Droplets of filtered water poured down from the hanging stalactites of a cave, echoing through the empty cavern as they hit the floor, producing a chorus of nature. Heavy footsteps disrupted the soothing silence: one set frantically ran, escaping the other set that faintly rang through the darkness behind them. The battered Garchomp had no time to catch a quick breath- he'd give his pursuer the opportunity of catching him if he did. His body feeling heavy and nearly drained of energy, he wanted to fall onto his knees, but he forced himself ahead.
The tunnel led the exhausted land shark to a large, closed off room- a dead end. He fell on one knee in the middle of the room, seizing every quick gasp of air he could. Being pursued for days on end into a cave drained him to his very bone, and he struggled just to keep his foundation from crashing to the ground. “I...I can't,” the outlaw wheezed to himself. “I...I can't let him...catch me!”
Burning through the darkness a bright blue light fired from the mouth of a cave. The shark had just enough time to save himself jumping out of the way of the speedy projectile, and hitting the floor belly first as the explosion turned the solid wall behind him into rubble. “Rrgh!” He lifted his one ton-heavy self up, eventually to where he could stand again. Stepping out of the slightly illuminated shadows, he stared down his approaching foe- a Lucario, with his black dreadlocks risen in the air delicately reading the aura around him. By reading his target from the back of his eyes, feeling his prey's weariness in his being, Lucario knew this chicken race was coming to its end.
“H-how?” The hammerhead questioned. “How are you able to keep this up without tiring?!”
“I'm just that good,” the Lucario replied back, a confident smirk stretched across his mouth. Having the bad guy where he wanted him, the Lucario assumed a standing stance: his left hind leg behind the right, and his left arm behind his right. “So: are we gonna fight? Or are we gonna run some more?”
Being pursued so far through the twisted layouts of a mystery dungeon on the last of his legs, the Garchomp was out of options. The fins underneath the outlaw's single-clawed arms glowed in a ghostly white light, growing twice their original, monstrous size. “If I'm gonna be taken, it won't happen easily!” For a weakened spirit who was ready to collapse at any moment, he kept himself standing and in fighting condition purely off his desire for freedom- he was so close, he could almost taste it.
“I like that answer!” Placing his paws over each other, he saw his opponent's Dual Chop, and raised him an attack of his own: he closed his eyes, and focused on the small marble of blue energy developing between his hands.
“You left yourself wide open!” The ground crushed under each muscular step of his sprint, betting all he had on his attack; he understood very well: either he succeeds, or the freedom he obsessed over for days would poof right in front of him like a popped bubble.
The marble in Lucario's paws soon grew to the size of a beach ball, moaning like a banshee as it still charges. He opened his eyes, and the Garchomp was right on top of him.
Garchomp dropped one of his fins down like a hammer, “Dual Chop!”
When he prepared to throw his projectile, the Garchomp froze in his tracks like a floating statue just an inch away from connecting his Dragon-type attack to his muzzle. A faint shriek echoed through the cave, yet it remained powerful enough to quake the very ground from underneath him, “WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!”
“Oh, no.” He knew who that disruptive voice belonged to. With each boom of the outsider's yell, the space around the Lucario distorted and twisted, becoming unstable. The walls and floors around him slowly dissolved into white noise, only being restrained and kept stable by his own thoughts. As his surroundings slipped into an oblivion, soon even the suspended Garchomp disappeared into chaotic static. “Please, just ten more seconds,” he pleaded with the voice that couldn't hear him, while everything slowly faded in front of him. “Ten more seconds; I wanna know how this ends!”
“WAKE UP!” If Loudred screamed any louder, he risked the room falling on top of their heads. The Riolu pup groaned while lifting himself off his bedding, which he patted down with his body weight. “GOOD, YOU'RE FINALLY AWAKE,” Loudred said while Oran drowsily rubbed the sleepies from his dim eyes, “I THOUGHT FOR A SECOND YA GONE DEAF.”
Oran yawned, “Nope, jus' geddin' there.”
Loudred left the chambers, and went on his merry way doing the line of work he was made for with satisfied pride. Oran turned and rolled around in his pile, throwing hands of straw in the air while roaring in an agitated fit. “Every night! This happens every night,” he yelled to himself. “Whenever I have a cool dream, Loudred wakes me up! Why can't my brain make dreams earlier?!”
“Oran, you're too loud in the morning,” Pecha moaned while she started making a stir in her own bed.
“It's not fair,” Oran complained, still kicking around. “Loudred always wakes me up during the best parts!”
“I think it's funny how you two are similar,” she replied, brushing her straightened, floppy eyes from in front of her eyes to the back of her head.
“Me and Loudred are not similar,” Oran responded in a huff.
“Sure you are,” the sister implied, “you two have the same voice.”
Oran shouted back, “We don't sound the same, either!” He fell back into his straw bedding. “I just wanna know how at least one of my dreams end,” he told Pecha calming down from his stir, blankly staring at the carved niches in the stone ceiling as if they'll unfold an answer before his very eyes. But the grooves and cuts remained where they were, not telling him a thing. “I was an outlaw hunter, and I was chasing a Garchomp, a really mean Garchomp. I had him in a cave, and we were about to duke it out; but then Loudred happened.”
The Buneary stood up, and stretched and twisted her body to the popping sounds of her bones realigning. Her body feeling loose, she shook violently as a chill ran from her toes to her head, and her fur puffed wildly. “Just assume you won,” Pecha told him. “You act like you don't have any control over any of it. Besides, that's the only place where you can win.”
“Nuh-uh, you take that back,” Oran yelled at her, standing himself on his left side.
“Why?” She asked. “It's funny watching you get rustled when I pull your leg.”
Oran grunted. Being five months old to his sister's eight, he never liked being her vocal punching bag, and target for her jokes. As much as he looked up to her, she thought of herself too highly to look back down to him, despite being shorter than him. He planted his face back into the pile of straw, and murmured into it, “Whatever.”
Oran began the morning sparring with Ambipom, his combat instructor, in the bald patch of the forest Scyther brought him and Pecha to the last day. Scyther and Pecha watched from the sidelines as the purple monkey hustled the little Riolu, either: hopping out of his attack's way, or blocking them with his large tail hands. Oran rolled across the grassy ground when pushed back by the Ambipom with a force great enough to dislodge a rooted tree. But he quickly regained his traction as he slid across the grass with his feet, breaking his series of ragdolling.
“Quick Attack!” He dashed at the Ambipom- the faster he ran- the more visible and plenty his following afterimages became. In such a short distance and amount of time, he managed to make a gang of three Orans, all charging the purple monkey behind their leader. He threw out his right shoulder, ready to connect a high-speed tackle to his opponent. “Take this!”
Ambipom's right tail palm stopped all momentum from the Quick Attack in its tracks. Oran pushed against the fleshy wall with all his might, his feet dragged and even dug into the ground, but the hand kept him in place. Oran grunted, “Rgh! Let! Me! Get! Through!”
“Oh-ho, you're attacks are too linear,” the looming Ambipom told him with a large smile. “Mix it up a little!” Ambipom gave the Riolu a mighty push, Throwing him ten feet away like he was just a pebble. Oran picked himself up, refusing to stay down, but when he looked up, found the instructor suddenly breathing down his neck. “You took too much time getting back up, leaving yourself wide open! Double Hit!”
“E-Endure!” Oran crossed his arms in front of his chest, and braced himself. With the first punch coming from the left tail, Oran stood solid against the boulder-crushing impact, although left a little shaky. But the right tail came with the second hit from out of nowhere, knocking him clear off his knees, skipping him like a stone across the pond of grass. Winded and wheezing, he clenched his gut as he sat on his knees, “Okay...okay, pause...lemme catch a quick breath.” The more he exhaled, the more he realized his opponent didn't fool around, even for a sparing match.
“Be careful with that move, Oran,” Scyther yelled from the sidelines. “It may keep you in the fight, but you're still getting hurt!”
“I know,” Oran replied weakly, “but thanks to it, I'm still in it!”
“Oran, tag out for me,” Pecha suggested, noting her brother's shaky condition as he stood back up. “We'll have a better chance at beating him if we switch!”
“She's right, kid, oh-ho,” Ambipom commented. “You can't just solo the enemy; let your teammate take a crack at me.”
“Are..are you kidding? I'm just gettin' warmed up!” His body refused to call it quits, somehow managing to get him standing on his own once more. He cupped his paws over each other, and emitted a bluish light from his palms. While the glow grew harsher and its whistling became louder he held it to his left side.
“Oh-ho?” The monkey stepped back, a small amount of shock in his eyes as he watched the student attempt something he didn't expect. He watched the light grow into a sphere, while also deciding if he should stay where he was, or neutralize a possible threat the child was about to bring on himself.
“Oran, listen to me,” Scyther called out, “You have to tag out! You can't beat Ambipom on your own!”
The blue sphere in his hands soon became the size of his own head, and he wasn't keen on wasting it. With a strong toss, the ball screamed straight for the Ambipom; as the move was Fighting-type in nature and Ambipom was a Normal-type, he was sure it would cause some damage.
“Oh-ho!” Ambipom guarded himself using his left tail hand as a shield. The attack ricocheted off his palm, before popping like a bubble full of glitter in front of his face. And not a single scratch on him. Oran saw it in his eyes- he tried to desperately hold in a howl of laughter.
“Ambipom, be cool about it,” Oran told him, his feelings on the verge of crumbling, “don't laugh.”
But his request was ignored. Ambipom tumbled to the ground, rolling around as his gut busted, “Ahahahahahaha! Aha, Ahahahahahaha! Oh-ho, ahahahahahahahaha!”
Oran stooped to his knees. He put all he had in that one attack, to show the instructor what he was made of. And it just poofed in front of him; he was convinced Splash would have done more damage than that. Now he had to deal with the pain of all the broken pieces of his pride cutting him from the inside all day.
A shadow suddenly blotted out the light. Oran looked up- it was Scyther, looking down at him with a disappointed stare. He chuckled nervously, “Ehehe, how'd I do?”
“Welp, to put it bluntly: you'd be a Riolu pancake right about now,” Scyther told him.
“We would've passed, if you didn't decide to take him on by yourself,” Pecha yelled at him.
Oran got into his sister's face, “I thought I actually had him!”
“Oran, we're a team,” Scyther stuttered to him in a softer tone. “As such, we all have to work together to take down the foe. Out there, they actually want you to do what you just tried to do to Ambipom.”
“What, Aura Sphere them?” He asked.
“No, you're missing the point,” Scyther said. “When we go out as a team and you decide to disobey my orders and run off, they'll see you as easy pickin's; who knows what they'll actually do to you. Take a look at Ambipom-”
Oran took a look where the mantis pointed, at the Ampibom that still had no control over his own laughter, rolling around like he caught on fire from a Flamethrower. “What about him?”
“Say, for instance, he was an Ursaring who thought we were intruding on his territory: instead of laughing, he'd do whatever it takes to squash us- you, Pecha, and I. When we go out there, that's essentially what we're doing- to some of them, we're invading their home. That's why we stay close together, cooperate with each other, and only attack when we are attacked. Understand?”
“Yeah, I guess,” he pouted.
“Okay, Ambipom, that's enough laughing,” Scyther told him, becoming irritated at the monkey's refusal to stop. “You're making Oran feel bad.”
A suspicious rustling in one of the nearby bushes by the group took their attention, even stopping the Ambipom from his mad, uncontrollable laughter. The shaking got louder, as if someone, or something, raced to meet them. In the anticipation they readied themselves for the confrontation- be it a friendly meeting, or a brutal conflict.
“Ahh!” A small Pikachu burst from the leaves and branches, stumbling on his own feet when he couldn't control his speed before finally eating a face full of dirt. Small bruises and slightly bleeding cuts lined his yellow body where the branches and vines he ran through struck him like little whips. Even his zigzagged tail was all but a gigantic bruise. He coughed all the mud out of his mouth as he could, before screaming, “Somebody! Somebody, please help!”
“Oh my gosh!” Scyther ran to the downed rodent, and helped him get back on his feet. “Are you all right?” He asked him.
“No, I'm not,” he screamed at the Scyther while he could only breathe quick and shallow breaths. “This is horrible! Really, really, horrible!”
Scyther told him, “Calm down, and tell me what's horrible. I'm an explorer at Florges Guild- you can trust me.”
The rodent took a few slow, heavy breaths and slowed himself down before his heart had the chance to explode in his chest. He finally spoke, “My, my wife, Dedenne, she's in real trouble,” he told Scyther. “We were going for a honeymoon stroll, heading for the Cristal Springs, but must've taken a wrong turn into the Indigo Overgrowth. As we tried figuring our way out, a bunch of Ariados attacked us, too many to count! She told me she could handle them while I run to get the nearest help. You gotta help her: as tough a girl she may be, she can't handle all those Ariados on her own!” He started breaking down into his own arms, little streams of tears leaked from his palms, “If she doesn't get help soon, she'll be-!”
“There, there, it'll be okay,” Scyther kneeled to the electric mouse, assuring him the best he could. “Go with Ambipom to the guild; my team and I will make sure you'll see your wife again.”
Sniffling, he wiped his eyes clear with his muddy arm, “Th-thank you.” Following the purple monkey, Pikachu dashed for the guild, placing the safe return of his loved one in the Scyther's claws.
“What's happening, Scyther?” Oran asked.
Scyther slowly stepped from his knees, “Oran, Pecha, we're going out, immediately.”
Pecha shot her eyebrows up as far as she could, “what?! Now? But what about our training?”
“The most important thing to do as a guild member is help those in need,” Scyther told her. “We can continue the training some other time.”
Oran felt his skin crawl with energy; something like this was just what he needed to really start off his day. “Yes! A mission,” he psyched himself up. “I can't wait! We'll show those Ariados what for!”
“Indigo Overgrowth, that's just to the east of here,” Scyther said to himself, softly enough where even Pecha's excellent ears had trouble picking up. He looked at his younger teammates while they got under each others' skins as usual, “And maybe a little sample of what it's like out there will be healthy for them; I doubt they'll learn a thing if I just tell them about it. The quicker we get there, the better the chance we'll save Dedenne.” Scyther hollered at the two, taking their attention for a sliver of a moment from each other, “Pecha, Oran, pack your bags: we're going to Indigo Overgrowth.”