Chapter 21- Ninja Hunter, Flare Slayer!
The furious first strike of Ninja Gold!


A Forest close to Ecruteak City, Johto
Approximately 10 Hours following the last chapter

Johto. A land steeped in legend; the legend of the Ninja being the most prominent. The night was cold, pinching at exposed skin of those who ventured out into it. The full moon took cover behind dark clouds, as darkness fell across the land. A cold wind blew. The shade devoured one's vision.

In this shade, shadows lurk. The shadows that protect. The shadows that attack. But most importantly…

The shadows were back.

"Do you have your weapons?" a voice spoke from these shadows. A pair of brown eyes reflected the moonlight.

"Shurikens… Check. Can of Whupass…" a soft clinking sound was heard, contrasting with the sounds of the rustling bamboo and the babbling of the brooks, as another pair of brown eyes opened up, "Check. My hiking pack's full of my gear as well so I'm ready, Oni."

"Slayer… Got that. Bombs… Alright. Spare hair dye… Yup, that's enough." This time, fiery red hair shone in the moonlight, accompanied by gleaming scarlet irises.

"…"

"…"

"What? I like to look good when fighting!"

The boy in the red jumper sighed, lowering the binoculars over his eyes. Just as he expected, the large black helicopter was coming in to land nearby. What he didn't expect was for the massive blackened hole blasted in the back, all the glass in the windows to be shattered and/or melted, and the pilot to be on fire, but eh, details.

"Guess they put up a fight." The red-haired boy muttered. This one went by many names; the 'Red-Haired Ranger', 'Chosen Baka', or even 'The Rocket's Flame'. But to most, he was known as simply Silver Testa Di Cazzo.

"Well, obviously. I mean, that rock could pay off our debt ten times over! We'd still have enough for that sweet Lego set!" the youngest of the trio said excitedly, peering over the bush. The proprietor and tamer of a powerful beast, an unbeatable force… Namely, a top-percentage Rattata. This boy was known as Joey Sazaki.

"No, Joey. Not yet. We must wait until the security is less tight. Then, we strike!"

"Hah! I don't see any guards here!"

The boy in red pointed behind the helicopter. Joey squinted, realizing several camouflaged snipers were posted up and around the flaming helicopter. Behind a nearby rock, a large squad of grunts ran out, followed by a large vehicle that resembled a cross between a hauler and a troop-transport.

"…Ah."

"Remember, Joey; Patience is a virtue." Ethan 'Gold' Hibiki whispered, lowering his binoculars before turning to face the audience.

"Kept you waiting, huh?"


FH-'Guardian', Kalosian skies
The exact same time…


-MISSION BRIEFING-


"YOU IDIOT!"

Those were the first X screamed when I next met him. He limped into the command room with Y acting as a support. Most of his left side was burnt, with bandages covering most of the wounds. But then again, who was I to judge? Most of my left arm and leg were burnt too, but my Undershirt protected me from most of the damage.

Then again, most of my wounds had healed as well…

Tierno was sobbing like crazy, "I-I'm sorry! I screwed everything up just because I wanted to show off my new armor! I didn't… I'm sorry, X! I'm just too much of a hindrance!"

After sitting X down on a nearby chair, Y stood in the center of the command room, "To be honest… We all screwed up. I guess we all have to apologize."

"OH, YOU THINK?!" X cried angrily, clutching his arm.

"Anyway, that's besides the point right now." Prarie calmly stated, "After all, this is your first time leading a group of this size, commander… Wait, since when did we all listen to Z?"

I blinked, before realizing what was going on. Technically, I was the de-facto commander in this situation, wasn't I? To be honest, I didn't really think of that possibility much until this moment. So… Was this my fault, then?

Professor Willow shook his head, "The buck stops here. None of us have ever been in a war before, so therefore, we didn't see an event like this coming. But it happened, and we messed up badly. Everyone was busy on their own tasks, our defenses were down, and the enemy simply made a move before we could. No point worrying about what-if situations, but more 'where now'?"

The room was silent.

"It's just a rock, guys." I muttered, "Honestly, I don't see the big fuss. We'll just find another one, and use THAT to-"

"NON! MON AMI, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION!" Professor Sycamore suddenly yelled, "You don't get it, do you?! That rock could be the weapon that allows them to win the war!"

"How, by dropping it on us?" X quipped, slightly calmer now. At this comment, Aile muttered something about 'deflector shields' and darted off.

"No, though that is an option. That rock is a massive Mega Stone; a piece of the second largest in the world!" Professor Sycamore stated, waving his arms about to empathize, "It contains a limitless amount of power, power that could be used for evil! If it was Team Rocket, as you claimed…"

Go nodded slowly, looking grim, "…Then I guess we better stop them!"

"Oh, sure! Stop them! What a brilliant idea!" Xavier sarcastically stated, grumpy, "Go, may I remind you they got away on a helicopter?! That currently could be miles away from where we are, with no way of us to chase it?! You wanna swim after them or something?! Be my guest!"

The programmer glared at X, "No, there is a way! Professor, the government was after the stone too, weren't they?"

For some odd reason, Sycamore let out a scream of anguish, "IS THIS CONFOUNDED DEVICE SUPPOSED TO BE SECURE OR IS IT NOT?!"

"…Actually, Emma told me."

The professor shot the evil eye at Emma, who slowly slunk out of the room.

"Anyway, as I was saying, if the government is after it, then we should consult them for help, right?" she spoke, pulling out her laptop, "I guess we should do that before we do anything rash, 'kay?"

"And how do you suppose you're going to do that? You aren't directly linked." The Kalosian professor stated.

"…About that. After Emma told me you had a secure line, I… I got bored and hacked it."

The professor turned to me, "Please, pardon me for a second." He turned, leaving the room. It was only a few seconds later that we heard several muffled vulgarities and Kalosian swear words through the steel walls, followed by a cracking sound and several loud stomps.

"…Pity. I could have used that." Go muttered, as her laptop finally connected with a webcam showing the internal view of an overly fancy desk with gold engraving. Ryu turned to Go, asking her an important question.

"Who did we connect to?"

"I considered the defense minister, but then I realized how much bureaucracy we'd need to sift through. So instead, I did some digging and I found the private contact of the President himself." The girl grinned mischievously, "Now, to get his attention."

The programmer cleared her throat, before screaming, and I mean SCREAMING, into the microphone, "HELLO?!"

"AAAAH! WHO IS THIS?! SECURITY?!" a voice yelled back on the other end of the line. Go and I snickered, as a rather well-off man sat before the camera, looking rather ruffled. In the interests of preventing lawsuits, I cannot describe him further, but I shall say his facial hair was impressive.

"Ahem… Top of the morning to you, Mr President." I greeted, "I'm Flare Hunter Z."

"W-Who?! Oh, wait, that boy." he sighed, looking me over, "You're taller than I thought you'd be."

"Well, anyway, we found Sycamore." I said, looking out the door of the room, "Um… I can give him back, if you want."

"…Hmm. But how did you get this contact?"

"Your 'secure line' wasn't secure enough. But I'm not here to fight. I'm just here for some information concerning a rock of yours."

"…You certainly work quickly. Wasn't it yesterday that you finished fighting the rouge war criminal, X?"

X gulped. I glanced at him, before turning back to the president, "Let's focus on saving Kalos for now. What information do you have about that shard of the Grande Stone?"

"Last I checked, it was in your area! I was hoping you could pick it up for… Research purposes."

Now it was Tierno's turn to look nervous.

"…You have it, don't you?"

I scratched my head, "…A Team Rocket helicopter took it. We were unprepared and cleaning up from the last battle."

"…I should have known… That invitation was trouble, after all."

"…Wait, what?"

The President pulled out a piece of paper from beneath his desk, "As soon as we announced you public enemy number one, this message was sent via the mail to the larger corporations around Kalos. It is from the Johtoese company, Crystex, inviting us to some sort of function. The date listed is tonight, oddly enough, and it also had several large crystals listed for display and sale at the location, one of which being the Grande Stone. Naturally, I was suspicious about this. When Lysandre declared he was turning on us, I needed to contact someone reliable in the vicinity of the stone. That's why I contacted Sycamore."

"And that's how we got here." Go muttered, "Can you scan a copy of that invitation over to my Email? I think I would like to go there to… check it out."

"…I'm afraid that's not possible! What if Johto discovers that we have deployed Kalosian forces into a private function?! It could ca-" the man paused, as if mulling something over, before shaking his head with a smile, "Hold on…"

"That's right; We aren't military." My partner flashed a grin, "In addition, we technically aren't hired by you, either, since we called ahead. Therefore, we would be just viewed as just another terrorist force if they found out. If we go down, you stay safe from the fallout, Mr President. No regional incident, no mess."

I'm sorry, viewed as a WHAT?!

…Wait. I'm that already, aren't I.

"That sounds like a plan. In which case, I suppose I can entrust you with this garish document. However, this does not come without conditions!"

"I was afraid of this…" I sighed, "Alright, hit me."

"Your mission is to infiltrate the function and retrieve the Grande Shard. Following this, you are to return the stone to the proper authorities and turn yourself in, Flare Hunter Z. Until we have evidence to prove you are not terrorists, I'm afraid we cannot let you go. It would be in breach of act-"

"…And what if Lysandre does destroy the world? You're going to be left defenseless." I replied.

"Our army-"

"We collected over 37 tonnes of scrap metal and ordnance from the last battlefield. Your army has used their all in this proxy war. We're the last hope. Focus the forces on evacuating and rebuilding, if you need to. We'll take care of this." I firmly spoke, "I'm sorry if this sounds rude, but with the world at stake, we can't risk sitting around."

"…Alright. You are rather convincing, I suppose. As soon as the Lysandre incident is resolved, we shall see whom we need to hold and who will remain free. For now, you have your mission, Flare Hunters. You have our support for now."

"Understood. We shall try our best not to fail again!" Go and I saluted smartly.

"And Z?"

"Yeah?"

"You realize that I'm the President of Kalos, right?"

I turned to face Go awkwardly, and she had the exact same look on her face as well.

"Um… I thought this was the International Police lines." The programmer quietly muttered as I facepalmed.

"Nevertheless, there is simply no time to worry about the repercussions of calling the wrong number now. I shall pass a recording of our conversation down to the lower houses, and they shall judge what actions to take from there."

"R-Right! Understood!"

"Good. Contact me on this frequency once this mission has been completed. Bon Voyage."

With that, the screen flicked off once more. Go pounced on the keyboard, tapping away rapidly, "Alright. I've closed the proxy server now, so they can't track us too well."

Y turned to face Go and I, "Well, that settles the operation. Get your best suit on, Z. You and Go are teleporting to Johto now."

"Wait, just us?"

"Yes. After all, you promised the President of Kalos you'd do it, right?" Serena smiled, "Keep your word!"

I rolled my eyes, "Fine. We deploy in 3! Everyone, get to your stations!"


Go pulled on her gloves, walking down the hallway to the galley. She definitely deserved a large mug of coffee this time around. In her head, she reviewed what she had just accomplished in the 5 minutes prior.

Firstly, she had dragged me to the medical bay, burnt and barely alive.

Secondly, she had hacked into a government communication link of the lead scientist behind Kalos.

Thirdly, using said link, she managed to extract the private phone number of the ACTUAL, REAL President of Kalos.

Fourth, she conversed with said president and convinced him to send her important documents via her Email.

Finally, she was now headed to Johto to save a giant rock under direct orders from the president by infiltrating a massive party by the company that created her technology.

'Oh, Caffeine, how I need you.' She internally moaned, placing a hand on her forehead as a massive headache overcame her.

All of a sudden, she found herself on the ground, her entire body hurting even more so than before, as a heavy girl in white picked herself off her. This newcomer had white and red armor with light-blue lines of Synergy flowing in between cracks in the body paneling.

"Man! What a rush!" the Gym leader whistled, hopping upright and stretching, "One second, I'm there, the next, I'm here!"

"M-my face… I can't feel my face…" Go whimpered. Korrina paused, taking a glance down and gasping.

"So sorry, Go! Just testing out my new armor! I feel as free as the wind with this!" She beamed, pulling the hacker upright. After checking all her body parts were in the right places, Go stumbled forwards.

Korrina jogged after her, "So, I heard you were headed out again? Can I come?"

"No, sorry." The chestnut Flare Hunter responded, amber eyes looking determinedly ahead, "It's too risky. Team Rocket's big, bigger than Flare. I can't let you put yourself at risk."

The blonde's face resembled that of a child who had been caught poking in a cookie jar, "Oh."

For a while, that was all. They just kept clanking down the steel hallways.

"So, you like him?"

Go paused, "Believe what you want. I just know there's a task to be done, and we're the only ones capable of doing it. I have no time for emotions like love to cloud my judgment."

The skater's eyebrow raised in curiosity, "So… You do?"

"No! Well, not right now, but…" Go trailed off, before realizing something.

She had only walked 10 meters away from the command center.

And I was standing right behind her.

"Um… Bad time?" I inquired, stepping back. Go whipped around.

"Look, Z. I don't have time for this sort of questioning. Just… I dunno, act like you don't know me, or something like that. But all I know is, I'll figure my love life out once our REAL lives are saved." She shot, before grumpily walking away.

I folded my arms. I didn't understand romance.

"What's her deal?"

Korrina shrugged, dashing away.

"Hello? That wasn't a rhetorical question! Anyone? Serena?"

Silence.

"I'm so ronery…." I sang to myself quietly.


Gold backflipped into a bush, eyes narrowed, "We must be swift, my friends. They shall move the target soon, and then how are we supposed to pay off the fees?"

Silver's eyes began tearing up, "We… We may need to get ACTUAL JOBS!" Cue the first lines of 'The Phantom of the Opera'.

Joey let out a sigh, rolling his eyes, "Okay, Senpai. What's our plan of attack?"

Gold rubbed his hands deviously together, a glint in his eyes, "Don't worry, I have a plan..." He promptly dug into his backpack, pulling out a book entitled, 'What would Freddy Krueger do? Slaughter in 10 easy steps (And live to make sequels)!'.

The other two stared at the book in his hands, before Silver piped up, "Why do you even have this book?"

"It was encouraged by my father. Plus, it was on sale in the kids section." Gold flipped the pages, reading page 1, "Alright, let's see… Step 1: Create Atmosphere."

The guards peered around, humming to themselves, "Generic song, generic song, generic- generic confused sound?" This was because a small metal cylinder had materialized in the middle of the group, and was rapidly belching a viscous grey smog into the clearing.

Unseen by the sentries, Joe's Rattata began to rapidly rub a balloon on Silver's scarlet locks, building up static charge. Joey pulled out the steel rod and lobbed it into the clearing. The static charge streaked towards the metal rod and exploded into a lightning bolt, further fuelling the horror in the atmosphere. DUN DUN DUUUUN!

Silver whistled, "I knew my hair was good for something."

Gold nodded approvingly. "Okay, got that one down... Step 2: Take Out The Black Comedy Relief." The trio looked at each other confused.

"We can't see their faces! How are we supposed to do this?" Joey hissed.

"We'll just wait until one of them makes a terrible joke about the situation." Silver reasoned.

"Generic dad joke." A grunt suddenly quipped. Random canned laughter could be heard if one listened hard enough.

"He'll do." All three agreed.

The trio pounced, shurikens flashing in the pale moonlight as the generic grunt fell with a "SCREAM!". The other grunts turned around, confused and terrified. In this confusion, Gold read out the next few pages, charging at his enemies under a veil of mist.


When I entered the lab, Ryu and Chris approached me.

"You need to stop her! She-She's gone crazy!" the Braixen broke down crying. I pushed past him, wondering what he meant by those words. The sight that he was hiding was one that confused me.

Aile was darting around the lab swiftly, in some crazy dance of steel and wiring. I edged away slightly, batting my eyes slightly at the mechanic, "Um… What's going on here?"

"Z! Take this!" a metallic panel flew across the room, landing by my feet with a loud clank. I picked it up, realizing it was an armored tuxedo made from maroon sheet metal, the same color as my own jacket.

"…Were you making disguises for us?" I spoke with some entertainment in my voice, pulling on the armor. It was a bit hot, but okay nonetheless. Wouldn't wear it, though.

"You need it! You don't know what kind of ruffians are going to try and beat you up!" she squealed, zipping in front of my face and hopping up and down. Her cheeks were bright red, and on her, I could smell the familiar tinge of…

"Coffee?"

"Yeahyeahyeah! That's how I'ma gonna stay up makin all this stuff!" Aile yelled quickly, green eyes darting around like marbles in a spin-dryer. I calmly patted her back, holding on to the back of her jacket before she could run off.

"Have you slept at all?"

"No! Need technology to save us from death! I've been drinking coffee all night to work on weapons and armor for us! 32 cups, full black, no milk!" she quickly said, attempting to tug herself away from my grip. At this point, her voice resembled that of a chipmunk from a movie I watched once.

Wait, was she just drinking coffee beans mixed with water?!

"…Right." One glance around her lab was all I needed to tell she had a slight problem. In the corner, I could see what looked like the Essentia armor, but with two large rocket-pods strapped on the shoulders, a large gatling gun jutting out from the back, and a sword in the right hand's place. That's not even mentioning the fact the armor could pass for a black version of Master Chief, complete with gold visor.

Or the red laser scarf. Cool looks aside, how do you even make a laser scarf?

"Aile, I think you need to rest."

The mechanic shook her head vigorously, "NONONONO! Not now! If I don't keep working, how can we keep safe from the lasers?! HOW?!"

"You need to sleep." I said firmly, picking her up. That's how I found myself dragging the mechanic behind me, walking down the hallway as she screamed 'NOOOOO' hysterically.

I feel bad writing that now.


Even as they stood in the center of chaos, their wills never faltered!

"Steps 3-7: Then take out: The nerd…"

WHAP!

A foot planted into the behind glasses-wearing grunt, who left consciousness with a "NERDY SCREAM!"

"…The artillery…"

TWHIP! TWHIP! TWHIP!

The snipers were next to go, shurikens with smoke bombs and tear gas smashing their scopes. Each fell as the air became filled with the sounds of "MANLY SCREAMS!"

"…The Jock…"

WHALLOP!

You know the drill. "WILHELM SCREAM!"

"…The Jock's girlfriend…"

ROUNDHOUSE KICK!

Oddly enough, this one gave a "RIDICULOUSLY MANLY SCREAM!"

" … Huh…The caretaker…"

POWPOWPOWPOWPOWPOWPOWPOW-BASH!

"RUBBER DUCKY SCREAM!" A-Are these even screams anymore? The sound guy and I are going to need to talk.

"The courageous dude…"

"I GOT THIS!" screamed a grunt, pulling out a pistol and aiming it at Silver, who had his Katana drawn. Clearly, he was attempting his best Harrison Ford impression.

"No, no you don't."

Sadly, Silver was in his Kylo Ren mode that day. RIP.

ONE PUUUNNNNCCCHHHH! (DAH NA NA DAH NANANA DAH DAH NANA!)

"IMMENSELY GIRLY SCREAM!"

" …Then the final girl…"

PUN-

"ICE SCREAM!"

Joey picked up the frozen treat happily, "Oh, why than- I mean…"

ICE-CREAMALITY!
JOEY WINS

"AAAAAAAAAAA- SCREAM!"


"FINAL CALL! FLARE HUNTERS Z AND GO, REPORT TO TRANSERVER ROOM!" Prarie's voice echoed through the ship.

She paused, checking the security cameras, "Wait, you're already there? My mistake! Prepare to transport!"

Professor Willow grabbed my shoulder, "Z, we only have so much range. We can beam you in a bit away from the party, but you'll need to make your way there yourself." I barked a laugh in response, adjusting my suit.

I had chosen to wear the armored tuxedo after all, but with my regular clothing beneath. On my head, I sported a rather dapper top hat, thanks to a modification to my headset with some of Emma's technology. Go wore her standard clothing, except for the brown hood and cloak. When I questioned her clothing choice, she let out a shy grin, "I like being mysterious."

"Relax, Willow. I'll be back before you think."

"Alright. Just remember us here at HQ can't hear you at all. So you'll practically be on your own until you complete the mission and return to the Rendezvous point marked on Go's map. And whatever you do, DON'T get more people involved than there needs to be!" The professor barked, "I don't want you returning with another army, okay?"

"Don't worry, Gramps! I'll keep an eye on bae and make sure he doesn't try no army building!" Go smiled cheerfully. I scoffed, before realizing what she just referred to me as.

"W-What." I choked out.

"I want you inside me, Z-Agh! Ryu! Sto- I will make all the lo-" Go gibbered, clutching her head. I let out a calm sigh, rapping Ryu's pokeball, glowing with a lavender energy.

"Hey, no mind screw before missions!"

"Spoilsport." The fox grumbled, as the glow faded. Go let out an angry growl.

"I swear I'll make him a scarf if he tries that again." The programmer's face was red, as she approached the teleporter.

I tugged on the Soul Sheath, making sure it was firmly affixed to my back, before turning to face the transerver myself, "I'll report back once the fight is done, Tom. I'll see you later."

With a salute, I jogged forwards, stepping atop the device and clearing my throat.

"Beam us in, please!"

With that, the familiar sensation of tingling erupted over my whole body, and I took off.


"…IN this exact order." Gold finished, proudly looking over the battlefield. Their opponents lay on the ground, unconscious, battered and basically not moving. The legend of the ninja lived on in those moments, and Gold was savoring every second of it.

Then, like the love of one who had lost, it was gone with the last wisps of smoke.

"Gold, the rock! It's gone!" Joey suddenly gasped.

The ninja leader turned around, realizing that, from the gigantic tire tracks in the nearby dirt, the stone had been loaded on some kind of vehicle and quickly driven out of the forest during their fighting montage. Rattata made annoyed noises, as the Shining Shinobi let out a growl.

"Curses! After them! To the car!"

The trio departed the clearing, heeding not the final 3 instructions of the book;

Step 8: Hide the bodies.

Step 9: Make sure your victims are dead before you actually leave.

And most importantly…

Step 10: BLATANT. SEQUEL. HOOK.


For a while, the forest was silent. Leaves blew in a phantom wind, as bamboo rustled in the night. The forest became alive, a natural symphony of rustling leaves, whistling of the grasses, and the sounds of small pokemon running by. The skies had given way at last, as rain had begun to fall, the pitter-patter of droplets becoming part of the melody of the wild.

The concert suddenly gave way to a rumble. A thundering rumble that gave way to an electronic zap of energy blasting from on high. A duo of maroon lightning bolts streaked across the heavens, and with a crash, came to rest upon the ground.

Attracted by this energy, a bolt of lightning struck the back of the first one that landed, starting a small fire as it did. The figure clad in maroon rose slowly, sparks and small arcs of electricity blasting from him as he did, and looked up to the heavens. From his belt, he drew his lime-green weapon, the blade of light, and raised it skywards.

As the storm raged on, this being spoke a singular phrase, as lightning struck once more behind him.

"Ready!" I yelled over the storm. In the distance, a gong sounded.


MISSION START!


Go and I ran through the woods, finding shelter from the thunderstorm in a cave. My partner promptly pulled out her PokePad, opening up her map, "We're about 1 Km from the target. If we hustle, we can make it just in time to infiltrate the area."

I nodded slowly, looking out onto the storm, "…Rain. Do you think it could slow us down?"

"I guess." She shrugged, "Shouldn't last too long, Z. It's just a temporary rain, according to the weather report. It's also a full moon, so we're going to need to be extra careful when sneaking in. The guards could spot us."

"…What about you, Go? Are you okay?"

"H-Huh? Ryu, you better not be messing with Z now, because that's grounds for Fox meat dinner-"

I shook my head, patting Go's back, "No, I'm actually asking you. Are you cold or something? I mean, this is Johto. This place is further up than Kalos, so the weather would be colder here, right?"

The hacker blinked, "Oh! Um… I guess I'll be fine. I mean, it's not snowing, so that's a plus."

Ryu's ball shook, "Want me to set a fire?" I sent him out to talk, until I realized he looked… different.

"What are you wearing?!" Go's jaw dropped. The fox shrugged, adjusting his headband. To be honest, I myself was going to ask the exact same thing. Across his chest was a harness with equipment, such as a Holo-Caster tucked in a higher compartment, several small packets strapped around his waist, a grappling hook poking from a pocket, and what appeared to be a packet of small twigs.

"Oh, this? Well, apparently Aile put it together for me as well." The fox shrugged, "Admittedly, she was screaming something about being naked while she did, something about finding equipment on site… To be honest, I tuned out after a bit." He picked up a twig, striking it against his fur and setting it alight, before gnawing on it, "But hey, it looks cool, doesn't it?"

Go and I stared.

"…What? I wasn't going to turn down free stuff!"

He pulled out one of the packets tucked on his waist, "She even gave me some smoke grenades! I bet this could come in handy!"

"Ryu. We are infiltrating a party here, and you're geared up like you're going to fight in a jungle!" I exclaimed, exasperated, "You're a walking bullseye! Get changed out of that right now!"

The fox sighed, muttering something under his breath.

"What was that?"

"Nothing…" he looked out back into the bamboo forest, jogging out, "I'll go scout out the area and come back soon. Don't leave without me, okay?"

This just left us two, plus our Pokemon, sitting in the cave awkwardly. Go coughed, "Well, I suppose we could talk about something. Recently, Z, something's been on my mind."

"Well… spill it."

"I… I was wondering… Is it possible for love to exist in war?"

L…Love?

This caught my attention. I looked straight into her amber eyes. It had been so long since we last actually been talking in private like this, and since then, I could see that spark of hope and determination in her eyes had grown.

"…I'm no expert on it, myself." I replied simply, scratching my head, "But… If I was… I suppose it would depend on perspective. What is love?"

The rain gave no answer. I continued, placing an arm around Go.

"Are we talking about bonds between members of a group? The ties to our country? Perhaps even between two sides? We have no way of truly telling. It all comes down to what we fight for."

"Well… What are you fighting for?" Charlie asked, curling up under my arm. I gritted my teeth silently.

"I… Don't know. I just know that Team Flare is trying to destroy the world. I know that I'm destined by my damn sword to save Kalos, possibly the world as well. The odds are against us, and to overcome them, we have no choice but to do this. That's why I'm fighting." A crack of thunder, then a lightning bolt flashed outside, making Go jump.

"…But how much more can we lose before freedom is attained? How many more do we still need to fight until we bring down this madman?" the hacker asked, shivering. Not from the cold, but from the fear, "And… When the time comes… Will we be able to?"

"… I'll have to think on that one, Go."

Ryu leapt back inside the cave, looking shaken, "Z-Z! The…They're real! They were just here! And-"

He stopped, looking between Go and I. One could hear the little gears in his vulpine brain rotating around.

"…Should I go?"

I hopped to my feet, as Go performed a quick roll and stood upright. In a swift move, she kicked out the fire, "There's no time. We move now!"

"O-Okay…" I shuddered, turning to Ryu, "By the way… What's real? What did you just see?"

"…Ninjas!"


I approached the burning helicopter, looking at the unconscious bodies lying around the battlefield. At least two legions of Team Rocket Grunts lay there, mostly unconscious or wounded, with all kinds of wounds. A grunt lunged at me, but I simply impaled him without a second thought, "So, this is the crash site…"

"B-But Z! Look!" my Braixen pointed out, motioning to a tree. A single shuriken lay embedded in it. My heart rate increased, as I edged away.

'No… Not this again…!'

"T…That could be a coincidence…"

"Hey! Over here! Somebody littered!" Go motioned to a spray can on the ground. Gingerly, she picked it up, studying the label, "…'Can of Ninja Whupass'? What the…?"

I gulped, talking more to myself now than Go, "C-Coincidence…"

"These cuts are Katana cuts. I recognize them from my kendo class!" my partner continued, holding up an unconscious grunt and inspecting his wounds. The grunt suddenly leapt forwards at her, but the much more skilled hacker kicked him in the gut, knocking him against the smoking helicopter.

"C…Can't be…" I whimpered, turning pale, "W-We need to run! Let's just ignore this and continue on with the mission!"

"…Z? Are you afraid of ninjas?" my partner suddenly spoke up, making me freeze up as I was walking away. She wore a wry smile on her face, placing a hand over it to hide her laughter.

"D-Don't be s-silly!" I shuddered, pulling out my sword in case of hostilities, "I…Ninjas aren't real… Ninjas died out centuries ago… Ninjas… can't harm me…"

"Yes they can." A voice rasped from behind me. My hairs stood on end.

"AIEEEE!" came a girlish scream from the woods, "DON'T HURT MEEE!"

Gold blinked, "My ninja senses must be waning. I'm hearing things."

Silver stared, "… Right. I didn't hear anything."

"EXACTLY! KEEP YOUR EYES ON THAT TRUCK, IDIOT! LEFT CORNER! DRIFT!"

"OW! ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT ALREADY! YEEEEEEEAAAAAARRRGH!"

Go feel to the ground, laughing like a maniac, as Ryu dropped me to the ground again, "Oh man, that's just precious! I can't believe you're actually that scared of ninja! That's adorable!"

"There's a spider on your hat." I deadpanned.

"S-SPIDER?! WHERE?!" the hacker jumped to her feet with a yip.

"See. Now, don't make fun of my fears, and I won't point out your phobias." As I was speaking, Ryu sniffed the ground. He nudged something with his paw, before his ears and tail pricked up.

"I smell gasoline! And the scent of the stone leads… This way!" he pointed down the direction of massive rugged tire tracks. I patted his back, "Since when could you track so perfectly?"

"I guess it's an instinct of us canines. Follow me!" the Braixen charged through the woods, a trail of flame in his wake.

"RYU! Get back here! We need to plan our next course of action!" I barked at the fox. Go rubbed her chin in thought, before jogging after the trail of flames and smoke. I let out an exasperated moan, "Don't tell me our entire mission relies on that fox following his nose!"

"Hey, if you want to stay in an open clearing full of ninja, be my guest." My partner stated as she broke into a run, "But I'm headed to the awesome party and drinking all the spiked punch I damn want!"

To be honest, the second option seemed much more appealing now that I thought about it.

"H-Hey! Don't leave me here!" I whimpered loudly, chasing Go after vaulting onto Epona's back.


Ryu sniffed through the woods. His vision was tinted with a light amber, as his more primal canine instincts took over his actions. His advanced sense of smell and hearing propelled him through the forest, seeking out the slightly vinegary and tangy scent of the Grande Stone.

"Hmm…Salt and Grande Stone chips…" the fox grinned wolfishly, padding ever faster. He dropped to all fours, padding through the woods with several growls.

However, his sense of smell suddenly became overloaded with smoke, gasoline and…

"My gos-! Is th… Is this…" the Braixen's eyes began watering.


"WASABI! SWEET ARCEUS! THE GAS IS WASABI POWDER! MY EYES! THEY BUUUURRRNNN!"

Go and I jogged up to the Braixen, who was frantically panting and rolling about twitching, "AAAAAAGH! MY EYES! HAVE MERCY!"

I lowered a visor from my headset, as Go pulled a pair of ski goggles from her bag and lowered them over her eyes, "Ryu's down! Z, we need to continue our pursuit!" Epona whinnied, and I quickly withdrew her and Ryu, throwing down my hoverboard and leaping on.

"Go, get on!" I barked, pulling her onto my back. She wrapped her arms around my waist as we took off.

But throughout all this, one question remained.

'Who even fuels a car with Wasabi?!'


Silver veered around the corner, "Gold, I can't keep this up! We're running low on gas!"

"Now, see." The ninja sighed, "Vin Diesel would have made that work."

"Gold, did you fuel it using the Unleaded Wasabi again?!" The youngster in the back seat yelled angrily, "I told you, this car wasn't designed to run on that! That stuff goes through it faster than a Red Bull!"

"NOW LOOK HERE, YOU!" the lead ninja shot a glare at his ward, "WE'RE LOW ON MONEY HERE! I COULDN'T AFFORD THE STANDARD GAS!"

"Whatever! I'm switching to nitrous now!" the red-haired driver spoke, calling to the ninja on his right, "PUNCH IT, GOLD!"

The ninja shoved the large lever to his left all the way up, and blue pipes that surrounded the trio began to glow. Outside the vehicle, the exhaust pipe began to spit large flames, as the engine's roar grew ever louder.


I narrowed my eyes, spotting a blue streak up ahead, "Go, I got eyes on a target."

"Must be them." My partner commented, narrowing her eyes, "I mean, look at that blue glow! That has to be a Mega Stone powering that vehicle! Get us in close! I believe it's time we engage the target.

With a nod, the hoverboard rocketed forwards, avoiding small trees and rocks. I spotted a billboard nearby, with a fallen tree just in front of it.

Well, a little property damage in the name of justice wouldn't hurt…

I pulled out my gun, as time slowed down. Zygarde seemed to know exactly what I had in mind, as a targeting reticle appeared around each of the three posts holding the sign up. I grinned, calmly blasting off three shots at each of the wooden struts.

"Z, what are you doing?! Ar- Oh. Oh ho ho!" Go laughed, as the board tumbled over, resting atop the log like a ramp.

We rocketed up the wooden ramp, soaring diagonally across the road, over the SUV.

I jumped from my Hoverboard, grabbing it with one hand before landing on the roof of the vehicle with a magnetic clank. Go copied my actions, clinging on with a yelp on my back.

Soon, both of us were clinging onto the roof, laying down and feeling the breeze in our faces. We looked at each other, before letting out a laugh. We could have died several times during that stunt. I could have missed my shots. I could have slammed into a tree from the recoil. But somehow…

It was fun.


THUD!

Gold jerked his eyes up to the roof, "What was that?!"

Joey let out a sigh, "I'll check."

Slowly, the sunroof slid open. I glanced at Go with a look that simply said all that was needed to be said.

'Oh, Shit!'

A youngster peeked out, peering left and right. Nothing there. With an annoyed grunt, he got back into the car, closing the sunroof.

Gold turned to his ward, "Well?"

"Nothing there. I think that the engine's just having issues agai-"

"PARADEMON! HELP!" Silver screamed, swerving the car left and right wildly all of a sudden. Gold slapped him, taking the wheel, "What happened?! Are you trying to kill us all?!"


Go and I let out a sigh, decloaking back on the roof. Climbing onto the side of the car was tiring, and I think the red-haired guy saw Go's cloak, but other than that, I think we pulled off the illusion pretty well.

"Fist bump!" the programmer happily whispered. I obliged quickly, before catching a snatch of the conversation from inside the vehicle.


"I saw it, man! It had a brown cloak and everything! And that other one had a tuxedo! I swear I'm not making it up!"

"Calm down, Silver! You've just been watching too much daytime TV! Ghosts do NOT exist!"

"What about Ghost Types?"

"…Reasonable enough. But still, we're ninjas! We aren't supposed to be freaked out by that sort of thing! Sides, everyone knows that ghosts are weak to water-based martial arts."

"Maybe I should go take another look?"

Joey slowly opened the sunroof again…

Coming face to face with a pair of glowing green eyes floating in the air with nothing suspending them.

He quickly ducked back down with a whimper, curling up into a ball and sucking his thumb. Gold turned to face him, "Um…. What's wrong?"

"Nothing, Gold. N-Nothing…"


I materialized back again, letting out a grin, "Go, did you see that?"

My partner nodded, pulling herself up off the back of the vehicle, "How did you learn to do that?"

"I've had some practice. C'mon. Let's spook these guys some more. Maybe they'll crash and drop the target." I grinned darkly.

The hacker rubbed her hands together deviously, sharing the exact same facial expression, "I like this plan."


The atmosphere inside the car was tense. Two out of the three ninjas were wide awake now, hearts pounding. The third one looked ahead with a bored poker face.

"S-Silver… Does this F-forest have G-Guh-GHOSTS in it?!" Joey asked the red-haired boy. The ninja shook his head, sweating a cold sweat by now, "N-Not to my memory, no… But I don't wanna find out now!"

He rubbed his eyes, "Wait, where's the target?! It must have escaped while we were fighting off those ghosts!"

Gold yawned yet again, "There are no spirits here, Silver. It must have been a clump of leaves on the windscreen. As for Joey, well… I think we can chalk that up to his severe addiction to anime."

A green light filled the car.

"Nice mood lighting, though."

Joey's eyes suddenly bugged out, "W-Wait. I didn't install…"

He and his red-haired senior exchanged glances.


"RING WRAITH! AAAAAAAAAHHH!" came two high-pitched screams.

Go and I giggled immaturely, dangling the ignited Z-Sabre just behind the rear window of the car.


"FASTER, SILVER! HI-HO!"

"I'M GIVIN' IT ALL IT'S GOT, JOEY!" the driver screamed, attempting to roar the car ahead even faster through sheer willpower, "It's still there! C'mon, you big piece of metal! FASTER! FAAAASTEER!"

Gold simply sat there, watching these happening with some disconnect. At least they were going faster now. Maybe they'd actually be able to catch up with the stone now. Maybe.

"WHERE'S THE GUN DEL SOL WHEN YOU NEED IT?!"

That was a very big maybe.


I glanced ahead, spotting a larger truck just ahead, "Ah, there we go. That looks like it's actually transporting the Grande Shard. So, this car was just an escort…"

My partner pulled herself back upright, looking ahead at the vehicle, "We're going a little fast to catch it right now. Shall I give the car a little nudge?"

"Please, by all means."

"GGGGRRRRRAAAWWWW-A WAKAWAKAWAKAWAKA!"


"AAAAAH! CLYDE! I KNEW THAT POWER PELLET WAS CURSED!"

Silver let out a window-shattering high-pitched scream, lurching the car into overdrive. Joey screamed, pointing ahead, "There! The Team Rocket truck! We're so close!"

A horrible puttering sound came from the engine, followed by a large cloud of smoke coming from the exhaust pipes. The car stopped accelerating, now simply coasting along at high speeds. Gold rolled his eyes.

"Well, that's what you get for trying to outrun something that can't possibly exist."

"Now!"

Several thumps on the roof, followed by an ethereal hiss and flash of light-blue light. A pair of ghostly blue flashes darted through the air onto the escaping truck. With a green flash and a clank of steel, one of them pierced the armor of the vehicle, and both passed inside via the new orifice.

At this sight, Gold's eyes widened.

"…It appears I stand corrected." He muttered.


I tossed my gun to Go, who calmly caught it and proceeded to fight and defeat the several guards. A grunt lunged for a nearby alarm button, but he found himself instead coming face to face with a green phase blade.

"No alarms."

I punched the grunt in the gut. Just in time too, as a ninja grunt dropped from the ceiling. He pulled out his Katana, "Freeze! D-Don't move or I will kick you up teh butt!"

Calmly, Go stood still, holding her hands up. The grunt blinked, "T…This is unexpected. Wait, you're actually not going to kick my butt? I… That's awfully chivalrious of you!"

"Haha, no."

She flexed her jacket open, and Piku's pokeball burst out from under her- Oh. Oh my. I think I need to sit down for a bit right now.

Um… Well, needless to say, the grunt was quickly disposed of by means of Pikachu to the face.

I stared, wide-eyed at Go, "W-What?!"

"I saw it in a manga once!" the hacker grinned sheepishly, "To be honest, I always wanted to try it."

She zipped her jacket back up.


(Super Mario Odyssey- Jump Up, Super Star!)

The truck slowed down, coming to a stop at a massive mansion just outside the woods. The party was in full swing already, noted by the massive discoesque spotlights illuminating the skies above and loudl music blasting from the house.

My kinda party, I'd say.

A squad of inebriated grunts approached the rear of the van, wearing flashy tuxedos with the red Team Rocket logo emblazoned on the breast pocket with some sort of shiny material. They shone in the light like rainbows…

"Awright! Let's-a get this party on!" the lead grunt threw the doors of the transport open, holding his arms out wide, "Come-a-to papa!"

Go raised her gun, "Sure!"

"It's time to Jump Up in the air!" a rather jazzy song played from a nearby speaker outside the mansion, presumably for the small cherry-blossom garden behind the mansion.

The lead grunt took a charged shot to the chest, followed by me swinging my blade up into the air, knocking a number of drunken grunts into the air and into the fountain with a splash.

"Jump Up, don't be scared!"

A large group of grunts surrounded us, but these ones were armed with simple glass liquor bottles. Go and I grinned at each other wryly.

"Would you care to dance?"

"Jump up, and your cares will soar away!"

I scooped up Go into my arms, spinning around and tossing her into the air. The hacker pulled out her energy pistol and perfectly landing several shots on some of the still-full bottles of alcohol. The bottles exploded into flame, making the drinkers drop them in shock.

"And if the dark clouds start to swirl,"

I caught Go once more, spinning on the spot before drawing my blade and dashing across the concrete with my blade outstretched. Five grunts went down with a pirouette, followed by me backflipping away from several thrown bottles.

"Don't fear, don't shed a tear,"
"'Cos I'll be your 1-up girl!"

Go turned to face a grunt who was swinging a fist over his head at her. She calmly grabbed his arm, spinning him around before leaping up and kicking him in the chest into the side of the truck. While she was still recovering, another drunk grunt attempted to stab her with a broken bottle.

She suddenly dropped to the ground with a grin, performing a breakdance-like kick to his legs, followed up by an uppercut that made the assailant fall back.

"You know you're my Super Star!"
"No one else can take you this far!"

Ryu and Chris burst into the field, confused for a few seconds, before a smirk appeared on the Braixen's face. He pulled out his staff, spinning it around and nailing a grunt in the gut with the end, followed up by Chris nocking an arrow in a glowing blue bow and scoping several grunts in the face.

"I'm flipping the Switch!"

The truck's driver climbed out, shocked and disoriented. He didn't expect this, this wasn't the plan at all! He drew a riot shotgun, pumping the weapon and taking aim at me-

"Pikapika!"

"Get ready for this!"

The truck driver suddenly lurched around, a pikachu on his back providing electric shocks to several of his muscles to control his actions. The grunt suddenly found himself blasting his allies, one after the other, in a haze of electrified pain.

Piku roared, punching the back of the grunt's head. The grunt made a sound that vaguely resembled that of a Yoshi, running forwards.

One grunt remained, looking around the battlefield confused. He saw flashes of light, but he couldn't work out where they were coming from! In his drunken haze, he moaned, "W-Whuzzat? Jimmiy?"

"Close, but no cigar." I grinned. Go stood by my side, an arm over my shoulder, as Ryu and Chris leapt in behind us. Piku finally tossed the driver into the fountain, leaping off and skidding proudly before us, arms outstretched.

"Sooooo, Let's do the Odyssey!"

An awkward silence followed. Piku wiggled her paws around, with a 'Yaay' sound for empathsis.

"Cool story, bro."

A single plasma shot was enough to fell him.

Go blew smoke off the end of the barrel of her gun, as the electrified man lurched, before tumbling facedown on the ground, "Tough crowd."


Gold lowered his binoculars, "Alright, team. Here's what we're going to do."

Silver was leaning against a rock, as Joey toyed with a small twig. The Ninja leader pointed at Silver, motioning to a nearby ventilation shaft, "First, we throw the ball down the vents to distract everyone. While they're looking into the shafts, Silver, your Ditto can easily carve his… her? It's way in through the weaker rice-paper wall to the west. After which…" Gold pulled out some floor plans for the mansion he had… acquired, "The room, known as the 'Mochi Lounge', has a wooden floor, so Roastmaster General will start a fire there to divert attention there. By the time the attention is turned to the fire, which will take MUCH more time to resolve than the air vent problem, which was in actuality just a distraction in order to make our way to start the fire, will buy us enough time to sneak through the smoke-filled air vents with the micro-fibre scarves. Said scarves should act as gas masks, so we should be safe if we encounter excessive amounts of smoke. As for the eyes… That's what the goggles are for."

He took a deep breath, pointing down at another location on the map, "The vents lead here, the fan-chamber. We cut the fans or jam them up to cause more havoc, before dropping several flashbangs into the guard's chamber below to blind the guards. Then,we undo the bolts to this vent here and drop into the display room, where I can deduce all the gem stones are stored before the auction. We steal that giant ruby, then we climb back up this excessively long ladder to the helipad, steal a helicopter, and fly off back to base camp."

"Are we all clear?" Gold asked his partners.

Silver had fallen asleep on the rock, and Joey was gnawing on a Rage Bar.

"…Or, you know, we could disguise ourselves and sneak in via the front door." The youngster commented between bites, pointing at the door on the map.

The ninja sweatdropped, "Oh, that. Right. Of course."


"What do you mean, no?!" I almost yelled, retaining my impression of Black's Unovan accent, "I can perfectly come in! I'm the representative from Black co.!"

"Sir, you have no ID or reservation. No means no!" the man at the door barked, shoving Go and I harshly out of the doorway, "We can't have any old Tom, Dick or Budwiener breaking in here and stealing the rocks…"

'What, the rocks you stole from us?' Go and I exchanged glances.

"Oh! Wait, can we make a reservation, then?" my partner suddenly asked dumbly, grinning like a maniac.

"Why, of course! For some reason, not many people actually made one, so we have plenty of free spots."

And so, Go gave… 'Lola Wolliw's' and 'Eduardo Oize's' name, listed the credit card number of one of the Team Rocket credit cards she had seized in a flash of inspiration from the earlier battle, and we were finally given access into the exhibition hall.

As I finished writing my false identity in what I supposed resembled cursive enough, the guard finally asked the question I had been expecting, yet dreading.

"So, um… What party are you representing?"

I scratched my head, attempting to come up with another false name I could use. The Maverick Hunters? No, too many links to X. The Resistance? Too obvious. The Guardians? Several bad flashbacks to a certain game I had in my childhood said not.

How about…

"The Knights of Kalos… Engineering." I nodded. Go sweatdropped.

"Seems alright to me! Welcome inside!"

A boy in red holding a shotgun waiting in line let out a scream, "HEY! No fair! Why do they get to go inside while I have to wait outside?!"

"Your ID was clearly faked! You used a pen to draw a face instead of your photo!"

"Hey, my art style is awesome and you know it!"

"Shut up back there or I'll make you!"

Go and I ignored this scene, walking into the mansion just as buckshot began to fly.


Just as we left, a trio approached the guard now hurling the boy in red aside. This consisted of a small boy wearing a yellow kimono and blue headband, a boy in a black Gi and a red bandana, and one clad in a red cloak with a grey hood, a single yellow line running down the centre.

"Hello the-Woah!" the guard suddenly drew a pistol from his hip, "AHA! I got you this time, Gold! There is no escape!"

The boy in red blinked, "Huh-Wha? No, I think-"

"STOP LYING TO ME! The others may have fallen to your devious tricks, but not I!" the grunt whistled. All of a sudden, a team of four grunts holding a massive net leapt from atop the nearby building, landing the net squarely on the three 'guests'.

"Ethan Hibiki! Ninja of Johto! You meet your end today!"

"Woah, man! Wait! My name's Johnny! I'm from-"

"TAKE THESE PEASANTS OUT OF MY SIGHT!" the guard melodramatically bellowed, as the four Team Rocket grunts holding the net got up, grumbling about how their healthcare plan wouldn't cover this fall. The three captured guests would later go on to sue the organizers, getting a verdict in their favor and getting compensation of over 110000 PKD.

As the Guard Grunt watched the net get dragged away, he failed to observe a cart of food with two people pulling it passing behind him, through the doors.

Silver whispered to Gold, "This disguise is itchy. Can I take it off?"

"Not yet, Silver. Not yet."

Which just goes to show.

Something.


"Why, hello there, good sir. How do you do? Support Vaniville Farm in Kalos, I heard that it's a great investment." I grinned, tipping my cap at him, "I have visited it myself and the quality of the products there- Top notch, you hear me? Of course you hear me! You're standing right there before me, man!"

"… Sir, I'm a waiter." The man replied, deadpan. I sweatdropped, scratching the back of my head.

"Oh, um… Well, still, can you invest?"

"I'll think about it." He replied half-heartedly, walking away.

After infiltrating the party, Go and I quickly realized that the first priority was to blend in and socialize. Already, I had managed to convince 3 Mining companies, 5 smaller argricultural businesses, an insurance company and a billionaire smartphone and weapons developer to buy shares in my farm.

Alcohol may have helped.

I approached the bar, looking around for more prospective/alcoholic buyers.

Then, I saw them. They were sitting around the bar, almost hidden by the other customers, I'd never forget that familiar garb. A gulp rose in my throat.

Chainmail… A fancy 'P' on their breastplate….

"…Plasma…" I choked, slowly backing away….

"Wait, Edward?! Is that you, old buddy? Long time no see!"

At this call, I turned, starting to run away. Maybe if I was quick, I could escape-

"We can see you, Ed! Get over here!"

I let out a soft yelp of terror, slinking towards the bar shaking like a leaf. The larger of the two knights turned to look at me, a wide grin on his face. Slowly, I took a seat on one of the bar stools, hand over my weapon in case I needed to fight them off.

"Hey, c'mon! We're not gonna eat you!" one cheerfully spoke.

Steeling my courage, I spoke.

"A-Are you with N-N or G-Ghetsis?" came a high-pitched whimper.

The two knights stared, before bursting into laughter.

"N! Definitely N. You're in safe hands now, Edward." The one on my left spoke. His voice seemed awfully familiar, but I couldn't place it…

"…What's wrong? Cat's got your tongue?"

"No. Not that. It's just... What are you doing here?" I questioned, nervously shifting, "I mean, you aren't even trying to blend in or anything."

One of the two shrugged, "Well, he thought it was a fancy-dress party. To be honest, compared to everyone else here, do we really look that out-of-place?!" He motioned to a group of Team Rocket Grunts standing around a bowl of punch.

"…Why hasn't anyone noticed there are literal terrorists at this party yet?"

The armored knight shrugged again, "Behind on the news as usual, I see. Tell me, Edward, what do you think Crystex does?"

I scratched my head, "They're hosting this party… And they make smartphones…"

"Yes, but I'm guessing you missed the 'We're secretly being blackmailed by Team Rocket.' Memo."

"What?!"

The larger man sat up, turning to face me, "Team Rocket has changed, Ed. They've gone worldwide, spreading their influence by force. In fact, back when Plasma was unified, there were talks that WE had connections to Rocket."

"I got proof." I muttered back, "…Don't ask."

"Anyway, the point is Crystex is in bed with Team Rocket, and that's why there are Team Rocket grunts at this party. Ergo, nobody has noticed us yet. And the second reason we're here is to acquire a certain something that shall help us in winning this war of ours."

"And that would be the this;" the second grunt held up a picture of a strange, orb-shaped object, "The Stone of Light."

The first grunt slapped the second, "Dude! Don't show that now! We don't want anyone to know what we're after yet!"

"We can trust Edward the Traitor, right? I mean, he was the first of us to leave."

"A Traitor?" I scratched the back of my head, "Is… that what they call me?"

"Yeah. We were actually going to hunt you down and kill you, but then N took command of our unit and all previous raids were called off." He took a swig of his glass of beer, "These days, we're all traitors to the Plasma Regime, so it doesn't even matter anymore."

His partner shook his head, "Not even to the rest of the world. They just think that since we were once part of Plasma, we're automatically evil. Ed… Nah, Z, you got it made, man."

I gulped, looking over my shoulder. Nobody seemed to notice the grunt's words, and the grunt didn't seem to be drawing any weapons from beneath his armor. The coast was mostly clear.

"W-Who?!"

"C'mon, Flare Hunter. You've got a small fanbase back here with all of us." One knight smiled, "In fact, that was one of the reasons many people rebelled; they wanted that sort of recognition, the ability to pave their own paths in life like you did."

"I've been hunted down, tortured, almost murdered by a friend, and I have the literal fate of the world currently sitting on my shoulders." I groaned, "Why would anyone want to be me?!"

"Why not? You've also been seen as a hero. You've fought Team Flare, for crying out loud! In fact, some people claim that if you were to fight N in a one-on-one match, you'd win."

"We've analyzed your weapons, armor and skills in order to see which one of you would win in a deathmatch. And it's pretty obvious; you would!" the second knight laughed, ordering another tankard of beer.

"You can slow time, we've heard. You control fire, you can fly, you've got a badass hoverboard… You're literally the coolest guy ever!"

"Slow down, fanboy." I chuckled with a blush, "I can't fly on my own, obviously. The hoverboard isn't really as good in battle as it seems, so I don't really use it, but the whole problem is that you're assuming that I actually want to pick fights. But I don't!"

"That's what makes you the winner! You could finish off your enemies, yet you don't! Like you said; you've been tortured to near-death, you've been hunted down by them, but you don't take lives! N wouldn't hesitate to take revenge on those who had wronged him, but you don't fight for revenge, Z. You fight for the safety of others. You-"

"I'm no hero!" I all but yelled, ramming my fist on the bar. Several people turned to face me, but I waved them away, pulling down on my cap. Nobody seemed to pay me any heed, soon going back to what they were doing earlier.

"I'm just trapped in this war, with overwhelming circumstances, a massive enemy force, if I fall, that's it! Kalos dies along with me. I am the only thing standing between Kalos and Lysandre!"

"No, you and your team are! And that's what's so cool! You guys never give up, no matter what happens!"

"Do I have another option?!" I growled, "If this was a perfect world, I'd have killed Lysandre when I first met him. None of this would have ever happened, and I could be at home, sipping Gogoat Tea and tending to my farm. But this is the real world, and nothing is ever that easy for me!"

"… What about your team?"

I sighed, leaning on the bar. The Bartender offered me a glass of alcohol, but I pushed it aside, "We aren't a 'Team', so to speak. We're just friends, acquaintances I met on my adventures. One of them even led the army trying to kill me at one point."

"Yeah, N told us all about it when he returned from his side-op. You may have strange allies. But he also said…" the man looked anxious, as if nervous to say the next few words.

"Uh… are you and the red-clothed girl… in a relationship?"

"Y? No, she's just a friend. X's, actually. They were made for each other, no question."

"The other one. The one with the Pokepad."

"Oh, her? I mean… Sort of. I like her, but I'm worried she won't feel the same way about me." I replied, slightly more flustered than I had hoped to sound.

The two knights chuckled, high-fiving each other.

"And what's so funny about that?"

"Well, firstly, it's so strange that somebody like you would be so scared about telling the one you love the truth when you fight giant robots on a daily basis." One chuckled, taking a sip of his alcohol. His words made me shudder, oddly enough, but I couldn't tell why.

"And secondly, she's standing behind you."

I whipped around to come face-to-face with Go, looking bright red. In her hands, she was clutching her Pokepad, her cloak barely covering her cap and face.

An awkward pause, the only sounds the laughter of the two Plasma grunts behind me and the crowd.

"You are so done, once this war is over." I growled grumpily, walking away.

As I left, the strains of 'Z and Go, sitting in a tree...' could still be heard.

"And stop breaking my cover!"


Gold wheeled the cart around a corner, "Alright, the coast is clear."

Joey climbed out from underneath the cart, as the two pushing it shed their disguises, "Alright, Gold. What's our next move?" The trio inspected the hallway they were in. Two guards stood before a long stretch of empty concrete hallways.

The lead ninja pondered for a second, before digging in his pocket and producing a penny, "Allow me to handle this."

"Did 'Botnik put you on guard duty again with me?"

"Yeah. Demotions are stupid!"

All of a sudden, a tiny metal disc rolled between the two grunts. The taller of the two let out a gasp, pointing down at the piece of copper. For the sake of this prose, let's call him Scratch, and his co-worker Grounder.

"Hey! Hey Grounder! A penny!" the grunt exclaimed excitedly. Grounder picked up the coin, admiring the way it shone in the light, "Ooh! There's even a tiny red LED on the side! It must be really really rare!"

The light flashed several times, before the penny hissed, spraying the two with whipped cream. They awkwardly stared at the penny, before slinking off to a nearby corner to… lick the cream.

Read into that what you will.

Unfazed, Gold, Silver and Joey casually walked past, Gold commenting, "Excuse me, Waiters coming through."

Unopposed, the trio kept travelling down the hallway, until they turned around a corner and Gold noticed something important. He narrowed his eyes, tossing a smoke bomb ahead of him. Dozens of lime green lasers streaked through the resulting cloud; motion detectors.

"There's a password panel here, Gold. I think we should try to deactivate the security." Joey muttered, pulling out a screwdriver from his pocket and unscrewing the panel. A short glance at the wiring and circuitry were enough to make the youngster give up in his attempts to hack the security.

Silver sat down in thought, before his scarlet eyes shone with an idea. He pulled out his katana, stabbing it into a wall. The wooden facade gave way to the legendary blade, embedding in the concrete. With a little grunt of exertion, he pulled himself upwards. The boy then proceeded to draw a Kunai from his belt, repeating the process and climbing up, using the weapon as a foothold.

"This way." The red-haired ninja whispered, throwing hundreds of knives into the walls. Gold nodded, realizing the knives went far above the lasers, and proceeded to follow Silver's climbing. Joey was last to come, holding onto his backpack as he did.

The three landed behind the security grid, as Gold gently rolled a marble from his pocket down the corridor. A soft click sounded, followed by a trapdoor opening up ahead and swallowing the marble.

"Pressure panels. Joey, your call."

Joey nodded, producing three large weather balloons from his bag, in addition to a tank of helium.

The three kicked off the walls, glided calmly down the hallways, before landing at the end before a large vault door and deflating the balloons.

"Now." Gold said, his voice high-pitched.

Silver dug in his pocket, pulling out a small card, 'Thanks, Crystal.' He shoved it into a panel outside of the vault's door, letting out a grin as the security system shone a brilliant green, followed by a loud hiss.

Steam blew from the door, blowing away any residual helium and revealing the lasers. Several soft clunks sounded within the door, finishing with a clank and a whir of motors as the door slowly swished open. The trio looked ahead, finally catching a glimpse of their prize.

A brilliant ruby, still uncut following the battle between X and myself. Blast marks stained some of the edges, and it was about as high as a large Pokemon egg, but the magnificent red it shone illuminated the corridor, almost as if the shots that had struck it were still burning within.

Gold took of his hat out of respect, "…Whoever last owned this stone put up a strong fight for it. Come, my friends, we must liberate it from the clutches of Team Rocket."

The red-haired boy by his side grinned, pulling out a Pokeball, "Well, let's not waste any time, then."


I pulled Go out of the crowd, quickly making my way towards an exit. The programmer had long since gotten over the shock of my inadvertent confession, and was once again the serious, focused Flare Hunter she was normally.

"I managed to pick up from some guards the stone was in a basement level, guarded by two fairly incompetent grunts, a laser field, and pressure sensors. Clearly, we're going to need to deactivate the security before we can enter." The programmer switched off her Pokepad with a confident nod, before turning to look at me, "…Do you really feel that way about me?"

I stopped, "…I'll think on it too."

"Well… Hurry it up." She simply stated with a shrug, "For now, let's file that and charge on. The security is up ahead, so we should-"

Two cooks ran past, wheeling a burning cake past us, "Excuse me, pardon me, good sir! Bad cake! Bad cake! We're going to leave to throw it out!"

They ran down the rest of the hallway, as two guards ran after them, "Watch where you're throwing that out!"

I peered around the next corner, realizing that the two who had just ran past were actually the guards who were guarding the vault. The coast was clear! I motioned for Go to follow me, and she obliged, albeit with a confused look on her face.

"…Why would two cooks be in the vault making cake, anyway?" She asked quietly. I was going to open my mouth, but quickly shut it when I realized she had a point.

"That… Well, we've been seeing oddities all day. Let's keep movi-"

Go tugged back on my jacket, sending me sprawling onto the floor, "No. Z, look!"

Black panels lined the walls, green LEDs shining on each. I let out a short gasp of breath, "Laser hallways. I thought that sort of stuff only happened in the movies! Thanks, Go."

The programmer lifted her Pokepad off a security panel, "No problem- Ah!" With a soft clink, all four bolts holding the panel in place fell to the ground, the panel itself falling out and dangling by its cables.

"…The screws were loose?" I suggested, smirking a little at Go's surprised expression, "For a terrorist organization, they really need to buff up their security."

My partner shrugged, pulling my Hoverboard off my back, "The pressure panels are up ahead. We can just glide over them with this."

Five seconds. That's how long it took for us to crack the security, distract the guards, and wind up in front of the vault door from the ballroom. Things were going smoothly.

Too smoothly.

I foolishly ignored the little voice in my head, leaning on the door of the vault, "Go, get this-"

With a soft clunk, the door swung open, sending me sprawling on the floor. Go's eyes bugged out at this sight.

"…They didn't even lock the vault… Are these guys incompetent or what!?" she grinned, looking ahead at the pedestal. I pulled my head up, muttering to nobody in particular that I meant to do that, and looked upon our target.

Go approached the ruby shard, placing an arm around it, "I'll take- WHAT THE HECK?!" Just as she had lifted the stone, it suddenly transformed into a freaking FACE-HUGGER and latched onto her face! The programmer fell to the ground screaming, "MMMMFHMFHMFHFF ITH TWYIM TM POMBE MYH MUTH! MMMMMM!"

"Get away from her you BITCH!" I roared, slashing away at the xenoform wildly. This had some effect, as it fell to the ground. Go spat out some purple jelly, pulling out her gun and letting out a crazed scream.

"THIS! IS! MY! BOOMSTICK!"

Soon, the vault's walls were covered in a purple gel, as both of us stood in the centre, gasping for breath or spitting out purple liquid.

"W-What the hell?!" Go finally spoke, coughing once more and finally standing upright with a groan. Her equipment lay on the ground around her, and I helpfully picked it up, making sure it wasn't any more of that weird transforming stone.

"A Ditto." I realized, as the purple gel began to drip onto the floor and reform into the gelatinous creature. It looked between Go and myself, before forming the shape of a sword. I drew mine, as Go raised her gun.

It looked between both of us, before transforming back to normal and slipping out an air vent.

"We've been had!" I gasped, "You must be right, Go! Those cooks…"

"…They took it!" Go finished.


Gold gasped.

"A scene transition?! WE'VE BEEN RUMBLED! To the car!"

The other two ninjas nodded, Silver holding the Grande Stone in his arms in a manner reminiscent to May's egg in the anime. Joey then brought up an important point, "Wait, but our car's in the woods! We had to run here, remember?!"

"We'll hijack- I mean, Borrow a car from the parking lot and use it to get away! Run!"

The trio agreed on this point, making their escape into the night. Unknown to them, a pair of amber eyes peered from the darkness of the nearby woods.

"... That so?" Ryu asked, flicking on his radio.


"Z, I have eyes on three ruby thieves! They're headed to the parking lot!"

I finished cutting the wall away, leaping out into an elevator shaft. Go and I grabbed a cable and whizzed upwards, "Keep your eyes on them! Can you tell me what they look like?"

"Hold on… One boy in red with a grey hat, a little guy with a blue hat, yellow shirt, a bright-red haired guy with a red-bladed katana on his back, and…" a few seconds passed, before a wolf whistle sounded on the other end.

"That is one buff Rattata."

As I was having this conversation, Go peered out of the glass walls of the elevator, spotting something from afar. She rubbed her eyes with her free hand, before tapping my shoulder.

"Tell me I'm not seeing things, or does that guy look like… a male version of White?"

I narrowed my eyes, "Huh? What are- Oh my gosh! You're right!"


On a massive stage, giving a loud speech, was none other than the man himself. He had the same brown hair, the same brown eyes, same pale skin…

This had to be her father. Or at least somebody who looked a lot like him.

"How can we claim they're actually going to protect us when HE can't even save himself?!" the man spoke, and all of a sudden, a picture of ME appeared on the screen behind him. I realized that it was a picture taken following the Power Plant incident, with me still in a hospital bed with hundreds of pipes and wires surrounding me like a curtain. Go's jaw dropped.

"…Is he talking about us?"

"He's no hero! He's a criminal! He's incompetent, unfit to defend Kalos, and generally weak compared to our armies!" he continued, as some smartphone footage appeared on the screen. I realized it was my battle with Inepte's aquatic armor, with him kicking me and hoisting me into the air with a yell, followed by black and white footage from a security camera of Xerosic controlling Emma to strangle me in a choke hold.

"Team Flare already caused enough damage, so why should we allow a secondary one follow in their path? The answer, of course, is NO! We should eliminate this spark before a flame is ignited!"

A tear rolled down my cheek. How… Even when I'd fought so hard, to the point where I almost died multiple times, how could this man have the gall, the utter nerve to say that I should be eliminated?! What made him have this authority over me?

He jests at scars that never felt a wound.

A reporter raised his hand.

"Sir, are the reports that you've had an illegitimate daughter in Unova true?"

This seemed to shut the man up. Go and I leaned in closer unconsciously.

"…I deny all accusations. I do not have a daughter, and I do not know . HOWEVER! That is beside the point I am making here. DOWN WITH THE FLARE HUNTERS, I SAY! STAMP OUT THE EMBER BEFORE A FIRE CAN BEGIN!"

The elevator slowed, coming to a stop. A ring signaled the pause, as I cut open another wall and pulled myself out, standing atop the roof of the building and looking out into the distance. Go slowly walked by my side, tears streaming from her eyes.

"T…That bastard!" she suddenly yelled when I approached her, "H-He abandoned his own daughter, and… Now he says all these things about what we're doing?! Maybe we should just give up and LET the world be destroyed!"

I did what I had to do.

I hugged her. In that instant, I didn't care how I looked. The mission briefly became a wandering afterthought as I held her in my arms, trying to soothe the panicking girl from her anger and rage.

"W-Wh- RYU!" Go suddenly exclaimed, almost shoving me off, "This is NOT the time for jokes."

"Nope, this is just me." I replied, stepping back, "Look, I know that that man is clearly insane, and frankly, I'm as fired up as you are."

"No. You weren't the one talking to White, Z. She was thrown out in the alleyways for some reason and that man is probably responsible for it. We need to do something to show him that isn't on." Go folded her arms, determination in her eyes.

"We're not vigilantes, Go! And even so, we don't know anything about that guy, not even his name!" I exclaimed, "Look, Go… As much as I'd like to prove it, we don't have any information on him."

This made the programmer quiet, looking across the forest from the roof, "…Well, we should." She turned and began to walk towards the ledge.

Twin blue flashes glided over a crowded balcony below, before vanishing into the night.


A small motorized four-person scooter, or 'Tuk-Tuk', sped off from the car-park with Joey driving. Gold let out an exhausted, yet pleased sigh as he watched the mansion pull further away, an arm around his loot, "Good going guys! This stone shall fetch a fine price when we sell it back to its proper owners!"

Silver nodded, rubbing the glassy red ruby, "Yeah. It's beautiful, isn't it? Like… Like bottled sunlight, or the crystalized kiss of a loved one…"

"Oddly poetic of you, Silver."

"Oh, I got more!" Silver excitedly grinned, "Like Ice-cream on a summer's day, like the feeling of Megaman 11's announcement, like a fish on a potato-"

"…Forget what I just said." Joey grumbled, "Look, at least we're done here, and we've got the stone with us."

Gold's ninja senses tingled, "Oh no-"

"I think nothing…"

The ninja leapt to clamp his hand over Joey's mouth, "Nooooo-"

"…baaaadddd iissssss…." Time slowed as the youngster uttered the accursed words. Gold pushed past Silver, moving ever quicker, "Nonononononono!"

"gggooooiiinnnngggg ttttoooo hhhhhaaaaaappppppppp-Mmf!"

Gold let out a sigh of relief, his hand now firmly clamped over Joey's pie-hole, "What did I say about tempting fate, Sazaki?!" The youngster sheepishly nodded, "Oh, right. Sorry Gold. Well, at least we dodged that bullet, right?"

A disembodied voice spoke in the heavens, "Close enough."

With this, the lead ninja let out a scream of anguish, "DAMMIT JOEY,YOU'VE DOOMED US ALL!"


We landed in the car-park, Ryu already waiting for us impatiently, "About time! The ruby thieves stole a nearby motorized rickshaw and are making their way back into the woods. You can see the tracks just here, and I can pick up the scent easily!"

I grinned, "Did you manage to recover from their last trick? Good boy!"

"…I'll take that as a compliment." The vulpine dead-panned, glaring at me. I shrugged, "Sorry. Anyway, Go, take Chariz and dive in to act as air-support. Ryu, you're mounting up on Epona and bringing up our rear. I'll hoverboard up and confront them."

"Sounds like a pretty solid course of action." Go nodded, sending out her Charizard and taking to the skies.

I followed after her, hoverboard roaring into life as I sped away from the mansion down the dirt and gravel road.


"Gold, you might want to look up right about now."

The ninja leader let out a long, drawn out sigh, "Alright. What eldritch abomination are we due to lock blades with now?"

A roar of fire in the skies, like a shooting star soaring in close. Gold squinted, reaching for his binoculars before realizing that the figure was a Charizard soaring overhead, "I don't see it. What am I looki- OH CRUD! THEY SENT GUARDS!"

"B-But how?! We disguised perfectly! I even set the cart on fire and dumped it in a lake, for crying out loud!" the red-haired boy exclaimed, not caring for stealth anymore, "How did they manage to see us?"

"W… What if… It's the GHOST again?!" Joey panicked.

The leader simply tuned out the whining, raising his binoculars and looking up at the skies just as the Charizard soared in the skies before the moon.

Then, he caught his first glance of his adversary.

A girl, around 3 or so years older than he, leapt from the Charizard's back arms spread. A ponytail trailed behind her, as blue lasers streaked from between her limbs, forming a webbing. She glanced down, looking directly at the ninja with an unseen gaze, before rocketing skywards and vanishing in a flash of maroon.

A yell diverted his attention. Gold lowered his binoculars, instinctively drawing out his shuriken. It was Silver, quivering as a pair of glowing amber eyes chased their vehicle through the woods. Another flash; a flame upon a the end of a wooden staff, illuminated his face, revealing canine-like features, a flowing red headband, and a determined expression.

"I'm engaging the target."

A roar of flame from the bamboo, before a boy in maroon soared out, leaves flying in his wake as he did. He glanced down at the vehicle, brown eyes just like Gold's own. In his hands was a small metal object, like a flashlight, which he swung around, igniting with a shine of green. For a second, the ninja swore his eyes shone green as he did, the visage of a green snake appearing around his foe as he did.

"S-STOP THE CAR!" Silver screamed. Joey turned his attention back to driving, realizing he was en route to collide with a rock.

He didn't make it.

The vehicle crashed, crumpling, as the three ninja leapt away, landing in a grassy clearing. Gold glared up at this new opponent armed with green flame.

"There's nowhere to run, my friends! We must fight." Gold rasped.

The boy before him let out a sigh of… sadness? Pain? Exhaustion?

A flash of blue. The girl punched the ground on her landing. From the woods, a Braixen mounted on the back of a Skidoo rode out into the clearing, pulling back on its horns and raising his staff of flame. Joey and Silver backed away, as the boy in red held his blade out before him.

"Surrender now. We didn't come to fight. You know what you have to do." I spoke.

"I do. You will not get the ruby!" My opponent roared, hurling a packet to the ground. A flash of light. If I wasn't used to the flashes of Hunters firing off their plasma cannons at me, I would have flinched. But instead, I stood tall, slashing the skies.

The boy in the red hoodie fell from a puff of smoke as I did, letting out a yelp of pain. He reached for his belt, drawing three shuriken. They arced towards me, but were soon destroyed by three calm blasts from Go. I winked at her, before dashing forwards with a slash-

A red katana blocked my attack, scarlet steel against energy. The boy with similarly colored hair let out a growl, "You… You're that spirit from the woods, aren't you?! The one that was chasing our car?!"

"Don't be daft!" I landed a roundhouse kick into the boy's side, but he swung his arm down and blocked the attack, grabbing my leg and tossing me into the air. He swung his sword skyward in the hopes of catching me as I fell…

I leapt off thin air, dashing in to land behind the confused boy, following up by a stab backwards, "First blood!"

"Wh-Who are you?!" the boy with red hair gasped, jumping away before he could be struck, "H-How did you-"


"We were given a mission." Go spoke, walking to my side. I nodded in agreement, throwing off my tuxedo as dark clouds rolled in overhead; the first signs of the returning thunderstorm's strike.

"My honour determines my mission!" the ninja declared, his partners walking to his side.

We glared at each other, in a moment of tense silence before what would surely be a clash.

Then, like a unseen signal was given, it began.


FLARE HUNTER Z VS NINJAGOLD
FIGHT!


I lunged at the leader, as shurikens were hurled at me once more. In a blur of blue from my feet and maroon, I dodged the throwing stars, time slowing as I dashed forwards to attack the ninja.

"You don't look like Team Rocket." The boy in the red jumper hissed, ducking under my blade and kicking my legs from beneath me. I rolled on the ground, hopping upright once more to face down the shadow-man.

He let out a simple grin, hurling out a Pokeball at me, "RoastMaster General! Fire Blast!"

A Thyplosion leapt forwards, spitting kanji at me. Calmly, I swung through the flames, cleaving the formation in half with my strike. My opponent looked shocked at this course of action, "Your sword… It is not of steel, nor wood. How have you managed to attain a blade of flames?"

I gave no response, turning invisible and running around behind the ninja, punching him upwards. He had no counter for this, getting thrown forwards into the woods. I barked a laugh, "Is this really the best you ninja have?"

"No." he hissed. I flinched, looking around. The sound of his voice came from all around me, as smoke covered my vision.

My view became tainted in green, as a bright red light appeared behind me.

I leapt up, backflipping over the boy's shurikens. I landed back on the smoky battlefield, eyes shining green once more, "Nice try, but I'm not going down like that! SENGATOTSU!"

My enemy's eyes widened, as I charged from the smoke, spearing him on the end of my blade. At least, I would, if he didn't suddenly produce twin daggers and expertly block my strike. He had angled the weapons as such so that my blade was able to phase through the first weapon, but the second could block my strike.

"Hmm. Your sword of light… is weaker than I expected."

With a flick of his wrist, he hurled the lower knife into my chest, where it embedded itself in my armor. I let out a cry, falling back sparking, as the Ninja drew out more bladed throwing weapons.

"Much like yourself… Flare!"


Go ducked under a swing from the red-haired swordsman, pulling out her pistol and opening fire on him. The boy calmly swung his blade in the air before him, deflecting all the plasma bolts as if they were none other than tennis balls, before spinning forwards in a tornado of red steel.

The Programmer barely batted an eye, pulling out her PokePad and creating a hard-light shield before her, leaping forwards and ramming the end of the large energy shield into the tornado, smacking the ninja within repeatedly.

"Agh… gotta… work on that one…" the ninja moaned, dropping from his spin attack, dazed and spinning. The Flare Hunter lunged forwards, performing an uppercut on the red-haired boy with a cry of, "SHORYUKEN!"

Silver rolled back on the dirt, reaching for the sheath on his back, "You fight well… But I've only been using one sword."

"A sword has no meaning unless the hand that wields it knows how!" Go recited from the many memories of her Kendo classes, "You're good, I'll give you that, but that ridiculous spin attack is useless-"

Her eyes widened at what the boy was doing, "You can not be serious."

"HOW ABOUT… THREE SWORDS?!" Silver roared, or rather muffled, now there was an iron Katana between his teeth. In both hands, he held two swords, one the red-bladed weapon, the other an ordinary katana.

The hacker's amber eyes gathered steel, as she stepped out of the way of his charge, "My guess is you can't go so fast because it could harm your face if you ran with that sword in your mouth. In addition, you have a hard time-" She ran around behind Silver, swinging a fist forwards and knocking him into a tree, "-Turning around because you could hurt your arms with a blade of that length."

"Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time…"

A kick to the gut. The sword left Silver's mouth, as Go wrapped a hand around the hilt and forcefully tugged it free, gashing a large cut across his cheek.

"AGH! OH ARCEUS, THAT HURT!"

"Don't play with fire if you don't want to burn!" Go advised, spinning the sword around and dropping to a fencing pose, "En-garde!"

Twin katanas spun in the moonlight, as Go dropped down beneath, sliding under the red-haired ninja's slashes and punching up into his behind, making him falter with a yelp, "Two swords means that each one is more unstable and more susceptible to dropping, especially with your dual-handed Katanas. If only you took the one in your mouth and put it in your hand, as that one had a shorter hilt, designed for one-armed combat."

"I-I'LL CUT YOUR ARM OFF!"

The boy swung behind him, as Go yelped, blocking both swords with her own, before kicking Silver in the gut. Silver slid back, unfazed, as his red Katana began to glow.

"SILVER GUNNER!"

He swung his blade around, as hundreds of red arrows rocketed out at his opponent. Go's eyes widened, bringing up her energy shield before those blades could turn her flesh into mincemeat.

"Those arrows were an interesting move. You have ranged attacks, in addition to a close-quarters slash." The programmer spoke, lowering her shield and swinging her sword down. Twin katanas blocked her strike, as the two locked eyes.

"They're good for a wide field of effect, and those things look like they could leave some High-Quality Rips in your opponent's flesh, but not much more!" Go grabbed the enemy's blade, intending to rip it from his hand-

"OW! WHAT THE-?!"

Her hand began to burn with a scarlet light, almost as if she was on fire. Go leapt off, dropping her sword and clutching her arm.

Silver let out a malicious grin, "You can analyze me all you like, girl. But when you're playing with the Soul Slayer…"

The katana gleamed once more, as the blade shone a blood red. Go noticed a jade stone on the end of the hilt glowing with a powerful energy as Silver spoke.

The ninja jammed his blade into the ground, "YOU'VE GOT NOTHING! EARTH!"

Dirt and stone rose from the ground around the girl, who was trapped. The earth she stood upon began to shake, and with a roar, a large chasm opened up before her. Go's eyes narrowed, "What the-"

"FROM SUICUNE, I CALL WATER!"

A large wave flooded towards the programmer, who let out a loud gasp and beginning to run. On the other end of these attacks was Silver, spinning his blade around calmly. He sheathed the swords, "Nobody has managed to avoid my elemental attacks before! I guess that this means that you're gone now. Bye bye!"

He turned to face me, still locked in combat with his leader.

He never saw her coming, she came with skill.

All of a sudden, a loud splash from the wall of water that Silver had launched, and a maroon figure performed a flying kick into his back, slamming him into the ground. A pair of red sneakers held him to the ground. The boy didn't have time to look up, before his red locks were showered with stun shots.

"H-How did…" the boy twitched all over, as Go sheathed her pistol.

"I swam up." Go responded calmly.

With those words, Silver lost consciousness, slumping to the ground.

"Slayer? Plus comme tué." Go muttered, crouching down, pulling out her Pokepad and analyzing his weapon…


Ryu dodged stab after stab, "W-Whoa! Shoot! Yipe! Hey, point that somewhere- ack!" He was, at this point in time, being chased through the bamboo forest by a small child of indeterminable age armed with a pointy fork. Normally, if it was happening somewhere else, he'd be laughing, but now that he was experiencing it personally…

'Nope. I still find this kinda funny, but scary at the same time!'

Joey ran at the vulpine, a sai in his hand as he repeatedly kept shoving at him, "Get back here, you! You Grunts are really getting desprate, aren't you?!"

"If you'd let me expl-"

"RATTTATAAAA!"

A purple monstrosity leapt from the woods, punching the earth. As the ground cracked beneath the behemoth's fist, Ryu's heart-rate increased to dangerous levels, "B-Big the Cat! Not now!"

"…What are you talking about? This is Picasso, my Rattata." Joey walked to the beast's side, placing a hand over the oversized rat's shoulder, "He'll turn your face into a work of modern art! PICASSO, USE BITE!"

The rat leapt at the fox, who swung forwards with his staff to hit the rodent aside, but to his dismay, it was far swifter than he. Sharp claws dug into Ryu's legs, and the Rattata began to climb the fox's fur.

"Try that on for size, you little skirt-wearing canine!" Joey laughed as the Braixen began to attempt to swipe the pokemon off his body. Sadly, Joey's smart mouth had often landed him into trouble, case in point….

Ryu's eye twitched, "Sk…Skirt?"

"Duh! What did you think I was saying, you big… pathetic… weak…" the youngster's trash-talking slowly gave way to a whimper, as the vulpine's amber eyes began to glow. His ears began to shine with a bright yellow flame, standing on end, as a hot wind blew from beneath, carrying the fox into the air. Ryu crossed his arms, closing his eyes.

"I… I…" He roared.

The Rattata Trainer let out a slightly spooked squeak, "Um… sorry, miss…?"

"…I AM NOT WEEEEAAAAKKK! INCENDIE!"

Ryu unfolded his arms with a roar. Flames blasted out from around him, flattening the bamboo around him as his fur glowed a golden orange. His eyes opened up, and the boy whom witnessed the Braixen's transformation could swear they were bright red. He hovered in the air, sheathing his staff and pulling his arms back. A ball of flames, the size of the car they were originally travelling in, appeared in his hands.

"SERRURE CIBLE! KAAAAAMMMEEEE HAAAAAAMMMMMMEEEEEEEEE-"

Joey and Rattata exchanged glances.

Then, they RAN!

"-HHHHHHYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" the super saiya- I mean, the fox screamed, blasting at the ground. Most of the forest burst into flame, creating a second clearing of flames in the middle of the woods. Ryu's eyes gleamed a bright amber, as he flashed through the woods to meet with his enemy.

"KIDS GONNA DIE TONIGHT!" the fox screamed, slamming into the centre of the flaming clearing and looking around.

"Now, Picasso! Use Hyper Fang!"

A purple being rammed into Ryu's back, slamming him to the earth. The Saiyan fox whipped around, spotting the Rattata biting down on his tail.

"YOU STAND NO CHANCE!" the fox flicked his tail, sending the rat flying. However, before it could hit a tree, it, too, began to rise into the air, purple eyes glowing a bright lavender.

"Wait, what?!"

Lavender energy gathered around the rat, as its trainer smirked, "I taught my Rattata how to harness and expand its Dark-Type move repertoire! He's TOP PERCENTAGE for a reason, you know! And seeing as you're a Psychic-Type, your moves are weak to his! So there! Picasso! Dark Pulse!"

In horror, Ryu could only watch as the dark energy gathered around the rat, who launched itself through the air at Ryu. The fox only had seconds to escape! Would he make it out alive?

Find out on the next episode of DRAGON BALL Z!


I dodged another shuriken, trading blows with this red-clad ninja. He was relentless, keeping up the pressure on me with what seemed like a unending barrage of shuriken! All I could do was keep dodging, and dodging, and dodging…

A small goat charged onto the field. I let out a sigh of relief, falling to my knees in exhaustion as Epona stood before me, lowering her head and grunting. But at this, the ninja's eyebrow but perked up.

"Oh, so it's a battle you want? Very well, then! ROASTMASTER GENERAL! ATTACK THE SKIDOO!"

Epona let out a yelp, as hundreds of fireballs blasted in her direction. She galloped out of the way at speeds I never thought possible for the goat, as Gold watched on. While the ninja was distracted, I dashed in for several free hits-

A loud clang.

Gold held his daggers once more, blocking my strike, "You strike your enemies while they're doing battle with Pokemon? How… dishonorable."

"If you were in my shoes, I'll let you decide what's 'honorable'!" I yelled in reply, bringing my blade back and swinging through the side swiftly. This time, Gold wasn't able to block in time, taking the hit and flinching. While he was still stunned, I kept swinging, throwing style or order to the wind. I was a blur of green slashes and red arms.

Finally the ninja leapt back, letting out a long gasp of exhaustion, "W…What is this? Your blade…"

"It doesn't cut. It simply knocks people unconscious, oddly enough." I spoke, approaching the ninja. With a leap, the weapon in question stabbed into the earth where he stood, but the boy was swift, leaping from harm's way at the last second.

"It… It drains life-force…! One's energy… It saps it from them!" he threw down a smokebomb, vanishing again. This time, I came prepared, spinning my sword rapidly like a fan to blow away the smoke.

Gold sat, perched atop a tree above my head, a large rock in his hands. For the longest time, I stared.

"Epona. Headbutt."

The Skiddoo suddenly leapt from nowhere, still panicked and running from flames. She let out a nod, lowering her head and ramming into the red-clad ninja in the tree, sending him tumbling to the ground. I slashed the air several times, cutting the stone into mere pebbles and dust.

"You… You saw through my SECRET ATTACK?" Gold gaped in shock.

"… Dropping a rock on my head?" I questioned, deadpan. Is this really all Johto has to offer? I'm not impressed.

"ROASTMASTER! COME FORTH!"

The ground beneath my feet suddenly exploded open, launching me skywards. A Thyplosion leapt into the air, grabbing onto me in one fist, the other poised to strike.

"SEISMIC TOSS!"

All of a sudden, I was hurled back to Earth at breakneck speeds, smashing into the clearing with a large blast. A massive crater was formed where I landed, my body smoking and pained all over.

"…Ow…" I finally whimpered.

Just then, a pair of red and black hiking boots appeared before my eyes. The ninja. He pulled me up by the back of my jacket, pulling out my sword from my limp hand and holding it to my throat.

"I give you two choices, Flare Grunt; Surrender… or Justice." He rasped into my ear.


The grunt plunged the phase blade into my back, blood spilling out and painting the walls a deep red. I felt that. I let out a scream of pain, falling limp in the chains, as the knife kept slicing up skin and flesh.

"I want to see you broken at my feet." The dark man spoke coldly.


My eyes widened. Never again.

"I…WILL NOT… SURRENDER!" I roared, green flame erupting from my back. The ninja suddenly felt a tingling sensation on his arm, and he let go of my sword, allowing it to drop into my open palm.

What he saw when he looked at me unnerved him.


My eyes glowed green. A green helmet, much like the Zero armor, had formed on my head, a green breastplate and boots appearing over my arms and legs in a flash of green and grey hexagons. My fists gleamed, before gauntlets warped onto them.

Finally, my forehead gem glittered a light blue, before a lime aura overcame me.

I closed my eyes, before opening them with a grin.

Zygarde-Zero Armor
50% Forme


I rose to my feet, "You… You've messed with the wrong man. I've come here to re-take the Grande Stone from Team Rocket's clutches, and I will not fail this time!"

"Grande- Oh, the ruby. Well, sorry, you can't have it. I'm selling it." Gold stated.

Bad move.

My green visor appeared, clanking down over my eyes, "No more chances, Grunt! I'm very disappointed in you!"


Ryu sidestepped the blast, returning fire with his own Psybeam. The Rattata took the blast, but still didn't fall, instead dashing forwards with its fangs before it. The Braixen let out a roar, punching forwards in the air.

Their attacks collided, one after another. A tail struck Ryu's face, but the vulpine grabbed it in one hand, hurling it towards the ground. The Rattata flew back up, roaring as it charged up with energy for another attack. A fist stopped the charging cycle, followed by Picasso leaping off a tree, hurling dark energy around itself. The Braixen fired off lemon-sized bolts of rainbow psychic power, creating a circular mirror-like shield in one arm and smacking aside any further attacks.

Picasso tore a tree from the earth, hurling it at Ryu. The vulpine drew his flame sword, cleaving it in half and setting it alight, "This is crazy! How can one tiny Rattata-!"

"TOP PERCENTAGE, BRO!"

Another tree, this one held by the rat himself, wielded like a large club, was brought down on top of the vulpine. He gritted his teeth, blasting flames as the Rattata swung again and again, attempting to ram the fox into the earth.

Joey watched on, eating some popcorn, "This is very amusing."

"HOW IS IT SO STRONG?! WHAT IS THIS GUY'S POWER LEVEL!"


"IT'S OVER… No, wait. Actually just under 9000." Go put down her PokePad, nudging the scarlet haired-boy with her foot. Her suspicions were correct; the katana was a far more advanced blade than my own.

'Let's review; while made of steel,the steel has shards of various Z crystals mixed in the blade, allowing for elemental attacks. Namely, the Rockium, Firium, Electrium, Waterium, and Grassium crystals.' Go noted this down in her tablet's word processor, 'The crystals were powdered and mixed together in such a manner that, as a side effect, made the blade tinged blood red. The jade on the bottom is a Mega Stone, with a standard, or Key, Z-Crystal on the handle. Logically, this sword acts as both a Z and Mega Ring, but much weaker than both. Curious.'

She took another glance down at the weapon, poking the blade. A slight burning sensation shot up her hand, and she jolted.

After re-gaining her balance, she continued to write.

'The blade burns anyone who touches it that isn't the 'Chosen User', as the wielder didn't seem to be affected by this DAMN BURNING OW THIS HURTS!'

"I… I'M NOT DEAD YET!"

Silver hopped upright, blade drawn. Go looked up blankly at the red-haired ninja, "Oh, good. I'll have you know I've analyzed the 'Soul Slayer', as you call it. Perhaps now, I can counter it, hmm?"

"You…" Silver's eyes burned with rage, clutching the sword closer to his black jacket, "You can't analyze the Soul Slayer! It's a mystical weapon, created by the Legendaries! With its aid, I WILL strike you down, Flare Grunt!"

"…Huh? What are you-" Go didn't finish that sentence, as Silver spun his sword, stabbing the sky with it's blade.

"I CALL UPON THE POWER OF RAIKOU! GREAT THUNDER!"

Dark clouds rolled overhead, as thunder sounded. Go rose to her feet as well, drawing her weapon; her PokePad.

The red-haired boy laughed, "What are you going to do, tweet me to death?!"

"Sort of." Go suddenly said, her amber eyes lighting up, "Frequency 2.44!"

A loud ping sounded from the device. The Soul Slayer vibrated violently, before firing a beam of fire into the skies, clearing out the storm clouds. The ninja gaped at this, as Go simply smiled, writing this down.

"Success."

"W-What happened?! What did you…?!"

The programmer landed a left-hook on the ninja, knocking him back. Silver recovered, swinging his blade around, "Whatever! ENTEI! SILVER GUNNER!"

Go yawned tiredly, "Huh, you're as observant as ever, I see…"

She tapped the tablet again, just as Silver had swung the sword around. Arrows of flames, now that she knew what they were from, flashed out rapidly at the Flare Hunter. Unheard to either of them, three high-frequency pulses sounded.

At each, the arrows dispersed in the air, the Soul Slayer vibrating angrily. Silver's eyes bugged out, "Okay, I call hacks!"

"No hacks, just some simple analysis!" Go grinned, charging up another shot and releasing it into Silver's chest.


Flames bombarded my armor, as the Typlosion launched fireball after fire ball into my breastplate. A green visor clanked over my eyes, as my world faded into a wash of green. Neon blue lines appeared on the Pokemon's body. I dashed forwards, green after-images chasing behind me before swinging in the directions of the lines with an inhuman speed. After finishing up with that attack, a long blue line flashed down the centre of the Pokemon. With a grin, I summoned all the energy in my Legendary-enhanced body, swinging upwards.

A flash of red to my left. I slid under the shuriken, about to land a kick on Gold when he suddenly dodged to the left, allowing me to ram into a tree. Time slowed, as I suddenly ran up the side of the tree, leaping off and twisting in the air and landing an axe kick on the ninja. He caught my foot, however, swinging me around into trees and the ground. My dash boots flared up in his face, and I heard a scream of pain.

Kicking off the body, I saw the ninja spraying a Burn Heal on his face, "WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!"

"In a fight, you need to use everything to your advantage." I replied, dropping back into my combat pose. It was just me and him now! No more distractions!

All of a suddenly, flames bombarded my back.

"Oh, you."

I stabbed back without looking, before repeating the action several more times.

A loud thump sounded behind me, and the Typlosion slumped to the ground.

NOW we were alone. Come to think of it, why didn't it fall the first time I did that?

"I don't know who you are, Flare Grunt, but you don't seem like an ordinary goon!"

…Maybe it was stronger than I thought, requiring two rapid slashes to be executed at once to take it down.

"You've interrupted my mission!"

Maybe I landed a critical strike on a sensitive part of his body. Most likely.

"You defile the name of Ninja-kind with your attempts of stealth!"

I hope Go's doing fine. She's fighting the guy with the sword too… I should have thought of this earlier. Damn, why don't I think these things through?

"Now, you have hell to pay for- Are you even listening?!"

I turned my attention to the boy's rant, "Oh, yeah, I filed something and stuff. I got bored after you called me a Flare Grunt." With a roar of rage, the ninja ran towards me, dagger drawn. I blocked the strike calmly with my arm, catching his wrist and channeling some of the power through my arm in the form of electricity.

His hand writhed, dropping the blade into my open hand beneath. I kicked the ninja away, twirling the knife in my hand before tossing it into a tree to my left.

"I can see you like you're moving in slow motion." I smirked cockily, "What can you do to defeat me, Rocket scum?"

Gold didn't speak, only spinning on the spot. I raised an eyebrow in curiosity.

"Observing and attending to an attack are two very different things. That, you shall learn in time."

A wild wind picked up around me. I glanced around, as a clump of dirt detached from the ground behind me, smashing into my face.

"Big whup. You're slamming the ground in my fa- WOAH!"

"My mistake; you have no time." Gold spoke.

I was suddenly thrown off my feet, into the centre of a giant tornado of death by the ninja. He hurled several shuriken into the raging gale, each of the steel blades glancing off my armor and tearing my clothing.

Just as quickly as I was sucked in, I was thrown out of the spin-cycle of blades, slamming into the earth repeatedly before coming to a rest against a tree.

"…I should… have seen that coming…" I groaned, picking myself up and tearing the blades from my lacerations. Gold began to jog towards me, picking up pace as he ran. I backflipped to my feet, kicking forwards with green-blue flame.


Silver swung forwards, but his blade was easily blocked by an energy shield, followed by a hook to the face. The Programmer he fought caught his blade in one hand after dissipating her shield, kicking the ninja back with a barked laugh.

The red-haired ninja slid back, eyes narrowed, "I hope that you'll forgive me for this…"

"What, and swinging a sword at me is something I can-?!" The programmer let out a growl. There was no response, only a pinch to her stomach which she dodged, followed by a leg flying for the back of her neck, towards the spinal cord.

"Woah! Watch it!" the programmer yelped, kicking Silver away, "What are you doing, targeting pressure points like those?!"

"I… I was going to knock you out." Silver admitted shyly, "Now get back here so I can try the 'Wuxi Finger Pinch'!"

"ARE YOU KIDDING?!" Go screamed in slight terror, "A novice like you shouldn't be trying moves like that against an unarmoured combatant! Those pressure points could cause death, and what use is a dead hostage?!"

"…But… Aren't you wearing armor?"

The Flare Hunter would later regret her following actions, in what she would describe as a 'bout of stupidity'.

"NO!" Go opened up her jacket to reveal her shirt, "I'm not-"

"…Wait."

Silver smirked, punching into her stomach. This force was enough to knock the wind out of the hacker, who stumbled. An open target when Silver tapped her upside the head with the flat edge of the Soul Slayer.

Go's eyes rolled up, "In hindsight.. This was a tactical mistake…"

She slumped over, unconscious but alive.

"…No sweat!" Silver grinned dumbly, running off and leaving the girl behind, "Now, to help Gold-Sempai!"


Picasso and Ryu fired energy beams at each other, dark energy blasting at Ryu's beam of psychic power.

"I will not lose!" the Braixen rasped, as his beam grew brighter. His determination reflected as flames in his eyes, as the battle of beams raged on. Neither side wanted to back down from this fight, no matter how harsh the pain.

"I… WILL… WIIIINNNN!" Ryu screamed, suddenly becoming cloaked in a bright yellow energy. Picasso's eyes widened, as Ryu's body began to glow.

Energy seeped from the air around the fox, culminating in a spectacular glow of bright energy. His eyes flew open, bright golden like twin suns.

"FLAME… OVERCLOCK!"

The incomplete Z-move surged through his veins, as charged up a massive ball of flame in his free arm. Fire roared and flashed, incinerating the grass beneath Ryu, but still he charged. The ball of flames was the size of a small truck when he unleashed his strike, hurling it forwards like a fastball.

Picasso couldn't dodge. He met his demise with a scream.

A massive beam of flame blasted into his chest, Ryu letting out a roar. The flames drove deeper into the Rattata's chest, before the last of its consciousness left the rat. It fell, getting slammed across the ground, before hitting a tree and falling unconscious.

Ryu landed, eyes shut…

Before looking up.

"HOW YOU LIKE THEM APPLES, MON AMI!?" the Braixen laughed, standing above his fallen foe and partaking in a victory dance, "You want a spork for eating that humble pie now, rodent? I'm a FLARE HUN-"

SPATANNNG!

The vulpine's eyes rolled up into his head, "…Urp."

Unceremoniously, he slumped to the ground face-down. Joey lowered his cast iron frying pan, wiping it against his shorts.

"… Yaaaay." He muttered in a monotone.

"Now, to help Gold!"


(The Megas- Afraid of the Dark)

A red sabre slashed at my back, but at the last second, I dodged, instinctively kicking around behind me, "What the- YOU!"

Say goodbye to the Light,
The darkness grows!

The boy with the scarlet sabre and follicles swung once more at me, "That's SILVER to you! Surrender!" I grabbed his sword and a burning sensation coursed through my whole body. I shrugged off the pain, pulling the blade from his hands and hurling it at a rustle in the bushes.

A youngster in yellow ran out, holding a spray can. His eyes visibly widened as the blade nailed him by the flat edge in the gut, and he fell screaming, before becoming unconscious.

I'm in league with the shadow.

A punch. I blocked it with my gauntlet, shoving the ninja in the red jumper aside as I did. The boy backflipped away, preparing another strike, as the boy with red hair ran for his dropped sabre.

"No, you don't."

I hurled my blade towards him, and it slashed directly through his back. While it embedded itself in the earth, Gold once again swung at me with three shuriken flying my way. Calmly, I caught each one, spinning one in my hand in a reverse grip and lunging towards my opponent, plunging it into his back. I missed, not used to handling the weapon, but managed to scratch his shoulder. The resulting spray of blood distracted him enough for me to leap back, snatching up my sword.

I can feel the good in me is dying slow.

A red katana blade clashed with my green laser. Silver stood, bringing his sword around once more to attack.

We circled each other, swords at the ready. My glowing green eyes locked with his burning scarlet.

"SENGATOTSU!"

Turning off the sun,
Running through the night!

We dashed at each other, swords outstretched. In an instant, we clashed, locking weapons and glaring. Shuriken flew at me from behind, but I leapt away, allowing them to pass below my arc and strike Silver, who calmly slashed through each one. I leapt back, skidding on the ground.

Dirt flew into the air. A shower of pebbles. Go's unconscious body was by my side now. I rolled out of the way of several slashes, unclipping the plasma gun off her belt and opening fire on the boy in the red jacket. He avoided each shot once again, but one landed on his chest, blasting him into the ground. With a chuckle and a spin of my gun, I marched towards my opponent. Silver leapt up, rolled beneath my legs and swung at my back, striking directly on my Ƶ wound under my armor and making me flinch. This was followed up by him firing arrows of fire at the wound. With a growl, I rolled over, drawing my blade deflecting the fire arrows.

I am the knife in a gunfight!

My previous hinderance didn't go unnoticed, however. The youngster had gotten up from the ground with a cry, "Silver, keep hitting his back! He must have some sort of wound there from a previous battle!"

I let out a soft groan. That was no battle scar…

Evil left its mark…

Swings at my back. I performed a backflip, kicking back into the boy's chest and stabbing in between his legs. The ninja flinched, kicking upwards into my sword to knock it out of my hands. However, as the blade flew into the air, it suddenly performed a spin, as if the weapon itself was alive, slashing through Silver's mid-section as it returned to my palm. I whistled, lunging forwards and striking my opponent down to the dirt.

The Youngster's eyes bugged out, as I whipped around to face him. Dark clouds rolled over the moon, as the green flames and eyes that would haunt his life glittered in the darkness.

"So tell me…"
"Are you afraid of the dark?"

I pounced, blade flashing in the darkness. The Youngster leapt back, drawing twin Sai and blocking my strike. This effort was rewarded by a punch, followed to several blasts to his face. I spun around as he rolled back upright, leaping into the night sky.

"RAKUKOUJIN!"

Gold leapt before me, grabbing my arm and interrupting my strike. I found myself eating dirt shortly thereafter, as the scarlet shinobi kicked my weapons away. The steel clattered across the battlefield, bounding into the bushes. It was just me and my bare fists.

He grabbed my wrists, and I kicked backwards into his thigh. This didn't aid my situation in any manner, though, as he suddenly rammed his knee into my back, and a loud crack was heard from my shoulders. Pain surged up my arms.

I feel it tearing me apart…

"Both of your shoulders are dislocated, Flare Grunt. You are clearly at a loss."

I grinned mischeviously as he let go, hammering him with an iron fist. The Synergy lines on my armor brightened, "Power Armor, remember?" From within, my suit shone a cyan green, the pain slowly dissipating; some sort of healing?

I feel the shadow in my heart…

Gold punched at my head, but I caught his fist, time slowing. A blue fist mark appeared on the back of his neck, and I punched. He fell down, as I ran for the bushes. My sword spun out from within the forest, coming back to rest in my palm once more.

"Let's finish this, Zygarde." I whispered, my eyes gleaming once more, "It's literally like I can see you in slow motion."

Silver and Joey rose, drawing their weapons. Gold pulled out his kunai once more. My sword was raised, a green flame that reflected my spirit illuminating the battlegrounds.

So tell me,
Are you afraid of the dark?

What was to follow was sheer chaos. A mess of green and red energy, blue dash-kicks, and metal grinding against steel. I ducked under a slash, snatching a kunai from the air and forcing it into the wrist of the swordsman. He let out a cry of pain, tearing it out. This gave me time to pull a Sai out of the Youngster's belt and use the prongs to wrestle the blade from his weakened hands. I grabbed the hilt.


A surging red tinge overcame my vision. Blood-red lines of energy lit up on my otherwise green armor, like cracks of energy corrupting the plates that protected my body. The Katana burnt against my hand, yet I felt no pain. My wounds felt like they healed instantly. Millions of souls resounded in my head, like an entire army's power had been channeled into my body.

All hesitation I had earlier vanished.

I was Invincible.

Corrupted Z-Slayer Armor
ΠΦΠζΔ? % Forme


The leader gasped, "You- You can wield-!?"

Ignoring his shock, I swung both swords before me, cutting through shuriken after shuriken. Another, longer katana swung at me, but in that instant, both of my blades glowed green, and I blocked the strike.

"J-Just who are you?!" Silver's jaw dropped, as I stabbed forwards with the broadsword in my left hand, spinning and plunging the katana in my right into his gut. My view became tainted with green, as I raised my blades once more, aimed at his head.

A loud pair of THWAKs sounded on my back. Something clattered to the ground.

All of a sudden, a piercing, almost paralyzing pain surged through my body. I let out a scream, my green armor dissipating and the Z-sabre flickering wildly. A pain unlike any other surged through my body, as I hurled the red katana away. It spun through the air, falling to the ground with a loud sound.

The sounds of the

Lower your weapons, Z. the familiar voice of the Z-Sabre spoke in my head.

You have been bested.


MISSION FAILED…?


Silver calmly approached me, snatching up his sword once more. I rolled over, reaching out for what had fallen from my back, but the lead ninja was swifter, kicking the end of the Soul Sheath into the air catching it, "What is this? Some sort of…"

A surge of anger. I stood up, ignoring how my entire body ached.

"Team Rocket Grunts like you have no right to lay hands on the Soul Sheath!" I suddenly yelled, "I made a promise to a mother that I would deliver it to her son, the Hero of Johto… I can't let it be stolen away just like that…!"

The ninja glanced at the scabbard, then his partner's blade. He took another look between both, his jaw slowly falling open.

"So… So she gave it to you… In Kalos?!" the ninja slowly asked, turning over the weapon again and again.

"Yes. Do you know her?"

"She… She's my mother…" the ninja rose to his feet, looking into my eyes. Now, and only now that he had stopped beating the ever-loving crap out of me, could I properly see the ninja. At first, the night obscured his face, but his brown eyes shone just like mine. That grey cap… the red hoodie…

"Y-You're…" I began, in slow realization.

I never finished that sentence, because at that moment, a large van rammed into my body.


Joey whipped around, "What the heck, man?! He was just about to give important exposition and everything! The text was BOLDED AND ITALIC too! What was that for?!"

No response, only a device that resembled a plunger attached to a rope flew out of the vehicle grappled on to the stone, pulling it into the vehicle and speeding off with a scratchy Meowth-like voice screaming, "STEP ON IT!"

To this, the ninja could only stare, as crickets decided now would be a good time to sing the song of their people.

"…Welp, I'm checking Craigslist." Silver sighed, reaching for his smartphone.


I dragged myself to my feet, each muscle aching as I dragged myself upright, "You… You stole the stone!" The Youngster turned to face me angrily, "Yeah, well, YOU stole the stone, you mean Flare Grunt!"

"Okay, what makes you think I'm part of Team Flare, anyway?!" I snarled back.

"Oh, let's see! Demanding the stone back from fellow terrorist teams? Check! Red clothing and Kalosian companion? Double check! Kalosian Pokemon? Check, check, guilty verdict, court is adjourned!" the kid counted on his fingers, pouting as he finished, "Given those circuimstances, how can you NOT be a Flare Grunt, Mon amy?!"

…What.

"…That's not how it's pronounced." I folded my arms, ignoring the surges of pain that coursed through them as I did.

"SEE! ONLY A FLARE GRUNT WOULD BE THAT PICKY ABOUT HIS HOME LANGUAGE!" Silver roared.

"WHAT?! THAT'S THE MOST… THE MOST MINDLESS TRAIN OF LOGIC EVER!" I screamed back. How did these guys even manage to steal the stone in the first place?! Maybe Go's comment about Team Rocket's competency wasn't too far off, then…

To this, the Youngster simply laughed, "Yeah! Go back to Kalos and get your ass kicked by those other guys! Zee, or whatever his name was… We don't want your types around here!"

Gold's eyebrow raised as his ward spoke these words, "…Joey, do you have a picture of this… this Zee?"

The boy nodded, reaching into his bag and pulling out a newspaper, "He's been all over the Shinobi Sun recently! Though I guess you don't have much time to read through it…"

"Shut up… Hold on!"

Gold glanced at the paper. Then at my face. Then back at the paper. Then my face. About 5 rotations later, he let out a flat 'Oh', looking up at me.

"…It appears I may have made a mistake. This is a stain upon my honour!" the ninja spoke, placing a hand on his forehead, "I jeopardized my own mission, it seems, by pursuing you…"

"What the heck are you sayin'!? Hurry up and kick this guy's butt so we can apply for Mc-Dittos!" Joey excitedly pointed at an advertisement on the page the newspaper was open to, "Look, it pays well, and the benefits are great- Hang on. Hey, has anyone noticed how that guy we were just fighting looked a lot like Zee?"

"…Yes." The lead ninja spoke.

"Heck, he could win first-place in a lookalike contest, too." The Youngster commented, "Almost as if… Hey, wait. Guy, start a mission again!"

"Wha-" I stared, "I can't just start a mission when I'm already on a mission!"

"C'mon! Just make that a mission! Um… Your mission to start a mission!"

'This is sooo stupid.' I let out a long, drawn out sigh, before rolling my eyes, "Fine."


MISSION START!


MISSION COMPLETE!


Joey's jaw dropped, "No way… It's bolded with italics, and centred and everything, too… So that must mean…"

My Z-sabre gleamed, as I raised it skywards, "Was there a doubt? My name is Edward, but most people call me… Flare Hunter Z."

The lead ninja approached me with a nod, "In which case … I bear the name Ethan. But my name in this conflict is… Gold." He motioned to his partners, "I am accompanied by Joey Sazaki, tamer of a powerful beast."

"I bet there's no Pokemon in Johto sharper than this guy!" Joey grinned, "Hey, what's your number, by the way?"

"…In addition, a single Team Rocket… admin, if you will, has escaped the clutches of the enemy and joined us on our quest for burning justice; the chosen one, Silver Testa di Cazz-" Gold paused, realizing the death glare his red-haired friend was giving him, "Um… His last name is not important!"

Silver drew his sword, spinning it in one hand, before clutching it in a reverse-hand grip, "I'm also the cameraman! This flim will make millions!"

"Together, we are… NINJAGOLD!" Gold cried out, as the trio stood before me, weapons drawn.

The night was silent, save for the crickets. I scratched the back of my head, "… So, you're not Team Rocket grunts?"

"We're as Team Rocket as you are Team Flare, Z." Gold held out a hand. I took it, shaking it, "Now, you claimed to have met… my mother?"

"Yes. She told me all about how you were the chosen one for the Soul Slayer, so skip that part. I haven't got all day." I cooly replied, "Her name is… Valerie, one of the Gym Leaders of Kalos. The Fairy-Type one, to be exact."

"…My mom is a Gym Leader…?" Gold's jaw dropped, quivering, "I…Wow, that's really something… I hope the mobs haven't been getting to her."

"Mobs? What mobs?"

The three stared at me incredulously, as I calmly scratched my arm.

"… You mean you haven't noticed?"

"Not particularly, no. What's going on?"

Silver let out a sigh, plunging his katana blade-down into the dirt, "It's a dark time for us in Johto. As a result of the previous Kanto League Champion's behaviours, trainers have been viewed as dangerous, as people to be hated." He looked up, red eyes burning in the illuminated light of the moon, "As a result, Trainers all over Johto are suffering from discrimination and unwarranted hatred. As for Gym Leaders…"

His eyes shut, "… Well, you get the idea. As a result, we have sworn to restore honor to the name of the Trainer by beating the Johto league and unraveling the mystery of Team Rocket's scheme here."

"What about Kalos, Z? I suppose with your strength, getting to her gym must have been easy-"

"…Not quite." I replied, "Kalos has been having a similar affair, but with Team Flare… and myself."

I explained to the trio what had happened, providing the cliffnotes of my mission to defeat Team Flare; the legend of Zygarde, the betrayal of the Hunters, Lysandre's scheme… When it was all over, Gold raised an eyebrow.

"So, my theory was correct. Team Flare does have connections with Team Rocket."

"Huh?"

The ninja pulled out a scroll, unrolling it on the ground, "I've heard from my sources that 100 grunts were eliminated during the incident last year. Back then, as Silver tells me, over 1015 grunts were working for Team Rocket. Now riddle me this; if you have 915 grunts in a land where involvement with Pokemon Training, even illegal, is heavily controlled and nobody wants to become involved with your 'Evil with Pokemon', how do we have THIS?!"

Gold pulled out a Team Rocket ID card from his bag. I squinted, "…Cr-"

"Not that part! The ID number! This is grunt # 2943! Since Team Rocket always numbers their grunts in numerical order, what with them being stupid with security and all that, how did at least an extra 2028 grunts suddenly become involved?"

"So my friends did some more digging, and... Here."

He pulled out another scroll from his bag, "This data was claimed from Team Flare and Plasma. Plasma had a force of over 1014. Flare? 814… But fluctuating. I soon noticed that some grunts were missing from the total of Team Flare, and…"

"Whoa! Hold it there." I rested a hand on my forehead, "So you mean to tell me Team Flare has… It has HOW MANY people?!"

"Of course, the numbers may be a bit skewed, but you need to understand the logic behind it. Z, I believe that Team Flare has been transferring their recruited grunts over here, to Johto." Gold calmly stated, rolling the scrolls back up, "Flare recruits them, the Rockets get them, and Plasma… Well, it does whatever it does."

"When did you get this data?" I asked, scratching the back of my head, "Plasma's manpower has fallen recently..."

"I didn't factor that in… There will be time to do the maths later." The ninja concluded, walking past me, "Now, about that ruby you want so badly…"


'…Where am I?'

Go stirred in the bushes, rubbing her temples. Last she remembered, she had unzipped her jacket and…

"Ow… That'll teach me to try to be a smartass." She muttered to herself, pulling a flask of coffee from her bag and calmly pouring herself a cup. The scent of the brew wafted through the woods. Quietly, the programmer lifted the cup to her lips…

A loud snapping sound caught her attention. Go twitched, spilling the brown liquid on her clothing, 'More enemies?!'

"WHO DARES DRINK THAT BEVERAGE IN MY IMMEDIATE VICINITY?!" Joey roared, snapping down several shoots of bamboo. Go let out a yelp, caught unaware, "DON'T TAZE ME, BRO!"

Joey peered around, noticing the girl, who was now curled up in a ball and whimpering, "Excuse me! Person who looks like a female Z! Have you seen the Coffee drinker anywhere!?"

"Joey! Get back here!"

The Youngster turned around, as Gold and I brushed through the bush. I had managed to recover my gun from nearby, and I tossed it to Go. She promptly raised the weapon at the ninja, eyes narrowed. Joey darted off into the forest.

"Go, calm down. We've worked out that they're friendly." I calmed her down, but she still kept her weapon trained on the ninja.

"How do we really know if they're friendly or if they're actually planning on betraying us at the last second?!" She hissed back, pulling me by her side, "I can't take that risk!"

"Missy, calm down. We mean you no ill-will now… Unless you give us reason to." The boy in the red jumper politely bowed. My partner looked him directly in his eyes, before lowering her weapon, "Alright, fine…"

The atmosphere was so tense, one could hear a penny drop.

Until Gold coughed, "That clothing is a little familiar. You a fan of Pokemon GO…?"

"Well… I DID work on that for a while." The programmer replied angrily, packing her muddy and slightly worse-for wear hood away, "Name's Go. Charlie 'Go' Willow!"

With that revelation, all three ninja gasped. Silver ran up, inspecting the hacker from every angle curiously, "P-Professor Willow was a teenage girl this whole t-time?! I knew those memes were onto something when they said he looked good!"

"Or rather… She?" Gold pointed out.

"…Sorry, I'm not the Professor. He's my Grandfather." The programmer flicked at her chestnut locks, "But that's the first time I've had somebody confuse me for him…"

I shrugged, walking by her side, "She's… somebody I've met during my journey. Her skills with hacking technology and analysis have proven helpful time and time again, and she's got a lot when it comes to physical skills as well."

The girl elbowed me aside, nodding, "I work out. A LOT."

A yelp came from another part of the woods, followed by a familiar scream of "INCENDIE!" and loud explosions of flame. I rolled my eyes, stepping aside as a large fireball plunged into the earth, leaving a crater.

Ryu stood, holding an overly buff Rattata in one hand in a choke hold. He held his flame sword in his free hand, poised to stab his opponent. I coughed, "Ryu, put that Rattata down."

"HE… INSULTED… MY… FUR!" the Braixen with the red headband roared in fury. I sighed.

"Just… Just let it slide."

Gold and Silver watched on with interest, as I bickered with the vulpine. They turned to Go, "Um… Does this happen often?"

"You should see what happens during bath-time." she sighed, scratching her head.

"Bad boy! Drop it! Drop it now!" I barked at the Braixen. Amazingly enough, he did!

… Then picked the rat up a few seconds later.

"There." The fox replied with a smirk. I let out a facepalm, "Young… Fox-man, you know what I mean! Drop that Rattata!"

"What can you do to stop me? WHAT CAN YOU DO TO-"

"RYU AUDITORE DE FRIENZE, YOU ARE NOT GETTING DINNER TONIGHT IF YOU DON'T DROP THAT POKEMON THIS SECOND!" I roared, green eyes flaring up. The cry echoed through the woods for the longest time, as all other noises died down.

Ryu whimpered, "O-Okay…" He gently placed the Rattata on the ground, before curling up into the fetal positon.

I turned to the rather shaken Gold, "This is Ryu, my Starter. He kinda does his own thing most of the time." When I turned back around, he was hugging my leg, sobbing "I'm sorry!" repeatedly.

"…Normally, he's not as temperamental as this." Go muttered.

The red-haired ninja blinked, "The Kitsune, or Z?"

"Both."

I dragged Ryu back to his feet, gently patting his back, "Anyway, did anyone catch the direction that the Stone was taken? I didn't see it, because I was kinda face-down on the ground then."

Gold let out a sigh, "It wasn't my fault."

"Yeah, then I suppose the cuts and searing pain weren't caused by you either, then?"

"Yes, but you perpetrated the violence by- No wait, never mind." Joey paused, realizing his team attacked first, "Well, shoot. That aside, that stone is still a priority, soo… Superhero team up?"

I got a sudden urge to fist-bump Gold, and it seemed he did as well, and we did, with multicolored text saying 'TEAM UP!' appearing over the impact!

"…What was that?" Go queried.

"Ignore it. The Author's just venting his memes again." The ninja dismissed it with a wave of his hand.

…What?


The Team Rocket van sped away from the crime scene, the bright magenta/purple haired girl driving laughing all the way, "Hahaha! Did you see the looks on those faces when we just made off with this rock?! Priceless!"

The boy with purple hair agreed, "Indeed, my dear woman! We truly showed them the power of Team Rocket!" A Meowth with a translator headset let out a scratchy laugh, "Meowth, that's right!"

Their intriguing conversation was interrupted abruptly by a loud crash from the back of the vehicle. The driver flinched, the vehicle faltering for a few seconds before she muttered, "James, what's goin' on?!"


"Z! What did we just talk about?!" a voice sounded in my headset as I kicked my Skidoo's sides. Dirt and exhaust- Luckily, just ordinary CO2 this time- blasted into my face, as I rode up to the side of the vehicle.

"Gold, calm down. I've got this." I replied calmly, coming in close and kicking the vehicle again with a dash-kick.

"You're ruining the element of surprise!"

"Screw surprise! I'm taking them down!" came the reply, and yet another kick to the vehicle's side, "What I want to know is why this thing isn't stopping! I saw this in an anime once, so why isn't it working now?!"


"Wah! It's going loco!" a cat-like voice (No, I don't know how I figured that out.) howled from within the driver's cab. I grinned, now flinging my entire lower body out of the saddle of my steed and repeatedly dash-kicking the vehicle in the right of the rear-bumper.

Go and the others followed behind me, cruising along in the vehicle from earlier. The lead ninja let out a sigh, "…Acorn-hair, remedy the actions of your idiotic boyfriend." Go let out a gasp.

"W-Wha?! N-No, he's not my- Whatever made you assume that?!" Go quickly spat out, jolted from her near-sleep, "I-um… He's just my partner, a friend!"

"Who's a boy! Therefore, he's-" Silver promptly received a set of five across the face.

Meanwhile, I finally launched a final kick into the back of the vehicle, launching it into a spin. I grinned dumbly, "I guess watching all that Highway Patrol really paid off!"

"Yes, excellent disabling maneuver. However, that leaves us with the main truck itself."

I let out a yelp, pulling back hard on Epona's reins and skidding to a stop as the truck veered around on the dirt, skidding around to a stop. I hopped off the goat, returning her to her pokeball and drawing my sword, "Alright, prepare yourself!"

"Oh?" a voice came from the cabin, "Well, maybe you should PREPARE FOR-"

All of a sudden, Go leapt by my side, "Abandonnez maintenant ou sagement prendre son envol! Nous sommes les chasseurs de la ville de Lumière! Pour étendre notre aide à la situation la plus perdue! C'est pourquoi à travers les océans nous avons pris notre combat! Unir les héros dans les régions! Et protégez le monde de la dévastation ..."

"WE'RE THE FLARE HUNTERS! DROP THE STONE OR WE'LL KICK YOUR ASS…ers!" the programmer declared, raising a fist into the air with a cheesy grin.

There was silence for a few seconds. Go winked at me, still with a fist raised to the heavens, as Ryu breathed, "Damn right."

"Y-You can't just rip us off like that!" a blue-haired boy exclaimed, climbing out of the vehicle. A purple haired girl and a meowth followed, looking similarly annoyed, "Yeah, we copyrighted that and everything, Meow!"

My eye twitched, "…A talking cat?!"

Go ignored my comment, pulling out her gun, "Eh, figured I'd make a slogan to drum up business. Give us back that Ruby or I'll have to use force!" But to her threat, the grunts simply laughed.

"Oh, I think the only ones using force… Will be us!" the purple haired girl rasped, hurling some sort of metallic cube at Go. The hacker stared blankly at it.

"Wait, GET BACK!" Gold screamed. But it was in vain.

A massive holographic rectangle appeared around Go, trapping her within. She glanced around, "Force field? Really? I don't think…" she reached for the side, before letting out a sudden cry of pain and falling back.

"No, an ELECTRIFIED hard-light field! This box is also slowly shrinking as well, so over time, you'll be crushed or shocked in between!" the Meowth cackled, "It was given as a little present from the higher-ups in Kalo-"

The blue-haired boy clamped his hand over the Pokemon's mouth, "Anyhow, you take one step and Jessie here shrinks the box and kills your friend!" The girl held up a small controller, twisting a dial and dilating the cell.

The programmer inside the box growled, "Aw, I always knew mimes would be the death of me!"

"SHUT UP, PRISONER!"

My eyes glowed with green fire, "You… You would go this far for that stone?! You BASTARDS! Let go of her right this instant!" Gold walked up to my side, shaking his head sadly.

"Z, I don't think you should do that." The ninja spoke, his brown eyes examining his enemies, "When one of your opponents have your own's lives on the line, they have no hesitation to end it, even as leverage against you! The best thing to do is to wait and try to reason it out with the-"

Something snapped within me.

"I don't have time for this."

In an instant, I was before the girl who was threatening Go. She calmly twisted the dial, until I grabbed her by the throat.

"W-WHAT ARE YOU-" a voice screamed behind me. I ignored it, twisting the enemy's neck.

"JUST GIVE ME THE DAMN STONE ALREADY!" I screamed, wringing the flesh with my armored hands. The girl choked, "Idiot… If I die, then who's going to save your little-"

My eyes gathered steel. I planted my boot into her face, firing up the boosters and burning most of her ponytail off. I listened to her screams of pain.

And I savored every second.

"We'll just see who snaps first."

A gunshot.I flicked my wrist, hurling the enemy aside and whipping around to face theboy, who held a revolver. I let out a predatory grin, shooting out a fist into his gut and slamming him into a tree. The weapon fell to the ground,clanking aside in the night.

"W-What?! Hey, heroes aren't supposed to do that!" the Meowth whimpered. I turned to face it, and it froze. My face was as serious as ever.

"That's where you're wrong."

I jammed my sword into him, and he screamed. I rotated the sword slowly, increasing the pressure. As the look of terror widened on his face, I leaned in to give him a little message.

"I'm a terrorist." I hissed.

With another kick, he smashed into a tree, this time with a crack that signified the fracturing of bone.

Several clicks behind me. I spun around, snatching a stone off the ground and hurling it at the girl, who was attempting to take control of the force-field. She threatened the mission. If Go died, I couldn't complete the mission. She was threatening Go.

N-No! Go does not have any relevance to the mission at hand! I just need to interrogate the enemy! Love cannot…

LOVE CANNOT EXIST IN WAR. SHE IS INSIGNIFICANT.

"YOU DARE THREATEN ME?!" Fury overcame me.

BUT THEN WHY DO YOU FEEL THIS WAY?

"YOU BASTARDS!" Tearing steel. Breaking bones. The look of terror.

THE MISSION IS ALL THAT MATTERS.

"DIE!" Gunshots, plasma and ballistic. A fist. The crash of swords against my arm.

GO IS NEEDED FOR THE MISSION. NOT LOVE.

"Z…ou….ar...n't…is...'t like…!" a scream. I don't know where from. Hands breaking arms.

SAVE KALOS. GO IS NOT… GO IS…

"DROP THE GUN NOW!" A roar of rage. Green flames. Flashes of guns. Coins scattering.

YOU DON'TNEEDNEEDHERYOUDON'T NEEDMISSIONNEEDCOMPLETESTARTMISSION KILLTHEMALLKILLTHEBASTARDSKILLKILLKILLKILLKILL ZYGARDEMISSIONLYSANDREWILLOW MISSION ZTHEMISSION REMEMBERTHEMISSIONSAVE

SAVE…HER

…Save her. I need her.

I love her.


The world grew clear again, as I looked down at the chaos that had unfolded around me. The Team Rocket grunts lay around me, red splatters staining the ground. My sword impaled the boy, his revolver shattered into its component parts. The handle of the gun was bloodstained, probably after I used it to pistol-whip somebody. The Meowth was on the ground, non-fatal bullet wounds scarring his body. I let out a soft gasp for breath, realizing all their limbs were bent the wrong way, broken.

And behind me, everyone was watching, mouths wide open in shock.

Go lowered her Pokepad, the force-field around her disappearing. The look on her face wasn't relief, nor pain.

It was shock.

"Z… Did you just…"

I let out a shrug.

"Non-lethals. Those jerks will recover in a few weeks, maybe less with advanced tech." came the reply. Go's eyes widened, looking me over like I was some sort of madman. Ignoring this, I continued, "The mission awaits. Let's keep going."

"…ARE YOU BLIND?!"

She punched me.

"Z… You just brutally beat up three Team Rocket Grunts for absolutely next-to no reason!" Joey let out the whimper, "You had no reason to do that! They didn't even threaten us!" Silver nodded, pulling out his sword, "They use that thing all the time! You can just cut your way out with a Synergy blade! I was going to tell you that, but… But you just…"

Gold didn't speak, only giving me a disapproving glare.

I opened my mouth to argue back, but Go harshly growled, "What's going on in your head?! When you started this journey, you were hesitant to fight! Now look at what happened!"

"…The mission-"

"What about it?!" the ninja in red finally yelled, "You go ahead and jeopardize the raid. You brutally beat up and break your enemies! Then you have the gall to keep talking about your mission?!"

"YOU DON'T GET IT, DO YOU?!" I yelled back, furious, "This is a WAR, Ethan! War has no place for ethics! It has no place for politeness! Wars are won by he who strikes first. It's not about the ethnicity, nor about where you strike the belt! The world's going to end if I don't fight! War may be feudal for you ninja, but for me…"

"War… has changed."

For the longest time, nobody spoke.

"Then I guess you're just a terrorist too." My partner turned away, walking off into the trees.

I said no more after that.


Gold climbed into the back of the truck, digging around the crates. He let out a frustrated sigh, kicking a crate.

"Empty. This was a decoy."

A loud whirring sound; a helicopter. It flew overhead, travelling back to the mansion in the direction we had come from. Silver let out a grumble.

"He let them get away, Gold. How could we have fallen for him so easily?!"

I was in hearing distance, crouched behind a tree. My sword lay by my side, tip stabbed into the earth. I was terrified.

Of myself.

I had just lost it… I flipped out, then I yelled at the people whose trust I was supposed to be earning… This wasn't me. I shouldn't have done it.

Yet you did.

I did. I pistol whipped, then shot a Meowth. Three Team Rocket Grunts now lay on the side of the road, with Joey administering first-aid to them. Nearby, the ninja were discussing their next plan of action, and Go…

Go was by the other side of the road, crouched behind another tree. I could hear her tinkering with her devices, so she must have been trying to-

A sob.

I peered out from behind the tree, spotting my chestnut-haired partner… crying. Both her palms covered her eyes, but tears still flowed. A river of sadness glittered in the moonlight.

It was in that instant I realized my own eyes were wet.

"Gold… What should I do?" I sobbed freely, addressing the ninja. He paused from his planning and scheming, and turned to face me. His voice was raspy, emotionless and angry when he spoke. Each word was barked out at me, just like some sort of order.

"Wh-What the hell do you want me to do?!" the ninja roared, "You want me to act like your conscience, Z?! You want me to provide some damn sagely advice?! WELL GUESS WHAT! I'm not!"

I let out a choked argument, but he cut me off, continuing with his outburst, "You can keep WAITING and WAITING for that magical event where you wake up, everything's fine, the sun's shining down on you and everything's just DANDY, but you might as well be waiting forever, because unless you decide to get off your armoured butt and decide to change how you act, nobody can help you!"

Those last words echoed in the woods for the longest time.

"H-How can you say something like that!" I shot back, tears streaming from my eyes, "I was tortured by Team Flare, one of my friends betrayed me and started a war to try to kill me, and the world's going to end if I don't fight !"

The Johtoese trainer paused, turning to face me, "Torture is not an excuse to lose your standards! I just fight because it's the right thing to do!"

"Unlike you." He spat.

When Gold spoke, a memory flashed through my head.

'I don't think of myself as a hero. I have only always fought for those I believe in.'

The words that I had spoken to Shauna so many weeks earlier had returned to bite me in the ass. I had only just started out back then, but… I guess Go was right. Recently, I had been 'resting' too much on my scars. I forgot why I fought.

During the time between my first battle to now, I had grown cocky, believing that my form of justice was absolute; my view was always right, the enemy's always wrong. I had taken it too far with this 'battle'-

It was no battle; Just me beating up two random people and a cat on the side of the road.

-I had taken it too far. I'd fallen from what I first conceived a Flare Hunter to be. I'd broken away from the rules.

I bowed to Gold sincerely, "Gold… I'm sorry. I know my apology probably means nothing, but… Please forgive me! A lot has happened recently!"

"... I'll lead, you follow." The boy spoke after a brief silence, his face as stoic and focused as ever. I raised an eyebrow, "What do you mean?"

"You're in my region now. Therefore, you should obey my orders." He replied, pacing around me, "It doesn't matter what kinds of skills you if employ it in the wrong areas, such as jumping in to assault instead of using stealth and your arsenal to surprise your enemies. In Kalos, strategy may work on whom you face, but…"

He pointed to the black belt tied around his waist, "This belt doesn't say France."

Joey started at this statement, whipping around in surprise, "Gold, don't you dare give him a-"

"Prove yourself worthy, student, or only will death cleanse this dishonor from your name!" Gold declared, handing me a wooden katana.

"-Katana. Z, don't take that, please. He does that almost every day."

I rolled my eyes, "I really only need one sword, anyway." The ninja let out a grumble, tucking the Katana away, "Prove yourself worthy of my trust, Z."

With a salute, I nodded, "Y-Yes Sir!"

All of a sudden, Gold slapped me over the head. I winced, falling back onto the gravel path, "Hey! What was-"

"Lesson one! Treat your elders with respect! Bow when you acknowledge my orders!" he spoke, turning around to leave once more, "This isn't the military, boy!"

"B-But we're the same age! If anything, I'm older than you!"

He whipped back around, shooting a glare at me, "Then start acting like it."

With those words, he hopped up into the cabin of the nearby truck. Silver walked past my fallen body to climb into the cabin, kicking me aside as he strode past. I slid across the gravel, falling into a nearby ditch.

'…This is how it's going to be, eh…' I grumbled internally, looking up from the dirt.

Unknown to me, somebody else watched with wide amber eyes from the forest.

"…Whose side am I supposed to be on?"


"Gold-Sempai, what do you mean I can't get into the shotgun seat?" Silver asked his leader, "I mean, is my navigation really that-"

"There's a time and place for everything. Currently, I require somebody helpful with me up here for the current situation; somebody with first-hand experience with Team Flare."

"Oh. Shall I drag Z out of the ditch-"

"Let those below us know their place. This cab is for the helpful people. The slightly-less-but-still-just-as-appreciated people ride in the cargo hold." The ninja responded, pointing behind him at the back of the truck, "No, get the girl over here."

Silver stared, before shrugging, "Whatever you say, Gold. But now that I think about it… Don't you think you're being a bit harsh on Z?"

"I don't take orders from a maniac who suddenly loses it and breaks all the limbs of his opponents. Unless you want to lose your position on this team, you should agree so." The ninja checked the keys in the ignition, "Now, hurry up and bring her to me!"

The red-haired boy turned away from Gold, letting out a sigh.

'I doubt she'd want to see you…'


"There you go. I've called an ambulance here, and they'll be arriving any second now. I'd suggest trying not to move too far." Joey spoke to the half-conscious Team Rocket grunt on the ground before him, wrapped in multiple bandages.

"Thanks for the help, man. Much appreciated." The grunt slurred, before slumping over. Joey tossed a small card onto his body.

"Anyway, take this official Ninja Gold business card. If you ever need to get your ass kicked again, preferably in a less-violent manner than the big French moron here, we'll find you." The youngster hissed threateningly, before turning to leave-

"Hey." I spoke in a depressed voice.

"AAAAAAGH! HE CAME BACK TO FINISH THE JOB! GET BACK, YOU MANIAC!" the kid screamed melodramatically. I let out a sigh, "You're only half-faking that."

"Okay, fine, maybe I am, but the point still stands." He folded his arms, glaring at me, "You overstepped the lines. You gotta pay the price."

"…I know…" I sobbed quietly, sitting by his side. Joey crouched next to me, looking at the starry night sky.

"…Gold's a bit bossy." The Youngster quietly admitted, "I know it may seem unfair, but he's only trying to keep it together. He's under a lot of stress, what with having to protect Johto from all the threats that may arise."

"We're not so different, then."

"True, true… Hey, Z? Do you and Go… Do you… like each other?"

This question echoed in my head for the longest time. Once again, that question had arose, even in another region, asked by a young child.

"…Yeah. I guess that's why I flipped out."

The Youngster rubbed his chin, "…They were harming your girl, and you couldn't help it?"

The mask fell away. The mask of me acting like the hero I was supposed to be.

"…If she died… If she was captured… I'd break down any obstacles to get her back." I softly spoke, "I… I…"

"Don't worry; I understand."

The Rattata trainer smiled, resting his head on his palms, "C-Can you keep a secret? Gold doesn't even know this, but…"

He removed his cap, a mess of brown hair flopping out. A single dreadlock hung down from the top of his head, but I ignored it, as the Youngster reached inside his blue baseball cap and removed a small metal object from between the seams.

"I also really like somebody… Her name… Well, I'm not going to say." He chuckled, opening the small object in his hands. I realized it was a basic locket, about the size of a postage stamp. Inside was a small packet of white powder, but Joey gently placed it aside, "That's chloroform. Can't be too careful."

Inside was a picture of a girl with blue hair, a white coat… I couldn't make out any other features, as Joey quietly tucked it back away, packing the chemicals back over the image, "I really like her too, but… I can't imagine fighting for her. Mainly because she's a lawyer, so it'd be really awkward, but…"

His brown eyes reflected the moonlight from above, "You actually went that far when your friend was threatened? I don't even know if Gold himself would do that for me!"

"…Why not?" I asked, as a cool night breeze blew through my hair. Joey replaced his cap.

"Gold is so frustrating sometimes! Sometimes, he just thinks he's ALWAYS right, and any other opinions are 'wrong' or he plain doesn't care about them! He thinks we can handle ourselves just fine, thus explaining the whole thing with him not wanting to rescue me. He thinks I can just break out from wherever I am, no matter what kind of security there is, when I can't do things alone! And…"

He let out a huff.

"He only really listens to those more powerful than him. He used to take my opinions into account, but with Silver, and Team Rocket… I'm just a pawn in his massive game of chess."

"A willing pawn."

"Yes… but at the same time, he's not willing to go out of his way to step into our shoes that much." The Youngster stood up, looking up to the moon, "Like he's only got… one perspective that does not change."

I placed an arm around his shoulder, the tears I had shed beginning to dry.

"…So, please. Just go with his orders. I don't think anyone can make him think otherwise."


Gold approached Go, "Go, can you help me with something? I need information about the enemies ahead."

"I'm not telling you." The hacker responded firmly, turning away. The red-haired ninja standing behind her grumbled, "She's been resisting all this time. I don't even think she wants to help us at all…"

"Stop talking like I'm some sort of device to be used!" the girl responded, making Silver jump, "Can't you see what you're doing?!"

The ninja in red approached her, drawing a kunai, "So, you condone the actions of your 'Boyfriend'? Randomly bursting out and beating up grunts on the side of the road?"

"…I'm not condoning any of his actions. I hate violence as much as you do." She turned about angrily, "But I don't condone yours either! I understand the hatred of such actions, but I can't believe how you just order your partners around like pieces, as if you're trying to attain some sort of goal they aren't!"

"Look here! I do all I can to protect-"

"Then maybe try to understand how your allies feel before barking orders." Go growled, turning back around to face the ninja. Her eyes burned with amber flame when she spoke, reflecting the hurt in them, "If you're the Chosen one of the Soul Slayer, then I think maybe I'll just LET the world be destroyed."

She left for the truck, "I'll wait."

Silver's jaw had fallen wide open, as did Gold's. But the latter simply closed it again with a grin.

"Hey, it worked."

The red-haired ninja face-palmed.


"This tea smells really different to what we have here in Johto!" Joey commented, taking another sip of my flask of Skidoo Tea, "What's it made of?"

Epona looked at me, and I gently patted her back, "Well, I have to shear Epona here every now and again, and it'd be a waste if all the leaves just went to the compost, so my grandfather used them to make tea, just as his father before him. And his father. And-" This was the point I realized I was rambling on, "-It's really old."

"Skidoo Tea? I haven't heard of that one. I mean, we have Bayleef Tea, Green Tea, Black Tea, the illegal Cocaine Tea, oh! And who could ever forget NINJA TEA?!" the Youngster spoke excitedly, "I love Ninja Tea!"

"…Do you ninja have things for everything?" I shuddered at the mention of Ninja.

"Oh, lots! Like-" Joey paused, glaring at me. I blinked, "W-What?"

"Are you trying to…"

'Oh Arceus Okay Z don't panic, don't panic, he's asking a simple question, not threatening to beat you up but I should go for the legs first yes, the legs seem-WAIT NO he hasn't threatened me yet I should be fine, crapcrapcrap I'm fighting a ninja again he's a small one AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!'

"…Become a ninja? Because from what Gold tells me, it takes years of training and preparation."

I let out a sigh of relief.

"Oh, but I can't tell you about the Ninja Society's Economics either. That's for ninja only." He shrugged, "It's rule number 12."

"…Can you tell me rule number one, then?"

The Youngster scratched the back of his head in thought, "It was… um… You don't talk about the Ninja Rules."

I let out a laugh, "Wait, seriously?"

"No. What, you think I can just tell you that, Baka?"

A few seconds passed. A leaf blew in the wind behind us.

"…What's 'Baka' mean?" I asked. Joey clamped a hand over his mouth, attempting to stifle laughter and failing horribly. He rolled on the ground, sending out his Rattata and choking out to the Normal-type, "He… He doesn't know… What Baka is…!"

"…Um… Should I?"

Joey popped back upright, biting his lip, "Well, you see… Baka means… it means… 'Skilled Rival'."

(A.N. Read: Idiot)

Proudly, I put my hands on my hips, "Really, you honestly think that about me?!"

Joey grinned, "Y-Yeah! I do!"

"Joey! Get the baka back here! We ride for the mansion!" Gold's voice floated through the bamboo. The Youngster drooped, "Aww… Z, c'mon. Let's head back to the van. Maybe you'll be able to redeem yourself in the next mission!" I nodded, brightening up a bit.

He got to his feet, holding my hand and helping me up to mine. We recalled our Pokemon.

The young boy- no, Ninja with the Rattata was potentially the third friendly person I'd met during the mission in Johto. There was something about his innocence that made him more relatable…

Could he have been another civilian who was dragged into this conflict? Or was it just me?

"Oh, wait! Before we go, can you do the Mission Start thing again?" the trainer suddenly asked, his eyes glittering, "I want to use it as my ringtone!"

I shrugged. Might as well.


MISSION START!
"YEEEEAAAAH!"


The Team Rocket van sped down the gravel path, the hum of the engines contrasting with the rustling of the leaves. Three ninja, two Flare Hunters and a unified goal; to retrieve the stone. However, each side had different means. Despite standing for the same ends, the journey would be different.

Gold gritted his teeth as he turned to glare at the programmer sitting by his side, "Can you at least provide me on information on Team Flare?"

"No."

"The weapons they use?!"

"No."

"At least their names! Give me the enemy's name!"

A black-gloved fist. Gold instinctively blocked the punch, "Do you want to die in a car-crash?! Don't punch me!"

"I tell you once more, no." Go spoke in a monotone, turning away from Gold grumpily, "You keep pushing, and the only thing you'll get is a charge shot to your annoying pie-hole of a face! And I'm beginning to consider switching off the stun…"

"So, that's how you are?! Just like your violent Boyfriend, you'd beat somebody up for no reason?"

"And you? You order people around like you're the leader of something them! You need to place yourself in their shoes, to tell how they'd react in each situation!" Go spoke. The ninja scoffed, throwing her fist off him and jamming the accelerator.

"Fix your problems before you judge others. I want Z to hand you all his weapons and technology until I deem him fit enough to receive them back." The ninja murmured, veering to the left to avoid a fallen tree.

"W-What?! But he'd be practically useless!" Go gasped, "You don't want to-"

"Oh, I do. Somebody's going to have to put that man in his place, and that somebody is going to be me. I swear I won't rest until I have tamed that Rattata!" Gold's eyes burned with determination, "So, are you going to take them, or shall I have to?"

Go closed her eyes silently, as the vehicle drove on into the night.


I turned to face Silver, who was just staring out into space silently, "So… Joey told me some things, and…"

The Red-haired ninja turned to face me with a grin. It wasn't a grim grin, nor a joyful grin, just somewhere in between, "Oh, you. Well, what do you have to say for yourself? Are you going to apologize? Because I don't think-"

The Youngster sitting by his side placed a hand on Silver's shoulder, "He's got a lot of resilience. I'm sure he's deeply sorry for what he did."

Silver eyed me suspiciously, before nodding with uncertainty, "Well, I dunno! What if he breaks out again? We can't afford liabilities on an operation like this, you know!"

"Look here. I swear on my sword that I won't lose it like that again throughout the rest of my mission here." I explained. Silver was older, less forgiving than the younger Joey. As a result, convincing him that I wanted to form an alliance would be harder.

"…Sure. I don't really care. I just want to find out what happened to Dad." Silver shut his eyes in thought, running a hand through scarlet locks.

"Oh? Did Team Rocket do something to him?"

Silver looked around shyly, pointing out the red R on his jacket, "Well… You see… I'm kinda…" He muttered something under his breath.

"… The what?" I asked.

"The Son of Giovanni. He's the leader of Team Rocket." He whispered again nervously.

The offspring of a terrorist leader again? Is this a coincidence, or am I fated to meet up with connections to every mafia leader in the world?

I rubbed my chin, "So this war must be pretty taxing on you, huh? I was a Plasma Grunt myself once."

Joey and Silver turned to face me, "Wait, seriously?! You mean the jerks who 'liberate' Pokemon from the trainers who raised them?"

"Yeah. Sounds good, until you realize what that involves." I sighed, pulling out the Plasma Pendant, "That's where I learnt how to fight."

"Your sword skills?"

"No. Just standard CQC, the same as any other grunt you would see." I muttered, scratching the back of my head, "Odd that I would end up with a sword in the end. I was thrown out of that kind of training because it was too heavy for me."

Silver rested his head on a hand, "We have been receiving many reports about those guys. Are they really that obsessed with armor and swords in an era where one can be killed with firearms all too quickly?"

"You use a katana and dress like ninja."

"…Fair point." The red-haired ninja shrugged, "I just don't understand it."

For a while, the vehicle was silent. Then I grinned, "Emma would really hit it off well with you."

"Emma? Who's she?"

"A cyborg clone of Go's grandfather's wife who has power armor with extremely advanced camoflague technology."

The boy in the yellow T-shirt turned to look at me, "…What?"

"It's a long story, you see. It started in the year 1985…"


Ten minutes or so later, the vehicle swerved to a stop on a hill overlooking the mansion. Gold had climbed out of the truck, turning to face me, "Z. Drop your weapons and hand them to me, including your sword. I shall lead this mission myself."

I turned to look at Go, who sadly sighed. When I looked back at Gold, I shook my head, "No thanks. I thin-"

"Then I'll cut your limbs off so that you can't use them! Drop your weapons or I'll be forced to do so." He barked at me. I let out a long sigh, dropping my gun and equiptment. I unclipped the sword from my waist, tossing it to the ground…

Only to find it was attached to my palm. I shook my hand, attempting to throw the legendary weapon off, "Um… Slight technical mishap."

"Fine. I'll start by slicing off your hand." Gold growled.

The blade suddenly unstuck itself, clanking to the ground. The ninja clad in red nodded, "Alright, good. I'll just take this!" He stooped down, collecting each one and tucking them away into… thin air? Another ninja trick?

"Anyway, here's the plan; I shall sneak in through the window alone, then Joey and Silver will follow from behind in this window." He pulled out a map, unrolling It and pointing out a window at the end of a corridor, "We shall capture our enemies through a pincer attack, then we interrogate one for the ruby's location."

"…And me? What do we do?" I asked, as Go stepped around to my side. The lead ninja placed a hand on his chin in thought...

"Stay. Good boy." He ordered, pointing on the ground before sprinting away into the woods.

Go and my jaw dropped at the same time. Silver and Joey watched their leader run off, shrugged, and darted off themselves, leaving us behind.

I turned to face my partner after a while, "Looks like we'll just wait."

We sat down. The sounds of the woods sang out for the longest time.

"…Z… Do you think of me as just an object?" she finally spoke, taking a seat on the side of the van, "Because Gold… he just…" With a grunt, she snatched up a large stone off the ground, hurling it into a nearby tree and watching it shatter into millons of shards.

"I don't know what to believe, Go." I replied, prodding at the ground with my hands, "I see you as a friend. A really good friend, in fact… But when I fought earlier…"

"Yeah. I can understand why Gold would be mad at you, too. These Johtoese have their moral standards, that of which you breached. Now that I think about it, you were roaring something while you were fighting." She looked directly into my eyes, her face masking whatever emotions she held from me.

"…What?"

"You were focused… Focused on the mission and completing it. But at the same time, you also yelled that… I was important to you. To you and the mission." Go closed her eyes sadly, "I… I thought you were joking all those times you said…"

The breeze blew through my brown hair, as I removed the cap from my head. As I did, single raindrop, a tear from the heavens, splashed onto my head.

"Whoever gave you that assumption?" I quietly asked the programmer, shuffling slightly closer to her. She shivered slightly, but didn't flinch away when I wrapped an arm over her shoulder, turning to face the girl, "I was actually trying to decide myself."

"Between saving me and interrogating the Rocket Grunts?" she whispered.

"… It's not your fault, Go!" I suddenly broke down, sobbing on her shoulder. The hacker looked surprised at my sudden outburst, but simply held onto me tighter, rubbing my back with her gloved hands.

"W-When I saw them trap you… I just lost it." I cried into her shoulder, tears mixing with rainwater as a downpour descended from above, "You- You're… I- I just…"

A brief second of silence, broken only by the pitter-patter of water around us and the thumps they made as they struck bamboo.

Then, a warm sensation on my forehead. A bright bathed around us, as the raindrops stopped falling.

"I know." Came the calm voice of Charlie. With one arm, she pushed me upright, and now, I could see her face at last. It too was stained in tears, the cheeks flushed a soft scarlet, "I… I need you too."

I looked around us, realizing that a large hard-light shield surrounded us. I gently reached for a wall of the shield, and when my flesh touched the side, it simply felt like touching glass- just like a regular energy plate.

"It really is beautiful… When it's not trying to kill you, that is." The girl crawled to my side, sitting cross-legged next to me. In her hands, she held the exact same energy cube that had caused me to lash out earlier, "I reprogrammed their shield and helped myself to that wench's remote earlier. We can use this to keep dry for now; a real boon for camping."

"G-Go?"

She reached out and placed a hand on mine, "We're the last hopes for Kalos; you, me, X and Y. Emma, Aile, Prarie, Gramps… Tierno, Trevor and Shauna. You are not alone, Z, especially with all of us here to aid you. And in my honest opinion…"

A lightning bolt struck in the distance, the sound of the strike ringing out moments later.

"You're the most determined man I know." The hacker beamed. She reached into her bag, pulling out a small handkerchief and dabbing at my tears, gently wiping each off, "I'm convinced you'd never do anything like beating up somebody for fun. You were tortured by Lysandre for that exact purpose, and I don't see you trying to decimate the world any time soon with ancient superweaponry!"

"T…That doesn't… That doesn't justify my actions!" I hiccupped, as Go pulled me into her embrace.

"No. No it doesn't. But everyone loses it sometimes, especially in a situation like ours." She quietly spoke, "Gramps once told me about a childhood friend he knew. He lost it as well after losing a battle, and ran off. Gramps and his other friend spent an entire night searching for him, only to find him beneath a tree, crying to himself."

"…He had forgotten all about those by his side. He was blaming the world for his mistakes. He lost it too. But when my gramps spoke to him later he said this…"


Decades ago, Viridian Forest.

"Do you honestly think you're going to win every battle?" the future professor told the boy in the blue vest holding the feather as he sat on the dirt. He glanced away, eyes shut, "…It's the times we lose that we truly find out what a trainer's made of."


"…What am I made of?" I asked her quietly.

"Who knows?" Go questioned with a grin, pulling me in, "That's something I can't answer."

The rain continued to fall, but beneath our energy shield, we simply sat, enjoying each other's company. For an instant, one could forget that we were in a foreign land, trapped by a madman's superweapon.

For an instant, it was just her and me.


Gold ghosted down the hallways, his shuriken at the ready. He ducked behind a corner, eyes trained on two black-armored grunts around the corner. They wore the usual Hunter armor, from what I could tell from his description of the grunts later, but had beam knives hanging off their waist.

'Okay, I'll just need to make this swift.' The ninja raised his arm, preparing to throw his weapon, 'Justice… Justice shall be swift, as will I!'

He brought his arm into the hallway…

"Ninja a vu!" came the sudden cry. The ninja's eyes bugged out, "Wait, wha-?!"

"L'un des nôtres?" the second grunt asked, as red laser sights trained on the shinobi's extremity. His companion barked a reply, charging up his weapon, "Bien sûr que non! Il porte du rouge!"

"...Attends, quoi?"

"Vis ça! Attrape le!"

Plasma shots sounded through the hallway, as the red shinobi let out a yelp, dodging plasma shots one after another, "You also bear weapons similar to Z?! Not to mention your strange foreign tongue… Ever heard of subs?!"

"Toutes les unites! Tirer!"

All of a sudden, five more Team Rocket/Flare Grunts leapt in from the ceiling, even the familiar figure of Team Rocket Ninja armed with laser knives and shuriken. Gold turned around, hurling his shuriken around him.

They bounced uselessly off the armor plating, landing on the floor with a sad 'tink'. Gold's eyes grew wide in shock.

"Tawagoto!"


Joey and Silver ran down the hallways, the sound of loud thumping music masking their footsteps as they slipped through the security, unseen to the camera. They finally slid around to duck under a table as a guard marched past, plasma cannon at the ready.

The Youngster sent out his Rattata, pulling out his radio, "Gold, report. Have you managed to infiltrate the other end yet?"


"Little busy now! Call back later!" the leader yelled back in reply, avoiding gunfire as his Pokemon breathed fire on the surroundings. A grunt lunged at him, but the ninja snatched up his knife off his belt, hurling it into the chest of another. He kicked away his attacker, whipping around to face his wounded opponent.

The speared grunt let out a laugh, tearing the weapon from his breastplate and pulling out his own blade. Gold gulped, "Much later!"


The red-haired son of the mafia leader gulped, "He's pinned down… I sure hope he'll pull through..." He slipped out from under the table, pressing himself against the wall and continuing to sneak around. Joey and Rattata followed, walking around the corner…

A red grid of light shone over them. Silver gulped, "W-What is this?! Some sort of scanner?!" Don't move, Silver. They can't see you if you don't move.

"Arrêtez!"

"Lâche tes armes!"

"Déclaration française générique!"

Too little, too late. The other two grunts stared at their Generic compatriot, before shrugging and training their weapons on the ninja, "TOI! NE DOIT PAS! PASSER!"

It seemed there was only one option left for the ninja.

"RUUUUUNNN, JOEY!" Silver screamed, as the sounds of plasma echoed throughout the hallway. Joey grinned mischeviously, drawing his nunchucks, "No! Joey Sazaki never backs down from battle! How else did you think Rattata got so buff?!"

The Normal-type flexed at this point, its gloriously sculpted abs and magnificent six-pack showing.

Three red-dot sights locked onto the rat, before three fully charged shots put its lights out. Joey whipped around to face his enemies, who were training their weapons on him next.

"…Primarily because I could never find the 'Run' button."

Stun rounds echoed through the hallway.


Running.

Silver ran, sword drawn, as five more enemies leapt down from the ceiling and landed before him. His red blade phased through armor, slashing down each and every enemy in his path. He snatched up a gun, twisting it around in its user's arm and opening fire on the grunts, before hurling it aside and stabbing forwards in a dance of sword and fist.

A smoke bomb hit the floor, and the ninja mde his escape into the nearest open door; a break room.

The red-haired shinobi rubbed his forehead, looking around. A half-eaten croissant lay on the table sadly, the one consuming it presumably a Grunt. What concerned Silver was the papers it was placed upon; a map of the building. He approached the map, reaching for a camera on his belt.

'Wait, I know this cliché.' The ninja realized, whipping around, 'I'd lean in, take the photo, turn around grinning to myself, and bump face-first into an enemy! I'm not falling for something that silly!'

A few seconds passed. The ninja let out a low growl, pulling out his legendary blade.

"…Well, that was-" his sentence was cut off, replaced with machine-gun like plasma shot sounds. Silver's eyes widened, before he unceremoniously fell face-down on the floor.

The Flare Grunt hiding under the table laughed, placing a foot atop his fallen foe, "Hah! Nous Français avons inventé le mot 'cliche'!"


Ryu's ball began to shake. I sent out the psychic fox, and he frantically began to yell at me, "Z! Gold is in trouble!"

Go and I stared, the former asking the obvious question, "How can you tell?!"

"I… I just sensed it! Almost as if something tuned me into his mind!" the fox replied, shaking, "He's pinned down by… Hunters?! Did they follow us here?!"

I closed my eyes, deep in thought, "…Wait. Gold said something about this, didn't he…?"


"814… But fluctuating. I soon noticed that some grunts were missing from the total of Team Flare, and…"

"Whoa! Hold it there." I rested a hand on my forehead, "So you mean to tell me Team Flare has… It has HOW MANY people?!"

"Of course, the numbers may be a bit skewed, but you need to understand the logic behind it. Z, I believe that Team Flare has been transferring their recruited grunts over here, to Johto." Gold calmly stated, rolling the scrolls back up, "Flare recruits them, the Rockets get them, and Plasma… Well, it does whatever it does."


My eyes widened, "They've been transporting them over here as well! Lysandre, you madman!"

Go got up, "Gold stands no match against them! His shuriken will be like throwing needles against a rock!" With a snap of her fingers, the hard light shield flicked off, the rain continuing to fall upon our heads.

With a renewed sense of urgency, I whipped around and began to run for the mansion. The moon hid itself back beneath the shade of clouds above. Soon, the forest was silent once more.


Gold fell to the ground with a growl, plasma bolts burning the ground around him, "T…This isn't how I end, is it?!"

His enemies surrounded him, weapons raised as he reached for something, anything in his inventory that would allow him to actually do some damage to his attackers. His hands fell on a small metal tube, and he let out a cry as he hurled it forwards, covering his eyes.

A brilliant green light illuminated the hallway, followed by screams as it passed through several enemy bodies.

Gold uncovered his eyes, spotting the now-familiar form of the Z-sabre embedded tip-first into the wall. The weapon pulled itself out of the wall with an unearthly roar, spinning through the air with a lime-green aura and performing a spinning slash through three more.

"…What the heck?" the ninja finally commented, not noticing the charging weapon behind him.

Duck, kid!

Without stopping to think about it, the ninja rolled forwards in the fetal position, as a green light soared over his head, stabbing itself into the crotch of his opponent. The Rocket grunt let out a scream as the blade slashed up into his gut. After his foe had fallen, the legendary blade rose, triumphantly hovering above his fallen foes.

Oh, good. He's here. Now I can rest.

Gold raised an eyebrow, "H-Huh? Who? What? Where?"

Suddenly, loud punches echoed down the hallway, followed with cries and the sounds of plasma weapons firing and swinging.

"…Oh, him." The Shinobi realized.


I burst from the rear on the back of Epona. Chris and Ryu followed, the former leaping away as the latter swung in to strike with flames, before blue aura bursts lit up those who had avoided the flame sword.

An armored grunt flew past Gold's head, courtesy of a roundhouse kick from Go. Another was head-butted away by Epona.

"Behind you!" called my partner. I whipped around instinctively, leaping off Epona's back and performing a backflip, landing on the back of the armored grunt and punching him in the back of the head.

"Y-YOSH-I-I!" the grunt choked, charging forwards blindly while firing his weapon. I let out a whoop, clutching onto a chink in his armor and riding the grunt forwards. A lime green flash zipped through the air, coming to rest in my free hand.

My sword! I leapt off, kicking the grunt away, before slamming my blade into the earth. A large wave of green energy blasted as I did, knocking out the black-armored foes into the walls. Soon, I stood upright, raising my blade high above my head as my eyes glowed lime.

The grunt I was riding stumbled upright, but was clothes-lined by Chris.

"Oh merde! C'est lui!" one of the grunts choked. I turned to face him, "Yeah, whatever you said. My Kalosian is a little rusty."

The grunts exchanged shocked looks, before another cried out, "COURIR UN MOYEN! AAAAAAAAHHH!"

The resulting dust cloud kicked up from the grunts as they ran away was immensely satisfying. Gold's jaw fell open, as I sheepishly turned to look at him.

"Did I come at a bad time?"


We jogged around a corner, Go tapping furiously away at her Pokepad, "Okay, I'm picking up three large gatherings of Rocket Grunts here; One from the south, one slightly away from the first, and the third right behind us. I don't suppose the other two are your partners in crime, Gold?"

The ninja was silent, looking down at the ground, "H-How could they lose? They have more experience, more skills, and a buff Rattata! They can't just go down like that!"

Ryu shrugged, "Maybe you just under-estimated your enemies?"

"No, they're just Rocket Grunts." Gold replied, though more to himself than anyone else, "They must have been… They were…"

"You done goofed."

The shinobi glared at me, before pushing me out of the way, "No thanks to you, you-you…" I folded my arms with a sigh.

"You told us to wait. Technically, you should be yelling at us for disobeying orders right now, right?"

"No, I-I didn't! I just said…" Gold clutched his head, deep in thought, "I… I…"

"Look." I spoke, taking a few paces ahead, "A wise man once said 'He who fears suffering is suffering that which he fears.'. You're afraid of losing this fight, aren't you? Is that why you keep ordering people around?"

"Wh-What? Don't be ridiculous!" the ninja replied with a laugh, "I already know I can win. I am strong enough."

"Are you, Gold?" Go suddenly spoke up, adjusting her ponytail, "One day, there'll be an enemy you can't beat, and you'll be on your own. One day, you'll need to stand tall and fight alone."

The ninja was silent in response to this, "…What if I lose?"

"Loss reveals your strength." I replied, gripping my blade in one hand, "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. Look, Gold. We got off on the wrong foot. How about we start over?"

"How? We can't exactly start this chapter again."

"Cha-Why do you keep talking about this like some sort of story?" Chris asked, rolling her eyes.

"Well no, we can't start this chapter over because that would just annoy the people who had read this far already."

I glanced around, "Wait, who said that?"

Gold seemed to ignore this, holding out his hand for me to shake, "My friend, we have quarreled for far too long. I shall admit I have made a mistake in organizing my forces- my peers, if you admit that-"

"What's the plan, Gold?" Ryu asked, growing weary of the conversation, "I'm ready to rock."

"As am I." Go replied with a grin.

After a few seconds, I nodded, taking Gold's hand and shaking it, "Then I am as well. All for one, and one for all!"

Gold looked around at us, before resting a hand on his chin, deep in thought.

"I'll need some armor."


An armored guard stood in front of the tied up ninja, awaiting the arrival of his commander. A few seconds passed, before the red-clad Flare grunt marched in, speaking-or rather, yelling-in some indecipherable tongue to the Johtoese.

"Woah, man, okay. Speak in English." The Rocket grunt replied after a while, "I can't understand you."

"Nein!" the Flare grunt spoke, his harsh tones making his compatriot jump.

"O-Okay man, take it easy."

A few seconds passed.

"Das ist langweilig."

"…Whatever you say, sir."

Joey turned to Silver, "Do we have an escape plan?! I don't think I can take much more of this!" In response, the red-haired ninja stopped spinning his mental fidget spinner and got to work analyzing the situation.

Their equipment lay on a table close by to the ninja, within arms' reach. Sadly, their arms and legs were tied up. They were tied to each other, and connected to the ceiling. Silver could attempt to swing over, but he just wasn't feeling like slapstick comedy involving pained screams from Joey, so he couldn't do that. Of course, Rattata could cut them free as well- that is, if he wasn't twitching on the ground, hundreds of tranquilizer shots sticking from his abs.

Even if they did escape, the plasma weapons would make quick work of their steel. In conclusion…

"Nope. I got nothing." The red-haired shinobi replied, with a groan coming from his partner.

Then, a crash like thunder.

The door to the room flew off its hinges, slamming into the opposite wall. The grunts turned to face the intruder, only to come face to face with a boy in red and black samurai armor, a spear with two of their own energy blades duct-taped to the top, and an all-too familiar green energy sword.

"BAAAANNNNZZZAAAAAIIII!" Gold and I screamed at the same time, charging into the room. The grunts opened fire, but to their dismay, the ninja pulled out two energy blades attached to his arms and blocked the strike. The Rocket guard let out a growl, opening fire on this new enemy, but to his dismay, he was far swifter.

The opposing grunt fired at him, but I leapt before the shots, swinging my blade around like a baseball bat and knocking the plasma blasts into the rope attaching Joey and Silver to the roof. While I did this, Gold dashed past the second enemy, grabbing hold of his arm and hurling him down towards the ground. The grunt hopped back up, suddenly kicking the ninja away with a dash kick. Not used to the powerful strike, the shinobi slammed into a wall.

I whipped around at his yell, "Gold!"

The larger grunt turned to face me, performing an odd salute and letting out the cry of, "Heil Flordelis!" Go ran by my side, her eyes narrowing as she reached for her Pokepad.

"FREQUENCY 3.37!" she screamed, tapping the touchscreen. All of a sudden, the arm cannon on the Flare Grunt opened up four vents, steam hissing out. The grunt let out a cry of pain, dropping his weapon to the ground and reaching for his knife.

"SNEAKSTRIKE!"

All of a sudden, a wooden pole rammed into his back, sending him falling to the ground. It was Ethan, wielding his spear with years of experience. The grunt leapt back up, stabbing forwards, when flames enveloped his arm.

Thyplosion and Ryu stood behind him, the former breathing copious flame while the latter repeatedly launched exploding balls of fire and psychic energy. The grunt let out a groan, distracted by this assault that Go simply had to land a clean kick to his chest to floor the Flare.

We turned to face the Rocket grunt. He had drawn his weapon, but was quivering like a leaf as he trained it on us and weighed his options. He was facing a Braixen with a flame sword, a ninja in power armor, a knight in power armor, a giant pokemon with fire coming out of his back, and a girl with hacking skills that could disable his armor.

"D-Drop your weapons!" he barked nervously. I let out a hearty laugh, "No thanks. There's been enough fighting as is. Run back to your unit."

He promptly fainted.

I shrugged, "Suit yourself."

As soon as Joey and Silver were cut free, the former turned to face me, "You guys actually came to save us? Why?"

"I am sworn to protect those who couldn't protect themselves." I replied, sheathing my sword after spinning it, "And… Well, I guess I couldn't sit by while people were in danger." Ryu nodded, holding out his fist for RoastMaster General to fist bump. The Thyplosion turned to look at the fox, who had a cheesy grin plastered across his face.

Soon erased when said kitsune was punched into a wall, his feet poking out of the resulting hole.

"..J…Jerk…"


-MISSION BRIEFING-


We had pulled out a table into the center of the room, placing Gold's map on top and gathering around. Joey was excitedly poring over every aspect of his leader's new armor. When I noticed this, I provided a brief explanation.

"We found a samurai armor sitting in the hallway and we attached some modern armor plating on. In addition, Gold now has dash boots, allowing him to dash forwards quickly if need be."

The Youngster stopped, turning to look at me, "Huh? Oh, okay. But… How much do you reckon those armors sell for on PokEbay?"

"Not too much, I'd imagine." Silver muttered, turning to face his junior, "Considering the scale of the war in Kalos, I think they have a surplus."

"Ooh…" One could hear gears rotating in the child's brain.

Ignoring this, Go pointed on the map, "We've been going about this all wrong, guys. We have been trying to steal the ruby before the auction, and that's clearly not working." She adjusted her cap, a twinkle in her eye.

"So, how about we go about this slightly differently?" Gold continued, tossing the map aside and pulling out a Johtoese coin, "Instead, how about we bid for the stone and buy it legally?"

Everyone else stared at the two of them… Before bursting into uproarious laughter.

"Gold! You realize the point of stealing this is to sell it for more money, right!?" Joey questioned in between guffaws, "That plan will only get us further into the lower tax bracket!"

The lead ninja shrugged, "You got a better plan, then? Let's hear it!"

Silver nodded, "On it. Z, you have a Pokemon that can Mega Evolve, right?"

"Yeah. How did you know?"

"Your Mega Ring was a giveaway. Anyway, that stone is made out of solidified Synergy, right?" the ninja inquired. To be honest, I wasn't sure where this was going, but I nodded, "I-I think so?"

"And that's how we get it out! We use your pokemon to assimilate the energy, then you release it back out in the form of the ruby again!"

Ryu let out a gasp, "Hey, yeah! That way, if we get searched, it won't be found! Tres bien, Mon ami!" Various murmurs and sounds of agreement sounded from around the table, when Go suddenly brought her fist down on the wood, silencing our chatter, "Before we proceed any further, we should check up with the Pokemon in question first to see if she'll be okay with it."

In a flash of energy, Chris came out of her Pokeball, stretching as she did. She glanced around at the room, "Huh? What's going on?"

"Chris, do you think you could absorb the Grande Stone Shard we're after?" Go asked. Chris's left ear twitched, and she looked down in thought.

"…No. Absorbing that much power could give me… Unusual side effects." She finally replied with a shudder. Ryu turned to face her, "Um… What do you mean?"

"Think. How does my body change when I activate my Mega Form?"

"Well, you get some red streaks, your dreadlocks grow longer, you get slightly taller…"

"Now, that's with a Mega Stone the size of a penny. What do you think a Mega Stone the size of a head will do?"

The Braixen's jaw dropped, as he excitedly began whimpering details, "7 Foot tall, abilities that will allow you to charge up MASSIVE Aura spheres instantly… in each hand, the ability to lift small cars with a single hand, advanced aura sensing abilities and a strange attraction to Miltank Steak."

We all stared at Ryu, whose tail was wagging like a leaf in the wind excitedly.

"... Sorry. That amount of sheer, unprocessed energy will actually cause parts of my body to… ahem… increase in volume when used." She flushed bright red, "In addition, my sheer volume would make me unsuited for stealth operations… For obvious reasons. I can't do it."

Go nodded, "I see. I guess that the Mega Stone causes physical changes in order to compensate for the energy increase."

'…Like my armor?' I suddenly realized. Bad thoughts flooded my mind in that instant.

'Best not to dwell on thi-this.'

Ryu's tail drooped, "Oh. What does having 7 feet added to your height have to do with anything? You'll look awesome!"

Chris gave him a glare that would have killed, "Think horizontal."

"Ah. 乇乂ㄒ尺卂 ㄒ卄丨匚匚-"

"ANYWAY!" Silver coughed to get our attention back to the task at hand, "It appears that is out of the question. Any other ideas?"

A few brief seconds passed.

"…We could blast our way in?" the vulpine suggested with a goofy grin, pulling out his staff and igniting the tip, "I mean, it's not that hard. My dad always told me that hunting in packs could help us in getting dinner easier."

Go and I turned to the Braixen in confusion, "Your father?"

"We already tried that, リュウ. Pay attention." Gold stated, his brown eyes glaring holes into the fox, "In any case, since the Kalosians have brought nothing productive to the table, I believe that I should-"

"Wait." Joey spoke up, "They did actually bring up one good idea."

"And that would be?"

"What if we do what we normally do, and use our enemy's resources against them?" the youngster queried, his eyes shining, "We use misdirection to throw off the enemy ranks. Z and Go then burst in and steal the ruby in the flashiest manner possible, and zip!" He pounded the table, "In the confusion, we make our escape in their helicopter!"

Gold rubbed his chin, "And this will help us, how? Joey, this plan doesn't get us the crystal. If anything, it's handing the ruby to them." He motioned towards us. My Braixen stopped licking his arm, looking up at the ninja.

"Do you have any other plans?" the child asked, folding his arms, "This one plays to our strengths; The Flare Hunters are good at blowing stuff up, and we're NINJA. We specialize in stealth and illusions."

Chris rubbed her chin in thought, "I find this plan a little better than the other one. Z?"

Blowing stuff up? Really? Was that all Joey thought I excelled at? I have other refined strengths too, like… Um… Stabbing stuff…. Shooting stuff… Going fast… Blowing stuff up…

"Okay." Go grinned, "I'll take that stupefied look on your face as a yes too, Z."

I blinked. She could tell?

"I would love to get my hands on some cold, hard steel." Silver agreed, before noticing our stares burning into him, "Um… Power armor. That. Not… The other thing…"

Gold hesitated for a brief moment, before a grin I had often seen grace Ryu's face crossed his lips, "Alright. I'll play this game. But I'll do it my way."

With those words, I turned to face the group, "So it's settled! Let's move, all together now, team."

"This time, they don't stand a chance!"


MISSHON KAISHI!


A Nearby Town, 8:00 PM (Johto time)
5 Minutes Elapsed since Briefing.

The man operating the Pokemart was finishing up his shift, packing up the money in his till and tucking away his copy of Breeder's Digest™ for the next shopkeeper to peruse and look mildly interested in. Yes, it was just a normal night…

Until a mysterious fog drifted in through the window.

"W-What the-I'm feelin' sleepy…" the shopkeeper moaned, falling to the ground. In his half-conscious haze, he realized that he needed to contact his nearest doctor. He proceeded to do just that, searching up the location of the nearby hospital.

Conveniently, it was just a 5-minute walk away!

The shopkeeper glared at his phone suspiciously. He could have sworn it was further…

Then he dropped to the ground, coughing, and decided not to look a gift Ponyta in the mouth. Slowly, he dragged himself to the door.


"This is Joyce Kasshoku, Nurse Joy #295. We have Ōkibona shishō-sha in Tanba City. This is not a drill. Reroute ambulances to the city with breathing equipment." Came the soothing voice of the Johtoese Nurse Joy in the radio of the ambulance. The medic clad in pink and white nodded, steering around a corner in the woods, massive floodlights mounted on the front of her vehicle flooding her surroundings in light. The whine of the siren punctured the cloud of silence that normally hung over Johto.

Just then, another raspier voice sounded in the radio, "This is…Gimei Kana, Joy #389. There is a nearby Tanba Hospital that is currently having a celebration. Recalibrate your GPS to head to that location when admitting patients."

The Nurse Joy pondered this for a few seconds, before shrugging. If it was an order from command, she might as well follow it.

Besides, a nearby hospital? Who was she to look a gift Ponyta in the mouth?


"FALL IN LINE, ALL B-A RANKS!"

Several red and yellow clad men and women stood in their ranks, as a silver haired man marched before them, the badge pinned on the front of his scarlet jacket gleaming in the light of the base.

"We have received reports of a spontaneous outbreak of the Hontō no byōkide wanai Virus in the nearby Cianwood City. I need all of you to be deployed there as soon as possible to aid any affected Pokemon or humans!" the man barked, before turning sharply on the spot to face his unit, "This seems to be the biggest outbreak we've seen all month, so we can't mess this up! The disease seems to be airborne, so your Respirators will save your life!"

A single man in the squad raised his hand, "Sir! How do we know it's the disease, Sir?"

The silver-haired man paused, addressing the question, "The victims are reported to have explosive diarrhea and are feeling drowsy; both symptoms of said disease. We can discern more when we arrive on site! The gas won't give warning when it strikes! So wear your gas mask!"

The unit saluted, "YES, SIR!"

Behind them, a blue logo in a spiral shape adorned the walls, as the silver-haired man finished his explanation, "Head to the city. I'll report in to the nearby hospital and check up on those wounded."

If one could look closely at the sleeves of the uniforms they wore, the very same logo was sewn into a white band on their right arm. Except for an orange-haired, slightly tubbier individual who had it on his left.

"Murph, you'll come with me."

The aforementioned absent-minded orange-haired boy looked up, "S-Sir? W-Why, Sir?"

The leader turned around with a grin, "You've been good with technology. Managing radio links with each man and woman on this team is too hard of a task, and we may need help in setting up medical devices. Your aid will be much appreciated."

Murph straightened up, saluting proudly, "R-Roger, Spenser! U-Um, Sir!"

The lights came on, and the man adjusted his red headband with a grin, "Alright, Rangers! If anything comes up, contact me with Styler Frequency 140.85! DISMISSED!"

"FEAR NO FAILURE!" the Rangers declared, turning sharply left and scrambling for the exits.


"That's it! It's working!" Go let out a gasp, falling onto her back, "I've rerouted GPS signals to identify this location as a hospital… Oh man, that took the wind out of me." I spied hundreds of medical personnel piling into the mansion, much to the confusion of the party-goers. Whatever Joey and Silver did to the nearby village must have made a larger effect than expected.

Gold radioed in, "You have 5 minutes to operate before the people come flooding in! Work fast, Z. I'll work on my end of the mission, and we'll meet up soon, okay? Remember, your objective is the ruby!"

I grinned, as power began to pulsate over my frame.

"Ten-Four, Gold. Wish me luck."

"Leave luck to Heaven." The radio fizzed off.

In a blur of green energy, I was away. The world was a mix of color as I dashed. In a glow of green, my cloaking device flashed into life, hiding my speeding form from the grunts. Green tainted my vision, blue targets flashing on before my eyes.

Go grinned, breaking into a run as she flicked on her own cloaking device.


The party was in full swing. More and more of the grunts and guests were becoming inebriated and falling to the ground. In the large mess of people, nobody noticed a girl clad in a black cloak, her red eyes glimmering in the lights.

"He must be here." She muttered, reaching for the message tucked in her belt and unrolling the paper. She reached for a match, lighting it and squnting at the document.

Only for a drunk to spill alcohol all over her, destroying the note and extinguishing her match.

"RAYQUASA DAMMIT!" she screamed, annoyed. Taking deep breaths to calm herself down, the girl glanced around, "Alright, seeing as the message is destroyed, I just need to find my way out of this dance hall in the middle of a party. No problems here…"

Then she looked up, realizing just how massive the entire building was.

"Okay, maybe a bit of a problem."


A knock on the door. A grunt pulled himself up to the handle, drunkedly pulling it open, "W-Who Izz it- HOLY SHIT!"

A literal tidal wave of Nurse Joys pounced, their feet trampling the grunt to the ground in their mad rush. Stretchers, Chanseys carrying hospital equipment and backup generators followed, before an entire ambulance literally ploughed through the door, the driver wisely flicking off the siren as he sped in.

Basically, Black Friday Sales.

The grunt's eyes widened, as he reached for his radio, "I think we've been proper rumbled, or this tequila is stronger than I thought!"


A jeep with the Ranger logo on the hood swerved to a stop at the rear of the mansion, neatly parallel parking between a motorbike and a yellow Beetle. The Silver-haired driver hopped out, clutching his Capture Styler in one hand tightly.

"Aw man, Spenser. Why ya gotta be so tense 'bout this?" Murph asked his commander. The man paused, before shrugging, "A Ranger has to be vigilant if he is to complete his or her mission. You never know when somebody's going to leap out at you with a rabid Lucario or worse."

Murph shrugged, approaching the door of the mansion and politely knocking on it, "This isn't a battlefield, Spenser."

As if the world wished to prove the tubby Ranger wrong, a Team Rocket Grunt rushed from the door, slamming him into the wall. Spenser simply reached for a metallic spinning top from his belt, hurling it forwards and whacking the enemy in the face forcefully. Upon connection with his foe, it unleashed a powerful electric blast, immobilizing him.

The grunt fell face-down before him. The silver haired Ranger turned to his partner, "You okay?"

"Y-Yeah…" Murph moaned, reaching for his own Capture Styler and fumbling with it, accidentally dropping it on the ground, "I-I can see why you need to be so careful now…"

The Ranger Leader crouched down next to the fallen peon, "So, Team Rocket is here as well…"

"Well, it can't be worse than what we have back over in Fiore." Murph pointed out, finally gripping his Styler's control in one hand, "I mean, remember that one guy who built his own UFO and was terrorizing that small village?"

"Yeah. Don't remind me." Spenser replied, approaching the doors of the mansion.

The stumpy ranger approached him, "You were totally freaked out by them!"

"That I was. But in my defense, they were designed to freak people out."

"Yeah, but…"

And the bickering continued as they entered the mansion.


Slipping around a corner, I peered around, spotting three grunts talking into radioes. I cupped my ear, listening in.

"There appears to be an unwarranted diversion. All grunts, fall back to protect our loot!"


In another part of the mansion, a grunt was washing his hands in a toilet, whistling to himself. A shuriken embedded itself in the back of the Grunt's helmet, magnetically clamping on.

A single clink. The grunt whipped around. Nothing. With a shrug, he calmly left the toilet, tucking his issue of 'Better Homes and Gyms' under his arm.

Joey let out a massive sigh of relief, as Rattata leapt down, tossed the dropped bolt back up to him, and retreated back into the air-vent.


Stealthily, Gold lowered himself into the foggy courtyard, ghosting between the crowds. His armored figure stealthily blended in with the crowds, made easier by the fact they were filled with crying anime fans. He gently tapped the side of the helmet, and a visor lowered over his eye, displaying several grunts around him.

A group of five red dots on his screen, a larger one at the front. 10 Metres ahead.

Gold ducked behind a bush, peering out at his targets, "Alright. I can get the- Whaat the…"

(Michael Jackson- Thriller)

"'CAUSE THIS IS THRILLEEEER, THRILLER NIGHT!" the grunt in the sparkly white armor belted out, the peons behind him performing the iconic dance. Gold stared in disbelief for a few seconds.

"AND NO ONE'S GONNA SAVE YOU FROM THE BEAST ABOUT TO STRIKE!"

"But… But why?! Just… Why?!"

"YOU KNOW IT'S THRILLEEEEER, THRILLER NIGHT!"

Questioning the sanity of the Author, Gold hurled six shuriken, hidden in the shadows of the underbrush. They landed successfully, except for the one aimed at the Michael Jackson impersonator. Luckily, he promptly stepped on it, attaching it to his boot without knowing.

Gold let out a sigh, "Alright. Now I'm leaving."

"YOU'RE FIGHTING FOR YOUR LIFE INSIDE A KILLER THRILLER TONIGHT!"


Three shuriken zipped down the hallway, magnetically attaching to the back of each of the grunts' helmets. I turned, spying Silver hiding beneath an elaborate vase. He gave me a thumbs up, motioning to Go.

I turned to face Go, "The thing is on the thing!" Quickly, she whipped out her Pokepad, tapping away swiftly. Several red dots appeared on a map on the screen, all converging at a singular point.

"They're clustered three doors away… That must be where they are keeping the ruby! Gold, converge on the location marked on your map!"


"About that. I may be a bit. Head on without me."

The ninja turned his attention back to the black-haired Lore Keeper before him. The girl let out a confused sound, "You're commanding others now?"

"Well, I didn't exactly expect to do so, Zin."

The girl shrugged, turning away, "Always the leader…"


I walked down the hallway, Silver by my side. I handed him the Soul Sheath at last, "Take this. I think you'll get more use out of it than me." The red-haired ninja nodded excitedly, tucking his weapon within.

"A sword has no strength unless the hand that wields it knows how." My Braixen commented, turning his attention down the hallway, "Three doors down, Go? Is this it?"

We stood outside a massive concrete door, a large metal latch clamping the latch shut. I approached the door, reaching for the handle and tugging forcefully. It didn't budge at all. Silver approached the door, sizing it up before drawing his sword.

"Raikou, I call on your power now!" Silver roared, swinging his blade faster than the naked eye. Sparks flew as he did, and the vault door fell away, revealing another behind it.

Silver and I exchanged glances.

"What are you guys doing? This is door number two. The target's over here." She pointed out a third, smaller wooden door directly next to the vault. Both of us sweat-dropped.

"Um… I knew that."


The Grunts were now all standing around the Grande Stone, weapons at the ready. One turned to face another, "Hey, so… Um… What happens when the intruders do break in?" The second grunt shrugged, "Well, we shoot them. If that doesn't work, we have orders to use Pokemon. I hope you got your energy cards ready."

"…Oh, you're one of the guys from the Mason Islands, aren't you?"

"Do you have a spare Special Energy Card? I need one more so I can use my Aerodactyl EX."


I dropped away from the door, turning to Go, "…What are they talking about?" The hacker shrugged, "I dunno."

Silver turned to Joey, "Alright, Sazaki. Do you have any ideas?" The youngster grinned, pulling a small square pouch of something from his belt. He handed it to Ryu, "Light up a corner and hurl it under the door quickly."

The Braixen blinked, "Why?"

"Just do it!"

With a shrug, the firey vulpine snapped his fingers, and a spark landed on the packet. The fox swiftly slid it under the wooden door.

"Everyone, cover your nose and mouth!" Joey quickly barked, backing away from the door.


The first grunt sniffed the air, "Hey guys? Do you smell something… Off?"

A second one blinked, "Yeah, I… Wait, did somebody fart or something?! Ew…"

The room was suddenly filled with the sounds of groaning, before it began. Quietly at first, then, one-by-one, the grunts slumped to the ground, unconscious, as white smoke filled the room. The fire alarm went off with the sheer amount of smoke, spraying water everywhere.

None of them noticed the door falling in half in front of them, nor the figure with the blood-red blade ghosting through the mist.


Silver returned, the crystal in one hand. I whistled, "Well… I thought that would take a lot longer. No offence."

"But… What was that packet, Joey?" Go asked the Youngster. He let out a devious smile.

"An ancient concoction of herbs, known only to us ninja. Some call it 'Diversion Herbs'. Some call it a savior. But you know it as… Tea."

We stared at the Youngster. He shrugged, "Well, to be fair, I did mix in nightshade into it."

"Ah." Go facepalmed, "That would do that, yeah. Anyway, we have the Grande Stone, so let's get outta here."

"TARGETS SIGHTED! OPEN FIRE!" came yells from the end of the hallway. I stared, as Gold and a mysterious black-haired girl darted past. A few seconds later, almost five decimals of Peons followed, giving chase.

"Z! I require assistance!" Gold barked into his radio.

Go and I exchanged glances, before dashing down the hallway after our opponents.


The black haired girl reached for the bow on her back, nocking three arrows, "What the hell are they?! Why do they wish to chase us?!" Gold turned to answer, but he stopped upon hearing the sounds of multiple plasma weapons charging up. He turned to his partner, "Your arrows will have no effect! They bear armor!"

"I think not! Vahlok Ronaaz!" she cried out, as the tips of her arrows began to glow blue. She grinned as the ethereal lights illuminated the hallways, before letting fly.

The arrows flashed out, a trinity of laser beams that blasted away at her foes. Gold's jaw dropped, as she fell to her knees.

"Alright… I can't use any more." The girl gasped, reaching shakily for another arrow and nocking it.

"Madame, allow moi."

Ryu dashed through the enemies, flames bursting from his fists. A grunt fired on him, but he calmly wrestled the gun away, hurling it to the ground before punching forwards with a fiery fist. The Braixen whipped around, sword drawn, "Alright, who's next?!"

Several loud whooshing sounds whistled past his ears, and the grunts let out groans of pain, before slumping on the ground.

The girl blew some smoke off the end of her bow, "Thanks, but I'm capable of doing it myself. And you are…?"

The Braixen gave a wry grin, clearing his throat, "Some people call me the Flare Hunter. Some people call me a Gangster of Justice. Some people call me Maurice, because I speak-"

"His name is Ryu." I explained, cutting off the fox with a poke to his back, "Hi, I'm Z."

The girl studied me over curiously, before rubbing her chin. She came unsettlingly close to me, studying my armor and weaponry, before nodding and walking before me again, "Gold, is this whom you have told me of? The… unstable Hunter?"

I shot the ninja a glare, "What did you say about me?!" The ninja shrugged, "The truth."

Ignoring this, the girl continued, backing away slightly but still examining me, "You seem to be rather settled for the berserker I was expecting."

…Beserker? I think he meant Baka.

"…Gold?" I growled under my breath.

"Well, to be honest, she just sees the world through her own eyes. I simply gave her the information." Gold coughed, sweating profusely.

"Gold, what were you saying about him being a dangerous womanizer earlier?" Zinnia offhandedly mentioned innocently, turning to look directly into my eyes. Those blood-red irises pierced my own wet brown. Ryu shot Gold with a death stare.

"…Okay, fine. I stretched the truth a tiny bit to make her wary of you. But in my defence, your outrages-"

Looks like it'll take even longer for me to earn his trust, then…

I shook my head, crossing my arms, "Listen, um… erm…"

"Zinnia Lowell. Call me Zin for short." She turned away, muttering to herself, "I mean, everyone seems to do it…"

"Zinnia. Whatever bad things you heard about me are probably not true." I replied, "I'm just- I'm sorry, can you please stop that?"

She was now attempting to peer down my sleeves, probably wondering where the green glow from within was coming from. Quickly, she jerked away, looking back up at me, "Oh, um, sorry. Right. Don't worry, Z. I can see in your eyes that you don't mean harm. That, and you're unusually quiet while I was peering around you to be a womanizer."

"Oh, that- wait, you did that on purpose?!"

She grinned mischievously, "Yep. When Gold told me that you were that sort of guy, I just had to find out for myself! Um, you aren't are you?"

"N-No."

Zinnia nodded, "Good, or I would have to beat the stuffing out of you. Welcome aboard, new companion!"

Go walked up to my side, Silver and Joey by her side, "Z, we ran into a scuffle in the east- Hey, aren't you a little short to be here, little girl?" I realized that the archer was about two heads shorter than Go, her chin just over Joey's head height. Annoyed, she whipped around, "Hey, who are you calling short?! I'll have you know I'm a Lore Keeper of the ancie-"

"Heh, nice, kid. Let's get you outta here before anything bad happens." A grunt slowly rose off the ground, but before any of us could react, Go had scooped the archer into her arms and launched her sneaker into the cheek of the enemy, slamming him into a wall.

Zinnia's jaw fell open. Go calmly asked her in a soft voice, "Now, can you tell me where your parents are, and what their phone-numbers are?"

"I-How did you do that?"

"I'm asking you for where your parents are! I need to contact them!" my partner spoke grumpily.

"… Hey, wait! I'm not a kid!" the black-haired girl realized, hopping out from Go's arms and glaring her down. Go was unfazed, walking up to her and crouching over, "Listen. Bad people are in this mansion who want to hurt us. You're in danger if you stay. We are going to take you to the nice police officers and then they can help you go home. But right now I need to check-"

"FUS-RO DAH!" Zinnia roared all of a sudden. A powerful gust of wind blasted the Programmer into a wall. Now it was my turn to be amazed. Joey adjusted his cap, "Woah… So that's what it looks like…"

Go let out a groan, pulling herself up, "Agh… Z, what's up with her?"

"I am Zinnia Lowell, you Lir! I am the Lore Keeper of the ancient Draconoids in Hoenn, dragon-born and strong in the arts of my clan! I shall not be made a Mey in by the likes of you, you…" she looked Go over, deep in thought, before reeling in realization, "Wait, are you… That 'App'?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah. My grandfather created it. I work on it as well." She grinned, standing up, "For you see, I am Cha-"

"Dragonius Go? I play that thing when Emerald lets me borrow his tablet." Zinnia nodded, "For some reason, you remind me of it."

I stifled a chuckle, as Go's face shifted to that of complete confusion. Gold let out a long, drawn-out sigh.

"…Dragon…nius?"

The archer shook her head, "Oh, sorry. I was a tad distracted there. Who are you?"

I stepped in, "This is Go. She's my partner in battle, I guess. She's skilled at hacking and other computerized subjects." The chestnut-haired girl beamed, nodding, "So far, there hasn't been much I couldn't analyze! I guess I owe it largely to my tech."

Silver joined into the conversation, "Alright, we all know each other now, right? Let's get out of here once we find out what Zinnia has to tell us." However, at these words, his leader shook his head, "She has already given me Hoenn team's information. I suppose Team F-H has the ruby in their possession?"

The red-haired boy turned to face us. Ryu was attempting to steal an arrow from behind Zin's back, but Chris was pulling him back, "Yeah. They got it. So, I guess we go home now, right? I'm honestly exhausted."

"In due time. First, we must secure our escape." Ethan whipped around, walking down the hallway, "Follow me. We travel swift and silent. Z shall scout ahead if need be."

With a smile, Silver beckoned for us to follow. Zinnia finally noticed Ryu and casually handed him an arrow. The fox took it, examining it excitedly as his jackal partner face-faulted.


Gold darted down the hallways silently, as I dashed after him. A few grunts managed to catch sight of us, but with a few swift taps, Go was able to deactivate them using her Pokepad. This left them open to a burst of shuriken and slashes, before we finished them off with a plasma blast. As we walked by our fallen foes, Zinnia looked to Go in surprise, "Y-You're a mage?!"

"What? No, I'm a hacker. I use technology when I fight to reduce casualties, both allied and opposing." Go pulled out her Pokepad, showing it to the Lore Keeper. The archer scratched her head in confusion at the terminal, "…It looks like a spell book. How does it work?"

"What, you never saw hacking before? I type in commands to execute, then the program executes them."

Zin turned away, "…Just like invoking an action. Amazing… And you don't need to rely on your Aura to cast it?"

"No, but it chews up the battery." Go commented, tucking away her device, "You really aren't that good at tech, are you?"

"Tech? Is that the name of the arts you use?"

"I see… What a curious girl." Go murmured, walking ahead and preparing to launch another frequency blast. However, deep in her mind, the hacker was in thought about the girl's statement.

'Although, I guess programming can be thought as magic in some senses…'


Spenser turned around, his Styler flickering and letting out the warning tones that signaled critically low battery levels. His eyes flew to Murph, who was backing away from a group of grunts with large arm cannons and beam sabres. He turned his attention back to his own attackers, armed with similar weapons. Gritting his teeth, he raised his sword.

"SENGATOTSU!"

A green lightning bolt blasted into them, knocking away the armored grunts in a dance. The grunts gasped, as the stranger in maroon spun a green flame of a sword in one hand, slashing through three foes in a single swift movement. He paused to glance at Murph, before snatching up a fallen blaster from the ground and opening fire with several shining blasts.

He closed his eyes, green flames bursting from his back, before whipping around and uppercutting somebody who was trying to sneak up behind him, followed up by green eyes focusing on his foes. The silver-haired ranger watched the stranger's eyes flicking between different parts of his opponent rapidly, flashing green as they changed targets.

With a war-cry, the swordsman swung his weapon in between each opponent, making pin-point strikes on each of his foes. Finally, he approached Murph, blade drawn. The orange-haired boy let out a whimper, attempting to get to his feet and limp away, but he tripped and fell.

"Don't move. Your left leg has been broken." The stranger spoke in a young, but grave voice, "I would help you patch it up, but currently, I have my own mission." He crouched over, placing a potion next to the Ranger. Murph took up the small bottle, quivering.

Spenser finally gathered the courage to stand up, drawing his Styler, "Just who are you?!"

The mysterious warrior turned to face the silver-haired ranger, "I'm not one of them, I can tell you. Nor is my name important right now. Whoever you are, you need to escape this building, unless you have something to handle those grunts. I'd suggest using their armor against them."

"…I asked for your name!" Spenser growled.

"Call me Z." I finally spoke, turning to leave, "I'm leaving."

With those words, I dashed away down the halls of the building, still not quite sure of what I had done.

Spenser rubbed his chin, deep in thought, amazed at what he witnessed. The laser sword was burned into his mind, the movements as its wielder cleaved steel from flesh and saved his, and his compatriot.

"…Z…?"


Several minutes later, the back doors of the mansion fell open with a slash, as I blasted through, rolling on the concrete behind the carpark before standing upright. Gold and the others followed, with Zinnia bringing up the rear.

"We…. We did it. The ruby is ours!" Joey cheered, running over to Gold. The ninja looked at me, before smiling.

"No. I believe that Z and Go need it more than we do."

Joey and Silver gasped, beginning to argue with Gold.

However, I just tuned it out, weighing my options. We came here on a mission; to retrieve the shard of the Grande Stone. But now, I wasn't so sure. These guys needed the cash more than us. We still had a massive stone in Kalos…

They needed it more than we did.

I shook my head, "No, Gold. On second thoughts, you can have it. I believe you'll benefit more from the money than us. I mean, I'm not even sure myself why the president wants it back, myself."

Go looked at me like I was insane. Ryu lowered his new arrow for a second in shock, as Chris simply shook her head, "Z, you realize the immense amount of effort required for this mission?"

"Yeah, but…Gold did more than I did." I spoke, walking over to the ninja, "He deserves it."

"I can't accept this." The ninja replied, pushing it back into my arms.

"C'mon, take it!"

"No! The president will kill you if he knows!"

"I'm a dead man, anyway! Take it!"

"OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!" Zinnia roared, stomping over, drawing a hatchet from beneath her cloak and swinging at the crystal. The skilled strike hit home, shattering the rock into two almost even halves.

Our jaws dropped, as did the two halves.

"Problem solved, now can we go home? I want to go make me some dinner." The dragon-born grumpily huffed, dusting off her hands and sitting on a nearby rock.

Gold and I exchanged glances. That worked.

"Gold, honor working with you. I hope we collaborate again once more." I held out my hand, shaking Gold's. Gold nodded, "Indeed. Both of us have managed to take away something from this experience, I trust."

"Yeah. I should still keep my morals in focus, even in conflict. I should remember that those whom I fight are doing so for their own reasons, and as such, I should never assume that who I fight will automatically attack me. I must remember… What I'm fighting for." I spoke, as Go walked by my side, tapping in some co-ordinates into her Pokepad. She paused, looking up at me with those amber eyes.

"No, I was talking about the Grande Stones. This'll fetch a fine price when I sell it to Ruby!" the ninja replied, tossing his half on his hand. I fell down at the sheer ignorance of the ninja.

Zinnia rubbed her chin, "So, um… How are you going to get home? Kalos is a bit away from here."

I nodded, rubbing my chin, "Well, I'll just make my way back to the clearing where I beamed in, and we'll simply teleport home from there. No hurry, I mean, its not like we're going to-"

"PLUM JUICE?! ARE YOU SAYIN' THE ENTIRE NURSE JOY REGIMENT OF WEST JOHTO WAS RUSHED OUT TO A FUNCTION… BECAUSE SOMEBODY SPILLED PLUM JUICE INTO THE WATER?!" came a scream from the mansion.

I turned to Silver in shock, who was whistling innocently. Only now did I notice the purple stain on his jacket.

"Okay, no time for that!" Joey quickly barked, as Zinnia pulled a flute from under her cloak, quickly playing a swift tune. A large green snake-like Pokemon swooped down from above, hovering before her.

Silver turned to face me, "Z, Go, this is where you leave! Call back your Pokemon and hold on! Rayquasa will be able to fly you to an altitude high enough for you to get picked up!" Go let out a grateful bow, "Thank you, Silver. I hope we can repay you some day…"

"JUST GO! GO GO GO!" Gold barked, as loud thundering sounds sounded from the mansion. Quickly, I tucked the Grande Stone into my bag, calling back my Pokemon and vaulting onto the large flying snake's tail. Go followed, having been thrown on by Picasso, holding on tightly to my back and strapping her tablet on her side.

Zinnia finally leapt on, landing in a leather saddle and snatching up giant reins, "Ray! Halladauqs! WE'RE OFF!" The dragon roared, rearing up before blasting off at the speed of sound into the skies of Johto. The force of the launch was akin to that of a rocket, almost throwing me off the side of the scaly beast, but I gripped on tighter, as we burst above the cloud barrier.

Once we were in the skies, a passenger jet whizzed past us, Zin tugging on the reins to coast alongside it.


And now, for something completely different.

This is Yui. Currently, Yui and her family are on a vacation to Alola from Johto, and she's really excited to go. She stared out of her window seat of the aircraft, just drifting off to sleep…

Zinnia whizzed past, screaming into the wind, "HEYKIDSSANTAISN'TREALYOURPARENTSLIEDBYE!" before performing a loop around the aircraft and speeding away.

Yui stared in shock for a few seconds, before bursting into tears.


"WAHahaha! I love messing with airplanes." Zinnia giggled, slowing us to a gentle glide above the clouds. I let go of Rayquasa's plating, looking up at the heavens. The bright stars above shone brightly, unblocked by the dark clouds of night.

"It's… beautiful." I breathed. Zin nodded, stretching in her saddle, "It really is. Rayquasa is truly a magnificent beast, isn't he." The dragon we rode purred happily, shaking slightly.

Go let out a whimper, "Please… No more… fast movements..."

Ignoring this, I glanced down at the lights below. The land of Johto was lit up like a grand carpet below us. Unlike the bustle of Unova or the coldness of Kalos, this land was… peaceful. Serene. Quiet. But at the same time efficient, and powerful.

Silent and swift. Just like…

"… Z. You have a big task ahead of you. I may not know much about your battle, but be warned; When fighting monsters, it is all too easy to become one yourself…" Zin spoke, her voice serious and commanding. I turned my attention to her.

"Zinnia, I… I know. Thanks for the lift."

"No problem. Just tell me where you and Go want your honeymoon once all this is over." She replied, snapping back to her comedic mode.

"Wh-What?! We're not-!"

"Z, denial is only a river in Egypt."

"…What is an Egypt?"

"I dunno." She replied. All of a sudden, the familiar glow and tingling feeling of a teleportation took over my entire body. I could feel my body becoming as light as the wind, as I drifted skywards.

"Goodbye!" Go and I finally blurted out to Zinnia, becoming twin red bolts streaking to the skies above.

The draconoid archer turned to look at where we sat a few seconds ago, before turning her attention back to the horizon.


"Farewell… And Goddosupīdo."

SAKUSEN KANRYŌ


Lumiose City, 1 hour ago.

A tourist finished taking pictures of Prism Tower, putting away his camera. As he did, a dark shadow fell over the city, as the lights all flicked off at once. From the outside working its way in, the lamps, building lights, streets, and finally, the tower itself, all clunked and switched off.

The city of light fell under darkness.

The tourist gulped, "Um… Who turned out all the lights?!"

Behind him, in a nearby alleyway, a single red light shone…

"Heil Flordelis!" came the loudest cries from all around the city, as hundreds of red-armored grunts marched out. From every alclove, every dark alley, every rooftop, they appeared, swarming the city. Soon, the streets were awash in a bright red light.

Next, came the screams. Grunts began to punch civilians to the ground, hand-cuffing and tying them to lamp-posts. Some tried to resist, but were soon brought down by stun shocks and taser beams. Eventually, the entire city was bathed in the red lights of Team Flare.

The tourist let out a gasp, dropping his camera and turning around at the grunts that surrounded him, "Um… Oh… Well…!"

"Good. Don't move."

Several loud gunshots sounded, followed by each grunt falling to the ground. A white blur leapt off a building, an Ivysaur following. She spun a sniper rifle in one hand, taking aim at several more opponents and opening fire rapidly, her Ivysaur accentuating each blow with a Razor Leaf.

In seconds, the street was clear once more. The girl turned to the tourist, "Glitch, use teleport! Get him outta here!"

"Understood, Leaf." Came another voice.

In a flash of lavender, the tourist and his camera found himself on a hill overlooking the city. Several other confused people were standing around nearby, but mostly writing about the events on social medias.

Not that it mattered. The entire of Kalos became fire-walled in that instant by skilled Flare hackers.

Back in the city, Leaf wiped sweat off her brow, turning to face a large tank that was rolling down the city streets towards her. In a few seconds, she pulled out her rocket launcher, taking aim at the bolted behemoth…

"Step on it!"

Only for a red convertible to side-swipe the vehicle into a wall. A boy in a red hoodie and a Pikachu wearing a deerstalker cap leapt from the car, rolling on the ground as it exploded. The tank followed thereafter, steel and bolts raining on the duo.

Then, to Leaf's shock, the Pikachu spoke in perfect English.

"Phoenix Goodman, at your service, ma'am. Shall we collaborate to retake our city?"

The battle to save Kalos had begun.


This time, the stakes are higher than ever before.