AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is Storm Clouds II, a sequel to Pokemon: Storm Clouds. If you haven't read the original, or never finished it, don't read any further! Not only does this story spoil a lot about the ending of the original, but it's written under the assumption that the reader is familiar with the plot and characters of the first story. This means that if you haven't finished or read the first story, you may have no clue what's going on, or may miss out on the significance of certain events. To fully enjoy this story please read through the original first; all the chapters can be found on the same account (deeman45) that this story has been posted on, so it shouldn't be difficult to find them! If you're already familiar with the plot and characters of the first, thanks for putting up with this little blurb-and enjoy Storm Clouds II!
I'm lucky this town is so small. The hooded man would have drawn far too much attention in his strange ceremonial garb if he dared to enter the town proper, and he also didn't know the local customs required to blend in. Thankfully, just sitting here and waiting for the boy to pass by is easily enough.
The town-"Fox Creek", they called it?-was small and surrounded by woods. Thankfully the boy lived on the edge of the settlement, which meant that any person hiding in the trees would have an excellent view of his house and walk home.
A snapping sound caused the hooded man to leap up in an instant, his dark silk embroidered robe spilling around his form. He stood still near the tree he had been sitting against, his hands poised to unclasp the poke ball from his waist. As his ceremonial robe swayed in the breeze that played through the branches and bushes, his eyes swept the trees for signs of movement-there were pokemon who walked the forests and belonged to Dan and that accursed former Eevee, Missy.
After nearly a half-minute of looking through the trees, the man allowed himself to relax. Perhaps he was simply too on edg; yesterday he had twice allowed wild animals to startle him.
Any further thought was dashed, however. The boy had turned the corner.
An easy wind tickled the autumn leaves in the trees as young Ivan Fawcett walked home from school. Ruby had told him to wear a jacket when he had left that morning, but he had ignored her. After all, the sun resting there in the cloudless sky had seemed capable enough of warming the day up on its own. He hadn't anticipated the afternoon wind playing about the skin on his arms and face, pushing his dark reddish-brown hair into tufts.
Ivan shivered slightly, goosebumps covering his arms. He looked around carefully, sweeping his head from side to side. Well, he thought, I do have my own way of staying warm… Ivan spun his head around one final time, just to be sure and safe. He didn't see anyone. Looks okay, he thought, and he closed his eyes.
He pictured a warm, crackling fireplace in his mind, and pretended it was nestled in his body. Soon enough heat began spreading comfortably from within his chest down through his stomach and into his arms and legs. He smiled and continued walking, the new warmth in his body enabling him to ignore the cold of the wind.
As far as he knew not a single person could tell by looking at him when he warmed himself up that way, but he always took care to only use it when he was alone. He didn't think it was a smart idea to do otherwise.
Ivan turned the corner onto the familiar dead-end street, the small one that eventually morphed from paved asphalt to simple dirt and led into the woods at the edge of town. His house was the one at the very end. He took two steps before a whirring sound brushed against his ears. He sighed and stopped walking.
Jordan and his two friends quickly sped up to Ivan, overtaking him and dismounting their bicycles. Jordan was the odd sort of bully who was short and didn't have exceptional muscles, though he made up for it with sheer meanness.
"Hi, kitchen faucet," Jordan said with a smirk. His favorite nickname for Ivan came from three years ago in Kindergarten, when Ivan's mother had ran a half-hour late picking him up; Ivan had cried the whole time. To Jordan, the fact that it sounded identical to Ivan's last name was a stroke of genius. "Running away?"
"I wasn't running," Ivan said. The annoying smirk hadn't dropped from Jordan's face, and his two stooges were grinning too. "I live on this street."
"Oh, geez!" Jordan said in mock surprise. "I didn't know. I was just in the neighborhood." That was Jordan's favorite lie; his home was near the school.
"Go away," Ivan said, and he took a step towards his house.
"Hey, kitchen faucet, just getting scareder?" Jordan sneered, pushing Ivan back.
Ivan locked eyes with the bully. "Don't push me," he said.
Jordan reached out his arm to shove Ivan again and Ivan snagged his wrist, grasping it tight in his hand. "Hey, lemme go!" Jordan said, trying to twist free. He squirmed for a few seconds as his friends scowled and slunk off their bikes, but suddenly Jordan blinked as his face quickly shifted from anger to panic.
"Ow, ow, it's hot…ow! It's too hot! Let me go!" His voice became strained and desperate, and he began writhing desperately in an attempt to free his wrist from Ivan's grasp. "It hurts-ow, ow, let go, let go!" Ivan let the bully slip from his grasp, and saw that the skin on Jordan's wrist was turning a soft shade of pink.
Jordan crept back, nursing his hand, and looked up at Ivan with a mixture of shock and hatred. "Weirdo!" He said. "Freak! Monster!" He leapt onto his bike and sped away without looking back, flanked by his two cronies.
Ivan stood still on in the road before extinguishing the warmth inside of himself; the sharp, cold bite of the autumn afternoon registered once again. I didn't know I could hurt with it…
He walked home in the wind.
"Ms. Councilwoman! Ms. Councilwoman!"
Missy sighed as she closed her laptop, having just finished reading the documents for the day. "Not now, please," she said, stuffing her computer into her bag. She stood up, fighting the urge to tug at the gloves on her hand.
"I was just wondering if I could get a statement of your opinion on the Mayor's choice for the new head of the health board."
Missy looked down at the young man facing her; barely twenty, with messy blond hair, he was the one the local paper always sent to interview members of the city Council. He had a disturbingly regular habit of asking questions of the kind where answers were already obvious, and Missy's heightened sense of smell could always pick up the cheap aftershave which he seemed to love.
"I think Dr. Corvall is an excellent choice," she said, "as I stated in today's meeting. When the Council votes on whether to allow the Mayor's candidate into office I will lend my full support, for all the reasons I mentioned in the meeting."
"I'm sorry," she said, cutting off the young journalist, "but this is not the best time. I really must be heading back to my family."
As she left the building, a pair of pre-teens passed by on skateboards, waving to her. She waved back and as they skated away, she picked up the words they assumed she couldn't hear:
"Was that her? The town hero?"
"Yeah! And she waved to us! How cool is that?"
Missy smiled as she entered her car and drove away, but the happy feeling quickly left. 'Town hero,' huh? Those kids are too young to have been around during Masque's invasion. I bet they don't even know why their parents and the others love me so much.
Though Missy's little jaunt as a pokemon had been common knowledge back in the days after the invasion, it had become policy never to speak about it, to avoid drawing attention to Fox Creek. For this reason none of the children born after the invasion, or those too young to remember it, remained in the dark.
As she pulled onto the street where her and Dan's house was located, she checked the clock on the dashboard. Damn, she thought, /iI'm late. That meeting lasted much longer than I thought./i
"Hi, everyone," she called out. "Sorry I'm late, today's meeting dragged." She deposited her bag in her room changed out of the suit she had worn for today's meeting, putting on something less restrictive.
She went to her living room to relax with her family. Her husband was there, as well as Ivan and most of the pokemon.
Dan was still tall and lanky as he had been during their first journey, though his years of sitting behind a desk at his pawn shop had gradually stolen his formerly muscular build from him; he was still far from fat, though. His brown hair no longer crept down the sides of his head as it had in his teens, as Dan kept it trimmed and short. He was clean shaven.
"Sorry," she said, slumping into her chair. "Missed dinner again, didn't I?" She began tugging off her gloves.
"Hey," Dan said, "I thought we decided you were going to leave the gloves on while you're here at home. What if someone came by to visit? What'd they think of those?" He pointed at her fingernails, noticeably pointed like claws.
"I think any visitors who drop by would have better things to look at than my fingernails," Missy said.
"I know. It's just, I'm trying to think of what's best in hiding this. We've got a lot to keep under cover-"
"Oh, keeping it under cover," Missy interrupted sarcastically. "'Cause I haven't been doing enough of that in the past two decades. Tell you what, you can wear gloves every day for nineteen years and then we'll see how much you like it."
There was an awkward silence before Ivan spoke up to break the silence. "Hi, Mom."
"Hey, Ivan," Missy said with a sigh. "I didn't mean to ignore you, I've just had a busy day…"
"Sorry kiddo," Dan interrupted, "but she has to be told sooner or later. Missy, Ivan apparently got in a fight today."
"You know that old lady down the street? Well she saw apparently saw three kids picking on Ivan before there was an…altercation."
"I didn't mean to hurt him," Ivan said. "He was just shoving me and I grabbed his hand."
Missy sighed. Dan and I aren't really in the best positions to condemn somebody for getting in a fight, she thought, her mind turning back to memories of leaping and spinning, claws bared and voice growling.
"It doesn't sound like you started it," she said, "and I know that sometimes it's important to defend yourself, but don't go looking for fights, okay?"
Ivan nodded before leaving his parents' company.
Ivan walked to his room. It wasn't large, but the posters tacked up on the wall alongside photographs of his family and tests and assignments that had been returned with high marks made it feel comfortable. Being near the rear of the house, his window overlooked the tall forest that surrounded Fox Creek. The sun was beginning to set earlier than it had been in the summer, and the reds and yellows of the autumn trees blended together in the twilight.
Ivan plucked his math homework out of his backpack and started working on it-they were just starting on long division-but he found it difficult to concentrate because of the voices reaching him.
"I can't believe you came late again, don't you have any consideration for your own family-"
"For your information I don't control how long the meetings will be, and you're one to talk, you seem more comfortable in that shop than you do around the rest of us-"
"That's a cheap shot, you know I inherited that store from my father-"
Ivan laid his head down on his pillow and covered his ears with his hands. His parents were trying to be quiet, but his hearing was better than most-he had figured that out by now-and neither of them seemed to realize just how much he could pick up.
A few minutes later, as his parents' now-muffled voices continued, the door to his room suddenly creaked open. He looked up to see what appeared to be a small horse with a fiery mane; the skin on her back was heavily scarred. "Oh hey, Ruby. Where were you when I came home from school?"
"Out and about in the forest," she said, her hooves clipping across the floor. "Winter's coming up, which means I'm going to be cooped up in this building thanks to the weather. I've got to appreciate a good day in the outdoors while I still can."
"Yeah, I like the forest too. I meant to go exploring today but…" Ivan's mind went back to the pink burn on Jordan's arm. He'd been dwelling on it too much to muster up the desire to go into the woods.
"But what? Ah, whatever," Ruby said with a brisk shake of her head. "Probably for the best. I think there's been someone camping out there recently."
"Mm-hmm. Whoever's out there's been in the woods for several days now."
"Have you seen them?" asked Ivan.
"Only from a distance," said Ruby. "I've kept away; remember, I'm supposed to keep a low profile like the other pokemon."
"It's probably not important-likely some homeless fellow. So, what are you working on?" Ruby said, her nose nudging the now-discarded piece of homework.
"Hmph," she said with disgust, her eyes wrinkling. "That's no good at all. I heard you got in a fight today, that's what people should be teaching you. Skill in combat is invaluable. I used to be good in a scrap; we all were, back before you were born. The others still practice but their hearts aren't into it."
"You used to fight a lot, Ruby?"
"Oh yes, all the time."
"Who with? Other pokemon like you? Is that how your back got hurt? What about my Mom's ear?"
"Ah," Ruby said with a worried look, "I've said too much. You know your parents don't want me talking about our old days together."
"Aw, come on, Ruby!"
"No," the Ponyta said with a shake of her head, "I've said too much. I should leave you to your homework, if I distract you any more your parents will never leave me alone about it."
As she left, Ivan shut the door behind her. He sighed and looked down at his homework. He had managed to ignore his parents' voices while talking with Ruby, but now they crept back inside his head.
I wish I could just go someplace where I wouldn't have to listen to their fights… he thought, sitting down on his bed. Suddenly he snapped his head up and turned to look at the window. Darkness had finally fallen while he had spoken with Ruby, the trees now tall monoliths clustered together. Maybe…
He had meant to go walking today. What did it matter if it was a little later than normal? His parents wouldn't let him, though…But then again, he thought cheekily, Kids shouldn't interrupt their parents when they're 'talking'. I'll just go out by myself for a little bit. No one needs to know.
Ivan snapped off the lights and opened the window. He reached for his jacket, but stopped short of picking it up. He closed his eyes and pictured the warm fireplace inside himself. His special power, the warmth, spread inside him quickly. He quickly slipped outside and shut his window, trying to be as silent as possible, before ghosting off into the night, making for the trees as fast as he could.
As he neared the branches of the first tree he smiled, the arguing voices of his parents almost completely vanished from his ears. There was a small pond very near, perhaps that would be his first stop-
Suddenly, as he raced around a particularly large tree, Ivan found himself facing a creature with yellow fur. "A-Artemis!" He cried out in alarm.
"Ivan?" said the Electabuzz. "So it was you who's been blundering about like a fool this last little bit?" From what Ivan knew, she had spoken to the pace of a mile-a-minute when she was younger, but all the pokemon and Ivan's parents agreed that she had calmed down a great deal recently. They also all agreed that the change was 'relieving', though they never said it when she could hear.
"Wh-wh-what are you doing here?" The young boy asked in a panic.
"Nemo hasn't been in any water recently and he decided to come rejuvenate himself in the pond," she said absentmindedly. "He asked me to come along in case anything bad happened-hey, wait! I'm pretty sure you're the one who needs to explain what you're doing here. Do your parents know you're out in these trees?"
"No," Ivan muttered. "I don't want them to know. They're arguing."
"Oh," Artemis said. Her face looked understanding. "I see. That's why you came out here, isn't it?"
"Yeah. I mean, I don't wanna run away, not really, but I just needed to go a place where I couldn't hear them fighting…"
"Well, I understand, but I still think it's a bad idea. You're lucky you ran into me, there could be wild animals out here! Come on, I'll take you back…"
She reached for his hand. As she took it and her fur brushed against his skin, Ivan suddenly remembered…
"Wait, don't," he said in a start, but it was too late.
"OW!" Artemis drew her hand back, shaking it. "That's hot, that's hot! Oh my gosh, Ivan, you're burning up! Are you sick?"
"No," he said quickly, "no, I'm not sick. I just ran a lot and my blood's pumping, I guess."
Artemis frowned. "I know I have a reputation as being gullible but I'm not an idiot. Don't lie to me, it's a bad habit to get into."
Just tell her, a little voice in the back of Ivan's head whispered. She already knows something's up. You like her the best out of all the pokemon. You can trust her.
"Okay," Ivan said, "can I tell you a secret, Artemis?"
She blinked. "Secret? You're just a little kid, what sort of secret could you have?"
"Um…you know how I can do weird things? Like my mom can. I can talk to you and I can hear and see better than other people." Ivan took a deep breath. "I can do other stuff too. If I feel cold, I can make it feel like there's a fire inside me. That's why I seem so hot."
"Oh, that's it." Artemis looked like she was thinking. "I don't think your mom has any powers like that, but I guess it makes sense you'd have powers of your own."
"I don't think it hurts me," Ivan said, "but I guess if I touch other people while it's happening it can hurt them. Today I got in a fight with Jordan and I think maybe I burned him…"
"Oh dear," Artemis said in shock.
"I'm sorry…I didn't mean to! Please don't be scared of me…"
"I'm not scared," Artemis said, and she was smiling. "I remember going through something similar with my electricity not long after I was born. I was afraid I couldn't control it. I bet the rest of the pokemon and I could help you out in learning about your power and controlling it, and I think Missy could help too."
"No!" Ivan said suddenly. "She can't know!"
"Huh? Why not?"
"I don't think she likes that I have these powers. What if she gets mad at me if she finds out I can do more?"
"Don't be silly, Ivan, she wouldn't get mad at you for that!"
"But you haven't seen the last power, the weirdest one. I'm kind of scared of it…" Ivan got very quiet. Artemis looked at the young boy, standing there frightened.
"…you really are special, you know that?" Artemis said after a pause. "You can really do a lot of wonderful things. It's okay to be scared, but I don't think your powers are a bad thing."
"Yeah. You said you have another thing you can do…does it hurt you to do it?
"Then do you think you could show it to me?"
Ivan stood there thinking for a moment. "Alright," he finally said, "but…it's very weird. I've only done it a few times and that's usually on accident."
He stood still and closed his eyes, breathing in and out steadily. To her astonishment, after a few seconds Artemis felt the air around her getting warmer. "What…?" She said in wonder, but just as the word was released into the air Ivan was suddenly surrounded in a chrysalis of pure fire, his body not visible within the blaze.
"I-Ivan?" Artemis was shocked; she had the boy's word that the process didn't hurt him but she was worried all the same.
Suddenly the fire was gone without a trace. Artemis blinked-the sudden brightness of Ivan's fire had temporarily ruined her night vision-but as her eyes readjusted to the darkness, she saw that Ivan was no longer standing where he had been-or at least, not the Ivan she knew.
Instead there was a creature standing there that was small and mammalian, on four paws. It was fox-shaped, with fur a very muted red color, though it was darker near the paws. Atop the head, between the two pointed ears, was a curled tuft of hair of a bright reddish color-the same color as the multiple tails stretching behind the creature's body.
"It can't be…" Artemis said in awe. "A Vulpix? This isn't possible!"
"'Vulpix'?" Asked the creature, taking a tentative step forward. "Is that what this kind of animal is called?"
"Ivan? Ivan, is that…Ivan?"
"If I focus a lot on the fire when it's already inside me," Ivan said, "I can make myself look like this. It doesn't hurt, but it scared me the first time. I thought I had turned into some kind of fox at first, but…foxes can't do this." He opened his muzzle and a jet of fire shot out.
"This is…incredible! Come on!" Artemis scooped up the little Vulpix and darted off.
"Hey, wait! Where are we going?"
"To show Nemo! This is amazing!"
It wasn't long before the pair of them reached the pond inside the forest. Artemis had a solid grip on Ivan; in his Vulpix form, his naturally insulated Fire-type fur kept the heat inside and prevented him from burning her.
"Nemo!" Artemis' cries echoed through the still autumn trees. "Nemo!" There was a splash as the small aquatic pokemon popped out from under the surface of the water.
"Artemis? What's going on?" Nemo asked.
"Look, look!" Artemis said, and she held up Ivan in excitement.
"What is that," Nemo asked, "is that a fox? No, wait it's-Dear Arceus, is that a Vulpix? Where-but-that's not possible, how did another pokemon make it here, after all this time?"
"You're not going to believe me, Nemo! You really won't! This is Ivan!"
"No," Nemo whispered in awe, "Ivan? Really?"
"Um," Ivan said, squirming, "can you put me down now?" Artemis obliged. "Okay, um…hi, Nemo."
"How is this possible?" Nemo said.
"It looks like Missy's genes had a few surprises in them, huh?" Artemis said. "I wonder what she'll have to say about it…"
"No!" Ivan said loudly, startling the two pokemon. "You can't tell my parents-my mom is already weird about my eyesight and me talking to you guys, I don't want her to know I can turn into a…a…whatever I am right now!"
"Calm down, Ivan," Nemo said soothingly, "I know your parents have been keeping you in the dark somewhat, but I think they-and your mom in particular-will really be able to help you get ahold of this situation."
"No," Ivan said, "no, you can't tell them! You can't!" Suddenly he was off, sprinting on all fours through the darkness.
"Hey, wait, don't go alone, it's not safe!" Artemis called after him. Ivan ignored her words and darted between the trees, dashing past tall thin trunks, his paws snapping fallen leaves to release a crisp sound. He ran and ran in a panic, slowly realizing he was moving faster than he ever could have as a human.
They can't find out, he thought. He already knew that his powers made his parents uncomfortable. If they know about this too, what if they get so shocked they start arguing again?
Ivan's panicked mind blotted out any planned course he might have had, and as his running continued he was taken deep into the forest, far past the areas he normally would have romped, farther even than the usual areas blazed by Ruby and Nightshade, the most explorative of his pokemon companions. In the depths of the woodland tall thin trees gave way to ominous, thick-trunked growths. Any semblance of trails was obliterated as foliage and rocks began claiming the earth, and in the distance the occasional sounds of nocturnal animals drifted in the sky.
Ivan finally stopped running, collapsing against a large boulder the size of a person, with a crack slashing its way across the stone. Where…where am I? None of the surrounding area looked even remotely familiar. The distress clouding his mind even made it difficult to track how long he'd been running.
"I'm lost," he said in a frightened whisper, slowly rising to stand on his four paws.
"Well, now, that's too bad," said an unfamiliar voice behind him.
Ivan spun around; there, standing atop the jagged boulder was a figure silhouetted against the night. It was a tall man, wearing a dark silk robe; embroidered emblems and designs were woven entrancingly across his garment. Two hands were pulling back a hood to reveal a plain face, with short dirty blonde hair, an unnatural looking smile and oddly glassy eyes.
Ivan took a few steps back. His mind was screaming at him to run, run away as fast as possible but his body seemed to be in shock, refusing to do anything he wanted it to.
"Who…" Ivan whispered, finally regaining control of his voice, "Who are you?"
The Hypno, Missy thought. I remember him, and the Scyther, and Masque as well…so many foes we had in those days. It seemed so bleak and hopeless…like everything in the whole world was in combination to bring down our hope. But we won…and I was so happy.
She put down the artifacts she had kept from those days—the two pieces of the pearl mask that had once shielded the face of her adversary—back into the carved box she kept them in, closing the lid gently.
Is it wrong…that part of me wants to return to those days? They were dangerous and I wasn't always happy, but…compared to my life since then, they seem much more adventurous. Part of her squirmed when she allowed herself to entertain those ideas. She felt guilty about thinking of her current life as 'boring'; she had a very important and influential job, she was beloved by many people in town, and of course she had a child who she and Dan would both give their lives for.
It just feels dull, sometimes, Missy thought wistfully. After Masque's defeat she had been returned to a human form, and for the first time in a long while had been truly excited and happy…her spirits were as high as ever two years later, as she left high school and headed for a university.
But the oddities of my body, traits I had come to be familiar with and to love, had to be hidden there…every second was spent on edge, trying to prevent discovery. I couldn't be me, and I had to come back here…the special aspects I love removed so many choices I could have made, forcing me down a certain path. Is it any wonder that I worry about the traits Ivan inherited from me? What if he finds himself being pushed down by them like I was?
She sighed as she sat down on the large bed she shared with Dan. He was still in the living room; their disagreement had lasted a long while. "I really should stop doing that," she muttered to herself, trying to knead the worry out of her face. "Whenever I get mad at him I always regret it later…it feels like I'm hurting myself. And we fight over the stupidest things…"
Her stomach twisted and turned as she thought of Ivan. She had tried to keep quiet, but towards the end of the exchange voices had been raised; he'd almost certainly heard something of their argument. I remember when I was a little kid and I overheard my parents' few fights…it felt awful.
She sighed again as she rose. I should go comfort him…I bet he's still awake, she thought as she walked down the hallway towards her son's room. As she approached the door she noticed the light was out from underneath it.
"Ivan," she said, knocking lightly upon her son's door. "Ivan, it's Mom, are you awake?" She waited a few seconds-silence. "Ivan?" She called again. "Please, if you're awake…" She paused again. "Ivan?" she said, opening his door slowly. She stopped halfway, her heart suddenly picking up in speed. Her son's bed was empty, his jacket lying there unused. His window was closed, but unlocked.
"Ivan?" She said, frightened, then louder: "IVAN?"
She abandoned her son's spot and ran to the living room. He was watching a movie with his father, that was it, they were watching a movie and it was loud, so loud he couldn't hear her yells. She burst into the living room.
It was empty except for Dan, casually surfing through channels.
"Ivan," she said, panic making it hard to speak, "Ivan, is he here, do you know where he is?"
"Hm? Oh, he's in his room, I think."
"He's-no, he's not, I was just there, it's empty!"
The TV screen turned black; Dan shot out of his seat. "What do you mean, empty? He's gone?"
"Yes," Missy said; by now her heart was beating so quickly it was becoming painful, a little.
"The-the pokemon, you think? Let's ask them, he's playing with them, he must be!"
Five minutes later and Dan and Missy were gathered together with Ruby, Nightshade, and Armor, making a desperate call to the police.
My son, Missy thought in desperation, my son…Where could you have gone?
"Who are you?" Ivan asked. The mysterious man hopped off the rock, still smiling.
"You're the son of Missy, correct?" He said; his voice seemed as though he were putting far too much effort into sounding sweet and gentle; it was the sound of a Venus flytrap singing to a wayward fly.
"Do you know anything about your mother, little Ivan-that is your name, right, kiddo? Years back she…well, let's just say she was a big player in some events that were very important to a lot of people." The robed man took a step forward, his arms opening in a gesture perhaps meant to seem comforting; Ivan found his paws taking involuntary steps backwards. "Come on, kid, it's just a few questions," he said in that too-sweet voice. "Are you Ivan Fawcett, Missy's son?"
"Y-Yes," stammered the young boy, before immediately regretting his response; hadn't he learned in school never to tell the truth to strange people? But he couldn't seem to think clearly, he was in a state of panic.
"Good…" The man said in a low voice whispered through his smile. He reached into his robe and pulled out a strange object, a golden cylinder the size of a Chinese finger trap, engraved with symmetrical diamond patters overlapping one another.
As he began fiddling with the device, a sudden crashing noise echoed from behind Ivan in the forest.
"Ivan!" Called Artemis' voice. "Ivan, where are you?"
At the sound of that familiarity, the boy in a Vulpix's body found his voice again. "Here," he screamed, "I'm here, there's a strange person, please help me!"
Immediately the crashing sounds became louder. Ivan turned his head and saw a streak of yellow darting at him between the tall, dark forms of the trees; a blob of blue followed not close behind.
"Damn," muttered the man, the honey gone from his voice. He activated the golden device with a motion and tossed it in front of Ivan, dashing off before it even hit the ground. As Ivan turned to look at the strange golden object it began spewing out odd, bluish-white colored smoke.
"IVAN!" Artemis cried, bursting into view; she fired a bolt of electricity in the direction of the fleeing man. He was far off and a moving target, however, and her attack struck a tree near the assailant instead.
"Ivan," the Electabuzz said, cradling him, "did he hurt you?"
"No," Ivan replied, "but that machine-thing is his…"
"What happened?" A third voice added; Nemo appeared within the now widely spread smoke. "Who was that?"
"Don't know," said Artemis. "Come on, let's take him home…" She took two steps before she faltered, collapsing to the earth. Ivan spilled out of her arms.
"What…" she murmured.
Ivan tried to stand but his legs only supported him for three seconds before he too sank to the ground. He felt funny…
"What's happening?" Nemo said, as he struggled to make any sort of movement. "What is…this…feeling?"
As Ivan lay there, the smoke from the strange object billowing around him, his mind became hazy and his body began experiencing odd sensations, as though he were being taken on a roller coaster ride in slow-motion. The smoke obscured all vision, even hiding the muzzle in front of his face.
Suddenly odd images flitted in and out of the mist. What is this…? Ivan thought groggily as the images picked up, slowly at first, before suddenly exploding through the mist, his mind assaulted with images.
Suddenly his body was hit with the most unearthly feeling he'd ever experienced, like falling but a thousand times more in every way. The images fell with him, blending into a myriad of rainbows and odd colors.
It was like falling through universes…