Re: Purified (PG) [Updated, too! Chapter Three Posted]
As we made our way around the sandstone-paved square, the domed roof of the stadium rose from the hill like a blue and white egg. The crystal clear water running down its sides danced in the afternoon sun, giving the building the appearance of a twinkling jewel. Getting up close like this gave me a greater appreciation of the structure’s vast size. The population of Phenac in its entirety could have sheltered beneath its roof with room to spare.
Rui, my Pokemon, and I took another flight of stairs that lead to the gaping entrance. At this angle, the waterfalls were casting a blinding glare, so absently I lifted my left arm to block it. By then I had almost forgotten about the machine that was wrapped around my arm, and it almost startled me to see it there. Funny. After I had stolen it, I had imagined entering this building in a much different fashion. Alone, for one. But here I was, accompanying a strange girl who I had only just met.
“Hey, look!” she pointed ahead. “Someone‘s up there.”
Sure enough, an awkwardly tall young lad stood at the peak of the stairs waiting expectantly ahead. Several bundles of tightly packaged papers were heaped around his feet, and few more were cradled in his right arm. With his free arm, the boy flashed a blotchy flyer as he shouted, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The infamous Team Snagem blasted from their base! Special article about the talk of the town! Available here; available now!”
When the two of us approach, the crier didn’t hesitate to throw a copy at Rui.
“It’s breaking news, ma’am,” he tipped his thread-bare hat to her. “This could just be the final end for those crooks. Be the first ones to read it.”
“Um, thank you?” the redhead blinked at the wrinkled paper that seemed to have magically appeared in her hands. She shuffled away from the enthusiastic paperboy as she skimmed over the flyer’s poorly printed article. Out of the corner of my eye, I snuck a peek with curiosity and apprehension, unable to help myself. I wondered how people were reacting to this ruckus that I had created, but more importantly I was warily watching for any leads. Was it possible, even slightly, that the detectives would be able to trace me? I had been careful to avoid leaving evidence, but still…
“I’ve heard about these guys,” Rui spoke, her voice a little dark with anger. “They’re those criminals who steal Pokémon! Looks like they finally got what they deserve. I hope that they really are through.”
“I hope so, too,” I agreed mystically, but perhaps too much so. She looked up curiously at me while her hands folded up the paper. Before she could speak, I cleared my throat. “We should hurry in.”
The arched entrance loomed ahead of us like a hungry mouth, and together we walked through it into the belly of the beast. The light was weaker within, but when my eyes adjusted I could see that we were in a wide chamber. The ceiling overhead peaked roughly three stories high, streaked with living threads of white from the reflection of pools of water. The air felt delightfully cooler and damper so far compared to the rest of the city. Before us a marble path cut through the surrounding pools, only mere inches higher than the water’s surface. At its end, a holographic image of a Pok Ball floated above a small desk where a blonde-haired woman worked. She shuffled through an endless pile of papers scattered hectically around the desk’s surface, making small swishing noises that carried easily to our ears. Except for the receptionist, there was no other living soul to be found.
Strange, I thought as I exchanged an uncertain look with Rui. Where was everyone? Were we too late? I strode down the path towards the woman, my boots echoing against the stone and water. The soft padding of my Pokémon’s footsteps joined in the rhythm, soon followed by Rui’s own. For a nanosecond, the receptionist glanced up and regarded our approach before burying her nose back into the forms.
“I’m sorry,” she spoke as she held up a green leaflet up in the yellow light of a desk lamp. “Registration’s closed.”
“Closed?” I asked, not sure that I had heard right.
“Yep.” The blonde frowned at the sheet and set it aside. But instead of looking up, she picked up a different paper and stamped it. “The current challenge is taking place as we speak. It would be difficult to get in now. I‘m afraid that you are a bit late.”
“That stinks,” Rui spoke from behind me. “Can we go watch, at least?”
“Nope. Can’t do that either.” She swirled in her chair to add a packet to a cubby hole behind her. “The Stadium’s seats are packed. I suggest coming back in an hour or so.”
“An hour?” I put my hands on the desk.
The receptionist followed my arms to my face as she finally looked away from her work. She gave a weak smile, but she looked as if she wished we’d disappear. “Give or take. I can never be sure, seeing how battles go.”
I straightened up, giving the lady a curt nod as I replied stiffly, “Sorry to disturb you.”
As I turned around, I almost ran into my redhead “friend” who I was now stuck with for a while longer.
“Now what do we do?” Rui asked, rather loudly.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m going to the mart.”
“Shopping?” her voice rose in excitement. “Can I tag along?”
“Might as well,” I shrugged, seeing how she seemed determined to stick around anyway. Yin heard those words and excitedly trotted around the girl’s bright pink shoes, earning a giggle and ear-scratches. The Espeon’s brother, however, sulked by my side as usual. I patted Yang’s sympathetically before heading back towards the entrance, just in time to hear some shouts from outside.
“Jeez, man! What’s your problem?”
That protest belonged to the paper boy, but the other voice was what alarmed me.
“You! It’s you filthy vermin who call themselves journalist that’s the problem!”
I know that voice, I thought as my face grew pale.
“What’s going on?” asked Rui as she looked up from Yin, her voice full of concern.
“Stay here, Rui,” I ordered her firmly without looking back, and raced outside. Yin and Yang obediently followed, but I prayed that Rui wouldn’t.
The light outside was glaring, amplified by the water and Phenac’s pearl-white buildings. But by squinting my eyes, I could see what was happening outside. Three men who looked almost similar in appearance had surrounded the paperboy. All of them were completely bald, with a black, mechanical band running along the base of their skulls. Those features, coupled with the red, sleeveless jackets they wore, gave away exactly who they were. And, they were the last people on the face of the planet that I wanted to run into right now.
The leader of the trio held the boy up against the wall by the collar, his face contorted with frustration. With a hiss, he threatened the youth, “Now you’re going to learn what happens when you stick your nose in other peoples’ business!”
“Let’s nab his Pokemon,” one of his lackeys egged on, the one standing at his left. He was the thinnest in the trio, with a pinched face and pointy nose.
“After we rough him up a bit,” the other added, grinding his fist in his palm. This individual was burlier than the others, but didn’t look all that bright. Still, a threat is a threat.
Stepping out fully into the sun, I braced myself for the worse. “Leave him alone.”
Heads turned towards me in surprise, including that of the paperboy’s. But slowly, the ring-leader allowed a wicked smile to take place on his sneering face.
“Well, well,” he spoke in a low tone while releasing his grip. The paperboy squirmed away from him and took off down the stairs, leaving behind all his flyers and papers. The thugs didn’t even give him a passing glance. Instead, their eyes focused on me.
“I knew that you’d come running,” he continued, looking smug. “You always were trying to play the hero, even if you were a filthy thief.”
“Wes, what’s going on?”
Oh, no. She didn’t. Don’t tell me… Wincing as if I had taken a physical blow, I turned to see Rui emerging from the shadows of the Stadium’s entrance. What was she doing? She was going to ruin everything! Why couldn't the brat do what she was told?
“Now who’s this?” the gangly lackey turned to her with a smirk.
“Got yourself a girlfriend, Wes?” the other broke out into a laughing with his companion.
“Rui,” I spoke through my teeth, losing my patience. “Go back inside.”
“But who are these guys?” she blinked in confusion, but made no move to leave.
“Who are we?” The leader scoffed, tilting his bald head back as he roared in laughter. “Who are we, she asks! Have you been living in a cave all your life, miss? We are none other than the infinitely infamous Team Snagem! And…,” he pointed at me with his black-gloved finger. “We’re here to take back what’s rightfully ours.”
Rui’s face remained in its puzzled expression while she looked to me for an explanation. “Wes, what’s he talking about?”
I didn’t answer. I kept glaring angrily at the Snaggers. A mischievous glint appeared in the chief’s eyes as he spoke in a slithering voice.
“Oh, so she doesn’t know, Wes? You should be ashamed of yourself, lying to such a fine young lady like that.”
“Lying?” She sounded completely baffled as what was possible for a human, but I could feel her gaze boring into the back of my head. Still, I kept my mouth sealed and my body rigid. A seething hatred unlike anything I had ever experienced flickered within me like a raging inferno as I kept my glare concentrated at the man. He coolly returned it before his strayed to the hunk of metal on my left arm.
“Why don’t you tell her the truth, Wes?” the thick thug crossed his arms over his broad chest expectantly.
“Wes…,” Rui was uncertain, scared even, with a small plead in her voice.
Finally, I dropped my gaze in defeat, looking down at my feet as I clenched my fists. So this was it. Everything was out of my hands; the truth was going to come out, and most likely Rui would be repulsed by what I truly was. I hated these men. I hated them for everything they stood for. I hated myself for being fooled by them. What an idiot I was to think I could solve everything so simply. I could never change the past…
The leader, a man I knew to be Wakin, tsked as he shook his head. “And he clams up. So typical. Well, if he won’t tell you, somebody has to. I guess I’ll be the gentleman to do the job. As it turns out, miss, we know Wes quite well. We could tell you all about him, seeing how he is, after all, one of us.”
He stood back, waiting for the drama to unfold, with a satisfied grin. It widened at Rui’s reaction, a short and small gasp.
“One of you?” she spoke. “Y-you mean… he’s a Snagem?”
“Not only that; he’s one of our best Snaggers. Wes here can snag whatever he sets his eyes on without fail.”
“You mean… He stole Pokémon?” the redhead sounded horrified, but she looked to me with watery eyes, pleading. “Say it isn’t true, Wes. Tell me that they’re the ones lying… It just can’t be…”
“I…,” I swallowed hard, my throat going completely dry. “I can’t…”
A silence followed that cut through me like cold, hard steel, only to be broken by Wakin’s curt chortle.
“This is just too good!” he pretended to wipe a tear from the corner of his eye. “But as much as I enjoy it, we need to get down to business.”
“Yeah,” the thin grunt chuckled along. “But you know, Wes, the boss is mighty upset about your treachery.”
“It was clever of you to blow up the base,” the larger one growled. “But stealing our property? Now that’s foolish.”
“I’ll be taking that Snag Machine back, boy?” Wakin continued solemnly, all humor leaving him. “One way, or another.”
“Over my dead body,” I replied, breaking my frozen spell as I shifted my stance. Yin and Yang understood the challenge in my tone and step forward, ready for battle.
“Hmph!” Wakin frowned, taking a pair of red and white spheres from his belt. “If that’s what you want.”
In a brilliant flash of light, my Pokémon’s opponents appeared. One was a squat, crustacean-like creature with bulging eyes, while the other better resembled a floating ball of gas with a skull patterned on its chest. That one left the surrounding air smelling of sewage and rotten fruit, causing all of our eyes to water. I knew the creature to be a poison type, as Wakin favored those species. The Snagem goon knew exactly how to use them, especially beyond the battlefield. What he overlooked now, however, was that Poison was weak to Psychic. Yin could see that this wasn’t going to be a difficult battle, and I could feel the smugness emanating from him.
“Yang, Quick Attack on Corphish! Yin, Confusion on the Koffing!” I directed the first orders, my tone even and steady.
“Corphish, Protect! Koffing, Smokescreen!” Wakin immediately countered, and then we both fell silent as the action unfolded. Yang the Umbreon lurched forward determinedly, turning into a blur of black fur as he raced towards the lobster Pokémon. The Corphish narrowed its eyes at his approach and firmly planted its claws onto the sandstone pavement. Suddenly, a light flashed as a see-through barrier appeared around it. The battlefield was small, and it was too late when Yang finally noticed. He collided with the Corphish’s shield, and fell back onto the ground. Clicking his claws together, the Corphish seemed to laugh at the Umbreon’s failure.
Meanwhile, Yin was having problems of his own. After I gave the order, he jerked his chin into the air. The jewel imbedded in his forehead twinkled in the sunlight as it focused his psychic energies. His opponent, however, quickly spat out a sludgy fume of smoke from its wide mouth, splattering soot across the Espeon’s velvet face. Great. First sand, now sludge? The poor fox would need to get his eyes closely examined after all of this was said and done. Distracted, Yin rubbed furiously at his eyes, but that only seemed to make it worse. I could feel his agitation, and I shared it. Neither one of my attacks had even landed.
“Okay,” I gritted my teeth. “Let’s try this again. This time, Yang, you use Secret Power. Yin, assist him with Helping Hand.”
Yin lowered his paw and sat still, his body soon glowing in a golden aura as before. His brother hopped back on his feet with his eyes blazing in anger, fixing the glare on the Corphish. I wasn’t sure what to expect for his attack, seeing how Secret Power varied with the surrounding environment. Out in the desert, and back at the Stand, it worked like Sand Tomb; but here in the city, it certainly wouldn’t be the same.
The Umbreon’s eyes flashed, and suddenly pillars of water rose from the surrounding channels. They reared into the air like giant, shimmering snakes, casting squirming shadows down on us. The Snagem recruits took a step back in uncertainty, but all too suddenly the water came crashing down on the dumb-struck lobster. Spray was sent flying everywhere, thoroughly soaking Rui, myself, and the Snagem footmen. When it was all cleared, we all stood staring at the Umbreon in amazement, while he looked pleased with himself.
“Wait!” Wakin recovered first. “Where’s my Corphish?” He glanced around panic-stricken about his feet, but his Pokémon was no where to be seen. After a moment of confusion, one of his lackeys finally found it.
“He’s, er, down there,” he pointed to the base of the stairs. Wakin roughly shoved him out of the way to peer down, only to growl in frustration.
“What do you think you’re doing?” He snapped. “Get up here, now!”
I figured that his Pokémon would have much rather stayed down there, but its master’s tone must have spooked it more. Within seconds, a dazed Corphish scuttled past his feet and back onto the battleground, eyeing the Umbreon warily.
“Now that’s more like it,” Wakin scowled, then shouted his next commands.
“Bubblebeam Umbreon, seeing how it likes water so much. Then Koffing can muck it up with Sludge!”
Obedient to the point of fear, his Pokémon attacked. Corphish sent a steady stream of super-compacted bubbles that were packed with energy at Yang. The Koffing wheezed and spat up a wad of foul-smelling sludge, but before it got very far, the phlegm froze in mid-air. What was stranger still was that it glowed with a faint, pink light.
Yin flicked his tail in triumph, though his eyes were still squeezed shut. Using his psychic abilities, the Espeon hurled the grimy gunk back into the Koffing's face, blotting out its eyes. Then, with a quick thrust of his head, he slammed the Koffing down to the ground. Unwittingly the ball of gas ended up landing on top of Wakin’s other Pokémon and ruining its concentration, freeing Yang from the barrage of bubbles. The effects of Yin’s attack had left the Koffing confused and unable to get back into the air, so instead it stayed on top of a very frustrated lobster.
“Finish this with Tackle, Yang,” I softly spoke to my Umbreon, seeing an opening. As soon as he shook the water from his fur, Yang hurriedly followed up, ramming into the pile of foes and sending them flying backwards. Unfortunately, at least for that guy, the path of their flight led them into one of the Snagems. All three of them toppled down the long flight of stairs before landing hard in a groaning heap.
Wakin and the remaining Snagem looked down at them uncertainly.
“You okay, dude?” the nameless one called down, but he was only answered with a low moan. Biting his lip, the lackey turned to his superior and said, “Match?”
Wakin’s face screwed up in anger as his fists clenched. With his bald head taking on a red tint, he whirled back around to face me and hissed, “This isn’t over, not by a long shot! You’ll pay for your treachery, boy! And I will get that Snag Machine! I swear it!”
With that, Wakin stormed down the stairs with his lackey trailing. As soon as they disappeared over the curve of the earth, I let out a long sigh. That had gone much better than I thought it would. Worry still gnawed at my conscience, though. How had they managed to track me down? I might have been lucky this time, but how long would that luck last? Looking down at my Pokémon, I could see how exhausted they were. They had been through three straight battles, and probably wouldn’t last through another, especially Yin. He was trying once again to rub away the filth around his eyes. Kneeling down beside him, I took his head into my hands. When I tried to clear away some of the gunk, the Espeon quietly whimpered. Frowning, I realized that there was nothing I could do. What he needed most was to get to the Pokémon Center, and quick.
Straightening up, I took their Poké Balls from my belt.
“Return,” I ordered, and the Eevee evolutions disappeared in a beam of red light. As I turned back around, I nearly ran into a pair of bright, blue eyes.
Last edited by Charmander009; 01-11-2010 at 01:41 AM.