Sorry for the delay in posting this. I like to wait until I'm sure everything is set, and I had a few things besides that occupying my thoughts. And, this morning I was running a little out of it. One of those days where my brain just kind of took a lot longer than usual to warm up properly. But now that I've resolved the thoughts and my brain is warmed up, here you go.
Thanks go to Chaotyx and Mariokutai-Reincarnated for checking this chapter to make sure everything worked out properly. And thanks to TomA62975 for reminding me that today is Friday. If he hadn't, I'd be posting three or four hours from now and the apology above would be twice as long. And if you haven't read their stories, do so when you get the chance.
Disclaimer: I, Lord Genesis Shadow, do hereby state that I do not own the rights to Pokémon or Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. Chaotyx, Mariokutai-Reincarnated, and TomA62975 do not own the rights either. If any of us did, I'm fairly certain things would have turned out different, and not always for the better.
We moved slowly as I looked around the area. Honchkrow was issuing orders calmly, but with a tone that showed her influence. The girls were on the other side, well hidden, with Sarah and Carver. They were more than forty feet apart, and when they stopped we were set to attack three places where we could do the most possible disruption.
"Jack." Accel asked quietly. "There are a good deal of Golem around, and Machamp. The chances of Fissure and Earthquake are very high. If you fall again, can you get out?"
"If I get sucked down again, I'm not holding back anymore." I said in a low voice. "It'll be a silvery flaming blur with Aura Spheres flying everywhere…"
"Silvery?" He asked quietly. "You are red. Surely your scarf cannot hide you completely." I pulled the Metal Coat out of my pack and slowly opened it. "Metal Coat? Where did you get that? It is exceedingly difficult to find, and prohibitively expensive." I slowly removed the lid.
"A blind Aura Reader gave it to me." I said quietly. "I was going to a challenge when I spoke to her. She gave me this so I could get a better advantage." I dipped my fingers into it and fought a shiver. "I'm going to cause as much initial damage as possible to scare them." The metal covered the last of me and I closed the jar quietly. It still felt strange, foreign, and my flame started burning hotter.
"I am ready." He said. "What is the plan?"
"Start off with Swift." I said. "Liz will use Magical Leaf, and I've asked her to suggest that Sarah use Razor Leaf. I'll rush in and start working on the Golem at full speed." He nodded, visibly confused at either the metallic tone or how serious I was. "Jess will back me up and use Powder Snow on anything that flies, with Carver providing a Smokescreen as a distraction, followed by Flamethrower." He nodded a look of understanding.
"Strike wide, cause discord, and then, what?" He asked.
"Do as you will." I said. "The initial assault will be the best moment to capitalize on any damage we can do right away. Aim for the Machamp, but leave Honchkrow to me. This is between me and her."
"She, threatened your mates?" He asked.
"She will." I said. "I'm going to make sure she knows to leave them alone before she makes the threat." He nodded shakily as I prepared myself. My muscles grew a little and I focused my eyes, activating just a few cybernetics. "Don't hold back." He inhaled deeply before summoning a handful of glowing stars. "Three… Two…" I growled quietly. "Go!" A great deal of leaves, glowing and regular, shot out of the bushes as I ran forward, my hands and feet shimmering from Ice Punch, though there was trace amounts of my Aura. I raced the stars as they diverged and began hitting the Machamp, making them begin the process of staggering. My fists were a blur even to my eyes as I jumped from one Golem to another, punching them and knocking them specifically toward the staggered Machamp. As I hit them, I saw Jess striking with Metal Claw at the ones I hadn't made it to yet. She looked at me and we both nodded, but she opened her mouth in warning but I had suddenly been tossed aside by something. I skidded to a halt and looked up to see a Blaziken, but not just any Blaziken. This one had a cracked beak and was glaring at me through a pair of clear glasses made of, ice. He rushed at me and I sped up a little more before he suddenly vanished, my fist passing through where he was, but I stopped my arm instantly as I stepped back. "Where did he go?"
"I don't know." Liz said. "He just, left." I looked around and sensed for him, but there was nothing different than before. I spun and kicked a Machamp as I heard her fire an Ice Beam. "We're surrounded." I looked around as I drew my staff. As I drew it, a large blob of purple gunk flew over us and exploded on some of the Pokémon in front of us, a mix of Dodrio, Machamp, two Gengar, and a handful of Mankey. I looked at Liz and she nodded.
"I can handle this." She said. "Get Honchkrow." I nodded and ran past her, making her watch as I jumped over a pair of Dodrio who tried to peck me, and only ended up hitting each other. As they began squawking I rushed toward the black feathered bird as she turned. Something was different, but I wasn't in any mood to question what that something was.
"So, we meet again, Goku." She said quietly.
"My friends and mates call me Goku." I said coldly. "You are neither, and you never will be." I spun the staff and held it behind me as I walked toward her, stopping ten feet from her. "I'm only going to warn you one last time. Stop the slavery, stop the evil Tauros-crap, and stop bothering innocent Pokémon." She laughed into her wing.
"I can't do that." She said. "I have bills to pay and little beaks to feed." I growled and narrowed my eyes as I made my flames burn even hotter. "Steelix, deal with him." I jumped as a massive Steelix burst from the ground, and I landed several feet away. It turned to me and started moving, but I just caught it in the jaw with a normal uppercut, sending it flying away from me and Honchkrow, landing it on top of a group of Golem and Machamp. "Just as powerful, as you were said to be." For the first time, she was nervous. I heard the sounds of battle, and her eyes darted to them as I slowly walked toward her. She backed away, and a trap burst behind her. Several more went up from my Aura and she became even more visibly unnerved.
"Honchkrow, make your choice." I said in a dark tone. "Either pack up and leave, or suffer the consequences." She flapped her wings once before I spun and swung the staff, which had grown to the necessary length I needed it to be. To my surprise, it went over her head as she ran toward the forest. I flew to her and grabbed her just as she turned, and I held her to a tree, the staff held carefully behind me. "I warned you once. And I gave you a chance. Now, you're not going to even get a chance to fly back to your base. Officer Magnezone will have a nice cold cell for you." With no warning, a puff of smoke engulfed us and I felt something different under my fingers, and two hands grabbed my arm.
"P-please, don't hurt me." A female voice whispered. I spun my tail and the smoke began flying behind me until I saw a strange fox Pokémon with black fur on her face, and red fur around her light bluish green eyes. I focused my thoughts and sensed that the battle was completely over, and the others were freeing prisoners. "H-Honchkrow threatened m-my sister. I had no choice." I let go of her and stepped back. "Please, I had no choice." She slid to her knees as I watched her.
"The rumors that Honchkrow would be here." I said. She whimpered. "You were the one who was spreading them?" She nodded shakily and I clenched my fist, causing her to look away. "And, she used your sister, to get you, to get to me." She whimpered again as I focused some Aura to my hand. She held her hands up for a moment before I turned and loosed the sphere on a flying Murkrow that was trying to escape. It flew to the ground, likely injured to the point it would take weeks to get back in the air. I turned as she looked up and I pulled the jar for the Metal Coat out of my pack. "I'll need details." I looked at her for a moment. She had a long red main that went down her back, tied with a small bead. She had thin upper arms, and her lower arms were just a little thicker, ending in three red claws. "Who are you?" I opened the jar as she slowly got up.
"M-my name is, Zen." She said quietly. "I-, I am a Zoroark." I let the Metal Coat slide back into the jar and closed the lid. "What will you do now? Wh-what happens to me?"
"You'll come with us to the Guild." I said. "And we'll have a talk about what happened to your sister." I let my body rest from the exertion and fought a sigh of relief. "How she was captured, how they got to you, and most importantly, I want to know where Honchkrow's guild is."
"I don't know where the guild is." She said quickly. "They contacted me by letter." She reached into her mane and pulled out an envelope as I put the jar away after putting the lid back. "W-will you help me rescue her?" I took the envelope slowly and opened it, and looked at the letter. She stared while Liz walked over, and I slowly took in what it said.
"Goku?" Liz asked.
"Honchkrow has Zen's sister." I said. "A Zorua named Kara. We need to rescue her soon. Honchkrow plans to sell her in three weeks if Zen doesn't act as a body double for her. She'll probably do it anyway."
"No, please, y-you have to help me find her." Zen said quickly.
"You ran from me." I said. "Understandable, considering how angry I was." She swallowed as I folded the letter and handed it to her. "I'll do my best, but I need to find a way to know when and where the other slave transactions are taking place. There were no buyers here?" She shook her head.
"Th-this was a trap, to, assess your strength." She said. "She'll know how strong you are now."
"No Pokémon were seen leaving the area." Accel said. Zen stepped back into the tree as she tucked the letter into her mane again. "It is safe to assume that they know how Goku and his team operate. Now they will have more information to go on." I nodded.
"I can't just, sit and wait." Zen said. "I have to save her."
"Come with us to Wigglytuff's Guild." I said calmly. "Anything that can help us, including the slaves and their captors telling us what they know, brings us closer to capturing Honchkrow." She nodded shakily as I looked at the others. The slavers had all been cuffed, and the now free slaves were at the Guild. I turned back to her as I held out my badge. "Tell Chatot to wait for us. We'll be there shortly." She nodded and touched the badge and was teleported away. I turned to Liz as she looked at me.
"Goku, are you sure we can trust her?" She asked.
"I'm not sure." I said. "But she's scared of me, and that means she won't try anything at the Guild for fear of reprisal."
"You certainly were acting the part." Accel said. I looked at him. "For a moment, I thought you might have actually killed that Steelix and those Golem and Machamp."
"Yes, but where did Blaziken go?" I asked. Jess walked over with the rest of Accel's team.
"No sign." Carver said quietly. He had an oddly smooth voice. "Appeared for a few seconds, left, no sign of footprints or smell." I crossed my arms in thought before removing my sunglasses.
"I wonder if he was here at all." I said. "If Zen could appear as Honchkrow, I'd have said she was the Blaziken in disguise, but she changed back with a puff of smoke. He just, vanished."
"Maybe he was just an illusion?" Sarah offered.
"I'm not entirely sure." I said. "I felt his hit, a kick if my ribs are correct." Accel made a curious sound. "A hit that hurt me through Metal Coat, and me at over three quarters of my full strength. Something about his appearance doesn't sit well with me. Either he was here and left to show off his speed or new powers, or he came to test me, but why? Why me, and why now?"
I threw a few punches at the Decoy I had created. It moved and fought like me, almost perfectly. The only downside was that he was only at a quarter of my strength. As we fought, I began correcting weak points in my stance, flowing a little more easily, moving around his punches instead of next to them. I was basically chancing more than I should have when I dodged, and it started to get to me. Up until a few months ago, I hadn't been taking things seriously, and even after a few things, I was still taking it a little lightly. But if Blaziken really had been a part of my battle, I couldn't let him get me like that again. If he started attacking me during missions, I could end up in serious trouble. Worse, if he attacked the girls at such speed, there would be no way for me to protect them.
'I can't let him hurt them.' I thought as I dodged a punch and tried to counter. My double moved away just like I had learned to and I stepped back to watch him. I began charging a Solar Beam, slowly, and I felt the same energy from him. The trick was, not to get in a direct clash with it with my own. He could throw it back in equal measure. I had to get up close and launch it right before he did, and that would mean I was better than I was before. 'I won't let him hurt them.' He went into the stance quickly and I jumped up. He fired it and I kicked off of a bit of my Aura before using the same energy to land in front of him. He looked at me as I went through the stance rapidly. "Solar Aura Beam!" I pointed my palms at him and fired the silvery yellow beam. Before it had just been Aura from the area around me, but now it was my own, which was growing steadily stronger. The beam was a lot larger than normal, and when it finally died down, it left a long crater in front of me, pointing out to the sea as a massive column of water shot into the air. I lowered my arms, and a little of the energy remained in me. I let it stay though, so I could use it as a form of Synthesis. I breathed quietly and sensed a presence nearby. "Accel."
"Jack." He said. He moved over by me and stared out to the sea with me for a few minutes before he shifted, and I heard his scarf. "The Zoroark won't let up. She wants to help you somehow. Your mates suggested that she would help the entire guild if she could. I'm not sure what she will do, but she is genuine in her wish to save her sister." I nodded. "Do you know of Joy Seeds?"
"Only that I'm not going near them again if I can help it." I said.
"Then, I apologize." He said. I looked down as he held up a few, his hand shaking a little. "Take them."
"Why?" I asked. "I don't eat Joy Seeds. I usually destroy them."
"That is what Elizabeth told me." He said quietly. "A real warrior grows stronger by his own hand, not by using fancy Arbok-oil in a fancy shell." I took the seeds slowly and contemplated burning them, but instead I held my palm out and fired a mini Solar Beam to destroy them. "You use many attacks meant for other types. It is, interesting."
"I like variety." I said. "Psychic abilities, Aura, Ice Punch, and I combine them to make effective combos."
"Perhaps I will try that one day." He said. I nodded as I lowered my arm, and we were silent for a few more minutes. "If you had a friend, a rival perhaps, who kidnapped one or both of your mates…" I looked at him. "What would you do?"
"I'd rescue them." I said.
"And, if he would try again, as many times as he could?" He asked. "If he vowed to steal her away until he or you could no longer draw breath, would you, kill him?"
"I'd beat him again and again until he gave up." I said. "Hit someone enough times, they start to learn that it hurts, and they try to avoid that response however they can."
"But, if he never learned." He said.
"Then I'd keep beating him." I said simply. "I'd keep beating him until the day he was too old and tired to keep trying." I looked at the water again. "Why do you ask? Do you think Honchkrow will try to kidnap Liz and Jess? Or, Blaziken?" He was silent. "Just so you know, Honchkrow is female, and Blaziken probably just wants me dead on his terms, but he's not that focused on me. I don't even know if that was him I got kicked by."
"Grit." He said quietly. I looked at him. "An Escavalier named Grit took my mate from me. He defeated me, badly, and since then I've been trying to track him down. Despite his armor, he has managed to keep at least one step ahead of me for a long time."He sighed heavily. "His armor, used to be my shell. But, we were rivals then, wanting to trade what made us strong back then so we could become stronger in our own ways. We evolved with each other's help, and I became fast in his skin while he became strong in my shell." He looked up at me. "In trading our strengths for such changes, I made a grave mistake. His armor could stand up to my attacks, but I was so fast I could hit him in the first few weeks. I made a fool of him, and in my enthusiastic state of finally besting him at something, I made him into a rival, not a friend. Eventually…" He looked out to the sea. "He left, for a few months. I learned he trained under a very old Escavalier who had learned how to defeat the weight of his armor through some kind of stone. It cut the weight of his entire body by half, allowing him to move just a little faster than I could attack, closing the shell to let it take the hit as he used Iron Defense until I couldn't hurt him. He used Harden on his own body while he closed the shell, so that when it opened, I still couldn't do anything." He lowered his body, slumping forward but never losing sight of the ocean. "He used Sword Dance, laughing the whole time while my mate cheered me on. I gave it my all, using a shower of Swift and, my best attacks." I moved my staff out and I leaned on it as I looked at him. I could feel the pain in his voice, though it was just hidden. "When he finally attacked me, with one Slash, he sent me sprawling and barely alive. He wasn't holding back, and I thought we were sparring. He moved up to me, and as I looked up, he just dropped his shell on my head, knocking me out. When I came to a few hours later, I found that he had taken my mate, and left a note, taunting me that he would make her love him." He lowered his body and sat down, and I followed. "He swore that she would take him as her mate, that she would have his children someday. I made a vow that I would find him, and defeat him however I must, even if we both have to die, to save her." I moved my staff in front of me as he looked over.
"I think that there is always another way." I said quietly. "You can defeat him, but neither of you must die in the attempt." His eyes were hopeful, but at the same time he seemed shocked at the notion. "I know you can beat him if you keep training. Get faster, stronger, and better and you will defeat him. Perhaps you can find a way to bring him to his senses, regain your friend, or at least set things right between you both." His expression softened before he looked out to the sea.
"Have you, ever lost a friend?" He asked.
"I have." I said. "It still hurts, but there's nothing I can do. Maybe you can make peace with Grit, maybe you can't. But you should try to at least set things right between you so that you can end this rivalry for good." He made a quiet sound. It was less than a sigh, but not quite a grunt.
"I wonder if that is possible." He said. "If you could fix things with your friend…"
"I can't." I said. I felt his gaze. "I know that things between my old friend and I are… difficult. We can't mend things for one reason that I must keep to myself." I looked at him. "But you and Grit, can try." I held out my hand, and he slowly took it. "It has been an honor fighting beside you Accel. If you're ever in the area with your mate, look us up." He nodded.
"I think we might do that." He said quietly.