Disclaimer: If I owned any of this, I wouldn't be writing a fanfiction, now, would I?

An icy breeze rustled through the empty alleys of Pyrite, before dying away. The desert around Pyrite was blisteringly hot during the day, but now it was night; and at night the sub-zero temperatures of the desert were cold enough to kill.

Trotting through the nameless alleys was a small brown Pokemon that slightly resembled a fox with its bushy tail and pointed ears. It was rare to see a Pokemon without a Trainer wandering the streets—all of Orre was barren of Pokemon, its desert conditions being too harsh even for rock- and ground-types.

The little Pokemon paused, sniffing the air tentatively. There was a strange odor on the breeze, one that it did not recognize.

Suddenly a huge shadowy figure stepped out of the gloom, looking down at the little Pokemon. A human. Completely bald and wearing pants and a vest despite the freezing weather, the man peered down at the little Pokemon with mild interest.

"An Eevee, eh?"

Startled, the Eevee turned and fled, scampering up an alley and turning down another, unaware of the massive man following at a leisurely pace.

The Eevee saw a much smaller figure up ahead, and let out a small, sharp cry of warning. The figure turned just in time as the Eevee bounded into his arms, trembling slightly. The little boy looked down at the Eevee curiously, wondering what could have upset the minuscule Pokemon, as a second Eevee came to sit calmly at his feet silently.

The man stopped when he saw the boy and the two Eevees looking back at him from across the alley. "Two Eevees and a kid?"

He sized the boy up. It was obvious the kid was living in the alleys. He was covered in smudges from dirt and grim, though it was possible to make out that he had spiky, sandy-blond colored hair. He was very thin—most likely underfed—and his clothes were torn and filthy. He couldn't have been over seven years old.

"Are those two yours?"

The boy didn't answer, looking back at the man silently. He could tell the kid was on the verge of running; his muscles were tense and ready.

"Listen, kid. I'm not gonna hurt you or anything, alright? I just asked you a question, and I want an answer. Are those two Eevees yours?"

The boy gave a short nod, still watching him warily.

"Alright." Now they were getting somewhere. "By the looks of you, you're homeless and you've got no money. Am I right?"

"I'm not selling them." The boy's voice might have been small, but it was firm.

The man smiled like an alligator. "You're a smart kid. Don't worry, I'm not going to try and take them from you," he added when the kid tensed again. "How about all three of you come with me?"

The boy gave him a wary look.

The man held up his hands, still grinning. "I told you; you're a smart kid. I could use somebody like you."

"Who are you?"

"The name's Gonzap. Now that you know my name, how about giving me yours, kid?"

"Wes." He paused. "You're the leader of that gang. Team Snagem."

Gonzap laughed. "I knew you were smart. If you come with me, kid, and join my Team, it'll get you off the streets. You'll have a chance to earn some cash, and train those Eevees of yours."

"And if I say no?"

"No?" Gonzap laughed again. "I don't see why you'd want to say no, kid. It'd give you a life." He looked around the alley in an exaggerated fashion. "Unless this is what you call a life." He smirked. "But if the case really were extreme…I'd just pull this out and shoot you and your little rats both." He drew a gun and held it lazily in one hand.

The kid—Wes—shifted slightly, eyeing the gun warily. "You said you weren't going to hurt us."

Gonzap laughed. "Change of plan, kid. So what's it gonna be?"

Wes glared up at him. There was no way out of this. "Fine."

Gonzap grinned once more. "You're not a bad kid, Wes. At least not yet. Come on."

The hulking man herded the little boy through the twisting network of alleys, and out of Pyrite altogether, disappearing out into the vast desert of Orre.

Rui blinked wearily several times to get herself awake, before realizing it was still very early in the morning—namely, midnight. With a small sigh, she rolled out of bed to her feet, stretching. She was too restless to try and fall back asleep.

She stepped out of her bedroom, dressed only in black sweatpants and a small white shirt. The entire house was silent as she made her way down the hall and into the kitchen. The moon was full and streamed in through the windows brightly, so she felt no need to flick on any of the lights.

Two years after helping stop the criminal Cipher organization from turning Pokemon into evil Shadow monsters, and she could still clearly remember every detail of the adventure. She had long since moved out of her grandparent's house, buying a house in the suburbs of Phenac. Rui paused next to the kitchen counter, running her hand across the cool surface absently, lost in thought.

Wistfully, she wished she had seen more of Wes. Her partner in justice—she rolled her eyes, thinking of it like that—he had been the one who had really saved all those Pokemon from their shadowy fate. An ex-member of Team Snagem, he had saved Rui from two thugs so long ago in the entrance to Phenac, and she had stuck with him since.

But after the triumph of victory over Cipher had died down, and people slowly began to resume their normal, daily lives again, Wes had slipped away. There were many rumors that Team Snagem was still out there, somewhere on the desert, along with Cipher, and was trying to reform and become strong again.

Wes being their number one target.

So he had slipped away, with his impossibly strong Espeon and Umbreon, to lay low somewhere in the region of Orre. Rui had only seen him three times since the day the two of them—well, mainly he had—defeated Cipher: once on each of her past two birthdays, and once a couple days after defeating Cipher. She hadn't seen him since.

Rui made her way out of the kitchen and into the living room. It was true; she had always had a sort of crush on him. Ever since he had rescued her from the two thugs, releasing her from the sack she had been so unceremoniously tied up in. She worried about him daily, even if it was only for a few minutes.

Suddenly much wearier than she had felt a few minutes ago, Rui sank down onto the couch. Her restlessness had left her, and now she was finally ready to sleep. Curling up near the arm of the couch with one of the pillows, she dropped very easily off into sleep.

The early morning sun was still not quite hot enough to bring up the cold night temperatures of Orre all the way to scorching, leaving a sort of frost in the windows of Phenac, and a slight mist in the air. People were already wandering the streets, but it was still quiet: the low murmur before the big roar of crowds that would fill Phenac's streets later in the day; all people most likely just shopping.

Wes leaned against the side of a building that housed a little coffee shop, just inside the entrance of an alley. Not exactly tall, but not short either, he was thin but fit, dressed in all black except for the deep blue trench coat that he had had since he couldn't remember when. He had long since ditched the shiny sunglasses—they were too big and drew far too much attention—and his sandy-blond hair had grown out a little.

His golden, hawk-like eyes moved over every detail of the street and coffee shop, silently watching. He hadn't been in Phenac for awhile—he had only arrived around midnight, really—and was gratified to see that it hadn't changed much. The people were much cleaner and friendlier than people in Pyrite, and water still flowed easily through the fountains and little trenches, making Phenac a true oasis.

Espeon sat near his feet, proud and dignified. The little lavender-colored Pokemon had her eyes shut, censoring the street with her psychic powers and listening with her long ears.

Wes knew he ought to go visit Rui, since she lived in Phenac now, but he wasn't in the mood for her questions and sympathetic looks at the moment. He'd go to her a little later; it was still pretty early. She would know he was here anyway. That was probably where Umbreon had gotten to. Rui's house.

Espeon shifted and opened her eyes, its tail swishing calmly. She stood and stretched like a cat, her soft lavender fur catching the sunlight brilliantly. Still standing, she looked up at Wes placidly.


Espeon flicked her tail against Wes's leg, giving him what he could have swore was an amused look.

Wes pushed himself off the wall, stretching too. He had been in that position for a long time, and hadn't even noticed. Long practice.

"Alright. You lead."

Espeon flicked him with her tail again, before trotting out of the entrance of the alley and into the car-less street. Wes followed calmly, though his eyes still picked up every single detail on the surrounding street.