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Pokémon The Only Way


Bug Catcher

The Only Way
Content warnings: Violence, descriptions of injuries and blood, character death, brief (fictional) drug usage, sexuality and implied sex.

“If you’re just joining us, we have exclusive coverage of Sinnoh’s parliament session, Live from the Sinnoh Pokemon League.” The news anchor spoke.

“Castelia Cable News Network brings you close to the action as Sinnoh votes on an import trade and energy bill with Unova.” A second anchor said.

“Before the break, Sinnoh’s gym leader, Fantina spoke about Sinnoh’s energy interests, and how they need to expand to Unova because Alola is vastly profiting off its sale of energy to Kanto and Johto through their use of the Aether foundation after Galar’s embargo on energy to Kanto and its allies. She used this as the justification of Sinnoh’s sale of energy and natural resources to Unova.”

“Now it is time for the main event. The champion of Sinnoh, Cynthia is taking the stage to voice her opinion on the matter. Let’s have a listen in.”

The screen switched to a live feed of the Sinnoh parliament building. It zoomed in as a blonde woman in a black fur coat and black pants stood up and walked to a wooden pulpit in the middle of the room. There was a smattering of applause as she adjusted the microphone and prepared to speak.

“My fellow Sinnohans, if there is one thing that I admire about our country, it is the resolve of our people. Everyone in Sinnoh is born with a resilience that shines bright in our darkest moments. Now, it shines better than ever. We are engaged in a cold war, the likes of which are unprecedented. Kalos, Galar, Unova, you all might know them better as The United Regions Under Kalos, or UR. They threaten to topple democracy as we know it and their actions do not prove the opposite. I learned this morning that Kalos is planning to expand their research, they want to summon and control legendary pokemon. They want to weaponize these pokemon.”

Cynthia paused for a moment and let that information sink in. Then, she continued.

“This cold war, it has raged since before I was elected into office. Kanto and Johto have always been against Kalos’ militarism. Now, I firmly say, Sinnoh stands with that opinion. We can not stand idly by while Kalos actively seeks to destroy us!” Cynthia slammed her fists down on the pulpit. Her dramatic declaration was met with a smattering of cheers and applause as her supporters expressed their support of Cynthia’s show of strength.

“Our allies, Kanto, Johto, form the Kantonian Regional Alliance with us. Together, the KRA is in agreement to contain UR’s reckless escalation.”

The camera switched angles, showing the reactions of various politicians to Cynthia’s declaration.

“Now Sinnoh is the third biggest exporter of energy after Alola and Galar. I say this firmly to Hau, the champion of Alola; you are playing with fire. There is no working both sides of this cold war. I don’t care what your GDP or economic prowess is, UR is going to beat you up and steal your lunch money once you push them an inch further than they can take.”

Cynthia paused and looked out at parliament. She continued her speech in a more calm tone.
“As for us, the export of energy to Unova is not an undertaking Sinnoh will make.” She said, decisively.

“Sinnoh is a nation of integrity! We will not sell out our allies to make a quick buck. Our nation is better than that. Anyone else who tells you differently, is a liar!” Cynthia stood up straight, concluding her speech as the Sinnohan parliament clapped and cheered.

“Thank you.” She said, stepping off the stage and calmly walking back to her seat.

Directly underneath the television displaying the speech sat a woman. She was very beautiful. Her long black hair was tied behind her head and her green eyes were deep in thought. She wore a long black jacket. Her left leg was crossed over her right, both of them clad in black leggings and high heels on her feet. The woman was eerily calm in the chaos of the coffee shop. She gazed out to the street through dark sunglasses.

She was looking for somebody. She was looking for a man. A man of average build with brown hair and brown eyes. He would have some sort of bag slung over his shoulder.
As she watched the street, the TV above her continued to an ad break, promising an analysis of Cynthia’s speech afterwards.

The woman spied her target. He was carrying a backpack, walking west, past the coffee shop at a clip slower than a run but faster than a walk.
The woman stood up and stretched.

“Hey, sweetie. How much for an hour?” A man asked her, rudely shoving himself towards her as she stood.

The woman turned to him and pulled off her sunglasses, fixing him with a cold glare. Her green eyes seemed to pierce through the very soul of the man. She said nothing, but the brash man seemed to wither under her glare.

“Okay. I’m sorry… I’m sorry.” He quickly retreated, his rude demeanor melted.

The woman replaced her sunglasses and pushed out of the coffee shop. She looked left and saw her target hastening away from her. She zeroed in on her prey as he crossed the street. The woman set off. That bag would be hers by nightfall.

As this woman pursued her target through Castelia city, little did she know that she was about to set off a chain of events that would shake the pokemon world to its core.
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Chapter 1


Bug Catcher
Chapter 1

The operation concept was simple. I had lived undercover in the Galar region, going to university classes and leading a normal life. From time to time, I would go on arbitrary “vacations” where I would carry out undercover work for KSO. Usually, it was low risk stuff, but still, there was nothing low risk about being a spy in a hostile nation. This time, I was watching over a package of intelligence for the night before passing it on to the next link in KSO’s chain of spies. Kanto must have been strapped for agents if they had me go all the way to Kalos for a one night job. That was above my pay grade though. I just had to follow through.

The operation plan was simple. I was to travel from Galar to Unova, disembarking at Castelia city. I would walk by foot to an agreed upon location where I would pick up a package. I would then carry that package to a safehouse and spend the night. In the morning, I would move the package along the chain, meeting someone from Kanto Special Operations who would then deliver it to the Kantonian embassy. I would then go back to Galar until KSO called on me again.

Even the operation execution was simple. I disembarked the ferry in Castelia city and had a cab drive me to a large park in the center of the city, of course paying in cash and hiding my face from him, typical spy precautions. I had scooped up the intelligence, which took the form of a nondescript backpack that I picked up from under a bench. After that, I hoofed it through the city and out of the metropolitan area.

The slums of Castelia city were much less majestic than the downtown skyscrapers. The setting sun cast an orange glow over small, dilapidated houses and boarded up storefronts. The street smelled like urine. A Furfrou with a matted coat that looked like it hadn’t been washed in months barked at me from behind a chain link fence. I moved along the cracked sidewalk at a pace that didn’t give off fear or weakness, but was still above walking speed. Street lowlifes watched me, trying to decide if I was a good target to bum drug money off. With my trench coat, backpack, and business-like demeanor, none of them tried.

That was until I turned onto the corner onto a street called Great Ball Lane. I heard the sound of a knife click open behind me.

“Ya wanna hand over your money?” I turned around and saw a short man in a white tank top behind me. In one hand, he held a black and silver switchblade. In the other, he held the leash of a mean looking Houndour. The pokemon growled at me, bearing its fangs as it strained on its leash.

“What are you talking about?” I played dumb, stalling for time. In the meantime, I was looking all around for anyone who could see what was going on. There was nobody in sight.

“Hand over your wallet.” The man restated.

“I don’t have my wallet on me.” I lied.

“Bullshit. You pretty boys are always comin’ down here, trying to buy drugs or somethin’ Now hand it over or I’ll sic Houndour on ya.”

I did not have time for this. The longer it took me to reach the safehouse, the easier it would be for me to be identified. I had to get out of the public view as quickly as possible. I slowly reached into my coat.

“Okay. Alright. Alright. Here you go.”

In a flash, I snatched a pokeball from inside my jacket. Before the man could react, Clair, my Golisopod appeared. She swung her foot, tripping the man and caught him in one of her enormous claws, lifting him up in the air by his tank top. The man’s Houndour sprung towards me. Clair stomped in his leash, cutting off the dog’s lunge inches away from my face. I didn’t even flinch.

“Well done Clair. That’s exactly what I had in mind.” I complimented my Golisopod.

Clair smiled. Seeing a Golisopod smile is something that you have to get used to as such a grotesque facial expression almost never was something that conveyed joy.

I stepped up to the man. He wriggled in Clair’s grip.

“You decided to choose a place to mug me where nobody could see. Unfortunately for you, that works both ways.”

“I’m sorry! Please don’t kill me. I didn’t mean…”

“You accidently mugged me? That doesn't exactly make a lot of sense.”

“Please let me go.” He begged.

I was faced with a dilemma. This man knew what I looked like. If someone was able to get a description of me from him, it could start a forensic avalanche which could end with me being executed in a Galarian prison as a spy. I didn’t fancy the prospect of killing him either. His death felt so unnecessary. I didn’t want to needlessly take life if I could help it. I would have to go with the third option.

I stepped close to the man and my Golisopod.

“If I let you go, you never saw my face. I was never here. Do you understand?”

“Y-yes. I understand.” He stuttered.

My hands shot forward and grabbed the front of his tank top, pulling him towards me.

“If I hear you told anyone about this, I will personally see to it that the police have you arrested on drug charges and you never see the light of day again. Do you understand?”

“Yes! I’m sorry!”

Without another word, I shoved the former mugger away from me. Understanding what I wanted, Clair let go of the man. He fell to the sidewalk with a grunt. Seeing how easily I had subdued his master, the Houndour backed away from me and my six foot tall Golisopod.

I turned and continued down the street as if nothing had happened, returning Clair to her ball.

The rest of my walk was uninterrupted. I reached the safehouse right as the sun began to dip below the horizon. The safehouse wasn’t a house, rather, an apartment block. Any sensible person would have stayed away from this building as it radiated sketchiness. No doubt the proceeds from these apartments went to some influential crime syndicate.

I pushed open the faded double doors and walked inside. Many of the fluorescent light panels in the reception area were out, leaving the room in a shadowy half light. I knew my room was on the second floor and headed for the staircase which smelled like cigarette smoke.

The floor with the apartment rooms wasn’t much better. The whole place stank. Leaky pipes dripped water on the mildew green carpet. More than a few rooms had visible damage done to them, doors ripped off their hinges, gashes in the plaster wall, and even what looked like a few bullet holes. As I walked past the rooms that were functional, I could tell by the sounds inside whether they were being used for drug deals, prostitution or both.

I reached the designated door and drew out a key for the lock from one of my coat pockets. As I was inserting it into the locked door, something felt off. Maybe my subconscious noticed something, maybe I caught something out of the corner of my eye, or maybe it was pure intuition from experience.

No matter what it was, I was instantly on alert. I reached into my coat and drew out a pokeball. This one contained Rico, my Gengar. I looked all around me. There was nobody in the hallway aside from me. Maybe I was imagining things. I tossed the pokeball onto the ground and my Gengar emerged. Rico could sense things that were intangible to the human eye.

“Rico, do you notice anything odd about this hallway?” I asked, quietly.

Rico cocked his head to the side, quizzically, as if to say Aside from this place being the lowest representation of humanity? He then looked around the room. His eyes began to glow as he took in things from the intangible world around us. He turned a full 360 degrees, as if he were some sort of surveillance camera.

Suddenly, he whirled around towards me and gestured frantically towards the hallway. Before I could react. A dark pulse of energy shot from the far end of the hallway. The supersonic beam of energy cleaved Rico in two at the midsection. His form dissipated for a moment before solidifying back to his body. He collapsed to the floor.

I registered this in an instant; then, the black pulse smashed into me. I blacked out for a moment as I was blasted through the door. The attack was so powerful that my body smashed it off its (admittedly rickety) hinges. I regained consciousness laying on the floor in the entryway of the apartment room. Purely out of instinct, I rolled to the side as a blast of purple energy smashed where I had been laying moments before. I snatched a pokeball and heaved it out into the hallway. Clair roared as she came up against a pokemon in the hallway.

My head was swimming from the dark pulse. Everything sounded like it was underwater. My back was painfully sore from being smashed through 4+ inches of wood. Clair was fighting something in the hallway and by the sound of it, she was losing.

I scrambled to my feet, almost falling back to the ground from dizziness. I heard the sound of an attack smashing through a wall and the subsequent scream of surprise from the apartment’s tenants. I didn’t know who my attacker was, if it was only one person, but I knew if I didn’t act, I’d get overrun.

I quickly surveyed for options. The lone window behind me was boarded up. Now I could smash through the wood no problem, but I didn’t fancy falling down two floors and then having to run for Arceus knows how long to evade my attackers. No. I had to defeat my foe.

“Liquidation!” I yelled to Clair in the hallway. An instant later, I heard a splashing sound as she attacked my still invisible foe.

I knew that the attacker had come from the far end of the floor, leaving the exit unblocked. That was, if there weren’t more than one attacker. I would just have to take that risk. I lowered my head and charged out of the doorway.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Clair grappling with a pokemon. I turned and rushed down the hallway. I was about two thirds of the way to the staircase when the hairs on the back of my neck began to rise. I hit the deck and rolled for all I was worth. The crack of a thunderbolt shot over my head and pulverized the wall in front of me. I drew my empty pokeball out of my coat and returned Clair. Before my attacker could fire off another attack. I ducked into the stairway and out of sight.

I pounded down the stairs as fast as I could, reaching the bottom and dashing out of the building. The door slammed behind me as I raced out into the street. All of a sudden, I heard the sound of an explosion above me. Shattered wood blasted from a second floor window and rained down in the street. I saw a figure leap out of the window and heard a rhythmic buzzing sound. The figure landed heavily on the street in front of me, cracking the pavement and sending up a cloud of dust.

The dust began to clear and I could see my attacker for the first time. It was a woman. She looked to be about my age, maybe slightly older with long, wavy black hair. The woman was clad in a short, tight fitting red dress that went to about her mid knee. The dress was synched tightly to her waist by a thick black belt with a large buckle. Three ultra balls rested on the left side of her belt. Below that, she had black leggings and high heels. Her skin was tanned perfectly a few shades darker. She sat perched on a large pokemon, a Vikavolt that hovered in the air a foot or two off the ground. She sat on her pokemon for a moment, looking at me, analyzing me. She had green eyes that seemed to pierce through me, pulling all the information she could glean.

The woman hopped off her Vikavolt, landing on her high heels, an impressive feat in itself. Her red lips moved as she spoke.

“I need that backpack.” She said.

My mind was reeling. Whenever I had been in a battle, it had always been against some hairy thug or remorseless police officer. I always built an image in my head of my enemy, and it wasn’t ever a good one. This time appeared to be completely different. Why had UR sent such a sexy woman to apprehend me? They must really want what was in the bag.

“If it's so important to you, come and get it.” A brave response. Part of my brain was wondering why I was refusing this woman. Another part of it was wondering why I was being so insolent when I was completely out of position. She had a pokemon ready to vaporize me with an electric move. I had yet to draw my pokeball. By the time I could draw and release a pokemon, I would be blasted.

The woman started slowly walking towards me. She was in no hurry. I was right where she wanted me to be.

“That intel must be really important if Kanto sent you all the way from Galar to come watch over it.” She said, sweetly.

Shit. She knew. How had she known? That didn’t matter right now. What mattered is keeping my life and protecting this oh so important bag.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I said, coolly.

The woman laughed, brushing off my lie.

“I’m sure that you don’t. That’s why you traveled here, walked past a spot where you scooped up this backpack and are now hiding out in a run down part of this city.” She reached me, stepping close. Too close. Her peach scented perfume wafted around me, making it hard to think about anything except for her. A small part of my brain knew that she was doing this on purpose, but the rest was still occupied taking in the sights and scents.

“Now, if you give me that backpack, I don’t have to kill you.” She said.

“No.” I heard myself say.

“Okay then. We’re going to do this the hard way.” The woman reached into one of my pants pockets.

My reaction was somewhere between completely folding, giving this woman everything she wanted, and disgust at her being so close, invading my personal space. Still, I didn’t dare resist lest her massive stag beetle attack me.

“Ah. Here it is.” She said, drawing out a wallet. Like everything I had, the wallet was connected to the identity of Mason Heartwell, a college student from Honnen who is studying abroad in Galar.

The woman stepped back and started to look through the wallet. The way she flicked through the different cards and items with her slender fingers reminded me of a cat. She was interested in each new item only for an instant before tossing it aside for a new thing that piqued her interest.

“200 Galarian Poki in cash, ice cream parlor punch card, flier for a tournament in Hammerlock.” She smirked. “Someone’s washed up.”

There was still no chance of escaping this woman. She played her confidence to the max, but I had no doubt that she could back it up with her skill. It wasn’t every day that Rico was one shot by a dark pulse.

“I will ask you again. What is your name?”

I just shook my head.

“Okay then. You really want to do this the hard way.”

She stepped menacingly close to me. What was I supposed to do? The woman brought her hand up and pressed two fingers to a pressure point on my neck. I gasped as a searing pain shot through my neck. It was just the opportunity I had been waiting for.

Through the pain, I snatched the woman’s arm. She fell to the side and landed awkwardly on her heels. I heard an electrical whine and tasted ozone. Purely out of instinct, I rolled to the side just as the woman’s Vikavolt blasted a beam of electricity right where I had been standing moments before. I hit the ground and rolled, drawing one of my pokeballs, throwing it as soon as I was right side up. Clair appeared.

Before she could move towards the woman, I heard the crack of a thunderbolt out of nowhere. Clair teetered for a moment and then fell to the ground. Behind her stood the woman. She held her arm where she had just drawn on me. A few feet in front of her stood a Gardevoir, its eyes glowing purple with psychic power. The Gardevoir wheeled on me and extended its hand. My eyes crossed as a blast of psychic energy caught me right between the eyes.

I honestly expected that to be the last thing I saw. Instead, the blast of energy didn’t hurt me. It collided with me, flipping me over backwards. I crashed to the ground.

I groaned as I was smacked into a very hard object from the force of a pokemon against my will for the second time in the last 15 minutes. When I opened my eyes, the woman and her Gardevoir loomed over me.

“In case you were wondering, you aren’t faster than me.” She said, sweetly.

What had just happened? I had always been the quickest at drawing my pokeball. From when I just had started battling, all the way through school and into field deployments. This mysterious woman had feigned foolishness to get me to try and draw against her. Then, she clobbered me.

The woman was typing on a large, wrist mounted poketch. Her Gardevoir still stood threateningly above me. I didn’t dare move a muscle.

Why hadn’t she killed me yet? I had very little use to UR in the way of information. Kalos wouldn’t go to all this trouble just to haul me back to Lumiose and have me publicly executed.

Finally, the woman looked away from her poketch and back at me.

She tutted her tongue.

“You’re lucky. It seems my superiors want to talk to you.” She extended her hand down to me. I cautiously accepted and she hauled me to my feet.

“One more thing.” She asked. “What is your name?”

“Not this again.” I grumbled.

“I would say it's a fair trade considering that I’m not going to kill you.”

I sighed. She was certainly persistent.

“How about an exchange? You tell me your name and I’ll tell you mine.”

The corners of her red lips rose in a smile.

“That works. I’m Athena.”

“I’m Andrew. Andrew Ross.”

“Nice to meet you, Andrew. Now we need to get out of here.” As she spoke, I could hear the sound of police sirens getting closer.

We made our way back from where I had come. As the sun went down, there were fewer lowlifes hanging around. That or the police sirens scared them away. The sirens were getting closer as Athena guided me down the sidewalk. She seemed to know where she was going. We passed the place where I had been almost mugged and kept going. Athena turned us onto a new street.

Just then, we both heard it. A car coming closer. There was no siren but it was still ominous.

Athena grabbed my arm. I winced as I felt her fingernails dig into my skin. She dragged me to a doorway of a boarded up storefront.

“It's just a car.” I complained.

“A car full of pokemon trainers that will overwhelm us, and drag us to the darkest prison in Unova.” She countered.

Suddenly, my heart began to hammer in my chest. She was right. I looked over her shoulder. Sure enough, there was a black government car with the Unova government seal on the side door.

“They’re coming this way.” I cautioned.

“Kiss me.” Athena said.

I didn’t hesitate. We both knew that kissing was a good way to keep eyes off us. People were subconsciously disgusted with it and tended to avert their eyes, even if they didn’t mean to. It also hid our faces.

We locked lips. She was a good kisser. I could feel her soft lips on mine, her hand holding the back of my head. I could smell her peach scented perfume wafting around us.

We kissed for a good 15 seconds as the car passed us. It didn’t stop. No agents jumped out and arrested us.

Finally, we broke apart, both of us out of breath.

“Come on.” Athena said, as soon as her breathing returned to normal.

As she led me away, I could swear she was blushing.

We walked for a long time. I had no idea where Athena was leading me but I really didn’t have a choice but to follow her. The sun had set and the only light was the occasional intact streetlight that cast a dull orange pool of light around it. There was no doubt that we were still in the slums. Dilapidated houses behind cracked walkways lined the street.

Athena and I reached a crossroads. She led me diagonally across the dark intersection.

“Hold it right there.”

I heard a voice speak from the darkness.

Athena and I turned towards the sound, both of us suddenly on alert.

Out of the shadows emerged a man. He looked to be a little under six feet tall with sharp, angry features. He was dressed in a charcoal two piece suit with a red tie. WIth his long nose and prideful expression, he looked like a sketchy Mauville stock broker, someone who scammed people for a living. Behind him was an enormous pokemon, a Coalossal. The nine foot tall cart of coal began to glow an ember orange, illuminating it and its trainer in a hellish light.

As one, Athena turned to run the other way, but out of the shadows came another figure. It was a man. He was slimmer than the man in the suit and much less formally dressed. He wore a pair of black jeans and a gray hoodie. The man was nothing special to look at, but there was something about him that was off. It took me a second to realize what it was; I couldn’t see his face. Even in the light given off by the other man’s Coalossal, his face was obscured in shadow behind his hood.

The shadowy man made a quick motion to his belt and a Crobat appeared by his side. With how quickly he drew his pokemon, I no longer had any doubt that he was a good pokemon trainer.

Athena and I were trapped. Neither of us could draw without being dropped by a pokemon attack. There was no cover in the middle of an intersection.

“Drop your pokeballs now.” The man in the suit commanded.

“What do you want?” I leveled the question at the shadowy man.

“We’re here to bring you in on charges of treason for you-” The man in the suit replied, pointing at me. “-And terrorism for you.” He gestured at Athena.

“On what grounds? We’re just citizens of this region. It’s unlawful.” Athena deflected.

It was a good attempt, but it wasn’t going to work against this man. Something told me that he took a sadistic pleasure in beating up and arresting secret agents, condemning them to a pathetic existence of interrogation and torture until they had served their usefulness and were executed. In other words, he was the person that deep cover agents like myself had come to fear; counter surveillance agents that worked to thwart our every move.

The man in the suit laughed, bellowing might be a better way to describe it.

“We have strong evidence connecting you two, the explosions a few blocks from here and that bag.” He pointed at the backpack which was still slung over my shoulder.

“What’s wrong with my backpack?” I asked.

“There is information that belongs to the Unified Regions of Kalos in it. Now set your pokeballs down. I won’t ask again.”

I didn’t see that we had any other option. Slowly, I drew my three pokeballs and set them down on the ground, out of reach, but not out of the distance of a swift kick.

I looked up to see if Athena was doing the same thing. She wasn’t. She was standing there, staring at a point above the man in the suit’s head. Her pokeballs were gone from her belt. Where did they go?

“Good. Now stay where you are.” The man in the suit said in an almost gloating tone.

I heard the sound of a pokeball opening behind me. The shadowy man had drawn a new pokemon. It was a slithery purple crustation with a blue shell. Two flaps opened on its front to reveal a small organism inside with evil yellow eyes.

“Don’t hurt them too badly. Just enough to incapacitate them and a little bit more.” The man in the suit told his partner.

The Toxapex inched closer. I had to suppress a shiver of fear over the prospect of being poisoned by the spiky little bastard. I had heard accounts about how much it hurt for days afterward.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Athena slowly raising her hand into the air. She was looking intently at me, trying to tell me something without words. Her eyes flicked towards the shadowy man over and over. She wanted to coordinate an attack.

Well, it was a better bet than being stabbed by a Toxapex.

The Toxapex was almost upon us. It was now or never.

Athena’s hand dropped.

Immediately, I lunged forward and sent a sharp kick right into the button of one of my pokeballs. At the same moment, I heard Athena shout,


Out of the corner of my eye I saw a figure appear out of seemingly nowhere. Instantly, the pokemon threw something into the air. I had just enough time to hit the deck and avert my eyes before I heard a Pop like a flashbang grenade going off.

The man in the suit roared with rage. A blast of heat singed my arm hairs as the Coalossal missed its attack.

“Psychic!” I called, still with my eyes closed.

Lucio, my Lucario barked.

I opened my eyes and saw him with his paws held open against each other. There was a brilliant ball of purple energy held in his paws. He shoved his arms forward and sent a beam of energy at the enemy Toxapex.

As I stumbled to my feet, I tasted ozone as Athena ordered a thunderbolt from her Gardevoir on the enemy Crobat.

“Come on!” She shouted, pointing towards an empty outcrop of buildings nearby.

Before I could do anything, I felt something latch onto my leg. I looked down in horror and saw the shadowy man’s Toxapex stabbing into my leg. I tried to cry out in fear but couldn't. A stream of blood ran from the puncture wounds. The vicious Toxapex stuck out its tongue and greedily lapped it up. I started to feel my whole torso go numb as the poisons began to take effect. Lucio couldn’t level an attack at the wicked crustation without blasting me with it as well. So instead, I jerked my thumb behind me.

“Get him.” I rasped.

Lucio understood immediately. In an instant, he lunged forwards. Lucario shot past me and my new crustacean friend and towards the Toxapex’s trainer. The shadowy man tried to draw a new pokemon but Lucio was too fast. He cut the distance between the two of them and hit him with a ferocious one two combination that floored the shadowy man.

I began to feel dizzy and my vision swam. Desperately, I tried to grab the two sides of the Toxapex and pull it off my leg. The pokemon wouldn’t budge. I began to black out. Athena shouted something to me but she was far away. There was one voice that I did hear clearly.

“Eruption.” The man in the suit’s voice cut through the mental fog just fine.

I had just enough time for my addled brain to realize what was about to happen before an enormous, searingly hot stone rocketed into the ground next to me. A wave of asphalt cascaded from the impact and launched me into the air. I went weightless for a moment before crumpling to the ground.


The next thing I knew, I was laying in a bed. It was much softer than the concrete where I had landed prior, and much comfier than the bed in a prison cell would be. Everything around me was simultaneously foggy and too bright. The first thing I registered was that it felt as if someone had split my skull open with an ax. It hurt to think. Slowly, I began to open my eyes.

Athena was standing over me. She was wearing the same outfit as before, but she was a mess. Her hair was blown to one side with mud, sticks, and bits of leaves in it. Her dress was torn on the side and it looked as if she had bandaged up cuts there. Her makeup was smeared across her face and she had a nasty purple bruise on her shoulder.

“Y-you don’t look so good.” I tried to speak, but my mouth was as dry as a desert so it came out as a hoarse whisper.

“I wasn’t the one who was hit by an eruption from a Coalossal. Look at yourself.”

I carefully pulled back the covers and she was right. My trench coat was in tatters, my pants had two massive holes where the Toxapex had bit me and my shoes were gone, probably melted. It was just then that I realized that I couldn’t feel my legs. Gingerly, I tried to move one of them. I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I was able to lift it up. I hadn’t been paralyzed by the Toxapex. If my memory served me right, the poison would eventually be carried away by my bloodstream and my legs could go back to functioning normally.

“Wow I guess so.” I croaked. “My backpack with the oh so important information?”

Athena shook her head sadly.

“Burnt up by the Coalossal.”

I scowled. That was bad. If I had the energy, I would have stood up and cursed out the shadowy man and his friend. Whatever I had been tasked with carrying was gone. It must have been extremely important for UR to mobilize all those assets to get out of my hands. I would have to worry about that later. Right now I needed a few answers.

“What happened? Am I a prisoner now?” My voice was getting clearer as I kept talking.

Athena smirked.

“No you’re not. After the Coalossal’s eruption. I was in a one versus one with the man in the suit. I was able to beat him but he got to your body and forced me to trade you for his shadowy colleague.”

“You negotiated for my life? Didn’t you want to kill me like an hour before?”

“That was all a farce Andrew. It was a test.”

“A test from who?” my voice was gaining its strength.

“I can’t tell you that.”


“Because you can’t be trusted with that information”

“Can you at least tell me which side who or whatever is testing me is on?” Now I was a little angry. Athena had gone all this way to first “test” and then save me but she couldn’t tell me why.

She shook her head.

Frustrated, I tried to stand up but my legs were still partially paralyzed. My legs bowed out from underneath me and I sunk back down to the bed.

“Andrew, you need to calm down.”

Suddenly, as if brought on by her words, a rush of tiredness came over me.

“Can you-can you tell me where we are? Or is that need to know as well?” I said, weakly.

“I got us out of Castelia. We’re in a safehouse in the Pinwheel forest. Now you need to sleep.”

“Is the safehouse actually safe?” I mumbled sarcastically but before I got an answer, exhaustion took hold of me and I was drifting off to sleep.
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Chapter 2


Bug Catcher
Chapter 2

I opened my eyes. My body felt well rested and refreshed. I seemed to be in a decently sized room. There was the bed I was currently laying in, a closet, a nightstand table and a frayed throw rug covering the open space in the room.

I looked out of the window and realized that it was probably the middle of the night. Clair was dozing in a standing up position by my closet. Lucio was curled up on the rug and Rico was standing guard over me in the rafters of the room. He never slept so he had taken it upon himself to protect Clair, Lucio and I while we slept.

My stomach growled which alerted me to how hungry I was. The feeling in my legs was back so I managed to roll out of bed and shakily walk to the door.

“Stay here Rico. I’ll be right back.” Gengar complied.

I shakily walked out of my room and into a large combined kitchen and living room. There was everything you would need from a house. Stove, refrigerator, microwave, a kitchen table, two large couches around a flatscreen tv that was mounted above a fireplace. The only light in the large room came from the crackling fireplace. Athena was sitting on the large overstuffed chair, gazing into the fire. She was wearing a gray tank top and black pajama bottoms. She had let her long black hair down and it cascaded down her neck and shoulders in a silky smooth pattern. She was twirling a strand of her hand in her fingers thoughtfully. Her arm was bandaged up with white gauze.

“Why are you up so late?” I asked “It’s like three in the morning."

She noticed me for the first time.

“Couldn’t sleep." She said simply.

“I just woke up.”

“After you briefly talked to me, you slept for 18 hours so I’m not surprised.”

I sat down on one of the couches.

“As far as I can tell we’re clear.” she said “This place has a security cam system and there haven’t been any disturbances in the past two days. Nothing abnormal in radio chatter.” she pointed to a room which I hadn't even noticed which led away from the main room. It must have been an operations room of sorts.

“So how are we going to get out of here?” I asked her “Now that I think about it, where are we going? I have to assume that when I don't show up to deliver the package on time that they think I'm either dead, apprehended or a traitor.”

“I’m coordinating with a few of my assets. We might be here for a few more days as I get everything squared away” Athena said with a slight tinge of annoyance in her voice. She threw a stick into the fire.

“You have a lot of questions.” She wasn’t asking. She already knew that I had millions of things that I was wondering about.

“If you were attacked, seduced, threatened, recruited, surrendered, threatened again, fought along by someone who had just said they would kill you and then rescued by them wouldn’t you be confused as well?” I asked. "I feel like I'm reaching into a geopolitical cookie jar right now."

“I might not be able to answer everything-”

“Clearly” I grumbled.

“But I’ll try my best”

“Okay. Let's start with your name. I gave you mine and seeing as I’m not dead, I feel like an exchange of names wouldn’t hurt anything.”

She hesitated then sighed.

“I wasn’t lying about my name. I am Athena Nolland but you would never find my name in any regional registry. I now go by Abigail Sweeting. My codename is now Athena. I guess you should know that”

I nodded my head.

“Okay Athena. What was that entire show at the apartment complex about? You blasted my Gengar and then tried to kill me.”

Athena looked down at the carpet below us.

“I was never trying to kill you. I could have easily done that while you were walking from the park. My parameters were to get you to a less busy place and subdue you, then I would take you in. I would have knocked you out fully but your Gengar blocked most of the blast.”
Her voice took on a bitter tone. It was Rico's fault that we were still in danger.

"You were faster than I was told so I underestimated you and you almost escaped. Then things went to shit. Someone called in the chaos and we had to get out of there.”

“So you lied about being part of the Unovian government to get me to move?”

“Yes. But that Unova government car that passed us is what’s concerning. The police aren’t the only ones after us but rather the Unova and by extension the UR. Fortunately we managed to avoid them, otherwise I have no doubt in my mind that they would have gunned us down or taken us in for enhanced interrogation.”

I flashed back to the kiss she gave me. She had kissed me back right?

“We managed to avoid them but ran into those two the UR agents-”

“They're the UR agents. Are you sure?” I interrupted her again.

“Yes. I checked them out. Known UR agents. The larger man is Dennis Andersson. He is ethnically Galarian but his parents sent him to school abroad in Kalos and he was trained at Shalour City military academy. In his senior year he was expelled for a brutal pokemon battle he fought there against one of his classmates. The Kalos secret service soon picked him up and turned him into one of their domestic enforcers that do their bidding within their country and their allied regions. He is part of their secret police and very brutally effective with what he wants.

“You seem to know a lot about him,” I said.

“That’s because I’ve dealt with him before. Also his record isn’t very secret. Kalos wants people to know that they have people like that prowling about. On the other hand I couldn’t find anything on the shadowy guy. He must either be new or very secretive which leads me to my next point. They sent the elite forces against us. Whatever was in that bag must have been very valuable.”

“Well it’s gone now.” I said dubiously.

“How did you manage to get them all to miss us with their first attacks?” I continued my questioning.

“Bright powder. I had Gardevoir use fling and toss the bright powder in the air. It blinded them. Having Gardevoir carry bright powder has come in handy in the past.'' Once again Athena declared this nonchalantly but her eyes gave away the fact that she was proud of thinking of this strategy.

She looked into the fire as if there was a message there that she was trying to decode.

“You were also fast enough to beat me in a draw.”

“Well they’re not going to send someone after you who is worse than you. We know who you are. We know how you are really fast at drawing and I’m their fastest drawer. I could also put on the whole seduction show so they sent me.”

“Who's 'they?' Who do you work for?” I asked.

Athena shook her head.

“Again, I can’t tell you that.”

“Fine. What about your previous life before becoming an agent for whatever organization is too secret for me to know about?”
Athena shook her head again.

“That’s also classified.”

“Then I’ll have to guess”

“I’m not going to let you do that either.”

“For fucks sake Athena!” I tried to stand up but my legs bowed out from under me and I sat back down on the couch.

“I don’t know you. I don’t know the organization you're part of. You're treating me well so I have to assume you want or need me for something. But you can’t tell me a lick about who you are, where you are from, or why you’ve captured me. If you can’t tell me why this is important to you then I’m going to walk out that door and rendezvous with the Kanto Special Forces and they will find information about you anyway!”

Athena rose to her feet angrily.

“You are not going to walk out of that door. Kanto will know nothing about me.”

“It won’t stop me from trying. What are you going to do about it?” I snapped back.

“This” Athena said, the anger dropping out her voice leaving the same tone of voice as when she had threatened my life back at the rundown apartment complex.

All of a sudden an orange light appeared in the adjoining hallway as if someone had lit a birthday candle. Then another. Then another. I stood up, successfully this time, ready to take on this new threat. A total of nine lights appeared in a circle and the Ninetales stepped into the room. The pokemon was larger than the species’ average height and there was something about it. It must have been the hard eyes or facial expression on the fox that implied absolute brutality. This pokemon wouldn’t hesitate to launch blasts of fire from all nine of its tails and turn me into a pile of ash. It was an intimidating sight but I couldn’t show any lack of resolve so I called her bluff.

“So you're going to incinerate the guy who you have gone to great lengths to save. Smart on your organization’s part. Athena I need some sort of information on you or on your organization otherwise I’m gonna go grab my pokemon and walk out that door. You can incinerate me with your Ninetales but one way or another I’m not going forward with this whilst in the dark anymore.” Some people had said that my stubbornness was too unbreakable. I would insist on charging up a hill at an army then go around. Right now though, I had to put my foot down before I was yanked any further down the Bunelbey hole of this secret society that Athena was hinting at.

There was a long pause. I waited for that Ninetales to launch fire at me. Ninetales waited for its trainer to give the command and Athena hesitated.

“Fine.” she sank down to the chair.

“I’ll tell you some things about my past life. I still can’t tell you about who I’m working for, just know It’s not the Alliance or the UR.”

Ninetales dimmed the flames on its tails. Relived, I sat back down on the couch.

“My name is Athena Nolland. I grew up in the Alola region. My family moved to Kalos when I was 13. We were quite wealthy and their ideological similarities with the UR made them very popular. My dad got into politics and was very successful. They shipped me off to a boarding school."

She paused.

"One thing led to another and I was kicked out right before I turned 18. After that, my life collapsed in on itself. I eventually ran away from home. I lived on the run for a while. I got in a bit of trouble with the law which is when the people who I work for now stepped in. They saved me and recruited me to work for them. I've been working for them for 5 years now."

I am pretty good at telling when someone is lying and Athena was either really good at hiding her lies or she was telling the truth. There was something about how she told the story that was so real. I genuinely believed that she had been in these situations and lived through these tribulations. My anger melted away. I was surprised that I felt bad for her.

“I’m sorry for what you’ve had to endure. Thank you for telling me.”

“Don’t be sorry. I’ve come to terms with my life as it is now. I’m going to sleep. Ninetales stand down.” She said, shortly.

It was a sign of trust. You were at your weakest when you were asleep so Athena announcing that she is going to be totally vulnerable for the next few hours meant that she was beginning to trust me.

I sat by the fire for what must have been two or three hours. At the moment my best option was to go with Athena. There was a path to freedom. Technically I could go into the room where she was sleeping and subdue or kill her and escape but that wouldn’t change the fact that I was on the run from the UR and frankly, after the story she had told me I couldn’t bear to do that. I have set emotions aside before and done things I’m not proud of but we were twice as powerful together as apart and I still had to get out of here. To be honest, I was more than a little bit curious about this secret organization that Athena was a part of and I was wondering why they needed me in particular to reach their goals. My work with Kanto Special Operations (KSO) was probably over after this failure so I might as well. I mulled these things over in my head until the crackling and warmth of the fire lulled me off to sleep.
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Chapter 3


Bug Catcher
Chapter 3

I woke up the next morning to the sound of bacon sizzling. Athena was nowhere to be seen but her Gardevoir stood at the stove, cooking something that smelled really good. I realized that I was still wearing the burnt rags from the battle, which was at least four days ago, and I probably smelled really bad as well. I winced at the fact that I had such a serious confrontation with Athena last night while still wearing this.

I walked back into my room and selected a pair of shorts and a plain gray t-shirt from the enormous amount of different types of clothes from the dresser. There was everything from dresses and skirts to full bodysuits and sports jackets. What organization had the resources to put this many clothes in an out of the way safehouse?

One shower later and I felt really great. Physically, I felt almost back to normal. I could feel my legs tingling from the Toxapex’s poison and that scar on my right leg wasn’t going away any time soon. I had a few burns on my shoulders but they didn’t hurt very much and would probably go away without very much scarring.

I examined my chest and back. Other than those burns there was only the regular damage. Scars and painful reminders of previous missions and assignments. I was only 25 and my body had perminant damage that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

When I entered the large living room again I saw Rico, Clair and Lucio happily eating breakfast with Athena’s Ninetales and Vikavolt. Athena and her Gardevior sat at the kitchen table.

“Come and get some food.” She said cheerfully. Her mood had done a complete 180 from last night. She must have gotten some good news.

I sat at the table and helped myself to some pancakes that were on a platter in the center of the table.

“I’ve gotten us a way out of Unova.”

“That’s why you're so happy.”

“Yep. We have a plane out of Mistralton city and we have a car to get there. I’ve plotted a route that lets us bypass any checkpoints or places where we might be identified as fugitives.”

“That’s great but who is going to fly the plane?”

She looked at me like I was an idiot.

“I’m going to.”

“You can fly a plane?”


She didn’t elaborate past that.

“And I don’t suppose I can ask where we’re flying to?”


“Oookay” I said slowly.

“When do we leave?”

“It’s about two days of travel to Mistralton City so we are leaving early tomorrow.”

"I thought that Mistralton Airport was just a glorified post office, just delivering cargo."

"No. They have airstrips for human cargo. Just not comercial airlines."

I speared a pancake and ate it.

“We’re not stopping to sleep?” I guessed.

“Nope. That’s why I told you where we were going. I’m going to need you to drive some of it.”

I sighed.

“Alright. Does your identity hold up in Unova?”

“Yeah but if they check the list of fugitives for either of us we’re fucked so it dosn’t really matter.”

“Do you know if we’re going to have to deal with Dennis and his shadowy compatriot again?”

“I have no idea. Nothing picked up about them on the limited access I have to Unovian governmental communications.” She replied, taking a sip of water from her glass.

“Okay. I assume you don’t have anything of importance to pack? I certainly don’t.” I asked.

“No. Just my pokemon, an extra change of clothes and food for the journey. We switch cars in Nacrene city.”

I finished eating and went upstairs to pack. As in Athena’s case, I didn’t have very much to pack. I grabbed another gray trench coat, some comfortable pants to wear in the car and a plain black t-shirt. I threw a pair of aviator sunglasses, a baseball cap and a black bandana onto the pile of clothes for good measure. As far as I could tell, this is all that I needed to take.

The rest of the day sped by quickly and the next thing I knew, it was 10:00 PM. I hadn’t seen Athena very much because she had been dealing with some travel logistics and had ordered me out of the control room/bedroom that she was utilizing. As far as I saw it, she was responsible for getting me out of the country so I let her handle the planning.
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Chapter 4


Bug Catcher
Chapter 4

“Wake up Andrew. Your turn to drive” Athena’s voice woke me up from sleep. She had driven through the night after our first day of travels while I had slept.

Groggily, I rubbed my eyes.

“Where are we?”

“We’re on route five. Just past Driftveil bridge."

I stepped out of the car and stretched stiff muscles. Sleeping in the back of a car was not the best option for a good night’s sleep. I ran my hand through my hair and tried to make it look acceptable again. Athena said that she needed to go to the bathroom and headed to the back of the gas station.

I walked into the small store and bought a large caffeinated soda for the long drive ahead of me. Putting the drink back into the car, I walked back behind the gas station.

As I rounded the corner of the building a sight met my eyes that I did not expect to see. There was a pile of boulders rolled against the bathroom doors, barricading them shut. Next to the pile of rocks stood a man. He was average height with curly sideburns that ran down the sides of his face. He wore a tan two piece suit and a cowboy hat with a large jewel encrusted into it. The man held a briefcase in one hand and wore an expensive looking gold watch on his other wrist.

“There you are.” The man spoke with a eastern Unovan accent. I reached for my pokeballs but the man shook his head.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” He held up his hand. In it was a small detetinator with a red button on top.

“I’ve wired these rocks with explosives. I press this button and these rocks get blasted through the door either directly killing your friend or suffocating her. Now you're gonna do what I say or she’s gonna die.”

“Who are you? What do you want?” This guy was crazy or confident enough to set off explosives right next to a gas station.

“I wanna make a bet with you.”

What? He wanted to gamble but he held all the metaphorical cards. Athena had taken the car keys with her into the bathroom so I couldn’t make a run for it even if I had wanted to. Still I played along.

“What kind of bet?”
“A bet based on skill. You see, as the gym leader of this region I’m supposed to bring you two fugitives in for questioning. But it don’t work like that out here. The name’s Clay and I want to battle you.”

Oh shit. This man was one of Unova’s eight gym leaders. They were only below the government, Pokemon Champion and Elite 4 in power. The gym leaders governed an area of their region and were the most powerful trainers in their local region.

“You see, I don’t buy all this government cold war bullshit. I still have to run my sector of the region and none of that affects me. Except for that.” He pointed at the large neon sign that displayed the gas prices.

“I’ve had to raise prices across the board for my companies just to stay afloat. Unless you're in the war industry, a cold war is not good for business. So I want a real challenge. A flesh and blood Kantonian agent. If I can beat you, I’m just as good as I used to be. I’ll even use three pokemon just like you have” He smirked.

I was starting to understand this man a little bit better.

“You’ve got yourself a deal, Mr. Clay”

He smiled.

“We fight over there.” He pointed a stubby finger to the dusty plain beyond the gas station.

The plain was a combination of dirt and sand that left it inhospitable to any sort of plant life. To my right the cars on the highway roared past and to my left stood the Chargestone mountain range. I stared down my opponent. This man was a gym leader. He was no fool and probably had some nasty tricks up his sleeve. The thing was that this man could have apprehended both Athena and I were he not bored and wanting a challenge. As far as I could see, he didn’t have any pokeballs on him but that didn’t mean anything. They were most likely concealed underneath his coattails.

I decided to go with my usual strategy. I took a deep breath and snatched the ball with Clair from my belt, throwing it onto the field. Faster than I could register it happening, a pokeball opened and a Hippodawn roared onto the field.

“First Impression”

Clair lunged forward and struck the hippo across the face with one of its giant claws. Hippodawn tried to counterattack with bite but Clair lunged out of the way.


Clair lashed out again. This time her claw was covered in water as she punched Clay’s Hippowdon. Clair hit a blue shield in front of the hippo as it protected itself. I realized that Clay was giving nonverbal commands to his pokemon.

“That’s all you got?” I taunted.

“This isn’t over yet” Clay smirked.

The winds started to pick up. Dust and sand started to whirl around us growing faster and faster until sand surrounded me. I could barely see a few feet in front of me. I called:

“Liquidation!” into the gale.

I heard Clair roar and Clay’s Hippowdon moan as I inferred that Clair had knocked it out of the hippo.

The sandstorm was deafening. I reached down and untied the black bandana from my leg. I wrapped it around my face and tied it behind my head. Reaching into my trench coat’s pocket I brought out my sunglasses and put them on. It didn’t help a whole lot but it was better than nothing. I heard a roar as Clay attacked Clair with a pokemon that I couldn’t see.

"Liquidation!” I commanded for a third time.

I felt the pokeball at my belt open as Clair’s emergency exit ability sent her back into her ball. The direction that she had been called back from gave me an idea on where Clay and his pokemon were. I charged blindly forward into the sandstorm, grabbing Rico’s ball. I could make two figures silhouetted ahead of me. I threw Rico out of his ball.

“Shadow Ball!”

Gengar appeared out of its ball and launched a large black ball of ghostly energy at the two figures.

I heard Clay’s voice:

“Power Trip.”

The giant pokemon lunged out from where it stood and instantly slashed the Gengar with dark energy. Rico collapsed on the spot and retired to his pokeball. I tried to capitalize on Clay’s Krookodile being out of position, Throwing out Clair I called:

“Aqua Jet!”

Clair roared out of her pokeball but the Krookodile turned around and caught Clair’s punch with one of its claws. Clay once again commanded:

“Power Trip”

The Krookodile punched Clair right in the face with its other claw and my Golisopod flew back into her pokeball. I did the only sensible thing that I could do to prevent Clay from winning the battle by force, I turned blindly in the sandstorm and took off. I could hear the monstrous Krookodile behind me. I misjudged a part of the ground that was lower than I thought it was and I tumbled down a small slope on the ground.

The sandstorm swirled around me as I heard the giant footsteps of the Krookodile and its trainer. At best it was two versus one and Clay’s Krookodile would be powered up from its' knocking out of Clair and Rico.

“I have to admit you surprised me with that damn Golisopod.” Clay’s voice swirled around me in the sandstorm. “But you can’t beat me on my own turf and in my own element.”

I stood up. My bandana had fallen from my face but somehow my glasses had stayed on. I couldn’t be worried about that now though. I brought my last pokeball to my face. There sat tiny Lucio. He was the only thing between Athena and I being brought in, interrogated by Unovian government officials and then executed. I whispered a few instructions. Then I put the ball into the sand a few feet in front of me. It was a gamble but I had to go for it. I tugged my trench coat off and tossed it over the pokeball.

“You can’t hide forever” Taunted Clay.

“Come out and stop wasting my time. I’ve got other business affairs to take care of.”

“Are you sure they’re business affairs and not regular affairs? All of you big business idiots have those right?” I called into the sandstorm before retreating until I was about 25 feet behind my coat. I laid down in the sand and waited. Sure enough, I saw two figures approaching my position. A long second passed. Then another. The two figures moved closer. Clay was standing above my coat and his crocodile was right next to him. He bent down and picked up my trench coat. This was my chance.

“Now!” I yelled.

Lucio burst from his pokeball and knocked Clay to the ground.

“Aura Sphere!”

Before Krookodile could react, Lucio blasted it with a sphere of power that he had launched out of his hands. The large crocodile teetered on its two legs, then it fell. Krookodile returned to its pokeball as Clay threw out his last pokemon. It vanished into the sandstorm in the blink of an eye. Clay stood up and brushed himself off as he wasn't worried about the fact that he was in the attacking range of my pokemon.

“That’s a nice Lucario you’ve got there son. But we aren’t out of the fight quite yet.”

“Really? Because it sure looks like you're done.”

“Not yet.”

As soon as he said that, a pokemon flew out of the sandstorm and slashed Lucio before disappearing back into the sand.

“Lucio, did you see where it went?”

Lucario shook his head nervously.

Clay just laughed.

“You actually made me use my final pokemon. I wasn’t planning on using him but you managed to beat my Krookodile so I had to resort to this.

The pokemon shot out of the sand again and slashed Lucario before disappearing again. I gestured with my hand and Lucio lunged toward Clay but before he could attack him, the pokemon sideswiped him again and Lucio hit the deck.

Lucio popped up from the floor faster than I expected him to. Which made me realize something: the pokemon attacking my Lucario was hitting him with dark type moves! That meant Lucario was becoming more powerful every time the pokemon attacked him. Unfortunately, Lucio was looking a little bit worse for wear. He was sweating and had an open gash on his side that was oozing blood. The active sandstorm couldn’t be helping that wound. I heard a low rumble off in the distance and the pokemon shot out of the sandstorm again, hitting Lucario. Lucio fell to the ground again. This time he struggled to get up.

“Running out of steam Lucario?” Clay taunted.
“You pretend to be dignified but you love to make fun of people don’t you? With your stupid watch, suit and overly expensive hat, you must think your tough shit huh? Yet even with all that money the most fun thing you can do is get a verbal upper hand on everyone you meet. Isn’t that right?”

Clay’s fingers twitched.

“It was never personal.”

“But it was intended to knock me off guard wasn’t it?” I heard the rumble.

“Lucio Protect!” I yelled. A blue shield appeared around Lucario and the Excadrill crashed right into it.

“Aura Sphere” I commanded and Lucio didn’t hesitate. The attack blasted Excadrill right in the chest. The large mole flew back, knocked out on the spot. The sandstorm dissipated and I advanced with my Lucario on Clay. I could only imagine what he saw: a 25 year old youngster with messy brown hair, aviator sunglasses and a Lucario who had just defeated his two best pokemon.

“Not bad kid. Not half bad. You're almost good enough to take on the gym challenge.” Clay smirked, still confident even though he couldn't defend himself.

“Yeah I would do that but I’m a wanted fugitive here so that’s not happening any time soon. Now give what you promised.”

“Alright kid. I lost fair and square. I never saw you.”

The ground started to rumble and a puff of dust wafted around him, obscuring from view. Lucio lunged forward but Clay was gone. When the dust settled, I saw that a hole had appeared where he had been standing and in the dirt lay the detonator that he had threatened me with.

“Slippery motherfucker.” I muttered to myself.

“Good job Lucio! You punched that Krookodile into next week and held out against that Excadrill. We’re gonna get out of this situation yet.” Lucio looked happy to receive compliments on his performance. I picked up my trench coat and trudged toward the gas station.

With a little bit of careful excavation and half an hour, Lucio and I were able to move the boulders in front of the bathroom door.

“What the hell happened?” Athena shoved the bathroom door open and walked back towards me. “I was in the bathroom and I heard voices outside. When I tried to open the door nothing happened. What’s that all about? Why are you covered in dust and sand?”

Athena, looking as beautiful as ever, even in the casual wear of a tank top and short shorts (which did show off her toned arms and legs) was very confused.

After I explained to her what had transpired with Clay and the battle, her eyebrows rose in surprise.

“You beat a gym leader? Even in a three on three that’s impressive.”

“Yeah I suppose it is. The guy could have easily brought us in but he wanted to battle me so we made a bet and I got lucky.”

“It didn’t sound like you got lucky. It sounded like you beat him fair and square. Now come on. We’re behind schedule.” she grabbed my arm and steered towards the car.

“The physical contact isn’t necessary,” I grumbled.

“Really? If I didn’t move you, you probably would have stood there oggoling me until the sun set. You're more obvious than you think.”

“Or maybe you're just striking so even if I just look at you, I can’t help but notice how good you look.” I complimented her, almost without meaning to.

We got to the door and Athena opened the car door.

“‘Striking’ or not, I’m tired as hell so it’s your turn to drive.” She sarcastically said but still accepted the compliment. As she laid down on the back seat she quietly said,

“Thanks Andrew.”

“No problem. You would have done the same.”

“No. Thanks for getting me out of that bathroom. I really hate closed spaces and the feeling of helplessness.”

I looked back at her. She had closed her eyes and looked asleep already. Her black hair framed her pretty face. She still had the bruise on her shoulder but that didn’t make her look any less beautiful. I thought about what she had told me back at the safehouse; what she had endured and dealt with. She had fought for herself, on her own for a long time. If she was similarly deployed on assignments to how KSO had used me, she was still fighting solo. It was about time for her to get an assist from someone. Even if that someone was an asset that she had “captured”

“Your welcome Athena. You're welcome.”
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Chapter 5


Bug Catcher
Chapter 5

The rest of our journey went rather smoothly. We managed to get to a secluded hangar at the Mistralton City airport. Our plane was comfortable but nothing lavish. Almost like a RV with wings. A 4.5 hour flight landed us in Slateport City in the Honen region. Athena taxied the plane into a hanger that held a wide variety of types of planes including one that looked suspiciously like a fighter jet.

We disembarked and she guided me to a car parked outside the terminal. We had been traveling for close to 48 hours straight and were both exhausted. Athena drove us into downtown Slateport city. The downtown area was detached from the port district. Large skyscrapers towered over the snarl of traffic below. From what I could see outside the tinted window of our car, there was a large amount of people biking and walking to and fro on the sidewalks. The sun was setting and people were going home or leaving their homes to enjoy the Slateport nightlife.

After a few minutes of muscling our car through the traffic, Athena pulled us into a very ordinary looking parking garage. Next to the garage was a very ordinary looking, rectangular office building. It was at least 15 floors tall with a very boring symmetrical design. Rectangular plate glass windows, straight sides, like a child’s building block.

“We’re here” Athena parked the car on the third floor of the parking garage.

“I’m not going to lie, this is not what I expected.”

“Good. Then maybe the Honnen government won’t expect it either.”

The office building was connected to the parking garage by two sets of sliding glass doors which gave way to a reception area. Athena walked up to the secretary who seemed to be packing up her stuff for the night.

“Hi Susan. Could you let Mr. Sharp know that I’m back from my assignment?”

“Sure thing Athena. Go ahead and head up to his office.” She handed Athena a key.

We walked to the elevator doors which opened with a *ding* and Athena inserted the key into a lock and selected the top floor.

We stepped out of the elevator to a scene that I wasn’t expecting. A long hallway from the elevator split off rectangles of computer desks, meeting rooms, a server room, a mysterious door with no marking and a keypad lock and many other useful things that a secret organization would need. I saw a sign next to the elevator that had a floor directory. It listed a training room, sleeping quarters, a cafeteria, a swimming pool sauna area, an infirmary and a few other things I couldn’t read before Athena dragged me by the arm away from the sign. We walked down a walkway. To my left and right there were pokemon and humans working at computer stations, decoding transcripts and talking into headset microphones. Some of the humans looked up from their work and stared at Athena as we passed by. I probably was a sight for sore eyes. My trench coat and pants were really dusty and I had a big tear in the left knee of my jeans. My hair was a mess and I hadn’t showered in three days. Down one hallway I saw a big vault looking door with a sign that said: Operations Control.

We entered an external room of what might have been the CEO's office with a desk and filing cabinets behind it. A phone sat on the desk and papers were neatly organized into small stacks. I assumed this was a secretary’s area but nobody sat at the desk. Ahead of us was a large office. Athena pushed open twin doors and led me into a room. In the middle of the room was a large desk that had neatly organized stacks of papers and files with a high backed director’s chair. There were two chairs in front of the desk. Large floor to ceiling windows looked out on the heart of downtown Slateport city. Bookshelves lined the sides of the room. We walked into the empty room.

“I assume we were supposed to meet someone here?” I asked.

“Indeed you are.” I heard a voice behind me.

I turned around and there stood an old man. He was slightly shot and he hunched over a cane. He had white hair that peeked out from under his top hat slightly. The top hat matched the black two piece suit he wore. Overall, his look was of a high class old timer. I was sure that was on purpose. The man extended his right hand.

“Greetings. I am William Sharp and I presume you are Andrew Ross?”

“He is,” Athena replied for me.

“Excellent job Athena. I never had any doubts”

Athena looked as if she wanted to say something sarcastic to Mr. Sharp but instead said:

“Thanks, sir. I’m glad you got my communique that our exfil had been blown.”

“Yes yes. They got out as well but they’re taking the back routes home to not blow
our location. You two are clean as well?”

“Yes. We had a little bit of strife on the way out of Unova but we got out without a trail.”

Mr. Sharp hobbled his way past us and poured himself a drink from his liquor chest next to a bookshelf.
“What sort of trouble?”

“Well… We were almost apprehended by one of the Unovian gym leaders.”

The old man raised his white eyebrows at that.

“What do you mean by ‘almost apprehended?’ And by a gym leader no less.”

“I was errr… incapicated so I don’t know what happened. But Andrew defeated Clay, the gym leader,” she added unnecessarily.

Mr. Sharp’s white eyebrows rose even higher on his forehead.

“You beat Clay?”

I spoke up for the first time.

“Yeah. Him and I made a bet. I think he was bored or something. He could have easily had us brought in but instead challenged me to a pokemon battle. If I won he would let us go and not have us followed and if he won he would bring Athena and I to the Unovian government.”

“Clay was always a gambler. I used to have business dealings which involved him but in the end he boxxed me out and forced me to sell my holdings in his companies for less than they were worth. Andrew, would you care for a drink? I know that you don’t drink outside of work, Athena.”

I shook my head.

“No, thank you”

“Very well” He said, hobbling his way over to his desk with his glass of whiskey and sat down.

“So you said that you beat Clay. That’s very impressive. Please do tell me what happened.”

I recounted the battle for him when I was done he said:

“Very impressive Andrew. That is a feat that not many could have pulled off.”

Turning back to Athena he asked her:

“You are sure that you weren’t followed?”

“Yes. We’re clear."

"Very well. You two must be very tired after all of that travel and battle. Athena, we have a few things that we have to discuss after that you can go. Andrew, sleeping quarters are on the 12th floor. Take any room that isn’t occupied. I’ll have an Audino help you find a room. Tomorrow I’ll have someone show you around the complex and then I will explain to you what we need you for. Welcome to the ALPL”

I wanted to ask him what that meant and a ton of other questions but he made it clear that I was not going to be able to ask anything tonight. I got up.

“It’s been nice having you kidnap me,” I told Athena.

“It’s been nice kidnapping you” She said with a half smile.

“Don’t think that you’ve got rid of me yet though. I’ll see you tomorrow Andrew.”
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Chapter 6


Bug Catcher
Chapter 6

I woke up after a blissfully long night of sleep. The clock on my nightstand said 10:26. My pokemon were healing at a station next to my bedside. I had found my way downstairs after Mr. Sharp talked with me the evening before. I had taken a shower and true to his promise, Mr. Sharp had an Audino guide me to a sparse but comfortable room.

I selected a pair of slacks, a white dress shirt, and a dark brown blazer from the well stocked closet. If there was any time to impress someone, it was now. I grabbed my pokemon and affixed their pokeballs to my belt.

Leaving my room, I headed into the bathroom at the end of the hall. I leaned over the sink and did up my hair as best as I could without a comb or gel. I started to walk out of the bathroom but then someone dashed around the corner in the hallway and ran right into me. I bounced off of him. He was a titan of a human about 7 feet tall with dark skin. He had enormous arms and could probably arm wrestle a Machoke. He had a large nose and a face that looked like he smiled a lot. His black hair was neatly buzz cut on the sides and cut short on top. He too was wearing dress clothing.

“Woah! Sorry about that bro.”

He spoke with an Alolan accent.

“Nah you're all good,” I responded casually. Of all the people that I had seen in my short time here, this guy looked like someone I did not want to piss off. “You late for something?”

“Yeah. I woke up late so I was in a rush. You know how it is.”

“Where are you headed to?”

He looked at me like an idiot.

“You don’t recognize me? I’m like the most recognizable person here. Apparently Athena brought in some Kantonian agent to help us with knocking over Kalos’ legendary research facility.”

I raised my eyebrows.

“Really? Isn’t that place really fortified? I heard that they are making lots of progress on releasing Yveltal but not Xerneas.” It was time for me to just try and fit in and learn as much as I could.

“Yeah they are.” He expanded his enormous hand towards me.

“My name is Koa Edena but you can call me Ko or Ed if you want to.” He smiled.

I shook his hand.

“Nice to meet you,” I said simply.

“You new here?” He asked.

“I guess one could say that,” I said as casually as I could.

“In that case, welcome to ALPL.”

“What does ALPL stand for?” I asked.

“It stands for Anti Legendary Pokemon League. We work to disrupt research into releasing legendary pokemon in other regions because that would destroy everything as we know it.”

Suddenly many pieces fell into place. During my time at KSO we had received intel about the UR’s research into legendary pokemon. Sometimes some of their facilities would be destroyed or their scientists would go missing. They blamed us but we hadn’t done anything. This type of thing also happened to The Alliance and it drove the brass mad because they thought there was a leak or a traitor. All along, it had been this organization working behind the scenes. I tried to hide this realization as best I could.

“I see,” I was all I could think to say Koa. If only my friends at KSO knew about this!

“Well, I should be going. there’s a meeting upstairs with Sharp and all the higher-ups. Some of us agents have been invited so it’s safe to assume there’s some sort of briefing and considering that Athena brought someone important in last night it would be safe to assume that it’s a briefing of sorts.”

He checked his cellphone.

“Speaking of which, I’m late” He said with a wink.

“Alright Koa. Nice meeting you.”

“Likewise.” The enormous man walked out of the bathroom and down the hall.

About an hour later I heard a knock on my door. I opened it and there stood Athena. She was dressed in dress wear as well. She wore a gray skintight dress but unlike the dress that she had worn when I first met her, this one went down to her ankles and was much less low cut. A gold necklace clutched her throat with a big green gem that matched her eyes sat above her collarbone. She wore black heels and her makeup was impeccably done.

“You look great,” I greeted.

“Thanks. Did you sleep well?” She asked, almost ignoring my compliment.

“Best night of sleep I’ve had in a while.”

“Good. They’re gonna run you through the grill when you get up there. Mr. Sharp trusts you but I don’t know if the other brass do.”

"Thanks for letting me know. You guys were kind of lax on security for me were you not?”

“No. You weren’t getting out of this building. Almost everyone here is proficient in pokemon battling. Susan, the secretary downstairs earned 3 gym badges in her heyday.”

“I see.” If Athena was right, I had to just keep going with what they wanted me to do.

“Come one. If they decide not to execute you, I’ll give you a tour of this place afterwards.”

On that comforting note, she led me out of my room. The only other person in the hallway was a janitor who was mopping the floor. He had an Abra with a small mop that was helping him. He was mumbling to himself as he worked. As we walked by, he looked up at us quizzically. I walked behind Athena to the elevator and then back to the top floor.

She led me into a large windowless room with a large oval table at the center. The table must have had space for 30 or so people and almost all of the seats were occupied. There was a video camera at the far end of the room which I assumed was rolling. A computer terminal was hooked up to a large projector on the far wall but neither computer nor projector were running.

At the head of the table sat Mr. Sharp, wearing the same outfit as he had been yesterday. To his left and right were a total of three men and one woman all wearing suits and all glaring at me so I felt like I was on trial even though nobody had even said anything yet. There were quite a few other people sitting at the table. Some I could tag as the five people in the front of the room’s assistants. I saw Koa tower over everyone even though he was seated uncomfortably in an office chair. Everyone had a file in front of them which I assumed was at least partially about me. Without a word Athena sat down next to Koa.

“Name.” Without any sort of formalities, the man directly to Mr. Sharp’s right demanded it. He had a pointed nose, a nasally voice and a pair of round spectacles.


“Your name. What is it?”

“Uh Andrew Ross.” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Koa open his mouth silently in surprise.

“Date of birth?” the man two places to Sharp’s left demanded. He was a short, fat man in a pinstriped suit.

“April 9th, 1998.”

“Aleigences?” the woman two places to Sharp’s right spoke up. She had her hair done up in a twisted bun. Her eyes were piercing, not in an attractive way like Athena’s but in a way a fisherman looks for the right place on a fish to gut it.

“What?” I asked again.

“What allegiance do you owe?”

“Erm, I was part of Kantonian Special Operations and I think I still am but I’m not sure.”

“Family Members?” the bespectacled man honked at me.

I took a deep breath.

“My family is all dead.” I scanned the faces of the council, not a single hint or remorse on any of their faces. Usually that got some sort of reaction from people, either good or bad. These four people looked indifferent. It didn't batter too much because it was a total lie. My two parents, brother and sister were alive and well, far from the reach of this shady organization's clutches. Unless they were going to torture the information from me, I could bold face lie very convincingly to them.

“Your occupation?” the man directly to Mr. Sharp’s left spoke. He was a heavyset old man with little eyes and a permanent scowl not unlike a bulldog or Winston Churchill.

“I was an electrician-”

“What is your occupation right now?” He cut me off.

“I work for KSO, I operate outside the wire, mainly collecting intel and providing recon for our soldiers in the event of a military operation.”

“What operation were you performing on the day of August 12, 2022?” Mr. Sharp spoke up. Today was August 18th.

“It was an intel dump. Relatively standard.” I didn’t see any harm in telling them that.

“What was the intel?” bulldog demanded
“I have no idea.”

“I’m sure you don't,” Specticles said sarcastically.

“I don’t know. We never open the provided intel, just move it along.”

“What information can you share with us that we wouldn’t know? I’d like to make sure we have the right man.” the fat guy spoke up again.

“I can’t tell you that.”

“Then we have no way to verify your identity.” He shot back.

“How would that verify my identity? If that’s your only method then I guess ‘we’ can’t. Who is ‘we’ anyway? You guys seem to have power and lots of money as well as an influence but-”

“We’re the ones asking the questions right now. You will answer.” I was cut off by Spectacles.

“Then why do you need me?”

The thin man had not expected a retort and looked at me angrily.

“You guys went to a great length to get me. You deployed one of your best agents and moved lots or resources to get me here. So I am going to leave it to you.” I stood up.

“I’m getting sick of all this mind games stuff when you have an objective that I’m part of. You need me for something so you’d better make up your mind if you need me or are going to kill me. Because I don’t really care either way.” I really did care but they couldn’t see that. All of a sudden I realized something.

“If you can’t get me an answer, I’ll just go back to KSO. At least they were somewhat clear about what they were about. On that operation six days ago You were trying to grab the intel that I was moving as well as me. Well you missed so I’m all you got.” On that dramatic note, I walked out of the room.

Outside the conference room I looked at my shaking hands. I had just performed a dangerous gambit against some really powerful people. If they could control their very own secret organization, they definitely could make me disappear. It had been my only course of action though. I would have probably cracked under their scrutiny and incriminated myself inadvertently. A few minutes later the conference room opened and many of the nameless faces that I had been in there exited the room. Athena and Koa walked to where I was standing.

“Your a fucking idiot. Do you want to live?” Athena looked furious.

“I would have cracked under their interrogation. This way I will at least get a decisive result instead of being thrown in some sort of prison cell for three weeks.”

She paused for a moment and then relented.

“I guess so. Your still stupid for doing this though.”

“That was amazing bro! Or should I say Andrew?"

Koa strode up to us.

"I have never seen anyone talk back to the council like that.” He gave me a fist bump.

“Well if I die, then I’ll at least have that.” My heart was still hammering in my chest. I had played my cards properly though and they should have no other option than going with not killing me.

“Wait. you know Ko?” Athena looked confused.

“As of a few hours ago, yeah.”

“I didn’t know him though. I thought he was just a new hire or something.” Koa grinned at me like I was one of his friends that had just shown up to his birthday party.

“-I wouldn’t have lost that intel. At least we would have a decision with it.” I heard a voice coming from a group of people standing in a circle talking. I saw a short girl with spiky brown hair look in our direction. She wore black slacks and a dress shirt but the shirt and pants were really rumpled. To top off the look, she wore tennis shoes which gave off the impression that she didn’t really care about dressing up.

“I think that sending you on that mission was a mistake.” she leered past me at Athena.

“You would not have done any better.” Athena replied calmly.

“Really? Because I heard that you two lost to a Colossal. A freaking Coalossal. Like how does that get you?”

“We beat it actually,” Athena said, still trying to be diplomatic.

“Then why did you miss extraction?” the girl retorted she walked right up to Athena so they were face to face. Athena towered over her and the girl scowled up at Athena.

“Because Unova sent government agents after us,” Athena said. She was starting to lose her patience.

“They were like you but they were actually hard to beat.” She added, unable to resist.

“You still almost lost to a Coalossal. Also you almost got beat by that loser.” She jabbed a thumb at me.

“Hey if you wanna go. I’ll fight you-”

Koa stepped in front of me.

“I wouldn’t do that.” He warned.

“Why not?” I raised my voice. After having to deal with snobby people interrogating me, I was feeling confrontational.

“You certainly talk a big game. Bring it on!”

“Okay then!” Phoebe said, unbuttoning one of her sleeves. Before she could continue the door swung open and an assistant of the council said:

“Andrew Ross?”

“Here,” I said.

“Please come in here. The council has come to a decision.”

“This isn’t over” Phoebe muttered as I walked past her.

I entered the large room. Without so many people in it, the room seemed enormous.

“Andrew Ross. We have come to a decision.” The fat man said.

“We have decided that your usefulness has not come to an end yet. We need you more than you are a liability. We have an assignment for you and we need an outsider such as yourself to pull it off. You will report to the briefing room tomorrow at 0800 tomorrow. I will have Athena give you a tour of the facility today as well.” Mr Sharp said.

I didn't know what they expected. There was no way I was going to grovel and thank these pricks for my life.
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Chapter 7


Bug Catcher
Chapter 7

“You okay Rico?”

I let my pokemon out of their pokeballs for the first time in two days and my Gengar seemed like he was sad. Rico grunted and shook his head. The big smile he usually had on his face was frowning. I realized something.

“You're sad because you got one shot twice in the past two battles we’ve had.”

Rico nodded.

I reached out to touch him but my hand went right through his exterior. I drew my hand back and tried to touch him again. This time I could make contact with him.

“It’s okay buddy. The first time, you had no knowledge that we were in a battle and Athena’s Gardevoir surprised us both with a dark pulse. The second time was my fault. I threw you right into a Krokodile with boosted attack. Gengar nodded but he still looked sad.

I heard a knock at my door. Recalling my pokemon back to their pokeballs, I answered it. Athena and Koa stood outside my door. Athena was dressed in a black crop top and black leggings. Koa stood behind her in a pair of basketball shorts and a white tank top.

“Sup?” Koa greeted me.

“Well, I’m alive.”

“Every day that you are alive is a bonus. Especially with those council pricks. They do not care about anyone or anything. They just care about achieving their goals.” Koa said.

“Why do you guys stick around here then?” I questioned.

“Some of us believe in their cause. Some of us are freelancers. Some just like how well this pays.” Athena spoke for the first time.

“So what is this ‘cause’ that people believe in?”

“This organization tries to keep both sides of this cold war from succeeding in summoning legendary pokemon because if that were to happen, it would most likely mean the annihilation of all eight regions,” Koa said.

“Okay… That’s a big task.”

“It’s a big organization. This is our main sector but we operate in all the regions to some degree. We have lots of resources and people at our disposal. Most of the people wouldn’t be talking back to those five folks who decided to let you live because they run this entire organization.”

“Where do they get all of the money? It must cost a fortune to run all of this stuff.”

“Money comes in from many places. The council are all rich so they fund part of it. We have interests in various corporations which pay back big. There is an entire subsection on the office floor that is in charge of investments and hiding our money."

“One more question. How is this never noticed? It’s an enormous organization. KSO never found information on it.”

“That’s a complicated answer,” Athena answered my question.

“They are very covert with personnel recruiting and people retiring or leaving here. They picked me up because I didn’t have any strings of citizenship so I was untraceable. Pretty much, they run a very stealthy and tight ship around here. The only reason you are hearing all of this information is because you're disposable. So just know that you aren’t getting out of here with all of that information.”

“Thanks for that,” I grumbled.

“Come on. We’ll show you around the place.” Koa led me down the hallway to the elevator bank.

Koa and Athena showed me the facility. It was impressive that they had managed to set up all of this in total secrecy. There was the office area which I had already been to twice. A floor below that was the amenities section of the complex. There was a pool and sauna area, a rec room where a bunch of people were crowded around a nerdy-looking guy who was playing pinball. There was a den with a bunch of TVs and what looked like a bar. We visited the floor below which had an infirmary and cafeteria. The floor below that was the training floor. There was a large gym with a bunch of machines, punching bags, a boxing ring, and weights.

There was the armory with everything that could ever be needed for combat. Pokeballs of every variety, all sorts of held items from Assault Vests to Choice Bands, Z crystals and type gems, a refrigerator with berries, racks of CD drives with all sorts of TMs, Vitamins for pokemon to boost their stats, a machine that deleted moves from a pokemon’s memory if needed, a wide variety of knives and CQC weapons and there was even a small area for firearms. Soldiers used guns but trainers rarely did because other pokemon could counter them very easily. Steel Type pokemon could magnetize them out of your hand, Psychic pokemon could switch the safety back on to keep you from firing, fire types could detonate the bullets inside the gun and so on. Guns also didn’t work very well on pokemon as they routinely faced worse attacks from other pokemon. Next to the armory was a large room that was training. The room was done up in a style similar to traditional Johto architecture and there was an enormous mat on the floor in the shape of a Pokeball. Loud music with a very heavy beat blasted from a sound system on the ceiling. A few groups were training their pokemon. Sparring and physical pokemon combat. All of a sudden I heard a voice from across the room.

“Andrew Ross!”

I heard Koa mutter:

“Oh shit. Don’t take the bait Andrew. She’s gonna kick your ass.”

The short girl, Phoebe walked across the mat. She was dressed in leggings and a plain gray t-shirt.

“I told you we weren’t done. Now you're gonna fight me right now.”

“Come on Phoebe. You don’t have to do this. What are you going to prove?” Athena tried to step in between us.

“Shut up Athena. You messed up on a mission. You have no ground to stand on.”

I couldn’t resist. The opportunity was right there.

“At least she can stand more than five feet off of the ground.” I retorted.

Phoebe whipped around and sucker punched me in the gut. I doubled over.

“Now who’s taller?” She taunted.

In a louder voice she shouted:

“Everyone off the mat. I’m fighting this moron now!”

My vision started to clear.

“Shit. You good man?” Koa looked in each of my eyes to make sure I could focus.

“Yeah. I’m fine.”

“You don’t have to fight her. I’ll even do it if she's really thirsty for a battle or something.” Athena said. Her expression showed something like concern.

“No. I’ve gotta do this or she’s gonna keep coming after me."

“You ready yet?” Phoebe called from the other side of the arena.

“Yeah, bring it on dipshit.”

Phoebe flipped me off.

“This fight is gonna be under the singles Geovani format,” she announced, tossing three pokeballs into the middle of the Pokeball ring. Geovani format meant that the battelers put their pokeballs in the middle ring and then raced to get their pokeballs in the middle and release their pokemon. The format was invented by the former Team Rocket leader and Viridian City Gym Leader Geovani.

“Sounds good to me,” I responded, unwilling to back down from her challenge. I walked to the center and put Rico, Clair and Lucio down on the floor. All the other people who had been battling before this had moved to the sides of the mat where there were benches to sit on. I walked to the edge of the gym.

“You ready?” Koa asked.

“She’s nothing. I’ve beat Clay.”

“If you say so.” Koa wasn’t convinced.

I put one hand on the back wall of the gym. Koa started to count us down.

“Three, Two-”

Phoebe took off from her wall before Koa said one, getting an enormous head start. I ran from my wall and was halfway to the center but she was already at her pokeballs.

“Air Cutter!” Phoebe’s Skarmory burst out of its Pokeball and launched razor-sharp blades of air at me. I hit the mat and slid, reaching my pokeballs.

“Aura Sphere.” I tossed my Pokeball at the Skarmory but Phoebe was already switching pokemon. A Mienfoo burst from her Pokeball as Lucario blasted the area where Skarmory had been a moment before, completely missing Mienfoo. Lucio was off balance. Mienfoo attacked him and Lucio was totally on the defensive. Mienfoo lashed out with her tails, using them like whips and driving Lucio back.
“Force Palm into the mat!” I ordered and Lucio blasted the sphere into the ground. The massive punch scattered the five pokeballs everywhere. Phoebe and I both fell to the ground as the whole arena shook.

“Zen Headbutt!” The Mienshao crashed right into Lucario. Lucio slammed into the wall, splintering the wood that made up the outside of the wall. I ran across the mat towards one of the pokeballs. Without missing a beat, Phoebe’s Mienshao chased after me. I dove and grabbed the ball.

“Brick Break!”

I rolled away as the Mienshao chopped the ground where I had been moments before. I threw my Pokeball in the direction of Phoebe’s voice and ordered:

“Sludge Bomb!”

Phoebe’s Mienshao rushed away from me to go protect its trainer as I got up and got my bearings. A big puddle of poison lay in the middle of the mat. Phoebe stood behind her Mienshao who was staring down the Gengar. Both of our pokeballs lay on the far side of the mat. I backed towards the other Pokeball. Seeing this Phoebe ordered said:

“Punch through it! Psychic!”

The psychic blast hit Rico but he barely flinched.

“Shadow Ball!” Gengar blasted the Mienshao with ghost-type energy. The bipedal seal-like pokemon, dropped to the ground but before I could make another command, Phoebe’s Skarmory burst from its ball and slashed Gengar across the face. Phoebe took off in my direction. Trying to get to her last Pokeball.

“Focus Blast!” I commanded and Gengar launched himself at the giant metal bird. He collided with it and Skarmory was dazed. Phoebe was bearing down on me now. I took off running to my Pokeball. I heard Gengar roar and punch at the Skarmory. The bird cawed as it fainted. Phoebe reached her Pokeball first and threw it out.

“Game over.” She taunted.

The Weavile burst from its ball and rushed towards me. I was about to throw my ball when I realized that Phoebe had trapped me. I couldn’t release Clair to fight the Weavile because Rico was still at the other end of the gym. He had knocked out the Skarmory so Phoebe could attack me with Weavile. That was why she had tried to attack my Gengar even with her Mienfoo who was weak against ghost type pokemon. The Weavile jumped off the ground and kicked me in the chest, knocking me to the ground.

“Now drop the ball.”

I did as she said. The crowd of people watching the match applauded as Phoebe raised her arms in victory.

“Good game bitch.” she spit on the floor next to where I laid and walked away, her Weavile in tow. I sat up and tried to breathe. I felt like I was going to throw up. Phoebe’s punch and her Weavile’s kick to my gut had mixed up the omelet I had a few hours ago. Athena and Koa rushed up to me.

“You good bro?” Koa offered me a hand.

“What does it look like?” I said, a little bit annoyed but I accepted his hand and he hauled me to my feet.

“We tried to warn you,” Athena said.

“Yeah well I almost won.”

Athena shook her head.

“No you didn’t. She was in control of the battle from the beginning.”

“Did it look that bad?”

“She kinda kicked your ass. You did better than many would but Phoebe has a reason for strutting around here. She wins almost all of her battles by holdup.” Koa said. “Athena, you’re faster than her.”

Athena nodded.

“So in a standard battle format, you can beat her but in the Geovani format nobody can beat her,” Koa said.

“That’s also why she’s always out to get me because I’m better than her at something which she can’t stand. It’s also why I was chosen on the mission to bring you here instead of her.” Athena said blandly as we started walking towards the exit of the training room.

I spent the day with Athena and Koa and it went by very fast. I did a weightlifting workout with Koa and he was an absolute beast. Easily beating me at any test of strength. The three of us ate lunch together and trained our pokemon.

After all of that, I sat alone in the small library they had on the 14th floor trying to gather my thoughts. This ALPL sounded like something that was holding the world together. I was going to have to wait until I would pass judgment on whether I was going to work with this organization or move on but it sounded like they needed me for this job first. So I needed to do that. Then, I would reconsider what my priorities were.
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Chapter 8


Bug Catcher
Chapter 8

I filed into my seat in the briefing room. The room looked like a small theater with comfortable seats and a large TV screen with a projector. There were seven people in the room including me. I saw Athena and Koa in the back row of chairs. Phoebe leered at me from the front row. The geeky looking guy I saw playing pinball yesterday was talking with a man who looked very important in a tan suit. He had been at the meeting yesterday where I had pissed off the council. In the far corner lounged a tall Indian girl who was absently flipping a large coin and catching it in one hand.

“There you are Andrew.” The man in the tan suit said. His tone of voice wasn’t nice but wasn’t mean either. A sort of impartial greeting of someone he didn't know.

“Everyone please be seated.” Everyone was already sitting down but he said it anyway. I grabbed the front seat closest to the door.

“I’m Jerry Evans. You all know why you are here. You are the group that is going to destroy the largest legendary research facility in the Kalos region. They are trying to summon Yveltal and Xerneas as a means of leverage against the Alliance. That is of course assuming they can control the two legendary pokemon and they don’t resume their centuries-long fight. We aren’t going to give them that chance. You six are the strike group against this facility. Now please introduce yourselves.”

Koa stood up first.

“I’m Koa Edna. You can call me Ko or Ed if you want to.”

Koa sat and Athena started to stand up but Phoebe stood up faster.

“Phoebe Di Manuele. Just Phoebe works.” She sat back down.

“My name is Athena Nolland.” Athena spoke.

The tall Indian girl stood up. She was about 6’ 4’’ and slightly skinny with straight black hair and dark brown eyes.

“I am Darla Rose. Call me Darla.” She sat back down.

I stood.

“My name is Andrew Ross. Andrew's fine if you all don't mind.”

“And that leaves me.” Said the guy at the front of the room. “I’m Corey Allen.”

Corey released a Porygon 2 from a Pokeball and hooked it up to the projector.

“Thank you, Corey. Here’s what we have.” Mr. Evans said.

A schematic of the Kalos National Legendary Research Center appeared on the screen. We all knew of the place as it was in the Kalosian papers almost weekly but I had never seen blueprints so detailed of the place.

“This facility is located off the coast, southwest of Shalour City. It has three destinct sections and your job is to get in there with explosives and bring that place down. Here are what you six have been chosen to do: The three going into the building are going to be Di Manuele, Edna and Ross. Long range recon and support is going to be run by Rose. Nolland and Allen, you two are going to run the show from the van and be on extraction.”

We all nodded, accepting our roles but I could tell that Athena looked disappointed that Phoebe was going in instead of her.

“We’re running this with a small group of people to keep it close to our chest. The fewer people who know about this, the better.” Evans turned to Corey.

“Allen. Run us through the plan.”

“Okay. Here’s the play: We hit the place at night because it is teeming with activity during the day, but nobody is there late. The facility has three arms. We’ve labeled them A, B and C. They each specialize in some sort of unique research on a legendary pokemon. Two of them are Xerneas and Yeveltal for sure, we don’t know what the third wing works on. We bought this schematic from someone who could sneak in and download it from the architecture firm who built the place. That man was found face down in a river two weeks ago.”

Corey paused to let that information sink in.

“And we’re still going after this?” Phoebe raised a valid argument. “They know that someone is trying to get in there through the guy they killed. We’re gonna get slaughtered.”

Mr. Evans took a deep breath.

“We know for sure that they don’t know of the sale. They thought that our asset was going to sell them, not that they had sold them. Our digital computer folks have managed to throw them off the scent so they think that Johto was trying to buy the blueprints.”

Phoebe begrudgingly accepted that answer.

“Strike team will enter here.” Cory indicated a door in the front of the building.

“According to our intel, those doors are always open but carefully watched. Each one of you takes an arm of the building and works your way through, planting explosives. There are security guards that you might have to fight past so take them down before they raise the alarm. Darla will cover you with recon and long-range support if need be. You will get the necessary tools to support the strike team’s push into the facility. Athena and I are going to be on extraction and running comms through a van parked down the hill from the complex here.” He indicated a road that ran past the research facility.

“We’re gonna be connected to here by satellite with some limited support but other than that, It’s up to you to get those explosives planted. We’ll get you in and out of there though.”

Evans spoke up again.

“I’ll be quarterbacking all of this from back here with all the computer monkeys we could ever need.” Realizing what he said, he turned to Cory. “Uh sorry.”

“How do we get out?” Koa asked.

“You have exfil via chopper from Geosenge town. The chaos of the facility blowing up will trigger a deployment of first responders rushing there and you all will escape in the smokescreen.”

I raised my hand.

“Why so few people?”

Everyone looked at me like I was an idiot.


“Why are there so few people on the strike team? Shit, with the power you guys wield, you could jam 30 guys into that building and leave no stone unturned.”

After a moment’s hesitation Evans said:

“We need it not to look like a full-blown military operation as that could start a war. Geopolitics being what they are right now. We have to make it look like a terrorist organization or political revolutionary group was responsible and this is the best way to do that.”

“Okay…” I said slowly. It was a strange reason but I accepted it as legitimate.

“When do we leave?” Dalra asked.

“You leave tomorrow morning and you get into Kalos in the early afternoon. We have two safe houses as you are going to be traveling in two groups. The six of you will reunite and hit the facility late at night the next day. Any other questions?” Nobody raised their hand.
“Okay. Go down to the armory and get what you need in the way of items and then come back up here and we’ll go over the building layout and other info you might need.”
The six of us were in the armory. I was trying to figure out what sort of moves I wanted to give to my pokemon for a silent infiltration. After finishing with Rico’s moveset, I walked over to where Dalra was inspecting a yellow berry. She had an Inteleon standing next to her. The blue and yellow pokemon was carrying some sort of gun.

“Pardon me asking, but why are you having your Inteleon carry a rifle?” I asked her.

“It’s not a conventional gun. I made it for Larry who uses it to amplify the power and range of his snipe shot move. I’m in charge of long-range support and this will help his range and power.”

“I see. If you don’t mind me asking, what are your other pokemon?”

Dalra released two other pokemon. She had a Clawitzer and a Ferrothorn. She handed the sitrus berry to her Ferrothorn.

“These are Mike and Robert. I can use Robert as a blind to lay under if someone is trying to find me from the air and Mike protects me and Larry while we are sniping.”

“That’s impressive. Have you always been a sniper with Inteleon?”

“Yes. I was in the Johto army for a while but it didn’t suit either of us. The type of thing we’re doing right now?” She smiled wickedly. “That’s more our speed.”

I ended up not giving Clair, Lucio, or Rico any items as it would probably impair their speed which they needed as part of her role on my team. Just like that, my team was ready to go. I grabbed a long dagger for myself in case of a rare situation where I had to defend myself without my pokemon. I went and stashed these items in my room. We had our outfits for the infiltration already set out for us. I just made sure that there was a black bandana to go along with it.

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Chapter 9


Bug Catcher
Chapter 9

“There she is.”

I was laying on the grass next to Koa and Phoebe looking at the enormous complex. The Kalos National Legendary Research Center was mass. Bright street lamps illuminated a huge parking lot that a plane could probably safely land on. The building itself was a giant three-story complex that had three subsections just as it had shown in the schematic. I secured my black bandana around my neck.

“Let's go blow this thing up,” Phoebe said, removing binoculars from her eyes.

“Spearhead, do you read? Cameras are successfully looped. Nobody’s seeing you.” I heard Corey’s voice over my earpiece.

“Pommel, we are in position.” Koa hailed Athena and Corey in the van.

There was a moment's pause and then I heard Athena’s voice.

“Spearhead, we hear you. Remember you are going to blow out the bottom of the building in the predetermined spots. The other two floors will come down under the power of the explosion Hilt? Do you copy?.”

Dalra’s voice crackled over the earpiece.

“Hilt is in position. I have a good vantage point on the north side of the building. Pommel, I have a thermal feed. From my angle, I count at least 6 figures inside the building.”

“Pommel, are we clear to move?”

“Control said execute. Good hunting everybody.” Corey said.

With that, Phoebe, Koa, and I moved as one through the quiet forest. We reached the end of the darkness by the edge of the parking lot.

“Pommel, disable light in the northwest parking lot.” Koa said.

A moment’s pause. Then, all the street lamps went dark.

“Hilt, any lifeforms have a line of sight to the front door?” Phoebe questioned.

“Negative on any lifeforms with line of sight on you.”

“Let’s move.” Koa instructed.

I swung my backpack with my third of the explosives over my shoulder. The three of us moved out from the cover of the forest and sprinted across the dark parking lot. The empty lot was not small and by the time I reached the door of the facility building, I was out of breath. Koa stepped on the automatic doors’ pressure plate and it silently hissed open.

“Freaky,” Phoebe muttered.

We each grabbed a Pokeball from our belts and prepared to throw it if we needed to. Carefully, Koa entered the building, followed by myself, and then Phoebe. We cleared the giant entryway which looked like a hotel reception area. The large reception room was eerily quiet. There was nobody in the large room. Chairs and couches were scattered around and a large receptionist’s desk in the middle. There were three hallways leading off to the left, right, and down the middle.

“This is my stop yall,” Koa said quietly “Get those charges planted and I’ll see you on the other side.”

“See ya.” I said.

“Get those damn charges set Ross.” Phoebe stalked down the middle hall.

As she left I saw a directory for the building. The three major wings were for Kalos’ legendary trio. Koa had gone into the wing researching Yveltal, Phoebe had gone into the Xerneas wing and I was heading into the Zygarde wing.

I carefully made my down the long hallway. About 30 feet from the reception desk, I reached an elevator bank. Unzipping my backpack, I grabbed an explosive charge out of the bag. The explosive was about the size of a canning jar but it was slightly slanted up to the top. I pulled off a sticker that protected the glue-like adhesive on the bottom and rotated the bottom, arming the explosive. Then, I stuck it to the bottom of the elevator doors. The explosive charge had a red light on it that started to blink.

“Heads up Spearhead 3, you’ve got a lifeform headed towards you.” It was Dalra. I scrambled back to my feet and readied my pokemon. I heard footsteps clicking on the waxed floors. I peeked around the corner just enough to see a man in a police uniform turn and walk toward the elevator bank. And me.

“He’s a guard.” I quietly reported.

“I’ve got a shot.” Dalra said.

“Take it.” I heard Corey’s voice on the other end.

“He’s moving too fast. Spearhead 3, get him to stop moving.”

In a flash of brilliance, I grabbed a Pokeball from my belt and tossed it down the hallway. The ball bounced once, twice, and rolled loudly to a stop. I heard the footsteps stop and then I heard a sharp Sswip! and a body thump to the floor.

“Tango down,” Dalra reported.


I moved out of the elevator bank and grabbed my Pokeball. We would be out of here before any guard would come around again and see the guard’s body but I hid him by the explosive I planted anyway.

I kept moving. The first room I entered was a lab with a whole bunch of test tubes and a big machine that was a giant white box with a big round barrel on top. Multi-colored fluid is pumped through it. I put an explosive right on top of the machine. It was too ominous to not destroy directly.

I moved on, planting explosives in the best spots to cripple the structural integrity of the building. A few times I heard Koa, Phoebe or Dalra take out a guard, but I didn’t come across any more guards in my section. For some reason, that made me more on edge. The false sense of security was eerie.

Finally, I reached what must have been the main lab, at least on this floor. The room must have been 40 feet by 15 feet with large tables and test tubes, microscopes, papers, beakers and all sorts of other sciencey things that I didn’t recognize. I had two explosives left. I walked over and placed one on the leftmost table next to a beaker of green fluid. I looked down at a note that was sitting next to the beaker and it was labeled with a note: Fluid generates a magnetic field that interacts differently with Zygarde cells. Possible to move the Zygarde entity? I placed the charge right on the table next to it. Nobody was going to control Zygarde if I had anything to say about it. I walked to the other side of the room. In a large tank, was a small green blob with two eyes. The eyes looked up at me as I approached. I started in surprise, but the little cell didn't seem to be harmful. Next to it was a smaller tank with a group of green blobs. The green cells stuck to the side of the tank, as if they were magnetized to it. Not magnetized, the cells wanted to merge with the core.

“Uh, guys? They have a Zygarde core and eight cells here already.”

A moment’s pause and then I heard Koa. He sounded like he was out of breath.

“I just got to the main lab as well. They have dark feathers that they think are from Yveltal’s wings. This can’t be good.”

Phoebe’s sharp voice cut over the comms.

“Well, we’re gonna destroy this so get to it.”

“Pommel, you get all that to command?” Koa asked.

“Hold on one moment.” Corey’s voice said. “Yeah, they heard you. Continue with the explosives.”

“Okay. I’m on my way out. See you guys in the foyer.”

“Me too. Spearhead 2, hurry up.” Koa said.

“Yeah, I know. I’m planting my last charge right now.” Phoebe sounded annoyed but then again, she always sounded annoyed.

I was making my back through the corridors when I heard footsteps clicking on the waxed floor ahead of me.

“Rico,” I whispered. I reached for my pokeball, quietly opening it. Rico appeared. He immediately knew what was going on and jumped impossibly high into the air, reaching the ceiling and melting into a black puddle there. I silently retreated into another hallway branch. The guard passed where Rico was on the ceiling. Rico dropped down and noiselessly walked behind him until he reached where the guard’s shadow stretched behind him. Rico melted into the shadow and I could see that the guard’s shadow was now smiling. The sight of the smiling shadow sent shivers down my spine. The guard started to walk more robotically, jerking his arms back and forth and raising his knees higher almost in a march. Rico walked the man to a bend in the hallway and disappeared. After a few seconds, Gengar reappeared without the man. I didn’t know what happened to the guard. I didn't want to know. I recalled Rico and continued down the hallway. I reached the reception desk and saw Koa lounging in the receptionist’s chair.

“Sup?” He greeted me.

“You're not supposed to be sitting there,” I told him.

“You gonna stop me? Are they gonna lift a butt print on me and identify me?” His eyes sparkled with humor.

Phoebe appeared from her hallway.

“If everyone set their charges properly, and you two are done flirting, let's get the fuck out of here.”

We exited the building and into the parking lot. As we walked through the sliding door I could have sworn I saw a dog shaped figure flit around the other side of the building. It looked like it was wearing a green scarf. I shook my head, trying to clear it. We still had to focus on getting out of here.

Phoebe touched her ear, activating her earpiece.

“Pommel, we’ve set the charges. Heading back to you.”

“Good work you all. See you in-” The earpiece went silent and was replaced with ear-piercing electrical feedback. I wrenched it out of my ear and threw it to the ground. The earpiece exploded with an electric pop.

“Shit. We’ve lost comms. We gotta get back to the van!” Koa said.

“Start the explosives! We'll put distance between it and us while it counts down!” Phoebe said, urgently.

“You're right.” Koa dug out a handheld detonator out of his backpack. All of a sudden, every single light in the parking lot turned on at once.

“Fuck! We gotta go!”

Koa pressed the button on the detonator. Now the explosives would blow up no matter what in one minute and 30 seconds. Simultaneously, Koa, Phoebe, and I started to run across the parking lot. All of a sudden a wall of fire roared in front of us. I felt the blast of heat as it stopped us in our tracks. We turned to run the other way only to be blocked by fire on that side as well. A ring of fire about 25 feet in diameter encircled us. Before any of us could say anything, the charges exploded. Fire blasted out of some of the windows and mortar powder. The entire building groaned and listed to one side but then it stopped. Tilted to the left, the building was still intact. It must have been that some of our explosives had not gone off or something.

“No…” Koa was shocked.

“You guys can’t even blow up a building properly.” A new voice reverberated all around us. A human figure walked directly through the fire. It was a woman. She was wearing a black crop top, skin-tight red leather jeans with a black diamond pattern down the legs, and black heels. She had pink hair and ember orange tea shades. On her belt were four pokeballs. We all knew this woman. She was Malva of the Kalos Elite Four.

“I mean seriously, You don’t think that we built this place with sabotage in mind?” She huffed as if we had insulted her. “I personally approved designs presented to me by Team Flare.”

Behind her emerged another figure. A black dog with orange accents and a skull on its chest with a pointed tail and rounded horns on its head. The pokemon was Houndoom.

“Why are you here? Don’t you have political bullshit to take care of or something?” Phoebe was quick on her feet even though I could tell that she was scared.

Malva waved off the question.

“I live in Shalour city. When I killed that leak we had, I thought he hadn't sold the plans yet. For once, I was wrong about something. I still made sure to put my own extra security measures in place. I drew back some of our guards in favor of a state of the art security system. You cat burglars tripped my silent alarm so I had to come and get you or you might damage our equipment. We can’t have that.” Her voice was patronizing, like she was talking to five-year-olds.

“But I needn't worry because you got bad explosives or just suck at placing them to destroy a building.” She smiled.

Beyond Malva, through the fire, I could just barely make out two shadowy figures crawl forward at the edge of the parking lot. It had to be Dalra and Inteleon. There was a long pause as Malva crossed her arms. Finally, she held up a little box that was emitting an electrical hum. It must have been the EMP that knocked out our communication with Corey and Athena.

“In case you were wondering-” Dalra took the shot. I headr a Sswip! as her Inteleon shot at Malva. She twitched her hand and her Houndoom blasted fire behind her, intercepting Inteleon’s snipe shot with a hiss. Malva hasn't even turned around.

Her voice turned cold. “-Nobody’s going to save you.” She turned and launched a Pokeball towards where Dalra was laying. It was too far away to see what exactly happened but I saw a blast of flame.

“Now you three need to come with me-” Phoebe snatched a Pokeball on her belt and but before she could even throw it a Pyroar appeared, seemingly out of nowhere and tackled her to the ground.

“For Arceus’ sake could I talk for one second without being interrupted?” Malva recalled her Pyroar but not before the lion had left a nasty gash in Phoebe’s chest.

“As I was saying, you three are going to come with me and face a tribunal. Then you're going to be executed for terrorism.” She said it so nonchalantly. Like she apprehended terrorists every other day. Maybe she did.

I didn’t know what to do. This woman was faster than any of us, we had no help, Dalra was probably as good as dead, and to make things worse, I heard police sirens in the distance.

Then, I heard something else. It sounded like an explosion but quieter. Boom boom. The sound started to get louder. Boom Boom. It came from inside the research complex. KABOOM. A shockwave blasted everyone off of their feet, knocking out all of the lamps in the parking lot as well as Malva’s ring of fire, shrouding us in darkness again.

My ears were ringing from the blast but I could still hear Malva groaning in pain. I looked back at the science building just as part of the roof was ripped off and blasted into the woods over our heads. Something roared. The roar was not of a pokemon that I had ever known, it was primal and it was pissed. An entire section of the front wall which was made of enormous steel sheets blasted away from the other walls and was propelled 10 feet before coming to a stop. The already crippled building is listed even further to the left. Everybody was shocked. Something was going on in there. Something even Malva didn’t understand.

I heard another roar and the building collapsed. Mortar dust and rubble flew everywhere and our view was obscured for a few seconds as the structure imploded. When the dust cleared, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Standing above the pile of rubble was a snake. But not a regular size snake, this snake was 16 feet tall. It was black and encrusted with green gems on its belly and a cobra-like hood that spiked past its head. The pokemon was raised upright, towering over us. Instead of eyes, the snake had the same green gems but I could tell that it percieved us, analyzing each one of us. Without any sort of acknowledgment of our existence, Zygarde turned back to the rubble of the building and started to smash it into even smaller pieces.

I heard a voice across the parking lot.

“Fire spin!” All of a sudden Malva was trapped in a funnel cloud of flame. She roared and cussed angrily but it didn’t seem to hurt her.
Without even realizing what was going on, I snatched a Pokeball from my belt.

“Aqua Jet!” Clair emerged and launched herself at the Houndoom.

“Let’s get out of here!” Phoebe yelled and we ran towards where a figure was standingwas standing. We reached her but didn’t stop running. Clair returned to my belt as Houndoom made short work of her. As we got closer, I could make out that the shadowy figure was Athena and her Ninetales. She recalled her fox as we reached her.

“We gotta go!” Athena yelled, Joining us in our mad dash away from a very angry Elite Four member. I turned around and saw Malva’s Houndoom start bounding after us. I followed Athena as we ran into the forest beyond the parking lot. Zygarde was still destroying the science facility behind us and I had to assume Malva was free of fire spin by now. We ran deeper into the forest. I could hear the Houndoom breathing behind us as it crashed through the foliage. We ran into a clearing that had a small pond at the edge of it. My foot caught a root and I fell to the hard ground. I tried to move my foot and cried out in pain. The adrenaline was keeping the normal pain away, at least for now. The others noticed that I had fallen.

“Get up Andrew!”
“I can’t. I think I broke my foot.” I said, fearfully.

The Houndoom crashed in the clearing and howled. Before any of us could do anything, the massive dog dove toward me. This time Koa was ready. As the dog flew through the air, Koa Edna dove forward and intercepted the Houndoom and they crashed to the ground. Koa landed in a somersault and stood up. The Houndoom tried to attack him from behind but Koa caught the dog and judo flipped it over his shoulder. Houndoom fell hard onto the ground. Koa moved towards it but it surged up and attacked him. Instantly, Koa met its face with his fist. I heard a Crack! and the force from the punch sent the Houndoom careening back into the foliage.

“Fuck. I broke my hand.” Koa didn’t even sound like he was hurt.

“Dude, that was amazing!"

Koa turned to me, a smile on his face.

“All in a day’s work. Fighting type is good against dark type is it not?” He winked at me.

“Come on. Malva’s still out there. We gotta go.” Athena offered me her hand.

“What are you doing?” Phoebe asked her. “This wasn’t the plan.”

“Do you think that Malva showing up was according to plan?” Athena countered.

“We still have to get the van and keep within the guidelines.”

“If the van is still there. Come on. Before Malva gets here.” Athena spoke urgently.

“What? What are you guys talking about?” I was confused.

“Come on. Get up.” Athena said rather than explaining. I accepted her hand and she hauled me to my feet. Or rather, my foot. I was not going to put pressure on my right foot.

“I would carry you but I don’t think my hand can take it,” Koa said apologetically but he offered his shoulder for me to lean on as I hopped out of the clearing with him, Phoebe, and Athena.

All of a sudden something felt off. Maybe it was a shift in wind or something but I turned around. In the clearing, I turned and saw a pin of light. The light grew in size until it was a ball and then again until it was even bigger. I heard an electrical hum that started at a low pitch but grew increasingly higher.

“Uhhh, guys?” I pointed it out.

“Oh shit.” Athena’s face was almost scared, or at least as scared as I’ve seen her.

The ball of energy grew until it illuminated the forest around it. The hum reached a ear piercing pitch. Then, it shattered. Fragments of energy blasted everywhere. I felt the blast of energy almost knock everyone over. My vision was blinded for a moment. When I could see again, everything was clouded. I felt warm mist on my forearms. The pond at the edge of the clearing had evaporated into steam and had covered the clearing in a gray haze. The temperature had risen very high and my skin felt like it was drying up. All of a sudden, two red dots appeared in the haze. The evaporated water shifted just so I could see the Houndoom, but the demon dog didn’t look the same as before. It was taller and the horns on its head looked less like a goat’s and more like spikes to impale people with. It looked like a creature straight out of hell. I heard a voice.

“You are so done for now, my miserable young spies. Overheat.” I could see Malva deeper in the forest. Her glasses glowed red in the darkness. She commanded her dog from a ways off but was getting closer every second. The Houndoom opened its mouth and blasted a white-hot column of fire out at us. I hit the deck as the blast seared my shirt and back.

“We gotta get out of here!” Koa hauled me to my feet and carried me despite his broken hand. Athena and Phoebe followed after him.
The forest had been set ablaze by Houndoom’s overheat. The massive demon dog lunged for us and barely missed Phoebe who rolled out of the way just in time.

“Reach the third ball on my belt!” Koa gasped. The heat was probably bad for running in and He was almost carrying me.



I grabbed the Pokeball and threw it. A blue and brown Wiscash sprang forth. Houndoom tried to chomp at it with its fiery fangs but the fish didn’t seem to feel it.

“Hydro Pump!” Koa yelled and Wiscash blasted water from its maw into the inferno of a forest where Houndoom had drawn itself back. The demonic dog blasted fire back at us, blocking Wiscash’s attack. The two pokemon struggled for a moment as neither could gain the upper hand. Then, Houndoom punched through the catfish’s attack and launched the Whiscash into the air. I assumed Koa wanted his fish to return so I called it back with the same Pokeball it had come out of.

“Almost there!” Athena wheezed.

Then I saw a projectile fall towards us. It was small and spherical. The Pokeball would land right in front of us and release another pokemon which would stop this chase right in its tracks. Time seemed to move in slow motion. Without thinking I reached out and snatched the ball out of the air, keeping it from hitting the ground and releasing whatever beast Malva had in it. I looked inside and there was a Chandalure. I probably could have kept that Pokeball with one of an Elite Four member’s pokemon in it but instinctively, I hurled it back into the forest from where it was thrown.

“Woah!” Phoebe said, appreciatively. She had seen what just happened.

We broke through the trees and onto a road. There was our van. Athena dropped a Pokeball behind her as she reached the van. I heard her mutter:

“Wide Guard.” As her Gardevior burst from its ball. The Gardevior spread her arms and a purple barrier appeared in front of the van.

“EVERYBODY IN!” Corey called from the driver’s seat. We all tumbled into the vehicle. Corey threw a Pokeball out the window and it landed next to Gardevoir. Porygon 2 emerged from the ball. The Houndoom crashed through the forest and ran right into Gardevior’s barrier. Gardevior shouted defiantly and kept the screen up. Houndoom angrily rammed it again as I saw Malva appear out from the treeline. Houndoom’s third try weakened the barrier even further. One more hit and it would burst through.

“Tri Attack!” Cory commanded and the Porygon 2 blasted three beams of energy. One from its duck-like nose, and two from each of its oval shaped feet. All three hit the Houndoom right in the face. The dog howled angrily. Corey shifted the van into gear as Athena and he recalled their pokemon. Houndoom shot a white-hot blast of fire at the van but it was already moving away. I heard Malva scream,

“NO!” as we traveled farther and farther away from a furious Elite Four member and her demonic dog.

“Holy shit! Do we have everyone accounted for?” Corey looked at us from the rearview mirror. Phoebe, Koa, Athena, and I looked like a pile of discarded dolls. Phoebe had landed in a seat but sat upside down and Koa lay on his stomach in the middle row of the van. Only then did I realize that I had my arms around Athena. I had reached for anything to hold onto as the van had started to move and I had grabbed onto her.

“Shit. Sorry.” I said to her, We were face to face. She met my eyes. After a long moment, she said,

“It’s okay Andrew” and stood up.

“Is everyone okay?” Athena stood up and sat in the middle seat.

“I think we have everyone.” A voice came from the back of the van. Dalra sat on a stool in front of a bunch of machinery.

“You made it!” Phoebe was unable to contain her excitement.

“Yes, I did. I apologize for missing the shot on Malva.” She looked a little bit embarrassed.

“It’s okay,” Athena said reassuringly. “You didn’t miss. She blocked it with a fire-type move.”

Dalra looked shocked.

“She was very powerful. I fought off her Talonflame thanks to Robert and Mike. Ferrothorn blocked the bird’s incoming attacks as we ran and then the Talonflame hurt itself with some type of fire move that knocked out Mike, Robert hit it with a scald but that damn bird just endured it and slashed me.” Dalra showed part of her shoulder that had a line of three nasty gashes in it.

“I made it out but Corey and I had to protect the van from it for a while. Eventually, Malva called it back I think.”

“You all are banged up. I think there’s some first aid stuff on the chopper.” Corey said, turning onto the highway of Route 19.

"I'll be fine for now." Dalra reassured Corey.

A squad of firetrucks roared past us. I looked back and saw the whole forest behind us was ablaze as I sat in one of the seats behind Corey.

“When we lost comms with you, we feared the worst but Athena refused to abort the mission so in she went.” Corey explained.

“It was a good thing too,” Koa spoke up from the back. “She saved our asses.”

“What happened anyway? The building wasn’t destroyed by our explosives.” Athena inquired.

“Because our fucking explosives weren’t enough-” Koa started to talk but Phoebe interrupted him.

“-DX-19s! Like 30 of them. They’re four times more explosive than regular C-4! That place was a fucking bunker. Malva said that it was explosive proof.”

“Then how did we end up destroying the building?”

“Zygarde was there.”

Corey turned around in his seat in surprise. Athena looked shocked.

“Zygarde. Like the legendary pokemon? Like the peacemaker of the Aura Trio? Like the pokemon that protects the environment against human pollution? That Zygarde?” Corey asked.

“Yeah. I think that it wanted to destroy the research facility but couldn’t because it didn’t have enough cores and cells. It got into the building after we did and absorbed the core and cells they were researching. That gave him enough power to assume his 50% form and he started tearing shit up in there.” The information I gave on Zygarde was from a briefing I had received multiple years ago that went over each region's legendary pokemon and how they posed a threat to Kanto.

“Well, I’m glad he did because it helped us accomplish our mission even though it was almost a disaster. Good job people!” Corey turned back to the front and focused on his driving.

I looked back at my teammates. Koa had found some bandages and was helping Dalra apply them to her shoulder with his good hand, Phoebe was inspecting the gashes on her chest and Athena had closed her eyes and seemed like she was falling asleep. I had no idea how she could fall asleep with that much adrenaline coursing through her body. I was ready to punch through the van window and run three miles into the Kalosian wilderness on a broken foot.

“Athena,” I whispered so the others in the back and front couldn’t hear us.

“What?” She kept her eyes closed.

“What were you going to do if we were killed or captured?”

She opened her eyes and leaned close to me so nobody could hear. This time she didn’t smell like peaches. Only burnt wood and smoke.

“I was going to do everything in my power to save you guys. Even if that meant playing the long game of waiting to save you from prison or while you were being transported. Even if Malva made sure you three were going to die. They would have called me back to base if I was with Corey. They would have cut their losses and you three would die. If I couldn’t save you guys-” She lowered her voice even more. “I was going to go on the run. I know how to do that and that would give me the best chance.”

She leaned back and closed her eyes again. As we drove along Route 19, her rhythmic breathing told me that she had fallen asleep.

When we returned to the office building 24 hours later, there was nobody to greet us. I didn’t know what to expect but the place was dark. We rode up the elevator to the top floor. Everyone seemed to be stable but we were a sorry lot. I couldn’t walk regularly, Koa had his arm in a sling and Dalra had her shoulder covered in a giant patch of bandages. We were all really tired and wanted to get this debriefing over with.

The elevator bell dinged and we got out. The same janitor I had seen on my first day was washing the floors with his Abra, muttering to himself as he went. As we got closer to him, I could hear what he said.

“Wash the floor, clean the floor, wash the floor, clean the floor.” Then, his tone changed.

“They’re hiding something. Hiding it from everyone. You need to check it.” Then all of a sudden he dropped his broom and grabbed my arm. His milky white eyes started right at me.

“Check the finances, Andrew. Check their finances, Andrew Ross.” He let go of my arm, picked up his broom and bucket, and walked down the hallway before I could even react to what he had done. I recoiled.

“What was that all about?”

Everybody shrugged, we all were too tired to care.

“...You are all dismissed. Thanks for the report and good work out there. Andrew, would you stay for a moment?” Mr. Evans concluded our debriefing and shut down the projector. He had gotten out of bed to do this but he still looked very dignified somehow.

Everyone else filed out of the room.

“So Andrew, you're done. This assignment was all that we needed you for and you did great with it. Your payment has been deposited into a bank account that you can access anywhere with a 13-digit number. I have also talked with Mr. Sharp and if you feel like you want to stay on here as an operative, we will allow that. You will take on missions like that one but less dangerous for the most part. I can’t guarantee it but you will almost certainly be working with elements of that same team at the top of our agency. So what do you say?”

I had been ready for this question and had given it a lot of thought. If I had been given this choice a few days ago, I would have picked up and left right then and there but working with this team, I realized that this was my first time working with a group that was as good as me. They had a really good deal here. That, and I felt like keeping legendary pokemon out of the hands of governments that would put them to use destroying each other was a good idea as well.

“Mr. Evans, I would love to work with you all here.”

Mr. Evans smiled broadly. I hadn’t seen him happy before so his smile seemed genuine

“Excellent.” He shook my hand.

I limped out of the briefing room and towards the elevator.

“Well? Are you on your way out?” A voice questioned me.

Leaning on a pillar was the beautiful girl who had dragged me into all of this. Once again, she made the connection of information about the fact that Evans had asked me about that. Athena looked like she was in bad condition but we were starting to make a habit of getting injured together. I waved my hand as if brushing away the claim.

“Of course not.”

Athena’s eyes lit up.

“Not with you and Koa being here. Where is there better in the world? How could I ever resist getting judo flipped around by Phoebe?” I continued.

She smiled fully for the first time since I’d known her and she walked over to me and hugged me. I embraced her right in the middle of the dark office area. She held me up as I was still balancing on one foot. I could feel her head resting on my shoulder.

“I didn’t think you were going to stay. I thought you wanted out.” She said quietly in my ear.

“I did but I wanted to stay here for you.” I replied.

We broke apart and she looked me up and down.

Then, she kissed me. Not a long drawn-out kiss but a short lip-to-lip connection that sent little shocks of electricity through me. Athena drew back and looked at me with her beautiful eyes.

“Well, I’ll be seeing you.” She said, almost dreamily. With that, Athena Nolland walked down the hallway back the way she had come.
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Chapter 10


Bug Catcher
Chapter 10

Two Months Later

I ascended the elevator with Athena and Dalra. Once again we were all tired but happy at another successful mission. This time we had successfully destroyed some equipment on Seafoam Islands in Kanto, where they were trying to collect data on why Artinuno nests there. We reached the top floor again and once again we were debriefed by Evans. It was nighttime in Honnen but I was still on Kanto time and so I was wide awake. I took a shower and put my pokemon on the healing station. Corey, Koa, and Phoebe were both on an assignment. Athena and Dalra were in their rooms so I headed to the rec room. I sat down and watched football for a while. Then a movie and I was finally drifting off to sleep.

“...This facade of what we are can’t hold up forever you know. I say we liquidate.” I heard a voice walk past the rec room. It was the unmistakable voice of the man with spectacles on the Council.

I hadn’t seen him since they had graciously let me live. We got orders from them but barely saw the council. Another voice, the Bulldog looking man replied but I couldn’t hear what he said.

I was wide awake now. I scrambled out of my recliner and tiptoed out of the rec room. Peeking outside into the hallway, I saw the elevator doors close. They were heading up. I still wasn’t sure what was going on but my curiosity got the best of me. Quickly and quietly, I walked down the hallway and to the staircase. Each floor was much higher than one story but there was still a very long staircase between the buildings. I ran up the stairs two at a time. It was only one floor but it felt longer and I was out of breath by the time I got to the office floor.

I peeked through the window on the door to the stairwell and saw Spectacles and Bulldog get out of the elevator and walk down the hall towards Mr. Sharp’s office. I needed to get closer. I slowly crept out of the stairwell and into the office area. It was dark except for the glow of a few computer monitors and a light on in Sharp’s office. I crept closer. Voices were coming from the room. I reached the secretary’s outer office. The careless council members had left the door wide open. As I crept into the room, I could make out what the voices said.

“Sharp. We’ve drawn too much attention to this one. CMD won’t be pleased. UR is still on the highest alert. Now we’ve pissed off the Alliance. We’re making big leaps at home. I think we’ve beat out everyone else. We should probably pack up and leave before this info gets leaked.” Spectacles were talking in his unmistakable nasally tone.

“But sir. We are here to do as much damage as we can to both sides so we can gain an edge. That’s what CMD is paying big bucks for.” Bulldog countered.

“We should press on. That core of five that we’ve developed with what’s his name? Ross?" I felt a cold shiver run down my spine. They were talking about me and my team.

"They are so effective at getting the research sites decommissioned. You know that we can do more damage. Yes, We’ll probably start taking some losses but I think that as long as that spearhead of Nolland, Edna, Di Manuelle, Rose, Allen, and Ross stays intact, we should press on. Even if they get caught, we'll be gone before they get any actionable information.”

My heart started to hammer in my chest. I wasn't supposed to be haring this. They were running something. Something that adhered to someone else’s whims. Questions flew through my mind at light speed as I crouched within earshot of the conversation. After a long pause, A third voice spoke up. This one was Mr. Sharp.

“Very well. I will consider these. What of our other matters?”

“Our finances are looking better than ever. With the latest coal embargo set in place by Sinnoh, our holdings in Honnen banks are going to skyrocket.” Spectacles said, nastily.

The three men talked for a while more about the state of ALPL but I knew all of what they were saying. Finally Mr. Sharp dismissed the meeting, sending Spectacles and Bulldog back to wherever they lived when they weren’t here.

I took my cue and as quickly and silently as I could, I slid under the secretary's desk and slipped out of sight. I tried to slow my breathing down so I wouldn’t be heard. The door opened and pairs of footsteps receded down the hallway. My heart was racing. What had they said again? They were taking orders from another source but Koa and Athena had said the ALPL was autonomous. Why were they so concerned with pleasing this controlling group called CMD?

I needed to think this over but first I had to get out of here. Slowly, I crawled out from under the desk and made my way down the hallway of the office building. I was at the elevator bank when all of a sudden the doors started to open with a ding!

In an instant I dashed for the door to the stairs and ran into the stairwell. I could hear voices behind me.
“What the hell?”

“Who was that?”

“I didn’t see.”

That was all I heard before quietly running down the stairs towards the sleeping quarters. On my way down the stairs, I saw the janitor again. What was he doing here? Without looking up he said,

“Now you know too. Remember what I told you.” His gravely voice sent shivers down my spine. He sounded and smelled like he had a really bad smoking habit.

“What? What are you talking about?”

“ALPL is crooked. You need to get out of here before it’s too late.”

“Your crazy old man. This is the best break I’ve had in a long time.” But in my mind, I was starting to have my suspicions. The old man sighed and went back to work.

“If you think I’m wrong. Do as I say. Check the finances.”

“Sure. That’s totally not going to get me killed.” I continued down the stairs.


I lay in my bed thinking about what I had heard. Just the idea that there was someone that commanded that council of prideful jackasses was scary. Who had enough power and influence to do this? I needed to find out. Also, why was that janitor so knowledgeable about ALPL? Sure, he could have heard a few rogue conversation snippets but he was so certain. For that matter, why had he bothered telling me at all? I thought over these questions as I lay in bed, trying, and failing to think of a plan of action until I fell into a fitful sleep.
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Chapter 11


Bug Catcher
Chapter 11

I woke up to something falling over in my room. Instantly on alert, I shot out of bed and raised my arms in a defensive position. Only then did I realize that it had just been Rico, who had knocked over my jar of pencils on my desk. He had a pen behind his ear and had found a pair of reading glasses from somewhere.

“What are you doing Rico? You scared me.” I said, relieved.

Rico grinned broadly and held up a piece of paper with a drawing on it. Rico had taken up drawing in our spare time here and had not improved much past a toddler. This drawing was of myself and Lucio fighting Clay and his Krookodile. The stick version of me had my arms outstretched and seemed to be yelling to stick figure Lucio. Rico had not been conscious during this battle but I guess Lucio or Clair had told him at some point.

“Very good!” I complimented him. Rico grinned happily and hugged me. Somebody knocked at my door. I returned Rico his Pokeball. The pen dropped into the year as he disappeared. I caught it and put it in my pocket.

I opened it and Athena stood in the doorway. She was dressed in black yoga pants with a mint green stripe down the leg, a black sports bra, and of course the belt where she held her three pokeballs.

“How’s it going?” She greeted me.

“Nothin’ much. Didn’t sleep very well.”

“That’s too bad. Are you ready to train? It’s almost 11:00.”

Athena, Koa, Phoebe, Dalra, Corey, and I had been training with each other in between assignments.

“Hell yeah. Just let me get dressed in clothes that will make it softer when you kick my ass.” It would be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited to train with only Athena. We had gotten closer as the days passed. Not at as fast of a rate as I would have hoped. I didn’t want to rush things and spoil them. Athena half smiled.

“See you down there.” She said, Closing the door.

I got dressed in a comfortable pair of shorts and a black polyester shirt. Then, I left my room. Before heading down to the draining floor, I needed to check something. I took the elevator up to the office floor. In my time here at ALPL, I had come to know the building quite well. Still, I had never heard of any sort of "finances section." There was only one other place that it could be.

I reached the locked door that I had noticed on my first day here. Shit. There were too many people walking about so I didn’t have a chance to look at the keypad lock further. I would have to come back later. In stride, I turned back towards the elevator and headed back the way I had come.

As I rode the elevator down to the training floor, my mind was going over my options. I did not doubt that Lucio or Clair could punch their way through that door, but that would be loud and destroy the door irreparably which would not be very stealthy. I could try to guess the code but the door was in plain sight and a random person feverishly punching in combinations would raise suspicions. If I played my cards right, I could probably get Rico in there under the door but I had no idea what it was like in there so I needed to get inside myself. The elevator reached the training floor. I would have to come up with something later.

“Ready?” Athena called from across the mat. She looked really hot in her gym outfit and her black hair was pulled back showing off her green eyes. There was nobody in the gym right now as it was lunchtime and everyone was in the cafeteria.

“Oh yeah.”

There was a pause as we both waited for the other to make a move. Finally, I made the first move. I snatched a ball from my belt and threw it out. I had been experimenting with different ways to draw and throw Pokeball because I had come to the conclusion that bringing it up to throw it overhand was inefficient. Today I was trying a method that involved throwing the ball almost underhand in a flicking motion similar to a “submarine” style baseball pitcher.

Athena’s Ninetales appeared before my pokemon was released. I had gotten closer in draw speed to Athena but she was still faster. Fortunately, I had planned for that. My ball landed right as Athena’s Ninetales fully materialized but Clair rushed out of the ball with an aqua jet. Given the fact that Aqua Jet was a priority move, it hit before whatever attack Ninetales had planned as Clair crashed headlong into the fire fox. The two pokemon crashed into the ground, locked in combat. Ninetales bit Clair on the shoulder but Clair didn’t seem to even feel it.

I thought a command towards Clair. We were working on nonverbal commands. Pokemon had a mental connection with their trainers and when this connection was strong enough and utilized properly, commands could be sent between trainer and pokemon. This time, it didn’t work fully. I had thought of the command of liquidation at Clair but instead, she used aqua jet. Still, it was effective.

Clair’s water-coated claw hit Ninetales right in the face. Athena recalled her fox and ran towards the right. Clair rushed towards her but Athena rolled away from Clair’s slash and dropped a Pokeball mid-roll. Athena’s Vikavolt burst from the ball with a roar. A lot of lightning shot from it and hit Clair as she was still giving chase to Athena. Clair was blasted backward as the bolt hit her. Then she was pulled back to the Pokeball by a seemingly invisible force. This was her ability, Emergency Exit.

It was my turn to evade. I pulled a Pokeball off of my belt and moved laterally to Vikavolt, holding it in my hand. The massive beetle floated a few inches above the ground and moved towards me menacingly. I waited for the perfect moment. The Vikavolt moved closer. Vikavolt lunged toward me. I threw the ball at it as it lunged forward. Unfortunately, I had been just late on my timing. Vikavolt swung its giant mandibles, knocking the ball across the room, and crashed into me. I fell to the floor as Athena’s Vikavolt snapped his pincers menacingly over my head.

“Gotcha.” Athena appeared in my vision. She offered me a hand up.

“I almost had it,” I said, accepting it.

“Yeah. You’re getting better at it for sure. Ready to go again?”

We trained for another two hours until the regular gym members returned and then, we decided to get something to eat. The food here was sublime and today they were serving Tauro steak with beans and mashed potatoes. Rico, Clair and Lucio were happily eating alongside Athena’s pokemon in the area designated for pokemon to eat in the cafeteria.

“So do you know when we’re going out again?” I asked Athena. She had sort of become the leader of our group. Maybe not the leader in theory, Corey ran higher to the top and did all the logistics and planning. But Athena had the final say on everything. Phoebe and I were always arguing and Although Dalra was calm, the one time she tried to step between Phoebe and I there had almost been a fistfight between her, Phoebe and I. Koa was in there as well but Athena was the one who kept everyone together and on task with her quiet confidence in everything she said.

“No, I don’t.” She shrugged. “I asked Sharp about Corey, Koa, and Phoebe and he didn’t give me anything.”

“Okay. I’m sure they’re fine. I haven’t seen Dalra. Where is she?”

“She got up early and headed out for a few days. Doing long-range training with her Inteleon.”

“I see.” I noticed the janitor and his Abra move into the cafeteria with mops and a bucket. “You doing anything else today?”

“Nah. I’m going to a movie tomorrow. Unlike you, I’m able to be trusted” She smiled, leaned across the table, and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek.

“That’s harsh. I’m held in that bad regard?” I asked jokingly. It came as a surprise that the kiss from Athena hadn't completely frozen me in my chair.

“Not by me.” Athena reached across the table and put her hand over mine. We held each other’s gaze for a few seconds. Right before I went in for a kiss, the janitor bumped into me, ruining the moment.

“Coming through.” He grumbled. “Mealtime’s over lovebirds.”

I had been hoping that he would come close enough to make contact with. I grabbed a pen out of my pocket (the very one that Rico had been drawing with this morning) and scribbled a message on a paper napkin.
“Well, shall we?” I asked Athena, balling up the napkin. She hadn’t noticed. I collected my plate and silverware. As Athena and I walked to the dish receptacle, I dropped the napkin on the ground right next to the janitor. The note read:

Help with getting into Financial?
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Chapter 12


Bug Catcher
Chapter 12

I was laying in my bed, tossing an empty Pokeball up in the air and catching it in one hand. It was well past midnight but I couldn’t sleep. My lamp was on as I had been reading a few minutes ago. Rico was happily drawing at my desk, Clair was passing a stream of water between her antennae and her arm. She would summon the water out of her body and send the stream into the air before catching it and reabsorbing it into herself. Lucio was stretched out next to my bed, fully asleep already.

Suddenly, I heard someone outside my door. I sat up and watched as a piece of paper was being worked under the door. Slowly, I rose from my bed and crept across the room. It was the same napkin that I had asked the janitor for help on. My message was still there. I flipped the napkin over. On the other side it said:

Third PC terminal from the left in the second row

My heart started to hammer in my chest. Somehow, he had come through. I gathered my pokeballs and recalled my pokemon. Then, I opened my bedroom door and left my room.

I wasn’t doing anything illegal yet so I pulled my shoulders back and walked confidently to the elevator. I selected the top floor and waited. Everything was quiet on the barracks floor. Almost eerily quiet. The elevator doors swung open and I stepped in. I rode it to the top floor and stepped out.

Now was when I had to be stealthy. Nobody was up here and the lights were dark like usual. I tiptoed down the hall. The light was on in Mr. Sharp’s office. I dropped to my stomach and crawled past his line of sight. There was no way he could see me even if he was looking this way.

I kept walking down the hallway. After what seemed like an eternity, I reached the locked door. I looked at the keypad. And typed in the first number. The keypad made a loud beep! as I pressed the number. I had to resist the urge to turn and run. I took my shirt sleeve and covered the keypad to muffle the noise a little bit. I tapped in the code. The lock clicked and I swung the door open.

Inside there was a large room with what could only be described as a small version of the Mauville Stock Exchange. Bright fluorescent lights blinded me for a moment as I stepped into the room. The door clicked shut behind me. Scanning over the room, there was nobody here but there had been recently. Coffee mugs and plates of half-eaten sandwiches lay scattered around the room. Above the mess of papers and food, a stock ticker rotated the top stocks up on the ceiling At the front of the room, a large board displayed the top 500 businesses and commodities. Desks with computer terminals lay in groups on large tables. Before doing anything, I quietly released Rico from his ball.

“Rico, I need you to stand guard, let me know if anyone is coming in here,” I whispered to him.

He nodded seriously. He knew the gravity of what I was doing right now. I hastened my way to the bank of computers. I pressed a button on the keyboard of one of them and the bright screen turned on. With shaking fingers, I typed in the passwords and prayed that the janitor didn’t leave me out to be caught and executed. I pressed return. The screen flashed Welcome and I was in. The owner of this computer had a ton of tabs open of all sorts. I minimized them until the home scree of a scantily clad picture of the Unovan gym leader Elisa apeared.

“Lovely,” I muttered under my breath.

I double-clicked the program that had information about incoming and outgoing transactions. Then, I navigated the list and sorted it by incoming money. If they were being supported by something or somebody going by the name “CMD” then they were going to be getting money from them. I scrolled through the page, looking for any sort of discrepancy. A repeated name or something. Even the most stable of investments would have slightly different payouts.

As I looked through the list, I saw all sorts of payments from everywhere. This organization had its fingers in all sorts of pies. Everything from power and energy interests in Galar to lumber and oil in Sinnoh. Suddenly, I noticed something. An incoming payment from the same organization. That wasn’t special, except for the fact that the payment was the same amount. I scrolled up and checked it. Sure enough, on the second Tuesday of September and August, a bank account belonging to an organization called Schafer Brothers LLC paid a sum of 15,000,000 to ALPL through a wire transfer. My heart started to hammer faster. Was Schafer Brothers CMD? I minimized the tab and opened another program. This one was conveniently named Known Aliases. It opened a text document listing a bunch of different accounts and organizations. I did a page search for “Schafer” but it came up empty. It wouldn’t be that easy I guess.

I opened an internet browser tab and searched for Schafer Brothers but it came up with no results. Much less ones that could wire over 15,000,000 a month to a rogue organization. This smelled foul. Then, I noticed something. There was a button on the money transfers list that said Trace. I selected all of the Schafer Bros payments in the last two years and ran a trace. All of a sudden I heard a clicking and whirring sound behind me. I whirled around and grabbed for my pokeballs, only to realize that it was a server starting up at the back of the room. It made sense that this trace would take a lot of processing power. I took a deep breath to calm myself. A small bar appeared on the screen showing the progress of the trace.

While the trace was working, I did searches on any sort of terms that I could think of. CMD, Schafer company. I did searches on the computer for anything that would yield a potential result. Nothing.

A quiet ding! on the computer told me the search was done. Heart pounding in my chest, I opened the results. The money had been bounced everywhere. Banks in Mauville to Saffron to Lumiose and everywhere in between. There were at least 20 transfers. The software that pulled this up must have been really strong. The trail went cold at a bank in Castelia city. After that, there was nothing. I had acted impulsively. Of course, ALPL wasn’t going to make it this easy to find out who was funding them.

Dejected, I prepared to log off the computer. I cleared the browser cache and history on all the programs. As I was closing tabs, I saw the text document of known aliases. I had to try it. I checked the bank account number and there was a match! It was owned by a company named Christianson Oil. I searched the browser and it returned a ton of results. The oil company had gotten into its fair share of controversies and lawsuits. It operated mostly in the Alola region and conducted a sizable chunk of offshore drilling there. I clicked on an online repository that kept track of information on large corporations. Christensen Oil had been owned by an entity called Lanakila Holdings. As I dug further I started to feel sick to my stomach. Lanakila Holdings was owned almost fully by the Elite Four member Molayne and his cousin Sophocles. In 2019, the Alolan government bought out Christianson Oil and a bunch of other energy companies from Lanakila Holdings and other conglomerates.

I sat back in my chair trying to quell nausea that was rising in my stomach. How did Christianson Oil end up paying out 15,000,000 a month to an independent organization? The Alolan government owned it meaning they knew all the financials of this corporation right? My stomach dropped as I finally connected the pieces. The realization hit me like a charging Tauros. The Alolan government didn’t care about the payments being made by Christianson Oil because it was the Alolan government making the payments! They were using Christianson Oil and nearly 20 other bank accounts and shell corporations to hide the fact that they were funding ALPL. They were CMD! With all this money, they paid some people to run ALPL and recruit invisible and disposable operatives to do their bidding. ALPL didn’t want to destroy legendary pokemon research because it was dangerous to everyone, they wanted to destroy legendary research to allow Alola to have a legendary pokemon monopoly or at least a huge advantage in the arms race.

I took a deep breath. I hadn't even realized it but I had been hyperventilating. I needed to get out of here! Still, I stayed methodical. I covered my tracks on the computer and shut it down. Returning Rico to his pokeball, I opened the door and crept out of the financials room.

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Chapter 13


Bug Catcher
Chapter 13

I almost made it to the elevator. As I rounded the corner to the elevator bank I almost ran right into a person. I had seen him around enough to know his name was Lial. He was one of the computer people that worked on the office floor on whatever nefarious deeds ALPL wanted him to do.
“Hey! What are you doing?”
“I couldn’t sleep so I went on a walk.”
“Bullshit. You're not supposed to be here.”
“Lial. They're lying to you!” I shouldn't have said anything. I should have just kept walking but I wanted to let the people here know that they were being deceived!
“Who? What? You crazy or something?”
“ALPL. They are lying about preventing legendary pokemon research. They’re controlled by the Alolan government!”
“Stop lying. You're trying to get me to let you go.”
“Why would I lie about that? You need to believe me! Alola runs all this.” I waved my hand back at the office.
Lial's face screwed up like a little child's. He didn't want to believe me.
“No. They. DON'T!” He snatched his Pokeball. I reached for mine. Before Lial could even release his pokemon, Rico hit him solidly on the head and Lial was knocked to the ground, Unconscious.
The elevator bell dinged. Somebody must have heard the noise. I cursed under my breath. Returning Rico to his ball I broke for the stairs. I pounded down them two at a time. Floor 14. Floor 13. Floor 11. I rounded the corner of floor 8 just as a siren began to wail. I kept running. Floor. 7. Floor 6. I was on the fifth floor, then the fourth. A door banged open. Without even perceiving the threat, I snatched Lucio from my belt and threw the ball. Lucario emerged and blasted the open door with an aura sphere. I kept running. There was a man on the stairs below me.
“Hold it right there!" His Crabominable snapped its pincers menacingly. I didn’t have time for this. Fortunately, Lucio acted faster than either of us could. He rushed the man and knocked him back against the wall. The Crabbominable lashed at Lucio but he was too fast. He caught the crab with an elbow and then stabbed it with one of the spikes on the back of his hand. The pokemon fell back and we raced for the door on the bottom floor. I was back in the entryway to the office building. There in front of the exit stood the secretary Susan. Her arms were crossed and for the first time, I noticed three pokeballs on her hip. She didn’t say anything. I didn’t say anything. We both knew that there was no talking the other one out of this. The older woman snatched a Pokeball from her belt and I did the same. She was lightning quick but so was I. Neither of us got the advantage off the draw. Rico burst out of his ball and launched a shadow ball at where the other pokemon appeared. The pokemon dodged and responded with a blast of frost at Rico. He managed to jump high into the air to avoid it.
“Focus blast!” I commanded and Rico shot down from the sky at the other pokemon. The pokemon just barely managed to avoid it and Rico pulverized the tile floor next to it. I got my first good view of the pokemon. It was about three feet tall with purple eyes and two purple spectral hands. Its body looked like a small mini-fridge and it hovered a few feet above the ground. The pokemon swiveled around to face Rico. I grabbed another Pokeball in preparation to switch. Rico lunged forward and the Rotom counterattacked but Rico had feinted his attack. Gengar dodged the Rotom’s attack.
“Shadow Punch!”
Rico turned and punched the little fridge with an uppercut. The fridge closed its eyes and sunk to the ground. Gengar rushed forward towards the secretary but then he too collapsed. He returned to my Pokeball, knocked out. I was very confused but I couldn’t show it. Without missing a beat I grabbed the ball with Lucio in it and threw it. Another pokemon that looked like the fridge appeared. This one resembled a fan. Lucio swung at it but his punch went right through it. The fan counterattacked by sending sharp blades of air at Lucio. Lucario nimbly dodged almost all of them but one caught him in the chest. He quickly moved around the Rotom trying to get to Susan. Susan called her pokemon back. She threw out another Rotom. This one looked like an oven.
“Overheat.” She commanded. The Rotom started to inhale. As it did, the inside of it began to glow hotter. I felt the room temperature rise.
“Aura Sphere!” Lucio rushed forwards and blasted the Rotom with fighting energy. The pokemon teetered but continued its charge. Lucio dove at the Rotom. Rotom swung one of its spectral hands at Lucio. Lucio spun and tried to counter with a jab to the Rotom’s eye. Rotom dodged out of the way just as Lucio brought his other paw around and slashed Rotom across the face. The Rotom hissed and spit out steam in anger. The two pokemon battled hand to hand as a cloud of smoke billowed around them. I couldn’t see what was going on. Smoke stung my eyes. I tried to move closer to the two pokemon but I couldn’t it was too hot because of the oven Rotom to get close. I heard Lucio land a solid blow and Rotom screeched. The smoke started to slowly dissipate. My vision grew clearer until I could see into the cloud. Lucio was still standing. The oven Rotom lay on the ground, unconscious. In an instant, Lucio rushed over to Susan and pointed the spike on the back of his paw at her.
“Let us through,” I commanded as I walked towards the exit. Was it me or did I see a smile on her lips?
“You beat me, fair and square. Go on through.”
Just then I heard a loud crash and three trainers burst through the stairway door. I called Lucio back to his Pokeball and took off running. I ran into the cool open air of Slateport city. It was close to 1 in the morning but the city was still busy. I charged down the street. All I knew was that I had to escape. I looked over my shoulder. There were five people in various stages of dress chasing me. I turned a corner and almost collided with a woman pushing a baby stroller. I quickly apologized and kept running. I had no idea where I was going aside from away from here. A psychic blast shot past my left ear and pulverized a brick wall ahead of me. I looked up. There was a man with a Xatu following me across the building top. I cut to the right as another blast smashed the pavement where I was standing a moment before. Taking a Pokeball from my belt, I heaved it up to the building top. The man turned around and was promptly put out of action by a left cross from Lucio. His Xatu didn’t fare any better as it was hit by a flurry of attacks and went down as well. I didn’t have time to admire my handiwork though. I called Lucio back to his ball and kept running. My feet pounded on the hard concrete sidewalk. I pushed a man out of the way.
"Hey!" He yelled indignantly.
I could feel my pulse rising, I had to lose the agents before I lost my breath. I ran underneath a skywalk and into an open-air market. People were working the stalls with all sorts of exotic-smelling items. One booth advertised Octillery legs. Fresh! Another advertised Sharpedo Soup. A man emerged from behind one of the stalls and tackled me from behind. We crashed into the stall selling Octillery legs. I reached down and pressed the button on the Pokeball by my side and Clair burst to form. She grabbed the man by his shirt and threw him through the roof of the stall with a crash of wood breaking. I scrambled to my feet and kept running, Clair lumbering behind me.
“Move! Move! MOVE!” I yelled as the crowds parted for my Golisopod. A pokemon appeared in front of me. Clair launched forward and tackled it into a booth. I recalled Clair as I burst out of the market and back onto the sidewalk. A woman in a suit appeared seemingly out of nowhere. I had no time to draw my pokemon. She swung her fist right at me. Instinctively, I dodged and countered with a right-hand chop. She blocked it with a precise elbow and countered with a lightning-fast roundhouse kick. I ducked under it and hit her in the chest with a palm heel strike. It didn’t even phase her as she wound up another left hook. I blocked it. I was running out of time. I took a deep breath and rushed forward. The people walking by us on the sidewalk gasped as we both crashed to the ground. She recovered quickly and put me in a headlock. Before she could fully squeeze, I stomped my feet into the ground, hauling myself up to my feet. I bent down and flipped her over my shoulder. She hit the pavement, stunned for a moment and I took off running again. I dashed around the corner. Two men were trying to head me off. I turned around and ran in the other direction. I ran across the street, a car swerved and slammed on the brakes. I hopped up on the curb on the other side of the street. Adrenaline was the only thing keeping me going at this point. A Bravery swooped at me out of nowhere. I ducked, just barely evading its talons. There was a loud nightclub to my left as I ran. The bird swooped again. I dodged and just barely avoided being eviscerated by Bravery's talons again. I rushed towards the nightclub, right past the lines of people waiting to get in. The bouncer tried to block my way in but courtesy wasn’t at the top of my priorities. The Bravery dove down again. I bowled over the bouncer. All of the people waiting in line to get into the nightclub gasped. I got up and shoved my way into the club. Loud dubstep music was blasting from speakers in front of a multicolored dancefloor, crowded with people. A Loudrid was pumping music on a DJ set at the front of the club. I shoved my way through the throng of dancing people and pokemon alike. I looked over my shoulder. The four men chasing me were arguing with the bouncer. He wasn’t letting them in. One of the men got impatient and punched him across the jaw. I heightened my pace through the crowd. The men were getting closer. My shoving through the crowd grew frantic as I tried to get to a door on the far side of the dance floor labeled Employees Only. I pushed through the last line of people and dashed for the door. The closest man lunged forward and tried to trip me but I leaped up into the air, dodging his hands. I pushed through the door. Grabbing Lucio off my belt, I released him. The four men burst through the door and right into Lucio’s wheelhouse. The first man was felled by an uppercut. The second man got tripped up by a leg sweep. The third man tried to reach for his pokemon but Lucio slashed him across the chest with his spike. The final agent tried to back out of the door but Lucio launched himself forward in a flying kick and connect with the man right in the back of the head. I returned Lucio and rushed past gaping club employees. I pushed out a back door and into the small employee parking lot. I picked up the pace again. Not a dead sprint but a casual jog. Just your average runner going for a run in downtown Slateport city at 2:00 in the morning. I saw the Braviary in the sky but the giant eagle flapped overhead without seeing me. Eventually, I dropped to a walk. The adrenaline was fading from my body. I didn’t see anyone chasing me but I kept moving. Finally, I reached an intersection. I recognized this place. A memory from four years ago rushed back into my mind. I had stood right here. I knew this place. This was right near a KSO dead drop. It had been my first legitimate assignment. I turned on my heel and walked to where it was, still trying to catch my breath. A half mile down the road there was a small warehouse. A padlock held the overhead doors closed. Crouching down by the padlock, I entered the code. I knew the code because this very dead drop had been the fallback plan on my assignment. It had been a counterintelligence operation here. We had traced the UR agent to Slateport and I was to eliminate them. Something had gone awry and I had chased the agent through Honnen. In Fortree City, I finally trapped them. Or rather her. She had been a short girl who had refused to give up, even when I called in support. I had fought her in a battle and lost to her Weavile. All of a sudden a realization hit me. That agent was Phoebe. Her hair was different but she had the same build and determined stubbornness. My head hurt. I pinched the bridge of my nose. I would need to mentally sift through all this information later. Right now I need to get out of here. I spun the last dial on the combination lock and it clicked open. I rolled the garage door open into a decently sized room. There was a small kitchen in the corner, a shelf with pokemon healing items, a pokemon healing station, a TV surrounded by a raggedy armchair and three plastic chairs, four cots, and in the middle there were two black cars parked, facing out towards the street. I walked into the warehouse and grabbed the keys to one of the cars. This was pure instinct. I knew exactly what I needed to get in order to make it out of the Honnen region and of ALPL's immediate grasp I picked up a revive and three hyper potions and gave them to my pokemon. It wasn't perfect as only a healing station would restore them to full power but for right now it was going to have to work. I took one of the false passports and a large wad of cash from a shelf in the kitchen. When I walked out of the kitchen somebody was in the main room. In an instant, I snatched at the pokeballs on my belt but suddenly I couldn't move my arms or legs. I was frozen in place. A Ninetales had materialized on the rug next to the TV. Thunder cracked behind it in the night sky.
“After all that?” A voice spoke. It was a voice I would recognize anywhere. It was Athena.
“After all that you’re just gonna try and run? I thought there was more to you.” She stepped forward. In her left hand, she held a pokeball.
“Athena.” I tried to speak and found that I could, even though the paralysis of my limbs.
“Athena. ALPL is not legit. They have a paper trail leading back to Alola and their government.”
“Is that so? How did you find this out?” She retorted.
“I-I broke into the financial sector.”
“Oh, this?” She reached into the pocket of her black jeans and pulled out a crumpled piece of paper, a napkin.
In my mind, I was screaming a thousand curses at myself. How could I have been so stupid to not destroy incriminating evidence? I was an idiot. A dumbass. An imbecile. I couldn't let that on though.
"I saw you writing this. You're not as subtle as you think." Each of her words stung like a Beedrill.
“I got in there and there’s a trail. Athena, you have to believe me!”
Athena stepped closer to me and leaned in to speak quietly into my ear.
“Then why didn't you tell me?” Her voice was venomous. Full of fury. I wanted to move. To run. I wanted to get as far away from Slateport city and Athena Nolland as possible but I couldn't.
“I-I didn't know… I didn’t know if you were to be trusted yet.” I regretted it as soon as I said it.
“Is that so?” Athena leaned back and folded her arms across her black shirt. Her expression was furious. “Then I don’t know if you can be trusted.” My heart was sinking faster than a stone.
“Athena, you need to believe me.” I was pleading with her now.
“Andrew, we’re supposed to be a team. I am… was supposed to trust you.”
“You're talking about a team that ALPL, a corrupt organization put together.” My anger was starting to set in. The betrayal of ALPL’s deception. They had lied to me. I could start to feel the effects of Ninetales’ disable begin to wear off.
“No. I’m talking about a team to keep legendary pokemon out of the hands of the Alliance and the UR.”
I finally lost it. After having the same idea brought into my brain only to be ripped out by the corruption of ALPL, something in me snapped.
“For fucks sake Athena! They are not trying to stop legendary pokemon. They are trying to give Alola an advantage in the legendary pokemon arms race over the other regions at the cost of us! People they’ve recruited just to sacrifice for their benefit.” My voice grew cold as I started to level my accusation. “But you probably knew that already. You seduced me from the first fucking day that you knew me! You weren’t after me! You were after what I was carrying that day. Some juicy intel that Alola wanted ALPL to get their hands on. I was just a side mission. When that intel was destroyed and I was unconscious, you probably debated killing me or leaving me for dead! Except you needed help to get out of the country.” The pieces were falling into place. I made connections that were just as true as they were dangerous. Everything about this was a lie. A tear escaped my left eye.
When I spoke again, my voice was weak.

“I beat Clay when he had you trapped. I saved your life!” I took a deep breath.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have.” I paused again. Then I continued leveling my accusation.
“And then. All that shit of us being together. All that was a farce to get me to help you all destroy the Kalos research center. Not because you thought you believed in the cause but because Alola told you to. After that, you seduced me to keep me there! To keep me in the line of fire for Alola’s interests!”
“Andrew-” Athena started to say something but I cut her off.
“Athena. Tell me, what was my purpose on that mission in Kalos? Tell me why you had to go to all the trouble to pick up some KSO agent to send him on an assignment that any one of your agents could have done just as easily. TELL ME!”
Athena looked down at the ground. A long pause. Enough time for me to remember a short exchange between Athena and Phoebe in a forest clearing in Kalos. Then she said what I had fully expected.
“You were supposed to die there, Andrew. You were supposed to take the fall for us. You were supposed to lay the blame on KSO so tensions would rise even further. Andrew, I had no idea-” I cut her off again.
“I knew it! I FUCKING KNEW IT. IT WAS ALL A LIE!” With that, I had heard enough. I drew my Pokeball. Lucio sprang from the ball and sent a vacuum wave at Athena and her Ninetales. Both of them flew back from the shockwave and crashed into the wall. I bolted for the nearest car recalling Lucio mid-dash, jumped in, started it. Athena recovered and aimed a fire blast at the car. I floored the accelerator. The fire just missed the rear tires of the car. I sped out of the garage into the dark thunderstorm. The last I saw of her was a look of pure shock and betrayal. As I turned right and sped down the street, I saw five people in black suits and umbrellas heading right for the safe house. They were Athena’s backup. She had been there just to delay me until help could arrive. I accelerated the car, turning onto Route 110. The sun started to rise as I drove, only to be blocked out by dark storm clouds. The organization that I thought I believed in was a fake and the woman I had fallen for had been nothing but a deceptive seduction to get me to do Alola’s bidding. I had nothing left except for my pokemon. As I drove down the highway, I started to cry.
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Chapter 14


Bug Catcher
Chapter 14

Four Months Later

The lights were blinding. White fluorescent bulbs shined down from the ceiling onto the grass pitch below. The pitch was about the size of a football field with a white Pokeball shape in the middle. The stadium was sold out and every seat was filled. People came to see the tournament and this was the final round. I stood on the edge of the Pokeball and my opponent stood on the other: she was a woman in a yellowish traditional Kantonian kimono, her straight, black hair held back by a red headband. I had fought my way through 32 competitors in five rounds to face this woman. This was it. The announcer, a man in a tuxedo with a black bowtie, started to hype up the crowd.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the FINAL round of the Celadon city bi-annual gym challenge tournament!”
The crowd cheered. When the cheers died down, the man continued.
“We have seen immense victory and absolute heartbreak during this weekend. Now it all comes down to this. To my left, we have the challenger. He has already obtained two badges and has fought his way through six rounds of battles with Kanto’s best to get here. Pokemon Trainer Andrew!"
I raised my arm and the crowd cheered. It felt genuine. They wanted to see me win, but I had knocked out the crowd’s favorite in the quarterfinals – there were a few mixed reactions. The announcer continued his introduction.
“To my right, we have none other than the gym leader. She has successfully defended her gym in tournaments in the past eight tournaments! Nobody has gotten the Rainbow Badge in nearly four years! Her prowess is only limited by my words, give it up for Celadon’s own, GYM LEADER ERIKA!” The crowd roared. Erika smiled and waved to the crowd as they gave a standing ovation. The ovation lasted a long time as everyone screamed themselves hoarse. Finally, it died down.
“Both trainers ready?” The announcer asked us. I adjusted my fingerless gloves on my hand and shifted my belt slightly to the right. My belt now carried six pokeballs on it. All of my pokemon were ready and now I was too. I gave the announcer a thumbs up. Erika indicated that she was ready as well. Then she nodded to me, an invisible handshake of sorts. I returned the nod.
“Ready? Begin!”
I snatched a ball from my belt and flicked it sidearm into the center of the Pokeball. At the same time, Erika reached inside her kimono and tossed a Pokeball out in an inverted forearm toss. Her ball spun to the side and landed on the left side of the Pokeball marker. Out of her ball burst an Amoonguss. My ball landed a split second later and Julian, my Ferrilagator burst out. Erika had the advantage of the draw. Amoonguss shot some sort of powder out of its mushroom head but Julian managed to dodge out of the way just in time. Ferrilagator lunged forward and slashed the mushroom across the top of its head but it didn’t even phase the Amoonguss. The Amoonguss raised its arms and summoned two grass tendrils out of the ground. Julian ducked underneath one of the tendrils but the other smacked him right in the chest. He fell backward. Jumping to his feet, Ferraligator capitalized on Amoonguss' commitment and rushed forward, biting the mushroom on its dome head. Julian drew back and got ready for his next attack when his eyes started to droop. He shifted back and forth on his two legs and then fell to the ground, asleep. The crowd cheered as I called Julian back and moved to my left. In a lightning move, Erika called Amoonguss back and threw out another ball. A green flower-looking pokemon with purple tendrils around its head emerged and screeched. At the same moment, I called back Julian and threw another ball. Surya my Talonflame emerged with a shriek. Erika had predicted me perfectly. Surya couldn't do anything to her Cradily as it was a rock type and resisted both Tanlonflame’s fire and flying attacks. Surya flapped high up into the air, dodging a gob of purple acid Cradily spit at her. I pointed with my hand and Surya reached the apex of her flight. She dove sharply down at the Cradily, talons outstretched.
“Ancient Power.” I heard Erika speak for the first time. Seven rocks were levitated by Cradily as Surya dove toward them.
“Pull up!” I yelled to Surya. Erika flicked her hand and Cradily shot the rocks at Talonflame. Surya angled her wings and pulled herself out of the dive, gaining altitude rather than diving down. She almost cleared the trajectory of the rocks but the last one caught her tail and she flipped over from the force. She was still traveling super fast but she had lost control. Surya careened through the air trying to catch herself. She crashed into the pitch. The crowd gasped and a few clapped at Erika’s skill. I looked down from the sky to realize that the Cradily was advancing on me. I retreated quickly as the giant plant kept coming. I grabbed the ball that belonged to Surya and recalled her. Cradily dashed forward and snapped at me. I rolled away and threw out Lucio.
“Close Combat!” Lucio rushed forward at Cradily. He launched a flurry of attacks. Kicks, punches, chops, and even a headbutt. Lucario pushed Cradily back, his paws landing vicious punches on its rocky exterior. Cradily tried to snap at him but he nimbly hopped to the side, countering with a punch right between its eyes. The Cradily couldn't defend itself against the vicious onslaught and with a final punch, Lucio knocked it over. The crowd gasped at the turn of events. Erika recalled her Cradily and just stood there. Lucio instinctively wanted to rush forward.
“Wait!” I ordered Lucio. Erika was trying to bait him forward and get a favorable position to send out her next pokemon. She drew another pokeball out of her kimono with 3 fingers. There was a pause – Lucio and I stared down the gym leader. She held the pokeball, ready to react quickly. In an instant, she threw the ball over my head. The ball landed and burst open.
“Now!” Lucio lunged forward but Erika nimbly hopped out of the way of my bipedal fox. I heard ringing behind me. Like something charging up its power. I turned around and instinctively dropped to the ground as a green beam of energy blasted right above my head. The solar beam missed me and hit Lucio in the back, knocking him to the floor. Erika instantly called back her pokemon and threw out another. The pokemon looked like a small dragon but its back was a little apple pie.
“Look out Lucio!” The dragon opened its mouth and a beam of purple energy shot out. Lucio rose to his feet but couldn't get out of the way and was blasted right in the chest. He fell back but he caught himself and went into a back handspring, landing on his feet and holding his arms at the ready. The crowd cheered at Lucio’s resilience but I could see that it was an act. He had been weakened greatly by the Appletun’s dragon pulse. I snatched Lucio’s pokeball off my belt and pressed the button to switch him but before I could, Erika’s Appleton stomped the ground. The whole pitch shook. I lost my footing and fell to the ground. A wave of earth cascaded from the Appletun across the pitch and crashed right into Lucio. Lucio groaned and fell to the ground. The Appletun advanced on me across the pitch. I was laying on my back with my head pointing toward Erika and her Appletun. I had to act fast. In an instant, I grabbed a Pokeball from my belt and tossed it straight into the air. When it fell back down, I kicked the ball backward over my head towards Erika.
“Arthur Ice Punch!” From my viewpoint, I saw Appletun turn and my Metagross’ ice-covered claw smash right into the tiny dragon, instantly knocking it out. Without missing a beat, Erika tossed out another pokemon at my Metagross as she quickly put distance between her and it. I scrambled to my feet. Arthur was facing down a Tsareena. The two legged fruit pokemon snarled Metagross, trying to glean some sort of weakness. Arthur returned her glare.
“Now!” Erika called and the Tsareena lunged forward. Her foot connected with Arthur right between his eyes. He was knocked back from the impact. Tsareena hopped back gracefully. Arthur shook himself and glared at Tsareena. I looked up at the scoreboard on the jumbotron. I was ahead by a pokemon 2 to 1 but one of my pokemon was asleep. I sent a mental nonverbal command to Arthur. In an instant, he shot forward and crashed right into Tsareena. Tsareena was caught off balance and went flying backwards. In mid air, she twisted and landed on her feet, leaving a trench in the grass. Tsareena stood in front of her trainer. Erika signaled with her hand. The pokemon sprang forward towards Arthur.
“Left!” I yelled. Hearing my command, Arthur lunged to his left with all his might. The Tsareena flew past Arthur, missing him by a few inches. She crashed into the ground with a nasty crunch, out cold. Metagross rushed forward towards Erika but Erika’s Amoonguss appeared again.
“Ice punch!” I commanded and Arthur complied, swinging his arm around at Amoonguss, the pesky pokemon shot a burst of yellow spores out of its dome-like head. Arthur ran right into the spores and connected the ice punch. Amoonguss raised both of its circular arms in the air and the light inside the arena intensified. The whole place felt warmer. The crowd ahhhhed at Amoonguss’ power. I tried to have Arthur hit Amoonguss with an ice punch but he couldn't move. Erika switched pokemon. A blue pokemon with a red flower on its head appeared. Metagross tried to attack again but still couldn't move. The Vileplume raised its arms to the ceiling of the arena as if to take in sunlight. Then it shot forward. In a flurry of attacks, Arthur was knocked out before I could even react. The Vileplume jumped off Arthur’s head like it was a springboard and lunged at me. Before it could hit me though, I threw out Rico. Vileplume collided with him instead. Rico punched at the Vileplume but it dodged out of the way and kicked at him. Rico and Vileplume fought right in the center of the pokeball logo in the grass. Slowly but surely, Vileplume pushed Rico backward. Rico was hit by an uppercut from the much faster Vileplume. He flew up into the air and Vileplume jumped up and punched him to the ground. Rico wasn’t knocked out but he was very hurt. Before Vileplume could finish him off I switched pokemon again.
“First Impression!” Clair roared and launched herself at Vileplume. She connected with the flower pokemon and it drew back.
“Bullet seed,” Erika commanded. Vileplume launched a salvo of seeds out of its chest. Three of them hit Clair and they did do some damage but Clair was so hyped up to fight that she was unphased.
“X-Scissor.” Clair held her claws across each other and slashed outward at Vileplume. Vileplume dodged out of the way but Clair swung her right claw around and clotheslined Vileplume as it tried to get behind her.
“X-Scissor,” I called again. Vileplume used bullet seed before Clair could get to her though. A seed hit her right in the chest and Clair returned to my belt. Without missing a beat, Vileplume lunged for me. I ducked out of the way and threw another pokeball down on the ground. Rico emerged. Vileplume jumped up and tried to slam down on Rico but he dodged out of the way and Vileplume smashed a crater in the grass.
“Now Rico Now!” I called. I charged into the fray of the two pokemon fighting. The crowd gasped at my bravery or stupidity. Rico dropped back from his battle and his left foot touched my shadow. In an instant, he melted into it. I felt a cold shiver run down my spine as he disappeared. I felt Rico’s presence in my mind. A second consciousness. If he wanted, he could take over control of my body. But I trusted him and he trusted me. I charged at the Vileplume. The pokemon grinned wickedly as I rushed towards it. At the last moment, I slid on the slick grass like a baseball player. My shadow made contact with Vileplume’s shadow. The flower swung a strike right at me. Before it could connect, Vileplume froze. It stood up ramrod straight. Then it gasped and fell to the ground. I stood up.
“Shadow Sneak,” I said. Rico emerged from Vileplume’s shadow.
“Tch. That was a good play.” Erika admitted. She recalled Vileplume. Then she grabbed a ball from inside her kimono again. The damn Amoonguss appeared again. Before it could do any sort of stupidity to Rico, I recalled him.
“First impression!” Clair roared and smashed into Amoonguss with a fury I had never seen in her before. The mushroom didn't stand a chance. Clair slashed it across the top of its dome. The pokemon tried to shoot spores out of its head at her but before he could, Clair punched it. The uppercut sent Amoonguss flying across the arena. Erika was down to her last pokemon!
“That was good. You beat my ace and even got past Amoonguss.” Erika said. “But it’s over now. You aren’t getting any further.” Clair rushed forward at her. She stood there. Right before Clair crashed right into her, Erika tossed out her last Pokeball. Clair smashed right into the wall. That is what it was. A big spikey steel wall with three green legs and two yellow eyes. I had seen one of these before.
“Watch out Clair!” I called but it was too late. The Ferrothorn spat out seeds from its mouth. They hit Clair and started to grow. Clair tried to rip them away but they kept growing on her. She roared angrily but couldn't do anything and soon she was fully trapped in place.
“Power whip.” The Ferrothorn swung one of its legs out to the side and spun it around like a vertical helicopter blade. Around and around it went, getting faster and faster. Clair tried to move out of the way but she was stuck. Ferrorthorn’s leg smashed into Golisopod, knocking her out. I recalled her and immediately sent out Rico.
“Focus blast!” Rico shot forward right at the Ferrothorn. The energy trailing behind him carved up a trench in the grass. His trajectory was slightly off. The Ferrothorn shuffled ever so slightly to the right. The energy missed Ferrothorn and smashed into the wall. Rico skidded to a halt right in front of the spiky pokemon.
“Gyro ball,” Erika ordered and Ferrothorn started to spin its whole body sideways. Rico tried to punch the spinning pokemon but recoiled, his hand injured by the spiky body of Ferrothorn. Ferrothron churned up grass and dirt as it wound up its attack. The audience was on the edge of their seats, what was going to happen? Ferrothorn shot forward and smashed into Gengar. Rico’s form vaporized for a second before solidifying again as he fainted.
Oh shit. I thought. This was it. I needed a miracle now. Both of my final pokemon were not in a good way to fight this damn Ferrothorn. I held the Pokeball with Suryia in it.
“I need you right now,” I whispered to the ball. I threw Surya out. She was not doing very well. She had a black eye, her tail feathers were all messed up from the crash and one of her wings was bent in a weird direction.
“Come on Surya!” I motioned with my hand and Talonflame flapped her wings. She slowly lifted off the ground, listing to one side and flying sluggishly. She was too close to the ground. Ferrothorn could still hit her there.
“Come on Surya!” I yelled up to her. She slowly gained altitude. Ferrothorn shot seeds out of its mouth at Surya. She leaned to the left, barely dodging all the seeds except for one which landed on her wing and started to grow outwards. It was now or never
“Do it!” Surya cawed and her wings started to glow with heat. The stadium was still hotter than it had been before the battle and I could have sworn it got hotter when Surya heated up. Talonflame screeched.
“COME ON SURYA! FLARE BLITZ!” I yelled. Surya shot down out of her dive, fire trailing her as she dove towards the Ferrothorn. She crashed right into it. A cloud of dust and smoke obscured both pokemon from vision. The dust cleared. There was a crater in the grass and both pokemon lay knocked out at the bottom of it. The crowd started murmuring nervously. Both pokemon were knocked out. Who would they award the win to? Before any conclusion could be made though, I raised my hand, drawing the attention of everyone in the stadium. I reached down to my belt, grabbed a Pokeball, and tossed out my Ferrilagator. He was badly injured and sleeping away but he was not knocked out so I was the last one with a pokemon. The crowd roared. Everyone was on their feet cheering. I looked over at Erika. Her kimono was stained with dirt and mud and she had lost her headband in the fight, leaving her black hair to fall in front of her face. She brushed the hair out of her face and smiled. Then she walked over to me and raised my right arm above my head. The crowd somehow managed to cheer louder. The announcer ran onto the field holding his microphone. When he got to Erika and me, he waited for the cheering to die down slightly. Then he said into it:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the winner of the Celadon City bi-annual gym challenge tournament!” The crowd cheered again. He shook my hand vigorously. A whole squadron of reporters had rushed onto the field, snapping pictures of Erika and I at every angle possible. I can only imagine what they saw. A sweaty, disheveled trainer in grass stained black nylon pants with a black bandana tied to his right knee, a black t-shirt with a red and white vest over it, a backward hat, and black and red fingerless gloves next to a regal gym leader in a kimono who still managed to look good after a crazy battle. She just smiled as the reporters clicked away so I tried to as well. One of the tournament staff handed her a wooden box. The announcer held the microphone close to her as she said:
“It is my honor to present to you the Rainbow badge as a sign of your victory and prowess as a trainer. She dropped down to one knee, opening the box and offering it to me. Inside was a small flower-shaped pin. Each leaf was a different color of the rainbow. I bowed to her and accepted the badge. The crowd cheered. Erika rose to her feet and returned my bow. Then she walked out of the arena, trailed by tournament staff, security guards, and paparazzi.
“How does it feel to win the rainbow badge?” A reporter shoved a microphone in my face.
“It feels great! You know, I’ve worked towards this for a while and now I’ve succeeded.”
“Did you know that you're the first person to beat Erika for the gym badge in three years?”
“I did. I guess that is pretty impressive.” I smiled and the reporter’s cameras snapped away again.
“When your Gengar missed his focus blast, it looked like it was over but you managed to pull through.”
“Yeah. I have Surya, my Talonflame to thank for that. She’s a real trooper.”
“Your Lucario really turned the tide of battle don’t you think? He managed to counterattack Cradily and even up the score.”
“That was an important moment for sure. Lucio has that x factor you know? Something that can’t be measured.”
“That’s three gym badges now. Are you going to try for the eight?”
“I’m not sure yet. I’ll just have to work one gym battle at a time.”
“That makes sense. Thank you for your time Andrew. Congratulations again on your win.”
“Thank you. And thank you all for coming here and all of you tuning in.”
The camera shutter went dark as they transitioned to an analysis booth or commercials and I walked off of the field and back into the locker room.
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Chapter 15


Bug Catcher
Chapter 15

I looked down at the brown liquid in my glass before drinking it down. I set the glass next to three others. It was midnight and the bar was crowded with university students and couples eating food and drunkenly hollering away on the karaoke machine. A man sat down at the bar next to me. When he saw me he did a double take.
“Hey aren’t you the guy who just beat Erika?”
“No. No, I’m not.” I lied to him. The last thing I wanted was to deal with other people right now.
“Oh. You look a lot like him.” He said, disappointed.
A few minutes later, I scraped back my bar stool and pushed my way out of the bar onto the cold Celadon city street. The blustery winter wind blew around garbage and leaves in little circles. I pulled my jacket closer to myself as I walked. Unsurprisingly there were very few people out. I trudged through the cold back to my apartment. The four drinks didn’t sit with me very well but I was still able to walk straight. It had been four months since I had escaped from ALPL. I had to admit that my life was a wreck. I had gone to KSO with the information that I had learned and talked to anyone that would listen. Nobody believed me because I had no proof. Their reactions ranged from thinking that I was committing treason to wondering if I was mentally sane. So I left and took up residence in Celadon city. I had nothing left so I decided to take up the gym challenge to stay prepared for combat readiness. There was no physical reason that I needed to stay in combat readiness but I did anyway. I needed to battle with six pokemon as stated by the rules so I went out and caught three more. I was given Julian when he was a Croconaw by Misty when I lost to her in battle with only three pokemon. She took pity on me and gave him to me. He was by far the youngest of my pokemon but he was already very large, even by Feraligatr standards. Surya, was a Fletchender who evolved into a beautiful Talonflame and Arthur had been sighted by one of the locals by Mount Moon. He had been tearing up the farmland around there for no apparent reason other than he thought it to be fun. I accepted the bounty on him. He gave me quite a fight but in the end I caught him. So far I had three badges: one from Misty, One from Janine, and now one from Erika. The gym challenges had been everything from Celadon’s enormous tournament to a trippy battle in pitch blackness which took place in some pagoda deep in the Viridian Forest against Janie. In addition to that, I entered other tournaments, winning many of them and getting prize money. That’s how I had kept myself afloat financially. ALPL had blocked my account with all my payment for the work I had done there so I couldn't access the millions I had there. I walked into my apartment block where I had been living the past few months and headed inside. On my way up the stairs, I tripped and banged my knee painfully. I dug the apartment key out of my pocket and opened the door. The apartment room was quite nice. It had two bedrooms, one of which I used as a workout and training room, a large living room space, and a kitchen with an island countertop where I ate my meals. I kept it well-cleaned and organized. My mind was starting to get hazy as the combination of tiredness and drunkenness set in. I stumbled over to the fridge and grabbed an electrolyte drink from it. I placed the wooden box with my gym badge on the counter next to a picture frame with my Cascade badge and Soul badge. Then I put my pokemon on the healing station and collapsed on the couch in my living room in front of the tv. I screwed the top off of my drink and chugged a third of it down before selecting the DelphoxNews channel.
“A statement released by Sinnoh’s head of counterterrorism committee Bertha has declared nobody hurt in the incident.”
The headline across the screen read. A violent pokemon battle erupts in Pastoria city. Sinnoh government releases statement. The cameras showed a strip mall. Part of the building had collapsed, windows were destroyed and chunks of the walls were missing.
“Security cameras picked up this footage of the battle.”
The news station cut to a grainy video of two figures running down the hallway. One figure was much larger and heavier built than the other. A few seconds later three other figures clad in black chased after them. The broadcast switched to a different camera angle. The two people being chased stopped and simultaneously threw out pokeballs. Out sprung a Gardevoir and a Wiscash. The Gardevoir sent a psychic blast at the other three people that knocked out the camera feed.
I switched off the tv. Those two were Athena and Koa. I just knew it. Their antics had been finally caught on camera. They were going to run out of luck and be killed. I didn’t know how to feel. I had tried to save Athena and she had rebuffed me. They certainly had gotten away. I knew those two would get out of there. They were experts. This was the first step in their demise though. Now agencies all over the world could see their pokemon and get a good idea of what they looked like. Their height and build. I looked at myself in the dark reflection of the TV. I looked horrible. I had dark circles under my red eyes. My hair stood on end from static electricity. All the happiness I had from winning a gym badge was gone. In a rage, I threw the tv remote across the room. It crashed against the wall with a crunch and slid noisily across the wooden floor. Unsurprisingly, it didn't make me feel any better. I drank a few more mouthfuls of my drink and laid down on the couch. I dozed off to a fitful sleep. Somewhere between sentience and genuine sleep. Suddenly I heard someone knocking on my door.
“Fuck off.” I mumbled at whoever was at the door. The knocking grew louder until the person was pounding on the door. I rolled off of the couch and stumbled to the door. I opened it. On the other side was something that I didn’t expect at all. There was a short girl with spiky hair. She didn’t look good, her right arm hung limply at her side, she had twigs and mud in her hair and she had a nasty scratch on the side of her face. She was clad in a leather jacket and leather pants with a large gold buckle holding them up. The outfit was new but I recognized this girl. It was Phoebe Di Manuelle
She spoke, and I could hear the pain in her voice.
“Help me.”
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Chapter 16


Bug Catcher
Chapter 16

“Holy shit! Phoebe are you okay?”
“What does it look like?” Her voice was raspy, as if she had taken up smoking. Still, she couldn't pass up the opportunity to be snarky. I helped her into my apartment. She plodded in and slumped down onto my couch.
“Do you need something? Food? Water?”
“Water.” Phoebe rasped again. I walked over to the sink, as I walked past my pokemon’s healing station, I discreetly picked up the pokeball with Lucio in it. There was no such thing as being too safe. For all I knew, this could be a trap set up by ALPL. I filled a glass with water and brought it back to Phoebe. She drank it down greedily. When she had drained the cup, she struggled back to sitting upright.
Her eyes darted towards my hand, widening slightly, before meeting my gaze. “Andrew, this isn't a trap.”
“How am I supposed to know that?” I retorted. My response came out harsher than I intended.
“Because I’m not part of ALPL anymore.” She broke eye contact, glancing at the floor.
Wincing, she sat up straighter. Drawing a shaky breath, she continued. “I tried to get out. Like you did. Like many of the others who followed your lead.”
“So you know about the corruption of ALPL?” I interrupted.
“Yeah.” Phoebe responded. “After you escaped, the information got around and things-”
She cut herself off, erupting in a fit of painful coughs. I looked back over at her. Phoebe lay back again, clutching her side. Whatever was wrong with her, it was getting worse.
I rushed to her side, grabbing her hand and holding it in mine. She gripped tighter than I think she meant to.
Slowly, Phoebe sat back upright. Her face was chalk white.
“Phoebe. You need to see a doctor.”
She glared at me, as if she was insulted by my concern. “I’m fine for now. You need to hear what happened.”
She paused for a second, her eyes pleading at me to let her continue. When I didn’t argue, she went on.
“After the information got around, things went to shit in ALPL. There were many agents caught trying to sneak or force their way into the financial division or Sharp’s office. The people were caught and either executed or thrown into prison.”
“Then the escapes started. People tried to flee and ALPL wasn’t having that either. There still was a core of people who were probably in on the conspiracy from day one.”
She paused. I felt a pang of guilt. It was my fault that these people had died trying to escape from ALPL. I squeezed her hand, and she kept talking.
“A few of the escapees got away though and one day, Mr. Sharp was gone. A new leader was put in place. He was different. He ruled with an iron fist. Things got even worse. There were witch hunts for people who weren’t loyal to ALPL. They were committed to keeping this organization together. That’s when I decided that I needed to get out of there.”
She paused in her story. Against my better instinct, I believed every word and my hope was rising. Maybe I didn’t fail. Maybe I was able to destabilize ALPL after all. Phoebe continued with her story.
“I didn’t get out clean like you did. They managed to follow me. That’s how I got this.” Phoebe rolled up her pant leg and pointed to a gash that was bandaged on her leg.
“They chased me… They chased me for two months.”
I raised my eyebrows in shock.
“Two months? Holy shit Phoebe.” She nodded.
“After a while, they tipped the Alliance and UR off about me and so they were chasing me. They played the two major alliances against each other like a kid with action figures. ALPL, Alola- they’re planning something. Something that they don’t want out in the wind. I don’t know what it is. Maybe-” she cut off mid sentence. In a fit of coughing, she fell to the floor.
“Phoebe? Phoebe! Can you hear me?” She opened her eyes enough that I could see that they were milky and opaque.
“I can hear you.” She said with much effort.
“We need to get you to a hospital.” But Phoebe shook her head.
“No. It’s too late.” She struggled and managed to unzip and push aside her biker jacket. Her white shirt was stained with blood. An enormous hole was torn in the fabric right above her hip. Underneath the shirt was a stab wound. The blood radiated out from the injury. I inadvertently recoiled from the sight of so much blood.
“I fought the man with the Colossal. His Drapion… It stung me. I’m not gonna be much longer.”
“No. Phoebe. No no no no no. Come on!” I was starting to panic.
“They killed Mienfoo…. They captured Skarmory…. He’s probably dead now.” Her gaze rested on a point on my ceiling.
“Phoebe. Come on. Let me go get a first aid kit. I’ve gotta have something in there. Anything!”
I tried to get up but Phoebe grabbed my arm. Her grip was surprisingly powerful.
“Andrew, listen to me. You have to stop Alola. They are planning something bad. Bad for everybody.” I sunk back down to my knees. Phoebe reached her arm down to one of her pockets. She drew out a pokeball.
“You need Athena…. Your leaving turned her into someone else. Someone who doesn't care about anything anymore. You two need each other. She’ll help you…. Help you with this. Convince her to trust you. You need to stop Alola.” She closed her eyes. Her voice was getting fainter.
“Take Weavile. Give it to her. Tell her… tell her it’s from me.” She reached her hand out. It was shaking so much that she dropped her pokeball. The ball bounced once and opened and her Weavile emerged. The pokemon didn’t look too great either. He had scratch wounds on his face and a black eye but he could stand.
“Weavile. I’m sorry buddy. I can’t see this through.” A tear escaped her eye and rolled down her soot stained cheek. Weavile grabbed her in a hug. He sniffled and started to cry as well. Phoebe weakly put one arm around Weavile. I was no longer there. The trainer and Pokemon embraced. I felt the memories they shared. All the battles they had fought. The good and bad. The ups and downs.
“I’m not going to be here…. but I need you…. Need you to finish this.” Phoebe met my eyes.
Before she could finish her sentence, the short girl with spiky hair; Phoebe Di Manuelle closed her eyes.
“Phoebe? Phoebe, can you hear me?”
There was no response. Her Weavile looked up to the ceiling and released a cry. A cry of pain. A cry of loss. Weavile sank back down and curled up next to Phoebe. I started to cry. I hadn't been friends with Phoebe very long, (if at all), but she had evidently come to trust me enough to give me this important information. I put my face in my hands and cried. I cried for any of Phoebe’s friends or family she had left behind. I cried because, Instead of living a regular life of peace and happiness, Phoebe had risked her life in order to help her country. Now the only person that knew she was dead was one of the few people who knew that she had been alive at all.
I don’t know how much time passed or how long I sat there with Weavile. My mind was clouded with emotions. Phoebe had not been very nice to me, or anyone for that matter, but that didn’t mean she deserved to die. She didn’t deserve this, after all she went through. I shakily got to my feet and gathered myself. It felt like I had been standing on a carpet at the top of a staircase and someone had yanked the carpet out from under me, sending me careening down the stairs. The whole apartment looked different. Everything looked a darker shade of gray. As if Phoebe’s death had sucked the light out of the room. I heard a thump outside my door. Despite my grief, I was instantly on alert. Weavile heard it too. He returned to his pokeball which I picked up. There was no way I could send him out to fight though, he was really beat up and in a bad emotional way. I warily grabbed my pokeball with Lucio in it and prepared to throw it. I slowly skirted across the room back to the healing station. I heard shuffling outside the door. Slowly, I picked up the pokeball with Julian in my other hand. I waited. A second passed. Then another. There were at least two people outside my door. Then the door exploded off its hinges. I blindly threw Julian towards the door and rolled to the side as a telekinetic blast pulverized the lamp on my coffee table. I heard Julian roar and another blast smashed into the kitchen counter where I was taking cover.
“Iron Tail!” I heard Julian collide into something. I peeked around the corner. A figure had breached through the door and past Julian. He crouched on the other side of the island, still protected by whatever pokemon was blasting psychic energy from the door. He rolled a pokeball across the floor towards where I was standing. In an instant, I sprang up and slid across the counter. I had surprised the man and landed a vicious kick into his chest. He fell to the floor with a grunt. The pokeball opened and I heard an angry squeak. The Raichu lunged forward at me, its yellow cheeks crackling with energy. I had no time to react. We collided and a shockwave blasted me back against the far wall. I smashed into the wall and fell to the ground, plaster dust raining down around me. I couldn’t see very much and what I could see was fuzzy. My pokeball had fallen out of my hand and lay on the ground out of my reach. I saw Julian fighting a gray, bell shaped pokemon that floated a few inches off the ground. As I watched, the bell rotated backwards, exposing the inside part of it and sent a blast of purple energy at Julian. He lunged to the left a moment before the bell started its attack and managed to dodge out of the way. The blast smashed into the TV, pulverizing the screen. The Raichu advanced on Julian. I had to do something otherwise Julian was going to be overwhelmed. In an instant, I made a decision. I needed to overpower these pokemon to get out. I wasn't going to live in this apartment any more.
“Surf!” I yelled towards Julian. In an instant, Julian looked over at me, nodded and lept up into the air. A wave of water rushed out from him in all directions. The wave collided with the Bronzong and Raichu, sweeping them away. I braced for impact as the water crashed into me. I momentarily went under. The water helped clear my mind of its static fuzziness from Raichu’s volt tackle. I resurfaced and paddled towards Julian. Raichu, Bronzong and the two trainers had been washed out of the apartment and down the hall. They lay in a heap, all of them at least temporarily knocked out. The water was slowly draining from my apartment room out into the hallway so when I finally got to Julian, I could stand on my feet again.
“We gotta move.” I said to him, The water had drained down to ankle height by now. I dashed into my bedroom, splashing water as I ran and grabbed my go bag. I knew having a bag ready for a quick getaway would be important eventually. It was the first thing I had done in my new apartment. Now was that day. I broke the picture frame open and pinned my three gym nadges to the inside of my coat. I needed to get out of here. My chest still hurt from where the Raichu shocked me but now wasn’t the time to worry about that. I grabbed my five other pokeballs off the healing station and stuffed them in my backpack. No time to find a belt and attach them. I needed to go now. I was ready. I looked back at the body of Phoebe. There was no time to bury her or even perform rites. The best thing I could do was to tell other people the story of the short girl with spiky hair.

“Rest in peace Phoebe.” I said quietly.
“I-” My voice broke.
“I’ll get them for you.”

She had wanted me to do this and I was going to do it. Phoebe deserved better. I was going back in to confront ALPL If for no other reason than for Phoebe. I grabbed my damp hoodie and started down the hallway.
I descended the stairs and stepped out onto the street. It was freezing cold out, especially with wet clothes. The winter wind whipped about me. I drew my jacket closer to me. The sun was rising across the rooftops of Celadon city. It warmed the pavement I was walking on and began to dry my clothes. I thought about what I was doing. I was going back in. Something I had promised myself that I would not do no matter what. Somehow though, I knew that I was going to have to go back and resolve this one way or another. Otherwise why had I been staying ready for combat? Why had I kept a bag ready to go on the run if not for an occasion just like this one? A convoy of SUVs suddenly turned the corner and roared down the street right towards me. In a moment of panic, I almost ran but my instinct kept me from doing so. If I run, The cars would for sure notice me. I pulled my hood over my head and turned away from the street. All I could do was hope that they didn’t stop. The cars whipped past me. I could feel the blast of air as each one roared down the street towards my apartment. I counted seven cars. None of them stopped. Nobody questioned me but ALPL or Alola had been able to muster that much power in a foreign region so quickly. That was scary. Once the final car was a substantial distance away. I took off running.
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Chapter 17


Bug Catcher
Chapter 17

The ALPL building was deserted. Nobody was coming in or out. That wasn’t the strange part. It was that nobody was leaving the parking garage next to the building in the two hours I had watched it. It was getting late and the regular staff would have been leaving about now on a weekday such as this. I had left Kalos and taken an airplane flight to Honnen. The ALPL building was probably the best place to start my investigation. Now, as I looked at the building, it was empty. They either changed locations or really ramped up security to a level where nobody was allowed to go in or out. I started my rental car. It was time to take a closer look.

I rolled into the parking garage only to find it deserted as well. There wasn’t a single car in any of the spaces. Not even the spaces that were reserved for ALPL’s cars. I remembered the first day Athena had brought me here. The car park had been packed. I slowly drove my car through the parking garage only to come to the same conclusion. Nobody was here. I parked the car by the building entrance and stepped out. The car park was dark. All the lights that normally illuminated were off. My heart hammered in my chest. I took a deep breath and stepped onto the sensor for the sliding doors. Nothing. I stepped off the sensor and back on. The doors still didn’t open. I jumped on the sensor. Still nothing. Giving up, I released Julian and Lucio from their pokeballs. With their help I pried the two sets of doors open enough to squeeze through but not before bending the doors in a way that probably couldn’t be fixed. I was back in the dark reception area. Last time I was here, I had fought Susan the secretary. I wondered if she was okay or if she had been a victim of the chaos that ensued after I left. My boots clicked on the tile floor. I passed a patched scar in the flooring. This is where Rico had smashed into the ground with a focus blast. As I plunged further into the building, it felt as if there was less light. Of course the elevator wasn’t working so I took the stairs. The only sound I could hear as I climbed the stairs was my own breathing and my footsteps on the steps. It was eerie. My steps echoed all the way up the enormous stairwell as I ascended. I reached the 12th floor. I might as well search the place from bottom to top. I slowly opened the door onto the barracks floor. Just like the reception area, the floor was completely dark. Pokeball in hand, I carefully walked down the hall. Somewhere I could hear the rhythmic dripping of a leaky pipe. I reached the first door and tried the handle. The door swung open with a piercingly loud Creak!

I cringed at the noise. After a moment’s hesitation, I looked into the room. It was empty. There was no bed, dresser or healing station. Disappointed, I moved down the hall. All of the rooms had nothing. They were just empty boxes with four walls, a floor and a ceiling. I circled back to the main staircase. Now I needed to check the other side. I wasn't going to miss useful information because of an oversight. Still trying to be as quiet as I could, I went through each room. Nothing. Not even a hint of evidence to what ALPL had been up to or where they had gone. Much less any information about Athena. I was disappointed all the way until I reached the final door on the right side of the hallway. I opened the door and there was a pile of things in the middle of the floor. There were books, different sorts of trinkets, all manner of clothing, paper and pencils were strewn everywhere. It was as if whoever moved the stuff out of this room needed to get things out and didn’t care about all this personal stuff left behind. On the top of the pile was a rumpled dress shirt and slacks. My heart dropped. Quickly entering the room, I searched through the stuff. I had a hunch about who the things belonged to but I couldn’t be sure. At the very bottom of the pile was a book. A well worn hardcover volume. Blue lettering on the front cover titled the book: Recollections. I drew it out of the pile and opened it. The page I had flipped to was dated: 8 April 2017. The entry read:

Today was very different. Like usual, I mopped the floor with the usual competition in training (I still don’t know what we’re training so hard for but I feel like I’m getting better.) I taught Skarmory air slash which helped me cut through an enemy Scizor. After lunch they brought a new agent into the building. She looks really young (maybe late teens, early 20s or so?) In regular fashion, the head agents were brought in to talk with Mr. Sharp about the new acquisition. They said she was very skilled in combat and super fast. I gave her the typical cold shoulder treatment to see how she reacted. She ignored it for a while but finally asked what my problem was which was enough to let me spark a fight but she kept her cool. Of course she wasn’t going to back down from a challenge though. I fought her. Man alive she was fast! I couldn’t get any momentum going and she beat me 3 KOs to 1. Afterwards, she finally introduced herself formally to me. Her name is Athena Nolland.

Shocked, I looked up from the diary entry. The exact same thing had happened to me. Except that I had lost. I kept reading. An entry from May 15, 2017 simply said:

Who does Athena Nolland think she is? Just because she struts around with that thug Koa Edna she thinks she’s hot shit.

I kept reading. The large book held years of Phoebe’s thoughts. It told the story of her rivalry with Athena. It told about assignments and deployments that she had been on. Many of them were downright brutal. According to the book, she had built a cover in Sinnoh over the course of six months. Unfortunately suspicion forced her to return to ALPL before she could get her hands on what she wanted. Phoebe had been staunchly anti legendary pokemon. It was the reason she signed up with ALPL, faking her death with Kalos and joining them. She had been everywhere. Heart beating nervously, I leafed through the diary until I reached the year of 2022. There was an entry on August 5th 2022.

Had a new mission briefing today. We’re going after some intel and a Kantonian agent who is moving it. Athena got chosen for the job (of course) so I’m out. I snagged a role on extraction though.

The next entry was on August 14th.

Waiting at extraction for Athena and the package. They’re a day late. I can’t believe that I’m starting to worry about the safety of Athena Nolland (maybe I am getting soft in my old age lol.) As I’m writing this, the radio’s buzzing. Something’s gone wrong.

August 16th.

I’m almost tempted to not instigate with this new guy. Rumor has it that he beat a Unovan gym leader and considering ALPLs plans with him, i almost feel bad but I’m gonna just have to give it my best shot.

The next day read:

Went about as expected. His ego got the better of him and I beat him but he shows promise. He’s a new addition to the Athena-Koa gang. Apparently he’s going to serve as a sacrificial lamb to help us finally knock over the Kalos National Research Center.

The rest of the book had more entries about events from Phoebe’s point of view. She had been as surprised as I had when I found out about ALPLs connection to Alola. She had worked with them for much longer. I could tell the betrayal had shocked her to the core. I sat on the floor and read through the entries. She described the chaos that ensued after I escaped. One entry caught my eye.

What’s wrong with Athena? Since Andrew left, she hasn't been the same. She hardly talks anymore and only if she has to. It’s now all work and no play for her. I think she genuinely fell for Andrew. Now she’s a shell of her former self. In her ruthless anger, I have to admit that she’s scary.

There were a few more entries about what she had told me back in my apartment before she had died. The final entry was written in a rushed script on the last page of the book.

This is my chance to escape. I need to get out of here before it’s my head on the chopping block. This will be my final entry in this book. If I were a gambler, I would give myself a 1 in 5 chance to get out of here. Whether I make it or not, I hope that you, the reader, can understand my decisions and choices. Or at least understand why I did it. At this point I don’t care. I’ve been in this game for too long. Even though ALPL betrayed me, I still feel like I did good work, keeping legendary pokemon out of the hands of the regions. It's just Alola that is a concern… It’s worth the chance to try and get out.

Below that was a sketch of her escape route and plan. She had marched up to the head of ALPL's office and punched him in the face, that part of the plan was expressly stated. Then she had torn through the information he had in his office. That was probably how she found out about Alola’s nefarious plans. When security came to apprehend her, She broke the window in the office and leaped out of it with her Skarmory. Below the map, the journal said:

If you an ALPL goon reading this book, fuck you. I’m already gone. If not, you need to escape ALPL before you die too. This is Phoebe Di Manuelle. I’m ready to try one more stunt. After this one way or another I’m done.

I looked up from the book and around the room. I could see Phoebe sitting in this room writing in this journal. In my mind’s eye, I saw her close the book and stand up from her desk. Ready to try one last act in her long career. Her escape helped her uncover something nefarious happening in Alola. I looked back down at the floor. All of Phoebe’s stuff was just cast aside. Then I looked back down at her diary and I turned the last page. On the back cover, written in blue ink, it read:
If this book is found, please return it to my brother in Ambrette town with this Post Office Box number: 2559345143.

All of a sudden I heard a voice in my mind.
Shame isn’t it? The voice didn’t have a tone or volume. It was as if someone had just placed words in my mind. I whirled around and there in the doorway stood two figures. One was a fox. It had black fur and a large head of red hair that went all the way down its back. The other I recognized. It was a short man. He wore a gray hoodie and black jeans. I looked up at his face but I couldn’t see it.
“Who are you?” I tried to play dumb, maybe buy some time. My pokeballs were at my belt but I couldn’t draw them fast enough before the Zoroark put me out of commission. Instead of answering, the man twitched his hand towards me. The Zoroark raised both of its arms and roared.
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Chapter 18


Bug Catcher
Chapter 18

All of a sudden, I was no longer in the ALPL building, I was on a hill. The hill looked over a field and a farm with a barn and a large silo. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping. I recognized this place. Down below me, a team of Mudsdales pulled a reaper through the field of wheat. Beyond the field was an apple orchard and beyond the orchard was a forest. The wind blew my hair gently. Prairie grasses enveloped the hill and space between it and the farm. The picturesque scene was ripped apart by a terrified shriek from behind me accompanied by a loud buzzing. Grabbing my walking stick, I raced down the hill towards the noise. I saw a small head pop up from the tall prairie grass and go back under. Out of nowhere, an enormous bee shot out of the sky. I knew too much of the bees. These creatures were everywhere around the farm. The only reason they didn’t infest the farm itself was because my family had a Magmar that warded them off. The Beedrill had the poisonous stinger on its abdomen pointed right at the creature running through the grass. The bee reached the ground and I heard another terrified scream as Beedrill connected with its target. I charged down the hill towards where the Beedrill was attacking the creature. A sharp piece of grass cut my arm. I reached it just as the Beedrill flew off. Pushing through the grass, I saw a little two legged pokemon laying in the grass. He looked a little like a dog with floppy ears and red eyes. The pokemon lay on the ground whining quietly. I rushed over to him. He was badly hurt, bleeding from three sting wounds. The pokemon met my eyes in a pleading manner, wordlessly begging for help.
“It's okay buddy. I’m gonna get you somewhere safe.” Suddenly, the pokemon’s eyes turned from pain to fear. I heard a humming and it was getting louder. I looked up to the sky. Three Beedrill were coming this way. I wanted to run away. That’s what you were supposed to do when a Beedrill was chasing you. Run and hide. But I couldn’t let this poor pokemon be killed. I readied my wooden walking stick. It was a fine piece of wood. I had cut it myself from an Alder tree and hewn it to be the perfect length for a walking stick. It wasn’t a weapon but it was going to have to serve as one right now. The Beedrill were closer. I held my stick ready in front of me. The first Beedrill reached me. I swung my stick and missed its body but I did hit one of its buzzing wings. The pokemon lost its balance and careened past the pokemon and I. The second and third Beedrill buzzed at me. I swung my stick up and cracked the bee solidly on its head. The Beedrill was unphased and kept right at me. I had just enough time to dive to the ground as it buzzed right over me. The third bee came right for me stinger first. Beedrill can paralyze even humans with a sting. Everybody knew that from a young age. You were supposed to stay away from them and their nests at all costs. The bee had its stinger pointed right at me. Right before it stabbed me right in the chest with its stinger, a blue sphere of energy shot over me and blasted the Beedrill. The bee was instantly knocked out and crashed into the tall grass beyond where I lay. I looked at where the blast of energy had come from. The little fox pokemon had its right arm extended and was staring at the spot where he had blasted the Beedrill. A large trench had been cut in the tall grass from the attack’s power. Then the pokemon fell over, fainted. I scrambled to my feet and rushed over to the small pokemon. He was breathing shallowly. I scooped him up and ran for the farmhouse.

I was back in the ALPL building. The Zoroark was carrying me down the hallway towards the elevator. The shadowy man walked along his pokemon, looking straight ahead. We were almost to the elevator. Without even being fully aware of my surroundings, I surged forward and struck the Zoroark with a punch. The pokemon dropped me in surprise. I crashed to the ground painfully. I reached for my pokeballs but the Zoroark roared again.

This time, I was on a beach right next to a small town. I knew this place. It was Pallet Town. Every other Saturday, my parents went to the general store to buy goods for the farm. I looked forward to going into town with them because while they were shopping, I got to battle with the other kids in the town. I was standing in an impromptu ring drawn in the sand. Lucio was staring down a Nidorino.
“Git im!” A boy who was a few years older than I was called to his pokemon. The Nidorino lunged forward. Lucio nimbly dodged out of the way and swung his paw at the poison pokemon. The punch didn’t connect but it forced Nidorino back.
“Do it now!” I called to Lucio. We had been working on a combination of attacks for a few weeks. I had read it in a book from the library. It was meant for Lucarios but I figured Riolu was old enough to at least perform the basic techniques. Now it was time to use it. Lucio rushed forward and attacked Nidorino with a flurry of punches and kicks. The pokemon tried to endure through the devastating attack but Riolu was too fast and powerful. Lucio drew back. The Nidorino was badly injured; on the verge of fainting.
“No! Hang in there Nido!.” The boy encouraged his pokemon.
“Quick Lucio! Force Palm!” Lucio charged right at the Nidorino. The poison pokemon tried to move out of the way but was too injured to get very far. Lucio connected right in its snout with an openhanded strike. Nidorino groaned and fell to the ground. The group of children cheered. I walked over and extended my hand to the older boy.
“You almost had it this time Clarence.” The boy looked down at his feet.
“I guess so.” He accepted my hand and shook it.
“Nice Job Andrew.”
“Yeah good job. Your Riolu is super powerful.” Smiling, I accepted high fives and congratulations from people. I ran the show here. Nobody could beat Lucio and I. Suddenly, I heard the sound of frantic splashing in the shallow surf. Curious, I ran over to the water’s edge. All was peaceful in the calm waves until I saw something flailing in the shallows. The thing jumped and flopped. Trailed by the other curious children, I cautiously moved towards the thing. It was a small brown fishing net. A wave sloshed over the net and it jumped angrily at us. Some of the kids ran away or backed off from the net that was alive.
“What’s that?” One of the kids asked hesitantly.
“Let's find out.” I replied confidently. Grabbing a long stick, I poked at the net. The thing inside the net started writing frantically as I tried to push the net off with the stick. I hooked the fishing net with it but the terrified creature lunged aside, yanking the net off the stick and pulling it into deeper water. Without hesitation or even taking the time to take my shoes off, I plunged after the pokemon into the surf. In a panic, the creature in the net hopped into deeper and deeper water. I tripped on a stone under the water and fell. The thing in the net was heading for a steep dropoff in the ocean. The water went from shallow wadeible to very deep. I struggled up in the water and closed on the net. With a final lunge, I grabbed the fishing net in both of my hands. I struggled to my feet just as a wave smashed right into me. I went underwater. Kicking with my legs. The surface was so close. I was running out of air. I struggled to the surface and sucked in a huge breath of air. Another wave sent me and the pokemon under but I was able to kick up above the surface. The next wave gently pushed me closer to the beach. I hugged the net with the still struggling pokemon tightly to my chest until I reached the shore. Lucio ran up and helped me into the dry sand. I was soaked from head to toe and had lost one of my shoes. My mother was going to be furious about that. The other children expressed their fear and admiration for what I had done but they were a mile away. The pokemon inside the net now had my full attention. It was a small bluish crustacean with purple antennae and a purple tail. Its terrified yellow eyes looked up at me. I started to work the net free of the pokemon. The poor thing had gotten a plate of its shell lodged in the thin twine of the net which cut deep into its skin. The other children dispersed from me as I ignored them to focus on untangling this poor pokemon. They went back to battling and playing in the sand. Slowly but surely, I released the pokemon. As soon as I pulled the last string from the pokemon, it struggled out of my hands and took off down the beach as fast as a shot. Springing up from where I was sitting I ran after it. For such a small thing, it was really fast, especially on sand. The pokemon dashed for a small copse of trees on the far end of the tree. I followed in pursuit. With one final lunge forward, the pokemon skittered up and dove into the hole of a rotting tree. I slowed to a stop, my hands on my knees, trying to catch my breath. I was still soaked; my hair plastered against my head by the water. Carefully, I tiptoed up to the hole in the tree and looked inside. I could see the little creature look up at me fearfully from the hole. I reached my hand into the tree and towards it.
“Andrew? Oh my goodness! Are you alright?” The small pokemon scurried deeper in the hole as Lucio, my mother and father rushed into the trees. She scooped me up in a hug.
“Are you okay?” She said again.
“Yeah. I’m fine.” I grumbled, annoyed that they had scared the pokemon deeper into the tree.
“You're all wet! What happened?”
I told them the story of how I had gone from battling my pokemon on the beach to diving after a pokemon into the ocean.
“Andrew. You shouldn’t have done that! You could have been hurt! Stung by a Tentacool! You could have drowned!” My mother fretted. She pulled off her jacket and tried to dry me off with it.
“I’m fine mom!” I pushed the jacket away.
“There’s a pokemon in the tree.” I pointed at the tree.
“Oh well. It’s getting late. We should be getting back to the farm house.” My dad spoke. I shook my head.
“What do you mean no?”
“I need to stay here and make sure the pokemon is okay.”
“I’m sure it will be just fine, come on.” My mom impatiently extended her hand, trying to grab mine. I stubbornly sat on the ground.
“Come on Andrew. Don’t be like this.”
“I know where home is. I’ll come home when I know he’s safe.” My mom looked at my dad and sighed. They were both tired and didn’t want to deal with me right now.
“It’s getting late.” My dad said. “We need to be getting home.”
“Okay Andrew. If you really want to stay here. Just don’t go into the water. And come back as soon as you make sure this pokemon is okay.”
I fervently agreed and promised not to go into the water. My parents left to go gather my other siblings and head home. Lucio and I sat down and waited. Time crept by slowly. As it started to get dark, I got cold. My clothes stuck to my body as I shivered. The cries of pokemon in the deeper forest broke the silence. Still I waited. Something about how the pokemon had looked at me when I was freeing it kept me there.
It must have been at least a few hours later when I heard noise in the tree again. The little creature wriggled out of the tree. It moved slowly in the cold of night. It wiggled down the tree and towards me and Lucio. I extended my arm. The bug wiggled its way up my arm. The tiny legs on its underside tickled me as it crawled. For some reason, I wasn’t grossed out at it. The little bug crawled all the way up my arm and rested on my shoulders. I looked at it, sitting there. The pokemon met my gaze and smiled happily.

I gained consciousness again. I was laying on my back in the middle of the walkway on the office floor of the ALPL building. I felt my wrists tied behind my back by some sort of rubber cable that chafed my hands. The shadowy man paced in front of me, his footsteps clicking loudly on the polished floor. His Zoroark sat right behind him on one of his desks. I closed my eyes. How had I gone from a happy child catching pokemon on a beach in Kanto to an international fugitive with information that could tear down an enormous, rogue government agency being held captive by a mysterious man and his freaky Zoroark? I feigned unconsciousness but my hands were working feverishly at what felt like a computer charging cable. Suddenly the footsteps stopped. I squinted my eyes so I could see a little bit but it couldn’t be seen that they were opening. Unfortunately, the shadowy man noticed. He pointed at me and his Zoroark raised his arms again.

I tiredly stumbled into my room. It had been a long day. A strenuous day of school followed by a long walk home because I missed the bus. When I got home, my parents weren't very happy with me either. I had gotten into a pokemon battle and a fistfight two days earlier (if it could be even called that) and the message finally got to my parents. The person I had fought made fun of my Wimpod, Clair because he said she was a waste of time. We fought in what might be considered a pokemon battle but probably just looked like us and our pokemon flailing around. He was clobbering me but I ended up standing right next to him during this so I had slugged him across the face. When I got home today, I was greeted by my dad holding a letter from the school. After a very long argument with them, they decided to ground me for 14 days. No seeing my friends, no pokemon training, no going into Pallet Town over the weekend. I had gotten angry and stormed up to my room, slamming my door. A few hours later, we ate a tense dinner and now here I was. I would have pet Lucio or fed Clair some little bug treats that I had bought but my parents had taken my pokemon away from me. I was too tired to do anything else so I just laid down and stared at the ceiling. My room seemed to move further and further away from my consciousness. The next thing I knew, I was in a dimly lit room.
“Hello?” I called out. Nobody answered. I felt a cold shiver run down my back. There was a door in the room. I walked over to it. Then, I heard an unearthly cry. The cry was all around me. It was a shriek, a scream. I covered my ears. It was too loud. Then the screaming stopped. A form materialized. It was a human shape. A very attractive girl in a purple dress and a witch’s hat.
“Who- who are you?” I asked, stumbling towards it. I reached the figure and extended out my hand. The human features of the girl disappeared. In its place was a purple creature with what looked like a witch’s hat and a ragged version of the purple dress. It had three gems indented in its torso and two yellow eyes peeked out from under the purple hat. I tried to scream but no sound came out. I touched my mouth with my hand but I didn’t have a mouth anymore. The purple pokemon laughed. A screechy laughter. Like a knife being drawn vertically against a stone. It laughed and laughed at me. I shrank back against the door. The pokemon slowly started advancing on me. I tried to run but couldn't move my legs. The creature laughed again, relishing my fear. It was right in front of me. Those evil yellow eyes sparkled with humor at what it was doing. This creature was enjoying every second of my fear. A shadowy black tendril emerged from underneath the creature’s dress. The tendril snaked its way across the ground towards me. I again tried to run but I was paralyzed. The tendril reached me and started to snake up my leg. It was freezing cold against my skin. I could only watch in horror as the tendril wormed its way up my leg and then up my torso. It seemed to grow in power as it expanded over my hip and across the small of my back, sucking up my energy. I looked up at the pokemon. Its eyes showed no mercy. The tendril climbed up my neck and towards my eyes and I was helpless to stop it. The tendril grew a sharp point and extended itself in front of my face. The sharp point was aimed right at my eye. Right before the tendril stabbed into my left eye, something happened. A black shadow appeared out of nowhere and slammed into the pokemon in the witch’s hat. The pokemon lost its concentration. The tendril disappeared and I could move again. I ran for the door. Another shadow smashed into the pokemon and all of a sudden I was back in my bedroom, laying on my bed. I shot up, sitting upright. The pokemon hovered right above my head. I screamed in terror and rolled out of bed, falling painfully on the floor. The pokemon shrieked and lunged towards me when out of nowhere something crashed into it, intercepting the creature and knocking it away. Between myself and the pokemon hovered another pokemon. This one was also purple. Its form was abstract, gaining and losing bits and pieces of itself in the air. The pokemon was gaseous as it levitated off the floor a few feet. Two arms floated in the air next to it. Its white eyes glared at the other ghost pokemon which looked the same as it had in my dream. The two pokemon made small noises at each other. Little squeaks and growls. They meant nothing to me but I could tell that they were communicating. The larger purple pokemon screeched at the pokemon protecting me. In response it roared and stuck out its large, pink tongue. The pokemon in the witch hat screeched again and attacked the gaseous pokemon. The two of them collided and the momentum smashed them into my nightstand table, sending my lamp and books I had stacked there crashing to the floor. The smaller pokemon swung one of its spectral hands into the witch pokemon. In response, the witch hat pokemon spat something right in the gaseous pokemon's face which sent it flying across the room. Instead of crashing into the wall, the pokemon’s form seemed to dissipate and it fell right through the wall into the next room but he was gone. I was alone. The witch hat pokemon smiled evilly, finally ready to take its prize and advanced on me. I scrambled back against my desk, reaching for a pokeball with Lucio but it wasn't there. My parents had confiscated pokemon this afternoon. I stumbled and fell to the ground. The three gems on the pokemon started to glow. I heard the hum of energy charging up. The gems grew blinding with power. In an instant, the pokemon unleashed a purple blast of energy. At that same moment, the gaseous pokemon surged out of the ground and intercepted the blast, deflecting it into a wall. The witch hat pokemon screamed in fury and attacked the ghost pokemon. They exchanged blows in the middle of my room. The gaseous pokemon was winning. The witch hat pokemon was winning. It drove the gaseous pokemon back. The witch hat pokemon swung forward, headbutting the gaseous pokemon, sending it flying again. This time, it didn’t have the wherewithal to reduce its density. It smashed straight into the wall and slid down to the floor in a heap.
“No!” I screamed and rose to my feet. The witch hat pokemon advanced on me. The black tendril extended across the floor towards me again. This was not going to happen again. I was not going to let this thing terrorize me anymore. No. Not happening. No this is not happening. No. I thought this over and over as the tendril advanced. I had to do something. I stood up and faced my nightmare. It was slight but I could just pick up the faintest hint of surprise in the witch hat pokemon’s expression. It didn’t expect me to face it with bravery. That gave me strength. I took a deep breath and charged forward at the pokemon. I heard the sound of its psychic blast charging up. I reached where the pokemon was floating in the middle of the room. Without hesitation, I lowered my shoulder and barreled into it. I felt a frigid cold all around me. Its purple form swirled, not fully tangible to my skin. I pushed through it and reached the pokemon laying on the floor. I didn’t have a plan other than to protect this brave creature who had seen me being attacked and saved me from my dream paralysis. I dove forward and grabbed for the pokemon, positioning myself to try and block the blast. My hand touched the pokemon’s body and went right through it to the floor. As it did, the pokemon started to glow. I yanked my hand back in surprise. The witch hat pokemon stopped charging its psychic blast in confusion. The light grew into a ball around the gaseous pokemon and got brighter and brighter until it was hard to look at. The ball floated up off the ground up into the air. Then it slammed down to the ground and shattered. Light fragments shot everywhere. The small gaseous pokemon was no longer there. Instead, there stood a purple bipedal creature. It was close to my height and had two red eyes and an enormous grin on its face. It let out a chuckle as if he thought the witch hat pokemon was funny. The chuckle grew into a thunderous laugh. It howled with laughter at the ridiculousness of the witch hat pokemon. It laughed with such conviction and humor that I had to try not to smile. The witch hat pokemon screeched in anger and started to pull ghostly energy from the shadows in the room. It consolidated the energy into a purplish black ball. The newly evolved pokemon looked at me. As if waiting for me to say something. No. Not say something, give it a command.
“Sh-Shadow punch!” I pointed a shaky finger at the witch hat pokemon. In an instant the bipedal pokemon launched into the air. The witch hat pokemon tried to shoot its ball of ghostly energy at it but he was too fast. The ball missed wide and he was on the witch hat pokemon in an instant. It barely had time to defend itself before a flurry of attacks came after it. Punches, kicks, slashes. The witch hat pokemon howled under the onslaught and floated towards my window. Trying to escape. The bipedal pokemon wasn’t having any of that though. As the witch hat pokemon made a break for the window, he lunged forward and bit it right in the witch hat pokemon right in the neck. The pokemon screeched and collapsed to the ground with a thump. The smiling bipedal pokemon looked over from where he had just felled my worst nightmare and grinned at me.

I awoke for a third time. This time the shadowy man was standing over me, staring intently. Even now, I couldn’t see his eyes, just a dark shadow under his hood. This time though, I wasn’t going to hesitate at my chance. I surged up from the floor and yanked my hands free of the weakened binding on my wrists. Before he could react, I punched the man across the jaw. His face had tangible substance under the dark hood. The Zoroark was still sitting on the desk and tried to put me out of commission but I wasn’t having that. I rolled to the side behind a short cubicle wall, evading Zoroark’s attempt to put me under again. Looking around frantically, I spotted my belt with my pokeballs by the elevator. The shadowy man must have disarmed me after my first attempted escape. The Zoroark smashed through the wall. I stood and tried to run from the Zoroark towards my belt.

I wasn’t in the ALPL building anymore. I was walking up the steps on my first day of high school. The cold winter wind snapped at my clothing. This wasn’t real. I was in a memory. I was in the ALPL building, in the middle of a battle for my life. I focused all my energy, trying to bring myself back to the present moment. The office floor. The elevators. The cubicles.

I lashed out with a kick before I was even fully conscious. It connected with Zoroark. It probably didn’t hurt very much but I did surprise it. I dashed the final 10 feet to my pokeballs. Diving forward, I slid on the slick floor right to my belt. I reached for the first one on the string, turned around where I lay and threw it right at the Zoroark. The ball shot through the air and smacked right into Zoroark’s chest. Arthur roared out of the ball, right underneath the illusion pokemon. The Zoroark grinned as he blocked Arthur’s initial attacks. He was good against the Psychic type Metagross but as Arthur redoubled his attacks, the Zoroark found himself on the defensive. Aethur smashed into the Zoroark with one of his heavy metal arms, his metal claws dug deep into the Zoroark’s skin and the pokemon howled. Arthur swung another attack but before it could connect, the Zoroark disappeared in a flash of light. The light seemed to be sucked in a direction, back down the walkway to the shadowy man had risen to his feet and held out Zoroark’s pokeball in his right hand. I picked up my belt of pokeballs. There was no time to reattach the belt so I held it in my hand. I thought a nonverbal command towards Arthur. He picked up on the nonverbal commands best of all my new pokemon because his supercomputer level brain power received even the most subtle of signals from me. Arthur shot a psychic blast at the shadowy man. In an instant, he dove out of the way behind a desk. Arthur gave chase. He focused for a moment and sent a psychic blast at the wall where the shadowy man had hidden. The purple beam cut right through the cubicle wall and the desk. The shadowy man had vanished. All of a sudden. A beam of purple energy shot out of the darkenss and smashed right into Arthur. The beam had come from deeper into the office cubicles where there wasn’t any light to see who or what had just hit Arthur. It had barely phased Metagross though. He angrily stormed towards the direction the beam came from, shaking the ground and smashing desks and office chairs out of his way. I followed him. A second beam shot out from the dark. This time Arthur dodged out of the way.
“Psychic!” I commanded. Arthur blasted a beam out of his front left arm. The beam cleaved through a cubicle wall and shot into the dark. In an instant, it rebounded off some invisible force and ricocheted up to the ceiling, punching a large hole there. Then I heard a sound behind us. The sound of a pokeball opening. It had been a decoy! I whirled around just in time to see the damn Zoroark standing next to the shadowy man. The Zoroark locked eyes with me and I was no longer in the ALPL building.

I was sitting in the back of a car. The tinted windows had little droplets of rain sliding towards the rear of the car as we drove. The rain pattered on the roof of the car. I didn’t know who the driver was. Her dark sunglasses obscured her eyes from view as she looked back at me in the rearview mirror. The car turned onto Route 1.
“Hey. Do you know what all this is about?” I asked the driver.
“I can’t tell you.” She said, accelerating the car.
“So you can’t tell me where the government is taking me? Sounds like kidnapping to me.” I retorted sarcastically.
“You can walk if you want.” The lady said.
“Can you at least tell me where you are taking me?” I asked. “Pretty please?” The woman hesitated and then relented.
“Fine. We’re taking you back to your house. There’s something there that you need to see there. That’s all I can say.”
Why did the government have such an interest in my family’s house? Was my family okay? Did something horrible happen? I pulled my phone out of my pocket and tried to call the house landline. Nothing. Not even a ring. The line had been disconnected. What had happened to them?
The scene shifted forward again. I was sitting in the office of some important government agent. He said:
“Andrew, for the last time, your family has been and will be safe. We have them under 24/7 watch. Nobody’s getting through. It would be a liability to let you go see them.” The emotion I felt was hard to describe. It was a combination of determination, desperation, sadness and anger. I understood why I wasn’t allowed to see my family. It would be dangerous for their sake as well as mine. I knew that I was being trailed right now. UR knew this meeting was taking place but I so desperately wanted to see their faces again. My thoughts were cut off by blackness. I saw nothing, experienced nothing. Then a message flashed in my consciousness. 1826 Starley Lane, Fuschia City, Kanto.
What was that address? It wasn’t any address that I knew… Why had the shadowy man gone at such great lengths to show it to me after pulling memories about my family out of my consciousness? I was still floating in blackness. I needed to get out of here. Then it hit me. The government car. The office. The address. They all connected. My family. They had been relocated to Fuscha after the incident on our farm. The shadowy man knew. He knew where my family lived! He was going after my family! I needed to get out of here! Escape this limbo of Zoroark’s illusion. I opened my mouth and screamed a silent scream, focusing all my energy on the present moment. I was fighting the man who had the audacity to threaten my family. They weren’t involved in the slightest! The illusion started to fade. Just a little bit more…

I felt my conscience slowly slip back into my body. I felt dizzy. Like I had just been on a roller coaster. Arthur was fighting the Zoroark in a destroyed office cubicle to my left. The walls had been punched through, desks were smashed and computers had been ripped out of their outlets. The shadowy man stood on the far end of the path. As I watched, he released another pokeball and a blue-shelled crustacean slithered towards Arthur. I took a deep breath to try and calm my nausea. Then, without even looking in my direction, the shadowy man spoke in my mind.
“It's a shame what happened. Zoroark is always good at conjuring illusions. They’re especially good when he can pull them right from your memory.”
“You bastard! That’s a low blow, even for a UR agent. You are not getting out of this fucking building alive.” I spat at him.
In response the shadowy man reached for a pokeball. I still had my belt with pokeballs on them and I did the same. A large brown pokemon appeared. To my right. It resembled a tree with a single red eye in the middle of the upper trunk. Two arms stretched from the trunk. The whole pokemon had a ghostly mist obscuring parts of it, even this close to me. My pokeball fell and out sprang Julian. He roared at the Trevenant.
“That is unfortunate. It doesn't matter that you were good at resisting the illusions. I’m still going to bring you in.” The voice spoke in my mind. My view of the shadowy man was obscured by the Trevanant but his voice rang clear.
“You and your illusions can go back to where ever the fuck they came from!” I yelled.
“Arthur hammer arm!” It was as if Arthur had been waiting for this the whole time. As soon as I gave the command, he swung his arm underneath the Zoroark’s legs, tripping it up. As the Zoroark fell to the ground, Arthur took his other front arm and slammed it down on the Zoroark. The pokemon was crushed under the heavy arm, cracking the flooring below it. With the sound of shattering plaster and concrete, the Zoroark was smashed deep into the ground, leaving an imprint on the floor.
“Serves you the fuck right!” I yelled at the Zoroark even though I knew that he didn’t hear me. On the other side of the now destroyed office floor, Julian fought with the Trevanant. As I looked on, the tree-like pokemon lowered its horns and charged at Julian. He tried to block the attack but was too slow. The Trevanant got under his legs and launched him into the air.
“Julian! Ice punch!” Julian landed in a roll, just dodging another attack from Trevanant. He came back up to his feet and swung his fist. As it traveled towards the Trevanant, it seemed to accumulate ice crystals until his whole hand was covered in a block of ice. The punch connected right into Trevanant’s face. The grass type pokemon fell back. Before Julian could continue his assault, The tree pokemon yanked itself to its feet, levitating its head and torso back upright with some sort of ghostly energy. It dodged Julain’s punch and backed off. I looked left. Arthur fought with the Toxapex. He tried to smash at it with one of his arms but the pokemon withdrew into its shell and the attack just bounced off. I looked straight in front of me. There stood the shadowy man. His eyes were locked on Toxapex’s battle with Arthur. Now was my chance. How dare this bastard pull memories from my consciousness to try and force me off guard. How dare he invoke that memory of my family specifically! I roared in anger and charged straight at him, closing the distance in a matter of seconds. He whirled around right before I reached him. A flash of silver caught my eye. I skidded to a halt and jumped backwards, just avoiding the knife in his right hand. He pressed the attack with a flurry of slashes and stabs. I gave ground, retreating back down the walkway. He stabbed the blade forward. I lunged out of the way and grabbed his arm. Yanking it to the side, I pulled him off balance. Mid fall, he dropped to a knee, yanking his arm backwards so I had to let go or get my hand cut by his knife. The shadowy man was much shorter and smaller than I so I held the physical advantage. I swung a kick out at his head. He tried to duck out of the way but my shin cracked against the top of his skull. He recoiled back from the impact and I took the opportunity to stomp on his hand holding the knife. Still wordlessly, He yanked his hand back out of my reach and rose up to his feet. I scooped up his knife from where it lay on the floor. It was a standard black switchblade with a skull carved into the handle. I looked at the shadowy figure. He stood ready. I roared again and charged him. Now it was him that was giving ground. I swung the knife in an upwards slash. He barely managed to twist out of the way. I followed it up with a diagonal slash and then a stab at his lower abdomen. He backed away but his foot caught on the corner of a cubicle and he fell backwards. The shadowy man caught himself but that was all the opportunity I needed. I lunged forward and plunged the knife into his shoulder. He didn’t cry out. I could tell from his body language that he was in a lot of pain but he still made no sound. Blood seeped from the wound. I pushed the knife deeper. He collapsed down to the floor. I twisted the knife in the wound.
“How does it feel? How do you like it when someone makes you feel pain?” I hissed at him. My voice was so full of hate that I barely recognized it. He weakly reached his arm up, grabbing my wrist. I pulled the knife out. Blood poured out of his shoulder and soaked into his shirt everywhere. Julian and Arthur stood behind me. Thanks to knocking the shadowy man out of commission, each of them had managed to dispatch the pokemon they had been fighting. The two pokemon silently loomed over me and the shadowy man.
“You crossed the line calling up that memory. You deserve no mercy from me.” I said furiously. There was a pause. Then a blob of moisture flew out of his dark hood. His spit hit me right in the shoulder. I saw red. Grabbing the knife again, I screamed in fury and stabbed it into his hood. My knife found skin underneath the dark hood and cut deep. Still, there was no noise. I roared in rage at his lack of a reaction and slashed his chest. The knife cut through his hoodie and deep into his skin, leaving a thick line of blood down his pale skin. All I saw was the man, the thing that had dared to threaten my family.
“Burn in hell motherfucker.” I stood up and kicked his chest for good measure. I heard a crunch deep in his ribcage. Still seeing red, I stormed over to where I had dropped my belt of pokeballs and picked it up. I recalled Arthur and Julian when all of a sudden I heard a humming sound. I whirled around just in time to see the shadowy man hold out a pokeball that he had held concealed in his jacket out in front of him. A Ralts stood next to him, holding its arms up in the air. Purple energy gathered around the two of them.
“No no no no no.” I rushed forward towards them. Before I could get there, the shadowy man and his Ralts disappeared.
“NO!” I screamed and smashed my fist through a piece of drywall. Picking up the leg of a destroyed desk, I swung it at an office chair, shattering the wood. How had I just let him get away like that? And his pokemon too. The Zoroark, Trevenant and Toxapex were gone as well. I slammed my fists into a desk, recoiling as my punch painfully bounced off the wood. The shock of pain startled me out of my rage. Gradually, I calmed down. There was no use throwing a tantrum over what happened. I collapsed into an empty office chair and took a deep breath. My head hurt. The shadowy man had forcibly unearthed memories that I didn’t want brought to light. I needed to remember what I was here for. I needed to find information about Athena. I selected a pokeball off my belt and opened it. Lcuio emerged.
“Lucio…. Could you help me clear my mind? I need to focus on the task at hand.” Lucio nodded. Then he reached his paw up next to my temple. A blue oval of energy appeared between his paw and my head. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. His aura helped me feel more relaxed. The next thing I knew, I was drifting off to sleep.
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Chapter 19


Bug Catcher
Chapter 19

I awoke. A quick look at the clock showed that only 25 minutes had passed. My shirt and hands were covered in blood. One quick examination revealed my face to have blood on it as well. But, my mind felt clear again. What had just happened with the shadowy man… I didn’t know how I could do what I just did, even to an enemy. The idea that a murderous, unempathetic psychopath lay just under the depths of my mind terrified me. On top of that, he had threatened my family. I haven't seen my mother or father for three years and that was for a reason. After the incident on my family’s farm, I had been separated from them and they had been put into protection. Considering my former line of work, it was decided that it was for the better that I didn’t see them. Still, it was my duty to separate my dangerous job from them, they didn’t deserve all the danger that I faced and I couldn’t have that leverage brought against me. All this hadn’t stopped me from meeting my little sister and older brother in Johto briefly. My brother was on a business trip and I managed to get a message to him… My thoughts were starting to wander. Focus Andrew. You are here for a reason I thought to myself. Kanto is good at their jobs. And that shadowy son of a bitch is probably out of action for at least a little while. I took a deep breath. I needed to find information about Athena’s wearabouts. Time for deep dives into my psyche could happen later. I took a deep breath. There was no way I could track Athena down by hand. She was too quick for that. I needed to find where she would be, not where she was right now.
I stood up from the office chair I had been sitting in and wiped my hands on the carpet, trying to rid myself of the sticky blood but some of it managed to stay on my, under my fingernails and on my face. I probably looked horrible but I didn’t feel remorse at inflicting such injuries on the shadowy bastard, only fear at my lack of control of the situation when it happened. I picked my way through the rubble from the pokemon battle here. The middle of the office area was almost leveled. Cubicle walls were smashed, desks had collapsed, there were even a few potted plants that had dirt strewn everywhere around their shattered pots. Once I got back to the main walkway, I turned and headed for the director’s office. The outer secretary’s office was completely empty. Not even a desk or a chair remained. I walked through the open door into the main office. The place was totally empty as well. The bookshelves were gone, the liquor chest was not there anymore and even the large director’s desk had disappeared as well. The view from the floor to ceiling windows was still fantastic. One of the panels was a slightly darker tint, was that the window Phoebe had destroyed? It must have been. Muttering under my breath, I turned on my heel. Time to check the server room. That was the next most likely place in here to hold important information. The door was locked. I opened the pokeball with Clair in it and pointed. She walked over to the door and yanked the handle, ripping the door off its hinges with an almighty tug. She tossed the door to the side and grinned at me.
“Nice job Clair.” I complimented her before returning her to her pokeball. There was only one server rack left in the room, all the others had been moved out of this building I assumed. It was strange that they had left one here though. The black rectangular system whirred and different lights glowed on its interface. Warily, I approached it. There was no monitor, keyboard or mouse. The system was on. I needed to know what it was doing here. I jogged back into the destroyed office area. At the far end of the floor was a cubicle that hadn’t been damaged by the pokemon battle. I ran over to it. There was a fully intact computer system. It was kind of strange that ALPL would have left these PCs and other office items here when they left but maybe they already had replacements. They were certainly well funded. I crouched down below the desk and unplugged the monitor, the keyboard and the mouse from the system. I picked them up, holding the monitor under my arm, then I ran back to the server room. There was no way to tell how much time I had before the shadowy man tipped off ALPL or UR to my location and they would storm this building. I had to hurry. I plugged in the keyboard, mouse and monitor into the server. The server had an access port which had been used by the computer people to hook directly into the server rather than having to connect to it remotely. The monitor took a second to boot up and then it glowed what the monitor displayed.
“Holy shit” I breathed. The server was logged in directly to an interface. The interface showed everything ALPL did was through it. From financials to current and past operations to correspondences with people. Everything came from here. But why had they left the PC here like this? That was slightly suspicious but I had to give it a shot. Heart pounding in my chest, I clicked over to a tab labeled Actieve Operations. That’s the most likely place where they would have information about Athena right? There was only one option. It was called Operation Kneebreaker. A blinking message in the correspondences tab caught my attention. I clicked on it. The message was from the user: Greyeyed_Goddess. My heart started to pound in my chest. That had to be Athena. I opened the message.

Mission complete in Hearthome. Heading to Pastoria now. Target is located at 2615 Sperrow Lane. ETA, 8 hours. Estimated time to termination: 18 hours.

That was it. Athena was in Sinnoh! I needed to get over there as fast as I could. I started to stand up but something else caught my eye. A tab that was labeled Financials. I had long overstayed my welcome here but it was at least worth a shot. I clicked on it. There it was. The lifeblood of ALPL. I tried to click on their main bank account. The screen flashed red and blocked my entry. Damn. It wouldn’t be that easy. There was no getting in there. As I tabbed back to the list of accounts, there were many others to try. Suddenly, I thought of something. I scrolled through all the different offshore holdings and assets of which there were a lot. At least 50 or 60 accounts.I saw a 13 digit account number that looked familiar. I double clicked on it. There was password protection on this account but I knew the information. I typed in my password. The account screen flashed: Welcome. It was my account from the work I had done with ALPL. They haven't emptied it. All the money was still there. I accessed the login details to the account. I went into the account settings and changed the password to something else, something that only I would know. It wasn’t a permanent fix but at least I could get my money. I would transfer it later. That was all I needed to know. Right before I logged off the computer, I looked at what the user who was logged in was. The name was Nolan Bradshaw. A message suddenly displayed on the screen: Invalid user detected. Remote shutdown initiated. Then the computer shut itself down. I shot up in surprise. Had they come to apprehend me? How did they know I was here? The fans stopped whirring and everything was silent. There was no noise outside, nobody else was here. I smashed a kick through the computer screen and stomped on the keyboard. There was no reason to do it but it was one last fuck you to ALPL. I knew where I was headed to next: 2615 Sperrow Lane, Pastoria City, Sinnoh. I cautiously left the server room and headed down the stairs. Before I left the building, I stopped by Phoebe's old room and picked up her diary. The least I could do for Phoebe was let her family know what her life was before she died. With that, I descended down the stairs and headed out into the deserted parking lot to my car. I was already calculating my best options to travel to Pastoria city.
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