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The journey continues... 31.03.02 - 04:51

Whyso? Chapter two. ^.^

It's been a while, though that's due to a limit on my time. ^.^o The disclaimer here, if ya forgot still applies.

two: first encounter.

The hilly trails extending from Nivi city toward the cratered face of the ancient Mount Moon were no strangers to Becky; nor, unfortunately, was the fact that the locale was a favourite haunt of many Pokemon trainers. In and of itself, that was not so big a problem; but Becky hated such trainers' eagerness where battles were concerned. It wasn't enough that these youths were willing to expose their friends to many different forms of pain, but, backed by the power of the law, they could demand the same behaviour of anyone else they happened to meet.

Nonetheless, she knew how to avoid them. A dense pine forest sat atop a ridge running along the northern edge of the road; with no real trails within, the wooded region presented an imposing navigational hazard that few were willing to risk. Being an explorer at heart, Becky had no worries about getting lost in that forest, so that was the route she took.

Actually, the maze of evergreens also served as home to a tribe of Pikachu about which Becky had written years before, and because of that research, she knew the area better than almost everyone else. As a result, her choice of that alternate route allowed her to escape the hassles of the road below...

"You there! Ah challenge ya t'a Pokemon battle! 'Erean'now!" ...Almost.

The robust shout rushed toward her from the left, and as she turned that way, she saw its source: a tall fellow whose lean structure suggested agility rather than power, and whose pale blue eyes bespoke an endless ego. Brushing dust off the neon green stripes edging his otherwise black jogging suit, the man introduced himself. "Jay Crichell. If y'ain' got th' cash t' pay fer losin' t'me, Ah take credit cards."

"Listen, whoever ya be, I ain't interested in yer prizefightin'. Now I'm just passin' through here..."

The fellow's eyes narrowed maliciously as he interrupted Becky, "No y'ain'. Y'know th' rules."

Indeed, she did. That was much of the problem. "Two on two, then..." she sighed. "Since I really don' have much of a choice..."

"Nope. Three on three. Shiro, GO!" Before Becky could really say anything, Jay was already throwing down one of his pokeballs...

"...Nitro..." Becky's was a tone of regret as her hand closed about the ebon-topped sphere and her finger slid across the release button. At once, the ball trembled gently, and concurrently with a similar action from Jay's pokeball, ruby-red energy spilled out from it! Even as the light from Becky's hand formed into a Flareon, a serpentine shape appeared in the light of Jay's orb... the shape of a Dragonair!

"Y'gotta be jokin', right? Shiro, slam attack!"

Becky said nothing; she seemed as content as possible just watching... and her decision was justified, for the mythical dragon never landed his intended attack. Nitro quickly led with a stiff, quick shoulder tackle to the side of Shiro's head, then while the dragon was stunned by that sudden impact, the firefox finished the match with a vicious body-slam that left Shiro breathless!

"Damn it! Shiro return..." Jay growled. "You bitch! Ah'll rock yer world... KITSU!" The exchange was made quickly, and the second Pokemon he sent out was the aptly-named white fox, Ninetales!

Within seconds, Nitro was sniffing the air; something did not feel right about this opponent. Then it dawned on him, and he roared furiously, "Fa FLA---YO!"

"N... Nitro!?" Becky gasped. "What is it?"

"YON FALAR!" Nitro glared at his opponent, who responded almost identically; then without warning or direction they both launched flame attacks at each other! The two blasts exploded against each other, sending dust and debris hurtling through the woods!

"Nitro, enough!" Just as the enraged Flareon was about to leap toward his opponent, Becky recalled him. "I'm sorry..."

"Yeah, y'are... Kitsu, now!" Jay exclaimed. With that semi-spoken order, the white fox wagged all nine of its curly tails and a light flashed from them! Shafts of that glimmering found their way into Becky's eyes, causing her to become disoriented.

That brief moment faded just in time for her to see the streak of orange flying toward her, but too late for her to do anything to stop it from striking her in the gut, knocking her to the ground and dislodging Kassi's pokeball from her pocket! Becky blacked out for a moment as her breath failed her because of the attack, but upon hearing Kassi's angered hissing, she was able to recollect herself slightly faster.

Jay's repeated orders to attack, a Raichu's desperate pleas, and Kassi's rather volatile threats filled the air, but then Becky looked upward... and saw a Jigglypuff sitting in one of the trees. It began to speak, in that musical manner which all Jigglypuffs are known and feared for... and everything, in a couple moments, became the song of the pink puffball and nothing else...

-----

[nnnn... where?] The air around Kassi was cold, too cold for summer; as her eyes fluttered open, she soon realised why the chilling sensation was there. Somehow, she had been moved to a small metal room with no apparent exit; and the metal was hard enough that she couldn't burrow or otherwise cut her way out. Apart from that, the only other feature in the sparsely ventilated, barely lit chamber was a Raichu trapped in a cell adjacent to hers and separated by narrowly spaced bars rather than a solid wall.

The Raichu, the same one who had attacked Becky before, was rocking in place in a far corner of his cell. A rhythmic, though faint, sobbing from the electric Pokemon dispelled much of Kassi's anger, but not all. Still, there was something else about him...

[You know... you're just so strong... so brave...] she started, her hissing carrying a mild contempt. [At least when it comes to attacking humans...]

The ball of orange fur turned slowly and sighed, [I didn't wanna... but... but I can't... I can't disobey Jay...]

[You were doing a good job of it when it came to attacking me...]

[That's because I don't stand a chance against a Sandslash!]

Kassi slashed at the bars, but they held fast, as expected. [I think we should find out how much of a chance you don't stand against me, eh? C'mon!]

[I'm sorry!!!] the Raichu squealed. [It's.. it's...]

[It's...] Full-blown rage was useless, Kassi briefly pondered as she sat down on the cold ground. Besides, it wasn't like her at all to be that aggressive... especially now, when she had to think of a way to escape... and to find Becky, whom she imagined to be in the same predicament. [It's what?] she demanded; the previous thought had nearly evoked a tear from her eye, but she wasn't about to let the orange rat see that happen.

The Raichu then began, slowly, shakily, [Jay's the kinda guy who'd rather steal things than work for 'em. What he'd do... is to have us attack other trainers an' then take food and anything else from 'em. He said he'd been doin' it usin' Shiro and Kitsu from long before he found me... that he started when he only had four badges because... because he got beat by a red-haired girl with a Sandshrew and no badges... because he decided that doin' things the "right" way wasn't worth it...]

[You mean the guy that Becky and Nitro and I beat before... with the Dratini and Vulpix...] That battle surfaced in her mind, along with much confusion. [It was just after that battle that Nitro decided to evolve...]

[We knew that; that's why Jay made us attack as hard as we did. I didn't wanna... honest, I didn't. But I can't disobey 'im... I owe 'im too much...]

Kassi stared upward at the corner above the electric rat; even if she couldn't quite trust him, she did know the feeling attached to a debt of friendship and loyalty such as he described. [I... I'm sorry about before. I shouldn't've gotten so out of hand... umm...]

[...Blitzen. That's what Jay calls me, anyway... an' you shouldn't be sorry... you've got the right...]

[No, I don't. If Becky wanted me to attack human people, I don't think I could say no, either. Oh, and my name's Kassi.]

Blitzen finally stood up and limped over to the bars. [D'... d'you think we'll ever see our trainers again?] he whimpered.

[I know so... but I don't think we can just sit here and wait for it to happen either,] Kassi explained. [We just need to find a way out...]

[Ummm... I think I have a way... if my thunderbolts can heat up the metal, you might be able to break it!]

[Yeah, but the floors are metal. You can't exactly avoid being shocked by the floor if you do that...]

[Can too!] Blitzen taunted as his cheeks sparked up. Then each of them unleashed numerous sparks of electricity toward the bars dividing the two rooms! [When they turn red, hit 'em!] The sparks became a single stream which slowly intensified, even as sweat collected upon and then began to fall from his brow.

It didn't work, however. While the metal rods easily accepted the stream of lightning which flowed into them, their centres were even more conductive and shunted each tiny milliwatt of power to ground. Yet Blitzen refused to give up. He increased his power output until his eyes bulged from the strain. Kassi, perceiving the futility of the effort, barked, [Blitzen... it ain't working!]

[Yes... it is... attack now!] Blitzen countered, convinced that it was actually succeeding. [Just a little more...]

[You're gonna hurt yourself! Stop!] Running back toward the wall, Kassi then bum-rushed the bars, leaping toward them as a curled-up spiky ball! With a mighty crack like thunder, three of the bars yielded as their tough exteriors, lacking support from the nearly molten copper of their cores, buckled before the smashing collision! But the impact took its toll on the Sandslash, as well; the back of her head, spiky though it was, had connected squarely against the central bar, and as she landed, she felt the disorientation of the impact. She found herself trembling as she gazed down toward Blitzen, and she muttered, [Ouch... guess I was... wrong... ack...]

The Raichu, having expended all his energy blasting away at the bars, likewise gasped, ['s...a'ight... I did overdo it... nnn... but... I won't... fall down first...] He didn't...

...they fell down, unconscious, at the same time.

---------

Becky awoke with a start; between pain and a certain foreboding about her environment which was soon confirmed. The first of these confirmations was that she noticed somewhat of a lack of clothing on her person: gone were her hiking boots, her socks, and an old arctic-camo army jacket she liked to wear. Gone also was a pair of comfortable, durable, and pocket-ridden black sweatpants; all that left her with a considerably oversized shirt, the sleeves of which extended to her elbows and the hem-line, normally safely tucked away beneath pants, actually fell around her knees; and a pair of boxer shorts of very slightly shorter length. While she did normally sleep in such light attire, the fact that she didn't choose this this time was quite distressing.

Not to mention confusing; glancing around, she noticed that she was in a cell similar to those found in prisons, but much darker, much colder, than any imagination could yield. All four walls, composed of wrought iron, were entirely solid and dull gray in colour; the only apparent method of egress was a single door marked by a barred window through which the barest minimum of light gleamed. That light served the singular function of enhancing the ambient darkness within the room.

And there was a noise in the room which approached silence... the faint sound of scratching. Beady eyes stared from previously unnoticed holes near the ground; those, the young trainer realised quickly, were those of Rattatas, undoubtedly waiting for the arrival of a meal.

From beyond the door, the near-silence was sundered by a mocking, deep voice: "Mornin', Becky-chu!"

Unfortunately, it was also familiar. "Billy..." she snapped back, not letting any amount of fear show through, "what the heck d'ya want?"

"To let you sit in there an' become Rattata food, fer one... and we jus' happened to need a few good Pokemon fer an experiment, an' fer a brief moment, I thought yers would work quite well."

"So yer gonna starve me to death an' hurt my friends? Why?"

Billy, never showing his face, laughed heartily. "Because you broke Dad's heart with yer damned Sandshrew. So if you, YOU, Chu, could do that, I figgered, what the hell, I can do it too. So I joined Rocket gang's Iden Division."

"Iden?" The Rocket gang announcement did not surprise Becky in the least, but that word confused her somewhat.

"Ya, Iden. Now, you'll talk to one of our scientists about yer Pokemon jus' to see if they're worth our time..." Finally, the door opened; there stood Billy, in an all-black army combat uniform with the infamous red "R" stitched into the left arm; in his flight-gloved fingers were a number of pokeballs. "I know what yer thinkin', an' I assure ya, I don' wanna get my Blastoise on yer ass. Now, Jorgenssen, the interview." With that, Billy turned sharply, and long shocks of fiery orange hair trailed behind him as he left.

Only after the clopping of his combat boots was no longer audible was it replaced with a much lighter footfall. A woman walked in cautiously; she was not exceptionally tall, and fairly youthful of countenance. It was apparent that something was in one pocket of her lab coat, but exactly what it was was rather difficult to determine. Apart from that, she was clad in black pants, a black shirt with no collar, and black shoes. All black... typical of a Rocket... except that she did not seem to have any of the Rocket insignia.

"Good morning..." she began, her voice low yet melodious. "Just relax, I'm not going to hurt you..."

Becky was already moving into a corner; perhaps from there, she'd be able to defend herself better even though she had her back to two cold walls now. "I don' care if ya hurt me; but if you even *think* about hurtin' my friends, I'll... I'll..."

"I don't want to hurt them, either. In fact, I don't even need the information Captain Gannon wanted from you; I already have that information," the woman responded, somewhat hesitantly, as her deep brown eyes looked over Becky. "I know who you are, too."

"And just what..." Becky was trembling from fear more than from the chill. "What're ya gonna do with that info?"

"Nothing. I don't know how I can convince you to trust me on this, but I can give you this before I go..." The woman reached into her lab coat and pulled out a paper bag containing something. "Wait till I've left, then look. Oh, and for some reason we see each other again, my name's Loren."

"Loren Jorgenssen..."

"No, that would be Cynthia Jorgenssen, if you see me around here. Else, my actual name is Loren Kisaragi. Now, I must go..."

Becky watched the woman go, and made note of the way she walked, and the deep brown tone in her hair. "If you even..." Poking around within the sack, she suddenly fell silent. Inside was a single object, far too familiar, the black gleam of which was clearly visible in the wan light from the now-locked door...

 

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