!?

I think it's Zorua's evolution, Zoroark?


Ramon quirks his brow. Wait, you 'think'?

My knowledge has been leaving me since I died so bare with me...


"U-Ugh..." Mesmeren groans.

Ramon rushes to her. "Are you alright?" he asks, concerns sprawling throughout.

Mesmeren sits upright, stroking her arm. "A little, y-yeah..."

Ramon sighs. "Good to know."

"H-Hey, um..." The Drowzee shifts. "Why di-did you change ba—"

"I'm not sure," Ramon says, staring off. "It just...happens, I guess."

"Huh...That's bizarre." Mesmeren leans against the tree behind her, caressing her hands.

Ramon blinks for a moment before lowering his ears, whimpering. "Ah! Apologies for interrupting you like that!"

"Um...It's fi-fine," Mesmeren says shakily, smiling with trembling lips. The fox looks at the tapir, smiling and wagging his tail. Mesmeren eyes at his slightly new look, focusing on the bangs. Her face reddens. Si-Since when did he become cuter!? she thinks, mesmerized.

Ramon tilts his head, his left hair shifting. "Is something wrong?"

The Drowzee yelps, shaking her head before looking away. "N-Nothing! Just, um..." She looks around, her hands jittering as she covers her face. "Thought about something embarrassing that happened in my childhood, that's all."

"Like what?" Ramon leans closer, his ears perking. Mesmeren spreads her fingers, screams echoing inside her upon his face being close.

E-EEK! SO CLOSE! A-AND WHY ARE YOU SO CUTE!? Mesmeren turns to the side. In fact, he even looked handsome in his Zoroark form, l-last I checked. She gasps and smacks her hands against her cheeks, Ramon raising his brow. Oh gosh, pull it together, me!

"Um...Are you alright?" Ramon asks, laying his paw onto Mesmeren's leg.

The Drowzee shivers, laughing nervously. "Y-Yeah! I-I'm fine. Just, um, overwhelmed by all of what happened today. Yeah...that's it."

The Zorua gives Mesmeren a straight look. "I mean, I'm overwhelmed, too. But it doesn't mean I have to slap my cheeks and shake constantly..."

The Drowzee lowers her ears, looking away. Good job, me. Now I creeped him out... "S-Sorry..."

"No, I'm sorry. I...didn't mean to phrase it like that." Ramon whimpers. "I mean if I was overwhelmed, I personally wouldn't react in that way. But it's okay if you do." Ramon smiles at her. Mesmeren perks her ears up, gradually looking back. "I guess in a way, that's what makes you who you are."

The tapir gazes for a brief moment, feeling as though time has stopped. Afterwards, she nods. "Th-Thank you..."

Ramon nods back. "No pro—"

I would hate to interrupt this sweet moment, but there is something crucial I got to tell you, Ramon, Nomar says.

Ramon blinks, stepping away from Mesmeren. Mesmeren looks at him in confusion, holding her hands together. What is it?

Don't tell your friends about you achieving Transvolution. Tell Mesmeren not to let the others know, too.

Wait wait, what!? Transvolution!?

You're able to evolve and devolve by will. Hence why I told you to revert back to a Zorua.

But...I didn't revert back on my own: It just happens out of nowhere.

Huh...That's odd.


Ramon looks off to the side. So...if I can do that, then doesn't that mean I'm a Transvian?

...I'm not sure.


The Zorua quirks his brow. What do you mean you're not sure!? We both learned about their existence from Forest, who gave us more details about them along with the history of this region!

Those stories are just fabricated lies by humans and you know it!
Nomar yells.

Ramon frowns. Nonsense! Otherwise, Dr. Yvonne wouldn't write about his successful attempt at turning a Pokémon into a Transvian! He grits his teeth. And how do you even know about Transvolution, anyways!?

Ramon: Why are you still defending humans? Haven't our separation and my death not taught you anything? Nor the events at Majestic City with that corrupted mayor? Nor what happened at Serenity when it was raided by Team Conjure?


The Zorua snarls, leading Mesmeren to tremble a bit. "Ra-Ramon...?"

You know deep down that humans are vile, ruthless beings waiting to shred your heart into pieces. Slowly and...painfully. Nomar emphasizes the latter with a gruesome tone, Ramon lowering his ears: His eyes widen. Remember the talk you had with others yesterday? About you calling humans 'evil beings'? You're completely right.

The Zorua gazes ahead, eyes trembling, tears forming. It's okay, Ramon. It's okay to feel that way. Ramon sniffles after hearing those words, tears sliding down. As for how I know about Transvolution, I'll explain to you about it later. Now please...Tell Mesmeren not to let the others know about this.

"Um...h-hey?" Mesmeren waves. "Are you o—" she gasps from the sudden hug, Ramon whimpering into her chest.

"Me-Mesmeren..." Ramon looks up, tears streaming. "Don't...tell the others about what I did." Yelps. "Pl-Please..."

The Drowzee stares for a brief moment, nothing but the tears of the fox can be heard. Eventually, she says, "I...I will."

Ramon sniffles once more, looking up at the Drowzee. "Thank you..." The fox then frees the tapir from the hug. "Can you still move?"

Mesmeren grunts as she stands, her legs trembling slightly. She then smiles, raising her thumb, or thereof. "Somewhat, y-yeah."

"Tell me when to slow down, alright?"

After Mesmeren nods, the two run off.

. . .

Sylock blazes past the trees and bushes, zero care to the boy begging him to slow down. Faster, dammit! he thinks, spreading his hands out before catching them on fire.

Ada and Courtney pant heavily from the Boomburst attack, pinning down by the Alakazam's Psychic. They groan.

"C-Crap...This sucks," Courtney says. She gnashes her teeth, gripping her fists.

"Yeah...think we're done for," Ada replies before groaning, the Exploud marching its way towards them. "We're at a complete disadvantage against those two. They're just...so strong." The girl sighs, looking down.

"Dammit girl, have some faith in yerself!" Courtney sighs. "I'm sure that Sylock, Justin, Ramon, and Mesmeren heard the Exploud's Boomburst."

The Exploud cracks its fist as Ada raises her brow. "And what makes you so certain about that?"

Sylock zooms past the Exploud, the creature pausing and enlarging its eyes: Yelping. Rage fuels the Blaziken's eyes as he Fire Punches the Alakazam's stomach, flames bursting throughout the yellow humanoid. It coughs up blood, blasting through multiple boulders and disappears.

Courtney gasps. "SYLOCK, BESTIE!" the Lopunny yells, her and Ada being free from the Psychic's wrath.

As the Exploud turns towards Sylock, Justin stops by to kick it in the head, causing it to groan.

"And Justin, too!" Ada sighs in relief, the two jumping to their feet, their legs shaking. "I suppose you're right about that after all, Courtney."

"I told yo ass to slow down, man!" Justin yells at Sylock, jumping off from the Exploud. Sylock looks back at him with a red glare, Justin raising his hands within seconds. "Haha, I mean, at your own pace, man!" My Arceus, this dude is SCARY.

The blue bipedal stands up before Ada claws its eye, blood spewing to the side. Ramon and Mesmeren reunite with the others, the Exploud rolling around the ground and pinning against a tree.

"Ada! Justin!" Ramon shouts, wagging his tail with excitement.

The teens look behind them, glee spreading across. "Ayy, Ramon!" Justin shouts back, his tone filled with even more excitement.

Before any sort of celebration occurs, the Exploud groans loudly. It looks at the group: Ramon moving forward to snarl while Ada and Justin summon their Magic moves, glaring. Mesmeren hides behind the Zorua while Courtney strokes her hilt, squinting. The blue creature then eyes Sylock, who's real up close to it. Sylock cracks his fists, gazing down at the Defect with menace and fiery. The Exploud's eyes widen as it trembles, jittering its mouth.

The moment Sylock ignites around him, the Exploud takes off running. Not leaving a single trace behind.

Good, Sylock thinks. Everyone sighs in relief, Sylock's flaming auras subsiding.

"Man...what a day so far," Ramon says, falling flat on his belly. "With us getting separated, and me encountering the cloak wearing guy again."

"Agreed..." Ada sits on the ground with Ramon, staring up at the shielded leaves before blinking. "Wait, you said you met the cloaked guy again!?" Ramon nods, Ada gripping her fist. "I swear he's getting on my nerves every time he tries to kill you..." She slams her fist to the ground. "Over something you don't even remember doing!"

Justin shakes his head, his hand against it. "Man."

Courtney and Sylock look at the three, perplexion popping throughout. "Uh, what are y'all tal—"

Sylock coughs out blood onto his hand. Courtney sticks close to him, resting his arm on her neck. "Think I've...overdid it a little," Sylock signs, blood dripping from his beak.

Courtney squints her eyes. "Ya don't say, goofball."

The four look at Courtney and Sylock, tilting their heads. "...Huh?" they say in unison.

Ramon then stands up, sighing. "As much as I'd like to explain about the cloaked guy, it's best if we move forward. I don't want to see him again."

"Same," both Ada and Justin say.

Courtney snaps her fingers. "Let's also try sticking together while at it."

"I-I second that!" Mesmeren says, raising her hand.

Before the group leaves, Courtney holds her hand out. "Wait...Got something to say real quick."

"...And that is?" Justin raises his brow.

Courtney turns towards the Zorua. "Nice hair."

Sylock shakes his head as Ada groans. "Ugh, really? You stopped us just to say that?"

Ramon blinks in confusion. "Um, thanks?"

The Lopunny smirks. "No problem. I don't remember your hair covering ya left eye, though."

Ada, Justin, and Sylock lay their hands against their chins. "Yeah...come to think of it: Why did your hair change? Or fur, I should say," Ada questions.

Oh dear... Nomar gulps echo throughout Ramon's head.

"I'm...not sure, honestly." The Zorua shrugs, blowing on his left tuft of hair. "But I guessed it's a part of me now."

Everyone looks at each other for a moment before shrugging. "I see," Ada concludes.

Phew... Nomar says, sighing in relief. Afterwards, the group moves forward.
 
Last edited:

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
To anyone that has been reading this fic up until this point: Congratulation on making it this far! It means a lot to me that you've been enjoying this fic, so much to even read its recent chapter. Now that you guys finally caught up with it, newer chapters will take awhile to be uploaded due to uploading them at my own pacing instead of the Thursday & Sunday upload schedule.

Any characters you like? Dislike? Any parts of M&T you appreciate a ton or weren't as fond of? And overall, what sort of theories and speculations you have for this fic as of right now? Feel free to mention any of these in the thread because I enjoy reading you all's thoughts on my fic. And again, sincerely thank you for being willing to read more of my fic. 💖💖
 
Chapter 29.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 29: From Gloomy Woods to Windmill Forest!

"...Sooo..." Justin taps his chin, lifting his brow at Sylock. "How did you move so fast?" The Blaziken looks at him, expressionless. "You told me you don't have Speed Boost, and yet you zip through those Greninjas like those cars at Majestic City."

"Did he now?" Courtney says, eyeing the Blaziken while keeping his arm on her neck. "That explains why you overused yer Rune..."

The quartet give Courtney the look of perplexion. "His Rune?" they say.

Sylock signs at the Lopunny, to which she looks at the group. "His Rune, Blaze Booster: It makes his Blaze ability stronger and has him move faster."

"That...wasn't quite the confusing part, but thanks for explaining it," Ada says in a blunt manner.

Courtney quirks her brow. "Then what in tarnation are y'all confused about?"

"Rune, fam: What is that?"

Ramon nods. "I'm with Justin on this: What exactly is it?"

Courtney snaps her fingers. "Ah, that. Well, it's a pretty darn complicated thing because of how it relates to Magic type, but I'll do my best to explain it." She looks ahead at the dark grassy road. "Rune is a special kind of power naturally gifted to Intellicates and Transvians. It's a skill that allows us to either power up our abilities and moves, use powers that aren't normally possible for a Pokémon, or a lot more I'm still trynna learn about."

Everyone stares in awe. "Whoa...That sounds interesting." Ramon walks close to Courtney and Sylock, his tail wagging.

"No cap," Justin agrees.

"I-I...wasn't even aware that Intellicates have those kinds of powers," Mesmeren mentions, poking her fingers together.

"Figured: Many Intellicates, and even Transvians back then, weren't aware of their Rune skill." The pathway shifts left, the group turning. "Some of us can even die without ever discovering it. It's that much of a mystery."

Ada folds her arms, caressing her chin. "So Rune usually becomes the stuff of myths because of not knowing about it?"

Courtney points towards her. "That and because of its negative side effects once someone discovers it. I'll get to that in a second."

Justin rolls his eyes. "Figured there'll be a downside to something as good as Rune."

"Life™."

"DUDE!"

Both Courtney and Justin snicker at each other while Ada and Sylock deadpan. Soon the path shifts right, the group following along.

"But yeah, just cuz many of us don't know about our Rune, doesn't mean it's impossible to discover. Cuz there are ways to discover it. And once we do, we can name it however much we see fit." Courtney smiles, looking at the Blaziken. "Ain't that right, Sylock?" Sylock smiles back.

"Hmm...I-I wonder why—"

"I wonder why they're not used as often," Ramon finishes. He blinks for a moment before looking at the tapir, lowering his ears. "Ugh, sorry...That tends to be a habit of mine, apparently."

"I-It's okay. W-We were thinking about the same thing, anyways." Mesmeren smiles in a meek manner, holding her hands behind.

Ada shakes her head. "You really need to address your habit there, Ramon."

"I'll try..." The Zorua whimpers.

"And fam, didn't you hear what the rabbit girl said? Not many Intellicates know about their Rune, hence why it's not used as often."

"Right. But I was referring to an Intellicate discovering their Rune...Why don't they use it as often?" Ramon tilts his head.

Courtney snaps her fingers again. "Glad you asked: The negative effects." She then points at Sylock. "Remember when this guy vomited blood like crazy?" The four raise their brows.

Sylock widens his eyes and grits his teeth, his hand spasming. "WHY DID YOU HAVE TO SAY IT LIKE THAT!?"

The rabbit smirks. "Just messing with ya." Snorts. "But in all seriousness, Sylock was experiencing the downside of Rune: It can hurt him after being used." She displays a straight look, glancing. "The more someone uses it, the weaker they get. Until eventually...they die from it."

Mesmeren gasps, covering her mouth. Oh gosh, she thinks, both her and Ramon's eyes widen.

Courtney gazes at Sylock, caressing his back. "...That's why I was concerned about him overusing his Rune."

"...I see, then." Ramon looks ahead at the dark road, the grass rustling. "Rune must be more of a last resort, then."

"You're catching on, ain't ya?"

Ramon nods. "It makes the most sense."

Ada slips her hands into her jacket's pockets. "Have you discovered your Rune, Courtney?" she asks, everyone bringing their focus to the Lopunny.

Courtney gazes at her hand for a brief moment before shaking her head. "Still trynna discover that myself..."

"Discovering things about yourself...I know that too well," Ramon adds, sighing. "Although, finding out what my Rune is can be added to the list of mysteries about me, haha..."

Mesmeren looks to the side, shrugging. Wondering what's mine, too...

"Hmm..." Ada shifts her pockets. "You mentioned Rune relating to Magic type: Care to elaborate?"

"Not gonna lie—" Courtney laughs nervously. "I forgot about that very detail."

"Damn..." Justin shakes his head.

"All I know from Forest's history book is that Rune was used as evidence towards Intellicates connectin' with Magic type. The details were so long and drawn out, I slept through most of it though." Courtney scratches the back of her head. "My bad..."

"Really now?" Ada gazes to the side, lifting her brow. Do Intellicates have magic blood in them, too?

Courtney then stops, the others looking at her with perplexion.

"Whatchu stopped for?" Justin asks.

"There's just...one thing I want to address." The Lopunny gradually glances at Sylock's left hand, her eye twitching at the blood leaks. The burnt leaf barely clings to the hand, the char slipping off. "This has been bothering me for some time now." Courtney points at Justin and Ada beside her, the rest of the leaf deteriorating. "Please let those two heal it."

Justin and Ada look at the Blaziken's hand, blood seeping. "Yeesh...That looks disturbing," Ada comments.

"I still have no clue why you stabbed your hand, fam," Justin says to Sylock, lifting his brow. "But yeah, I don't mind healing it."

"Same here," the girl agrees. Sylock glances at the teens, bringing his hand back. "Um...?"

Courtney smiles at the Blaziken. "Hey now. They're not gonna hurt ya, and haven't been for some time. It'll be fine." Sylock gazes at the Lopunny, the rabbit giving him a reassuring nod. He sighs, showing his left hand. "Thanks, Sy."

Justin and Ada lay their hands onto Sylock's, glowing blue. "We ain't gonna Ruine your hand, pal. Trust me," Justin says with a wide grin. Courtney, Ramon, and Mesmeren snicker while Ada and Sylock roll their eyes. "What? You gotta give it to me on that one."

"No, I will not credit you for that awful joke," Ada states, glancing.

"I second what she said."

Justin raises his hand up and down as the teens heal Sylock. "Typical jealousy of my humor, I see."

"More like overconfidence defying reality."

Justin's eyes widen, Sylock's hand stops glowing as the two bring their hands back. "Damn, Ada. Didn't have to burn me that badly, haha."

Ada folds her arms, smirking. "You'll still sleep with two eyes closed. You'll be fine."

Ramon eyes Sylock's left hand, blood no longer seeping out. Although, the punctured spots have turned into a scar, the Zorua tilting his head. "Hey, why didn't the magic healing remove the scar?"

Sylock rubs his hand, the group continuing onwards.

"Sorcerous can heal others, but at the cost of scar marks left on the wound, depending on the severity of it. Such as having a cut," Ada answers. "It's the only downside to magic healing."

"I see, hmm..." Ramon looks up. "There's also another thing I want to ask about Magic type."

"Go ahead since it's going to take us a while to leave." Ada blinks up, the light slowly dimming through. "Well, maybe we're almost out of it. Who knows."

"So it has something to do with the Oran Berry earlier. You were able to lift it with your magic: Is that another gift from being born as a Sorcerous?"

"Yes: Sorcerous can lift any object with magic. As long as they're small and don't require too much energy, no one should have any issues carrying it."

Ramon blinks in surprise. "Really now? Sounds convenient."

Justin grins. "You have no idea how many times I do this to brush my teeth and take out the trash at Synchronic Village." The boy snickers. "It's hella convenient, fam."

"Interesting."

"Although, there's something I want to correct myself on: Sorcerous can lift a large object like a car. But that requires too much energy to pull off, hence why Sorcerous rarely lifts up heavy objects."

"S-So if your kind can carry large objects, d-does that include a building?" Mesmeren steps in.

Ada shakes her head. "I don't believe a single Sorcerous can lift those kinds of tall objects. Probably with a Spell they can, but I have no clue. I just know that minor tall objects can be lifted with magic."

"M-Makes sense, I guess?" Mesmeren stares down. "This Magic type has some odd complexities to it. M-More than any other typing."

"Agreed..." Ada takes her hand out of her pocket, casting her purple claw. She gazes in mystique. "I wouldn't be surprised if there's still things I don't know about Magic type. About us Sorcerous..."

After Ada's claw fades, Courtney turns towards the Zorua. "By the way, who was that mystery fella you mentioned earlier?"

"Hmm?" Ramon blinks for a moment before gasping. "Oh right: He's this...Lucario named Travis. He wanted me dead for ruining the Prospective Institute, according to him."

"H-He's very terrifying," Mesmeren comments, shaking.

"Huh. I see, then." Courtney looks ahead, keeping Sylock close. "I've heard of that institution and its downfall. I wonder why this Travis fella suspected you of bein' the cause, though." Sylock's finger nudges his chin, staring down at the Zorua.

Ramon stares ahead as well, the woods becoming more enlightened. "He told me about hearing rumors of a Pokémon surviving the incident. And since I was the only one who escaped the institute..." He sighs, lowering his ears and closing his eyes. "You get the idea."

"What the—" Courtney pauses, lifting her brow. "Isn't that pretty damn extreme to conclude?"

"You're not lying: I was thinking the same thing when I confronted him about the chase." Ramon whimpers. "...I kind of feel bad for him despite the many times he wanted me dead."

"In what universe, Ramon?" Ada glares at the fox. "Why pity someone who wants you dead?"

The fox yelps from the glare, shaking his head. "I mean, I'm not saying I would want to befriend him or excuse his actions. Not in the slightest after the many times he tried to kill me." He looks away. "I just...more so understand his anger and sorrow. He's a close friend of Dr. Yvonne, and his death must be too much for him and his other friend, Noctis."

"Noctis?" Ada, Justin, and Courtney ask.

"Yeah. I'm not sure what species he is, but it looks like Project Transvian was formed because of him."

Courtney scratches her head. "'Project Transvian'? Was this Yvonne fella trynna revive a dead species or somethin'?"

"Yes. Ada has his journal." Ramon gestures to the teen as the group reaches the pathway's corner. "Show her."

The girl nods and digs in her jacket's pocket, taking out the familiar brown journal. She hands it to Courtney, who then looks inside. "It should be at the very last page," Ada says.

Courtney reaches the Project Transvian page, eyes widening. "Excuse me: THIS WAS A SUCCESS!?"

"The crazy part is: I have no clue where this Transvian is." Everyone turns to the right. "I don't know if this happened before or after the incident...But either way, it's all so—" Ramon frowns. "Confusing." Sighs. "I wish I could remember exactly what happened there."

"Interesting." Courtney closes the book and hands it back to Ada. The teen returns it into her inner pocket as Courtney thinks to herself. "Hmm...This could mean we have a modern day Transvian living out there."

"Sounds dope, honestly," Justin states, his hands behind his head.

"Agreed. Hehe."

"Wait a second." Everyone stops in their tracks along with Ada herself, the teen stroking her chin with intrigue. "If the project was a success, with there being rumors of a Pokémon surviving the incident on top of Ramon being the only one escaping the institute..." She turns towards the Zorua. "Could you be that Transvian?"

Ramon stares at Ada for a moment, uncertainty flowing. "I'm...not sure." He looks back at the path ahead. "There could be another Pokémon out there that survived the incident and became a Transvian. Which would further my confusion on why I was there, if that's the case."

"I see."

...What type of Pokémon am I? Ramon thinks, sighing as the group moves forward, turning at another corner to their left. Courtney quickly gives others glances, jolting her eyes all over.

Mesmeren blinks in perplexion. "Hmm?"

"Alright good, we're still together," Courtney mentions, Justin raising his brow.

"Uh...aight then?"

"Although, it's mighty weird to see these woods get brighter. This may mean we're about to leave, finally."

"Speaking of the Gloomy Woods—" Ada points at the Lopunny. "Tell me exactly what happened to it and how it became this way."

"..."

Courtney remains silent briefly, gripping her fist. She gazes up. "I'll...do my best to summarize it." She takes a deep breath before exhaling. "Long ago, the Gloomy Woods used to be calm and peaceful. Defects, Intellicates, Faults—literally anyone can join in and have a good time there. Formin' fonder memories and stronger bonds along the way..."

Courtney grimaces. "The woods used to be called Gleeful Woods due to all that positivity."

Ada puts her hand on her chin. "I see."

"That name came from a man called Mr. Tranquility, or just Tranquility. He's the founder of Serenity that no one knows much about." Shrugs. "The only thang we know was his goal to bring peace and prosperity to the village, which led Gleeful Woods to become the way it was."

Mesmeren pokes her fingers together. "S-So the Pokémon here used to be kind and peaceful?"

"Yeah. I even befriended some of the Defects during my youth. The time I used to be a Buneary..." Courtney grips her fist, shaking her head before sighing. "Things used to be fine and dandy until Tranquility left Serenity. Many crimes and awful acts from humans ran rampant throughout the village...It was insane."

The Zorua's eyes widen upon hearing the very word 'humans', keeping his gaze onto the Lopunny.

Courtney continues, "So many people died over those heinous behaviors. And this is what unfortunately led to the Gleeful Woods going through the chaotic roots: Defects becoming more violent against each other, some were abandoned by their trainers, and...and just..." Tears form in the rabbit's eyes, her arms shaking. "I-I remember the last time I tried chattin' with my Defect friends and—"

Courtney gasps from Sylock's sudden hug, his arms wrapping around her. Everyone stops, Courtney looking at the Blaziken as tears slide down. She hugs back. "Thanks..."

"Courtney, what happened to your friends?" Ada asks.

After Sylock releases the Lopunny, the group continues onward, Courtney keeping the Blaziken's arm on her. "...They were killed by a strong Defect. Right in front of me," Courtney answers, touching her face.

Mesmeren strokes her chest, whimpering. "M-My condolences to them, Courtney." Her ears lower.

"Same here." Ada sighs.

The Lopunny wipes her tears, taking in deep breaths. "At least Serenity went back to its peaceful state after Forest and Mokuri arrived. Sylock and I even helped them, including fighting off those many criminals I told ya about."

"Yep, you did," Justin confirms.

"While we got Serenity back to normal, we...couldn't do the same for Gloomy Woods. There was so much wrong with it down to getting lost easily and almost dying to strong Defects, as we all went through not too long ago." Courtney groans in melancholy, shaking her head. "Hence why the name changed from Gleeful to Gloomy."

Ada tilts her head. "Is there not a way to return Gloomy Woods back to Gleeful Woods?"

Courtney gives her a firm head shake. "In the worst case scenario: Gloomy Woods may just...remain this way forever."

Justin slips his hands in his pockets, shaking his head. "Damn..."

"I-I wish the woods didn't b-become that way." Mesmeren holds her hands together, staring down.

Ramon slowly stares off, lowering his ears. Humans caused the Gloomy Woods to become this way. Glares. It's...hopeless trying to defend them, huh?

At long last, the light shines more on the group, all leaving out of the Gloomy Woods. The sun provides them with its array of light, the trees displaying ahead along with a concrete path leading around the woods. To their right is a gray building afar, surrounded by iron gates. Some guards are by it, squinting their eyes and jotting around.

Justin points at them. "Yo, what's that building over there?"

"That there is the Serenity Vicious Center," Courtney answers.

"The what now?"

"Serenity Vicious Center: It was built in response to the many violence happening in Serenity back then." Courtney waves her hand around. "Now it serves as a way to both control the violent nature of Gloomy and 'correct any criminal's behavior', as they put it."

"Uh huh."

Sylock glares at the center. More like a waste of everyone's time, he thinks, looking away afterwards.

"Hold up—" Justin stops, everyone following suit. "This path goes around Gloomy Woods. Does it take us to Glory Pride?"

"Nope: It cycles back to Serenity."

"What the—" Justin slams his hand into his face, shaking. "Bruh, we could've just went through this path instead of going into the woods."

"...Yeeeaaah." Courtney laughs nervously, scratching the back of her head. "Somethin' told me to leave to the left instead of in the woods. I...guess I was too eager to go to Glory Pride that I didn't really think about that." Courtney lowers her arms. "My bad, y'all."

"Hey, at least we're out of that place. So we can continue moving forward in peace," Ada chimes in. "I hope."

"You better hope, fam!" Justin pouts. "I'm not sure if I can handle Walking Simulator 2...or 3. 4? Shit, I don't know how many times we've walked, but it's a lot!" His cheeks puff, folding his arms. Ada, Courtney, and Ramon look at each other before snickering.

"You have a point there."

Everyone then looks at another path next to the first, the path leading to some windmills afar.

"I feel like this should take us to Glory Pride, though. So let's go."

Justin snaps his fingers. "Right behind ya, Carrots."

Courtney turns towards the boy. "Please don't call me that."

The group walks ahead, leaving the center. The path twists and turns at every angle, the group passing by multiple trees as the sun guides them. Eventually they come across a sign nearby one of the trees, pointing forward: 'Windmill Forest'

The name isn't wrong: Couple of windmills are placed randomly throughout the forest. Some normally lie within the grass while others are on the boulders. However, those very windmills have parts attached to places it doesn't belong: Blades striking the ground, rocks, and some of the trees while the poles stick on top of the trees, even to the point of pinning them down.

The gang eyes the entire forest in perplexion, Sylock freeing himself to touch his hilt. Courtney places her hand onto her hilt, glancing around.

"What in the world happened here?" Ada asks, cautious.

"Y-Yeah..." Mesmeren sticks close to Ramon, holding her hands together. "There's windmill parts everywhere..."

"Whatever happened here is something faaar from good news." The Lopunny rubs her hilt. "Be careful, y'all."

Ramon lowers his ears, looking down. Wouldn't be surprised if humans were the cause of this forest's destruction...

"H-Hey, Ramon..." The Zorua turns, the tapir tapping her fingers together. "Are you alright? You look down, s-so..."

"Hmm? Oh yeah. I'm alright."

"PLEASE GIVE IT BACK!" an unknown voice shouts from afar.

The group looks ahead, four figures being at view. They walk close to the figures, seeing them being four Pokémon: A brown biped with gray scythes, a huge biped with silver armor, an brown avian with red outer feathers, and a grayish-green biped dragon with protruding tusks on the side of his maw. The Kabutops, Aggron, and Pidgeot toss a green wristband over the Axew like a ball, snickering and cackling.

The Axew jumps over and over, panting after his last leap of faith. "Just...give the...wristband back." The laughter continues from the three, the Axew resting his hands on his knees. "Please!"

"Kabu," the Kabutops says, smirking as it twirls the wristband.

"Hey!" Courtney shouts, catching the four Pokémon's attention. "Give his wristband back."

"Or what? Small Pokémon don't deserve to own something like we tall ones do," the Aggron says with menace, slamming his fist against his hand. "Get lost or we'll pummel ya!" The Pidgeot and Kabutops glare at the group, grinning.

"I ain't gonna repeat myself: Give it back. Even by wild life standards, it ain't right to toy with another Pokémon like that." Courtney grips her hilt.

The Pidgeot snickers. "Heh, right or wrong has no place in the wild, Lopunny. We saw this wristband, we like how it looks, therefore it's ours," he says in a cocky tone before eyeing the Aggron. "Think we should beat em up, eh Aggy and Kabi?"

"Yeah," the Kabutops agrees, stretching his arms out before the three move forward.

Ada turns to Courtney. "I'm not sure what they're saying, but it looks like they want to fight."

"Yep. You're sure right about that." Courtney gets her sword out, Sylock following suit. "So much for peace talk." She sighs, shaking her head. Ada turns back to the three Defects, slowly summoning her claws.

"I see, then."

Courtney takes a quick glance at Sylock. "Think you'll be alright?" Sylock looks back at her, simply nodding. "Gotcha."

Justin casts his blades while Ramon stands in front of Mesmeren: All glaring ahead. The Axew rushes to a nearby tree, hiding behind it in safety. He watches the conflict unfold, his hands resting on the tree.

The Kabutops surrounds himself in water while the Aggron's claws and the Pidgeot's wings glow white. The three charge forward, the bird being in front of the two. Ramon casts his Dark Pulse, readying to fling until Justin and Ada run in front of him. The teens collide their Magic moves against the Pidgeot's Quick Attack, pushing him back. The bird flies towards the Defects, the two dodging out of the way. Courtney and Sylock charge towards them.

"Huh!?" The Kabutops stares at the Lopunny, clashing his scythes against her sword. Courtney glares, pushing her sword forward until she flips over him. She twirls around and kicks the Pokémon's head, the creature groaning. "AH!" He slides across the ground as Courtney lands with grace.

Sylock slashes the Aggron, the Defect countering Sylock's sword with his Metal Claw. The Blaziken's legs then get coated in dark red auras before he kicks forward. The Aggron blocks in time, groaning. Sylock then blows him back with Flamethrower. "Gah!"

Once the flames subside, the silver biped notices the lack of Sylock's presence. "Where did he—" a High Jump Kick plunges into the creature's face, blowing him away from the group. Sylock lands on the ground, stroking the grass.

Kabutops gasps in shock before yelping at Courtney's Quick Attacking behind him. "Never get distracted during a fight," she says, smirking. Just when Kabutops is about to turn around, Courtney swings her red aura leg, crashing him into the Aggron.

The wristband drops along the way, being in the center. The Axew watches the fight, eyes sparkling at the grace movements from Courtney and Sylock.

"Whoa..." The dragon's tone is that of a loyal child, his hands gripping onto the barks with intrigue. He eyes the Pidgeot being pushed by the teens, the bird zipping around with Quick Attack only for Ada's Enchantment Claws to smack him. He flies up before soaring down Quick Attack. Justin twirls around and rams him away with his Sorcery Blades, the Pidgeot squawking.

"Man I've seen Pidgeys using Quick Attack better than you," Justin mocks, chuckling. The Axew stares at the boy. "Even a Magikarp can attack faster than that, fam!" The dragon giggles, covering his maw.

The Pidgeot rolls around, groaning before standing up. He growls, flapping his wings rapidly as winds build up. Justin and Ada look at each other before nodding, the two dashing forward. The Pidgeot flings his Gust, the wind charging at lightning speed. Ada extends her claws and shreds the wind, Justin jumping over her before firing his Mystical Projectile. The bird squawks and jolts off, flailing around before colliding against the two Defects: All groaning in pain.

Justin lands down, jumping in ecstasy. "Holy shit, that was so badass, dude!" He brings his fist up, waiting for it to be bumpe. Ada sighs in relief and gives what the boy wants, giggling.

"Honestly, it was."

The dragon looks at the four: Both he, Ramon, and Mesmeren are in awe of those teamworks. "...Amazing," the Axew says, walking from behind the tree.

Courtney and Sylock stroll over to the group, taking their gaze onto the three Defects. The three eye the group, receiving gruesome glares and warning summons of moves.

"Th-These guys are tough! Let's get out of here!" the Kabutops suggests before the three scurry away.

"Told y'all I wasn't going to repeat myself!" Courtney shouts at the Defects, sticking her tongue out while waving. The Lopunny then eyes around, her brow quirks. "Uh, where's the Axew's wristband?"

Justin sees the wristband nearby, picking it up. "Found it."

The Axew rushes over to the boy, smiling. "That was really amazing what you and the others did!" he says, holding his hand out.

Justin waves his hand up and down. "Ah, it was nothin'. Just us helping an fella out, that's all." He hands the wristband over, the Axew wrapping it around his right wrist afterwards.

"I see, I see!" Everyone gets close to the two, the Axew stares at the group around him. "Genuinely thank you all for helping me! This wristband means a lot, so I didn't want those three Defects to steal it..." The Axew looks at his wristband, sighing.

"You're welcome!" Ramon says before lowering his ears, laughing in a nervous manner. "Even though Mesmeren and I haven't done anything to help there..."

"O-Our apologies." Mesmeren whimpers, stroking her arm.

The Axew nods. "No worries! It was only those three Defects that the four took care of with ease."

Justin snaps his fingers, displaying his usual finger guns while winking. "Hell yeah, dude." Sylock cringes at the gun wink combo, his face scrunching up.

"I'm very grateful for you all's help, in all honesty." The Axew then presses his hands together and bows. "My name is Roan and it's a pleasure meeting you."

"Call me Courtney, not Carrots," Courtney says, the Axew lifting his brow.

Justin chuckles. "Fam, you're acting like I'mma keep referring to you as that."

"Just making sure, that's all." Courtney frowns.

"So yeah, that's Carrots—"

"HEY!"

The Axew snickers as Justin continues, "And I'm Justin. Nice to meet you, too." Everyone else introduces themselves to Roan, with Courtney elaborating on Sylock not chatting as much.

"I see, I see. Such an intriguing bunch you all are," Roan says.

Yeah, I wouldn't say that, Sylock thinks while glancing off, puffing his cheeks.

Yeah, I would say that, Nomar says inside of Ramon's head, his snickers echoing. Ramon smiles, nodding.

"We're quite diverse, I'd like to think," the Zorua mentions. "So I can see that."

Ada looks ahead of the path, the road leading up to a lake and cabin afar. There's also dark clouds shrouding above, becoming a sore thumb in an otherwise sunny sky. "Anyways, as much as I like to continue chatting, we should be going." She folds her arms, staring with mystification. "I...assume that's Lake of Purity, right?"

Courtney looks at the path as well, raising her brow. "I think so?"

"I-I mean, there's a lake and a cabin over there. So p-perhaps it is the Lake of Purity?" Mesmeren follows, remaining close to Ramon. "Although if it is, then...why does it look like a storm is about to happen?"

Ada caresses her chin, glaring. "I was thinking the same thing, too. Doesn't sound quite like the name suggests." She looks at the group. "Let's be careful while on our way there." She then nods at the Axew. "And you take care too, Roan."

The group nods and walks along the path until Roan says, "Hey, wait a second!" He catches up with them as they turn around.

"Is something wrong?" Ramon asks, tilting his head.

"No. It's just that: I want to travel with you."

"Oh?"

Roan looks at the ground for a moment, inhaling the air before exhaling. He nods. "I believe after seeing the way you four fought, you'll help me find my mentor."

"Mentor?" Ada asks, lifting her brow while folding her arms.

The Axew shows them his wristband. "This is his wristband: I wish to return it back." His arm lowers. "We got separated after a ugly hurricane in Windmill Forest while we were training." He looks down. "Since then, I made it my task to find him..." He gazes up, lowering his brows and forming his fists. "With your strength and courage, we can find him together. Even train with each other so that I can become strong enough to defend the weak!"

Everyone blinks at the Axew for a moment, unsure of how to stomach such a situation. "...Well—"

"Also I have nowhere to go and I think traveling with you all would make me feel less lost," Roan says, interrupting Ramon.

"Okay, that's a more understandable reason," Justin states. "Cause we're lost too, fam." He jolts his thumb up. "Let's be lost together!"

Ada smacks the boy's head, the boy groaning while rubbing. "Justin! That wasn't called for, you know?"

Roan snickers. "No no, it's fine. I appreciate his sense of humor." He then scratches the back of his head. "Although, that was kind of rude. Didn't know searching for someone close isn't a good excuse to travel with others..."

Justin is about to say something, but then looks down. He slips one hand in his pocket, shrugging. "Yeah, I guess I went a bit too far there. My bad." He stares at the Axew. "Just thought it was weird to travel with someone because of a crazy backstory like that. But then I thought about why Ada, Ramon, and I are traveling and...Yeah, it was uncalled for."

Ada nods. "We're looking for our friends and family, too. And in Ramon's case: Recovering his memories."

"Memories?" Roan looks at the Zorua. Ramon shifting.

"Yeah. I have amnesia and...don't really know why I was in the Prospective Institute only to be chased by this Lucario for causing its destruction."

"Prospective Institute? A Lucario chasing after you!?" Roan walks around the Zorua, tapping on his chin. "Hmm hmm...Very interesting, Ramon."

"I'll tell you all about it on our travels." The Zorua looks ahead at the path before moving forward, Mesmeren following along.

"And what perhaps the other three are traveling for?" Roan asks Ada.

"Well Mesmeren is lost just like you so that's why she's with us."

"And I want to participate in Glory Pride City's tournament! Which is exactly where we're heading, by the way." Courtney raises her arms up in excitement as the group moves forward. "And my friend Sylock is coming along to support me, too!"

"I see, I see!" Roan smiles, folding his arms while closing his eyes. "I believe I'll get along with you all just fine."

"Since you enjoyed my humor, I believe it." Justin smirks while Roan snickers, Ada rolling her eyes.

"You're so silly, Justin," she says as the group passes by a sign.

'Now entering Lake of Purity'
 
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Chapter 30.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 30: The Lake of Purity.

The Aquatic War Arc.

Roan smacks his fist against the palm of his hand, eyeing the Zorua beside him. "So if I can get this recap straight: You woke up in a facility with no clue as to why you're there, wandered outside only to be attacked by this Lucario named Travis, who also assumed that you were the cause of the said facility going into ruins?"

Ramon nods. "Yeah. Sounds about right."

Roan stares in mortification. "My goodness, that doesn't sound pleasant at all!"

"Far from it." The fox sighs, lowering his ears. "I wished he'd believe me about not causing the incident because of amnesia. Instead, he'd accuse me of lying because of...what I am, apparently."

"Honestly fam, I'm getting tired of his ass." Justin cracks his fist, smirking with aggression. "When Ada and I see him again, we'll double whoop his ass." He looks at the girl. "Right, Ada?"

"No doubt about it." The girl nods, cracking her fist as well. "No one messes with our friends and gets away with it that easily!"

"HELL YEAH!"

Roan smiles at the two. "Quite supportive, aren't ya?"

"Yeah...They are." Ramon stares off, smiling meekly.

"Supportive friends are the best! That's why I always honor my mentor because he's more than just that: He's an amazing, helpful friend. Always willing to aid me during my downfalls, and thus I did the same for him, too!" Nods.

"We both rarely show any selfishness and when we do, it's usually over self-care. Harmless ones like showering, to be exact." The Axew chuckles before turning towards the Zorua, raising his arms. "In short: I love him."

"I see."

The Axew then frowns, his hands sitting on his hips. "Although, I can't say much positive things about this Travis guy, especially with that speciest mindset of his."

"Hmm?" Ramon tilts his head.

"He has no right to treat you like dirt just because your species can be deceiving. Hmph!" He closes his eyes, shaking his head. "That's such a childish way of thinking, and I'm a child myself!"

Ramon quirks his brow. "Zoruas can be deceiving?"

"From what my mentor told me, the Zorua line can deceive others by various means. But this alone doesn't mean they can't become a good, honorable person, you know?" Roan smiles.

Ramon stares off to the side for a moment before smiling back at the Axew. "I suppose so."

Mesmeren strokes her arm, her ears lower. I-I don't believe that, after seeing what my kind can do... She grips her arm. I deserve the hate, honestly...

Ramon looks ahead, the group inching close to the Lake of Purity. "So you said a hurricane incident caused you and your mentor to separate from each other, Roan?"

Roan sighs. "Indeed. Again, I tag along in hopes of finding him some day."

"I see." Ramon sighs softly. Good to know that humans weren't the cause of it, he thinks, the sky slowly descending into dark clouds. A...nice change, for once.

I wouldn't be so cocky about that
, Nomar states. Just because humans didn't cause the incident, doesn't mean it resolves their wickedness. The incident may even be connected to human's interference. Wouldn't surprise me.

Ramon lowers his ears, gazing down. Understood...

Mesmeren stares at the Zorua, her hands against her chest. He's been looking down more and more lately...I'm worried for him, she thinks. The Drowzee is about to reach her hand out until she bumps Ada. "Eek! Sorry!"

"Hmm? Oh, it's...fine." The teen folds her arms, eyeing the lake.

Mesmeren tilts her head before staring ahead along with everyone else: All except for Ramon, becoming uneasy.

"H-Huh...?"

The dark blues swish side to side, the clouds reflecting from it. The lake is expansive, ranging from the far left to the far right. Trees and bushes spread throughout, leaves falling and surfing. Debrises, broken canoes—all scatter around the lake, becoming a hopeless wasteland every step of the way.

The middle leads to the other side up north, a path trailing towards the exit. Besides the group is a brown cabin tucked in the corner, trees casting over.

Everyone keeps their gaze, slowly moving forward and looking around. "This lake...looks so barren," Roan comments, glaring at the torn canoe paddles ahead. "Reminds me of the hurricane at Windmill Forest." His head shakes. "Something huge happened here."

"No kidding: The sky looked more dark the moment we got here, and then the lake itself...ain't looking too pure despite its name, no cap," Justin says, eyeing around with suspicion.

"I was told that this here lake was supposed to be peaceful." Courtney's hand nudges her chin, raising her brow. "This is far from it."

Ada glances around. "Mhm. I suggest we find a way out of here quickly." She eyes the other side, tapping on her elbows. "Let's traverse across."

Ramon looks at the other side, blinking. "But how?"

The teen caresses her chin before seeing another canoe near the lake: It's in good shape compared to the others, with two paddles inside. "We could use this," she answers, pointing at the canoe. "It's the only canoe here that hasn't been broken, it seems."

Everyone eyes the canoe. "I see." The group walks toward it, keeping their awareness checked. "If I remember correctly, we travel across this lake and make our way to Glory Pride City?" Ramon asks.

"I'm pretty sure," Courtney answers. "I believe Forest's intentions are good, especially after helping Sylock and I during the Gloomy Woods situation."

"I see. I hope you're right about that..."

Everyone reaches the canoe, Justin and Ada grabbing the paddles inside as Ramon, Mesmeren, and Roan hop aboard: Ramon sits in the front, staring off into melancholy; Mesmeren sits beside him, holding her hands together before looking away; and Roan sits in the middle, holding onto the edges as he stares into the bleak blues.

The others push the canoe, grunting. Ramon's ears twitch to the grass rustling, being the only part of him affected. Having hope in a human, huh? His eyes half close. ...Wish I was you, Courtney.

Roan stares at his reflection, blinking in disbelief. "Huh. Can barely see myself, thanks to the clouds," he comments, his hand against his chin.

"The sky hates it when people want to admire themselves," Justin says, snorting.

Ada shakes her head while Roan chuckles in a hearty manner. "Good one, Justin sir."

After the canoe surfs into the lake, the four hop aboard in time, Justin and Ada readying their paddles. The teens look at each other, scratching the side of their heads.

"Uh, you know how to work this thing?" the boy asks.

Ada shakes her head. "Nope." She snaps her fingers. "Knew I should've gone on that Canoe Contest trip with Merlin and his family. I would've learned a thing or two from it."

Courtney laughs. "Y'all don't know how to use a canoe?" The teens look at her, nodding while blushing. "Heh, it's a good thang Sylock and I tag along with ya. Hand them paddles over and watch how we use em'." Sylock shrugs, leaving his hand open.

Justin and Ada give them the paddles, the Intellicates jabbing the lake: Justin watches Courtney, Ada watches Sylock. The Intellicates move the paddles forward and push them back, accelerating the canoe.

"Oh..." Ada turns to Courtney. "It's this simple?"

"Yep. All ya gotta do is move em' forward and back. Forward and back." Courtney soon hums, smiling.

"Hah...I guessed we overthink that," Justin admits.

Ada sighs. "Agreed."

Mesmeren's ears flicker before something lands on her face, the Drowzee jumping. "Hmm!?" She eyes up, raindrops falling down. The downpour increases its rate they go, soaking everyone. Sylock shivers, his fur trembling from the droplets. He groans.

Courtney turns to the Blaziken. "Something's wrong?"

Sylock looks back. "The rain. That's what's wrong," he signs.

"Ah, makes sense."

"Yo, what did he say?" Justin asks.

Courtney keeps rowing. "He ain't a fan of rain."

"Oh really? Well then..." Justin smiles with glee and is about to say something else until Sylock glares at him, the chicken's blue eyes radiating in judgement. The boy faces Courtney's paddle again, his smile fades. "Never mind."

Ada looks at the sky, her hair soaking. "I think my clothes are going to get completely wet by the time we reach the other side." She sighs, touching her jacket: The cold, drenched texture chills her fingers, the girl squinting and tugging her sleeves. "I hope not."

"Didn't your clothes get wet by X before?"

Ada glances at the boy, folding her arms. "I mean, fair point. But also I think having your clothes soaked by a Water type is different from naturally getting it wet."

"Enlighten me." Justin folds his arms as well, smirking.

"I'm saying that your clothes can dry faster when a Water type dampens it compared to the rain, for instance."

"Dude: Wet is still wet."

Ada shakes her head, sighing. "I don't know how else to put it to you, then."

As the canoe reaches the middle, Roan lowers his lips, his reflection distorting. "This is awful," he states. "The lake looks so messy and littered and...hopeless." The Axew whimpers. "Even if I'm with my mentor, it wouldn't be enough to clean this mess."

Mesmeren shakes, twirling her fingers around. "Th-The debrises and dark clouds here make the lake look eerie." Winces. "I-It's m-making me feel uncomfortable..."

Roan looks at the Drowzee, nodding. "Yeah. The environment...doesn't feel right at all."

Mesmeren nudges close to him, looking down. "...Ramon?"

The downpour increases further, landing more and more. Ramon is unphased by the speed, his gaze remaining on the path ahead. His bangs soak themselves enough to partially expose his left eye, the fox prolonging his desolate stare. His blue eyes are empty, not a single trace of blinking is made.

"You know deep down that humans are vile, ruthless beings waiting to shred your heart into pieces."

That very phrase spirals inside of his skull, the fox drowning in the sea of void. A void containing nothing but those words...Everything around him doesn't exist: Just him and the words. Time itself even feels slowed down, the fox zoning out the muffles of his friends.

Mesmeren reaches her hand out shakily. "R-Ramon? Are you...okay?"

Soon, the canoe starts to shake, snapping Ramon out of his gaze.

"Hmm?" he says, looking around. Everyone looks around as well, curious about the canoe's movement.

"Strange. We've never had problems with the canoe's weight earlier," Courtney mentions, glancing down.

Justin smacks his hand against his forehead. "Damn: Didn't think those sandwiches Clinton gave us were going to come back with a vengeance!"

Ada glares at him. "Justin, I don't believe those sandwiches had any effects on the canoe. Not to mention: We're still at our normal weight!"

"Clinton?" Roan asks, tilting his head.

Without much warning, the canoe leaps off the lake, tipping everyone over.

"AAAH!" all except Sylock scream, the latter gritting his teeth in panic.

They crash into the water, deep within. Ada, Justin, Courtney, and Roan are the first to swim from underneath, gasping for air. They look around with perplexion, frantic panics sinking in.

"What the hell was that!?" Courtney exclaims before gazing ahead, eyes widening. "Oh...My...Arceus."

Everyone gazes: A blue serpentine colliding its head against a large blue fish, both exhibiting loud roars that push the group back. The Gyarados and Wishiwashi School slam back into the lake, a huge wave rising up and pushing everyone back further. The group groans and yelps, flailing all over.

"We got to swim back! NOW!" Ada shouts, immediately turning around and charging her arms forward. Roan and Justin nod, following after the teen.

Roan leaps on top of Justin's back. "Hope you don't mind, Justin sir."

Justin moves his arms forward, frantic. "Fam: I'm too busy trying to save myself. So climb on!"

The Axew clings onto the boy's shirt, nodding. "Understood."

Courtney is about to do the same until she spots Sylock gasping in the distance, the Blaziken going in and out of the water. He moves erratically, eyes gaping. Courtney frowns before rushing forward, kicking her legs and swinging her arms. "I'm coming, Sy!" She pants, moving as quickly as possible. She surrounds herself in Quick Attack's white auras, speeding ahead.

The Lopunny reaches Sylock, clutching his hand. She sets him on her back, grunting due to his weight. "Calm down and hang on tight!" she says. Sylock pants nonstop, looking down before nodding. He seeks his claws into her shoulders, the rabbit wailing. Sylock widens his eyes, gazing with concern.

"No no, it's fine." Blood seeps down the Lopunny's shoulders like a waterfall. "All that matters right now is gettin' ya out of this lake. Ngh..." She pants, following Ada and the others.

. . .

Ramon tugs Mesmeren's hand, bubbles ushering out of their mouths. They gasp underwater, eyes trembling. The more Ramon pulls, the further they go down. Can't...lift her up, he thinks, gnashing his teeth. Not while under this form!

Mesmeren gazes at the struggling Zorua, the fox doing everything in his power to pull her. Why is he still trying? I'm just...slowing him down, she thinks, turning her attention to the depths. He's...better off without me. Him and the others. She slowly closes her eyes, her heart slowing its beats. Drowzees don't deserve to be saved, after all...

Ramon clings further down, the Drowzee's grip weakening. What is she doing!? He keeps tugging, his paws straining. Come on! Keep hanging on, Mesmeren! What are you doing!? He looks up at the surface, the light fading gradually. The fox trembles, eyes quaking. I...I-I need to evolve into a Zoroark! Please let me, Transvolution! He closes his eyes.

Brother? Nomar speaks. Ramon glows white again, extending his size and shape. The red-haired fox finishes evolving, bringing Mesmeren onto his back and swims up. BROTHER, NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?

Mesmeren opens her eyes, her face stuffed by the fox's bushy hair. H-Huh!? she thinks, gazing at the Zoroark.

Ramon, please change back right now! I beg of you! Nomar pleads, but the Zoroark continues swimming. He claws forward, gritting his teeth. Ramon!?

The surface's light slowly returns from its fade, the Zoroark reaching ever so closely to it. Just a couple more swims...Please.

. . .

The others make it back to land, panting and coughing the water entering their pipes. They scoot away from the lake, not interacting with its blues further. Ada's hair is covering her view, soaked with dripping water. She lifts the front of her hair.

"Is everyone alright?" the girl asks.

Roan touches himself, grasping his face. "...Yes, I'm fine it seems." Nods. "What about you?"

Ada looks up at her wet hair, blinking in rapid sessions. "I've...been better, I suppose."

Justin gives the Axew a thumbs up. "Me too, fam."

Courtney grunts, Sylock letting go of her shoulders as his arms wrap around her. "M-Me three..." Courtney pants heavily, blood painting the ground beneath her. She crawls on her knees, lips quivering the effort to smile. "I-I'm...fine." She falls face down, Sylock gasping. He taps on her constantly, trembling with anxiety.

Everyone rushes to the two, Roan clinging on Justin tightly.

"Courtney!" Ada shouts, her and Justin's hands glowing blue. The two look at the bleeding shoulders, readying their hands until Sylock shields the rabbit, glaring at them. "What the—Sylock, we don't have time for this: Your friend is bleeding badly! She needs our help!"

The Blaziken looks down, hugging the rabbit. Some of the red gets on his fur, which he pays zero mind to.

Justin raises his brow. "My guy, we just healed your wounds not too long ago. No harm was done, either." He frowns. "So if we can heal ya without any trouble, then we can do the same for your friend, too. Hell, she even approves of us healing you! Just trust us on this, man." The boy grunts. "It'll be fine." Sylock squints at him, caressing the rabbit's arm.

"I-It's...alright," Courtney says with raspiness, Sylock eyeing her. She stares off at the crazy raindrops, the tree branches flailing their leaves to the side. "Like I've said: Th-They haven't been hurting ya for some time now. Ne-Neither of us, act-actually." Courtney pants. "You can trust them." Sylock gazes, his eyes sprawling into melancholy. He then sighs and gets off, laying beside Courtney. The Lopunny smiles, her eyes gazing into his'. "Thanks, Sylock."

Justin sighs. "Yeah. Thanks, man."

Ada looks at the boy. "You heal her right, I'll heal her left." The teens nod, going to their respective sides. The two lay their hands on the Lopunny's shoulders as she whimpers.

Sylock quickly holds Courtney's hand, concerning thoughts circulating. Courtney flinches at the surprise handhold, giggling. "How generous of ya. Thanks."

Roan pokes his chin. "...Wait, aren't we missing someone?" His head cocks. "Two, in fact?"

Justin and Ada gasp. "SHIT! RAMON AND MESMEREN AREN'T WITH US!" the two exclaim, Roan rolling off of Justin's back due to the screams. The Axew yelps and falls on his back, his head shaking from side to side.

"Jeez, I think I'm seeing Pidgeys!" Roan says before snapping out of his dizziness.

"They must still be underwater." Ada turns to the wide lake. "Let's go save them after healing Courtney."

"Sounds like a goo—"

SPLASH!

Two individuals spring out of the lake and roll around, landing behind the group. Ramon lies on his back, staring at the chaotic sky and panting with intensity. He coughs, stroking the back of Mesmeren's head. Everyone looks at the two, eyes widening.

"Never mind," Justin says, the teens being done with Courtney's wounds: Scar marks left intact.

Mesmeren pants and cough out water on the grass, clinging to the Zoroark's mane. She trembles and shakes, whimpering. Tears sliding down her cheeks alongside some of the raindrops, the Drowzee shrouding her eyes in darkness. H-He evolved just to save me...B-But why? Clenching her teeth, she strokes the Zoroark's fur more. Wh-Why didn't he save himself!? Why did he save me!?

Ramon gazes at the Drowzee, caressing her head. "It's...fine. You're safe now," he says in a soft, lower tone. Mesmeren hugs the Zoroark, sniffling. Ramon hugs back, closing his eyes. Thank goodness we've made it out...

"Hey!" Justin says, the Zoroark twitching his ears towards the boy's voice. Ramon opens his eyes: Justin, Ada, and Roan standing in front of him. The teens eye him with perplexion. "Yo...Are you alright?"

"Yeah...I'm fine," Ramon replies, lifting himself up, holding Mesmeren close.

"Good to know," Ada says before she and Justin get on their knees.

"Hey man, you look different, too. Like...waaay different." The boy scratches the side of his head. "Did you evolve?"

Mesmeren looks at the group, Sylock catching up with the others while aiding Courtney. "He—"

"I did so that I could get Mesmeren out of the lake," Ramon says. Mesmeren gazes up at him with confusion as the fox looks away from everyone. He drenches in guilt, his bangs dripping down raindrops over and over.

I'm sorry for suddenly evolving, Nomar, Ramon thinks. I couldn't do anything to bring Mesmeren out of the water as a Zorua. I—

It's okay.


Ramon raises his left brow. Huh?

Just remain in your evolved form. They still believe that you're an Intellicate, and as far as I know: Intellicates can't change back into their unevolved stage.
Nomar sighs. You should be fine. Just play along and tell Mesmeren about this as soon as possible. Alright?

Ramon stares at the soaked grass. ...Alright.

Mesmeren gazes at him for a brief moment, uncertainty painting her. She then keeps hugging, planting her face into his fur. Tears slide down her cheeks, the tapir closing her eyes once more.

Justin turns towards the lake, the water rippling rapidly. "Man, what the hell was that about!?" he exclaims.

Ada shakes her head, staring at the lake as well. "No clue."

"All we know is that our transportation across the lake is now impossible, thanks to that Gyarados and Wishiwashi." Roan smacks his fist against the palm of his hand. "Now how am I going to find my mentor!?"

"H-How about we...walk around?" Courtney suggests, groaning from her recovery. Sylock looks at her and caresses her head, comforting the Lopunny.

The gang looks at the length of the lake from left to right: Both directions extend beyond their reach. Ada blinks for a moment, shaking her head.

"Nope. This lake is so wide, it'll take us ages to get around it. And I don't want to risk another Gloomy Woods shenanigans to get across."

Courtney sighs. "Fair enough."

SWOOSH!

Everyone flinches and stares at the middle: Eyes widening, lips gaping.

"Oh my ARCEUS!" Courtney shouts, clinging on the Blaziken.

Multiple Gyarados and Wishiwashis attack one another: Some in the air coat their tails in aquatic auras while others swim in the water headbutting each other. One of the Schools charges a large, liquefied orb in the air before firing a stream of water at one of the Gyarados, knocking it back into the lake.

Mesmeren stares at the conflict, quaking. "S-So many of them..." She whimpers, further clinging to the Zoroark as he naturally keeps her close. Ramon frowns, perplexion rising within.

Why is this lake called Lake of Purity when fights like this are happening? the fox thinks.

"Come with me, ye landlubbers," a voice says in a soft, urgent tone.

Justin raises his brow. "Who the..."

Everyone turns around to see two Pokémon: One's an insect creature with large clearish eyes and parts of his skin being yellow while the other is a weasel with mainly orange skin and cream colored paws. The Blipbug and Floatzel rush towards the group, concerns spreading across.

"I will explain everythin' to ye. Right now, we best to head insi'e the cabin away from all this ruckus," the Blipbug advices, adjusting his brown strap-on that has a sheath attached.

"Who are you two? And what's going on here?" Ramon asks.

"I'm Coleo and this me matey, Lycus," the Blipbug, Coleo, quickly answers.

"As for what's going on, we can explain that in the cabin over yonder." Lycus sighs, folding his arms as he points at the cabin behind him. The group looks at the cabin before looking back at the two, uncertainty rising within.

"I know this is blimey, but it—"

"LOOK OUT!" Lycus shouts before shrouding himself in water, zipping around the group.

Everyone looks at their increasingly large shadows before looking up: Three Gyarados flail towards them, the group screaming. Lycus pushes everyone with Aqua Jet, landing them close to the cabin.

After the Gyarados land, they've gotten themselves up to fling right back into the lake. Everyone is on the ground, stunned: Courtney keeps her grasp on Sylock, Ramon and Mesmeren keep clinging to each other, Coleo is on top of Ada's head as she lies against a tree, and Roan wraps around Justin's head as the boy lies against the cabin. The Axew shakes, whimpering.

"...Yee. It is too dangerous ta be out here, as I was going ta say." Coleo sighs. Justin points at the Blipbug, muffling through Roan's arms. "...What?"

Roan stops shaking and gasps. "Oh! Sorry, Justin sir!" The Axew hops off the boy, brushing himself off. "I got scared for a moment because of that large crash...Even though I wasn't supposed to be scared." Roan sighs, looking down.

"Eh, it happens, fam." Justin sighs as well. "Anyways, I was trying to say that you're right."

"Ah, got ye." Coleo then looks at the Floatzel. "Thank ye for saving us."

Lycus gives the bug a thumbs up, smiling. "No problem, pal."

Ramon glances at the lake, the two groups of Pokémon persisting their brawlings and thrashings and tails slappings. "...If you truly have an explanation for all of this then—" he eyes the Blipbug. "I'll follow you to the cabin."

The gang looks at each other for a moment before nodding, Coleo holding his balance on Ada's head. "Same here, fam," Justin follows.

The insect nods at the group, pointing at the cabin's door with his rear end. "Then let us head inside."
 
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Chapter 31.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 31: The Destruction Behind the Lake of Purity.

The Aquatic War Arc.

The flame lits up from multiple woods surrounded by brick walls, the heat circulating the cabin through the cage. Two sofas lie dormant in the living room, adjacent to one another. Three windows are at the front of the cabin, three more at the back, and the other two at the group's right. Everyone relaxes in the gray, barren cabin, the fireplace being their only source of light.

Sylock rests near the fireplace, his eyes closing, his chest pulsating. He takes a deep breath, a soft gust of wind fleeing his beak. He nudges the wall, Courtney sitting beside him. She lays her hand on his', patting.

Justin and Ada rub their hands in front of the fireplace, Justin's gray bag lying nearby along with Dr. Yvonne's journal, drying the two. Ramon, Mesmeren, and Roan rest beside the teens while Coleo and Lycus sit on the sofa watching the gang: Roan staring outside with his hand against his chin while Ramon leans against the wall and gazes at the ceiling, Mesmeren resting on top of him. She strokes his chest, squinting at the wooden floor. She becomes too focused on it, lips sealed. Coleo lies on Lycus' head, adjusting his sheath.

"Yo, this bag is a trooper." Justin pokes the gray bag. "It survived so many beatens I've been through since yesterday. I'm surprised it didn't rip apart, especially after that fight with those Greninjas."

"Greninjas?" Ada asks.

Justin looks at the girl, nodding. "Those Defects gave Sylock and I trouble after we got separated from y'all."

Courtney sighs. "That explains Sylock overdoing his Rune even more."

Coleo quirks his brow. What is that? he thinks.

Justin stares at his bag. "You know what: What if this bag could be indestructible? Like so indestructible that none of us know about it existing until we think about it?"

Ada shrugs, smirking. "Could be."

The boy's fingers nudge his head, eyes widening. "Bro, what kind of bag did Clinton give us!?"

Ada giggles, her hand on her lips. "Relax, it's just a silly hypothesis."

"Who is this Clinton lad?" Coleo asks.

Ada looks at him. "An elderly man who gave Justin, Ramon, and I a home to live in. We also helped him solve his city's major issues before taking our leave. It was..." She blinks. "Something, alright."

"More like awesome, when we kicked that mayor's ass!" Justin swings at the air playfully. "We went like this! And then this! And then Ramon came in going 'PEW PEW PEW!'"

Ada and Courtney snort from the last comment. "Oh shush, Justin. It wasn't that cool..." The teen then looks at her hand. "Okay, maybe it was cool. Especially after the stunt I pulled off with my claws."

"I see." Claws? Coleo leans forward, clearing his throat. "Are ye all alright, by any chance?"

"Yeah." Justin looks around the room before shrugging. "At least I am."

"I'm okay, too," Ada joins in, looking at the fights and rainfall going on outside. "Just mainly puzzled by what's happening so far."

"Yeah..." Ramon caresses Mesmeren's head, frowning at the window. "You said you know about the situation out there, Coleo." He then looks at the Blipbug. "Tell us why this is happening."

Everyone eyes the larva Pokémon, Lycus looking up at him as well.

Coleo nods. "Alrighty." He closes his eyes for a brief moment, sighing. "There is a man-o-war between Wishiwashis and Gyarados. I call it—" he opens his eyes, glaring. "The Aquatic War."

"The Aquatic War?" Roan asks, tilting his head.

"Mhm. The destroyer of peace is what this war caused." Coleo sighs.

Lycus snaps his fingers. "I second what you said, bud." He folds his arms. "Before any of this happened, the Lake of Purity used to actually mean purity. 'Pure of peace', as some would call it."

"Pure of peace..." Ramon looks outside, a Gyarados smacking a Wishiwashi with its tail from afar.

Lycus looks out of the window as well. "Yeah. I remember seeing tourists relaxing here and enjoying the beautiful rainbow that used to be present." The Floatzel sighs, his paws by his hips. "I always chill on top of the cabin, soothing my ears to all sorts of topics from the tourists while gazing up at the wonderful rainbow." He walks towards the window, hands behind his back, eyes darting the dark clouds.

Coleo lowers his head, shaking it. "And then one day, two Pokémon arrived at the lake." He strokes his strap on with his setae, squinting. "A Gyarados named Behemoth and a Wishiwashi named Virtuous." He stares back at the group. "Those two are the cause of this devastating war, landlubbers. All cuz of a neverending rivalry from when they were with their trainer..."

"Those two have a Pokémon Trainer?" Ramon asks.

"Aye indeed. Though...that trainer no longer owns them, thus they live their lives among the lake."

"How do you know about this?"

Coleo becomes quiet for a moment. "...I was with the trainer as one of his Pokémon." Everyone except Sylock looks at the Blipbug in mystification, Ramon raising his brow. "What?"

"You said you were owned by a Pokémon Trainer...but we can understand you," Ada responds. "You speak fluent human language like Justin and I do."

"Yeah, which makes you...an Intellicate..." Justin scratches the side of his head. "Why were you owned by someone if you can live your life as your own?"

"I second what Justin said," Ramon follows.

Coleo cocks his head. "Intellicate? What the Binacle is that?"

"You've never heard of Intellicates before?" Roan asks, tapping his chin.

Coleo shakes his head. "This is me first time hearing about them. I lived all me life roamin' the wild before meetin' me trainer." Everyone shrouds themselves into a maze, looking at each other with concerns. Coleo quirks his brow. "Is there something wrong with a trainer owning an 'Intellicate', mateys?"

"A lot, actually," Lycus states, unraveling his paw to the side.

The palm of Lycus' paw shines blue, an array of light springs up. The light expands itself to become a rectangle monitor, the screen displaying in front of everyone. On the screen lies a man being detained by the cops, one of them taking his pokéballs and trainer ID. A Floatzel and Buizel are also there speaking to one of the cops, the Buizel tearing up while the Floatzel appears frustrated.

Ada and Justin both glance at the projector, suspicion rising within. Lycus continues speaking, "A trainer owning an Intellicate is essentially the same as slavery: They're robbing them of their freewill and thinking." The Floatzel then brings his paw into a fist, the projector fading afterwards. "Problems like this arose before the law bans owning an Intellicate." He puts his paws behind his back. "Even then, there's still those trainers that like to break that rule for their own enjoyment."

"I...see." Coleo looks down at the weasel. "How did ye do that? The thing ye showed."

"Oh? The images and clips I've shown from my paw?" Lycus smirks, closing his eyes and laying his paw against his chest. "Why I used my Rune called Capture Projector: It records and captures anything happening in my life, having it stored in my memories. I can then show my memories to those around me. Without even needing a camera!"

He then coughs blood onto his paw, chuckling nervously. "Ah, of course though I'll get hurt whenever I use it. The price to pay when using Rune."

"How come ye did not get hurt when ye used it earlier?"

Lycus shrugs. "I have no clue. I'd like to think this Rune thing hurts me after I've used it once, or twice, or thrice, or...yes. It's completely random, in all honesty. But I know the effects will happen sooner rather than later."

"Huh...I wasn't aware of that," Ramon says.

Courtney scratches the back of her head. "Haha, I forgot to mention that part earlier while explaining Rune to y'all. My bad."

Lycus sprays water onto his paw, Coleo raising his brow in perplexion. "Such blimey, this Rune thing is. Was not aware of ye even having it." He tilts his head. "Do I have it, too?"

"Cuz of us finding out that you're an Intellicate, I can guarantee ya that you have one," Courtney answers.

"How come if I never used it?"

The Lopunny simply lifts her shoulders, shrugging. "You haven't discovered yer Rune yet. That's how they work."

Coleo remains silent, blinking excessively before looking off. "Hmm..."

"Hey Lycus, I have a question for you," Ada says.

The Floatzel looks at her, rubbing his paw. "What up?"

"That Floatzel and Buizel in the projector...they looked familiar." The girl's hand lays on her chin. "Do you know them by any chance?"

Lycus shrugs, shaking his head. "Not at all. They just so happened to be involved in a criminal case the trainer did. I believe the trainer caught the Intellicate Buizel, basically kidnapping him for who knows how long."

"I see."

Justin folds his arms. "They're looking a lot like Ms. Beckham and X, yo. In fact, I feel like they are."

Lycus shrugs once more. "Eh, could be some other Buizel and Floatzel that got involved in that situation. Our species look the same after all, so those two may not be who you're referring to."

"That's possible, but there's also a familiar feeling inside us all. This feeling usually helps us distinguish who we're looking for." Ada caresses her chin. "At least, in my case."

The Floatzel stares at the teen for a moment before glaring off, folding his arms. "If you say so."

Coleo looks down at the wooden, wet floor. "I wondered if me trainer knew about outsiders being against owning Intellicates. Since ye know...I am one."

Ada leans to the side, resting on her elbow. "Do you know what happened to your trainer?"

Coleo shakes his head. "Not a clue. He abandoned I, Virtuous, and Behemoth in the woods...We have never seen him again." Turning towards the fireplace, his mind soothes to its warmth. "Us lads wandered around this vast land. Aidin' one another like the mateys we were. Virtuous and Behemoth would get into some scallywag shenanigans, but the rivalry between them was not vile." He slowly smiles. "It used to put a smile on me face: Seeing those buffoons yapping about who is strong. Despite their disagreements, the two lads still helped each other."

The Blipbug's smile fades, his attention going back to the chaos outside. "Their friendship ended when we arrived at the Lake of Purity. Once Behemoth evolved into a Gyarados, their rivalry grew strong...and so did their hatred." He looks up at the dark clouds, rain pouring down nonstop. "That is how this lake becomes shrouded in harsh rains and brutal fights, aaarrrgh..."

Lycus raises his paw. "From there on, I met Coleo while sitting on top of this cabin. The rainstorms were, and still are, pouring down badly."

Roan scratches the side of his head, raising his brow. "None of this adds up." His hands sit on his hips, frowning. "I can accept the two causing the rainstorms to appear in the lake...but how did they get an army by their side? In fact, where did those other Wishiwashis and Gyarados come from?"

"Those two groups already lived here and didn't like each other to begin with," Lycus answers. "I don't know the exact reason why, but I did hear a couple of them thinking the other side is inferior and they shouldn't coexist."

Roan squints. "Sounds exactly like a recipe for war."

Lycus snaps his fingers. "Yep, and the hatred only got worse after Virtuous and Behemoth arrived here. Things were escalating so quickly that a war between the two species broke out." The Floatzel stares at his paw. "I was on top of this cabin, completely in awe at how fast it all went." A fist is formed.

Coleo glances at his sheath, the hilt at his dagger's end jiggling before slowly moving out. The silver dagger floats in front of the insect. "Not even me trusty dagger could prevent the war from cracking."

Ramon tilts his head. "You tried hurting your friends with it?"

Coleo shakes his head. "Nay. I tried defendin' meself against me friends' armies, but there were too many."

The Floatzel points up. "Can confirm: Had to rescue him with Aqua Jet like I did with you guys earlier."

Ramon takes his attention back to the battlefield. "I see."

Roan taps his chin. "Question: Does the rainstorm have anything to do with the hurricane incident over at Windmill Forest?"

Lycus raises his finger up and down, nodding. "I remember lowkey seeing a hurricane passing by from around the corner. Plenty of them, in fact." He sighs. "It's a miracle that none of them hit the cabin." He then scratches the side of his head. "Why'd you ask?"

The Axew smacks his fist onto the palm of his hand, frowning. "I suspected it to be the case after seeing those rainclouds. I just needed to ask first for confirmation." Sighs. "Those Wishiwashis and Gyarados caused Windmill Forest to go into ruins, separating me from my mentor."

"Yeesh..." Lycus gets on his knees, staring down at the Axew. "Sorry about this situation affecting you and your mentor, kid."

Roan shakes his head. "It's fine. It's not your fault that the incident happened." He looks up and nods, forming his fists. "What matters now is trying to find my mentor. Even if it means forming a solution to end this war!"

The Floatzel blinks at the Axew in shock, smiling. "I see you got spirit, kid. That's good to know."

"My mentor taught me to never give up, even under dire situations such as this!" Roan frowns.

"I see."

"What's this mentor's name, anyways?" Ada asks the Axew. "I realized that you've never really told us his name, despite the numerous times you've mentioned him."

Roan blinks for a moment before gasping. "Oh, how rude of me! His name is Simon Victor, and he's a very wise guy that's there for me when I need it most!" He puts his hands by his hips. "And now I'll repay a favor by going on a quest to find him."

Lycus folds his arms, smiling. "That's great to hear. I hope you find him someday, kid."

Roan laughs in a heroic, child manner. "Thanks!" He smiles back.

Ramon glances off. Virtuous and Behemoth didn't cause the incident, Roan...It was their trainer. A human. His eyes close, gnashing his teeth in secret. If he hadn't abandoned them, then this war wouldn't happen...The hurricane incident wouldn't be a thing. The fox sinks his claws into the palm of his right paw, blood spewing. You would've lived your life happily with Simon...

See, Ramon? Whenever a conflict happens, it always circles back to humans. Always
, Nomar states.

"So...is there a way we can end this war?" Courtney asks.

"Only when one of ye can breathe underwater and talk with the leaders, who are Behemoth and Virtuous."

Everyone turns their attention towards Lycus, to which he raises his brow. "Hate to break your hopes here, but those guys despise my guts: I'm not risking my life out there."

"Wait, they'll just pick fights with ya wheneva they see ya?" Courtney stares into perplexion..

"Yes. They'll pick fights with anyone that isn't their kind, to be fair." The weasel sighs. "But they'll especially want to hurt me..."

"That's completely uncalled for!" Roan yells.

"Yeah, I agree." Courtney sighs. "Sure they're in the middle of a war, but they didn't have to hurt those that aren't in it. Especially if it sounds like they're targeting you the most, for some reason."

The Zoroark squints. "Yeah...Why is that the case, Lycus?"

Lycus shrugs. "They're very much against Floatzels, for some reason. Call it prejudices, if you will."

Roan shakes his head. "Typical speciesism behavior." He glances at the outside. "Disgusting."

Soon silence arrives, the fireplace sparking its flames. Everyone takes a look at the outside, Sylock slightly gazing at the war while Mesmeren keeps her gaze on the floor, stroking the Zoroark's mane. Ramon jumps a bit, petting the Drowzee's head.

"Any ideas?" Ada asks.

Justin shrugs. "Got none, on my end."

"Me and Lycus tried all we could, but none were effective."

Ada sighs heavily, her hand to her forehead. "I see, then." She glances at the ceiling. "How do we stop this war from escalating more and more? We can't just...sit around and let it go on. There's got to be a way..."

Courtney snaps her fingers. "Maybe we can have someone disguise as one of their species and try talking to them from there." Ada raises her brow in response as Courtney puts her hand against her chin. "I don't know who can pull that off, though."

"Good point, fam. Hmm..." Justin taps the wooden floor.

Roan gasps and lifts his fingers. "I just remembered something!" Everyone turns towards him. "Ramon is a Zoroark!"

The group blinks.

"...Yeah?" Justin raises his brow. "Think we know that, fam."

Roan shakes his head. "No no, I mean, he's a Zoroark, and Zoroarks have this ability called 'Illusion'."

Ramon tilts his head, flickering his ears. "Illusion ability?" The Zoroark gasps. "Oh right, I've been meaning to ask about this in general: What's an ability? I've heard of it due to my confrontation with Travis earlier. But I was never given an explanation of it."

"Who is Travis?" Coleo asks.

"A very annoying Lucario that keeps harassing Ramon," Ada answers bluntly, rolling her eyes. "That's all you really need to know about him." She then puts her hand against her chin. "But anyways, aren't abilities something all Pokémon are born with?"

The Axew nods. "Right you are: Every Pokémon has one and there can be many kinds of it. Pokémon of the same species tend to have the same abilities, such as my species can have the Mold Breaker ability from an Axew to a Haxorus."

Ramon twirls his bangs. "Interesting."

"What these abilities can do is affect a Pokémon's attack or how they receive attacks, along with doing other things such as being immune to a different type. What the Illusion ability does is transform the Pokémon into another Pokémon or human, even!"

Ramon's eyes widen. "What?" He stares off to the side. "I can do that?"

"Yes! As far as I'm concerned, only the Zorua line is born with this ability." Roan walks close to the fox, laying his hands onto Ramon's leg as he looks up. "You can use it to become one of those Gyarados or Wishiwashis! That way, you can communicate with their leaders and bring an end to the Aquatic War!"

"...How do you know what that ability is capable of?" Ramon asks with caution.

Roan looks off to the side, stroking his arm. "Simon and I have...dealt with some thieving Zoroarks in the past. Hence why the idea came into mind." He then shakes his head and hands rapidly. "N-Not that I believe you'll do heinous things and steal because of it! Just that my past experience gave me an idea to tell you about it."

"I see." Ramon looks at his left paw, his red claws unraveling. "I'm not sure about this."

"Hmm?" Roan tilts his head. "What's wrong?"

"The thought of transforming my entire appearance into someone else and lying about it..." He gently forms a fist. "It...doesn't feel right. At all."

"Oh..." Roan lowers his head. "I understand."

Ada sits up. "I agree with Ramon here: I'm not onboard with lying about oneself, especially if it's pretending to be a part of a group." She lays her hand on her chest. "I'm always for being honest and truthful since those are good deeds in life." Frowns. "Being dishonest and untruthful are the complete opposite." She strokes her shirt, glaring at the two Pokémon. "It's what my father has always taught me."

"So your father hasn't heard of the word 'gray', then," Justin states.

Ada gives the boy a quick glance. "Excuse me?"

"Ada, we're only telling Ramon to lie so that the war can end peacefully. Sometimes we gotta do something that's usually 'bad' to make the 'good' happen. Like lying, for an example."

The girl folds her arms. "I don't know. I'm still unsure about it because it never guarantees anything good."

"Oh come on! You lied to Clinton about us talking about the weather three days ago!"

Ada squints. "First off, you were the one that lied to him and I had no choice but to play along. And secondly, I still feel guilty about it."

Justin raises his brow. "So what? Would you rather have him hearing about his shopping decision being shit? Sounds cold to me, dawg."

"It's colder to outright hide it!"

The boy frowns. "Fam, stop thinking the truth can always benefit someone!"

"Sometimes the truth hurts, Justin. But it's necessary for someone to know it so that they can learn and grow."

Justin flails his hands. "What the hell is there to grow from being told your shopping decisions sucks!? Being told that can only make you think that person is an asshole, fam!"

Ada shrugs. "Maybe Clinton can learn to shop better from being told that?"

"I—No!" The boy strokes his head. "The hell kind of conclusion is that!?"

"Hey hey, now. Y'all two chillax, will ya?" Courtney suggests. "Regardless of how we all feel about this, it's our only option to consider, as far as I'm concerned."

Coleo nods. "She is right, mateys: Lycus and I tried to end it our way, but it did not work." He looks at Ramon. "If what Roan said is true, then we have to take the risk."

Lycus looks at the Zoroark as well. "Can you help us with your Illusion ability?"

Ramon stares at the outside for a brief moment, losing himself in thoughts. I've lied about how I'm feeling...I've lied about my Transvolution multiple times... He looks down at the ground, his hair shielding his melancholic eyes. And now I have to lie about my identity... He gazes back at the group, sighing. "Y-Yeah...I'll agree with the plan."

The insect nods. "Good." He then clears his throat. "Ye should ask one of the Wishiwashis or Gyarados if they can lead ye to their leaders. Though, go for Virtuous first. Since Behemoth is...how should I say it," he sighs, shaking his head. "A complete addle."

"A what now?" Justin says, scratching the side of his head.

"Idiot. He's calling his friend an idiot." Lycus shrugs.

"Oh."

Coleo sighs once more. "Me apologies if that sounded harsh, but ye must understand that talkin' to him will take som' time...Lots of it."

Ramon's paw presses his chin as Mesmeren looks up at him. "I see. Anything else I should know before I prepare?"

"I should mention that ye will take awhile to talk to the leaders. Since the war is still going."

The Zoroark nods. "Understood." He's about to get up until a hand lays on top of his'. Ramon looks at the Drowzee, the two exchanging sorrowful contacts.

"I-I...hope you be okay out there," Mesmeren says.

Ramon smiles at her weakly. "I will."

Mesmeren gazes at the fox, her eyes shaking with blues before she nods. She frees him, leaning against the wall. As Ramon stands, Coleo hops off from Lycus' head, landing onto the edge of the window.

"I'll be on top of the roof to get a better view of the lake. That way, I can give you accurate information about what's going on," Lycus states.

"Thank you," Ada says before noticing the blood dripping from Ramon's right paw. She walks towards him, touching the paw.

Ramon yelps. "Hmm!?"

"Your paw is bleeding," the girl mentions, her hands glowing blue.

"O-Oh..."

"Was it the canoe wreckage that caused your paw to bleed?"

"...Yeah. It was." Ramon stares at the front door.

Coleo tilts his head at the two. "What is she doing?"

"I'm healing Ramon with my magic. I'll tell you about it shortly." Ada then looks at Justin as she finishes healing him, exchanging glares. The two look away within a flash, a simple 'HMPH' spawn. Roan and Ramon look at them, lowering their heads.

"Hey um, since this is my first time using Illusion, I'll try to practice it outside. Away from the Pokémon's view," Ramon mentions, a scar mark forming on his paw due to the healing.

"In that case, I'll come with you!" Roan rushes by the Zoroark's side, eyeing up. "You can try transforming into me! And then the plan will be good to go."

Ramon nods. "Noted."

"Alright, I'll head out now." As Lycus opens the door, Ramon is about to follow suit until Roan tugs on his leg.

"Hmm?" He looks at the Axew.

"There's something I should tell you right away." Roan glances at the fox. "Whatever you do, do not get hit while in your disguise."

Ramon remains silent for a brief moment, raising his brow. "...Alright then."
 
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Chapter 32.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 32: The Disguise.

The Aquatic War Arc.

Ramon blinks, staring at his paws while outside of the cabin. Roan smiles up at him, his fists beside his face in anticipation. Lycus is with the two, standing besides them. And everyone else looks at them while remaining inside.

"So—" Ramon deadpans. "How exactly do I transform into you again?"

Roan forms the same look, tilting his head. "Huh. Good question." He pokes his face. "I...think it's more of a conscious decision?"

"What?"

Roan shakes his head. "I mean, those thieving Zoroarks Simon and I faced just...do the transformation. Casting themselves in it...If that makes any sense."

Ramon's paw lays on his chin. "How do I execute it, though?"

The Axew shrugs. "No clue."

The Zoroark sighs heavily, lowering his ears. "Great. If you can't tell me how to use it, then this whole plan is pointless."

"Pokémon abilities come from willingly thinking about it to the point of being natural," Lycus states. "Focus on it: Believe that you can use it."

Ramon glances off to the distance, folding his arms. "...If you say so."

"Just close your eyes and think about it." Lycus smiles.

The fox looks at the weasel before nodding, closing his eyes. He takes a deep breath, inhaling whatever air is left to enter his nostrils. He tones out the heavy rain, entering his inner psyche to focus on what he desires to do: Activating Illusion. Darkness surrounds him, embracing the void. His heart beats, his arms and legs still.

He opens his eyes wide, staring down at Roan: Nothing happens. "...Well then."

Roan laughs nervously, lifting his finger. "Try it again."

Ramon closes his eyes before opening it again: Nothing.

"Again."

Ramon closes his eyes once more before opening it.

"...Again."

"You have got to be—" Ramon rolls his eyes, sighing. "Alright then." He closes his eyes for the utmost times, taking a deep breath. He exhales before opening them. To no one's surprise: Nothing happens. Ramon presses his paw to his face, stroking his hair. "Why is this so hard!?" he muffles through his paw.

Roan scratches his head, closing his eyes while laughing nervously again. "I wish I was more useful here. My apologies..."

The Floatzel lays his paw on his chin, caressing his elbow. "Hmm...Could be that you're rushing it."

The two Pokémon eye the weasel. "How so?" Ramon asks.

Lycus waves his paw. "You were on the right track earlier by closing your eyes and thinking about it. But I guessed you panicked at the last minute, and now you're rushing your way to use it."

"Hmm...I see."

"Yeah! Try breathing in and out again. If what Lycus said is true, then be more calm about using Illusion." Roan lifts his thumb in pure glee. "You got this, pal!"

The Zoroark stares down at the Axew for a brief moment. "...Alright then." He sighs softly before closing his eyes, keeping his arms folded. He tones out the rain, focusing on his desire once again. He inhales the air deeply, raising his brows. He exhales, blowing the small gust of wind.

Ramon opens his eyes as they glow light blue, pink auras surrounding him. Within a flash, a magenta energy cast around him, decreasing his size. Everyone eyes in amazement, Mesmeren being taken back by this the most.

"Wh-Whoa..." Mesmeren says, holding her hands together.

"Yo, that looks pretty."

"Agreed," Ada says to Justin before the two look at each other, exchanging glances. The two look away with a simple 'Hmph' afterwards.

Ramon's arms become shorter and turn green, his face forming tusks on each side. His legs are short, changing to a green color as well. The magenta fades away along with the aura, the now transformed Axew eyeing himself rapidly. From his head to his tail, his red eyes blink with surprise. "Whoa..." That is the first word uttering out of his new body, losing his deep voice and all.

"Woohoo! Looks like it worked!" Roan exclaims, raising his arms up in glee.

"That's...interesting." Ramon looks at his tail, wagging it. "So cool that I have the ability to do this."

"That's the perk of being a Zorua and a Zoroark! Haha." Roan circles around the illusion Axew before stopping, clapping his hand. "Yep. Looks exactly like me. Even got my voice down to a tea!" He lifts his hand up, shaking it. "Only thing missing is the wristband, honestly."

"I see. Now that I've changed into you..." Ramon shakes some of the rain off despite how little of an effect that will be. "How do I change back?"

Roan stares at the mimic dragon blankly. "...Do the same thing that you did earlier?"

Ramon looks at Lycus. "What the kid said," the Floatzel says before shrugging in a blunt manner.

"Okay." The mimic Axew closes his eyes for a brief moment, folding his arms. He then opens them. "...Ugh."

"Don't worry about it," Lycus advises. "Just get a little closer to the lake and change into a Wishiwashi. That way, this plan can truly start." The Floatzel hops on top of the cabin. "I'll be up here watching."

"Wait!" Lycus eyes the transformed Axew. "I forgot to ask this earlier but how would Illusion help me breathe underwater? From the sounds of it, the ability only changes my appearance into another Pokémon and nothing else."

"Actually, it does more than just changing your appearance: It gives you those beings capability. Such as breathing underwater or flying in the air."

Ramon tilts his head. "Is that true?"

Roan taps on Ramon's arm, nodding. "Indeed it is! Like with those thieving Zoroarks I mentioned, that group escaped by transforming into Pidgeots."

"I see..." Ramon sighs. "This will take me a while to get used to."

Lycus' paws rest behind his head. "You'll use it instinctively in no time. You'll be fine."

Ramon nods slowly. "I guess..." He turns to the lake and walks towards it, closing his eyes before opening them again.

His eyes glow light blue, the dragon shrouding in pink auras. The magenta energy returns around him, increasing his size into something large and dark blue. His legs disappear, his arms forming into rows of fishes, eyes shaping into a fish-like figure as they become pure white.

The transformed Wishiwashi School floats up, remaining there momentarily before falling. "Oof!" he exclaims, his voice radiating a deep aquatic tone. Roan heads inside of the cabin, everyone staring at the false School. This...body. Ramon grunts, lifting himself up as if he's pressed down by multiple trucks. It feels so awkward and heavy...Ugh.

After some time, he eventually stays in the air, albeit leaning from side to side. He floats over to the lake, lowering in the grim blues before swimming forward. The Wishiwashi swifts his fins, whimpering softly. His fins fling back and forth, the water coursing through his large mouth.

W-Weird that I tasted nothing from the water. And swimming feels so off in this body! He sighs, looking around. Many Gyarados and Wishiwashis clash and bash each other: Heads colliding, tails smacking. A Gyarados even blasts its Hyper Beam at a Wishiwashi in the air, causing it to fall into the lake, a huge splash ushering out.

Yeesh...I'll try to steer clear from...all of that. Ramon squints his eyes. Now to find a Wishiwashi to chat with.

"BRRROOOOAR!"

A large stream of water hits beside the transformed School, Ramon yelping.

"H-Huh!?" He gazes at a Gyarados towering over him, the serpentine charging another Hydro Pump. "AH!" The large fish dodges the move again, swimming away as fast as possible. The Gyarados chases after him, a huge purple shock wave swirls around its mouth. The moment it tries to fling its Dragon Rage, it gets smacked in the face by another School's Aqua Tail, crashing into the deep depths.

Ramon stops, turning around at the School. She is wearing a necklace around her, containing a droplet-like gem at the end.

"Are you alright?" she asks the transformed School in a soft tone, her Mystic Water shifting side to side.

"Uh..." Ramon nods immediately. "Yeah, I'm fi-fine. This is my first time being on the battlefield."

"I can tell just by seeing you trying to run away." She looks ahead, more Gyarados swimming towards the two. "Let's talk while defending each other. Alright?"

"HUH!? W-Wait just a mo—"

The School gets in front of Ramon, blasting three Gyarados with a stream of water. "Whoa!" The false School gulps. "Um, what's your name, anyways? May as well get to know you since I'll need all the help I can get."

The large fish leaps up and headbutts one of the Gyarados, sending it straight into the blues. "Aquatus. You?" She lands on the water, a big splash occurring.

Ramon yelps, scooting away. "U-Um, Larry," he says on the spot.

Aquatus smacks another Gyarados with her fin, grunting. "Larry, I see." The School fires another Hydro Pump at a group of Gyarados, shoving herself against another beside her.

Larry leaps and dodges some of the Gyarados after him, whining. "J-Jeez, they're everywhere!"

"Then start attacking." Aquatus jumps over the mimic School, flipping herself forward and slamming the serpentine towards the depths with her tailfin. She floats, staring at Larry. "I assume you know how to use your moves, right?"

"Um." The large fish looks to the side, his white eyes gleaming with nervousness. Oh no. I didn't really take this into account! I mean, I guess I could use my moves, but they all seemed...Dark. And two of them are just Magic! I'm not sure if it's normal for Wishiwashi to learn any of those types of moves!

"RWOAR!" a Gyarados yells, Larry yelping and backing away. It shoots its yellow-orange beam at him, increasing its size. Ramon shields himself, gulping. Aquatus clenches her teeth, quickly getting in front of the large fish before shooting her large stream of water at the Hyper Beam.

The two moves collide, both attempting to overpower one another. Aquatus grunts, squinting her eyes while screaming with intensity. The Hydro Pump increases its size and pushes the beam back, ramming against the large serpentine. The Gyarados flings back, splashing into another part of the lake far from the two fishes.

Aquatus pants heavily, eyeing the incoming group of Gyarados.

"Thanks for sa—"

Aquatus snaps towards the School. "No time for gratitude, Larry!" Glances. "Why aren't you using your moves? Don't you have any!?"

"U-Um. It's, uh, complicated."

"How so?" The Gyarados leap into the air.

"Well—" Think, Ramon! THINK! He blinks for a moment before widening his eyes as if a light bulb is shown above him. "This is my first time having to defend myself. Ever!" There we go!

"Your first? ...You've never experienced self-defense or anything?" Larry shakes his head, leading the large fish to ponder off to the side. "Bizarre."

Ramon stares down at the water, the two fishes shadows expanding itself. "Uh, why do our shadows look bigger?" he points out, Aquatus immediately glaring up.

Four Gyarados coat their tails in liquefied auras, swinging it forward. "Shoot!" Aquatus shoves Larry to the side, the Aqua Tails smacking the spot instead of them, water splashing all over. "Phew...that was close."

Eventually Aquatus and Larry have their backs against each other, staring at the Gyarados slowly circulating around them.

"...Think it's a good idea if I go meet Virtuous right now?" Ramon asks.

"Considering the fact we're in Phase 30 of this war, it's definitely not a good idea." Aquatus coats her tail in aquatic blues, squinting at the Gyarados charging their Hyper Beams. "He's busy partaking in the war just like us."

"I see." Larry gulps, shaking at the sight of those yellow charged beams.

. . .

The war continues on in the distance, a projector displaying in front of Lycus: Showing Ramon finishing his transformation before proceeding into the lake. The Floatzel checks over the recording, nodding and lowering his paw. The projector fades, Lycus turning around to head towards the end of the cabin, far enough for the group to not hear him.

He reaches several large trees hovering over the cabin, leaves scattering everywhere. "Got the evidence?" a soft yet sly voice asks, a pink tail hanging below one of the branches.

Lycus looks up at a nearby tree: A pink quadruped creature with a red gem on her forehead rests there. Her purple eyes gaze at him, her blue satchel hanging, her head lying on her paws. Lycus nods before snapping his fingers, his projector returning. The same clip of Ramon transforming into a Wishiwashi pops up, the weasel smirking.

"Excellent, darling." The Espeon stretches herself out, flicking her tail back and forth. "So happy about the plan going into motion after waiting in these boooooring shadows for so long."

"I feel you, my love." Lycus sits on his behind, the projector fading as he sighs heavily. "It's getting exhausting pretending to be Coleo's friend JUST so our mistress could revive you-know-who."

"Mmhm." The Espeon yawns, gazing at the war. "We need to not leave our long, slog-fest mission just yet. We still have to take care of a few things here..."

"Like what, Xenia?"

Xenia jumps off the branch, lowering herself gently with telekinesis. She then taps the Floatzel's nose with her tail, grinning. "Grabbing one more evidence of that Zoroark transforming into a Gyarados, silly."

Lycus blushes, scratching the back of his head while chuckling. "I knew that. Was just testing ya."

"Suuuuure." Xenia floats in place, crossing her forelegs and lying in the air. "With you recording Ramon turning into a Gyarados, we can wait for the perfect opportunity to show the two sides he's deceiving them."

Lycus claps his paws together, low enough for the gang to not hear. "Joy!" He smiles. "When do I start spilling the beans?"

Xenia uses her telekinesis to take out a vivid purple gem from her satchel, the two Pokémon eyeing the meter in the middle. Dark red and blue energy forms within the gem, pulsating like a heartbeat. It slowly climbs its way up, reaching the halfway point. She gazes at the gem in marvel.

"Let's say the moment this gem becomes full of war energy. The longer the war lasts, the stronger it gets." Xenia then taps on her paw, raising her brow while looking at the sky. "That's to assume this Ramon guy doesn't succeed at persuading the two leaders on ending the war."

"Even then, would exposing Ramon's Illusion put a halt to the war?" Lycus asks, caressing his chin.

"Not quite." After putting the gem back, Xenia twirls around, staring at the weasel upside down. "It'll actually increase the war. Because not only will they remain furious at each other, but also to those they thought they could trust. Which is Ramon." She grins in a mischievous manner.

Lycus blinks, his face reddening with intensity. "Man, you're a damn genius, Xenia! I love you!"

The Espeon winks. "Thanks, dear. I always aim to please." Before Lycus gets up, he grunts, stroking his head. Xenia tilts her head, waving her legs back and forth. "Hmm?"

The bickers. The yells. The insistence on 'staying home'.

Lycus' memories plague him with his time being with another Floatzel—that Floatzel. The two argue with each other in front of a crying Buizel before he snaps back into reality. Lycus caresses his head. "Sorry. Experienced a Capture Projector moment."

"Ended up remembering a past you didn't like?"

"Per usual." Lycus stretches himself out before turning towards the front, looking ahead at the chaotic lake. "The more I think about it, the happier I feel about meeting you, Xenia." He looks behind him, staring at the Espeon sternly. "You are so, SO much better than her." He then walks towards the front.

Xenia just keeps her gaze on him, smiling.

. . .

Everyone keeps their eyes to the windows, almost as if they're glued to the lake's violent nature. Courtney taps on her arm, Sylock's head resting against her shoulder.

"How long does this fight go on?" she asks, squinting.

"The battle lasts till the end of the day," Coleo states, eyeing the cloudy sky.

"What time it is, yo?" Justin looks down at the Blipbug, slipping his hands into his pockets.

Coleo turns around, gazing up at a clock above the fireplace. The minute and hour hands are hardly moving, ticking at a sluggish pace, dust falling off. The larva squints. "It migh' be close to that time, lad."

"You can read the clock up there?" Ada asks.

Coleo nods. "I've spent most of me life in this cabin upon findin' it. I wasn't sure what it was at first, but I was determined to understand it."

"I see." Ada then opens the front door, looking up as her hands hover over her lips. "How's things looking so far!?" she shouts. She soon sees what appears to be a thumbs up from Lycus on the roof.

"Ramon made it into the water just fine. The plan should be good to go."

Ada sighs and folds her arms. "I'd like to hope so." She shakes her head. "I really wish there was another way to end the war instead of...this."

Mesmeren sits beside the teen, holding her hands together. Please be safe out there, Ramon...

. . .

"RWOAR!" a Gyarados yelps as it flings back from Larry and Aquatus, crashing into the lake far from them. Aquatus shoves one Gyarados to the side while firing Hydro Pump at another, blasting back.

Ramon keeps sticking behind the Wishiwashi, shivering. Jeez, there's so much more of them than I thought! He yelps to loud, mighty roars, turning around at two Gyarados. The Pokémon are charging their Hyper Beams, leaning their heads back. PARTICIPATING IN THIS PLAN WAS A MISTAKE!

Aquatus snarls and zips around Larry, white auras encasing her. The Gyarados fire their yellow beams, hitting the School. She grunts, pushing more and more forward. Eventually, her Double-Edge rams into the two Pokémon's maw, an explosion springing the three away. The Gyarados fly off while Aquatus slams into the water beside Ramon, splashing all over him.

"A-Aquatus!" he shouts with concern. He gazes at the spot for a brief moment, bubbles surfing. Soon Aquatus pokes herself out, panting and groaning.

"Why...aren't you fighting?" she says, grunting.

"I'm, uh..." Larry looks off. "I'm scared to fight. I never once saw myself a-as a fi-fighter."

Aquatus squints. "Then why are you—-" she pauses for a moment before slapping her fin against her forehead. "I forgot that Virtuous just randomly selects any Wishiwashis into the war, regardless of their skill." She rolls her eyes, groaning.

What? At least I don't have to explain why I'm in this war, but also that's...not very smart for the leader. "Um, y-yeah."

Another Wishiwashi pops out from under the water. "We need to retreat, everyone!" he shouts, diving back inside.

"Hmm?" Larry looks to his side, many Gyarados going underwater as well. "They're leaving, too?"

"Yes: It's getting late and neither side wants to continue fighting at night." Aquatus grabs onto the large fish's fin. "Let's go back to the palace."

"Huh!?"

Within seconds, Larry is dragged underwater.

He gasps, eyeing at the surface as the light gets further and further away. He holds his breath, closing his eyes. I don't think I can breathe underwater! This plan was definitely a ba— he inhales the water just fine, leading the transformed School to open his eyes and blinks. Oh...But then how— looks off to the side. Oh right! Roan and Lycus told me earlier about Illusion allowing me to breathe underwater.

"Are you alright, Larry?" Aquatus asks, tilting her head.

Ramon blinks for a moment before shaking his head. "Uh, yeah. I'm fine. Was just...processing everything go-going on around me, that's all."

"I see. So you're the uncertain type of guy. I'll take note of that." Aquatus keeps swimming.

"Um...thank you?"

The two swim downwards, the light above fading away. Darkness circulates, with only the blues bubbling around. Larry gulps, eyeing his surroundings. Soon, the pitch black dissipates, yellow lights ushering in. The lights come from the many blue anglerfish creatures, some with red eyes while others have yellow ones.

The Lanturns and Chinchous guide the many Wishiwashis into a large, rocky entrance, some swimming by them for extra assistance. The illusion School blinks in bewilderment, three Lanturns floating next to him and Aquatus.

Huh? Didn't Lycus say the Gyarados and Wishiwashi will attack anyone that isn't their kind? He quirks his brow. ...Bizarre. They bypass the entrance, Larry's eyes widening at the sight. "Whoa..."

Yellow lights from the Chinchous and Lanturns spread throughout the underwater area, many Water types swimming by coral structures and talking among each other. Some kids jolt through the holes of coral buildings while two aquatic Pokémon swim in a race, zooming past Ramon and Aquatus. The illusion School backs away a bit, his jaw hanging to the vivid purple corals.

Aquatus eyes the School, smiling. "Virtuous Palace is wonderful, isn't it?"

Larry blinks before shaking his head, eyeing Aquatus. "Uh, yeah. I-It is."

"You were looking at it like it was your first time being here."

"U-Um, I mean, the colors on the corals are really pretty to admire. I-I just can't stop being in awe of them!"

Aquatus nods. "Understandable. You can thank the Lanturns and Chinchous for letting us view those beautiful corals."

"I see." Aquatus then swims forward, with the rest of the Wishiwashi soldiers. Larry follows. At least I'm telling the truth this time around, thankfully... After zipping by some pathways, the two make it to the middle, Larry tilting his head. "Huh?"

All of the Wishiwashis no longer look large and blue. Instead, they are small with some blue to the top of their skins. Their eyes resemble that of teardrops, becoming light blue. They're in rows of each other, staring up at a taller coral structure that's built like a castle, with holes functioning similarly to windows and doors.

Larry looks to his side at Aquatus, who's glowing blue before shrinking. After the transformation, Aquatus appears like the other Wishiwashis: In her Solo form, the Mystic Water being more naturally attached to her than before.

The Solo looks at Larry, tilting her head. "You can revert back to your Solo form, now. We're resting."

Oh crud! I gotta think of an excuse FAST! Ramon gulps. "U-Um, I'll r-remain in this form just in case one of those Gyarados tries to intervene."

"No need. They need as much rest as we do." Aquatus shakes her head, sighing. "Besides, it'll seem silly for them to ambush a palace run by their rival species. Alone."

Ugh, I think she got me there. "W-Well still, we never know in th-these trying times."

"Salutations, my Wishis," a humble voice says out loud.

"Hmm?" Larry looks around. "Who said that?"

"Our king, Virtuous," Aquatus answers. "Look up."

Larry eyes at the coral castle, a Wishiwashi with a King's Rock on his head appears behind some coral fences, staring down at the rows of Wishiwashis. He's in his Solo form just like the others.

"Oh."
 
Last edited:

K_S

Ace Trainer
For review bingo

Chapter 1

New fic/author sonic ramon x

Review word count: 724

Alright as you didn’t specify review preferences on your profile or the story I’m going to assume a reaction as I read will be acceptable?

Here we go



The tense while it works to make the narrative distance (I believe you’re using present tense) from someone very used to past tense, it was a bit of an introductory hurdle.

The first paragraph while… vibrant, was fuzzy enough to lose me almost right out of the gate.

Initially, I was like, alright we’re in a corridor that’s dark and getting brighter when someone speaks… but the excess… wasteland and deteriorating, and the fade etcetera. While I understand the drive to be poetic it works best when you’ve established a concrete setting and character rather than build the character out of those efforts.

So the zorua is rubbing the speakers/narrators' eyelid or his own? And the zorua was groaning? I thought the groaner and speaker were two different people. So the waker, groaner, and speaker are the same….

I’m guessing clittering was a typo?

So the tpo of lights glittering into existence… You’ve already established the area as a corridor, steel floor, walls… so my hyper literal mind is imagining a bunch of fluorescent lights going into being and since they, and stars, are up… well I’m imagining a Zorua bopping into the wall reaching for said flickering lights…

Initially, I wondered if the poetic descriptors were a translation issue. A wild/uncivilized being thrown into the maw of a tech-heavy place and trying to compensate. I’ve some doubts though as they recognize things such as chairs, steel etcetera as the tale goes on I’m suspecting this is less and less the case.

Also, that’s one ambitious peephole if it’s illuminating enough to be mistaken for a morass of stars….That or the protag is nursing the mother of all migraines with a side of delusion…

Out of curiosity why are you using the Zorua as a name? They seem aware of their surroundings at this point and few people refer to themselves as “the human”. Personally relying on race/’mon species/or one outstanding physical trait is a means to keep from oversaturating the text with a character’s name, and break the monotony as it were.

Is this the amnesiac hero trope perhaps…

Huh, so something before The Zorua rampaged through a science seeming lab. Going b the plaster walls, steel floors, and use of the word facility later down the line…

I’d hope the corpse remains still unless this is a walking dead tribute.

When you use the term destroyed properties… well it’s a bit odd. Because while someone may own property (and that may be one thing or many) adding the ies changes the base meaning from things owned to indicated say… a home owned.

How can a face scream with adrenaline? How is a mouth hurling? I’m guessing this is some sort of panic attack but am a bit lost as to the mechanics because I think hurling and mouth and think of puking and that’s not happening here.

While a paper can be wet and soggy… blood, a liquid, usually doesn’t get soggy. Now if it was soggy because of blood that’d work…


Have you ever played “inside” an indie horror game the lab gives off those vibes… and my mind was going.. what if it’s a push, not a pull door he’s utterly trapped considering how dogged he’s acting… and never mind an attempt at humor.


Huh, so he’s being hunted by (guessing by the bone) a marowak ‘mon, no answers. While there was an opportunity to describe “ramon’s” attacker when he posed I’m sure you’ll clarify in the next chapter anyway. And he’s definitely an amnesiac. Well, that’s one answer at least, and also a fuzzy idea of what outside’s like.

Definitely noting the natives are not friendly though…

In closing…while this seems like an interesting start to something big. I mean if you go out of your way to answer all of Ramon’s questions/origins, and explore the world around him, well that leaves a lot of material/ground to cover, so it’ll be long… It’s unfortunately not a journey I’m interested in pursuing. I’m not too sure if it was the tense, the wordage that seemed a bit off too often, or what, but I couldn’t get into this story enough to really enjoy it. So I write this more in hopes that some non-original author traffic will draw others who may like this tale into its fold, and I’ll leave it at that.
 

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
For review bingo

Chapter 1

New fic/author sonic ramon x

Review word count: 724

Alright as you didn’t specify review preferences on your profile or the story I’m going to assume a reaction as I read will be acceptable?

Here we go



The tense while it works to make the narrative distance (I believe you’re using present tense) from someone very used to past tense, it was a bit of an introductory hurdle.

The first paragraph while… vibrant, was fuzzy enough to lose me almost right out of the gate.

Initially, I was like, alright we’re in a corridor that’s dark and getting brighter when someone speaks… but the excess… wasteland and deteriorating, and the fade etcetera. While I understand the drive to be poetic it works best when you’ve established a concrete setting and character rather than build the character out of those efforts.

So the zorua is rubbing the speakers/narrators' eyelid or his own? And the zorua was groaning? I thought the groaner and speaker were two different people. So the waker, groaner, and speaker are the same….

I’m guessing clittering was a typo?

So the tpo of lights glittering into existence… You’ve already established the area as a corridor, steel floor, walls… so my hyper literal mind is imagining a bunch of fluorescent lights going into being and since they, and stars, are up… well I’m imagining a Zorua bopping into the wall reaching for said flickering lights…

Initially, I wondered if the poetic descriptors were a translation issue. A wild/uncivilized being thrown into the maw of a tech-heavy place and trying to compensate. I’ve some doubts though as they recognize things such as chairs, steel etcetera as the tale goes on I’m suspecting this is less and less the case.

Also, that’s one ambitious peephole if it’s illuminating enough to be mistaken for a morass of stars….That or the protag is nursing the mother of all migraines with a side of delusion…

Out of curiosity why are you using the Zorua as a name? They seem aware of their surroundings at this point and few people refer to themselves as “the human”. Personally relying on race/’mon species/or one outstanding physical trait is a means to keep from oversaturating the text with a character’s name, and break the monotony as it were.

Is this the amnesiac hero trope perhaps…

Huh, so something before The Zorua rampaged through a science seeming lab. Going b the plaster walls, steel floors, and use of the word facility later down the line…

I’d hope the corpse remains still unless this is a walking dead tribute.

When you use the term destroyed properties… well it’s a bit odd. Because while someone may own property (and that may be one thing or many) adding the ies changes the base meaning from things owned to indicated say… a home owned.

How can a face scream with adrenaline? How is a mouth hurling? I’m guessing this is some sort of panic attack but am a bit lost as to the mechanics because I think hurling and mouth and think of puking and that’s not happening here.

While a paper can be wet and soggy… blood, a liquid, usually doesn’t get soggy. Now if it was soggy because of blood that’d work…


Have you ever played “inside” an indie horror game the lab gives off those vibes… and my mind was going.. what if it’s a push, not a pull door he’s utterly trapped considering how dogged he’s acting… and never mind an attempt at humor.


Huh, so he’s being hunted by (guessing by the bone) a marowak ‘mon, no answers. While there was an opportunity to describe “ramon’s” attacker when he posed I’m sure you’ll clarify in the next chapter anyway. And he’s definitely an amnesiac. Well, that’s one answer at least, and also a fuzzy idea of what outside’s like.

Definitely noting the natives are not friendly though…

In closing…while this seems like an interesting start to something big. I mean if you go out of your way to answer all of Ramon’s questions/origins, and explore the world around him, well that leaves a lot of material/ground to cover, so it’ll be long… It’s unfortunately not a journey I’m interested in pursuing. I’m not too sure if it was the tense, the wordage that seemed a bit off too often, or what, but I couldn’t get into this story enough to really enjoy it. So I write this more in hopes that some non-original author traffic will draw others who may like this tale into its fold, and I’ll leave it at that.
Salutations, KS!
Thank you for providing your genuine thoughts on your first impression of my fic, and I apologize that it wasn't a positive one.
I've written this fic a long while back since 2019, and I've been giving it plenty of pushing up here and there. Seems like there's still some issues with the beginning of it and I can see that. I may even do one more edit brush up along with the rest of the chapters after it.

When you use the term destroyed properties… well it’s a bit odd. Because while someone may own property (and that may be one thing or many) adding the ies changes the base meaning from things owned to indicated say… a home owned.
I thought the word "property" could be used to describe someone or a group owning something, like an organization building. I'll keep this in mind when using terms like that from now one. Once got a follower of mine to correct me on the usage of "submerged" in later chapters.
While a paper can be wet and soggy… blood, a liquid, usually doesn’t get soggy. Now if it was soggy because of blood that’d work…
Could've sworn my usage of the word there implied the paper was soggy because of the blood. I can see why you would think that.
Out of curiosity why are you using the Zorua as a name? They seem aware of their surroundings at this point and few people refer to themselves as “the human”. Personally relying on race/’mon species/or one outstanding physical trait is a means to keep from oversaturating the text with a character’s name, and break the monotony as it were.
Once again, I've written this fic in 2019, which ended up having a ton of revisions and editing and such. This was before I actually diverse the usage of species names later down the lines of my fic. I.e. using words like "the fox" or "the small vulpine".
Initially, I was like, alright we’re in a corridor that’s dark and getting brighter when someone speaks… but the excess… wasteland and deteriorating, and the fade etcetera. While I understand the drive to be poetic it works best when you’ve established a concrete setting and character rather than build the character out of those efforts.

So the zorua is rubbing the speakers/narrators' eyelid or his own? And the zorua was groaning? I thought the groaner and speaker were two different people. So the waker, groaner, and speaker are the same….

I’m guessing clittering was a typo?
My intention for this was to have the beginning POV be from the eyes of Ramon when he first wake up before having it switch to proper third person. It was an attempt at doing something cinematic-like in written form, but whether I achieved that or not is totally up to you. Although, I really don't remember using first person to imply that the narrator is Ramon at the beginning so...not entirely sure about this critic of yours.
Also clittering wasn't a typo. Clitter is an actual word that exists, but for some reason autocorrect doesn't agree with its existence despite there being a Google definition of it:
1642178615376.png
The -ing part may not exist, though. And I might even change it in the update I'll do for this fic.
The tense while it works to make the narrative distance (I believe you’re using present tense) from someone very used to past tense, it was a bit of an introductory hurdle.
Understandable. Most stories out there would use past tense to tell a story, but I've heard of some opting for present tense and managing to succeed with it. My reasoning for using present instead of past is due to me being comfortable with writing stories in that fashion. It also allows me to use flashbacks more easily than if I were to use it in past tense. Because in a story where it takes place in present, I can go into past tense to easily convey to the reader that this takes place in the past.

Once again, I deeply apologize that the first chapter didn't give you a good first impression. One thing for sure however is that I'll go on an re-reading editing spree (hopefully for the last time) to fix up any of those written mistakes in this fic. Thanks for providing your honest opinion of it! n_n
 
Chapter 33.

Sonic Ramon

Junior Trainer
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Chapter 33: Virtuous and the Virtuous Palace.

The Aquatic War Arc.

Larry, the still disguised Ramon, and Aquatus eye Virtuous, being within the rows of other Solo form soldiers. Virtuous stands behind the coral castle's fences, gazing at the fishes before clearing his throat, two Solo bodyguards swimming beside him.

"Today marks the end of Phase 30. We'll be transitioning to Phase 31 tomorrow." Squints. "Remember that the Wishis will always be stronger than those vile Gyarados!" His fin slams onto the edge of the fence. "It's the facts! Facts Behemoth and his wicked beasts must accept!"

"YEAH!" the Solo armies roar, flailing their fins in the air.

After some rowdiness, they all succumb to silence, eagerness awaits their leader's speech. Aquatus rolls her eyes, shaking her head while keeping her gaze onto Virtuous.

"We pack a stronger punch! A stronger endurance! And most importantly, we take care of ourselves better than those rascals!" Virtuous swings his fin to the side. "For crying out loud, we're even more appealing to others!" He lifts his fins up and down, exaggerating. "Just look at our current form! Downright adorable, aren't we!?"

All of the Solos eye each other before they make a collective "D'aww!"

Virtuous smirks, closing his eyes and lifting his head with pride. "See? Who couldn't resist our adorable, alluring, and prepossessing appearance? I know I sure wouldn't." He leans his back against the fence, kneeling over in an over-the-top fashion, his fins caressing his lower body. "The moment I laid eyes on this beauty, I knew I was better than those disgusting serpentine freaks."

Larry and Aquatus raise their brows.

"Yeah, I figured at this point, weirdo," Aquatus says quietly to herself.

What the? Larry thinks, tilting his head.

Virtuous straightens himself, clearing his throat. "Anywho, always remember my Wishis: Wishiwashis are superior, Gyarados are inferior."

"WOO! I AGREE, KING!" one Wishiwashi shouts, pumping his fin in the air.

"I definitely look prettier and cuter than those wretched Gyarados, King!" another Wishiwashi says, pressing her fins together while smiling.

The rest of the blue fishes cheer and clap in renaissance, some even swimming around the army in joy. Virtuous gazes at the rowdy soldiers, grinning. "That concludes today's speech. Rest up, my Wishis: We'll resume the war tomorrow."

"YES SIR!" With that, all of the Solo forms exit the area to the main hub of the palace, passing by Larry and Aquatus. Some are looking up at Larry in confusion, Larry shyly waving.

"Haha, h-hi," the large, dark blue fish says, his tone awkward.

"You know you could return to your Solo form, right?" one of the Wishiwashi states.

"Y-Yeah, but I'm paranoid of those Gyarados entering the palace when we least expect it."

"Hmm...Okay then." The sardine fish swims away, Ramon sighing softly afterwards.

The fake Wishiwashi eyes the castle, Virtuous and his bodyguards swimming inside of it. Now's my chance to convince the leader. He swims towards the castle, a look of sorrow painting his face like the aquatic blues itself. ...Thinking about that excuse. Of a Gyarados entering the palace unexpectedly... He sighs. Sounds like what I'm doing right now.

Aquatus folds her fins, eyeing the ground before sighing. What an awful speech... She squints at the purple dirt and yellow sands that make up the palace's floor, shaking her head. I wish there was another way to settle our differences instead of...this. She then blinks. Wait, where's Larry? She looks up, seeing the large fish swimming ahead. She tilts her head. Why's he heading to Virtuous' castle? "Larry, wait up!"

Larry stands in front of the entrance, stopping himself. He realizes how small the hole was, being the same height as any smaller Pokémon than him.

I can't fit through here, he thinks, eyeing up the castle. I'll try entering from up there, then. He swims up, passing by the castle's fences. "Ex-Excuse me, uh, King Virtuous!"

As Virtuous is about to enter, he looks down at his shadow getting bigger between him and his two guards, raising his head in bewilderment. "Hmm?" The three look behind them, eyeing the large dark blue fish. "Oh? A fellow Wishi wanting to see me, I see?"

"Y-Yes!" Ramon bows his head. "It's an ho-honor to meet you in person, King Virtuous." I hope I can get the right words across here.

Virtuous eyes the illusion School up and down. "Why aren't you in your Solo form, fellow Wishi?"

"I, erm, wanted to re-remain in this form, in case those Gyarados intervene at night."

"But they—"

"Sir, I wanted to ask you something!" Larry exclaims.

The Solo adjusts his King's Rock, his guards scooting close to him. He glances. "Mind not interrupting me next time you want to ask a question?"

"S-Sorry." Larry bows. "Not t-to be rude with this kind of question, but I must ask: Ar-Aren't you taking this war too far?"

Both Aquatus and Virtuous eye the School in curiosity, Virtuous squinting his eyes. "Elaborate."

"Well, I know you w-wanted to prove your kind is str-stronger than the Gyarados to Behemoth. But maybe you two could ag-agree to disagree, perhaps?" Gulps. "Even if you're right, he'll still think differently about his str-strength. And that's fine."

Virtuous' maw is sealed, the look of judgement spreading. "...What part of his numbskull thinking is okay?" His head shakes. "Behemoth boasting about his strength is what led to his foolish behavior. Always getting under my skin about his beliefs, thinking his kind is so strong that they can swing five trees at my Wishis while in the air."

...What? Aquatus thinks, crossing her fins.

"I absolutely loathe his brawns approach at everything, constantly trying to prove he's stronger than me, even going as far as to not receive my help when he desperately needed it the most. Ever since my trainer's pokedex stated my species is more powerful than his, he became more and more boastful." Virtuous grits his teeth, glancing off. "He caused the two of us so much trouble thanks to his incompetence, throwing us into situations that ultimately had our trainer blaming us.." Sighs. "It's why my trainer abandoned us: He got sick of our incompetence after his last battle with another trainer." He closes his eyes. "All thanks to Behemoth."

"O-Oh..."

Virtuous nods. "I'll use this war to prove how wrong Behemoth is. Hopefully, he'll learn his lesson."

"...W-Would you two ever come to an agreement by then?" Larry asks.

Virtuous shakes his head. "Our relationship has pretty much become a burning bridge since we got to this lake. With his empty, numbskull brain, I doubt we'll ever reach an agreement." He turns around. "A reality I've come to accept about him, at this point."

"Ar-Are you sure there's no way you two can s-set your differences a—"

Virtuous snaps towards Larry, glaring. "I'm certain of it." His gaze remains, silence rising between everyone. Then he and his guards swim inside of the castle, Ramon staring on in somber.

Aquatus taps his side, tugging his large fin. "Come on. Let's head back to the main area," she recommends. Larry nods slowly as Aquatus swims away, the false School turning around following her.

Wished I'd thought of a better way to convince him...Stupid me, he thinks, shaking his head.

The two Pokémon route their way towards the main hub, Ramon grieving down the purple-yellow dirt. His mind scatters into the many ways he would've approached the conversation: Try showing an example on setting aside differences, or going into more details on why this war can hinder everyone in it. Probably put some pressure into convincing the Wishiwashi, but he isn't fond of such a brute approach.

Aquatus lifts her head at the fake Wishiwashi's sigh of despair, stopping and turning around. "Hey, are you alright?"

"Hmm?" Larry looks at her before chuckling softly, scratching the side of his body. "Oh uh, I'm fi-fine. Just...dozing off and thinking about stuff, that's all."

The small fish knows that isn't the truth, shaking her head. "It's fine, Larry. I get how you felt about wanting the war to end peacefully..." She looks off. "I get that exactly."

Larry stares at her with mystique. Does she know I'm a Zoroark or...? he thinks, paranoia seeping its way in. H-How obvious was I!? I never once reveal any hin—

"Come on. We're nearing the main area, and I don't like to have my family be worried sick about me," she concludes the topic, swimming towards the main hub.

Ramon gazes. She has a family? His mind converts to blankness, his lips sealed. Without much consideration, he follows.

The two reach the center, passing by a couple of small Wishiwashis and Chinchous floating about, one of them tossing a single pebble to another like a volleyball.

The road ahead of Ramon has more Water types that aren't Wishiwashis, all resting against some coral structures and chatting with one another: Tentacools, Dewgongs, Basculins Blue-Striped, and Corsolas. Larry tilts his head, peculiarness erupting throughout.

I'm seeing other kinds of Pokémon living alongside these Wishiwashis. And yet, Lycus told me the Wishiwashis and Gyarados are prejudices to those who aren't their species. He glances. Was that a lie? ...No, maybe he was misremembering things when attacked by the Wishiwashis. He could be telling the truth about the Gyarados, though. Not sure since I have yet to convince their leader to end the war. Gasps. Speaking of which, I need to go there right away!

Larry poker faces for a moment before sighing. Never mind. Just realized that it's too late to do that since it's dark out. Would likely cause Aquatus to be suspicious of me if I were to abruptly leave, anywa—

"Hey, try not to let Virtuous' stubbornness get you down, alright?" Aquatus says to the large fish. "You seemed really stressed out over it."

Larry jumps a bit before eyeing her, the two swimming by the shops and houses. "U-Um, thanks. I'm not stressed by it. I'll be fine." So she doesn't know I'm in a disguise. Good.

"Larry, are you sur—"

Ramon smacks the side of his head with his fin. "Say, did Virtuous built this palace by himself?"

Aquatus quirks her brow, bewildered. "No. He had some help from his followers when he arrived here."

"Really?" Larry says with as much intrigue to his tone as he can muster.

The lady sardine nods. "After his dispute with Behemoth, he wanted to build a palace with other Wishiwashis that shared the same thought as him." The two turn to their right after reaching a corner, swimming by more Wishiwashis. "The palace was built as a safe and secure place for every Wishiwashis out there. While the point of the palace is to convey how superior Wishiwashis are, we do allow other Water types to visit and live here." Aquatus shifts. "Assuming the war isn't going on at that moment, anyways."

"I see." So these guys aren't entirely prejudiced, but do have a high sense of oneself, from what Aquatus is saying...

"Ever since the many speeches Virtuous gave to his followers, my kind wanted to help him in the war, too. There's even kids becoming inspired by the unhealthy morals he teaches."

Unhealthy...?

Aquatus looks up, many Water types swimming above them to admire the purple and pink ceilings. Her fins tap together. "You've been aware of Virtuous distaste towards Behemoth. But before he got here, us Wishiwashis weren't fond of those Gyarados living in the other palace. So...you can probably guess that we saw his words as the truth."

"Much like the speech he gave earlier?"

"Yep. We're quite the prideful fishes, when it comes to believing something so strongly." Aquatus stops and swims in front of Larry, facing him. "Say, I think you're a pretty nice guy, Larry. Would you like to stay at my place for a bit?"

W-Well this is sudden! Ramon thinks, staring off to the side. I...don't know what else to do at the moment, so I'll just roll with this. Larry nods. "S-Sure! I really don't have a place to stay due to being homeless. Thank you."

The two continue swimming forward, passing by a Lanturn nibbling on a starfish appendage. Larry winces a bit at the sight.

"Say, if you're homeless, then how did you participate in the war?" Aquatus asks.

"U-Um, a random gu-guard saw me sitting by some coral and decided to recruit me," Larry answers quickly.

"Ah..." Aquatus sighs heavily. "Figures."

The disguised large fish pokes his fins together. "I-Is it common for a soldier to randomly recruit someone in th-the war?"

"Yep." Aquatus eyes ahead, the two turning left now. "I remember seeing Virtuous doing the same thing around these parts. Right before I was asked to participate."

"Huh..." Ramon taps his fin, shrugging. "Not going to lie: It's not ve-very smart of Virtuous to recruit someone randomly. Shouldn't he be, um, m-making an advertisement about the war or something?" Another relief for me to be truthful...

Aquatus glares ahead. "Yep...You got a point there." She clenches her fin, gnashing her teeth. "This is one of the reasons why I'm not fond of the whole 'Virtuous vs Behemoth War', as I'd put it."

She looks at Larry. "With his ridiculous approach at recruiting someone ON TOP of his petty rivalry with Behemoth, it just...makes me think that this whole war has no meaning to it. It comes off as two guys with large egos fighting each other while having some fans along the way."

"I-I see..." If you found the war pointless, then why did you join it? Hmm... Ramon thinks, contemplating on the connection between Aquatus in the war and her distaste towards it. He submerges himself within the depths of his inner thoughts, gazing at the wavy kelps attached to rocks. He squints, swimming at a steady pace as if he's sneaking into a base. He soon bumps into a coral wall, yelping.

"Oof!"

"Watch yourself," Aquatus says before snickering.

"U-Um." Larry shakes his head, swimming next to the small sardine. "A-Apologies!"

"It's fine. Also, we're here." Aquatus turns to her left, eyeing up a coral building with many holes and rooms jam-packed in it. She swims inside, the hole being tall enough for a Wishiwashi School to fit in.

How...convenient, Ramon thinks, following the smaller fish.

Aquatus waves her fin. "I'm home, everyone!" Soon, about four Wishiwashis appear in front of the sardine, all within their Solo forms. Despite this, two of the Solos are taller than the others: They're Aquatus' mother and father.

The mother has some wrinkles on her face while the father has a rock in the shape of a hat on his head. The smaller Solos are her younger siblings, one brother and one sister. The interior of the coral isn't anything special: Just the purple ceiling and floors, a higher section that leads to the rocky rooms, and a dining area from afar, containing nothing but a single Lanturn sitting in the corner. She has a Mystic Water necklace around her, eyeing everyone in a nonchalant manner. Kelps are sitting on the ground in front of her, waving due to the water.

"Welcome back home, sweetie! Momma's so happy that you survived today's war!" the mother, Yowa, says, bringing Aquatus into a hug. Her brother and sister, Marsh and Beckett, swim towards the two, group hugging them.

"Big sister's home!" the little ones shout, giggling in glee.

Aquatus hugs back, smiling. "Thanks."

The father, Fisher, eyes the large dark blue fish behind Aquatus, raising his brow with concern. "Who's this fella here? And why is he posting up in his School form?" he asks. Everyone turns towards Larry, who waves at them shyly.

"H-Hi." That's all the illusion Wishiwashi can say.

"He's someone I met from the war. He's a nice guy," Aquatus explains. "These are my family, Larry. The two larger Solos are my mother and father while the smaller ones are my siblings, Marsh and Beckett." She turns to her family members. "Family, this is Larry."

"I-I see. Pl-Pleasure to meet you all."

Yowa tilts her head. "Hmm...Hello, Larry. Last I checked, a fellow Wishiwahsi didn't stay in their School form after the war stops for the day," she points out, her tone dancing with uncertainty..

"Well, I wanted to remain in this f-form to make sure those G-Gyarados don't sneak a-attack us!" Larry looks behind him quickly, displaying a little act of cautiousness.

"But wouldn't that be stupid for a Gyarados to infiltrate our palace aft—"

"Dad, I told him that already. He insists on staying in that form so...can't really force him to get out of it." Aquatus shifts in place.

"Oh."

THANK YOU, AQUATUS! Ramon thinks.

Yowa turns around, eyeing the Lanturn in the diner. "Well then, since you're home now Aquatus: How about some supper?"

"Kelps?"

"Peeeeeer usual!" Yowa presses her fins together and closes her eyes, smiling. "I'll be sure to get one for your big friend there, too."

"Thanks." Aquatus is about to head to the area until she's tapped on the fin, looking to her side.

"Is he your boyfriend or something?" Marsh asks beside her, his tone being child's play. Aquatus stares at him with mortification, shaking her head.

"What? No!" After the response, Marsh and Beckett giggle, swimming around the sardine at a rapid pace. Aquatus squints. "Glad to see you goofballs again, too."

Larry watches the Wishiwashis head to the diner, unsure of how to process everything happening to him. From the moment he transformed into a Wishiwashi School to the moment he met Aquatus during the war. And now he's going to stay at her place for the night!

"Hey, are you going to stare in outer space or join us for dinner?" Aquatus says, snapping Ramon out of his gaze.

The illusion School nods. "Ye-Yeah, I'll join up!" He swims towards the group afterwards.


Author's Note: I'll be doing one final re-edit of this fic from Chapter 1-32 before continuing writing future chapters. I don't think it'll involve changing up plot points nor anything: Just mainly getting rid of wording errors and such. Still though, I'll let you all know when a story error change does happen by the end of this re-editing marathon. Also I gave this fic another genre, Fantasy. Mainly because of the concept like Magic being used in the fic that I feel fits the genre more and more, whenever I think about it. With that said, hope you all enjoyed the very first chapter of M&T in 2022!
 
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