The Desert Resort, a popular place for trainers who follow an intense training regiment. The area is nothing but dirt and sand dunes, constantly shifting around due to high winds. The constant sunshine makes this area a living hell. Every day irresponsible trainers collapse due to dehydration. Even more trainers find themselves at the mercy of the wild Pokemon that inhabit the area. These Pokemon are adapted to the sandy environment, and some are even enhanced by it. This is the area where Alex Summers and his long-time rival Jason White have reunited, resulting in another intense battle.
"Two Pokemon each, does that sound fair?" Jason asked.
"Two works for me," Alex replied, digging into his pocket for his Pokeballs.
"Sawsbuck, I choose you!" Jason yelled, tossing out a blue ball.
The Great Ball burst open, revealing a large deer-shaped Pokemon. Sawsbuck's fur was ruffled on its chest and its antlers were covered in flowers. This was nature's way of dictating the seasons; as Sawsbuck was now in its Spring Form. The Season Pokemon carefully stepped into the sand, startled when its hooves sank into the dirt.
"Looks like your Pokemon aren't fit for the battlefield," Alex remarked, tossing his own Pokeball, "Whirlipede, come on out!"
Alex's Pokeball popped open, spewing out a round purple bug. Whirlipede was poisonous, made obvious by its bright pink rings that ran around its armored body. The Curlipede Pokemon was shaped like a truck tire, making it a perfect match for the sandy terrain.
"I'll make the first move," Alex said, pointing at his Pokemon, "Whirlipede, run Sawsbuck down with Steamroller!"
The Bug/Poison-type began rolling, at first doing nothing but picking up speed and kicking dirt behind it. After a few seconds, Whirlipede took off at an uncanny speed, carving a path in the sand as it rolled towards Sawsbuck. The Normal/Grass-type stood firm, confident that its trainer would know the right move to counter the attack.
"Fight back with Megahorn," Jason said.
Sawsbuck's brown horns began glowing in a pale green hue as it galloped towards the oncoming Whirlipede. It lowered its head, preparing to knock Whirlipede into the air. The desert terrain had other plans. When the Season Pokemon dug in to strike with its horn, the sand swallowed its legs. Sawsbuck was now neck deep in sand with a large bug seconds away from flattening it! Jason watched in shock as Whirlipede rolled over his Pokemon, driving it deep into the sand. Sawsbuck screeched, but ended up getting a mouthful of sand. Jason pulled up his Pokeball and aimed it at his suffering beast, retrieving it with a bright red laser. He pulled a second Pokeball out of his back pocket, ready to release his second Pokemon.
"Somebody, help!" a girl's voice cried.
"What's that?" Alex jumped, looking for the source of the noise.
"It came from that direction," Jason called out, running deeper into the resort, "the battle can wait. Somebody needs our help!"
Alex recalled his Whirlipede and followed his rival into the desert. In a little over a minute, the boys had reached the troubled girl. She was on her knees and was weeping loudly, her tears evaporating on the hot desert sand. The girl was covered in dirt, like she had fallen into a big bucket of sand. Both boys helped her to her feet and offered her some water.
"Thank you," she sobbed, drinking some of Jason's water.
"What's wrong?" Alex asked, "and why are you covered in sand?"
"My boyfriend and I were training out here," she replied, "I saw a Pokemon I wanted to catch, so I chased after it. I stepped into this hole or something and started being sucked into the sand. My boyfriend pulled me out, but he got sucked in instead!"
"I've heard that there were whirlpools of sand out here, but I didn't think I'd actually see one," Jason said, putting his water back into his bag, "is the pit around here?"
"Uh-huh," the girl said, pointing straight ahead, "I want to go in after him, but I'm too scared."
"It's okay," Alex replied, smiling, "I'll go in and pull your boyfriend out."
"Are you insane?" Jason asked, glaring at the boy, "there's no telling what's waiting under the earth. We should get the proper authorities to help instead."
"If what's underground is as dangerous as you say, then her boyfriend could die before the authorities could get here!" Alex yelled, "I have a Pokemon that can dig through the dirt. I can get in and out in a snap."
"And what if there are dangerous Pokemon?" Jason continued, "if your Pokemon faints, you're screwed."
"Then I guess I have to be careful," Alex replied, sprinting towards the whirlpool of sand.
It only took a few seconds for the boy's brown hair to sink beneath the sand. Jason stood still for a few seconds with a worried look on his face. Without warning, it darted towards the whirlpool, holding his breath as the sand pulled him under. He landed with a thud on the bedrock below him. He winced as he rubbed his rear-end, then looked up to see Alex looking down on him with a smug look on his face.
"I knew you'd come in after me," he laughed, helping his rival to his feet.
"I didn't want to let you die thinking that you were braver than I am," Jason laughed, "where are we anyways?"
The underground was different than the boys had pictured it. Instead of being a cramped pocket of air, they were in a perfectly square room. The walls, floor, and ceiling were lined with bricks made out of solid rock. Sand was slowly filling the room from the large hole in the ceiling. Judging from the amount of sand that was on the ground, the whirlpool they fell into was made recently. The room was empty, there was no furniture and no sign of the girl's boyfriend. There was a more pressing concern for the moment; the boys weren't able to reach the surface from this room. The hole they came in from was too high for them to try and dig themselves back out, and the rock was too hard to dig through. Jason spotted a doorway, the only way out of this room. Alex led the way as they walked out into a large hallway with giant columns made of stone. At the end of the hallway was a throne, like the ones kings would sit on.
"I've heard of this place," Jason said, scanning the hallway, "this is the Ancient Castle. People have been exploring this place for years now, trying to find the throne room."
"This area must be blocked off by a wall or something," Alex responded.
"Otherwise this room would be a major tourist trap," Jason added, "that's a bad sign. If archaeologists haven't found a way into this part of the castle; there might not be a way out."
"We'll worry about it after we find that girl's boyfriend," Alex said, cupping his hands around his mouth, "hello! Is anybody out there?"
Alex's voice echoed throughout the castle. He and Jason tried calling out together for several minutes. They waited a few minutes longer, and their vigilance was rewarded. The sound of a man coughing echoed from another room. The sound was faint, as if the source was covered by sand. Both boys ran through the doorway, into a room that looked like a carbon copy of the one they had fallen into. In the back corner of the room was a massive hole in the wall, where sand was pouring down at an alarming rate. Alex squinted faintly seeing a hand in the sand before it was washed over.
"It's him!" Alex yelled, running towards the pile.
Both trainers scooped as much of the sand as they could. They then grabbed the man's arm, yanking him free of his sandy grave. The sweat from his body had caused the sand to cake all around him, making him look like a sand sculpture. He coughed heavily before puking a large quantity of sand.
"Are you alright?" Alex asked, pulling out his bottle of water.
The man took a swig of the fresh liquid before gasping his reply, "...got stuck, tried to... make a hole."
"It was a good idea," Jason said, observing the hole, "but if you don't have a Pokemon that can use Dig, you're just asking for trouble."
"How did you manage to make such a large hole?" Alex asked, insisting the man drink his entire bottle.
"My Machamp knows Dynamicpunch," he replied, yawning heavily.
"Where do you keep its Pokeball?" Jason asked, "we can use it open another hole, and have Alex's Pokemon dig us out."
"Something stole my bag when I was trying to climb through the hole," he replied, closing his eyes, "I remember seeing a red Pokemon of some kind."
"Might be a Darumaka," Alex chimed in, "they're all over Route 4. I bet one of them got trapped in this castle like we did. Hell, there could be a whole nest of Pokemon in this castle."
"We gotta find that Darumaka," Jason said, trying to find some sort of trail to follow, "neither of us have something strong enough to make another hole in the wall.
"Besides that, we'd look like a bunch of fools if we let some wild Pokemon keep this guy's gear."
"Thanks..." the boyfriend said before passing out.
The sand had taken a lot of energy from him, but the room would fill up soon, so the boys had no choice but to carry the man on their shoulders while exploring the castle. In order to help them track Darumaka, Jason enlisted the help of one of his Pokemon. He called out Audino, a three-foot tall pink Pokemon with floppy ears and a bushy tail. Not only was Audino able to use its ears to determine the emotions of a living creature, but it had a radar sense, enabling it to pick up even the slightest of noises.
"Audino, we're looking for a wild Pokemon in this castle," Jason explained, "we're thinking it's a Darumaka, but let us know if you hear anything at all."
"Dino," his Pokemon replied.
Audino perked its ears, carefully scanning for the sound of any movement in the castle. This turned out to be an easy job for the Hearing Pokemon, the Ancient Castle's acoustics were amazing. There were several echoes that were faded to the point that humans were unable to detect them, but Audino quickly picked up the noise. The pink Pokemon ran behind the throne, with its trainer and friend following as fast as they could. Behind the throne was something that looked like a trapdoor. There was a small crack in the floor that had a slight breeze flowing through it.
"Good work Audino," Jason said, recalling his Pokemon, "I can't believe I didn't think of it earlier. This must be a secret passage to evacuate the king in case of invasion."
"Whatever stole this guy's gear must have a nest somewhere along the tunnel," Alex observed, crouching over the trapdoor.
The trapdoor seemed like the easiest way to escape the Ancient Castle, so the boys pulled on the crack, which proved easy to move. The door was made out of wood and weight a little more than a pound. A Pokemon could easily move in and out of the tunnel. The boys walked through the tunnel, which was constructed with large bricks, just as the Ancient Castle was. Now that they were inside the passage, Jason and Alex were able to hear a faint digging sound deeper in the tunnel.
"If it is a Darumaka, who gets to catch it?" Alex smiled as he marched through the dark tunnel.
"I'll let you catch it," Jason replied, "we wouldn't be in this mess if it weren't for your rash actions."
"Yeah, and lover boy would have suffocated in the sand," Alex teased.
The two rivals had become friendlier through this harrowing experience. The daring Ancient Castle rescue was soon coming to the end. The light at the end of the tunnel was a blessing. Neither boy expected to be so relieved to step out into the harsh sunlight of the Desert Resort. Alex took the first step outside, and started a downward spiral into a large pit.
"Alex! Are you okay?" Jason yelled from a good twenty-five feet above the brown-haired boy.
"Yeah," Alex yelled back, examining the pit he had fallen into, "this must be an old lake or something. I bet the king had a boat of some kind waiting for him when he needed to escape."
"Alright, I'm coming down," Jason said, "will this guy be okay if I slid down?"
"He should be," Alex called, clearing a path for the pair to slide down, "it's all sand, as long as you keep him from rolling down the hill."
Jason first set the large gentleman onto the sandy slope, inside the groove left by Alex's slide. He then sat behind him, like a father would do for their kid at an amusement park. They both slid down the path with ease, arriving at the bottom in several seconds. Alex lifted the rescued man onto his shoulders, praying that he would wake up soon. Jason remembered the digging sound they had heard from inside the tunnel and began looking for a possible source. Alex picked up on this and also scanned the dry riverbed. Whatever was digging, it had have been pretty close the castle, otherwise the sound couldn't travel. That's when the two boys picked up on a loud grunt.
"Champ!" something cried from the other end of the riverbed.
A hulking grey figure appeared on top of the other cliff, striking the sand and causing the wall to collapse, filling the bottom of the river. The boys quickly ran onto the sand, or else they would be buried alive. At the top of the cliff was the nameless boyfriend's Machamp, pounding the ground and sending large waves of sand into the arid river. The boys carefully navigated the dune, reaching the top of the sand pile, where Machamp was waiting next to a large backpack and a small red Pokemon. Machamp smiled when it saw its trainer, hoisting the burden from Alex's shoulders. The red Pokemon, Darumaka, smiled when it saw two new trainers. It tugged on Jason's pants, pointing towards the Ancient Castle before kicking some dirt into the chasm.
"That's interesting," Jason said, pointing towards the tunnel they had slid down from, "the sand around the castle is being blown out from under it. Eventually the Ancient Castle would be teetering over a large drop. If something of that size were to fall, the Desert Resort would be devastated."
"So Darumaka stole the guy's bag to get Pokemon to help fill this river?" Alex asked.
"Maka!" the Zen Charm Pokemon cried.
Neither boy would be able to sleep at night knowing that they passed up an opportunity to help bring peace to the Desert Resort. They agreed to help Darumaka and Machamp save the Ancient Castle from falling over, as long as Darumaka agreed to battle with Alex when they were finished. The process was very simple, all the trainers had to do was instruct their Pokemon to use powerful attacks like Rock Slide and Earthquake to send as much sand as they could into the riverbed. The man they had picked up woke about halfway during their job, and he had other Pokemon he could call on to help them. Thanks to the teamwork of the three trainers, they had managed to extend the dune the castle rested on within two hours. The girl's boyfriend thanked Jason and Alex for their help, and started looking for his girlfriend. Jason reminded Darumaka of the deal they had made, and the Fire-type Pokemon agreed to battle. Alex and Jason stepped back to make room for the battle.
"Don't mess up this battle Alex," Jason taunted.
"Don't worry," he replied, pulling out a Pokeball, "Drilbur and I will catch this little bugger."
Alex's Pokeball burst open, the white light fading into navy blue and black mole. Drilbur's claws were honed and incredibly sharp, allowing it to dig through the earth at 30 miles per hour. Alex relied heavily on Drilbur's speed to disorient many opponents, and today would be no different. Darumaka started the battle by concentrating the fire it stores inside its body and channeling it into its fist. It ran towards the Mole Pokemon, hoping to burn it with a Fire Punch.
"Drilbur, get under the sand with Dig!" Alex cried.
Drilbur's claws locked in front of its face as it dove into the dirt. The Ground-type's body began spinning rapidly, just like a drill. Sand flew everywhere as the mole pushed through the dune with ease. Darumaka extinguished its fiery fist and waited for Drilbur to make the next move. Growing up in the desert, Darumaka had encountered many predators who use Dig to ensnare their next meal. Failure to adapt to situations like this would lead to the Zen Charm Pokemon's death. It listened intently, picking up on the rustling a sand coming from below it. Darumaka jumped backwards, dodging Drilbur's attack by centimeters. It fired a small burst of concentrated heat from its mouth, exploding on Drilbur's sleek body and sending it crashing into the sand.
"Drilbur, get up!" Alex yelled, "hit Darumaka with Slash."
Drilbur's claws became enveloped in a metallic glow as it ran towards the Fire-type opponent. Darumaka ignited its fist, once again charging in for a Fire Punch. The two attacks collided, creating a small burst of energy that sent both Pokemon flying back. Drilbur dug one of its claws into the dirt, becoming the first to regain balance.
"Drilbur, use Drill Run!" Alex yelled.
Drilbur curled into its drill form, launching itself at Darumaka. The metal drill tip spun rapidly, blowing the sand underneath it as it propelled onwards. Darumaka recovered a moment too late, being critically struck by Drilbur's signature attack. It was sent flying backwards, rolling into the sand. The powerful attack left Darumaka hurt, but it was not going to give up so easily. It opened its mouth, gathering every ounce of flame it could. The fire engulfed its body, both increasing its strength and burning itself at the same time. Flare Blitz was a powerful attack that could deliver defeat to both the user and the target. Alex had to stop the attack before his Drilbur fell.
"Drilbur, block that attack with Hone Claws," Alex commanded.
"You're screwing up already Alex," Jason laughed.
"Trust me," his rival smiled.
Drilbur began scraping its claws together, peeling off thin layers of the claws to whittle them down to the sharpest possible level. Darumaka jumped forward, the flames surrounding its body gave it the momentum necessary to move forward. Drilbur shielded itself behind its honed claws. When Flare Blitz made contact, the burning sensation was incredible. Drilbur began to sweat beads, the only thing protecting it from Darumaka were its powerful claws. Finally the attack stopped, but not because Darumaka was out of energy. It gathered the flames into its mouth, heating them until they were a brilliant orange color.
"You better stop it before it fires that Overheat," Jason warned.
"Drilbur, dodge it by digging underground," Alex said, ignoring his friend, "and be quick about it."
Drilbur began slashing at the dirt beneath it. Thanks to Hone Claws, it was able to shovel through the dirt and hide itself much faster than before. Darumaka fired its brilliant beam of intense flames, which scorched Drilbur's feet as it fell underground. Drilbur had survived Darumaka's brutal combination attack, but the Zen Charm Pokemon had expended all of the fire it stored in its body. Just like the Pokedex says, when Darumaka's flames are emptied, it falls sleep. Alex took this oppurtunity to catch the Fire-type Pokemon. He pulled out a red-and-white ball, chucking it at the wild Pokemon. The ball swallowed the sleeping beauty whole and began twitching rapidly. Once, twice, three times, and the battle had resulted in a...