"Aren't we all too young to die?"

Shaun can remember Jake throwing that out there from seemingly nowhere. They had been relaxing on one the beaten couches under the bridge, their normal hangout. There hadn't been many others around and they were enjoying a cool breeze during an exceptionally humid summer, cigarettes burning away merrily in their fingers.

Shaun had taken a particularly long drag, expecting an unwanted philosophical talk about the meaning of life. He had never been one to think too deeply on such things, preferring to take one day at a time with only stray thoughts and dreams of leaving for a better life. When he had turned to look at Jake he was a bit startled to not see a thoughtful look on his features, as was what he normally had when expressing random thoughts that led to what ifs.

Instead he just had a look of boredom. He looked like he had just casually mentioned Jessica had a great ass or that tonight would be a goodnight for shoplifting a bag of chips. When Shaun had given a pressing look Jake had simply shrugged, returning the look with a wry grin.

"Aren't we?"

Shaun hadn't deigned to give his friend an answer despite his mind wandering with hidden meanings and thoughts running as deep as canyon rivers.

Now, years later, as Shaun ordered his pokemon, a creature he had honestly never thought he would own, he reflected on those words. Violence was not something of a foreign nature, given that he lived in an area full of gangs and the random street thug. He had never been a part of a gang, nor had he ever wanted to be, but that didn't mean such violence didn't interact with his life. Hell, the first time he had seen a man die was when he was thirteen. He and Jake had been little brats, riding their bikes to the convenience store for soda and candy only to be stopped short as not more than thirty feet ahead of them did a car slow to a crawl before two boys opened fire on a walking teen.

That had haunted Shaun for months, but as he had things to worry about – such as a druggie mother, when he would eat next and even school – Shaun adapted to such happenings in life. Despite all that he had gone through, what had happened last night would always be ingrained within his mind. War was a different breed of violence, torture even more so, and Shaun was starting to wonder just like he had his first few days in the cave if he would survive.

"Aura Sphere!"

The opposing pokemon, a small dark being with no arms and long green leaves covering its head, fell to the ground in agonized shivers, clearly spent. The boy he fought shot him a filthy look, as if he couldn't believe he would push his pokemon that hard.

Why? Shaun wanted to question. He hadn't fought any harder with this boy than any other. Heck, Riolu had given even more in its battle with Torchic and Rhyhorn, so what was this? Why were people expecting him to fight differently with each individual trainer when they were all technically the same? This boy wasn't even a Rehab Reject; he wanted to be a trainer.

"Return, Oddish," his opponent said sullenly, flashing Shaun a glare that he didn't understand. He was older than Shaun, and surely had more experience, but what was he expecting, what was it that he had wanted from that battle? For Shaun not to give it his all? He just didn't understand. "Your winnings," he said shortly, holding his pokedex up to watch his winnings transfer over to Shaun's, preferring debit rather than cash.

Shaun didn't say a word, didn't even give the other a glance, and instead went over to inspect Riolu for damage. There was very little, not enough to be sent back to the center for a quick heal. Inspection done with, he promptly went about searching for another opponent. There were plenty in the park he was currently sulking about at.

He did it almost mechanically, not really aware of each battle ever since his parting words with Alex. He had a goal, though determination seemed to just dance outside of his grasp. This wasn't him, this wasn't his natural element, and although Riolu seemed to know enough to keep them in a good winning streak, he knew it wouldn't be enough.

He needed more.

(XoX)

The hypnotic hum of static filled the room, creating an atmosphere that made ones hair stand on end in nervous trepidation. Two figures stood with their backs straight, head forward and eyes piercing the man before them that watched the many computer screens with half lidded eyes, studying every detail that the images offered.

"Tell me," the man said suddenly, voice piercing the silence like a knife, "when the youth are drowned within a sea of lies do they eventually learn to swim against the tide?"

The two watchers shifted uncomfortably, glancing at one another in an attempt to seek comfort. Both were very young themselves, being only in their early twenties, and yet in the presence of this man they felt like a child being chastised.

"No answer?" The man hummed softly to himself, arms folding behind his back in an almost lazy many. Red hair fell forward as he tilted his head at one of the news feeds, nearly covering amethyst colored eyes. "Come now, boys," he purred, "this isn't a test. I want your honest opinion."

The boy on the right shuffled a bit and dragged a hand through messy blond locks. "Not always," he answered quietly, honestly. "Tell a lie for so long people forget what truth is. Lies begin to sound right and after a while it becomes your everyday life. Why fight against the only truth you know?" The boy trailed off, slowly becoming unsure.

"Very good, Ian, you are partially correct." The boy straightened once more, attentive. "That is one path, but in a time of war people seem to come across multiple pathways that once seemed to be a one way road." Light fingers danced over a specific news feed, tracing out the now still image of a monstrous sea creature lying lifelessly on the beach. It had been washed ashore and stained the sand and sea red.

"I suppose the question is which path do we choose when we come to a crossroad?"

Amethyst eyes snapped to the second figure, a new, but rather promising, recruit that had risen quickly and was currently Ian's partner. He was young enough to still believe that he could change the world within a single war without consequences and yet old enough to go through such challenges that made him very aware of his naivety. Young and foolish, yes, but he was maturing nicely, and soon he would realize there was no such thing as just a single war, but rather a multitude.

"It is not just what we choose, Brandon," Lance replied with a smooth smile, "but who we meet as well." He watched the two shift, minds processing the information like gears in a watch, time ever ticking away. "No man can win war on his own, and an idea can only live on through amass of the people. I have a mission which I am leaving you two in charge of, with an appropriate watcher, of course. It will be your chance to prove yourself not only to our organization, but to yourselves. You may choose your team, but choose wisely and selectively, and while I want you to bring me pokemon, I would prefer something a bit more closely treasured."

"Sir?" Ian looked puzzled, glancing at his partner who looked equally confused.

Lance turned away from their bewildered stares, eyes once more roaming the various news feeds with a hungry expression.

"Bring me minds to mold."

(XoX)

Darkness danced across the makeshift battle field, eating away at the light and leaving mere specks of shadows floating about listlessly. The opponent, a creature of strong mind but brittle body, eyed the remains of the Night Shade with a wary intrigue.

"Kadabra, use Confusion to get rid of those," the opponents trainer, a brown haired youth that looked to be in his young twenties, ordered. His lip quirked downward into a frown as he took in the purple specks, a hint of bitter respect surfacing his thoughts. That was smart, he acknowledged, creating as dark an atmosphere as possible for a creature that had such weaknesses.

On the opposite side, Shaun gazed across the battleground. It was nothing more than an open section of the park, far enough away from the mainstream of the city with grass, bushes and the occasional tree, though the metallic city had still managed to creep into the green space with light posts and a cement sidewalk. Currently their small area was surrounded by a good number of onlookers. They were giving the floating specks of darkness shrewd looks, shivering if one floated by.

Shaun, upon realizing his opponent was using a psychic type (a type he most certainly loathed) he had come up with the idea of having Sableye use his Night Shade around the area itself rather than attack head on. It would give him a boost field wise and he had recollections of watching master trainers fight in league battles with dark types that could actually darken or overshadow a battlefield in broad daylight, so why not use similar tactics?

"Sableye, counter," he ordered quickly. So it seemed the Night Shade technique wouldn't stay for long, but it had allowed for his opponent to turn its attention away. It was enough.

Sableye, hunched over and cackling like a fiend, bounced into action at the call of his trainer, already prepared for such an order. Mouth wide and showing off those razor sharp teeth for all the world to see, Sableye ran forward, arms lagging behind as if they were boneless.

On the opposite end Kadabra had its single spoon raised, eyes half lidded in concentration and glowing with power. Slowly, it managed to focus on the various wisps of ghostly remains, and hummed. A pulse of color exploded; see through light sprites locking in on their darker counterparts, and soon it was the battlefield rather than the pokemon fighting for dominance in a power display of light and dark.

Distraction successfully clouding the psychics' awareness, Sableye used that moment to strike. Blue fire danced along knife sharp claws in an almost tender fashion, destruction hidden within beauty.

The onlookers talked loudly at the display, excitement evident in both the people and pokemon. They all had a sort of weary look, which was to be understandable given the previous night, but the excitement before them was enough to make them momentarily forget their caution and enjoy the moment.

"Astonish!" Shaun barked out, quickly using his opponent's distraction on the shadows to his advantage.

The kadabra barely had enough time to even glance away from the pulsing lights before Sableye slammed into the frail psychic type, blue flames surrounding the two as ghostly energy flowed into its opponent. "Ly lye!" Sablye cackled, clinging to the kadabra, teeth glinting with sadistic glee.

"Kadabra!" the boy shouted, worry evident. Only a grunt was given, features twitching in obvious anger but otherwise frozen. "Flinch," Shaun's opponent muttered, cursing in exasperation.

Shaun, having no idea what flinching meant, but recognizing an opening, let out a quick order. "Scratch!"

On the other side, Shaun's opponent had his eyebrows raised in surprise at the weak attack. Still, Kadabra let out a painful yelp as sharp claws sliced into his back. Mentally strong he may be, but physical prowess was something he was lacking. "Flash!" he ordered quickly. His opponent was within striking range, but even he could accept the little pokemon was a speedy devil.

"Braaa," Kadabra hummed, spoon raised. Without warning, like a lightning bolt appearing before their very eyes, light exploded in a painfully bright flash.

Yelping, Shaun lifted an arm in alarm, covering his stinging eyes. "Just attack!" he yelled, voice slight muffled from the sleeve of his jacket. He blinked quickly, tears clinging to the corner of his eyes, before slowly lowering his arm. Black spots filled his vision, and though he couldn't see the battle field, he could hear it perfectly.

An inhuman howl filled not only the air, but within his mind. It rang in his ears like the echo of a canyon, and with a stunning realization Shaun knew the physic type was relaying its pain through their minds. He snarled, loathing pouring out of his very being. As if he didn't have enough psychics going through his mind without this random challenger adding to it.

"Night Shade!" he barked, still blinking quickly. Spots still blinded his vision, though it was quickly passing. He could make out distinct shapes and could watch the blurry shape of his hunched pokemon crawling on all fours like a thing possessed shoot a single blast of the nightmarish Night Shade, this time aiming for a single being rather than the entirety of the field.

"Protect," Shaun's opponent called quickly, watching the battle with a slight frown. His pokemon had more damage, which was understandable given that it had been dealt with mostly physical attacks and had a rather frail body, but his pokemon had more power. Now would be the time to use it.

A blue shield erupted around the physic creature just as a nightmarish beam slammed down upon it. The two opposing energies clashed, Sableye hissing agitatedly as no matter how hard it pushed the blue shield remained strong, not budging an inch.

"Disable," came the next command when it showed that Sableye would not be letting up.

A delicate hum filled the air as the two energies dissipated, Sableye jumping away into a defensive position. The distance did not matter to Kadabra. He simply gazed thoughtfully into his spoon, a brief flash of power sliding across Sableye's body, the sensation as light as drizzle.

Shaun frowned, confused. It hadn't appeared to do anything, at least not physically. "Night Shade," he ordered once more, not wanting to use an attack that would bring him close to the opponent.

To his complete surprise Sableye let out a low keen, tilting his head in Shaun's direction in clear distress. "Saaa," he hissed lowly, holding his arms up as if in a confused shrug.

Across the battlefield his opponent gave a soft laugh. "Don't know Disable, do you?" he shook his head, sending long, brown bangs over blue eyes momentarily. "I should have figured," he continued with a shrug before turning to his pokemon. "Kadabra, use Thunderbolt."

Gapping, Shaun could only watch as a bolt of light, jagged in its form, rushed towards Sableye. The little pokemon had no chance. Screams filled the air as electricity course through its veins. Spasms broke out and Sableye fell to the ground, body lifeless save for the residual twitches.

The dark haired teen stared, swallowing thickly before raising the red and white pokeball. "Return," he said, voice tinged with bitterness.

The crowd was talking excited and clapped politely, offering congratulations to Shaun's opponent. He grinned widely and offered congratulations of his own to his pokemon before turning to Shaun. "Good battle," he offered, holding out a hand. Grudgingly, Shaun shook it. "Name's Jacob by the way."

"Shaun," he replied, tone still miffed.

Jacob offered a consoling smile. "Care for some advice, Shaun?"

Nose scrunched up in distaste, Shaun narrowed his eyes at the other trainer. "What sort of advice?" he asked slowly, tone obviously hinting he wasn't too keen on getting life lessons or some other thing about pokemon training. Though, as much as Shaun didn't want to admit to himself, he needed all the advice people had and then some.

"About your battle I noticed some pretty interesting things." Shaun felt his interest spike. What sort of things? "You're a beginner, aren't you?" He waited for a slow nod before continuing. "A beginner doesn't normally focus on the battlefield or create a visible scenario that puts other things aside from your pokemon the main priority."

"Uhh."

Jacob laughed at Shaun's confusion. "I mean when a trainer just begins they focus more on attacks that can hit their opponent head on rather than rely on tactics. That Night Shade gimmick you just did was genius. If you had a few years of training under your belt that would have been pretty dangerous for any pokemon, especially a psychic opponent." He gave an easy grin, an approving look that Shaun found both surprising and strangely pleasing. "You're shooting for the league, right? Not just a simple trainer, especially not with your intensity in battling, so you're aiming for something."

"I'm going for the badges," Shaun answered curtly, a narrowing look appearing on his face before raising his chin stubbornly. "In less than a year."

Jacob blinked; face scrunching up in surprise and disbelief before realization settled on his features. "Oh," he said softly, looking vaguely uncomfortable before sighing. "Well, believe me when I say this, dude, but that's one of the least crazy things I've heard from beginner trainers." His features relaxed, not appearing too bothered by Shaun's subtle mention of being a Rehab Reject.

"Really?" Shaun felt his eyebrows shoot up. "Like what?"

Shrugging, Jacob said, "Eh, you'll find out crazy stuff on your own… Uh, well, you've been in the city long enough to have seen a few wierdo's…" He trailed off before giving an embarrassed cough. "Anyways, still want some advice?"

"Yea, dude. Hit me."

"Alright… well, yea, stick with tampering with the battlefield if you can. If you need some ideas I'd suggest watching some old league challenges and especially the stuff with Elite Four from any region. That thing you did with Night Shade is nothing compared to Selina of Sinnoh's Elite Four. She's a trainer that focuses on only dark types and has managed to get her pokemon to be able to naturally spread its shadow and make the playing field dark. I've also noticed you have a habit of not asking people how far ahead they are in training. Try not to blindly ask for battles even though you're in a rush. There are plenty of trainers out there that would easily wipe the floor with you and take your money without looking back."

Shaun frowned, not even thinking of that. How easy it would have been for some ass with five badges to take down any of his pokemon for some quick cash or even putting his pokemon out of commission for a good while.

"Anything else?"

Jacob looked thoughtful before nodding. "Yea, when you're out on the road, even if you have a destination in mind, always stop at the closest civilized location and restock. You might think you're good, but believe me, something will always happen. Sometimes there are also signs that ask for trainer work. It's usually farmers that need an extra hand or pokemon hunters that need a number of specific pokemon captured. Take them up on the offer because you usually get a good reward, especially from a farmer. Actually, when you head to the next route find a small job that can teach you how to live off the wild pokemon. You know how to skin a bird pokemon for food?"

Shaun pulled a face. "I think I'll pass on that," he said, only to frown at the mocking laugh that followed.

"If you say so," Jacob said in between chuckles. "Well, if the time comes, just be on the lookout for whatever odd job you can find in between gym towns."

"Alright," Shaun said slowly, thoughtful. "Hey, so I have this pokemon that doesn't listen to me, or anyone for that matter, what should I do with that?"

Jacob gave Shaun a contemplative stare. "Dangerous?"

"Has tried to kill me numerous times."

"Get rid of it."

"Uh, no," Shaun said slowly, as if to a small child. "You wouldn't believe what I went through. It's mine now."

"Look, I don't really know you, but you seem like a cool dude, so I'll give it to you straight. You're just a noob that seems to have been lucky in getting an over leveled pokemon. If you want something out of it then sell it. There is the global trade but that's not always reliable."

"I'm not getting rid of it," Shaun said stiffly. He had been put into a life or death situation because of that beast and he came out on top. To the winner go the spoils and Shaun would do what he wanted with it.

Jacob sighed, nostrils flaring in exasperation. "Alright, whatever, it's your pokemon. What is it anyway?"

"A rhyhorn."

The look Jacob gave Shaun was one that an adult gave to a particularly slow child. "Right, of course. And how long have you been training for?"

"Little over a week." Shaun raised his chin proudly. "How long did it take you to capture a beast like that?"

Jacob ignored the mocking tone. "After five months of training I caught mankey. They have well known anger issues and have been known to turn on their trainers, especially new trainers."

"Did it turn on you?" Shaun asked, intrigued.

"Yes," Jacob said bluntly, "and then I had it put down." He gave Shaun a hard stare. "I've been training for a few years now so I have a bit of knowledge about out of control pokemon. If you don't want to end up dead you need to get rid of it. You're in a city – take advantage of that."

The two stared down the other.

"I'm keeping it," Shaun said, a hint of growl in his tone.

And that was that. He did not turn back the moment he stepped in his first route and he certainly wouldn't turn back now.

(XoX)

The rest of the day wasn't as exciting or worthwhile compared to the morning training wise, but when Shaun had finally sat down for a smoke his bag began to vibrate. He sucked in a deep breath of nicotine, staring at his bag wondering whether or not he really wanted to see what the cause was.

It stopped after a minute.

Only to resume.

Sighing out a puff of smoke, Shaun dug through his bag only to stare in confusion at his pokedex. With a quick realization he slid it into phone form and raised it to his ear. "Hello?" he asked quizzically.

There was a sigh of relief on the other end. "Damn Shaun, I thought you were dead!"

It didn't even take a second for Shaun to recognize the voice. "Jake?" Incredulous, he asked, "Dude, how did you contact me on my pokedex?"

"Hacker, duh," came the snarky reply before his friend got serious. "Dude, are you still in the city?"

"Uh, yea, I got a gym battle tomorrow night." Shaun took another drag. "I'm guessing you heard about last night."

"It was all over the news," was the grim reply before an exasperated, "and you're not a thousand miles out of the city yet?" came right after.

"Gym battle tomorrow," Shaun reminded. He glanced around, taking in the wary citizens as they attempted to go about their daily lives, though more subdued. There were still several blocks that were closed off and in construction thanks to the previous night's damage. Trained pokemon were stationed from block to block, watching for any suspicious activity. "Security is really tight. I doubt I'll be attacked within the next two days."

"That's assuming you actually leave the city in the next two days."

It took Shaun a moment to realize that Jake was insinuating that he wouldn't win his gym battle. "Screw you."

"Hey! I'm being realistic here." Shaun felt his eyebrows rise at Jake's angry tone. "Look…" There was an exasperated sigh before Jake continued. "You know what, never mind. Did you get my gift?"

"Uh, no," Shaun drawled, a 'what the hell' echoing in his head.

"For the love of… Shaun, check your damn pc! After that frantic call last night and then seeing the news of course I sent you something."

"Oh fuck yea, Jake." Shaun was grinning like a maniac. "You send me a Hyper Beam tm?"

"Yea, sure did, dumbass." A snort followed. "No, I looked up the gym leader you're fighting and he uses mostly rock and ground so I sent you a water tm… What?" came an irritated response as Shaun groaned.

"Jake," was Shaun's tired reply, "I don't have a damn water type."

"Then go get one," was the terse reply. "Look, I helped you out for free, so don't complain. Next time you need something and actually have money then I'll get you what you want, got it?"

Son of a bitch. "Yea," Shaun growled, "got it, asswipe."

There was a moment of silence on either end. Shaun was steadily finishing off his cigarette and was just about to fish out another one when Jake decided to break the silence.

"So, what kind of pokemon do you have if you don't have a water type?"

"I got a riolu as my starter," Shaun answered, blinking as Jake let out a "No fucking way you lucky bastard!" on the other end. "So everyone keeps telling me," Shaun replied. "Thing is moody as fuck. Listens most of the time but then seems to randomly hate me." Shaun shrugged. "Whatever, screw it." He flicked the butt of his cigarette away. "Also got a sableye. Creepiest thing I've ever seen, and it barely listens to me. Had to bribe it the first few times to even help me."

Jake laughed on the other end. "They sound like a perfect match for you. For pokemon you sometimes need to find the one bribe that can get them to listen to you without having to offer them multiple things. What do your pokemon want?"

Shaun paused, brow creasing in thought. That was actually a good idea. "I think I might know something for Sableye," he mused, stuffing his second cigarette away and getting up. "Hey, any idea what to do for a crazy rhyhorn?"

Jake snorted. "You would," he said, exasperated. "I don't know, man. Why don't you ask, oh I don't know, a real trainer?"

"I already have," Shaun growled, walking with a destination in mind. "The dude told me to sell it."

"Then sell it," was the cheeky response.

"Hell no. Dude, you have no idea what I went through for that thing. It's mine for good. Besides, don't most trainers have that one pokemon that doesn't listen until they have a few badges or something?"

"Yea, 'cause I have all the answers to pokemon training."

"Suck it," Shaun shot back, grinning wide and having missed hanging with his friend. "Alright, I gotta go, man. Next time we talk I'll be long gone from this place."

"Uh huh. Well, on the huge chance that doesn't happen, do yourself a favor and just come back. Better to be in jail than dead."

"Fuck that," Shaun snapped. "They gave me a chance to actually beat the system, and I'm gonna do it."

"Break the system within the system." Jake was clearly mocking him, but he could suck it.

"Har har," Shaun replied, rolling his eyes. "You kill me." With the two still chuckling, Shaun ended the call as he came to his destination. Looking up, he gazed at the tattoo and piercing parlor, taking in the name Nidoking's Poison Ink.

A bell chingled as he walked in, a girl with blue hair looking up from behind the counter. "Yo," she welcomed with a lazy wave. She had a full sleeve of multiple fighting pokemon on her left arm. "You got an appointment?"

"No," Shaun said, shaking his head. "I got a weird question. Do you pierce pokemon?"

The girl's eyebrows rose. "Actually, that's not all that uncommon. My sandslash has a few piercings." She pointed downward to a tan pokemon that Shaun hadn't even noticed. It was curled into a ball, massive spikes prominent on its back. Two ears twitched, showing off three sets of silver studs. "Cool, huh?"

Actually yea. "Pretty neat," Shaun agreed. "I don't want just regular studs, though. I had this item called ghost gem. Can you pierce pokemon items?"

The girl looked thoughtful, running a hand through her hair before turning. "Yo, Tyler!" she called.

A voice called out from behind a black curtain, "What, Katie?"

"Can we do custom piercings with pokemon items?" Katie called back.

Black curtain parting, a red headed man that looked to be in his mid-forties walked out. He scratched tiredly at his head, shifting gray laced hair. "What, like that everstone piercing we did a few weeks ago? Sure." He turned to Shaun and offered an arm. A strong handshake followed and he offered Shaun a grin. "What type of piercing you looking for?"

"I have a sableye that I want to have a few piercings to hold the item ghost gem for battle purposes. I was just wondering if you could do that and where I could get the item."

"Well, we can definitely do a sableye piercing no problem, but for the item to work properly given it has been chopped so tiny, is four studs. There's actually jewelry shop about eight shops down that sell unique jewelry. I've had a walk in for a tattoo and she had a water stone as a necklace of all things. You can come back whenever you get what you want."

Shaun nodded. "Cool, thanks. I'll be back later."

With a nod of goodbye Shaun exited the store. He walked from the shops and towards an alley that led to tiny apartments on the other side of the shops. There he felt for his pokeballs and released his main two pokemon. With a bright flash temporarily chasing the shadows away from every corner of the alleyway, Riolu and sableye materialized.

"Alright," Shaun spoke, towering over his pokemon with a heavy frown and his arms folded. "So I don't actually know if the two of you even know what the plan is, but given after last night we aren't staying long in the city, and I know the two of you have been better listening to me, but that's only because of bribes and threats."

Both his pokemon snorted.

Shaun's brow puckered down. "Bitch all you want, I don't care so long as you two actually keep it that way. So instead of keeping up with the treats, especially for you," he pointed at Sablye, "as you've taken all my earrings, I'm going to only offer one final thing. I'm giving you your own piercings and then I don't wanna deal with anymore of your shit."

Sableye's spiked ears had raised and he clapped eagerly, thinking of the shiny items.

Riolu gaze up at Shaun, one hand on his hip and a bored expression. He curled his ears back and sniffed disdainfully as Shaun gazed down at him.

"And shit if I know what you want." Shaun gazed thoughtfully, head tilted and eyes squinting. "Whaddya want?"

A huff was his answer and an exasperated shake of the head. "Lu," Riolu sniffed. He raised a finger and pointed at the silver studded bracelet that still adorned his wrist, even if it was a bit loose, and jiggled it meaningfully.

"So you don't want anything." Shaun didn't bother to hide his incredulity.

Riolu shrugged, uncaring.

What did that even mean? Would Riolu just continue to act uncaring towards Shaun on the long run? Well, as long he won Shaun battles he didn't given a rat's ass if his pokemon even liked him.

"Fine, return," Shaun commanded, holding up the red and white sphere, watching Riolu disappear into a red of beam. He turned back to Sableye. "So we got a deal?"

Sableye raised his jagged type claws towards Shaun's ears and let his tongue roll out like a panting pooch. Wanting to confirm that this was what Shaun meant Sableye lifted his own ears up and down. When his trainer nodded the mixed type cackled happily. Oh yes, he was happy to be given such a treasure.

Feeling relieved, Shaun returned the dual type and headed towards the shop recommended. It was just as the tattoo artist had said; they sold jewelry with odd stones. Given that the town was heavily obsessed with geology it was unsurprising that even decorative items would be something like a thunder stone ring or soft sand used on clothing.

Shaun gazed at the multitude of jewelry, most of it rings and men's watches, he finally just settled on asking an attendant after seeing a few purple poison earrings but no other types.

"Excuse me." He got the attention of a pretty brunette, her smile lifting as she took in her customer and gave a small nod of greeting. "I noticed you had gem earrings. I'm looking for a specific one and just wondering if you had any."

The girl pushed up her oval glasses and went to look at where Shaun was gesturing. "Gems? Yep, got a few more behind the counter. You looking for something for your girlfriend? We have a few dragon gem earrings that any girl would want, or if she's interested in bracelets or necklaces we have flying gems attached."

"Yep, looking for my girlfriend," Shaun answered easily, going with her hasty assumption. It would be easier to get the girl to help and take less time explaining what he was really trying to do. "But I'm looking for a ghost gems. They're a dark purple color."

"Hang on, just give me a sec." Walking away Shaun watched as the girl went to ask her boss if they had any. She gestured over to Shaun, causing the blond woman to glance over. She looked over with a smile and a nod before shifting around behind the counter before pulling out a few square boxes and headed over.

"Hello there, I'm Denise. You're looking for something for your girlfriend?"

Shaun's lips twitched and he almost snorted, but despite that he still felt his hand twitched towards the name on his arm in an almost longing manner.

Whatsername, his mind seemed to whisper. Oh the things he used to get that girl. It usually involved danger or a messed up sort of lust within adrenaline needles that pierced the skin. Their minds would sink into one, an onslaught of perverted loved that ended in primitive desire.

The woman, Denise, noticed the movement and her eyes seemed to light up on the name on his arm. "What a pretty name," she complimented.

"Yea," Shaun muttered, eyes never actually glancing at the name. He didn't want to chain pure adrenaline freedom with a simple name. Perhaps that was why he had never bothered learning her name, or maybe it was because he never wanted to grow attachments. Hell, he had been too out of it to even properly remember getting the tattoo. "Anyway, she's really into ghost types and her birthday is coming up. I'm a trainer right now but figured I'd mail it beforehand."

"How sweet!" The woman beamed at him. "You know we happen to be having a sale right now as well. Bye one get half on another set of earrings or two necklaces and thirty percent of on the third.

Score.

"Maybe two pairs of earrings," Shaun said thoughtfully, nearly snorting at the bullshit coming out.

He looked down at the options. There were only four pairs, though he considered himself lucky to even get them item. Two pairs were made with gold, one nearly encasing the entirety of the tiny dark purple gem. He glanced away from that one and pulled aside the second gold option, knowing that at least some of the gem needed to touch Sableye's skin so that there would be a genetic reaction that allowed the gems power to work. The other two was made out of silver and titanium. They both had a similar make and would easily allow the gem to press against Sableye's ear. For price reasons he chose the titanium ones.

"Chosen already? Are you sure you wouldn't like to look at any others?"

"No," Shaun answered swiftly, wanting to get it over with. "Just these two." He mind raced for a moment, an idea striking him. "I have an actual full gem that I found in a cave. You wouldn't happen to be keen on trades?"

"Sorry," Denise said, shaking her head. Blond locks fell about her shoulders from the movement and she offered Shaun an easy smile. "Item trades are more for markets or street vendors. Do you still want these?"

"Yea, I'll take 'em."

When the earrings were wrung up Shaun didn't even bother to hide his grimace. He supposed the gems were worth a pretty penny, but five hundred was a hefty chunk out of the money he had earned so far. His pokemon would just have to battle even more to make it up.

With a quick thanks to the cashier Shaun headed straight for the tattoo shop. The blue haired girl, Katie, looked up and grinned. "Oh, you did come back. Alright, before we pierce you'll pokemon we'll need you to sign a form and released your pokemon."

He fingered the second pokeball attached to his belt and released it with a quick flick of his fingers. A brief flash and Sableye was out, making odd cooing sounds and gazing at the shop in awe. His tongue was out and he gazed at the plugs in Katie's ears and pointed happily at them, favoring the two a wide smile. "Saa!"

"Definitely never seen a pokemon eager for a piercing," Katie commented with a laugh, handing the papers to Shaun for his to sign. He did so quickly and handed over the two pairs of earrings. "Nice studs. Alright, come to the back." She led them to the backroom with a black leather chair. She put on a pair of black latex gloves and pat the chair for Sableye to hop on. He did so with an excited grin. "Alright, so we're gonna have to pierce his horn for the item to work, but the little guy has a pretty longue tongue."

Shaun snorted. That would be a badass look for the little gremlin with black studs visible on that long tongue. "Nah, keep it on the horns."

Grinning, she nodded. "Alright, Sableye," she spoke to the pokemon. "You know what I'm going to do to you? I'm going to pierce your horns with a small needle. It'll hurt just a pinch. Are you ok with that?" She made sure to show the device carefully to the mixed pokemon. Sableye nodded, cackling. "Alright, do you have any idea how you want these?"

"You're seriously asking the pokemon?" Shaun asked, bemused.

"Sometimes it's good to let them pick or believe they're in charge of what's happening. Allows for less stress or startled pokemon." Katie shrugged.

Shaun had to agree with that, though it was still annoying. With Sableye choosing how he wanted the piercings, slowly placing the studs in various places on the four horns. At one point he wanted all four on a single horn, another with two studs on only the top two horns and then finally deciding to simply have a single stud per horn. The top horns were pierced with the gold needles while the bottom was graced with the titanium.

"Saaa," Sableye crooned, not even wincing as each piercing sent the needle through skin. He fingered them fondly, a loud purr vibrating.

"Clean through," Katie said. "And it looks like you have a lot of room for more if you ever want any."

"Sa!" Sableye cried excitedly, looking at Shaun eagerly.

"Win more battles and we'll see," Shaun said coolly, wincing. Damn, now he'd get needy again.

(XoX)

With the promised bribery complete, the rest of the day had honestly gone alright. Sableye fought with a greater enthusiasm, battling in a flowing manner that hinted he was happy with his body. The narcissistic creature would tilt his head at various as he walked or battled, always being sure to show off his new treasures. It was a sableye's goal to have a beautiful hoard, and now he would actually have jewels that wouldn't be abandoned for survival. They would always be with him.

Riolu, on the other hand, continued to battle the same as he had. The morning battle against his rival seemed to have sucked out whatever interest he had. The rest were too pathetic, didn't spark that same thrill of struggle and animalistic fight. Was it because the pokemon he battled were too weak? His trainer had certainly been careful in selecting opponents; always asking to be sure who were new trainers.

It was surprisingly easy to get the truth out of people and find out who was truly just beginning their journey. In fact, by now the entirety of Shaun's starting group had made it to the city. He was informed this by Samuel D. Perkin, a boy that had snootily offered his name to Shaun and had thought the rebellious teen would be any easy win.

He wasn't even worth the look of distaste Shaun was favoring the boy as he was handed a whopping two hundred dollars' worth of bills. The style light brown hair was parted to the side and risked creeping over brown eyes as the boy still continued to sputter in shock at his loss.

Riolu was gazing down at the battered pokemon Samuel had started out with, a tyrogue. It had been an exciting thought, fighting a fellow fighting type, but the skills of the other was lacking. Fighting moves must have allowed it to cross the mountain pass with limited problems, giving that most of the pokemon living in the area were generally weak to fighting types, but it had yet to face a proper challenge and therefore made it cocky and generally useless in a more serious challenge.

"Quit your bitching and hand over the money," Shaun growled, hand forward and palm up. His second hand rested in his pocket, fingers rubbing at the hidden switchblade should the need arise.

"There's no way you won without cheating!" Samuel shouted. He was looking at his pokemon in disbelief, wide eyes darting back at Shaun in suspicion.

"Cheating how, exactly?" Shaun drawled, quickly becoming exasperated. He ran a hand through messy black locks and rolled his shoulders, fixing the foreigner with a cool look. "Everybody saw my pokemon beat yo pokemon's ass and you crying like a little bitch. "If you can't handle being here go back to Kanto, kringo."

The onlookers 'ooh'd' mockingly, jeering.

Samuel sputtered, face growing red with embarrassment and anger, hardly believing that such a racial slur were being directed towards his own person. "Who do you think you are?" he growled lowly, voice deepening as he stood straight so that he could look down on Shaun. And really, who did he think he was messing with? Even if the rebellious teen had won without luck he was still below Samuel status wise. It wouldn't matter what happened, the class you're born into decides your fate.

"Who do I think I am?" the fiend parroted mockingly. He gazed at Samuel, face growing dark and deadly. "The guy who's gonna slit your throat if you don't pay up."

There was an awestruck silence as the surrounding crowd gazed between the two teens, wondering if blood would actually be spilt. Some even looked eager, eyes cast with dark shadows that hinted of a traumatic experience that had them lusting for more brutality. Those that gazed with haunted eyes were all seasoned trainers, people that had come across their own share of brutal scenes. The energy in the air seemed to thrill Shaun because before Samuel knew it a flash of silver was all he saw before the end of something very sharp was pressing into his nose.

Whispers erupted and hallow laughter spread.

"Should we get someone?" one whispered.

"Who cares? The guy deserves it."

"Pussy trainer."

"Go back to Kanto, fucker."

On and on it went, going over the two teens heads, but one voice – a cool, baritone that whispered its way into their minds like mist – gave them pause.

"Dear Arceus, Samuel, you're embarrassing not only yourself but your family station and region. Either pay our fellow trainer or crawl back to Kanto like the defeated poochyena you are imitating."

Samuel felt warm, sweat building with the fear and embarrassment. He gave a gulp, hand slowly going to his pants pocket. "Alright," he said hoarsely. "I'll pay."

"Damn right," Shaun growled, palm out and grasping the bills as they were handed over. "Fuck off," he told the other train, not even bothering to spare him a glance as he took in the new arrival.

The boy had a look of wealthy confidence. He walked with a swagger that gave way that he looked down on others, despite his sudden interruption. He watched Samuel walk away, a cool look to his face as he sneered. "Yet another waste." He glanced over at Shaun, ice blue eyes assessing. "Not all of Kanto citizens are as useless as to what you've just witnessed."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that. He seemed to be one of the strongest of the Kanto trainers I fought, and I just wiped the floor with his fat ass in two minutes. They're all the same."

The onlookers hooted and hollered, "ooh's" escaping through chortles once more. A never ending lust for a fight seemed to always follow a trainer's crowd.

The boy offered a small smile, looking far more crafty. "Really." He looked to be musing. "Care to back up those words? Two pokemon each and wager five hundred."

Shaun didn't like the way this newcomer stared at him, assessing him closely as if seeing an answer, but he still responded cockily. He had been on a winning streak and no Kanto trainer would get him down. "Hell yea. Name is Shaun, by the way. "

The boy smiled softly. "I know." He blinked slowly and lifted a shined red and white pokeball. "And I am Eric Stone." With a flash of light a small, bright blue pokemon that Shaun recognized from the previous route appeared.

"Phaa," the ground elephant panted, raising it tiny snout and stomping the ground.

"Tch. Make dust of this ground type," Shaun said to Riolu, stuffing his fists into his pockets and looking far too relaxed. His face was quirked with a lazy grin that was made him look far too cocky.

The fighting type stepped forward, palms forward and ears curled upward. He sniffed once, red eyes staring hard at the smaller pokemon. Slowly, he moved into a crouching position, feet sliding along the ground in a smooth motion.

Across on the other side Eric gave a simple command, looking rather at ease as well. "Phanpy, proceed."

Shaun furrowed his brows, momentarily confused. He wasn't used to fighting another trainer that allowed the pokemon to make the decisions on its own. It was certainly surprising.

The ground type pawed at the ground, giving a loud snort of understanding, and rushed forward. It charged steadily, eyes following Riolu's form, and then before Shaun knew it the small pokemon jumped into the air, form shifting into a small ball and speeding forward at an even faster speed.

Riolu looked visibly startled, nearly faltering at the shock of seeing such a creature speed up so suddenly. "Ri," he sniffed, still looking intrigued. Without bothering to wait for a command he slid his feet forward, body shifting and palms pulling back. With an almost casual spin Riolu gained enough momentum to slam his fist into the incoming pokemon. To the surprise of everyone, the spinning ground type was sent ricocheting off in another direction, spinning body slowing as it came out of its ball form and wobbled on four legs, looking physically hurt.

"Phaa," it moaned, wincing at rubbing at its hurt side with its trunk.

"As expected of a fighting type," Eric commented, not looking at all disturbed that a single attack had done such damage to his pokemon. He said nothing more, not even bothering to give an attack.

"Riolu, another Force Palm," Shaun ordered. If this guy was gonna give him a free win he sure wasn't complaining.

The rest of the battle went by just as smoothly. Phanpy continued to charge, body forming into a spinning ball and following Riolu at breakneck speeds. The lithe fighting type continued to slide into different fighting positions, using the momentum of its opponent to its advantage and sending it skidding away with a few well-placed Force Palms.

When at last the ground elephant rolled to a stop and uncurled, clearly defeated, Eric recalled the fallen pocket monster with a bored look. It looked out of place, such a bored expression during a battle, and Shaun could help but think the kid had some other motive for challenging him given that he was studying Riolu with such a severe look.

"Go," Eric stated simply, releasing his final pokemon and Shaun sucked in a breath, staring at the tan chimp pokemon as the fire on its behind grew with the excitement for battle.

"That pokemon…" Shaun was at a loss for words, studying Eric with an equal look of intensity.

"Oh, have you seen a chimchar before?" Eric questioned, tilting his head. "Not surprising given that five others received the same starter as me. I suppose I wasn't as lucky as some to get one of the single surprise pokemon like your own."

Shaun swallowed; thoughts in a haze. This was one of the pokemon that had been with the trainers that attacked him, but if what this guy said was true then he had a high list of suspects. This Eric guy didn't look familiar, but Shaun hadn't been able to get a clear view of the faces of his attackers. False accusations would be too dangerous for Shaun right now.

"Yea, Shaun breathed, and he noticed with delight that Riolu had the same look of intense disgust on his face. He recognized the pokemon as well. "You could say that." His and Eric's eyes met, and for a moment there was silence as the two assessed one another, until Shaun's broke it with a deadly whisper that only Riolu could pick up. "Destroy it."

Before Eric even knew what was happening there was a blue blur crossing his field. In a single, smooth motion, Riolu had slid his feet forward in such a way he threw his own body weight forward. Black foot striking forward, Chimchar was sent flying, eyes scrunched up in pain and body bouncing harshly against the floor.

"Ember," Eric commanded, the first one of the battle. He watched passively as the fire chimp got up, a fierce expression show as tiny flames soared from his mouth, a few strays creating burn marks on the ground, and landed on the fighting type. Riolu took it well, arms up and defending, not looking too bothered from the heated attack. "Defend," Eric ordered as Riolu began to move forward, toes moving lightly upon the ground. "Its body moves like drifting water, so don't expect sharp movements."

Shaun stared, brows furrowed at the advice his opponent had just given to his pokemon. This trainer was watching his own pokemon far too closely. "Force Palm," he ordered as Riolu got within striking distance.

A barked confirmation came forth and Riolu struck, eyes soon widening in shock as he shot forward, only for Chimchar to rear back in a smooth motion, almost moving along with Riolu's movements. With a smug grin, Chimchar opened wide, burning hot coals shooting forward.

Riolu howled, backing away from the close range attack that created burns on his arm. He shot Chimchar a vicious look, growling loudly. His red eyes were lit with a furious intensity. Blue light exploded from his palms, and before anyone could even blink, a blue furred fist shot forward, striking the fire type square in the face. A loud crack sounded in the area as Chimchar went flying once more, screeching in pain.

It landed with a harsh thud, clutching its bleeding face and howling in agony. It glared with squinted eyes, still rolling about and holding its broken nose. "Charr," it breathed, glower promising retribution.

Eric, however, wasn't caring for his pokemon's pride, and was instead staring at Riolu with pursed lips. "Return," he called to his pokemon, observant look never leaving him as he stared hard at the fighting type.

It was a dangerous look, and Shaun didn't like the way this person was looking at his pokemon, especially since Shaun was starting to wonder if this guy had really been there during the attack. But if he had, surely he should look surprised that Shaun was alive, or at least go out of his way to never come into contact with him lest Shaun actually recognized him.

"There is no point in forcing my pokemon in receiving unnecessary damage if he's just going to lose," Eric stated. He silently pulled out some bills and counted out the promised amount. "Until next time, if you choose to continue on," Eric said. He graced Shaun with a cold smile and turned, walking away without another word.

Shaun and Riolu stared at one another, dubious. That battle had been too easy, too quick, and his pokemon could have easily continued to fight. The look in Eric's gaze had been dark and dangerous. This battle was not a matter of who's pokemon was the strongest; no this this battle was a means to another end, but what could that by want?

If he was one of Shaun's attackers, he had certainly made a show of seeming oblivious to having ever met aside from the initial gathering. It could be a façade, or he really could have never been a part of the attack and was simply another pretentious douche trying to see if Shaun had any potential.

Whatever it was, Shaun didn't like it.

(XoX)

Shaun stared hard at the pokeball in his hand. It was nearly dark, and though it had only been a single day, both Riolu and Sableye had grown far more than Shaun had ever thought for a pokemon. These beasts were truly remarkable, but there was still the one beast in particular that he was having a problem with.

Sabley was hunched over at Shaun's side, watching with an eerie stillness that only the dead could replicate. Riolu stood on Shaun's other side, watching solemnly and prepared to deal with whatever was to happen.

With a deep breath, Shaun released the captured beast within.

The bulky figure materialized slowly, and when at last the caged rhyhorn formed completely she fixed angry eyes on the darkly dressed teen. She growled low, a deep baritone rumble that reminded Shaun of earthquakes and rockslides. He was slow in his actions, not wanting to startle the pokemon before him back into the monstrous force he knew her to be.

A heavy tin of pokemon food was slowly poured over, forming a tiny pile. The surprised grunt escaping the beast almost startled Shaun into jumping away though he stayed his ground with an audible gulp. Still, with the same agonizing slowness, Shaun held out his hand, palm up and flat. His arm nearly shook in case there was a sudden lunge to snap off his hand.

Rhyhorn continued to stare suspiciously, blunt toes scratching at the grass and breathing in with snorts and huffs. It had been a while since it had been properly fed. Aside from the one time when Shaun had been unconscious and his pokemon cared for, she hadn't eaten.

Even so, Rhyhorn snapped at the offending appendage, missing by a good distance as Shaun snapped his arms to his chest. Before she had even closed her mouth completely the fighting being and dark creature were upon her, force and spiritual energy doing a great deal more damage than before. Riolu slammed his palms against her side and a devastating Night Shade tore at her mind.

"Ryyy," she moaned, stamping her feet and looking murderous.

"Not this time," Shaun spat, fist still shaking. He could have lost an actual arm in nothing more than a split second. The life of a trainer, Shaun realized, could end within a second, and no one would care because there would just be another trainer to take their place. "These two are a lot stronger than before." Shaun leveled the pokemon a look, expression forming dark sincerity. "You belong to me now," he continued with a growl, "and I can keep you in this ball for a long time. You learn to listen to me and I can grant you freedom, such as food." He nodded at the food by his feet before actually wondering if the rock type understood what he was saying. Weren't these pokemon meant to be a bit on the dim side?

She appeared to understand, strangely, because she was staring at him with a dark look that certainly spoke of retribution as dirt brown eyes glanced between the food and Shaun. With just as much caution as the teen was showing, Rhyhorn took a tentative step forward, nose toward the food.

Once again Shaun held the food up, eyes never leaving Rhyhorn's as the two were within a foot of each other. A large, wet tongue swept out, taking all the food in Shaun's palm and leaving it dripping with saliva. The dark teen grimaced but looked triumphant, stupidly allowing anything but pure blankness to show on his face.

It was in that moment of foolishness that she struck.

It was like a slow motion feature. Shaun could see the intent in her eyes before she even struck. Her eyes narrowed, and in that split second he all but threw himself back. The thick horn easily pierced his skin; a sensation like sandpaper and diamonds rubbing against his skin. If he hadn't had that moment of awareness the simple gash on his side could have easily meant his end.

Riolu and Sableye flew into action with fists and claws, outraged the moment it even shifted into position. The beast soon found itself to be on the receiving end of pain, a very different scenario from their past meeting where it was she who had them running or their very lives. Now, her body slumping almost immediately from the onslaught given that she hadn't truly had enough time to get her bearings since he cave, went down.

Shaun moaned, hands pressing hard against his side. The horn had easily pierced his jacket and shirt, leaving a massive bleeding gash that was thankfully shallow. His eyes watered as the pain hit him and he could barely make out a whirlwind of purple dust settled upon the rock beast until a very human voice was coaxing him to return the untamed pokemon to its pokeball.

The city was a place of people; privacy was not something you were going to get, especially if you were in tourist trap areas such as the park. Several trainers who had seen what had happened rushed over, one with a giant purple moth already out of its pokeball putting Rhyhorn to sleep with powder that seemed to come from its massive wings. A few others had called out their pokemon and were seeing if there was anything they could do but seeing as how the trouble was already knocked out and Shaun's wound wasn't life threatening some were already edging away from the scene.

Shaun let out a hallow laugh that ended in a choked moan that he would deny was a cry. Well, that was it for training, he thought dully, and that was it for whatever money he had made because that would surely be gone by the time he was out of the doctors.

"Fuckin' bitch," he moaned, earning a few chuckles from two of the trainers that were nice enough to escort him a nearby clinic.

Seriously, could there be one day in his journey where he did not get hurt?

(XoX)

The air was filled with intense heaviness of sweating bodies dancing away their broken dreams in the tightly enclosed underground club. The room was dark save the rotating neon lights and the occasional flash of white giving view to the shadowed club goers. Drinks passed from hand to hand, never reaching the same lips more than once and people just sharing in this false moment of unity. When the last bit of alcohol was gone, the music had slowed and the lights had dimmed would the broken trainers that made up this particular crowd go back into their lonely worlds.

High above the dancers, however, were the watchers. Private rooms held the higher class, the better trainers and the richer liquid poison that was never in danger of running out. Drinks were poured just as quickly as the lower level though it didn't linger with forbidden danger or the touch of another set of lips.

One in particular that sat high above the cloudy minds of the lost sipped almost casually at his iced bourbon. The cool liquid left an odd burn at the back of his throat and trailed downwards where it settled with a comforting warmth in his stomach. Ice blue eyes were watching the actions of those down below.

The others company, however, was not so relaxed. A finger tapped agitatedly at the glass drink, alcohol only half gone thought it had been obvious by the melting ice he'd had it for a while. He peered about with an impatience that spoke of just exactly how he felt about this particular settlement.

"I will never know how you find such pleasure in watching those that have already wasted away." Brown hair was swept back only for it to fall back into place of layered locks parted to the side.

That cold look of valuation never once glanced over. "As usual it seems that you have eyes and yet you choose not see."

The young man sneered in return. "And pray tell, what do you see?" He gestured towards the first level of dancers lost within the haze of smoke and their own minds. "Broken beings that do nothing but crawl within their own filth, never looking for more than what they see in front of them?" He then gestured to the upper level where the money and liquor flowed. "Or those that were destined to be among their own, above the stepping stones?"

The other shook his head and downed the rest of his drink in one go. Still as useless and blind as ever. "Considering that your uncle is looking for any person he deemed gifted with talent, regardless of class, and wanted you specifically to be on the look, I'd thought you would be more open minded, Andrew."

Andrew Broderick gave the other a bored glance. "Let's just get down to business. Who was it that you saw that peaked your interest?"

"My interest is in this ever growing war, and those that can be used against it," Eric Stone remarked idly. "Really, your lack of foreplanning is getting both ridiculous and boring. So far your actions lead me to think you will simply use this time given to us to be nothing more than a trainer."

Andrew's face was pure stone, stiff in his anger. "Name, now."

"You know who," Eric said with a careless shrug, arm out and shaking his glass. It was filled instantly and he took a brief sip. He eyed Andrew for only a moment, already bored with the other. "Your uncle wanted names of those to be the mindless drones that fight out of control pokemon, even those on legendary status. You know the rehab reject showed pure talent, and even if he dies early and doesn't make it is simply because there is no one to make sure his talent excels. If he does I guarantee you that he will be a deadly enemy. There aren't many can use the full strength of the title pokemon trainer despite there being tens of thousands. Most mindless followers or simple beings that will never take the next level. Your uncle wants a good weapon? Then take Shaun Tess."

"You can't honestly expect Tess to become any sort of threat." He was incredulous. "He survived off nothing but luck, and it's only one week in. What about the months to come?"

"Some say luck is a skill as well," Eric mused, leaning fully against the black leather couches. "Take him, don't take him, I don't really care." Eric leveled Andrew with a solid look. "Either way, I truly believe he will become a major player in this war. Everyone will be making their move in no more than a year – and oh yea look at that, the boy only has one year to live." Ice blue eyes narrowed. "Even the lowest will do what they have to to survive."

With that he stood, fixing the dress suit cuffs as he did so. "If you believe so," Eric commented, following the others actions. He had been ready to leave the minute he walked in.

"No, I say so." The tone was ice cold to match the look leveled at him. "You may be correct in saying that it is only the first week, but within this first week I already have a better understanding of what is truly needed to be done. Are you going to play trainer, or are you actually going to become an actual player and not a mindless drone?"

Andrew's gaze held a cruel glint in his eyes as he stared Eric down, lip turning upward into a sneer. They didn't say anything for a long moment, the silence challenging. Finally, "You should get rid of that phanpy," Eric said. "It won't keep you or itself alive for even a month on the next route." He turned swiftly and walked out, and if he planned on telling his uncle who to watch out for Eric honestly didn't know.

When he was at last alone Eric pulled out a smooth, silver cell phone. It flipped open in one smooth motion and was already dialing. Eric held it against his ear and breathed in the musky smell of the club. "Hello, Lance."

(XoX)

AN: So this chapter took forever! Sorry it took so long but honestly it just did not want to be done. So a little filler and training bit for everyone with an added on hold item for Sableye. The mechanics for hold items are obviously different than in games, considering that gems disappear after only one use. How they actually work will be in a later chapter.

If people are wondering about the whatsername thing with Shaun's old love it's actually a shoutout to the Greenday song Whatsername. Thought it would be fun.

Also, Kringo is based off Gringo, an old Spanish slang word for white people, only because Lenore is kind of prejudice towards Kanto people I used the K instead of G. People of Lenore are a bit darker in color based off those in Kanto, though strangely in my world those in Johto are also of a darker color.

Honestly, Shaun is just a prejudiced asshole. Most of what he says or does won't be of good conscious or even respectable. Shaun isn't someone I'm trying to get people to like, but I just want a difficult character thrown in a difficult position.

Also, I've never been one to beg for reviews, but I'm honestly hoping for some constructive feedback. I honestly don't know if anyone still reads this or even cares for it, but I wouldn't mind if someone gave me some pointers or could honestly tell my writing has grown.