Frustrations

The wind whistled harshly over a great mountain plateau about halfway up the slope of Mt. Coronet. The stone terrace was about thirty yards wide and sparsely decorated with a few wind-blasted shrubs and a great field of boulders in every shape and size, as well as a light dusting of snow. The air was frosted with a bitter cold, and the sun glinted harshly off the already present ice crystals coating the ground. Suddenly, utterly shattering the tranquil air a small leaf satchel came flying up over the rocky edge of the plateau. It was immediately followed by a green three-fingered hand, which thrust itself over the lip of stone and clung for dear life.

Gasping, heaving and struggling like mad Zephyr finally managed to hoist himself over the edge and onto the stone ledge. He then rolled onto his back and stared up at the sky, gasping for air and clutching at the stitch in his side. He'd been climbing all day, and his stamina reserves had hit empty about thirty yards below. Only sheer force of will kept him going, and even that was beginning to fail him. However, Zephyr was determined that no matter what he was going to cross this mountain in four days or less, even if it killed him. He was starting to think it just might. Why couldn't he have been a Riolu?

Finally, when his breathing became just a little less frantic Zephyr hoisted himself back onto his feet. He walked over to the edge of the plateau and looked down. From over the edge it was a sheer drop of at least sixty yards before one would hit the impossibly steep slope of the mountainside and roll to their death, assuming the impact hadn't already killed them.

Zephyr shivered and rubbed his biceps as he turned to survey the plateau for potential threats. Damn, it was cold, and he wasn't even at the peak yet. At least his climb had been uneventful if incredibly strenuous. Zephyr had yet to meet a single hostile Pokemon on his way up the mountain.

'Maybe I'll get lucky,' he thought as he began to walk across the plateau, still shivering slightly. 'Maybe I won't have to fight at all.'

At that exact moment a trio of small rocks hopped off of a larger boulder, growling in their gravelly tones and flexing their small muscular arms at Zephyr. It wasn't really hard to guess what they wanted.

'Right. And maybe Grumpigs will grow wings and learn to fly. Honestly, when am I gonna learn to stop jinxing myself?'

However, Zephyr was hardly worried. These Geodudes acted tough, but they were still low-level, he had a serious type advantage, and there were only three in the first place. How much trouble could this be? With a sigh, Zephyr tensed his body and extended his arm blades, preparing for a quick and decisive victory.

His expectations for such began to fade slightly when the larger boulder that the Geodudes had leapt of off began to stand up and extend no less than four stony arms. The Graveler shook itself, dislodging various bits of loose rock and dirt before turning toward Zephyr and growling in a tone that sounded like a small rockslide. At the noise, four other large boulders also stood and revealed themselves to be Gravelers as well. All five clumped together and each flexed his or her quartet of muscular stone arms.

'Okay,' Zephyr thought in a slightly less cocky tone of thought. 'I can still handle this.'

A series of low growls began to issue from behind some of the larger inanimate boulders. However, these tones did not belong to a Graveler. They weren't...rocky enough. A moment later, three burly Machokes stepped out and leered at Zephyr. Their bodies bulged with massive muscles, and their powerful jaws were set as they each took on a battle stance.

'This is starting to get a little ridiculous,' Zephyr thought with a slightly irritated tone. 'I mean, really…'

Suddenly an earth quaking snarl shook the mountainside. Zephyr watched with incredulity as two of the largest boulders shifted positions and began to rise. Scaly, reptilian limbs extended from holes in the rocky shells, and slowly from the front of each rock snaked a serpentine head with leering eyes and jaws dripping with saliva. The two Golems began to walk slowly forward, each step causing the ground to shake slightly.

'Oh, you've got to be kidding me!' Zephyr thought.

It was at that exact moment that Zephyr noticed a large line of utterly massive stones lying across the plateau in a line that was just a little too perfect to be purely natural. For perhaps a second he dared hope that he wasn't looking at what he thought he was looking at, but he knew that he just wasn't that lucky. A moment later his fears were confirmed with a great rumbling.

Slowly, with a motion that made the earth shudder the line of boulders began to slide across the ground in a manner similar to a snake. Knowing exactly what he was going to see, Zephyr followed the stone line with his eyes until he came to the front, which was already beginning to rear up into the air. As the great stone behemoth rose ever higher the stones that made up its body rotated independently of each other like great ball bearings, grinding against each other and creating small showers of dust as they did so. At the end of the line of stone sat a massive triangular head with a dorsal crest set into the top. The Onyx reared over Zephyr, completely swallowing the Gallade in its shadow. Then it opened its jaws and released a roar so mighty that it actually caused a landslide on the other side of the mountain.

'Okay, that just isn't fair!' Zephyr thought in outrage. Was Arceus trying to kill him?

The Onyx lunged forward with jaws open wide just as Zephyr leapt backward, burying its head into the ground. Zephyr then immediately ducked to avoid a nasty right hook from the nearest Machoke. Before he could retaliate he was forced to dance out of the way of a Rock Throw from one of the Gravelers. This put him within reach of one of the Geodudes, who wasted no time in leaping onto his back. Zephyr grabbed the little rock by the arm and swung him like a cudgel, smashing him into the head of a Graveler that tried to drop him with a right jab. The blow was fortunately strong enough to knock the Graveler silly, and it stumbled away dizzily. However, at that moment the Onyx managed to grab Zephyr in its mouth. It hoisted him into the air and bit down in a spine crushing hold as he struggled desperately to hold its mouth open.

'Shit,' he thought as he struggled under the incredible pressure of the beast's jaws. 'I hate Monster Houses.'

'Monster House' was a lay man's term for a Pokemon Diversity Nest. Pokemon Diversity Nests were slight abnormalities in Pokemon behavior, in which large groups of Pokemon from different and sometimes antisocial species would band together in areas that were abundant with supplies or some other sort of desirable commodity. The common need for something was usually enough to cause the groups of different Pokemon to put aside their differences in order to defend their stores.

Monster Houses usually consisted of large numbers of high level Pokemon, and as such were a serious threat to inexperienced Trainers and veterans alike. However, by far the most irritating and dangerous feature of a Monster House was the fact that its inhabitants tended to camouflage themselves for reasons as yet unknown. This essentially meant that unless you were very good at reading the signs you wouldn't spot a House until you were already in the middle of it.

Zephyr sent out a psychic pulse that caused the Onyx to roar with pain, slackening its jaw enough for Zephyr to leap out. He landed on his hands and pushed off, neatly avoiding the rolling charge from one of the Golems. He twisted in midair and launched a Psycho Cut at one of the Machokes. It found its mark and the Fighting type went down with a howl of pain.

Zephyr landed on all fours and stood up, but was sent flying by a blow from another Graveler. He quickly turned his tumble into a somersault and landed neatly in a crouch, dashing to the left just in time to avoid a Rock Slide from the other Golem. He stopped next to one of the other Gravelers, who happened to be looking the other way. Taking his chance, Zephyr leapt right in its face and delivered a storm of swift and furious blows.

Unfortunately, a slight disadvantage of using Close Combat was that it left your defenses wide open. The Graveler went down quickly, its rock armor shattering and blood oozing from the wounds, but sadly Zephyr was so focused on ensuring this that he failed utterly to see the Onyx swinging its tail, which was glowing bright silver, at him until it was much too late. The Iron Tail collided with his back and hurled him into the mountainside, leaving a nice roughly Zephyr-shaped crater.

Zephyr fell ungracefully from the crater onto his back, struggling to remain conscious. His type advantage ensured that the blow was not overly severe, but you don't get hurled into a wall of very hard and unyielding rock and just walk away whistling. Groaning, he staggered to his feet and leaned against a nearby boulder. The other Pokemon were rushing him now, and he had barely managed to make a dent in their ranks.

'Is it just my lot to suffer horribly?' Zephyr thought with a grimace. Gritting his teeth, he straightened up and prepared to feel a hell of a lot of pain.

-(000)-

Darkrai cautiously rounded the trunk of another withered tree and peered ahead. No girl. He sighed, partially with frustration and partially with relief. Half of him was extremely irritated that she still managed to elude him so effectively. Half of him was afraid of just how much pain he was going to feel when he finally caught up with her.

It was midday on New Moon Island. As if to spite the dire state of affairs on the island and its prisoner the sun shone cheerily and brightly, casting warm patches through the gaps in the canopy of trees. There was barely a cloud in sight, and those that were present drifted lazily on gentle spring breezes.

Darkrai leered up at the sun. To be perfectly honest, he didn't mind it all that much. That is, he didn't mind it as long as it didn't make the base presumption to shine in any way other then meekly over his island. It was a place of terror, for Arceus' sake. Golden streams of bright cheer did nothing at all to further this image, and much to destroy it.

Groudon was probably having his own private laugh over this somewhere, the stupid fossil. He would probably be the first one to die. Of course, Kyorge would have to follow soon after. She would not take the death of her mate lightly. Then Rayquaza would have to be dealt with, seeing as he was the leader of the Fossil Trio. Of course, once Darkrai finished his preparations that overgrown lizard would snap like uneeded cheap twine.

The rest of the Great Ones would soon follow suit, even Arceus herself. After all, if she was stupid enough to leave the means of her own doom lying around on earth where anyone could pick it up, she should expect that someone with a grudge to settle might try to take it. And he had four and a half billion years of hatred built up.

However, that glorious day would have to wait until he found the girl. He quietly edged around the trunk of another tree, and this time his now-visible mouth curled into a chilling grin. There she was, leaning against the trunk of a withering tree and glancing around like a frightened Buneary. Unfortunately for Darkrai, before he could make his move she just happened to glance directly at him.

She immediately stood bolt upright and fled through the trees. Darkrai sighed. Oh well. So much for the element of surprise. He flew after her, the trails of organic material flapping ominously from his shoulders. He looped and swirled silently through the trees, not even clipping a single dead branch.

This was too easy. Darkrai had chased more victims than he could count through every imaginable kind of environment. The only thing that would be more comfortable than him moving through dense forest at high speeds would be a Sceptile, and they were just weird like that. Honestly, they looked like giant juniper bushes for goodness' sake, and when had a bush ever moved in a manner even remotely resembling hasty?

The chase was extremely short. In all honesty, the girl did give him a good run, but he had lived on this island since the day it was made. If he didn't have every single inch of its territory burned into his brain by now, then no one ever would. Within fifteen minutes the girl was pinned against the base of a giant boulder, her escape to either side cut off by thick trees and bushes.

She turned to face him and cowered helplessly against the rock face, shaking like a leaf in a high wind. She tried to put on a brave face, but her knocking knees kinda destroyed the attempt, which was pretty feeble anyway. Darkrai's grin widened even more, revealing the tips of his dagger point teeth.

These were the moments he lived for, the moments he was created to inspire. There was nothing, absolutely nothing he found sweeter than abject terror radiating from his victims. In recent years he had developed a taste for cries of pain and the sight of blood, but terror was still the best by far.

He floated slowly towards her, every inch the harbinger of death and doom. He made a conscious effort to roughen his breathing, and it came in horrible rattling rasps, hissing like a demented serpent. A slight layer of darkness poured off his body like black mist, swirling across the ground in little eddies and reaching out toward the girl, looping lazily around her figure as if to ensnare her. He was rather proud of that particular effect. It had taken him 200 years to get just right. She shivered even more as the eerie tendrils of blackness wrapped around her limbs. His one visible eye glowed with a terrible brightness of its own, and it was narrowed just that special degree to speak of horrible tortures and unimaginable terror.

He was almost utterly enthralled by her terror, but in spite of this the small part of his brain that picked out even the most random details was still actively collecting data for no particular reason at all. His subconscious ran memory checks against the images being sent in by his optic nerves, confirming the location that he was in. This particular glen was a favorite of his, the subconscious thought to itself in its mindless way. It was almost always dark no matter what angle the sun chose.

The subconscious began picking out the locations of each and every little detail to which it had become so familiar. Everything checked out. Everything was were it should be, the way it should be. Everything…except for one detail. Hadn't there been a sapling somewhere around here? It was a new sprout, barely a year old and just as tall as the average human adult. Where was it now? Had it died? Had the girl uprooted it?

A thousand possibilities flashed through the subconscious' data processing reserves, all of them unregistered by Darkrai's main thinking patterns. In the end, the subconscious decided that it was a minor issue, and dropped it.

At that moment, Darkrai felt something brush across his face. It was soft, and yet it clung to his face, sort of like a spider web. He rolled his eyes in irritation. Some damn Spinarak must have moved in again. He reached up and ripped the fiber away angrily.

Several things happened in the space of about ten seconds. Firstly, Darkrai registered that the girl was no longer wearing a look of terror anymore. Her expression was now one of smug victory. Oh shit.

WHAM!
WHAM!
WHAM!
WHAM!
WHAM!
SNAP!!

The five 'whams' were the sounds made as five different tree branches swung around and smashed Darkrai in the head from various angles. The 'snap' was the sound of the missing sapling suddenly swinging upright and smacking him square in the face. Then, before he could ignore the pounding in his temples enough to shake off his dizziness the girl marched over to him and grabbed him by the throat, slamming his head into a tree. Then, she wound back her free hand, which was now curled into a sparking fist. Her face was one of hard determination, and more than just a hint of victory.

'This can't be a normal Gardevoir,' Darkrai thought to himself. He closed his eyes, expecting to feel a hell of a lot of pain. He was not disappointed. Rain enjoyed this part too much.

-(000)-

It was late afternoon on the side of Mt. Coronet, almost evening. The sun was hiding behind a large white cloud, and the small snow covered ledge set about three quarters of the way up the slope was dark, the normally blinding whiteness muted. Suddenly, a shaking hand as brown as the soil underfoot slowly rose over the lip of stone.

It took Zephyr a solid ten minutes to struggle over the edge and onto the snow. Ignoring the bitter cold he fell flat on his back and lay panting. His body was completely covered head to foot in blood from minor cuts, dust and dirt from the mountain's surface, and very large bruises that were already turning a sickly yellow. He barely had a spot of his normal white or green visible.

When his head felt as though there were only three Explouds shouting inside of it as opposed to the several hundred of a few moments previous, Zephyr struggled onto his hands and knees. Groaning, he crawled somewhat pathetically to the edge and looked over at the aftermath of the battle. Compared to the carnage below, his injuries looked like nothing more than a skinned knee.

The entire plateau was awash with blood, though admittedly most of it belonged to the Onyx. Said rock snake was still rolling down the mountainside, its progress marked by a massive dust cloud. Every other participant in the fight was either dead or unconscious. Each and every one of them had huge bloody wounds in their hides, even the Golems. One of the Gedudes had, sadly, been reduced to a small red-smeared pile of gravel.

Zephyr looked down at the scene with a heavy heart. He didn't like to kill. He derived absolutely no pleasure from inflicting death upon other creatures. He had no qualms about doing it in the heat of battle, when it was either them or him and the ones he cared about, but he always regretted it later.

Some people might say that this showed weakness, and that Zephyr would never make a good warrior because of it. Zephyr knew better, as did every Gallade that was ever born. A truly great warrior does not kill with impunity. The true warrior respects life, appreciates it, and refrains always from taking it unless there is no other course of action. He understands that he has no right to claim the life of another, and he always feels the pain of that death later.

Slowly, Zephyr tried to struggle into a standing position. However, the effort was too much for him and he collapsed face first in the snow. He was utterly spent, and it was getting dark. Soon the temperature would drop too low for him to survive. He had to find some kind of shelter. Unfortunately, he was currently so badly hurt that he couldn't even stand, let alone search for anything. He could actually feel the temperature start to drop around him.

"Um, excuse me mister," came a voice suddenly. It was soft and raspy, like the wind in the winter trees. "Are you okay?"

Slowly, painfully, Zephyr turned his head to see a little Snover standing about three feet away. Judging from its voice and the brown circle around its body it was male, and it looked to be about five years old. The little wooden snowman looked at Zephyr with concern.

"Well, I've just been beaten nearly to death, but other than that I'm fine," he said sardonically. He tried to accompany the statement with a sarcastic laugh, but it quickly turned into a coughing fit that drove spikes of pain through his chest.

"You need to find shelter," the Snover said. "Warm-bloods like you can't survive the nights out here. There's a cave about ten minutes away. Can you walk?"

Zephyr tried once again to get up off his face, but this effort was no more successful than any of the previous, and he fell into the snow once again. He had never felt this helpless in his life, except when Darkrai had nearly killed him. At least this time his odds of survival were slightly better, though the cold was soon going to change that.

"Don't move," the Snover said. "I'll get my mom to carry you. She's really strong." With that the snowman turned around and waddled away, leaving Zephyr to lie in his little snow bank.

When the Snover returned ten minutes later a large Abomasnow accompanied him. Without a word the yeti-like creature picked Zephyr up by the leg with one arm and flung him over her back like a sack of potatoes, seemingly without any effort. Zephyr almost complained about the rough treatment, but decided against it. As he was carried slowly away, the fatigue of battle and the severity of his injuries finally caught up with him. Within five minutes he was completely out cold, and not at all certain that he would wake up again. At least Abomasnows weren't carnivores.

Right?

-(000)-

Yay for long chapter!!