Chapter Two: Sparks of Revolution
Ralph stared at the note.
He shuddered, frozen with horror. A name that hints the end of the world...
"I can't see through the smoke!" Victor yelled frantically, breaking Ralph out of his trance. The Lucario immediately analyzed the problem and prodded his brain for an answer.
"Charlez, can you use Silver Wind?" Ralph coughed, wheezing as the thick smog filled the air.
"On it!" Charlez yelled, and the high-strung fluttering of her vibrating wings sliced cleanly through the smoke, sending the gray plumes flying everywhere.
The smoke cleared slowly, leaving the obliterated pavement, chunks of steaming stone, and lifeless ashes. The scenario was almost too horrible to look at. Ralph's group might just stood there like frozen statues if Lumiere, his duties as the Head Cleric kicking into action, hadn't immediately rushed into the carbonized wreckage and began searching for the living.
Seeing the brave Chandelure act so calmly, Ralph's group regained their composure and ran into the scene. Injured Pokemon were all over the place. Many were unconscious and a few luckless Pokemon were screeching in an agony as they writhed in a struggle between life and death. The bloody mess was further sickened with pictures of unfortunate bodies scattered over the place. The hospital had been almost entirely blown apart, and the few doctors left alive were busying themselves with injured Pokemon despite their own scraps and injuries.
"Hey! You five, over there!" They heard a faint shout coming from a Chansey. Her face was wearied and burns laced her body, though she seemed unconscious of her own wounds. "Call the police and the Chapel! Some of our staff got injured and we need more Pokemon to help us out with the injured!"
"We need to help as well!" Charlez determined firmly as she called the police and Nuvema Chapel. "Everybody, split up! That way, we can help more Pokemon."
It was a grueling process. A hospital, a place of sanctuary, being destroyed was almost more than any of the anguished Pokemon could take. Why would anyone be so heartless to attack the Pokemon who could not fight and the doctors who had forsworn violence.
I need to do something…Ralph thought desperately, feeling as useless as a used piece of paper that couldn't be recycled. But what? Darkai's already the leader….there's nothing left to do…who even did this, anyways?
When the group had tended to all the Pokemon they could, Charlez decided that it was time they headed home. Jason was shaking with fear, even though he'd seen his own share of more drastic scenarios. The poor Riolu looked ready to collapsed, and his caretaker wasn't about to let the young Pokemon do just that.
"Thank you so much for helping us out." The Chansey from before told them as they left the scene. "If you weren't here, then many of the Pokemon that you healed might not have survived," she said in a stressed but kindly tone.
"No need for thanks," Ralph admitted, "If only we could've stopped the explosion..." He trailed off, and the Chansey sighed drearily before returning to the wounded.
The group then left the hospital and its ruins, each going their own separate ways. Lumiere set off towards the Nuvema Chapel to tend to the other wounded Pokemon, and Victor returned to his own home. After a brief moment of indecision, Charlez sent Jason home and went with Ralph to a small building known as the Oracle's Hall to rendezvous with an old friend of theirs.
The Oracle's Hall was a newly created and quite unknown building built for a lone oracle, a Pokemon with the ability to tell the future. As the elderly Kricketune and rowdy Lucario entered the Oracle's Hall, they tasted the strange incense in the air and shudder at the mysterious whispers that seemed to emmitt from every corner of the hall.
The walls of the mysterious hall were adorned with paintings of Unown and flickering runes - magical symbols invoking power from the shadowy dimension known only to the most skillful enchanters and enchantresses. From the ceiling hung several strands of crystals, which seemed to be indistinctly changing color. There were also strange bronze fire pits along the wall, which seemed to be the origin of the incense.
The hall ended abruptly before large bronze doors holding glowing purple torches. TImidly pushing open the doors, Ralph and Charlez entered a circular room framed with a Pokemon-made channel of shimmering water. The room was glowing with gold and amber, centered around a tall, fire-framed platform holding a pedestal on which the current oracle and and creator of the hall perched upon.
As the two headed up the platform, the oracle's features slowly grew clearer. She had an appearance that vaguely resembled a dog or a wolf, but with a scythe-like tail and a sickle-shaped horn on the side of her head. The Absol that resided there had brilliant blue eyes and wore a maroon, translucent veil around her body. Her claws, face, horn, and tail all resonated with her name...Scarlet.
Ralph winced as he approached. He had an… argument with the shiny Absol a long time ago. It had happened several years before, when Scarlet was just starting her business as an oracle. Looking back at the incident, it seemed quite childish of him to acted that way with Scarlet. He hoped that she had forgiven him since then.
"Hello Ralph," The shiny Absol murmured as the two approached him. She opened her glacial blue eyes and studied her two guests. "And...Charlez. It brings one much joy to see old friends," Scarlet said in a ringing, distant voice, as if her body was there yet her soul was far, far away. "What brings you here to my humble Hall?"
Ralph met her aquamarine eyes with his own despondent, auburn eyes. As Charlez stood waiting, Ralph told Scarlet what had happened at the town hall and hospital. She seemed to mirror his own shocked look when she heard the horrible news, though she was quite calm inside. She was a mysterious being, after all, and even before Ralph had entered the hall, she had already known about the bombing.
As Ralph finished, Scarlet suddenly stiffened. Her eyes flashed brilliantly, and she stumbled, almost falling off her stool. Ralph rushed forward to catch her, but Scarlet waved him off with a flick of her tail. Her eyes, glancing here and there frantically, contradicted the calm, cool tone she spoke in. "Wait," she commanded quietly. "I'm sensing a vision. Allow me to fall into the depths of clairvoyance..."
As soon as she had said that, the fire pits seemed to grow weaker, and the lighting dimmed. Only the fire around Scarlet's throne seemed to be growing stronger, illuminating her. Her eyes glowed white, and she spoke in a deep, distorted tone that was not her own and did not belong to any mortal of the world.
"The event that will change the world
An event with fates, twisted and gnarled…
Changing the future of the politics….
The Ssshadow Force's antics…."
She ended her prophecy with a cough, as if her strange voice was caused by a sore throat, and her voice returned to normal.
"Well… I've never predicted something this serious before. I must be amiss in my visions. I will check the tarot cards…" She spoke aloud as if Ralph wasn't there. She looked wildly around her divining room as she stumbled over to a nearby table, where she kept her other instruments of divination. "Let me see… The Mismagius… The Gogoat… The Duskull… Hmm, I must not have shuffled correctly…" Scarlet proceeded to stagger towards a crystal ball without giving any recognition to Ralph's presence. She then gazed blankly into the crystal ball. "Hmm, I'm pretty sure this is no different. Then I was accurate. Yes, it looks like- " She paused mid-sentence, as if something surprised her. "Ah? I haven't seen that before, deary… Looks like this will certainly be an occasion that will change the world…hmmm….can't tell him….overconfidence…." She muttered, then froze. "No…"
"What will change the world?" Ralph demanded. "Please, tell me!" He had been thoroughly shaken by this entire scene, and did not know Scarlet had not told him the most important parts of the prophecy.
"You will see soon. You will see soon… We must go… continue to play our parts… change the world..." Scarlet said. With that, she stood up and withdrew herself from their presence, leaving a confused Ralph behind her.
"Charlez," Ralph muttered shakily, "What did she mean? What was she trying to tell me?"
"I wouldn't have the slightest idea, Ralph," she said, looking even more confused than Ralph, "But we should really be heading home now before Jason starts to worry."
"Okay then. Let's go home." Ralph said reluctantly. As they left the room, he turned and looked back to see Scarlet watching them, her ice blue eyes piercing and filled with a strange sense of mystery and pain, as if she knew that her time was short and she would never see him again.
The thought made Ralph shiver.
~Some time later…
About an hour had passed since the pair had left the Oracle's Hall. The sun had begun to set while the two were walking home. Ralph had a question locked in the deep recesses of his mind that he couldn't dislodge.
"What do you think the prophecy was about?" Ralph said with an obvious uncertainty, still thinking about the scene at the Oracle's Hall. Scarlet herself had not acted like herself, and Ralph was sure she had seen something terrible in the future.
"Well," Charlez paused, uncertain of what answer Ralph was looking for yet determined to say something that would comfort him. "Well, Ralph, I'm not sure what it is either, but what I do know is that it involves you. You're a special Lucario. You're destined for great things - and don't you ever forget that."
"Maybe we can talk about this when we see Scarlet another time." Ralph said curtly, after a moment of silence. It was clear that he had seen past Charlez's scheme to cheer him up and wasn't pleased with it.
After a long period of silence, he spoke again. "D'you think we should go to Nuvema Chapel to check in on the healing Pokemon?" He proposed, still unwilling to go home without doing all he could to help the wounded. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he still felt guilty for not immediately caring for the wounded protesters, having excitedly first asked VIctor if they could frame Darkrai for the bombing before his attention had turned to the wounded.
"Lumiere should be helping them." Charlez nodded in agreement. She knew Ralph wouldn't let himself have a good night of rest until he felt satisfied by doing a good deed.
The two walked over to the Nuvema Chapel - a tall, wooden church with a giant statue of the Ultimate God, Arceus, in the front. Walking up the well-polished marble steps- which had been engraved with pictures of Mew, Dialga, Palkia, Lugia, and many other Immortals - they met a pair of large oaken doors with brass handles in the shape of Dragonairs. Pushing open the gigantic doors, they could see the magnificent inside of the Chapel.
To their left, resting in a roped-off area, sat a huge organ, polished down to the last key. In front of them was a long, velvet-carpeted hallway leading up to a podium, surrounded by rows of birchwood pews. Behind the podium was a regal picture of Arceus, surrounded with the hexagonal-shaped plates.
As Ralph passed through the Dialga and Palkia statues that flanked the doorway, a Misdreavus popped into view. Her being a Ghost type, Ralph wasn't sure if she had just happened to be there or had simply materialized into view. Either way, he nearly hit his head on the ceiling when she appeared with a frisky: "BOO! Gotcha!"
Ralph stumbled, surprised, and barely avoided screaming like a little Chatot. The Misdreavus giggled playfully.
"Silly! I didn't mean it!" She said cheerfully. "Sorry about that...I just couldn't help it! The last Head Cleric fired me three times in a row but he gave up and left when I just wouldn't leave. There's no harm in a little fun - but that's beyond the point. How may I help you two?"
"You can start by not scaring the waffles out of me." Ralph mumbled. Charlez shoved him.
"We're looking for a Chandelure by the name of Lumiere." Charlez said, eyeballing Ralph. "May we please see him?"
"Ah, the head cleric?" The Misdreavus cooed cheerfully. "Yes, he's tending to some injured Pokemon downstairs. Come this way, please!" She led them to a stone tablet behind the Palkia statue. Muttering something that sounded like "Apertum", she caused the stone tablet to slide into the statue. Suddenly, with alarmingly silent action, a platform paved downwards from the base of the statue, revealing a spiral staircase.
"Security measures," The Misdreavus laughed half-heartedly when Charlez gave her a look. "Have to keep the wounded and sick safe, after all!"
The staircase led into a room, which would have looked like the main church above, if it weren't for the dim lighting and the slightly lower roof. In the place of pews laid a collection of beds where wounded, beaten up and sick Pokemon lay in a fitful sleep.
"Ah, you're here!" Ralph spotted the Chandelure, who likewise saw Ralph as soon as the Lucario entered. "I'm in the process of healing, please hold up for a bit." Lumiere said as he cast a Heal Pulse on an injured Wigglytuff. He then applied a strange, minty ointment to his patient's skin. A Panpour nurse next to him carefully used a jelly-like bandage to bound the Wigglytuff's wounds.
"Hey," Lumiere called out to the clerics as soon as he had looked over the Wigglytuff with approval and allowed the Panpour to be dismissed., "I will be with some visitors." Turning towards the Misdreavus, he spoke in a lower tone, "Medea, please continue applying ointment to this patch of skin every two hours, and allow it to dry. Also...please don't show anymore Pokemon to this place. It's off-limits to all visitors...incidentally, you haven't been scaring more Pokemon, have you?"
Medea smiled guiltily with a sideways glance at Ralph and Charlez and fluttered off. With a sigh, Lumiere gestured to Ralph and Charlez and led the two back upstairs. Turning towards the staircase embedded inside the Palkia statue, he quietly muttered "Claudo" and flew back to allow the trapdoor to collapse back into a stone slab.
"Do you two need anything?" Lumiere asked, as if nothing significant had happened. "Would you like some refreshments?" His ghostly purple fires flickered.
"No, thank you. But I would like to discuss something with you," Ralph murmured. He then proceeded to explain what happened at the Oracle's Hall.
"Hmm, quite unusual. From what I've heard, Scarlet has never made huge, world-changing prophecies before…" Lumiere replied slowly. "But again, oracles are quite scarce nowadays, ever since that incident...well, never mind that. I'll go talk to her when I can…" He broke off as a Chimecho came from behind the statue. Lumiere tilted to one side in confusion. Seeing this, the Chimecho bowed hastily and presented a lump wrapped in cloth to Lumiere.
"What's this?" Lumiere inquired hurriedly, looking concerned. The Chimecho muttered something inaudible, looking ashamed of himself. Lumier inspected the lump, which looked like a burnt pile of grass, "Looks like this, whatever it is, was dipped in acid and set on fire…what did you say happened?" Chimecho looked down and muttered again, his cheeks burning bright red.
"Oh, that's what happened to the ointment." Lumiere said dismissively. "Well, that's okay. We have plenty of Pecha Berries, thankfully. Get a fresh one and and don't drop it into the alchemist's brew again. Roast it well - please be careful with the fire. I'd hate to have another incident like last week. While you wait, make a Shoal Shell medicine for the patient. Make sure to grind it to a fine powder and add a few drops of water, for easy consumption. I'll come down shortly to see that Vertigo doesn't do anything else wrong. So clumsy, that one…" He murmured something else, and the Chimecho flew off.
Lumiere turned towards Ralph and Charlez, looking apologetic, "Sorry about that. With all the new patients coming in...well, some of the clerics aren't exactly well-trained in the path of medicine. On another note, it's getting quite late. I believe you two should be going back. I'll see if I know anything that connects to the prophecy."
"Yes, we must check to see that Jason isn't getting into any dilemmas. Good evening!" Charlez agreed. "And thanks for everything!"
"Are you sure you don't need help?" Ralph asked.
Lumiere shook his head. "We're doing fine here...for now. You should get some rest."
Ralph nodded. "Okay then… and thank you."
"You're welcome." Lumiere said darkly, looking haggard and weary. "Farewell, friends."
Ralph and Charlez left the chapel and headed back towards their house, expecting nothing to be out of ordinary…
~Meanwhile, within a room of Ralph's house…
"What's taking those two so long?" Jason complained to himself as he hopped around the house, waving a syrup-covered waffle. "It's been hours, and they said they'd be back in an hour!"
The house was quiet as he had done everything he could to occupy himself with while waiting for Ralph and Charlez. Unfortunately, not being a Pokemon of many hobbies, Jason had succumbed to boredom and wasted his free time making waffles. After two hours of cookings - during which he filled up half the house with waffles - a knock on the wooden door startled the waffle-loving Riolu.
"Huh, who is it…?" Jason murmured to himself, walking to the door after shoving the last batch of waffles into the closet. He knew Charlez hated seeing the tidy house turned into Waffletopia and reverently hoped she never had the desire to open the closet door. He couldn't imagine the disastrous results if the elderly insect did.
"Big bro? Are you back?" Jason called, hurrying to the door. On opening the door, he found a group of puppet-like pokemon awaiting him. "Uh...who are you?"
"We are the Shadow Force police!" One of the Banette shrieked. "You are under arrest!"
"Keep calm and eat waffles." Jason told them, and slammed the door in their faces. "Sheesh. Police these days. You'd think they'd have the sense to arrest good ol' Sito across the street there with all his illegal smuggling."
Unfortunately for him, the group of Banettes simply rushed straight through the door, catching the surprised and innocent Riolu off guard. The lead Banette barged into the room, pinning Jason to the wall. "Are you associated with a Lucario named Ralph?" she screeched angrily, her eyes flashing with anger.
Jason, not exactly comprehending the seriousness of the situation, rolled his eyes. He didn't exactly want to answer yes, since he got the idea that the Banettes would go ballistic if he did. "No, I'm not. Why, though?"
The Banette's anger seemed to shake throughout her entire body. She expertised in telling lies apart from the truth and was not pleased that this Riolu, whom she associated as Ralph's younger brother, would dare to lie to an expert like her. With a shriek, she hurled Jason across the room with a devastating amount of power.
If Jason hadn't been a Riolu with speed and agility, he would've broken quite a few bones. But since he was, he managed to use the momentum to bounce off the walls and land back on his paws. Suddenly comprehending that the police officers weren't toying around, he began to shake with fear as he realized his arrogance was about to lead to his demise.
"Where is he, you filthy little rat?!" The lead Banette screamed. "Where?"
"Umm, I'm more like a blue jackal, you kno - "
"SILENCE!" She roared, her screeching expel a blast of violent wind great enough to blow Jason right out his own door. Jason hit the pavement with a sickening thud and was promptly swarmed and handcuffed by the Banette group.
By the time Ralph and Charlez finally neared home, the sun was setting and the star-speckled night sky was rising to the heavens. Unaware of the poor Jason being dragged down the street, they chatted cheerfully about their new acquaintance with Lumiere.
As they walked down the street towards their house, Ralph spotted the group of Banettes with his sharp eyesight. He thought nothing of it at first sight, since many police groups patrolled his street and would've dismissed them completely if he hadn't heard a loud, indignant voice screaming. "EAT WAFFLES!"
"Jason!" Charlez exclaimed, hurrying forwards. "Wh-what?" Her eyes widened with terror. Ralph grabbed her and ducked behind a neighbor's fence as the patrol neared them, carrying the struggling Jason. One of the Banettes was trying to place a muzzle on him, but the Riolu writhed and threw random waffles out of the blues. Judging by the many bruises several of the Banettes bore, Jason's waffles had made several critical hits.
"What do we do?" Charlez whispered, her eyes filled with shock and terror. "Poor Jason…"
"We have to save him!" Ralph decided in a hushed voice. "He's done nothing wrong!"
"What if we just ask them?" Charlez asked. "Sure this is all just a misundersta - "
"Hey, but what about that protester leader?" A Banette said out loud. "He's not at the house. Where is he, then? Our orders were to arrest the leader. We can't go back like this!"
"MRRF!" Jason grunted and kicked a Banette in the face. "MRRR MRRRRFF!"
"We'll find him, and arrest him and all his accomplices." The lead Banette said coolly, ducking away from one of Jason's furious blows. "The Great Lord Darkrai has only became the leader. We cannot afford to have a revolt started by our rivals."
"Okay, we can do nothing and get arrested, or we can go out there and save Jason." Ralph whispered to Charlez. "Choose, please."
"We're going to get arrested either way." Charlez said. "But I'm with you."
The pair tensed as the Banette group came closer and closer. Jason apparently had been muzzled, since his loud voice could no longer be heard, but he was still struggling valiantly, flailing about and kicking like a kid with a temperamental problem.
"On my mark." Ralph whispered. "One...two…"
"MRRRFFF!" Jason hollered and smacked a Banette with his fluffy tail.
Charlez and Ralph sprang on the Banettes and started fighting with all their wit. Charlez lashed out with a Bug Buzz, causing the Banettes holding Jason to collapsed with pain, gripping their heads. The elderly Kricketune raced over and broke the handcuffs with an expert blow. Jason yanked the muzzle off his mouth and threw it like a javelin at the nearest Banette. The puppet-like creature fell backwards. Meanwhile Ralph lashed out with Metal Claw, sending two Banettes flying, but failed a Hi(gh) Jump Kick, landing painfully on his knees several meters away. The lead Banette moved in on him, but Jason grabbed her and smashed her to the ground with a stunningly vicious Force Palm.
Three Banette remained standing. Charlez used X-Scissor and took down one of them, while Ralph used Sky Uppercut, followed by Jason's Bullet Punch. The remaining Banettes collapsed easily.
The lead Banette, however, had not earned her place for nothing. With the last bit of her strength, she grabbed her radio communicator and screeched into it. "This is Patrol Unit 201, requesting backup immediately!"
"Roger that, units 165 and 172 are nearby and on the way," A dispatcher responded. In a short amount of time, while the three protesters were panting and trying to regather their strength, two platoons appeared.
"Jason, Charlez!" Ralph yelled, "We need to get out of here, we can't handle that many of them!"
"Way ahead of you!" Jason screamed shrilly and ran for all he was worth. The three darted through the backyards of many homes, hoping that they would lose the Shadow Force squads. Unfortunately, the Banettes following them simply floated after them. Ralph's heart raced with fear as he watched the Banettes quickly gain on the three escapees.
How do we get out of this? The fearful thought raced through Ralph's mind. His brain gears turned furiously as he searched for a way to stall the police.
"Charlez!" He yelled, panting. "Use Flash so we can lose them!"
Charlez, used to meeting her wards' demands, reacted immediately. A brilliant white glow enveloped a ten-meter-wide radius, and the Banettes stumbled and crashed against each other, screaming: "I'm blind! I'm blind!"
"I'm blind too!" Jason wailed, paws flailing before his eyes. Charlez grabbed him and fluttered on.
The three escapees ran into a parking lot behind a grocery store. It was completely filled with empty cars, but a large van nearest to the three protesters held a Blaziken and a Leafeon, who were arguing loudly.
"Lumiose!" The Blaziken at the wheel snapped.
"Castelia!" The Leafeon argued.
"No, we should go to Lumiose because it's cooler there, just like me." The Blaziken stated with a smug expression.
"You're anything but cool, Mark." The Leafeon pointed out. "Being a Fire type and all. One would think you're the opposite of cool."
"Says the Leafeon who always turns up the heat in rooms." Mark the Blaziken retorted.
The Leafeon looked offended. "Okay, first of all I like the wa-"
"I don't need to hear your story, Marcus. We're going to Lumiose City." Mark said decidedly.
"Nah, Castelia is better. It has the nice skyscrapers. And we might have a chance to go on the Royal Unova." Marcus the Leafeon rebuked. "Lumiose is lame."
"But Lumiose has tons of shops and restaurants and stuff."
"Castelia has some neat art though."
"So does Lumiose."
"Lumiose art can't beat Castelian art if it tried." Marcus stated.
Mark rolled his beady eyes. "At least Lumiose has restaurants and a nice hotel."
"But they only sell Casteliacones in Castelia City."
"But they only sell Delcatty brand clothes in Lumiose City." Mark said, slightly mocking Marcus, "Anyways, they have Lumiose Galletes."
"Casteliacones are better. A recent study has found that they contain this stuff called serotonin." Marcus defended himself.
"Serotonin," Marcus explained. "basically a chemical that makes you happy, but it's a lot more complicated than that."
"Since when did you learn that?"
"Well, the Casteliacone stand had this entire brochure on it."
"And you read that?"
"Face it, Mark," Marcus said. "With the Shadow Force banning all region-to-region travelling, we're stuck in Unova. Now start the van and get over to Castelia City. And please don't throw me through the roof this time. You got us seventeen tickets for speeding last time and the police are still looking for us to pay them back."
"That's why I want to go to Lumiose!" Mark said drily.
"Well, dude - if you hadn't gone at two hundred miles per hour- "
Their argument was suddenly interrupted a by a loud noise. The group, having heard the two's quarrel from far away, ran towards their truck. Jason crashed into the van, while Ralph knocked frantically on the window. Mark rolled down the square of glass..
"I don't have any money to give." he said, looking quite annoyed. "Get lost."
"Money?" Ralph demanded, readying a sharp retort. However, in the distance, he heard the yells from the bamboozled Banette officers, signaling that the group was running out of time, "Ugh, never mind! ! We just need your help….!" He spun around, his sharp ears twitching. The yells were growing louder, and Jason was in a half-faint near the back of the van with Charlez supporting him.
"Why would I help you?" Mark asked, raising a bushy eyebrow.
"We're being chased by the police for-" Ralph was interrupted by the Banette patrols. With horrible timing, the two patrols of officers appeared from the alley, rubbing their eyes.
"Get them!" One Banette screeched.
"We're dead!" Jason groaned. "Dear Zygardes - please don't be harsh on me during my Judgement. I didn't mean to stuff so many waffles inside the closets. Also, the waffle machine explosion that blew up Charlez's dresser was unintentional, and - "
"That was you?" Charlez demanded.
"Please, help!" Ralph begged staring at Mark.
Mark's claws tightened on the wheel, and Marcus watched him with concern. But Mark had his mind made up. Having experienced many previous encounters with the Shadow Force police, it was safe to say he had lost all affection for the Shadow Force and Darkrai.
"Get in." The Blaziken said.
"Wait, what?!" Marcus yelped, confused, "Why would we let three strangers in the car?" He waved his leafy tail.
"Because," Mark paused, staring at his companion. "They're being chased by the Shadow Force. Remember what they did to us?"
"Well, I suppose." Marcus blinked, then lean over Mark to look out the window. "Any enemy of the Shadow Force is a friend of mine. Hop on in!"
The three Pokemon entered the van from the back, and Mark revved the engine as a Banette approached the car.
"Stop, in the name of the Shadow Force!" the Banette yelled.
"Screw you." Mark said softly. The van's engine roared, and slammed into the Banette, who yelped and curled into a ball to decrease the amount of damage taken. The other Banettes skittered to a stop. One of the Ghost-types bearing the mark of a commander pulled out a radio communicator.
"Attention all units, the suspects have entered a vehicle and are escaping." The Banette exclaimed, hatred in his eyes.
"Roger that, units in the area are now in pursuit." The dispatcher confirmed.
Mark's van hit eighty miles per hour as it rumbled down a road, narrowly missing several pedestrians. They headed onto a barren, forlorn-looking road and headed for the highway.
"Are we saved?" Jason asked.
"We are." Charlez said. "But I'm not forgiving you for blowing up my dresser."
"It was an accident!"
"That thing was worth a year of my savings!"
Ralph breathed a sigh of relief and peered out of of the windows in the foldable back doors of the van, which was more of an RV than a van. Couches and a built-in cabinet furnished the inside of the vehicle, and Ralph finally relaxed a bit. A good twenty minutes passed before trouble found them again.
Marcus was the first one to notice something wrong. His almond eyes spotted two rapidly moving vehicles behind Mark's van in the rearview mirror. Then he poked his head out the shotgun seat's window and gulped. "Uh, Mark?"
"Yea?" Mark answered, completely absorbed in his driving as he maneuvered his way past two smaller cars.
Marcus yelped and jerked his head back in. "There are two armored police trucks right behind us!"
"What?!" Mark cursed and slammed his foot on the gas pedal. The van zipped passed multiple cars in a vain attempt to stay ahead of the police trucks. Unfortunately, the other cars obediently made way for the police squad cars, clearing a path for them.
"Never mind!" Jason whimpered. "We're dead again."
"Hold on!" Mark ordered. The van swerved precariously and entered a large road used for traveling to other cities, but with less cars. The force of the turn sent Jason flying into the cabinet and bouncing into one of the couches.
"Zygardes! I'm repenting! Please don't throw me around anymore!" Jason pleaded. "I never meant to eat the strawberry preserves Charlez saved for company!"
"What?" Charlez screeched as Mark's van plunged past two construction trucks and zoomed on. "And you told me you knew nothing about it!"
"Guy, stop it!" Ralph yelled. Behind them, the two armored trucks began to catch up.
"Mark, they're getting closer…" Marcus said, trying to stay calm but involuntarily shaking with pure fright. "Uh, Mark?
"I know, I know." Mark answered through gritted teeth. "I can see them through the rearview mirror. They're still several meters back"
"Mark, have you ever heard of 'Objects in the rearview mirror appear larger than they seem'?" Marcus asked.
"Screw it!" Mark hissed with frustration and slammed his foot repeatedly on the pedal.
"Mark, they're catching up." Marcus warned.
"I know." Mark growled.
"Mark, they're like, really, really close."
"I know!" Mark snapped.
"Mark, they're right behind us!" Marcus finally exploded.
"I KNOW!" Mark slammed his foot on the pedal and the van went to two hundred-eighty miles per hour. Marcus bopped his head on the roof of the car. Jason screamed shrilly and prayed to various gods and goddesses and while Charlez hugged herself and Ralph bounced around the van. Thanks to the burst of speed, the two armored trucks began to fall far behind just as the well-paved concrete road turned into an unfinished dirt path. With a bump that threw Ralph into the roof, they passed the district borders of Nuvema Town.
"Stop! We can't pass the district borders!" a Banette yelled over the radio coms, loud enough for Ralph's sharp hearing to detect. In the rearview mirror, Mark breathed a sigh of relief as both of the armored trucks came to a halt.
"We're saved" Jason said, looking sick. "I'm going to puke but we're saved."
"Yep, they won't be following us now." Mark confirmed happily. The van exited the freeway and entered the town roads, then made a U-turn. "I know a safe place in Nuvema we can stay for the night. We can't go to Accumula because the, uh...the Accumula Police kind of still want me for speeding."
"I told you that would be a problem." Marcus said. "But no, you were all like - 'Drive like the wind!"
"Well, my skills saved us today." Mark pointed out smugly. Marcus rolled his eyes but held his tongue. The van was silent as each Pokemon savored the satisfying taste of victory.
"So, we've never properly introduced ourselves." Charlez said suddenly, breaking the silence. Marcus pricked an ear in surprise but stayed silent as Charlez went on. "My name is Charlie, but you can just call me Charlez. Those two brothers are my wards, since their parents had passed away a long time ago. The elder one - the Lucario - is Ralph, and the Riolu is called Jason."
"Hi." Jason said cheerfully.
"Nice to meet you." Ralph introduced.
"Well," Mark said, scratching his head uncomfortably. "As you can tell, my name is Mark. I'm sure you all heard Marcus - that moronic Leafeon over there - yelling it." Mark turned to glare at Marcus for a few moments. "Sheesh! Your panicking makes me feel panicked. How many times do I have to tell you to not yell while I'm driving?!"
"I don't know." Marcus said sheepishly. "A hundred? Anyways, I'm Marcus. Nice meeting you."
"Same here." Charlez greeted graciously.
"So, why did you guys let us in your van?" Jason wondered aloud.
"Well," Mark stared at the dashboard. "I guess...well, you were being chased by the Shadow Force. They took my parents a few years ago, after they took over the entire military compartments in the world."
"Oh." Jason said. "Um, want a waffle?"
An awkward silence followed. Marcus, not liking those moments, poked his head out the window again, then frowned.
"Hey, Mark?" Marcus asked warily.
"Yea?" Mark responded in an exasperated voice.
"How long has that car been following us?"
"Hmm…" Mark glanced in the rearview mirror and took note of a dark vehicle that had been shadowing them for a few moments now. "I don't know. But it's just some car."
Ralph narrowed his eyes and pressed his face against the back windows of the van. Peering through the thick glass, he spotted two Pokemon inside the suspicious car. One was a wolflike creature - a Mightyena - that seemed to be cowering behind the windshield and attempting not to throw up. The other one, the one on the wheel, was a Zoroark.
Ralph pricked his ears, trying to listen with his heightened hearing. He wasn't pleased at what he heard.
"I've spotted the suspects, I need a blockade three miles from here just in case I don't apprehend the suspects, and bring someone who knows how to cast an effective Shadow Ball just in case." the Zoroark yelled, his glittering eyes fixed on the van.
"Uh, guys?" Ralph coughed and repeated what he had heard.
"Doesn't look like just some car!" Jason yelped.
"Yes, sir. Sending in unit 196 immediately." A Pokemon over the radio com responded. Ralph gulped and repeated the words. Mark cursed as the car increased speed and rammed into the van.
" What the - ?" Marcus yelled. "Waah! Damn it! Mark, get us out of here!"
"Stop yelling!" Mark shouted, stepping frantically on the gas pedal. The attempt was futile, as the truck behind them roared and rammed into Mark's van. "No, please!" Mark complained. "I just got this van out of the auto body shop!"
"Jeez, this guy is more aggressive and faster than those armored trucks!" Marcus muttered, clinging tightly to the safety harness.
"His friend doesn't look like his stomach agrees with the driving." Jason noted. Sure enough, the Mightyena looked like it was about to toss its cookies.
"I have an idea." Mark said suddenly, grinding his teeth as the Shadow Force's car edged closer. "I want you guys throw everything that's in the back of the van at the car."
"What?!" Marcus yelled.
"We don't really have a choice, plus, they're replaceable."
"But I just bought that couch!" Marcus protested. "It's soft, comfy, and has a - "
"Get back there and help them open the back doors!"
"But - "
Marcus muttered a complaint and slipped to the back to join Ralph, Charlez, and Jason. Upon opening the doors, the four fugitives began hurling everything they had at the chasing car. Marcus's couch went flying out and fractured the thick windshield of the tailing car.
"Hey, guys! look what I found!" Jason, who was rummaging around the cabinet and throwing out random items - bottles of tea, chocolate, cream puffs - suddenly yelled.
"Don't drink my tea!" Marcus told him, throwing a lamp out the back door. "I'm saving it for later!"
Marcus's tea went flying out the back with an enthusiastic hurl from Jason.
"HEY!" The Leafeon wailed.
"Look what I got!" Jason insisted. He held up a bottle of Fizza brand soda and mint called Puffy Peppermints, both of which were made and sold by S&V Confectionery.
"Woah," Ralph said, edging away, "That stuff combined can explode."
"Mostly due to the extra carbon dioxide in the soda and the extra surface area on the peppermint." Marcus added. "Very woah."
Mark looked at Marcus. "Since when were you so smart?"
"I did graduate from the academy."
"May I remind of how much of a nerd you were back then?"
"Very funny, Mark. Focus on the driving."
"What the green dude said!" Jason agreed, shoving the peppermints into the soda bottle.
"Uh, Jason?" Ralph yelped. "I have a bad feeling about - "
"Bombs away!" Jason yelled as he chucked it out the window. The bottle exploded the second it reached the chaser's car, the bottle cap punching straight through the windshield.
"Darn it!" The Zoroak screeched. The glass, already damaged, crumbled under the fizzy bomb. The car spun around and skidded to a stop. Ralph pricked his ears to hear the Zoroak yelling into his radio com. "Attention all units, I have failed to apprehend the suspects."
"We're still alive!" Jason cheered as Marcus latched the back doors together again. "We're alive!" then he saw a horrifying scene approaching Mark's van. "Oh, no. We're dead again! We're alive but we're dead again!"
"Umm, Mark?" Marcus gulped. "Is that really there or am I hallucinating again?"
"I wish you were." Mark replied drearily, looking mad enough to rip the wheel off the car. Ahead of the van were walls with multiple Banettes, Duskulls, and an assortment of Pokemon officers ready to attack them. Mark slammed his foot down on the brake pedal and spun to a stop. Several Banettes opened their mouths, and a line of malicious Shadow Balls manifested into existence.
"Everyone out of the car, now!" Mark yelled out. He glanced around quickly. Having gotten onto the town roads, there were plenty of alleyways to duck into. He rapidly spotted a shady-looking alley. "Over there! Quick!" He shouted, then stared in dismay as Marcus struggled to unlatch the back doors to let the other three Pokemon out. "Hurry, Marcus!"
"Ready," a Banette yelled, "set, fire!" Several orbs glowing with darkness sped towards the van. The van shuddered from the impact and soon gave in to the pressure, collapsing as it was engulfed in purple fire.
"We gotta run!" Ralph shrieked, grabbing Jason's paw.
The group reached the alley under the cover of the smoke-filled scene.
"Is everyone okay?" Ralph asked.
"I'm still in one piece." Marcus said. "My sweet tea just got used as a ballista missile, but I'm still in one piece."
"Same." Jason added, looking thoroughly shaken but relieved.
"I'm fine." Mark said, brushing himself off. "Can't say the same for my van, though." he added with a rueful look at the wreckage of his burning car.
"But that's only… four Pokemon…" Ralph gulped. "W-Where?"
"Ch-ch-charlez…" Jason whimpered and started crying and screaming. "Ralph! Charlez! She's...she's…" unable to speak, he pointed shakily at a body several feet behind Ralph, covered in purple-black burn marks.
"Charlez….." Ralph started trembling. "Charlez!"
"Nana!" Jason wailed. Marcus placed a caramel paw gently around the small Pokemon's shoulders. The Leafeon understood grief. A long time ago, thanks to those Shadow Force scums, he'd lost one of his best friends. Because of that experience, he could comprehend Jason's worries and pain.
Ralph might've stood there for eternity, but Mark, who was an expert in the running-away business, grabbed him by the shoulders."We have to go!" The Blaziken insisted. "As soon as that smoke clears, they'll find us!".
"No! We have to help her!" Ralph yelled back.
"Nana's dead!" Jason wailed. "I'm so sorry, Charlez! That time the kitchen got covered in slime? That was me! And I was the one who ate all the cookies you saved for your church friends! And the time that you - "
"We're going to get spotted if we go get her, but do it anyways" Mark hissed furiously, clamping his claws over Jason's mouth. "Hurry!"
"Watch my back!" Ralph yelped. He raced over, plowing through two curious Duskulls who'd gone over to check out the burning car. Grabbing Charlez gently, Ralph rushed back to where the others were. With Mark's quick nod, the group ran down the alley.
"Over there!" Someone behind them shouted. A barrage of attacks flew after them, but Marcus and Mark deflected them with a perfect combination of Energy Ball and Flamethrower. The officers yelled and started running down the alley which led to Nuvema Town.
"We have to get her to the hospital!" Ralph panted as they exited the alley and ran through a deserted road that led them back towards Nuvema Town.
"The hospital just got blown up, genius." Jason whimpered.
"Then our house!"
"We…" Mark said, wheezing as he ran, "can't take… her there… They'll find… us… We have… t… to hide…"
"Our safe house is on the other side of town." Marcus warned, not looking out of breath at all. "Where else can we go? Please don't tell me we need to steal another van. I hate being an outlaw and thief enough."
"I didn't steal that van!" Mark protested. "I found it abandoned"
"Yeah it was...after you pushed the driver out!"
"Follow me… " Ralph wheezed, suddenly thinking up a certain Pokemon who could possibly help them "I'll….explain...later!"
The group followed Ralph towards the Nuvema Chapel, which was fortunately near the road they'd taken. They arrived, coughing and gasping for breath. Mark shoved open the doors and collapsed inside the chapel, while Marcus, carrying Jason, followed suit. Ralph came in last, holding tightly onto Charlez. Lumiere was at the podium, flipping through a large book.
"Hmm… 'The third law of antidotes states that," he muttered to himself, "...antidotes for blended poisons are not simply the antidotes of each separate pois-'" He stopped mid-sentence, noticing Ralph, Jason, Mark, Marcus, and an injured Charlez. "What's hap- ?"
Ralph interrupted Lumiere, gasping, "No time to explain… We're being chased… Shadow Force… Charlez…"
Lumiere listened patiently and immediately understood what Ralph meant and wanted. He paused, uncertain whether he should help the escapees, but quickly made up his mind."Come this way." He led them over to the Dialga statue and muttered "Apertum.", which caused the stone slab to turn into a staircase and he gestured them downstairs.
"What exactly is going on?" Marcus asked, looking at the various shelves containing herbs, potions, and tools as he walked down the hidden staircase.
"No time to explain. Carpe diem." Lumière replied. He led all three towards an empty cabinet and whispered, "Aperio absconditus." The pieces of wood that made up the cabinet drifted away from each other at the word and reassembled themselves into a door, which swung open immediately.
"Woah." Mark said, looking stunned. "The Chandelure dude...you know magic?"
Lumiere ignored him and led them through the door. Behind the door was a room, which looked quite like a hotel room, and containing much of the same luxuries of a real hotel room. Lumiere gestured them to go in, and Ralph laid Charlez gently down on a nearby bed.
Lumiere looked around at them. "You'll have to tell me the full story later." he said in a guarded tone. Three curious clerics who had been residing in the room sprang to attention at Lumiere's voice and looked at the battered Kricketune laying down on one of the beds, then at the grim-covered Pokemon around them. "But you can rest here for now."
"Thanks, Lumiere." Ralph said gratefully. "Oh, and this is Mark the Blaziken and Marcus the Leafeon." He added.
Lumiere nodded listlessly. "Services will be starting soon...make yourselves comfortable. You can watch my sermon from that device over there." he added, nodded at a large screen that dominated an entire wall of the secret room.
Jason hiccuped. "Lumi...Charlez…" he gulped. "She…"
Lumiere studied Charlez, looking calm but concerned. Then he turned towards a Liligant, "Clarisse, we have a Pokemon who is injured by a dark burn. I need you to juice three Colbur Berries and a Rawst Berry. Combine the juices until it turns indigo. Add the mixture to base ointment until it's well mixed. Then apply ointment on the burn every five minutes. The supplies and instructions are over there." He directed her to a cabinet, and she brought out a bowl containing tools and ingredients, plus a scroll of parchment. "I'll need to leave now. Please treat these guests well...but don't tell the other clerics of their presence. I will speak to them myself."
Clarisse nodded calmly and Lumiere looked sternly at the group. "Don't attempt to leave this place." he warned. "I promise on my honor that I'll hide you for today, but I would like to hear the rest of your story before I make anymore decisions." He dipped his head slightly. "Clarisse, please close the door after I leave. Aphere and Spaire, please come with me." He added. The two other clerics in the room - a Deerling and a Chimchar, obeyed him, flanking him as he floated swiftly through the door.
"Dissimulare absconditus." Clarisse called as soon as Lumiere had flown off with the two other clerics. The pieces of wood that made up the door floated apart and reassembled themselves back into what looked like the backside of a cabinet. Ralph, Jason, Mark, Marcus, and Charlez were left in the room with Clarisse, who was mixing the juices together.
Jason, Mark, and Marcus collapsed on a couch nearby, and Jason started snoring almost immediately. Ralph, however, was still worried.
"Will she be okay?" Ralph asked Clarisse, feeling nervous.
"Yes, I assure you she'll be just fine." Clarisse responded calmly, while adding the juice to the base ointment. "Unfortunately, these are third-degree dark burns. But I'm making a treatment right now. Her life isn't in danger right now, so you have no need to worry."
"What are dark burns?" Ralph inquired.
Clarisse paused from her work to glance briefly at Ralph. "Well, dark burns are not exactly the same as burns; they are only named that because their appearances are quite similar to burns." She pointed at a dark patch on Charlez's body. "They are caused by most Dark and Ghost type moves. This effect will numb the neural network, causing them temporary blindness and prohibiting them from moving most muscles. Lungs, kidneys, and other organs are still somewhat unaffected by this."
"Will this," Ralph pointed at the ointment, which she was now finished with and applying to Charlez, "cure her?"
"Unfortunately, no." Clarisse said in a sad voice. "This will weaken the effects of the dark burn, allowing an easy treatment. However, full recovery is only possible by sending an electrical pulse through her neural system, effectively neutralizing the dark energy. But we don't have things like that in the chapel, only the hospital has such machines."
There was an awkward silence, but this was interrupted by some noises upstairs - which was to say, coming from the stairs in front of the chapel.
Marcus jumped. "What was that?"
Clarisse looked worried and pressed a small button on the side of a wall. Immediately, the screen that filled one of the walls flickered to life. giving them a view of the chapel from a camera planted on the Dialga statue's head.
"Without further ado, we shall know more about what The Great Lord Arceus has giv-" Lumiere was saying, in a solemn voice, when he was interrupted with a large bang. The oaken doors flew open and the Chandelure looked up from the podium, looking surprised and annoyed.
A Banette entered the chapel, followed by five others. "This the Shadow Force Law Enforcement Department!" he shouted, while the Pokemon attending the service murmured anxiously among themselves. "Please remain calm! We have been given orders to inspect the Nuvema Chapel!"
"We're screwed." Mark said. "We're trapped here and we're screwed and my van's gone."
"We're...dead…" Jason murmured in his sleep. "Char-lezz…."
"The Head Cleric will never turn his friends in." Clarisse said confidently.
On the screen, Lumiere looked slightly irritated as a Banette approached the podium, speaking in a nasal voice. "Do you understand?"
"I'm sorry, I don't believe I've heard correctly." Lumiere replied, an edge to his cool voice.
"We request an inspection of this chapel for runaway suspects!" The Banette barked. "If they are found here, you will be arrested for being an accomplice in a hit-and-run attack!"
"Well, have a look," Lumiere responded smoothly. "I don't see them."
There was a moment of silence as the Banettes searched the chapel. But they did not know of the underground hideout.
The chapel was silent as the Banettes finished their inspections and gathered near the Palkia statue to converse.
Lumiere cleared his throat. "Ahem, then, shall we continue the teachings of The Great Lord Arceus? Please turn your prayer books to pa-"
"We request an interrogation of every person in this building!" the Banette yelled again.
"Would you please leave this place?" Lumière asked politely, although sounding quite annoyed. "This Nuvema Chapel is a place of holiness, not meant for ruffians like yourselves."
Lumiere's eyes narrowed dangerously, and he spoke in an incredibly dangerous voice. "I'm sorry, I don't think I've made myself clear enough. Please leave now. You are quite disrupting the sermon."
"And what makes you think you can do that?!" the Banette retorted. "What gives you permission to order us around?"
"Oh dear, I'm not quite so sure. Possibly the new bill passed by Darkrai?" Lumiere said flatly. "I am a Ghost type, after all. It does me much injustice to use such a lawful retort, but I am sure that everyone in here would like you to leave." The Pokemon attending the service all murmured in agreement.
There was a moment of silence, as if the Banette didn't know how to respond.
"By the way, I'm also in charge of this place. So it would be quite pleasant if you could leave. NOW." Lumiere doors open and close again, signaling that they have left. There was more silence. Then Lumiere cleared his throat and started his two-hour sermon.
~Two hours later…
"Persephone, please scout around the chapel to make sure that there are no remaining Shadow Force troops spying on us. And request an electrical treatment machine from the hospital - or what's left of it -while you're at it. Thanks." Through a curtain of sleep, Ralph heard a low voice speaking nearby. He opened his eyes to see the magical doors closing as a Pokemon went through. Lumiere was floating near the wall with the screen, studying an aerial view of Nuvema Town.
Ralph went over immediately. "Thank you." He said formally. "For everything."
"You are very much welcome." Lumiere replied quietly. "But you five must stay here: you're all in great danger. I spread some rumors that a group of five, led by a Lucario, had left for Accumula Town, so the officers should no longer be looking for you here, though I imagine they will be conducting a search at your house. Also, one of my clerics is requesting an electrical treatment machine from the hospital, it should be able to fully treat her." Lumière said, and gestured towards Charlez, whose dark burns seemed to look better. "Meanwhile...I believe you owe me a story?"
In a few, short, paragraphs, Ralph described Jason's arrest, Mark and Marcus's marvelous runaway car chase, and how the Banettes wanted to arrest all protesters.
"I see." Lumiere said slowly. "Normally, I would turn law breakers in...yet...well, I met Scarlet earlier. She warned me that I should be prepared to help you in your coming future. She told me that a dark age was coming, and that Darkrai has planned terrible things for us. On that note, I will aid you for now. But please, don't get into anymore trouble. I will help you as long as your actions are doing justice to your cause of denying the new bill, and anything else I think relevant. But that is all."
Ralph bowed. "Thanks, Head Cleric."
"Wafflezzz…" Jason snored. Marcus and Mark were asleep as well: Marcus sleeping curled up on the floor and Mark on the couch next to Jason.
Lumiere nodded. "I will leave you five to yourselves for a while." He told them. "Clarisse, good job: you may leave now. Please get a good rest. Meanwhile...I have some work to do." He gestured toward a gaming console and a table containing food that had gone unnoticed by the five escapees. "Please have some food and pass the time until I come back."
"We will." Ralph promised. "Thank you again."
Lumiere nodded silently and left the room with Clarisse, leaving Ralph, Jason, Mark, Marcus, and Charlez alone.
"R..Ralph…" Charlez suddenly croaked, and Ralph rushed over to her side immediately.
"What is it?" Ralph asked, but she was asleep again. Ralph slumped down next to her bed and wrapped his paws around his knees. Dark thoughts began forming in his mind as tears streamed quietly down his face.
Jason, who had woken up feeling fresh and relaxed, stretched and punched Mark in the face. Mark grumbled, swatting the Riolu, and stumbled off the couch and stepped on Marcus, who woke up with a sleepy complaint.
"Owww…." The Leafeon said drowsily, then shook himself up. "Okay, what time is it?"
Mark sighed, rubbing his eyes. "Time to eat?"
"Uh…" Jason stared at Ralph, who was crying silently. "Big bro? Are you okay?"
"Jason," Ralph started falteringly, then paused to wipe the tears off his face. A tense moment of silence passed, and the other Pokemon looked at each other nervously. Ralph's eyes were filled with a wild light and despair and anger radiated from his body. Marcus backed away, his hackles raised in question. Mark watched Ralph warily, cracking his knuckles one by one.
Ralph stood suddenly. "This cannot go on!" He hissed, his eyes wide with determination and a hint of insanity, "They must be stopped!"
Jason started trembling, thinking: Big bro's gone insane! He's gone insane! What'll happen to my waffles now?
"I will tear the Shadow Force to shreds with my bare paws!" Ralph growled, the hint of insanity in his voice growing stronger. "Even at the expense of my own death..." Ralph snarled with a sudden softness. "Even if I'll die doing it…." His red eyes flared with anger and bitterness fueled by his anger and the injuries of his beloved caretaker. His voice, thundering like Raikou's pawsteps, echoed around the room as he spoke the five words that would soon, very soon, change the world:
"I will start a revolution!"
alpha2275: LoG Representative on Fanfiction and Fanfiction Manager
Esther Hung: Chief Writer, Chief Editor, and Character Creator
Anisa Krieg: Chief Artist