Chapter 32: Battle Spire Mountain Part 1

"Richter, where the heck taking me?!" I asked as the Timburr began to pull me by the sleeve. Cilan, Ash, Iris, and my Pokémon hot on our tail. Richter had reached out for me with the utmost urgency and began dragging me forward without so much as a hello. Apparently being the only people to actually care about my safety, the trio of Pokémon trainers decided to follow us. "And where's Arcade?"

"He's in trouble- huff- needs your help!" Richter replied in a panic. I gaped at him.

"What kind of trouble?"

"Huh?" I heard Iris pipe up behind me. I really need to remember these people can't understand Pokémon before I open my mouth. Embarrassed blushing appeared on my face in an instant. There was no way to misinterpret what just happened. There went my cover.

"Black, you're acting as if you can talk to that Timburr…" Cilan muttered. I groaned.

"Yeah, that's cause I can!"

"What? No way!" Ash replied. I was fed up with people getting off the topic of what Richter was doing already and decided to prove it.

"Pikachu!" I yelled, the rodent tilting his head at me. "What colour are Ash's pajamas?"

"Green," he replied quickly.

"They're green, Ash!" I shouted. Ash gasped alongside Iris and Cilan. Iris' face flushed and she turned to the Axew which had popped out of her hair at some point.

"Axew don't tell him any of my secrets! DON'T!" she demanded rather quickly. I almost laughed at Axew's compliant, yet fearful, expression. There was no room for laughter, though. Whatever trouble Arcade was in, Richter was certainly not laughing about it. I picked up the pace, resulting in a grateful nod from Richter.

"So… what kind of trouble?" I asked again.

"He… started hearing voices-" This was starting out well. "-but he was really hearing a legendary Pokémon inside the mountain, so-"

"He was hearing a what?!"

"Who was hearing what?" Cilan asked. I gave him a hand gesture to indicate I would tell him later.

"Lemme finish! We came across these humans in costumes, but they were holding it captive! And not even with a pokéball! They were intentionally hurting it!"

"Huh? Then shouldn't we-" I was about to finish my sentence about going to some authorities for help. However, I quickly realized that going to anyone and claiming that a talking Pokémon told you that his trainer needed help with a bunch of Pokémon poachers wasn't the most solid case in the universe. "So… who were they? The guys holding the Pokémon?"

"Uhh… that weird guy Zack said it was Team Plum Sauce?"

"Team Plasma?!" I screeched us both to a stop, the Timburr's grip slipping at the sudden stop. He fell over in a nose-plant, which was reason enough for a guilty gulp on my part. "Sorry, but slow down! Calm down and tell me what happened or I'm not gonna be any help!"

"You mean that we're not gonna be any help right?" My eyes opened wide as those words slipped from Iris' mouth. I whirled around at them and pulled back a bit in surprise. They were all staring at me with determined faces. Even little Pikachu looked focused and ready.

"Huh? You don't even know the situation!" I said, pointing out their own strange desire to help.

"Someone's in trouble. We should help. It would mean a poor mark on my Hero Connoisseur Record if I didn't help out!" Cilan declared to me and the heavens.

"Hero… Connoisseur…?"

"Don't get him started," Iris groaned. She recovered quickly to give me her most courageous face. "But seriously, we want to help. Ash may not look like much, but he can be a good battler."

"Hey! Iris!" Ash shouted.

"We're in too," Pikachu told me as his trainer was distracted. I smiled. I wasn't exactly into endangering others, but I would need all the help I could get and I doubt anyone else would believe this situation.

"Okay. Now, Richter, could you explain from the beginning what's happening. We'll need to be prepared."

"Axel, something's happening," said White as she peeked from behind her tree. Axel followed suit after taking a swig from his (third) orange soda. They glared at the Plasma grunts as they approached the mountain slowly. The two of them hardly blinked as a single grunt stood directly next to the mountain. "What're they doing? There's nothing but a wall."

"Whatever it is, we'll see it." Axel rasped, spectacled eyes glued to the lead grunt. Suddenly, the grunt reached for the mountain and… stuck his hand inside it. The two of them gaped as the grunt's entire hand disappeared into the rock wall.

This would be really incredible if the grunt didn't show off the workings of the optical illusion by pulling back a sheet of paper that had been painted to resemble a rock wall, revealing a gigantic cave opening behind it. White went from gaping to glaring. Specifically, at Axel.

"Those craft Scrafty's!" Axel mused as he scratched his chin in thought. "Classic ninja maneuver!"

"Are you for real?" White asked in disbelief.

"Hm? Yeah, real deal here. Perhaps these Plasmids are a worthy adversary after all." White rolled her eyes at this. Axel, however, kept his gaze on the criminals as they paraded into the mountain, one after the other until all but two remained outside. The curtain closed and the two guards faced away from the mountain.

"One for each of us?" White smirked.

"Nah. I got this." Axel reached into his pocket and removed a highly polished friend ball. White quirked a brow as Axel enlarged and opened it, the energy within forming into a short, yellow and orange mouse-like Pokémon with black tipped ears and a long, swishy, whippy tail that ended in a lightning bolt shape. The electric type Raichu gazed up at Axel and grinned.

"Finally," he said. "I've been waitin' to stretch my legs!"

"Get ready to stretch out everything, Lucan."

"What's my target?"

"Heheh, look at that, you're learning." Axel peered around his tree and spied the Plasmids with a piercing gaze. "Two… 'trainers,' I suppose we could call them that. Each has got two pokéballs."

"Okay." And with that the Raichu was off. He ran towards the Plasma grunts on pretty swift legs, considering his respectable size. White gave a puzzled look towards Axel.

"Uh… why did it sound like you were talking-"

"Long story." Axel grinned at her. White was about to protest further, but turned her head at the sound of a duo of pained moans. She flinched at the sight. Not two seconds earlier, the Plasmids had been brandishing a pair of pokéballs at the poor, solitary Raichu. Now, all that was there was two unconscious Plasmids, a fainted Trubbish, a fleeing Krokorok, and a very proud-looking Raichu, staring back at White. Axel bowed to White in response to her gaping face. "Shall we?"

Arcade was a creature of preparation. He was also a surprisingly good actor. He showed incredible restraint to not laugh at the ticklish prods of the Plasma grunts as he was bound at the wrists behind his back and thrust roughly against the cave wall next to a zonked Zack.

"I'll report to Gorm, stay here with Terrakkion and the brats."

"Sure. Go stretch your legs." The second guard droned, yawning. Arcade, confident he wasn't being watched given the positioning of the footsteps he heard, squinted his eyes open. One of the Plasma guards was still present with her back to him. Slowly, and as naturally as possible, he shifted his weight so he would fall on his side, most of himself concealed behind Terrakkion's bulky form. He knew that had made some noise so he remained still, knowing the guard could only see his unmoving feet.

"Huh. Moving sleeper."

Arcade breathed a silent sigh of relief and quietly rolled over, approaching Terrakkion and getting out of range of the grunt's sight. Once he was close enough to a section of bruises along Terrakkion's side, he silently removed a hyper potion from his coat. He maneuvered himself so his bound hands could gently squeeze the bottle, releasing a healing spray over Terrakkion's bruises.

Thank you, human. Terrakkion thought to him.

Yeah, keep trying, the name's still Arcade, buddy. Arcade thought to himself.

Hmph. Maybe you are more impudent than I thought.

Wait… did you just…?

Arcade shook his head and got back to work. His hand froze, however, when a shadow loomed over him. He whirled around, heart rebounding within his chest. The Lilligant leered at him with the nastiest expression the grass type could muster given its lack of mouth.

"Us Plasma grunts aren't as dense as those from Team Rocket or Galctic." Arcade clenched his teeth as the domineering voice of his guard to his left spoke up. The woman was sneering with a large grin that would shatter a camera lens. "I think putting you to sleep is a little too-"

"Electroweb!" Suddenly, a net of electric silk sprung like an angry Pyroar. The Lilligant was instantly bound and shocked, fainting instantly.

"What the-" the Plasma grunt started as she reached for her pocket.

"Bullet seed!" Just as swiftly as the electric attack before it, a shower of plant seeds knocked away the peon's hand. Arcade turned his head to find myself and Cilan having just emerged from the hole he himself had climbed through. In front of us were our Joltik and Pansage respectively, all of us with glares on our faces. The plasma grunt put her hands up with a grim expression lighting her up like the coward she was. Cilan nodded at me and I knew to cover my ears then. Arcade, the quick study that he was, covered them as well. "Grasswhistle, Pansage!"

Pansage removed one of the leaves from his head and began to blow in it. I smirked when the Plasma Grunt's eyes began to sag more and more until he collapsed altogether. Out like a light.

"How the hell did you guys know-" Arcade spoke the moment we unplugged our ears.

"Thanks for saving my life guys. Oh you're welcome, Arcade, buddy, no problem," I responded while Joltik got to work cutting through Arcade's bonds. Once free, the doctor flexed his wrists. "Just promise you won't be a monotone, ungrateful dip from now on. Oh sure thing, man."

"Shut up, Black," he said, glancing at Cilan.

"Your Timburr came and found us," the green-haired gym leader explained while untying the slumbering Zack. Arcade got to work himself taking the remains of his ropes and binding the Plasma grunt before he woke. "Though I must admit, I didn't expect to really see Terrakkion down here!"

"Wait… my Timburr came and found you? How did you know to come here? And if you did know to come here, why didn't you tell anyone?"

"We sent Ash and Iris to try and convince anyone they could," I continued.

"How. Did. You-"

"I can talk to Pokémon."

"I don't want your dumb jokes right now Black."

I sighed, frustrated. "You're scared of flashing lights because they once gave you a seizure, the thing that convinced you to go into medicine was when you restarted someone's heart, and you use Mt. Silver Fresh Deodorant."

Arcade's jaw dropped. His eyes darted at his Timburr, then to me, and back to Richter. Richter shrugged sheepishly. "No. Way."

"He told me a lot more than that, y'know. You can believe it or not, but right now we need to free Terrakkion and get out of here!"

"One problem."

"What now?"

"You put him to sleep."

I glanced over my shoulder and my heart sank. Terrakkion was indeed snoring like a baby. I'm surprised I hadn't heard the peacefully cacophonic tone before. Now that he actually pointed it out, it was quite loud.

"Ah… so we have." I facepalmed.

"Besides, he's injured. He's not going anywhere and even if we tried a pokéball, I've heard the odds of catching a legendary successfully, even with the added benefit of sleep, isn't great." Arcade gave me an intensely serious look, which I mirrored in response. "I need to treat him here."

"With Plasma crawling all over the place?" I shot at him.

"If you've got a better idea, I'd like to hear it."

"Fine," I groaned, "I guess we don't have much choice. We'll cover you."

"Thanks." Arcade said sincerely and with a nod. That done, he got to work, removing a satchel from beneath his coat. As for me, I turned to Terrakkion as Cilan went to the entrance to see if we were alone. I heard Zack yawn next to me as he went through the steps of regaining consciousness.

"They… really messed this guy up." I stated softly. I knew Team Plasma weren't reasonable people, but they truly made an effort to hurt this legendary Pokémon whom they coveted so dearly. I felt strange as I stared at this Pokémon's cuts and bruises. Something like… guilt.

"Yeah," Arcade nonchalantly replied as he used up some more super potion on Terrakkion's leg.

"How… bad is he?"

"This is quite a bit of damage, but he's a legendary Pokémon so I don't imagine it'll take the biggest toll on him. Though, I don't imagine him sprinting anytime soon."

I was silent. For a while, I had just assumed Team Plasma were thieves and nothing more. I figured for all their talk about treating Pokémon right, they'd at least have the decency not to hurt the Pokémon they were trying so desperately to save. So right there, as I stared at the fallen legendary Rock-type Pokémon, I made my decision.

I wasn't running anymore.

"Joel!" I extended an arm towards the idle electric type, motioning for him to come with me. He leapt onto my arm in a panicked hurry, possibly startled at my intensity. I didn't worry about it though. Instead, I gave Cilan a fright by rushing past him into the cave tunnel ahead, lit by several lightbulbs wired to the ceiling.

"Black! Where are you going?" I heard Cilan call after me.

"Taking initiative. Watch Terrakkion!" I shouted back while my hands reached for my pokéballs. Releasing my Pokémon as I ran, I had only one thought in my mind: I wasn't going to let them do whatever they were doing. Even if I had to take them on myself…

"You get the two on the left, I got the two on the right!"

"Why do you get the big ones?"

"Shush. Just move."

"Fine."

"Lucan, IronTail, aim for their legs."

"Dewott, Water Gun."

With a simultaneous, tremendous thud, the four unsuspecting Plasma guards at the opening of one of the many tunnels in that mountain collapsed. Soon after, White and Axel emerged from said opening, confirmed that the guards were unconscious, and continued on their way, their Pokémon following in their wake. Axel, in classic secret agent fashion, lit up his X-transceiver to talk to the mysterious static-person.

"Looker, I'm inside. Got a few chumps in here who need some cuffs," he explained quickly.

"Understood," responded the transceiver.

"You wanna tell me who that is?" White whispered as the four of them stalked through the rocky hallway.

"No, what gave you that idea?" Axel replied matter-of-factly. "Now shhh, I think I hear something."

Had White had the energy, she probably would've decked him for shushing her. However, she also heard a loud series of bangs echoing throughout the corridor. The two ventured further, carefully stepping towards the cave opening…

…and coming face to face with a group of Plasmids carrying various pieces of mechanical equipment as they turned the corner.

Nessie was taking a leisurely stroll toward her match, making a shortcut through the forest. She had a skip in her step and the utmost happiness in her smile. She was confident and ready for a good match. Well, she was until she heard a cracking sound to her left.

Before her head could fully turn, a blur of purple came careening through the underbrush. Reacting at the speed of molasses, Nessie felt the full brunt of the speeding object, finding herself on her back directly following impact.

"Owww, gee, could you please watch where you're going?" Nessie murmured, rubbing the back of her head as that is what she landed on.

"Oh no, I'm sorry!" Nessie was in for another surprise when she was yanked onto her feet by an irresistible pull on her arm. She looked at the owner of such staggering strength to find Iris smiling at her apologetically. "Ran a little too fast. Wait, you're a Pokémon trainer, right?"

"Yeah."

"I need to ask you something!" Iris shouted urgently, to the discomfort of Nessie. "Do you know where the tournament officials are?"

"Uh… it's a thirty minute walk that way, toward the hotel. Why?"

"Noooo! We can't wait that long! If I go my fastest, those slowpokes won't make it back here in time!"

"Huh? What's so urgent? Something to do with the tournament!"

"If I don't contact the tournament officials, who knows what could happen with Team Plasma on the loose!"

"Team Plasma?"

"Hmmm, that could be bothersome." The two girls jumped at the sound of the unfamiliar voice. With the same startling spontaneity as Iris' entrance, they felt an alien power seize their limbs, binding them to their bodies. They found themselves helpless, both dropping to the ground in seconds. Their Pokemon instantly felt the same sensation course throughout their bodies.

"What is this?" Iris demanded openly as she struggled against the nothing restraining her.

"I can't have you two calling attention to us just yet," said the voice as Iris looked up to find a Plasma grunt… with brown bangs emerging from her hood. "It'll make it far more difficult…"

Iris grunted in rage.

"…to catch Victini," said Alicia glumly.