Author's Note: This chapter will be a bit shorter chronologically; I'm mostly trying to build up a bit more of the world here rather than actually have things happen. I'll make up for it next chapter.

Chapter Four

The Meiserland Bay faced the Ceres Ocean to the south, and, by all accounts, was a working man's ocean. A open mouth of land facing the vast waters to the south, the Bay of Meiserland was home to hundreds, maybe thousands, of fishing trawlers, cargo ships, naval vessels. Unlike the beaches in the east facing the Pacific Ocean, here was not host to long, white beaches complete with palm trees and girls dressed scantily in swimsuits. Here was miles and miles of ports and piers, surrounded only by massive cargo containers, cranes, machinery, and barrels, a metallic jungle coupled with the air of materials decayed by seawater.

If anything, that the entire place was derelict made this place seem twice as miserable as it already was.

"So you two come from APRO?" I asked Caitlynn, or "Lynn", as she was also called, as I tried my best not to look at the slender girl, who declared she would change in the darkness of the warehouse. Every now and then, I'd hear the clink of her putting something down, probably a Pokeball, an accessory, god knows what. Apparently, it was easy to conceal things in Victorian dresses.

"That's right," Lynn replied from the darkness, "We're both Pokemon researchers. Ysi specializes in Pokemon psychology, behavioral traits, and inherent abilities, but I'm more inclined towards the biochemistry and metabolism. Surely he has told you this?"

"He has," I muttered, and thought about all the other things that Ysi had not told me. Having made it to the Meiserland Bay, we eventually ducked into one of the warehouses after we spotted too many Pokemon birds circling the sky, and decided it was too dangerous to remain outdoors. The three of us had ducked into the warehouse, but Ysi volunteered to just take a quick scout ahead and see if there was another, safer path they could go down. So that left Lynn and I in the warehouse, sitting on wooden crates, and talking about anything in general. It was dark, but the fires far away in the warring sectors of the capital still managed to cast a pale, orange glow through the windows, providing us one miserable source of light.

A low growl from the side reminded me of the presence of my Feraligatr that I had left right next to the warehouse entrance in the shadows. A blue reptilian Pokemon that was just a bit over seven feet six inches, Feraligatr represented some of the most ferocious traits in a carnivore Pokemon, including the urge to kill violently. With its red fins as a warning to other Pokemon and humans not to mess with thems, Feraligatrs were known to grab their victims in their jaws...and then shake them rapidly and violently in between their teeth so that they're savagely torn apart. It was pretty hard to imagine that I had managed to recently evolve it all the way from its basic form, the hyper and infinitely cheerful Totodile. While I can't say I agreed with the way it fed, I needed that kind of security at the moment, as there was comfort in the knowledge that anything unwelcome that made it past those warehouse doors had a chance of being violently ripped apart.

I didn't call out my other Pokemon for several reasons. I was still unused to the idea of letting multiple Pokemon out of their Pokeballs; it was a force of habit. Plus Feraligatr was not exactly the best team player I had in my party; absolutely ferocious, Feraligatr was all about foul tempers and brute power, much like my Nidoking. Lynn, meanwhile, had her Absol out, presumably our danger detector. If the artillery pounding the Cait Sith Cafe just after we left was any indicator, Absol seemed to have a knack about sensing disasters.

"You two must've been really lucky to have made it into APRO at your age," I said, not knowing what else to say, "I don't look...old. Or anything..." I realized that I had begun stuttering, and that I was getting really awkward and embarrassed, so I sought to clarify, "...I mean. I've actually done a lot of extra credit work with APRO, interims, during high school. And most of the youngest people there who were doctors were in, like, their late twenties or early thirties. But you look like you're..." I waved a hand in the air, trying to guess her age. Twenty was my best guess, but I at least knew the women didn't like discussing their age much. Thankfully, it was something that Lynn brushed aside with a smile.

"I'm only nineteen," she admitted, "Ysi is half a month younger than I, also nineteen."

I made a rude sound, the sputtering of my lips. I had already known this, of course, that the two of them were not only young but doctors, but having more details that they had achieved such credentials at such a young age made me kind of jealous. Here I was, at the age of eighteen, only preparing to go off into the world to start collecting Gym Badges, and yet here two people were, one year older than myself, and already doctors in the field of Pokemon. "Makes me wish I wasn't born in Owa," I muttered.

Lynn giggled gingerly, apparently quite amused by my reaction. "Ysi had to do a lot more work than the normal person trying to get their doctorate," Lynn said, "Although his father had some influence with the government, they weren't on best terms, so Ysi had take much of the issues into his own hands. While he became a Pokemon doctor at a young age, the path he chose was much more tedious than the usual path in becoming a Pokemon doctor. And, because of his young age, he is viewed with some disdain both other Pokemon authorities and specialists in the field. Still, we're exempt by the IPA's requirement that we must be of the legal age of eighteen to begin our journey as a trainer. However, we were not permitted to challenge Gyms outside our borders, nor were we able to partake in the Emerald Cup Competition before reaching legal age."

What Lynn told me sounded vaguely familiar. I had known from my studies that the IPA granted several countries the right for individuals under the age of eighteen to challenge Gyms within their own borders, many of which were countries with a very small population. However, I was instantly reminded of the nation of Istorius, where the Pokemon League was based. Widely known for its complete political neutrality, Istorius served as the headquarters of many international organizations, probably because they were the only country trusted with that role. One of those international organizations would be the International Pokemon Association. Because Istorius hosted the Emerald Cup, Istorius was granted the right to allow trainers under the age of eighteens to challenge Gyms within their own borders. I wondered if Ysi and Lynn were Istorians.

"I think I've heard your name mentioned before," Lynn suddenly said as she finally stepped out from the shadows, and, instead of a Victorian dress, she emerged in a rather elegant black and red kimono, "You've participated in many activities with APRO years before, yes? Your name, Michael Kitaro, has shown up here and there." Lynn smiled softly, and I found her presence to be soothing, calming, like a mother assuring a child.

"Uh, thanks," I said, not very sure what else to say, "I guess. Uh..." I found myself staring at her kimono and some of the sort curves that the kimono was forming on her body, so I tried to garner some type of excuse, "...what's up with the clothes changing?"

Lynn gave a sweet smile. "It's rather amazing," she said quite cheerfully, "how nice a man in uniform can be to a well-dressed and well-endowed lady. Although I admit I am having guilt attacks for having taken this from an abandoned department store. Still, though, it got the job done, and I found this route of escape. I still prefer my kimono, though; it's much more comfortable and easy to move around in."

I wasn't sure what to make of that, and decided the best way to remain polite was to play dumb. Or stoic. Whatever. "Uh..." I scratched the back of my head, "...Right. I guess you come from a good family?"

Shaking her head in the negative, Lynn replied, "Quite the contrary. I was born in a fishing village to a small family of four. The village population itself could not have exceeded one hundred."

I was quite surprised to hear that; she didn't look like the type who grew out of a fishing village, as her features were too delicate and her skin too soft to look like one growing up outdoors alongside the work of the village. "I wouldn't have been able to guess," I admitted. Near the door, Feraligatr made a low, growling sound, and I flinched, turning my head quickly towards the entrance. But, as it turned out, nothing ever showed up or seemed amiss, so I dismissed it as Feraligatr clearing his throat or something.

"Don't scare me like that," I frowned at Feraligatr. He gave me a snort in return. Not that he was defiant at me or didn't respect me as a trainer; Feraligatrs were vicious, proud, and very wary of which trainers they considered worthy. As of late, Feraligatr seemed to be a bit more unruly than before he evolved from Croconaw, who, despite his viciousness, at least obeyed my commands diligently; while I knew Pokemon inhibited such behavioral traits as they evolved, I wondered if I was going to have to established some sort of authority to Feraligatr soon.

Now, don't get me wrong. Just because I have some vicious Pokemon and spend nearly every day with them doesn't mean I've lost any respect for them. I was only too well-aware of stories of how trainers who mistreat their Pokemon ended up heavily maimed...or dead. And knowing Feraligatr's capabilities for destruction, that meant a lot to me.

Lynn smiled as she looked up and out the windows at the eerily orange night sky. "That was because I hated the water," Lynn admitted, "It was beautiful, but it represented day after day of going out to the harbor to watch over the only profits that came into the village. So I left home, and, after trying to make a living for myself, worked as a live-in maid for the Gavotte family."

"Ah," I said, seeing how the circle came about. It wasn't a full circle yet, but enough to give me a good idea as to how Ysi and Lynn met. Apparently, it was Ysi who was well-endowed and Lynn likely to have been his maid.

"Yes," Lynn continued, "Apparently, my parents did not mind me serving the family that founded Avalon Technologies, so I remained with Ysi for..."

"Wait, wait, wait," my mind had suddenly drawn a pause at two of Lynn's words, a frown creased on my face to show either obvious confusion or obvious disbelief, "What about Avalon Technologies?"

"Avalon Technologies, leading multinational defense contractor with a defense revenue of twenty-three trillion Esean dollars supplying weapons, aircraft, and scientific research to the armies of other nations," a familiar voice suddenly responded in a not-so-quiet manner from the back behind a large piled of crates on the other side of warehouse as Lynn, Feraligatr, and I turned towards the origin of the sound, far away from the entrance that Feraligatr was guarding, and, for the first time, I could actually hear disdain in Ysi's voice as he approached from the opposite wall from behind the crates, Absol and Espeon flanking each of his sides. Feraligatr began to growl and move towards Ysi, but I raised my hand before Feraligatr could get up from where he was, signaling for Feraligatr to stop, indicating that Ysi was a friend, and Feraligatr merely grunted once, then went back to the warehouse entrance, standing guard.

Ysi did indeed look disgusted as he walked over to where we were, one of his hands on his hips and quite the unusual scowl on his face. "My grandfather always liked watching a scene from far away where he wouldn't be touched," Ysi muttered, "Making a profit by selling weapons to warring or bitter nations throughout the globe as a defense contractor made him a very rich man. He probably quenched his desire along the lines too, when he decided to spend his spare time coming up with the most effective ways to kill as many people as possible. The blood on his hands was passed on to my father when Avalon Technologies handed executive rights to him."

While I was still trying to overcome my initial shock of Ysi revealing this part of his past about him, I somehow was still irritated at one thing that made me scowl. "Where the hell did you come from?" he snapped, "I thought you were outside scouting."

"Absol sensed danger, Esepon sensed a Feraligatr," Ysi said simply as he approached and gave a casual nod to Lynn, who quietly nodded back, "I could piece two and two together. There's a back door over there..." he cocked a thumb over his shoulder where the crates were. Almost immediately, my pride kicked in and I decided that, if Ysi was going to lecture me about not keeping the back door guarded, I was going to punch him. But Ysi seemed displeased enough about talking about his past, so even if that would've happened, it didn't.

Figuring that I had a moment to spare myself from Ysi's generally indifferent attitude, I did a double-take at the information that had just been presented to me. I was no expert on Avalon Technologies, but the name had appeared on video games and magazines enough for me to realize that Avalon Technologies was a multi-billionaire company involved in the creation of weapons and aircraft for various armies around the world. I knew that Owa actually used some of Avalon's fighter jets for their air force, and that Avalon was supposedly designing a next-generation fighter aircraft for the Esean Federation. That Ysi came out of the family that founded Avalon Industries and had gone off becoming a Pokemon researcher instead was surprising, if not unexpected. Had I known this tidbit of information before I met him, I would've expected him to be a promising young executive on his way as the heir to the Avalon fortune.

If anything, it made me even more suspicious of Ysi. Not only his character, but his presence here in the middle of a war.

Thankfully for the two of us, however, Lynn chose this moment to step in front of a bothered Ysi; Lynn did not touch Ysi, but the way she positioned herself at a short distance in front of Ysi, not too close yet not too far, apparently emitting some sort of calming vibe towards him just by standing in front of him, seemed to calm Ysi down a bit, which set him up perfectly for her next question. Although there was distance, there was also intimacy and familiarity that did not require open or direct signs of affection. And I, watching from the sidelines, curiously wondered with a tinge of bitterness whether or not anyone had ever felt the same vibes Lynn and Ysi were emitting from Karen and I. That I had been about to break up with her earlier in the day still left something not too dissimilar to a sour taste in my mouth.

"Did you find anything?" Lynn whispered, looking at Ysi with those soft eyes made out of gold.

"Yeah," Ysi nodded, "Lynn, your plan about going further into the city to avoid the waters? It won't work; the area further north of us has been contaminated with vile gases. My guess is they've set up several Vileplumes in the area with Sleeping Powder, Poison Powder, Stun Spore, the works. I managed to get close enough with a wet towel to my nose and mouth, but I didn't feel like pushing my luck. An Owan military outfit, the 806th Battalion, is more or less deactivated by the fumes there; guess they didn't expect chemical warfare. However..." Ysi grinned, "...I did get of of these from their backpacks." And Ysi pulled out a radio transmitter from his computer bag, a black block that looked like a rather blocky and large cell phone, like one of those really old "cell phones" from the 1970's. The antenna was also unnecessarily long as Ysi extended it. I had seen the device before, however, in war movies, and knew it to be a powerful trans-radio, capable of receiving messages on specific military frequencies.

Frankly, I wasn't really impressed.

"It's a radio," I stated flatly.

"Indeed," Ysi agreed, "And these radios are just a bit more resistant to all the jamming the Magnetons in the area are kicking up. Plus this is an area where jamming coverage is weak..." Ysi adjusted the radio for a moment before flicking the power button, speaking into the receiver, "...Major Nightshade, this is Sergeant White here. Do you copy? Over."

"Sergeant White?" I looked at Ysi with a cocked eyebrow while wondering what kind of last name "Nightshade" was, and how many parents in the world get high before naming their children. Or Nightshade could've been a last name...which was all the more troubling. I decided not to think too much about it.

A crackle on the radio as the speaker came to life. "This is Major Nightshade," a female voice replied on the radio, and, thank heavens, the transmission was more or less clear, "I copy. Looks like you made it out alright, Sergeant." I fished out my cell phone from my pocket, hoping that it would've picked up a signal, but to no avail; it seemed cell phones were particularly weak to jamming.

"I'm fine," Ysi agreed, "It seems like a secure Owan frequency; we should be free of eavesdroppers. Still, I'm holding you by your word. You're going to have to give up your location, and we'll designate a new rendezvous point."

"Right," the Major, as I decided to refer her as, "I'm currently at Union Station in the Owan Metro, underground."

"Are you alone?"

"Negative. I picked up an Owan civilian along the way; she understands the situation, though, and is with me. I'd appreciate it if she be with us when we meet and try to get out of the city."

"Roger that," Ysi nodded, "Alright, we'll meet you at the Powell Station; that's two stations further south. I suggest you remain underground; I think they've set up several Vileplumes in the area with poison gases on the surface."

"Copy," the Major replied, "Meet you at Powell Station." And, with that, Ysi quickly turned off the radio and shoved it back into his computer bag. And, at that moment, Ysi's Espeon suddenly turned towards the entrance that Feraligatr was guarding, just a few moments before Feraligatr cocked his head towards the entrance and began to growl, as if it sensed something.

"We need to go," Ysi said as he began to head for the back door, motioning for Lynn and I to follow.

"What's wrong?" I asked, not liking how Ysi often rushed things along without giving anyone a good idea about what was happening, "And what was up with that radio transmission?" Regardless, I began following along and motioned for Feraligatr to come, and Feraligatr began to crawl on all fours in our wake.

"I'll keep the long story short," Ysi replied as Espeon followed along and Ysi zapped Absol back into her Pokeball, "While I was checking out the situation up north, that radio was receiving some transmission, which was why I picked it up. Major Amber Nightshade, a Torian military officer, was trying to hail all..."

"Wait, what?" I blinked, instantly alert, "A Torian military officer?" Beside me, Lynn, listening attentively, was being trailed by her own Absol and had called forth her own Pokemon, Vaporeon, a good choice in the Meiserland Bay, where water was dominant.

"...Owan soldiers in the area," Ysi continued as if he had not heard me, "Naturally, 806th Battalion wasn't able to answer, but I managed to pick up the radio."

"Wait a moment," I suddenly snapped, my aggravation towards Ysi coming up to a bursting point as I stepped up in front of him just before we could leave out the back door, "Do you realize that it is Toria that is attacking this city right now? And you've gone ahead to make contact with a Torian officer?"

"Major Nightshade claims that she is defecting to Owan forces, and has valuable information that explains why Toria has attacked Meiserland," Ysi said in a deliberately slow voice, not very pleased that I was in his way, "She says she's currently being pursued by Torian forces, who are looking out for her. I did not reveal our positions or names to her, and made her believe that we are survivors from the 806th. However, the transmission was not clear enough for me to make out where she was; that, and I thought we needed some time to set up a meeting point where we would all be on neutral ground to prevent an ambush. She's not comfortable with revealing the information on the radio, and wants to have someone familiar with the city to escort her out. Now, if you don't mind me, we need to go. Now."

I wasn't exactly pleased with the way Ysi was rushing things, always looking like he's in one hell of a hurry. "What about 'proceeding carefully'?" I demanded, "What's the rush?"

Ysi grimaced, looking at the front entrance behind him around the crates. "While I was headed back," Ysi muttered, "I saw a few Fearows in the sky, Torian formation. I'm not sure if they spotted me, but, if they did, I'm betting they've already contacted a few Torian soldiers in the area. I do not feel like tangoing with soldiers at the moment, and..."

Before Ysi could finish, however, an explosion suddenly thundered from the warehouse's front entrance, and we ducked and looked just in time to see the main entrance explode and collapse. Even as the metal doors came crashing down, I saw three figures about fifty meters away, dressed with no bulletproof armor and holding only a pistol. I recognized them as Torian special operatives, trained to operate fast and behind enemy lines. While they're usually underarmed and outnumbered, they were also one of the only soldiers who carried Pokeballs into battle.

Which explained the dropping of my spirits when I saw that they had Pokemon out already. Lots of Pokemon. True, there was a Voltorb that had already self destructed and blasted off the entrance completely, but we were still looking at a Fearow, a Machoke, a Magneton, a Rhydon, two Houndooms, and two Mightyenas.

To put it simply, we were greatly outnumbered.