And we're back again. This early?

I know, I'm scared too.

Oh well, Spiral was fun to write and I've kinda got back into it again after a long time kind of bored with the whole writing thing in general. So we're back in business, call it my Christmas present to you all. Or Holiday present.

Or early New Years gift. Or just a chapter of a rather insane Pokemon fanfic if you're a weirdo who doesn't celebrate anything or believe in presents.

Either/or.

Episode 340: Big Sister

This... was not going to end well. Even if I'd taken down one of the disgusting sludge monsters, there were still another six closing in and the bigger one staying clear of it. And I'd lost the rock to chuck at them, which left me with very few options as the others started swarming. Their bodies seemed to be acidic so I certainly didn't want to bring this into a melee fight unless I wanted chemical burns. But I couldn't really turn it into a ranged battle either, my ability to move and dodge attacks was pretty much crippled by the simple fact I had to stay put and shield my brother. Typical really, just when I start thinking his sense of smell is going to come in handy, we have to run into the toxic waste Pokemon that knock him out cold just by staying upwind.

And worst of all, I didn't have much power left. The shockwaves I'd used to disperse Uncle Flame's smokescreens and the brief Extrasensory had seriously taxed my reserves, it felt like there was a dull burning behind my eyes that was liable to turn into a full fledged migraine if I started flinging anything too strainuous. But it seemed increasinly certain that I wasn't going to have much of a choice. Running wasn't an option and somehow I doubted the angry mob were stupid enough to throw more rocks for me to fire back. There was one, and only one, upside to this entire thing. I'm a psychic, my brother's a dark type, I didn't have to worry about hitting him in the crossfire. Which left me with an option when the six slimeballs moved in for the kill from every direction, I just had to hope it didn't take me out in the process.

Despite common sense telling me to keep my eye on the swarm as they closed in and having to fight back the almost overwhelming nausea from the horrid smell that made the air itself burn as I tried to breathe, I squeezed my eyes shut tight and turned my power inward. While I might not be able to throw around anything too powerful with my exhaustion, I was literally backed into a corner, so I built up what little I had, focused and packed it in ontop of itself over and over until it felt like my head was about to burst. I heard the sludge monsters moving, they were close now. Very close. I could hear the pavement under them sizzle and melt from the acid as they all piled in.

Which was when I let loose with everything I'd been charging. Didn't bother aiming, just let the blast free. It was clumsy and undirected, certainly, but that was largely the point of what I was doing. There was a time for finese and picking shots wisely and there was a time for a point blank psychic shockwave. Being surrounded by toxic sludge that was clearly out for blood, well, that was definitely indicating the latter scenario. The pavement around me cracked under the sheer concussive force and, while my brother might be immune to even feeling the psychic pulse, the slimeballs certainly were not. Again there were pained screeches that were both horrifying and immensely satisfying as they were all catapulted back several meters, toxic ooze splattering everywhere outside of the shockwave's reach as six Pokemon hit the ground with a squelch.

Leaving me standing over my brother in the center of a circle of destruction, completely unharmed. I hadn't expected to knock them back as far as I did but then adrenaline does funny things to people, lets them do things physically that they ordinarialy shouldn't be able to do. I guess that applies to psychically doing things too, although I had no doubt I was going to pay for it later with one hell of a migraine. The fact that these things were obviously poison types helped too. Due to, well, being poisonous leaving them pretty much suicide to fight physically, most poison types tended to have rather fragile mental defences. Or in layman's terms, they were a lot more susceptible to psychic attacks than most.

Which was good, at least I had a slim chance of getting me and Blacky out of this alive. Still no idea how exactly I was supposed to manage it, but at least I had some hope, right? Always the optimist, me.

"Blacky, if you're going to wake up, can you make it quick?" I muttered at the Umbreon I was standing over, who was still completely unresponsive and as unhelpful as usual. Okay, looks like making a break for it was out of the question. Fighting it is then, as it was pretty safe to say talking was out of the question. These things came out shooting and I shot back, it was far too late to even contemplate talking my way out. Although I did wonder why these things were gunning for us in the first place, I wasn't stupid enough to waste time asking a question I wasn't likely to get an answer for.

After all, weak against psychics or not, the six I blasted were not out of the picture yet. Blown back and stunned, yes, but they were recovering quick. And pissed off. 'Course, they probably weren't going to try rushing me again, fine by me as I sure as hell didn't want them up close. They weren't stupid enough to risk another shockwave. Not that I had another one in me, but I wasn't going to let them know that. One advantage of fighting horrible smelling slimeballs, looking unsteady and kinda ill seems perfectly normal, there was no way for them to tell what was caused by their smell and what was exhaustion. Which was good, they had no idea what I was still capable of, all I had to do was try and convince them I was more trouble I was worth. With little to no power left at all and my head still feeling like it was about to burst.

"Piece of cake." I thought to myself, dryly. I was using the literal meaning of the word but Blacky's variation seemed just as fitting.

Still, back to a river and surrounded by six poison types. Even if they weren't going to get close, I sure as hell didn't want to have to try blocking all of them. With my head still reeling from the shockwave, I didn't dare try anything too strenuous. Thankfully all my time in Cerulean had gotten me a lot of practice with telekinesis. While throwing one of them around was certainly beyond me, psychic weakness or not, I could certainly pick up something smaller. Like, I dunno, a lump of pavement that cracked when I fired that shockwave. I tore up the biggest piece I could see, fighting back another wave of nausea as I glanced around at the six slimeballs turning to face me. Picked the one who was recovering fastest and beaned it right between the eyes.

Toxic sludge or not, these things really didn't seem to like being hit with a high velocity rock. Even if this one was smaller than the first one I'd fired back, by far, my target was already hurt by my shockwave, so down it went. That was two for two. The others paused, looking across as their comrade collapsed. They seemed surprised, evidentaly they hadn't been expecting quite this much of a fight. Not that I daresay anyone could call what I was doing fighting, I was grasping at every straw I could find to keep these things off balance and catch them by surprise. And that was my last card. And I think the big one by the embankment knew it. It didn't move from where it was waiting but it seemed to be smirking before a giant maw appearing in the ooze as it spoke. I don't know what it was saying, it's speech was just garbles and gurbles, the kind of noise water makes when going down a plug in a sink, so I had no chance of understanding it. But what ever language it was using, it couldn't bode well for me as the remaining fix sludge fiends turned back with fire in their eyes.

I tensed myself, but they started backing up again. Evidently I was right and they weren't going to Tauros Rush me. Suited me just fine, I thought for a moment, before that thought turned to a curse when they started spreading out. They were keeping me flanked... When they were closer I could keep an eye on all of them pretty easily, or at least catch movement out of the corner of my eye if one of them tried something... but they were moving back, out of my line of sight. At best I'd be able to keep watch on three, leaving two able to do whatever the hell they wanted. And the last thing I needed was two poison types able to catch me off guard.

I shot a glare at the big slimeball, the ringleader. Whatever caused these things to attack me, they were definitely going to back down. By my mother... I'd just flattened two of them and knocked the rest flying. They should have hesitated, they should have backed off a little! I know I would have if a kit pulled something like that but no, these things were not going to stop until they took me down. And I did not want to find out what they wanted to do to me and Blacky once that happened, so I gritted my teeth and tore up another section of pavement. It had worked twice already and the third time's supposed to be the charm, right?

Turns out it was. Just not for me. I was taking aim at the one furthest to the left, it seemed antsy and eager to take a pot shot at me, only to hear a strange spitting-squelch come from behind. I spun back, levitating the lump of concrete with me. It turned out to be the only thing that saved me as it intercepted a large ball of slime aimed for my face. I recoiled as the ball burst, spattering around me. A drop hit my left forepaw and I bit back a hiss as I felt it burn through fur and skin. That was acid, very strong acid. If I had taken that to the face... I don't even want to think about what that would have done. There was another of those sounds, coming from behind me again, the one I'd been aiming at originally.

They were going to pinball my attention. I turn to defend against that and the one to the right shoots again, rince and repeat. Presumably to give the other three a shot at getting me off guard. I couldn't let that happen. And unfortunately for them, I picked up another little trick while living in the Cerulean Pokemon Center. I'd gained a bit of an eye for detail, and the ability to memorise it. I knew exactly where the one behind me was, after all I had just been aiming at him. And once again, I'm psychic, I don't need my eyes to attack. I kept looking at the sludge on the right, flinging the sizzling lump of concrete over my head at the one behind me.

Had to bite back a wince as a few more acid droplets hit my back as it went overhead, but I made sure I was standing over Blacky so none of them got him. There was that spattering sound again as my projectile met theirs in midair, only mine was a bit more solid and kept on going afterwards. I hit, I knew that much, but the sound was different than the last two. Before was a loud squelch, this was softer and mixed with what sounded like pebbles bouncing of the pavement. The acid shots must have weakened the concrete enough that it started to break up, the thing was still up and moving. I could hear it groaning and cursing in whatever the hell it was they used as speech.

And then I heard the bigger one, the ringleader. And it was laughing. Damnit, they realised they were getting close.

"Blacky, now would be a really good time." I thought, scrambling my brain for something else. As much as it creeps me out, I would have been esctatic to see even his red-eyed crazy personality come out to play. Or even his normal, useless one, because we could at least run for it then. But no, the horrible air still had him down for the count. And with him down, my paws were tied.

I barely managed to block three acid balls from the center slimeballs, frantically tearing up an entire slab of concrete and managing to haul it into the air just in time to block the shots before a wave of nausea and dizziness broke my focus. I let the slab drop and shatter into useless melting pebbles. The burning in my eyes was a full-fledged inferno now, if I didn't find a way out and fast then I was going to either cripple myself with a killer migraine to end all migraines, burn my powers out into uselessness or... if I was lucky, just black out. And when the best case scenario involves passing out at the mercy of psychotic toxic ooze, I knew I'd hit a real low point.

Bottom of the hole now. The only way was up, I just had to find a way... and I think I spotted one. I was still facing the rightmost attacker, the one who'd first tried the sneak attack... and behind him was a large bridge allowing the road ontop of the embankment to run across the river. No good as an escape attempt, to cross it would mean getting up on the embankment and that would mean having to get past literally all of my poisonous friends here. Including the big one, who I really doubted I could make flinch even when I was at full power. Going over it was out, but there was a little footpath leading under it. Narrow, surrounded by stone... if I could get in there then they couldn't surround me and my odds of survival pretty much double. Sure, it was only going from five percent to ten but I was willing to take anything I could get.

And the best thing was; after they had all backed up and spread out to try and stay out of my sight, that left only one standing directly between me and the bridge. This was stupid, downright crazy even, but it was the best shot I had. And if following my Uncle Flame's playbook was what got me and Blacky into this mess, then just maybe his brand of crazy and stupidity would also be what got us out. And, I don't know about these things surrounding me, but I know my uncle. It doesn't matter how tired he is, he'll keep on going until the very end. Time to see just how much of that I inherited.

The burning in my head seemed to fade, along with the sense of desperation, as I stepped aside. Off of my brother. I kept my body low and my ears peeled for any sign of another acid shot but the other Pokemon seemed to pause, waiting to see what I was up to. Guess my stunt with the shockwave had them paranoid. Good, because they sure as hell weren't going to see what I was doing coming. I grinned. A big grin, lots of teeth, the kind of thing they could see from a distance. The kind of smile Uncle Flame would have just before tearing someone in half. Just to keep 'em guessing, hopefully it would keep them off balance for a few extra seconds as I focused my power on something I had never, ever tried before.

I threw up a Protect. Now that doesn't sound impressive but this wasn't an ordinary Protect. See, normally the shield is a sphere that protects the user on all sides. Only that's just a pleasent bonus, the reason everyone does that is simply because that's the easiest way to do it, the power just naturally flows into a sphere around you. The hardest thing you could do with it would be a flat surface but I wasn't quite that crazy, no. What I did was a little simpler. Instead of a green dome completely incasing me and Blacky, I severed it half way. The hemisphere only materialised between me, Blacky and the sludge monsters. It was opened to the river.

There was another feature of Protect that pretty much every Pokemon knew of but never really came up. While keeping the shield active for long is exhausting, not to mention almost impossible if someone happens to be wailing on it at the time, the reason it tends to be used only in short bursts is much simpler. It blocks everything, air included. The things attacking us had made the air smell putrid enough to knock Blacky out cold, but I was now blocking that. All it took was a little, tiny burst of telekinesis to push some wind from the river into our protective zone and for the first time since we'd been attacked, I could actually breathe without feeling ill.

It wasn't perfect, there was still a rather putrid stench around but it was not overpowering anymore. I took quick gulp of clean air, knowing that I had only a few seconds before the sludge worked out what to do, so I had to get on with it. Now. Which meant no time to be nice and gentle, I reared back and cuffed my brother around the head as hard as I dare. May have scratched him a little too, not that I was too concerned with that over getting him awake. Didn't seem to work. Typical Blacky, really. Goes hyper for hours at a time but when he's out, he's out. No matter how much of a pain in the tail he's being at the time. Well, tough luck, brother, no lie in for you this evening.

"Blacky, if you don't get the hell up right this second," I hissed in his air, making a point to make the annoying tapping noise with my claws against the pavement again as I continued, "I will tell Uncle Flame what really happened to my little Torchic doll."

Long story, not important. What is important is that it worked, he opened his eyes. Still black, unfortunately, no red-eyed psycho-mode coming to the rescue. But it was good enough. I bit into the scruff of his neck and hauled him to his feet, hearing the sounds of that disgusting slime language thing our attackers were using coming from the other side of my barrier. The big one was giving orders, clock was ticking down faster by the second.

"Take a deep breath, hold it as long as you can and run for the path under that bridge the moment I say go." I ordered, using the same tone of voice I'd use on unrulely patients back in Cerulean, or my uncle when he needed someone to reel him back in. It worked, Blacky nodded understanding. He wobbled unsteadily for a moment but he still dropped into a running stance, ready to bolt the moment I gave the word.

So, Blacky was up and we had an escape route, or at least somewhere to make a last stand. Time to go on the offensive!

I dropped the barrier, practically barking out the order to run as I did so. The five slime Pokemon had closed their circle slightly but not enough for any of the other four to be close enough to intercept Blacky as he shot towards the rightmost one. Without them attacking my barrier and me having to fight to maintain it, I'd been able to keep some power in reserve, built up and ready. I locked eyes with it as it scrambled to face my brother, no doubt about to try and tackle the speeding Umbreon. It didn't get a chance. I hit it with an Extrasensory. And unlike my controlled, internalised version that I'd used to track Uncle Flame, this was the way it was supposed to be. Pure, uncontrolled sensory overload.

It recoiled back, covering its eyes and screeching from the way they suddenly became a hundred times more sensitive to light. Despite how dark it was getting, it must have felt like looking into the sun. So it had no chance of stopping Blacky, or me as I tore after him. Neither of us were doing well, Blacky was still half out of it from his own sensory overload and I was staggering from the dizziness that came with overclocking my powers like that. But I still found enough power for one last burst of telekinesis when the blinded slimeball managed to grab at me. All the fragments from the concrete slab I'd blocked the three acid balls, all those little pebbles were launched straight at it. Normally, yeah, they'd sting a little but they wouldn't have stopped anything. But on something with every sense boosted a hundred fold, including that of touch and pain, every pebble must have felt like a bullet. And I battered it all over with dozens upon dozens.

It screeched in pain again, recoiling for the half a second it took before its brain just gave up and it joined the other two slimeballs I'd dropped in unconsciousness. Part of me was tempted to throw a hearty, "sleep right, you bastard," over my shoulder as I passed but I daren't waste the energy. Sure, I'd taken out three, that still left four and the big one after me. I was not going to slow down just to taunt them. I might be taking out my uncle's playbook but I wasn't quite that crazy. For a tiny moment I realised that, with the minutes I'd lost fighting these things, Uncle Flame had just gotten further away and I'd probably lost my chance at stopping him... That sudden clarity, that burst of rage gave my legs strength as I powered after Blacky.

Oh I was pissed with these things, no doubt about it. They had cost me my hope at catching up with and saving my uncle, I wanted nothing more than to turn around and show them what I was really capable of. Teach them that Blacky wasn't the only one of us kits that you didn't want to tick off. But I wasn't stupid. Angry or not, I couldn't beat them all, I'd be dead in minutes. And so would Blacky. I couldn't have that, I'm his big sister. I'm his Nina, I have to look after him first. So I kept running, yelling at him to keep going when I saw him start to flag at the bridge underpass. The air was putrid again, he couldn't hold his breath anymore, it was only a matter of moment before he went down again.

So I crash tackled him straight into that narrow tunnel. He was mumbling, incoherent... I could see him fading on me. Damnit, so close! I tried to throw up another barrier, try and get some clean air again, but I nearly passed out myself when I tried. My head was pounding something fierce, adreneline was probably the only thing keeping me upright. I was about to try and get him by the scruff of the neck and start dragging him when I saw the little toxic ooze Pokemon closing in on the tunnel entrance. They were faster than I thought, no way was I going to beat them dragging Blacky. No choice but to go for that last stand after all.

"So be it," I muttered to myself, straighting up and stepping over Blacky, towards them.

They want to hurt him, they're going through me first. And I've already proved that, exhausted kit with weak powers or no, I am not going to make it easy for them. They seemed pleased, confident even, gurgling to each other in their language as I stepped up to the tunnel entrance and glared at them. They knew I was on empty, I think just about anyone could have seen it. If it wasn't for the foul air I probably would have been panting for breath. But I held my ground, looking between three of the things that attacked me. We were only meters apart. I had no power left, no escape plan. Nothing but the thought that I was going to do my damnest to keep these things away from my brother as long as I could, even if I had to charge them head on to do it. I dropped into a half crouch, ready to do it too. Coiled up, about to pounce on the eager one pulling ahead of the rest.

Then fireballs rained from the sky. Or ontop of the bridge I was under, at least.

"Get away from them, you bitch!" I heard as the barrage slammed into the ground between me and it, stopping them in their tracks.

Looks like it wasn't too late to find Uncle Flame after all, it seems he'd come and found me. And boy was he pissed. The ooze Pokemon barely had a chance to do whatever it was these things did in surprise before the ground that had only seconds ago been covered in fire cracked as a Charmander dropped onto it. Somehow, possibly just from sheer rage, Uncle Flame managed to stick the landing. He staggering back slightly but used it to pull back his right arm and drive a Metal Claw right between its eyes. Venting smoke, he lifted it just by the arm lodged in it's face and hurled it bodily at the other two of its buddies.

Then he opened his left paw, which I saw was full of very familiar berries, threw one into his mouth... and roasted all three in one blast of what had to be the most powerfull Flamethrower I had ever seen. Almost drowned out the putrid rotting smell with that of burning, which wasn't much of a step up but at least I didn't feel quite so ill about it. Five seconds later, the blast ended and three very, very well done slimebuckets were out of the picture. Unconscious or dead, I couldn't be sure and, to be honest, didn't really care. They had just tried to kill me and Blacky after all.

"Now then," Uncle Flame spoke, suddenly sounding rather dangerously calm. He still was not looking back at me, instead stepping around the three disabled enemies to focus on their bigger boss that slithered up. He held up his left paw, still full of berries. "You're getting the rest of these. For attacking my kits."

The giant toxic monster looked down at my uncle, as though sizing him up, before letting out a roar. Very loud, but that wasn't the worst bit. The worst bit was the smell. I thought the little ones had been bad, this thing's breath was at least double as nasty. No wonder Blacky was conked out, I felt like joining him. My uncle, however, not impressed. He stood, unmoving, throughout the whole thing. I don't think even his tail flame flickered until the beast was done and shut its mouth.

"You done?" He asked it, voice dropping into the venomous growl he'd had back on the roof, "because you don't fucking scare me."

His tail flared up, the flames turning grey for a second as he went to down what had to be ten Boom Berries at once. Only to pause before he could, both me and him looking down at his paw. At the berries that had suddenly gone from red and unbelievably potent to shrivled and wilted. The thing's breath had killed the berries. All of them.

"Ah. Bugger-" Uncle Flame managed to say before a giant fist slammed into his side and knocked him flying towards the river before I could warn him.

"Uncle!"