Chapter 16: Face-Off (Part 2)

Sam and Tobias were busily scanning the shelves of the cramped Poke Mart, shoving Potions and other items into a shopping bag they borrowed from there. The store was relatively empty, but the blue walls that held the building together made up for the lack of claustrophobia; the store was so small, the two trainers could barely fit into the aisles together.

"How much more stuff do we need to get?" Sam asked impatiently. She had her arms folded across her chest with the shopping bag hanging loosely from her wrist. They had been inside the store for over half an hour already, and she was ready to leave as soon as possible.

"What's with the tone?" Tobias replied. "I thought girls liked shopping."

"Not all of us," she simply stated. "Plus, this place is too claustrophobic for shopping, anyway."

"Whatever. Just put everything you think we'll need in there," Tobias instructed. "I should have enough starting money to pay for it." He picked an Antidote off the shelf, observed the can for a moment, and put it in the bag Sam was holding onto.

Meanwhile, Lea, Totodile and Synth followed their trainers through the aisles of the store, trying to find their way between the shelves without being pushed into them.

"Are we almost done here?" whined the Chimchar, as he gazed longingly at the glass doors to freedom. "How much of this crap do we actually need, anyway?"

"I'm sure we're almost done, Lea," Synth said. "Be patient."

"Patience sucks," he grumped, then redirected his attention towards Totodile, who silently waited at the heels of his trainer. "What about you?"

"Hm? What about me?" Totodile replied quietly, without so much as a glance in Lea's direction.

"You've been silent since we arrived here."

"So what?"

"It's just kinda weird, that's all," Lea explained. "I mean, just lighten up a little. I thought you got over the whole zombie phase when we left the Sevii Islands."

"Yeah, sure," he replied in a nonchalant, unattentive tone, and continued to survey the shelves without real interest, avoiding the eyes of the other two pokemon who followed him. Lea gave up the conversation and stood next to Synth.

"Man, what's his problem?" He whispered to the Grotle, covering his mouth with his hand so as to block off sound.

"He told me that he doesn't like battling," Synth explained in a statement of equally diminished volume. "I'm sure he'll get over it."

"I can hear you perfectly well," hissed the subject of their conversation, and they immediately silenced themselves. With nothing else to do, they were forced to wait for Sam and Tobias to finish their shopping. Only a few moments later, Tobias spoke up.

"Alright, I'm sure we have enough now," Tobias said, and a sigh of relief flowed out of both Sam's and Lea's mouths, as they anxiously awaited leaving the small store.

They went to the front of the store, where a single clerk stood looking bored across a blue counter with a cash register planted in front of him. Sam and Tobias placed their items across the counter, and he took each one, examined it, and pressed some buttons on a computer next to him. The computer displayed the total amount due, and Tobias reached into his pocket, took out a wad of disorganized bills, and flipped through them and picked a few out, handing them to the cashier. He took them and placed them in the register, returning a few coins back for change. After they were done, Sam and Tobias opened their backpacks and placed their items inside, then closed them shut, returned the shopping bags to the cashier, and walked outside, lugging the bags across their backs.

In the few hours since Sam's battle, the sky had become blanketed in a thick cover of gray, rapidly moving clouds. Occasionally a quick burst of cold wind blew by, chopping the waves of the ocean and whipping Sam and Tobias's hair back, but it soon went unnoticed.

"Well, what now?" Sam wondered, watching the ocean's waves rise and fall with the wind. "We already had a battle and bought all the stuff we need to get before we leave. Is there anything else we need to do?"

"Well, of course we need to wait for Alana," Tobias stated matter-of-factly, "but there's nothing else important we need to do here, I think."

"But Alana might be out of it for another few days! What do we do for that long?"

"Just wait, I guess." A few seconds passed as they both stood silently outside the Poke Mart, contemplating where to go next. "Maybe we should go ahead and check on Alana now," Tobias suggested. "And then maybe we can get a room to stay the night at the Pokemon Center."

Sam sighed, mostly out of boredom. She had agreed to come to Sinnoh so quickly because she expected adventure, and so far that idea had been tossed away. Nevertheless, she agreed to his suggestion, and they started in the direction of the Pokemon Center.

The Pokemon Center was relatively empty, akin to its condition earlier when they were there. Sam, along with their pokemon, opted to wait in the lobby, and she sat down on a red couch leaning against the wall, focusing her attention on a television set attached to the wall on the other side of the lobby. Lea jumped into her lap and fixed his own eyes to the same position, while Synth and Totodile fell onto the floor, the latter leaning against Synth's side, and the former mindlessly gluing his eyes to the television with everyone else. The TV everyone was so fascinated in was tuned to a news station, which was talking about the weather.

Tobias paid no attention to the program, and approached the front counter where the Nurse Joy was occupied with only watching the same television in the empty Pokemon Center. She pulled herself away from it, however, to greet Tobias.

"Hi, I'm Tobias," he began. "I dropped off my Plusle here a few hours ago, and I was wondering if I could just check up on her?"

"Oh, I remember you from earlier," she said cheerfully. "Let me just make sure, though…"

She reached into a drawer on her side of the counter and took out a sheet of paper, scanning the words printed on it. The paper listed a short amount of names of different people who had all left their pokemon in the care of the Pokemon Center. She found his name toward the bottom of the sheet.

"Tobias… Plusle." She set the paper back into the drawer "Good. Come with me," she instructed with a soft, seemingly permanent smile on her face.

Tobias followed her into the back room of the Pokemon Center, lined with small, white stretchers, only a few of which were occupied by unconscious pokemon. She led him to the one which Alana was supposed to be occupying, but, strangely, the Plusle was gone; only its pokeball remained resting on the white sheets.

"What happened to her?" he asked, suspecting she was likely inside the pokeball. He asked anyway, though, to be sure.

"We put her back in her pokeball," Joy said, confirming his thoughts. "She actually woke up a few hours ago, and I thought it would be best if she was-"

"She what?" he blurted, stunned, the only reply he could immediately come up with. "I thought it was supposed to be another few days before that happened!"

"The information we had from the Nurse Joy on the ship you came from pointed to that," she calmly began. "According to it, we estimated that it would be a few days before she would wake… but, here we are. We may have simply incorrectly estimated; otherwise, I'm not sure how it happened."

"Hunh…" he said simply, glancing at the ball with a renewed interest. There was a pause in the conversation, and Tobias quietly wondered about the mysterious Plusle.

"Anyway, we gave her some food a little bit ago, and put her back into the Heal Ball. Since then we've been waiting for you to come back to pick her up.

"Oh, thanks." He took the ball from the stretcher and looked at it thoughtfully for a moment.

"Now, I'd only advise you to be very careful if you use that Plusle in battle," she continued. "Even if she did wake up early, she still was unconscious for about a day. Try not to put her into any stressful or hazardous situation that might cause this to happen again."

"Don't worry, I'll be careful with her," he assured her. "Thanks for looking after her for me."

"Oh, it wasn't any problem," she modestly replied, "but you're welcome."

She escorted Tobias outside of the back room and into the lobby, with Alana's pokeball placed in his palm. He went over to the chair where Sam was waiting, and she immediately noticed the Plusle's pokeball in his hand.

"Well, that was quick," she said, eyeing the ball quizzically. "Did you already get Alana back? I thought she was supposed to be unconscious for the next few days."

"Nurse Joy said that they don't know why, but she woke up early," Tobias briefly explained. "I think they might have just estimated the time wrong, or something."

"Really?" she simply replied. "Weird… are you going to let her out?"

"Eh… in a little while. Once we get some fresh air," he reasoned.

"If you think you should." She took Lea from her lap and placed him on the floor, and stood up, balancing on the tips of her toes for a brief second to stretch her legs. "So, what do we do now?"

"What do you mean?" he replied.

"We had planned to stay here a few days to wait for Alana to get better," she began. "Since she's already awake, though, should we still stay for the night, or should we just leave now?"

Tobias opened his mouth to respond, but he had no answer to give.

"I didn't think about that," he eventually said, with a contemplative countenance. He thought for a few moments, before continuing. "Um… what time is it now?"

"It's about…" Sam glanced at a clock hanging on the wall, "four thirty."

He gave a pensive look for a moment, as he considered their next move. "Well, we've already bought everything we need… I don't see why we shouldn't just leave now. Route 218 isn't long; it'll probably only take about a day and a half to get from here to the next city. Plus, a head start would do us some good."

"Sounds fine to me," she confirmed. She looked down to the pokemon of their group. "You guys ready?"

"I've been waiting since we got on the boat here," Lea stated eagerly. "Of course I am."

"Sure," Synth replied. "Why not?"

"Eh," was Totodile's laconic response.

"I'll assume all of that meant yes," Sam concluded. All of their pokemon stood up, and within seconds they had walked out of the Pokemon Center and back into the city.

The wind had picked up speed once again since they entered the Pokemon Center. As they walked, it whipped their hair back and stung their eyes more sharply than it had earlier. Above, the gray blanket of clouds sailed more rapidly across the sky, threatening to pour rain down upon the city below.

Tobias stared cautiously at the foreboding gray sea above his head, and contemplated again his choice.

"Actually, if it's going to rain tonight…" he began, slight nervousness in his voice.

"There was a weather report on the news in the Pokemon Center," Sam interrupted. "They said that it's supposed to be cloudy for the next few days, but most of the rain will miss us."

"Oh, good," he said, relieved. "It'd suck if all we had was rain for the first day here." Sam nodded in agreement.

They continued their silent walk through the city, and within minutes they were through the gate and out into Route 218.

Route 218 was much less of an actual route, and more of a plain, empty field of moderately tall grass. The field was surrounded at its edges by a wall of trees that led into a small section of woods, and the ocean could be heard lapping its waves against the shore nearby. The intense wind that blew bent the grass to the side with each passing gust, turning the field into its own ocean of green, lilting waves that rose and lowered with the wind as the tide does.

The group walked in silence along the Route; although they were excited to finally leave on their adventure, there was little to actually discuss, and found themselves staring blankly in front of them for much of the time.

"So…" Sam trailed, trying to find some way to break the silence.

"…So…" Tobias echoed, unsure of anything to talk about.

"…Oh, weren't you going to let Alana out of her ball now?" Sam eventually questioned, glancing at the pink pokeball still gripped in Tobias' palm. They stopped walking, and Tobias looked at the ball as well, and shrugged.

"Might as well," he said passively. He anxiously stared at it himself for a moment, transfixed on his thoughts on what his new pokemon would be like finally awake, and pressed the button in the center of the ball. It snapped open on its hinges, loosing a blue light onto the ground that materialized into the Plusle it contained.

Alana appeared with her head lilting, lying exhausted on the ground on her stomach. She yawned wearily, and pushed herself up off the soft grass, stretching all four limbs equally.

"Augh, how long has it been since I moved," she lamented, in a strained, weary voice. She yawned once again, and rubbed her eyes. "I wonder what happened to Jo-"

She froze, as she looked out the landscape in front of her. Nothing but a small field of short grass, with some trees farther in the distance. She heard the sound of waves lapping over other waves and crashing into land, and felt the severity of the strong wind blowing crazily.

"Wh-where am I?" she stammered, as she nervously tried to ascertain her whereabouts. "What happened back in-"

She couldn't help but freeze once again, as she turned around to meet a small group of both humans and pokemon, boring their eyes creepily into her.

"Gyah! Wh-who are you people!" she cried, now with a voice tinged with anxiety. She stepped backwards from them.

Tobias stepped in front of the rest and knelt down to meet the Plusle closer to eye-level. "Hi, I'm Tobias," he stated, unknowingly answering its question. He reached out to pet her head. "I'm your trainer." Upon those words her eyes widened, and she shot him a disgusted look.

"What? Are you insane?" she cried with an aversive temper, and swatted away his arm as if it repulsed her. "Joseph's my trainer! What happened to him?" She began walking in a small circle, swiveling her head about and searching the small range in a hopeful attempt to ascertain her whereabouts. She quickly realized that it was impossible to tell at the moment.

"You, the devil monkey," she said, pointing her hand at Lea. "What region are we in?"

"Uh, Sinnoh," he said.

"Good, at least I'm still in the same region," she said, with a hint of relief in her words. She turned around, and stopped again, almost having walked into Tobias's foot.

"It's okay, I'm not gonna hurt you…" he murmured, and motioned Alana to come closer, offering his hand once more.

"Ew, get away from me, you freak!" She shrilled, and oppositely backed away. "Where is he? "I know Joseph's here somewhere." She ran out of the small circle that their group had made, and called out 'Joseph?' feverishly to the sky, hoping in vain for some reply back.

While she was doing so, Synth decided that he should be the first one to formally approach the new addition, seeing as he was Tobias's only other pokemon. He brushed past Tobias and stopped behind her, with his mouth curled into a subtle smile as he began.

"Hi," he greeted the Plusle optimistically. She paid no attention and did not reply back, and after a few seconds his smile began to diminish. "Uh, hi," he repeated, a bit louder. She heard him this time, and turned around to see what was speaking to her. She looked the Grotle up and down, and rolled her maroon eyes in a circle.

"Hi," she replied, much less mirthfully than the one in front of her, and brushed by him, calling out the same name again.

"My name's Synth," he continued, after approaching her again. "I'm-"

"Yeah, good for you, whatever," she said hurriedly. "Can't you see I'm looking for someone?"

"Uh, yeah…who is this Joseph you keep calling to?" he inquired, while watching her with a perplexed look.

"I already said that he's my trainer," she replied, her voice becoming increasingly agitated. "Now leave me alone!"

"Your trainer?" he repeated, confused at her assertion. "…I don't really know who he is, but he can't be your trainer. Tobias is."

He succeeded in getting her attention.

"What are you talking about? I know who my own trainer is," she said blatantly, as if it was obvious.

"What I mean is, we found you unconscious, he captured you, and you became his pokemon."

"Unconscious?" she restated, seeming to mull the word over in her head. "I don't feel like I've been unconscious. Just… asleep for a little while." She paused for a moment. "And anyway, I couldn't have been captured by him. I already have a trainer and a pokeball, and my signature already was imprinted into that ball."

"Well, we were able to. Maybe your trainer released you?"

"Joseph would never do such a heinous thing," she said, as if offended. "But it doesn't matter. The point is, I know who my trainer is, and that idiot you call Tobias is not him."

"Don't call him an idiot!" he snapped back, sounding slightly flustered. "He's my trainer, too."

"Well, I don't like him," she insisted, folding her arms across her chest, "he's annoying."

"He's spoken all of two sentences to you."

"And if that's enough to convince me, then why should I have better expectations of the rest of you?" She swiveled around, and began walking in the other direction.

Synth did his best to ignore her last statement, as much as it stung, and walked closer to her.

"Now that I think about it, maybe Joseph could be out there…" Alana said quietly to herself, looking out in the direction of Canalave City. "What city is that, anyway?"

"I'm sure it won't be that bad with us," Synth said, with waning enthusiasm. "I mean, we won't try to replace your old trainer, but-"

"'Old' trainer?" she recanted back, with a confused demeanor. "What do you mean by that? Did you think I was actually going to stay here with you people?"

"That's… usually what a person's pokemon is supposed to do," he replied. He was slightly offended, but tried not to show it.

"Look, it was nice meeting you and all, but I'm not going to abandon Joseph," she reasoned. "He is my actual trainer, and must be wondering where I am too. So, I'm going to go to that city over there, and see if he might be hiding there somewhere."

"What?" he replied in disbelief. "You can't do that!"

"Why not? What's keeping me here?"

"The fact that Tobias is your trainer now," he pronounced distinctly.

"Argh, I keep telling you, he's not my trainer!" she declared, with a voice beginning to increase in tenacity. "You know what, this is getting us nowhere, so I have a better idea. Since I can't convince you to let me leave, why don't I just destroy that Heal Ball over there that's forcing me to stay?"

"You're crazy! Y-you wouldn't!"

"Funny, because I think I'm going to." She turned around and began walking towards Tobias.

"Wait!" he urgently cried. He quickly ran into Alana's path, and stood directly in her way. She stopped in front of him, and again rolled her eyes over.

"Could you please step aside?" she sneered, with a beleaguered look upon her face.

"No, I won't," he said firmly. "We went through all this trouble to make sure you were okay, and you can't repay us like this!"

"Rrgh… dang it, move already!" she shrilled.

"No," he persisted. The anger that slowly began to creep into Alana's expression, however, unnerved him a bit.

She sustained the chance for a few more seconds, and after he had been still for long enough, she gritted her teeth together and glared into his eyes, looking more spiteful than he thought a Plusle could. Bright yellow sparks began to fall in quick bursts from her cheeks.

"If you're going to be this stubborn about it, then fine!" Alana screamed, and from her mouth, a bright, yellow light began to emit. Faster than he could tell, a star-shaped ray launched forward like a cannonball, and pierced Synth's eye. He reeled back in pain from the Swift attack, squinting the damaged eye nearly shut. He fell to the ground wincing, and scratched at the eye with one of his feet.

"Synth!" Tobias called in a worried bout, accompanied by the near-simultaneous gasps of Sam, Totodile, and Lea behind him. He ran toward his pokemon, with Alana's pokeball clenched tightly in his palm. He knelt down next to the Grotle, getting a closer look at his face. "You okay?"

"I'll be fine," he grunted, slowly prying his eyelid open. His eye was tinged a deep red, and he fought the powerful urge to shut it again and scratch at it. Tobias inspected his face quickly, to be sure there were no further injuries; confirmed it, and then turned around again. Alana, although previously was going to run for him, was standing behind him, longingly eyeing the hand that held her pokeball.

"What's the matter with you, Alana?" he sternly chided the Plusle, an angered scowl forming in his expression. "Why would you attack him like that?"

"I would explain, but you don't understand anything I say," she mumbled, dodging his gaze momentarily. Louder, "Whatever, why don't I just get to the point?"

Sparks flew from each of her red cheeks, as she loosed a small bolt of electricity from her body. The thin, jagged bolt quickly collided with Tobias, and he yelped from the Thundershock. Alana's pokeball accidentally fell from his hand and onto the ground.

"What the hell are you doing?" he yelled furiously at the small-statured pokemon. She nonchalantly fired another Thundershock at Tobias, and he toppled backwards onto his back.

"Ah! Tobias!" Sam nearly shrieked, as she watched the Plusle's attack. She moved her foot as if to run next to him, but before she could, Totodile jumped ahead in her place. "Totodile, what are you doing?" she snapped, but nervously.

"Perfect," Alana said with a smirk, as she picked the ball up in her small hands. "That was easier than I thought it would be."

"Was it, now?" replied an irritated voice behind her. She whipped her head back, and locked eyes with Totodile, standing with his own small arms crossed across his chest, his eyes slanted into a leer.

"Ugh, what now?" she groaned. "We both know that you're weak to electricity, so don't even bother trying anything stupid."

"You don't get to choose who you have as you have as your trainer." He spoke scornfully, jabbing his finger into her flesh. "I don't care who this Joseph is, but you're not going back to him. Tobias captured you, so Tobias is your trainer now! So put the ball down and quit this!"

She stared at him incredulously for a moment, then slowly allowed a smirk to cover her face. Not as though she was about to try something, but more like she was desperately trying to suppress laughter.

"Okay, look, you little mutant fish," she chuckled. "You can preach your idiosyncrasies to someone who honestly cares, but right now, I have something important to do."

Totodile could only leer at her for a moment, before his nostrils suddenly flared in newfound animosity. He lunged forward, jaws wide and prepared ready to snap on her. At the last second, though, Alana stepped backward and shoved her hands in front of her.

Unfortunately, Totodile realized his mistake too late, and automatically clamped his mouth onto the pokeball she had placed in her hands. The ball shattered like glass, in his mouth, and Alana fell backwards laughing.

"Ahahaha! Man, you're all too easy!" she chortled, and slowly made her way up. "Now that you've done what I wanted for me, I guess I'll leave then. Bye!"

She flipped around and ran from Totodile, leaving him speechlessly appalled, as the chunks of metal from the pokeball fell like broken teeth from his mouth.

She made just a short distance from him, cackling in glee, before she suddenly smacked into something else and stumbled backwards, nearly falling over. She looked up at what she had bumped into; sure enough, Lea was standing exasperated in her path.

"Not gonna work," he said coolly.

"Oh, for the love of God! There's more of you?" she screamed in frustration. "Screw it, I'm not wasting any more time."

She released a thin, jagged bolt of electricity at him, but he tilted his head to the side and dodged the Thunder Wave. In reaction, he punched her hard in the stomach, and she reeled backwards in shock. From there, he used Ember, launching a barrage of small, glowing orange fireballs, but she nimbly evaded the attack at a blindingly fast pace, the Quick Attack allowing her to speed safely out of the way.

She pressed forward with her Quick Attack, and sped as forcefully as she could into Lea's stomach. He crumpled down upon the forceful impact, and flew a short distance backwards. Alana did not stop to celebrate, and hastened ahead, away from the hecticness of their group.

The next second, however, she was stopped once more as, out of the corner of her eye, she noticed something quickly barreling toward her. She looked, and saw the slew of bladelike leaves flying toward her unstoppably. She was not fast enough to react to them, and they hit her perfectly, cutting small gashes into her pale yellow fur and skin. She stopped and cried in pain, and turned with a scornful glare to Synth, who had recovered from her attack and was standing again. Tobias was back up as well; however, he was kneeling on the ground in front of his backpack, searching restlessly for something inside it. She fired a Thunder Wave at Synth, but he rolled to the side of the small wave of electricity, barely dodging it, and shot off another Razor Leaf, which hit accurately, cutting deeper gashes into her skin.

She was about to try a Swift attack again, but she was cut off by a sharp blow on her back, and she flew forward, sliding on her stomach as she landed. Behind her, a gigantic fireball bounced onto the ground after slamming into its target. The flames dissipated into a thin smoke, revealing Lea having used a Flame Wheel attack.

"What is with you people!" Alana screamed, as she started pushing herself up. Lea stomped his foot into her back, and she crumpled back down again, coughing all the while. "Why can't you let me go in peace!"

By this point, Sam had run quickly to Tobias's side. She couldn't stop looking, petrified at the chaos in front of her.

"Please tell me you're doing something helpful," she insisted urgently, keeping from biting the edges of her nails as the scene continued.

"One second," Tobias said. His fingers finally wrapped around what he had been looking for, and he pulled his hand out of his backpack with a new pokeball in his palm. "Got it," he said, almost victoriously. "Be right back."

Tobias ran toward Alana with the pokeball cinched tightly in his palm. He stopped once he was in front of her, and, with a victorious smirk, dropped the pokeball onto her head. Alana grunted in frustration as the ball burst open, and her body was converted into a red light, being absorbed into the red and white sphere. It snapped shut, and fell onto the ground with a soft thud. Lea and Synth stepped back from the ball as they, along with Tobias, Sam, who had run after Tobias, and Totodile, anxiously watched with bated breath as it rocked and shook repeatedly. After a few tense seconds, the ball ceased its shaking and finally sat still.

The breath was simultaneously released from everybody in relief, as Tobias bent over and plucked the ball from the ground.

"Glad that's finally over," Tobias said with an exhausted sigh, looking at Alana's new pokeball with both disdain and intrigue.

"That was just crazy," Sam replied, with equal exhaustion. "I mean, I would've expected her to be nervous from waking up in a new place with new people, but... I just don't know what all that was for.

They waited another few moments before continuing, allowing everything and everyone to calm down. Tobias wiped the sweat from his forehead. "Well, we might as well keep going now," he insisted. "We'll worry about all this again later."

"Yeah… sure," Sam agreed. Tobias called Synth over to him, and took a Potion from his backpack. After he figured out how to open and use it, he sprayed the medicine near his eye, careful not to spray it into it, and shoved it back into his bag, which he zipped closed and slung onto his shoulder.

With the gray clouds still looming ominously above them, and with the wind beginning to grow more furious, they continued walking down Route 218.

Tired of battling by now? I don't blame you.

Anyway, about the updates... I had no intention of making you wait so long for this. For this chapter in particular, I had to rewrite Part 1 twice and Part 2 three times, because every time I read over them, I realized they were horrible.

But, my laptop has been fixed recently, and I can use it to write chapters again. So, here's my promise: because I've made you wait so long in the recent months, I will have a new chapter up within the next two weeks.

Yes, two weeks. Unless something circumstantial happens, I promise to have Chapter 17 up in that time.

Aside from that, I hope you've liked these extra-long chapters. Hopefully they were good enough after so much revision.


(PS: I know it probably seems that having Alana wake up quickly was just a cheap method of moving the plot along. But you'll see the point eventually...)