And we're back again.

Sorry 'bout the delay. Had some computer issues.

Combined with chronic insomnia playing havok on my sleep cycle and you don't have a very productive Buwaro, even by Buwaro standards.

And I'm going to stop talking in the third person, only a certain insect is cool enough to pull that off without coming across like an arse.

Anyway, should have a little surprise up for you all soon. Hopefully over the weekend but I've said that before, so we'll just be vague and stick with soon.

Episode 341: Dirty Brawling

Things were not supposed to happen like this. Getting ambushed by some weirdo foul-smelling slime Pokemon was bad enough but that was supposed to be the end of it! Uncle Flame had shown up to rescue, like he always does. That was supposed to be the end of it! He shows up, saves me and Blacky and sets whatever's attacking us on fire. That's how things are supposed to go.

"Uncle!" I yelled, trying to bite back waves of panic as I could do nothing but watch as he got launched flying. The giant mound of ooze that had suckerpunched him had managed to get some lift on the blow, he was airborne and headed straight for a river. I tried to grab him with telekinesis, I really did, but between how fast it had happened and the fact I was running well beyond empty by this point, there was nothing I could do to stop him.

It certainly wasn't helped by the fact that, in attacking Uncle Flame, the giant ooze thing had put itself very, very close to me. To say it stank is possibly the understatement to end all understatements, which was doing little to help my ability to concentrate on trying to find even a single spark of power left in me. Not to mention the fact it was pretty clear it had similar intentions for me... and I no longer had an uncle between me and it. It grinned, I could swear I almost saw yellowed teeth in the giant dripping maw as it lumbered closer and reached out with the same arm it had swatted my uncle away like a fly with, only to stop when we both heard a rather loud thud and some choice vocabulary someone my age really shouldn't have had to witness.

Amazingly, apparently we still had a little bit of luck left after all. When Uncle Flame had been knocked flying, the ooze had managed to put enough lift that it would have put him well over the edge, where he wouldn't have been able to pull himself up quickly enough to stop it from getting at least one shot in on me and Blacky, more than enough. What that lift had also done had meant that, rather than go under the railings placed at a Human's chest height, Flame hit them dead on. It's a bad day when I consider my uncle slamming into an iron bar spine-first to be a good thing. His bad arm took another battering as he landed on it when he fell, being the source of the disturbingly creative cursing. But, while the tiny part of my brain still hung up on medical reasoning was wincing, the rest of me was more focused on the simple fact he was still on dry land and not out of the fight.

And he wasted no time at all before getting right back to work, sucking in a breath and sending three fireballs slamming into the ooze's outstretched arm and forcing it to recoil from me slightly as he scrambled to his feet and launched straight at it. The thing, evidently deciding I was less of a threat, turned to face the charging lizard and threw another of those powerful punches right at his head. Uncle Flame dropped into a skid and went underneath the swing, digging his claws into the ground to spring back up and land a solid punch of his own straight between its eyes. Unlike the smaller Pokemon, there was a worryingly solid thud sound underneath the initial squelch as his claws tore through the outer slime. Flame pulled back, taking another quick swipe with his claws and sending more slime spattering to the ground before diving away in time to narrowly avoid getting crushed in a bearhug.

He rolled back onto his feet and cautiously stepped backwards until he was just in front of me. I peered up at him, until my attention was caught to the slime that had been knocked loose during his attack. It seemed to be eating into the ground... It was acidic. Of course it was acidic... the thing was literally made up of toxic slime. My eyes darted back up, locking straight onto Uncle Flame's right arm and the exact same acid coating him from when he'd punched it.

"Uncle?" He had to be aware of what that stuff would do, he glanced down at his claws and gave it a quick shake to dislodge the worst of the slime.

"I'm fine. It'll have to eat through my scales first." Thank heaven for small mercies, I thought, watching as he spat a fireball at the remaining ooze and frying it into nothing before he glanced back to me. "You aren't going to run, are you?"

"Nope." No way, no how. There was no amount of arguing or persuading that could convince me to turn tail and run, leaving him here alone. Not after going through all this just to find him in the first place.

"Figured as much," he grumbled, not looking pleased with my statement. Tough luck, uncle. "Just keep your head down."

"I'm not stupid," I pointed out. I would have made a jibe about being the smart one out of me and Blacky but this wasn't really the time.

We didn't have time, either. Me and Uncle Flame having to scramble out of the way as a massive glob of toxic slime was hurled at us from the decidedly pissed-off ooze monster. I ducked back into the tunnel under the bridge, wincing as I heard the acid starting to melt stone just around the corner. That had been close, very close. My paw still stung a little from the acid droplets from one of the little, weaker slimebuckets, I didn't want to even consider what a direct hit from the big one would do. Thankfully, and I feel kind of bad for thinking this, Uncle Flame had dove the other way and had taken off running with the psychotic Pokemon in tow. Freshened up the air a little and meant I could drag my (unfortunately still comatose and useless) brother out of the way and into cover in case it did decide to take a potshot at us.

Didn't seem likely to happen though, not with the verbal abuse Uncle Flame was hurling at it as he dodged and weaved around acid shot after acid shot. Up against a giant toxic, foul-smelling pile of slime, he had no shortage to insults and slurs to keep its attention on him and away from us. I knew that was what he was doing, luring it further and further away so he could fight it without worrying about me getting caught in the crossfire. Although, I have to admit, he'd probably still be insulting it even if we weren't around and he didn't need to distract it. Probably wouldn't be quite so, uh, 'sweary' about it though.

"Your aim's worse than your smell, you slimy bastard!" He taunted, ducking under another ball of acid. "I could do this all fucking evening!"

I doubted that somehow. The acid shots were slowly getting more and more accurate. He was having to really work to not get caught by the spray when they hit the ground at his feet. If he had a plan then now would be a really, really good time. Although, I was having a hard time trying to guess what the hell this plan could possibly be. Fireballs didn't seem to be making it through the slime layer, and punching it in the face did pretty much nothing bar tick it off. That's Plans A and B out before we've even started. I hope he wasn't banking on me being able to do anything, because frankly all I could do was shout at it, and he seemed to have that covered already.

"Whoa, someone's getting a little testy!" He called, weaving around more acid shots as the slime monster slowly closed in on him.

By this point he was practically back where I'd been standing where this whole thing first kicked off, he even hurled one of the smaller ones that I'd knocked out into the path of the big one. Which pretty much just smashed it aside and kept on going.

"Wow, loyal fucker, ain'tcha?" Uncle Flame spun back to face it, grinning that cocky half-smile of his. The crazy looking one with all the teeth. "Typical Muk." It took me a moment to realise that wasn't an insult, as it wasn't nearly crude enough for what my Uncle seemed to be going for, and was instead what the sludge Pokemon was called. Which was a blessing in disguise really, I was getting really tired of trying to come up with things to call it.

So, yeah, Uncle Flame was taunting this Muk thing. Even broke out the middle-claw salute. While standing still, pretty much exactly where I'd been shielding Blacky when fighting off the smaller Muk-things that I still didn't know the name of. The Muk, naturally, decided to forego the acid throwing that hadn't seemed to work very well in favour of trying to punch crap out of him, which certainly had come perilously close to succeeding earlier. Only this time Uncle Flame knew it was coming. The crazed smirk of his only got bigger as the thing approached, his tail flame flaring slightly as the thing pulled back a big slimy fist, and suddenly ran straight into a thick black cloud of smoke that Flame had vanished inside.

I blinked. Twice. I honestly hadn't expected that, possibly because it hadn't worked very well on me when he'd tried it on the rooftops. I could literally wave the Smokescreen away with a thought, this Muk thing could not. It bellowed in rage from somewhere in the cloud, although thanks to it's wierd gurgle drain-language it sounded more like some horrible pulping squelch noise that would probably haunt my nightmares forevermore. Uncle Flame didn't seem to be intimidated. I could hear him laughing from somewhere inside the smoke, a real crazed cackling, before the Muk's cries changed pitch from bellows of rage to a slightly higher and somehow more disgusting one of pain.

"Ain't immune to that, are you?!" Uncle Flame taunted as he dove out of the dispersing cloud of black smoke, shaking off some more noxious slime.

I couldn't help but wince at the amount he was covered in, it was all over his torso and arms. Now, even ignoring the whole acidic thing, he was covered in scrapes and gashes from whatever the hell Scarlet did to him and his little stunt with the tree. It is a really good thing that fire types are pretty much immune to infections thanks to their ability to rapidly increase their internal body temperature or we'd have to pump him full of so many antibiotics that there'd probably be a shortage across all of Kanto. Although if I have my way then we'll do that anyway, open wounds and acidic ooze cannot be a painless combination and he was going to have to get them all cleaned and properly seen to, whether he liked it or not. There was most likely going to be a lot of whining involved. Something to look forward to.

But before I could worry about that, we had to survive the Muk first. And the screeching was more than enough to tell me that, even if Uncle Flame had found a way to hurt it, he hadn't taken it down. A fact soon proven as the it came storming out of the cloud. Thankfully Uncle Flame is smart enough to have moved since leaving the cloud, so it didn't bowl him over like it was probably intending to. It actually took me a second to spot what Uncle Flame had done to injure it, it turns out that the Muk had purple blood that was practically indistinguishable from its slime, so it wasn't until I noticed a small bit of semi-dissolved concrete fall from its left arm that I noticed the puncture wound at all. I guess Uncle Flame had tore up a piece of rubble I'd cracked with that shockwave and used that as a makeshift nail to hammer through the thing's acid-coated hide.

"Well, fuck, I got your shoulder?" Uncle Flame said, still grinning that psychotic grin, "I was hoping to get it through your eye."

The Muk bellowed at him, loud enough that I wouldn't be surprised if Uncle Vapor heard it back in Cerulean. Uncle Flame, however, was just as unphased as he was the first time. If anything his grin got even wider.

"Yeah, you're definitely getting a little testy."

He had to jump backwards to avoid the Muk charging at him again, narrowly avoiding a downwards blow that hit hard enough to smash the pavement below it. I didn't even want to consider what that would have done to his skull if it'd connected. Either way, I couldn't help but tense up as I saw him stumble slightly, his left leg almost giving out under him for a second. He tried to hide it by dropping back into his fighting stance but it was far too late. If I was quite a distance away and could see it for what it really was, the Muk definitely could. If Uncle Flame could pull off a worrying psychotic laugh, the Muk's was downright terrifying as it turned on him and pulled its fist up from the ground, tearing up a massive chunk of pavement of its own in the process.

No guesses needed to work out what it was planning to do with that. The rubble was larger than my uncle's head, and that was precisely where the Muk aimed it. The thing's punch had proved those arms had a lot of power in them and its throw was no different, one second it was holding a hefty lump of stone and the next it was... shattered into pieces as Uncle Flame swung a metal claw at it... He'd barely even moved, just punched the rock as it came straight at him and let the pieces whiz right on past. I gawped, not quite sure how he'd managed that. Then I remembered. Acid. The little ones had managed to weaken rubble with their acidic slime when I was fighting them, the big one was doing pretty much the same thing just by holding some. Meaning that it didn't take much force for Uncle Flame to shatter it, smirking all the while.

"You aren't the first bitch to try that on me today." He laughed, dropping his paw to his side as he beamed up at the furious Muk. "But I can keep this up all evening, so maybe you should piss off before I rip your eyes out."

Which was when I noticed another little detail. The arm he'd used. It had been his right one, the one that hadn't been quite so battered. Only now it was looking pretty limp, and I noticed the way his tail flame flared up slightly when he moved it, the Charmander equivalent of a flinch. Ugh, I'm so stupid! Even if the outer layer of rock had been weakened by the acid, the middle would still have been just as solid. And he'd gone and punched it. While it was launched at his head hard enough I'm surprised it didn't break the sound battier. My uncle now had both arms severely battered, if not already broken, ontop of a clearly damaged leg. And he was trying to bluff this thing into backing off.

And it wasn't working. I couldn't help but cry out, to try and warn him, as I saw the Muk forming another ball of slime in its hand. I didn't react fast enough. The acid ball launched with just as much force as the rubble had, and Uncle Flame's injuries had slowed him down enough that he wasn't able to shield his face in time. I couldn't help but flinch away, having to fight just to open my eyes again and look as the sound of him crying in pain reached me... I couldn't help but back up a step, further into the cover of the bridge, practically pressed up against the wall as I saw my guardian clawing at his eyes, screaming and cursing.

Ever since he'd shown up on that bridge; I hadn't really been afraid. For him, me or my brother. We were in trouble, he'd come to save us. No matter what. Somehow I'd managed to delude myself into thinking that everything would be fine now. He'd beat this thing and we'd finally be able to go back to the Pokemon Center with all this insanity behind us... It was starting to look like that wasn't going to happen and we weren't going to get any kind of good ending. The acid he'd been hit with wasn't like the stuff he'd brushed off earlier. This wasn't the half-dried ooze the Muk had for skin, this was proper acid. The kind they'd used to melt through iron bars just to attack me and Blacky in the first place, his scales were not going to help. Not for long.

And while he was reeling and blinded, the Muk just closed in and hit him with another of those brutal punches. I cried out again, eyes blurring and head burning as I tried desperately to find even a scrap of power to try and help or do something! It didn't work, I had nothing left. I was stuck completely powerless as my uncle crashed into the pavement. The Muk had knocked him towards the river again, only this time he'd dropped short of the barricade. For a moment I thought that was a good thing, if the Muk didn't try to launch him over the railing then maybe knocking him towards the river was just a coincidence.

No. Just me clutching at some hopelessly optimistic delusions. Uncle Flame was trying to push himself up on one battered arm, still clawing at his face with the other to try and get some of the acid off. He took too long, the Muk closed in again and this time it just picked him up... and turned to look straight at the river.

"No. No, no, NO!" I found myself screaming, every worst case scenario I'd been thinking of while me and Blacky had been trying to track him down suddenly flashing back into my mind. I took off running, out of the tunnel and towards the Muk. I had no power, no plan, nothing... but I had to try something as it carried my uncle towards cold, unforgiving water.

Unfortunately... even with adrenaline and fear powering me, I just simply wasn't fast enough. The Muk reached the railing before I'd even made it half way. I screamed at it, I honestly don't know what. I doubt there were actual words in it, just a desperate attempt to get its attention away from my uncle. That didn't work either. I heard it laughing in that horrible, hateful language it had as it rammed my uncle into one of the wooden posts holding the railings. Uncle Flame, his ribs being crushed in the Muk's grip, couldn't even react as his spine was slammed into the post with enough force to tear it out of the ground, knocking the iron bars to the ground and leaving apsolutely no barrier between the Muk and the river.

My legs burned, my lungs practically bursting and my head swimming as I tried to go faster, to do something... only to skid to a halt as the massive mound of slime pitched my Uncle straight into the dark waters. I nearly collapsed on my paws, legs trying to give out as I watched those orange scales and bright tail flame vanish in a splash. Just like that, my Uncle was gone. And the Muk turned back to me. And it looked happy. It had just beat the hell out of my uncle and thrown him into a river and it had the gall to look pleased with itself.

"Oh, you bastard." I glared at it, willing with all my might for it to drop dead on the spot. Or at least catch fire. Or something. Preferably something very, very painful.

It just laughed. My legs shook, either from sheer rage or the effort it was taking to keep standing in the face of the smell. But I stood my ground, the hell I was giving this thing the decency of seeing me afraid... until it started closing in on me again and I decided that I really, really didn't want that thing in my face. I managed to keep the death glare up even as I was backing away. Somehow I doubt I looked as intimidating as I was hoping I did, what with being small, exhausted and being a pink feline and all. This thing had size and power over me and, in my current state, it was probably faster too. However, there was one thing it didn't have.

Eyes in the back of its head.

After all, there is one thing I knew that it didn't. Uncle Flame can swim. And while the Muk was gleefully closing in on me, obviously having fun thinking it had one, it never noticed the orange lizard climbing up the river bank. At this point I was having to fight not to drop the death glare, not through fear but with a slightly disturbing level of glee at knowing something it didn't. Even better was that the water, if anything, had helped Uncle Flame out. It may have extinguished his tail flame but it'd also washed off the acid that had blinded him. I couldn't see what he was up to when he pulled himself back onto solid ground, the Muk was in the way and I didn't want to give it away that it hadn't won just yet.

So I had just as little warning as it did when, just as it got bored of toying with me and went to close in for the kill, there was a sudden crackle of fire. It wasn't aimed at the Muk, Uncle Flame just relighting his tail flame before his body temperature dropped enough that he'd lose his ability to breathe fire. But it did make the Muk stop in mid-reach and turn around. Just in time for one of the iron railings to get rammed straight into the side of its head. I jumped back, avoiding a spray of slime as it recoiled and bellowed in pain. A bellow that only got louder as Uncle Flame let loose with more fire, raking the metal jammed into the thing's skull with plume after plume of flames until the thing glowed red hot. Again, while still stuck in the Muk's new wound.

"I fucking warned you!" Uncle Flame yelled at it, all pretence of calm scheming replaced with much more familiar rage as he stepped forward, grabbed ahold of the iron bar, twisted it free of the wound. And, as the Muk was screaming about that and the sudden open wound on the side of its head that was pouring out the weird purple gunk it had for blood, he promptly jammed the pole straight into its open mouth. Knocked out a couple of its teeth but, more importantly, the metal was still quite heated. I kept backing away as the Muk was flailing and pretty much straight up panicking now, I did not want to get caught up in that. Uncle Flame took a couple of steps away from it too, looking round to glance towards me.

I stared. The acid had eaten into his scales enough to bleach them, leaving him with a blotchy patch around his left eye that was almost completely white. It almost completely masked his scar too. Thankfully it looked like it didn't manage to actually do much damage beyound that. While his eye was bloodshot, it seemed to focus on me just fine and I saw him breathe a sigh of relief. He nodded back towards the tunnel, clearly wanting me out of the way. A stubborn part of me wanted to ignore it, but frankly I'd probably just done the only useful thing I could have done against that Muk. And it most likely wasn't going to work twice, so sticking around was just asking to get caught in the crossfire.

Besides, as I looked back I could see that Blacky had finally decided to join the land of the living. Shakily pushing himself back upright, leaning his weight up against the tunnel as he looked around with blank, unfocused eyes. I started to head over when I heard the clatter of metal hitting the floor. The Muk had stopped panicking, throwing the cooling iron bar to the ground in front of it and giving Uncle Flame one of the most hateful glares imaginable. He returned it. With interest. And then switched back to his psychotic grin as he beamed up at this heavily wounded monster.

"Aww, did I miss your eye again? Oh well, third time's the charm!"

Okay, remember how I said that nothing he could possibly do would ever make me afraid of him. It was still true, just, as I certainly felt concerned at just how much malicious joy he'd managed to inject into that line. It shouldn't have been possible for him to pull that kind of threat off, looking as beat up as he did. But somehow that just made it worse. Here was a lizard much smaller than this Muk, beaten to hell and back and with a large chemical burn bleaching his face... and he was grinning up at the thing that had done it to him as though it was all part of the plan. The Muk actually backed off a second, I saw the momentary flash of fear and hesitation cross its face when Uncle Flame took a step towards it.

It was soon replaced by rage as the giant mound of slime spat out a mouthful of its blood and scooped up the dented iron bar. Uncle Flame ducked under the first swing, the cheer on his face fading into a look of determined concentration as he sidestepped the second. I saw a strange shift in his eyes as he dodged and weaved, the slow wounded gait of earlier seemingly gone into thin air as the Muk tried in vain to bludgeon him again and again. That was when I started to feel it. Something weird in the air, a charge building that was making my fur stand on end. Uncle Flame noticed it too, his attention shifting elsewhere for a split second before he dived back out of the Muk's range, leaving only a small smokescreen behind.

The Muk bellowed in rage as it's target vanished into the black smoke, raising the railing as it prepared to pitch it straight into the cloud like it had the rubble and acid. Only the moment the iron rod pointed the sky, there was an almighty flash that seemed to sear itself into my eyes as it met the biggest lightning bolt imaginable. Then there was the boom that left my ears ringing and the rotten stench of before changed into an almost equally foul scent of fried slime. To say that bolt had been enough would be a vast understatement. I'm fairly certain that every window and lightbulb for a mile around had probably shattered from that, so there was no way in hell the Muk was still going after taking the full force of that thing thanks to the make shift lightning rod it'd picked up.

Which turned out to be true, thankfully. As the smoke cleared there was no doubt that thing was unconscious at last, if not dead. Hard to tell without getting close, and I was not that stupid. Uncle Flame stepped out of his Smokescreen, his hate filled glare at the Muk seeming to intensify as a pink glow seemed in overtake it. Even with my powers drained as they were, I could feel the psychic energy in the air around us as the formerly-unstoppable behemoth was casually hauled into the air along with its six smaller cronies and prompty fired straight back into the undergrown tunnel from whence they came.

"Alright, not the way I wanted this to go," Uncle Flame said, "but I'll take it."

I almost turned to ask him just what the hell that was supposed to mean when several Shadowballs rained from the sky and collapsed the tunnel ontop of the Muk and co. I looked up, following their origin point and found myself staring at another pink feline. Only, unlike me, this one was a demigod. And smaller. Just.

"Mew." My uncle growled under his breath, the hint of that berserk madness in his voice rekindling the fear in me that had led to me chasing him across the city in the first place.

"Flame." The legendary cat floated down to our level, no hint of cheer or playfulness in his tone or posture. "What the hell have you been pulling now?"

"Wanted to get your attention." He shrugged.

Mew didn't seem impressed, tail lashing through the air fast enough to make a whip-crack. I found myself frozen, looking between my uncle and a demigod as the temperature in the air suddenly seemed to plummet. The two of them just glared at each other, sizing each other up. The look Uncle Flame had on his face was different from that he'd given the Muk, this was a colder, slower anger in his eyes compared to the vicious fury from earlier. Somehow I got the feeling this was worse. Mew, however, wasn't phased at all, hmphing to himself before floating towards the Charmander.

"Well, you got my attention," he sighed as he got closer and closer, "now what was so important that I had to drop what I was doing and come runn-"

The voice stopped in mid-word as Mew got into punching distance. One second the two of them were looking each other in the eye, the second there was a crack as Uncle Flame's claws slammed into a translucent pink shield that had materialised an inch from Mew's snout.

"Really?" I heard Mew's voice continue in my head as I saw an eyebrow raise inside the barrier. And this wasn't a normal Protect either, even discounting the unusual colour. Even with my powers as weak as they are, I can usually feel something on the inside of the shield. I might not be able to do anything to whatever's inside, but I can at least feel that they were there. This Protect? Nothing. It was like the difference between a bubble and a nuclear bunker. And if that was the case with my sixth sense, then it was safe to say it was a similar story with its physical state too. Mew certainly seemed to think so, visibly rolling his eyes at the suddenly furious looking fire lizard on the other side of the shield. "Did you honestly expect me not to see that coming?"

Uncle Flame didn't react at first, just glaring at Mew. And then his eyes did that weird flash again. I don't know what it was but, all of a sudden, there was a horrible feeling in the back of my mind. Just this sense that something was very, very wrong. My stomach lurched and the air in my lungs seemed to freeze. And I knew without knowing, if that makes sense, that the source of this unease was coming from my uncle. He'd pulled back his right fist again, going for a second punch. Mew almost looked amused as he swung. And busted straight through a demigod's Protect. Just shattered it like it didn't even exist. A barrier that felt sturdier than anything else I'd ever seen just completely disintegrated.

Mew didn't have a chance to react as Uncle Flame rolled with his momentum, taking half a step forward to power that same punch straight into the Legendary's snout. There was a bone-shattering crunch as Mew hit the ground, my uncle standing over the prone feline with a strange smile that combined rage with glee. I tried to process this. The sight of a Charmander downing a demigod that had, barely a minute earlier, dropped the power equivalent of Saffron City's entire electrical grid on a Muk's head. The horrible sense of wrongness was still hanging over me as my uncle leaned in to the dazed psychic.

"Now then, Mew. You are going to shut the fuck up. Because I'm the one talking here and you are going to listen for once. Do I make myself clear?" Every word punctuated with a growl and small wisp of smoke.

And there was me, standing off to the side, wondering what the hell was going on. I just- this all seemed so messed up. Maybe I should go check on Blacky. Yeah, that sounds good. Get away from this... whatever it is.