The Poke Wars alternate universe was created by Cornova who was nice enough to let me muck about in it with Dawson.

August 28th

"Move it Clair!" Dawson said as he lept off Togekiss and began grabbing things at the campsite.

Clair was a little slower but never the less hurried behind Dawson. Both had made a beeline for the campsite as soon as they had gained sufficient altitude when the left the steel plant. When they looked back they could see the still smoldering form of Nidoking in pursuit as best as it could manage. They needed to clear out their camp as soon as possible before the thing reached them.

"What does it take to kill that thing?" Clair wondered aloud as she stuffed her sleeping bag into it's pouch.

"The only thing I know about that thing for sure is that it's soaked up far more punishment than I ever thought possible and it is now VERY pissed at us." Dawson said tossing most of his supplies into his pack.

Both froze as they heard the roar of the Nidoking and the sound of breaking trees in the distance. Nothing had to be said between the two as they grabbed what they could and rushed back to their Pokemon. Both Togekiss and Dragonair, after watching Nidoking shrug off more damage than either imagined, were nervous and restless as the their two trainers lept onto their backs.

It was just in time as the roaring form of Nidoking plowed through the forest towards them. The trainers and their Pokemon shot upwards as several spines were launched towards them. It was a blind shot and it showed as not one of the spines even got close to the four of them. As they fled towards the sky the Nidoking let out another massive roar and began following from the ground once again.

"We can't head back to the base with that thing following us." Clair shouted over the rushing air.

"The mountains!" Dawson shouted back, "We can head over them, then double back once we lose that thing on the other side." He patted Togekiss on the side towards the mountain range and the Pokemon chirped in response adjusting it's heading.

"What about food? We left most of our meals back in the camp site." Clair said as Dragonair caught up to Togekiss.

"We'll figure it out as we go. I know enough about survival that we should be OK for a few days." Dawson said watching Clair nod as the two continued to fly towards the snowy mountains.

The first thing the two noticed as they fled was how efficiently the Nidoking was follow them. Despite them being on creatures that could fly it's roars could always be heard in the distance and it would occasionally come within sight of the two as they raced through the sky. When they could see it they saw it clearly adjusting it's path to find the clearest route so it could keep up with them. Even as the terrain grew more and more rocky it still managed to relentlessly pursue them.

The second thing they noticed was how cold it was getting. They were gaining altitude and the temperature showed it. Their breaths coming out in clouds they continued to soar over the mountains. Only after they started passing through the snow covered tops did they finally stop seeing or hearing the Nidoking. By that time however both trainers were freezing and their teeth chattering at the chill cold and wind.

"D-D-Dawson we n-n-need to get out of here." Clair said shivering.

"We're almost to the top." Dawson replied as he hugged himself for warmth, "When w-w-we top the mountains we c-c-can just glide down."

No sooner had he said this than the crest of the mountains moved below them. As they looked down their hearts sank as they saw a massive cloud formation covering the other side of the mountains. It was clear that they were storm clouds and that they were heading right towards them.

"Togekiss can we avoid those?" Dawson asked.

Togekiss gave a chirp but she and Dragonair had also been hit hard by the cold and sudden marathon to get away from the Nidoking. Both trainers knew, as they started to glide towards the clouds, that neither Pokemon could last much longer much less avoid what looked to be miles of storm clouds. Gliding was the best they could hope for at this moment.

Dawson rubbed Togekiss' side as he braced to enter the clouds, "It's OK buddy you did good." He said as he caught clair doing something similar to her own Dragonair.

Breaching the clouds was as unpleasant an experience as they both expected. While the temperature had gone up as they descended now they were getting wet. The rain was drenching them and they had no means of covering themselves as their supplies were a mess after leaving so quickly. Flying further and further down they felt the rain get worse until Dawson was sure they must have been swimming at some point.

Passing through the clouds at last they were met with heavy forest all around them. From what both could see there wasn't even any signs of light as they started to approached the ground. With only dense trees and foliage around them Dawson came to an unpleasant decision.

"Clair we're going to have to land in one of those lakes." He shouted over the rain.

"I knew you were going to say that." She replied with a grimace as they directed their Pokemon to the water.

"You've done enough Togekiss I'll take care of the landing." Dawson said once the water had gotten close enough.

Feeling his Pokemon slow down upon approach he fixed his pack firmly to his back. Pulling out a Pokeball he waited a moment before returning Togekiss and falling the rest of the way towards the water. Splashing down he felt himself submerge and sink a ways as the water absorbed his speed from the flight. Soaked as he was he didn't really feel much difference from being outside in the rain to underwater.

With a few arm movements and kicks from his legs he swam upwards and breached the surface with a gasp. As his head surfaced he felt the rain pouring down on him once again. Bobbing in the choppy water he looked around for Clair and saw her swimming towards the shore. Not wishing to be left behind in the water he followed suit.

Climbing ashore he realized everything in his pack was completely soaked and multiple items in there were likely worthless now, "God this day is really starting to suck…" He said with irritation.

"Understating things isn't going to get us dry." Clair replied, "Lets get under cover of the woods for now.

Both trainers picked themselves up off the shore and began moving towards the forest. It was a small beach and didn't take long for them to get under the cover of the canopy of the woods. In some ways it was almost worse under the leaves. When Dawson was out in the pouring rain he didn't care if it hit him. Now it would hit him intermittently and constantly irritate him as it kept him from ever drying off.

Finding a larger than average tree nearby the two collapsed at it's base and took a few moments to recover their strength. Both of them shivered as they sat down, The forest was warmer than the mountains but the chill that had seeped into their bones on their trip over and the soaking rain was causing their body heat to drop. The idea of building a fire was impossible to even consider so they had to work on warming themselves up without it.

Reaching into his pack Dawson pulled out one of the tarp like blankets he had managed to get inside before the Nidoking caught up to them. Unfurling it out he sat next to Clair and wrapped them both inside of it. Shifting over he wrapped it as tightly around them as he could then pulled a free flap over their heads.

Clair shifted uncomfortably next to him, "Don't get any ideas now." She muttered as she wrapped her hands around herself to keep warm.

"The heck are you talking about?" He asked rubbing his hands together to warm them up.

"I've seen enough movies to know how this goes…" She said, "First it's get out of our wet clothes, then it's stay close to keep in body heat, then I have to explain myself to Joy about what happened after that. I'd rather not have to have that conversation with her so like I said, don't get any ideas."

"Oh my God there are so many things wrong with what you just said I don't even know where to begin." Dawson said with a groan.

"Hold on what is that?" Clair asked reaching out a hand towards something in the forest.

Dawson looked over in the direction she pointed to, "Looks like a light of some sort." He said.

A small glowing blue orb floated a hundred feet from where they huddled under the tree. It slowly bobbed up and down for a moment before floating towards them slowly. Eventually it came to within a few feet of the two and continued to bob in front of them.

Both trainers had grabbed onto their Pokeballs as the light came closer. Their bodies tensed as the light bounced before them. In the next second the light popped like a balloon causing both of them to jump slightly. From behind them came the sound of mocking laughter as a face appeared on the tree.

Both Clair and Dawson leapt forwards upon seeing the face and threw off the blanket readying their Pokeballs. From inside the tree a ghostly form floated outwards and continued to laugh. It's purple body and disembodied hands made it easy to recognize to the two Pokemon veterans.

"Haunter… Damn I'm not sure how the ghosts have changed now-a-days." Dawson said readying his Pokeball, "Back me up Clair, let's see what this things got."

"Dawson wait!" She said putting a hand on his shoulders.

"What, Why?" He asked.

"That was a Will-o-wisp attack, Haunters don't learn those naturally." She said, "This one is a trainer Pokemon."

"So… is it friend." He said looking at it's still laughing form, "... Or foe. AND STOP LAUGHING JACKASS!" He finished shouting at the Haunter.

In response the Pokemon straightened up and gave a mocking salute with one hand while it's other pointed down as it stood at attention. The salute only lasted for a moment before the Haunter broke character and started laughing again. Eventually it calmed down enough to start floating away into the forest. When it saw both trainers still standing on the spot it turned and signaled with it's hands to follow it.

"That thing irritates me." Dawson said.

"But it doesn't seem hostile… maybe it wants to help us." Clair said.

"Do you think we can trust it?" He asked.

"Do you think we can last through the night out here." Clair asked as they both began to feel the effects of the cold.

"Good point." He replied moving after the ghost with Clair.

Both of them worked their way through the forest behind Haunter. They both shivered and tried to keep warm as they moved. Any time they lost sight of the ghost a will-o-wisp would appear further ahead leading them onward. They walked for only a few minutes but each step drained them even further. They were so worn down they didn't even notice the lights in the distance or the rain lessening as they got closer.

"The hell… what is a place like this doing here?" Dawson said as he looked up at the lights.

Before them was a large building. From behind it steam rose into the evening air and the front was lit with dozens of lights in the windows and along the porch. Haunter had moved to the building and stood alongside a line of a dozen Ghastly and a solitary Gengar standing in the middle. The entire group stood before them for a moment before they all bowed in unison.

It was after the Pokemon had bowed that they two trainers finally saw the sign hanging from the front of the building, "'Agatha's Hot Springs Inn, What the hell?" Dawson said blinking a few times to make sure he didn't imagine the sign.

"This is Agatha's inn?" Clair said to herself, "So that's what she did when she retired. Makes a bit of sense."

"Care to elaborate?" He asked.

"Agatha was a member of the elite four a few years ago. She was the oldest one and used ghost Pokemon. Eventually she retired and left when the job became too demanding for her. I guess she chose to open an inn out here." She said to him with a faint smile playing across her face.

"Do you think she's here?" He asked.

At that the Gengar stepped forwards. He signaled to Haunter to move forwards as well. With a snap of his ghostly fingers he signaled for the Haunter to go to work. Haunter's hands out in front of himself he began twisting them as they both shaped into basic images before the two trainers.

One hand formed into a small and simple cartoony image of Agatha and the other formed into a miniature version of itself. The mini Agatha was shown walking along with the mini Haunter. Suddenly the ghost let out a flash of light and it grew cartoony muscular arms. The mini Agatha then jumped into the air and fell on it's back while holding a wilted flower. The mini Haunter let out a few tears which it tried to wipe away with muscled arms.

"So… The sudden surge of power in you ghosts caused Agatha to have a heart attack or something and she died?" Clair asked.

With a snap of both his hands, the cartoony images returning to normal hands, the Haunter pointed both at Clair as it smiled confirmation. The Gengar stepped forwards once again and pointed to the sign behind them. He then pointed to himself and puffed out his chest. The Haunter did the same while the Ghastly said their names and bowed again.

"So you're running the inn now?" Dawson asked.

Gengar nodded and swept its hands inward towards the front door along with Haunter. The Ghastly floated backwards allowing them to form a funnel for the main entrance then bowed again. Clair and Dawson shared a look before Clair shrugged at the situation.

"It's either trust them or spend the evening in the rain…" Clair said.

"Yeah… and I'm sure we'd be attacked anyways if we refused and they weren't trustworthy." Dawson said.

Haunter, overhearing their conversation, deflated slightly and for once looked somewhat sad at Dawson's words, "Oh don't be mean Dawson." Clair said walking over to the ghost and patting it on the head, "We'll be happy to accept your hospitality."

Dawson shrugged as he followed the gym leader and ghost into the building. The Ghastly floated in behind them leaving the Gengar outside with a smile on it's face. Rubbing his hands together he floated into the air and headed towards the rear of the building.

As Dawson and Clair walked through the building they had to rub their eyes slightly at the brightness of the interior. With all the lights on and the outside growing steadily darker with the coming evening their eyes didn't have enough time to adjust properly. All they could do was follow the Haunter as it lead them through the hallways.

Dawson couldn't help but feel unease. His arms crossed despite the heat of the building he kept looking behind at the smiling Ghastly following them then at the Haunter before them. They didn't have any hostile intent from what he could tell but he still felt nervous at the entire situation.

"Nervous?" Clair asked.

"Yeah… Anything too good to be true usually is." Dawson said.

"Don't be, If they wanted to attack us they would have by now. Not only that but they're Agatha's personal Pokemon, if something outside the building wants to get us then they're going to have to go through them and they're likely more powerful than anything within a hundred miles." Clair said looking over at him with a smile.

"Yeah that's what worries me." He replied, "That Gengar, I'm no expert trainer but I could feel power radiating from him."

"Who knows if this place is good we can transport everyone here rather than the Rocket base." Clair said, "If the ghosts can help protect people it'll be a much better place than where we are now. Further out of the way, woods probably have lots of food, And even a hot springs. It's been forever since I've had a good bath."

"Warm water will feel nice, I won't argue there." Dawson said.

Eventually the Haunter stopped at one of the doors. A sign above it said 'changing room'. There was another next to it with the same sign above that one and each door had a corresponding symbol on it for males and females. With a grand flourish Haunter waved his hand towards the door for the trainers.

"Guess it's a trip to the hot springs first." Dawson said moving to the male changing room.

He was relieved when Haunter or the Ghastly didn't bother to follow him into the room. Inside wasn't much to describe, several piles of towels, a robe for walking around, and even a basket for dirty clothes. Removing his pack and soaked clothes he dried himself off with one of the towels before grabbing a spare and the robe for walking around.

Stepping outside he saw Clair waiting for him in a similar robe. As the two followed Haunter around the corner they saw a fork in the short hallway. The threshold had a draped cloth over it and another male and female symbol indicating which side to go into. Steam emanated from both and it didn't take much for either of them to figure out this was the hot springs area. Heading down the male side Dawson entered the adjoining room. Hanging up the towel he made his way into the steam filled outside.

The rain had either let up or there was something higher up blocking it as he could hear it but no longer feel the water. The hot springs were fairly sizable with a large main pool built into the rock with several smaller more private pools nearby. The back had a large rock formation with several small streams of water leading down it. A large wooden wall separated one side of the room from the other.

Knowing Clair was likely on the other side of the wall Dawson spoke up, "I'd like to take a moment to appreciate how bizarre this entire thing is." He said walking towards the water, "I mean just a few hours ago we were dealing with a Pokemon that refused to die, now we're taking a bath in a hot spring."

He heard a splash from the other side then an almost orgasmic moan come from the female side drawing a blush to his cheeks, "I'm sorry Dawson I can't hear you over how good this feels." Clair said with a sigh, "Oh my god I forgotten how good warm water feels."

"I don't know," Dawson said putting his foot in the warm water.

He really wanted to let Clair know how much he agreed with how good it felt. He held his tongue due to the unease he felt at the entire setup. As slid into the water it was taking all his effort not just to slouch down and absorb the warmth from the hot springs.

"I can't help but feel this is too good to be true." He said.

"Dawson, even if it is enjoy it for what it's worth. Whether or not it's some devious trap isn't going to affect how much we enjoy the bait." She said letting out another sigh.

"I guess so…" He replied, "I wonder how the others are doing. We're probably going to be going over schedule again."

"They'll be fine. They don't have to deal with the rain or dangerous Pokemon like we do, and I bet all we'll have to worry about is Lance staying up a few nights with the lights on." She said.

"Still my conscience feels guilty about enjoying this when the others are likely still sleeping in bunks." He said.

"Guilty enough not to enjoy it?" She asked.

"No…" He replied.

"If we're lucky we'll be able to bring the others here and let them enjoy it too." She said, "And I'm sure you'll be able to give Joy a personal tour of the hot springs as well."

Dawson was quiet for a minute before responding, "She really likes me doesn't she?" He asked.

"Don't tell me you didn't notice till now?" Clair replied with shock.

"No, I knew," Dawson said with a somber tone, "I just don't know what to do about it."

"Do you care about her as well?" She asked.

"Yes-" He began.

"Well then there is no problem." She said, "Don't think about it so much."

"If it was that simple it wouldn't be a problem." He replied, "Beyond the logical question of how much of her feelings are based around the fact that I helped save her life and kept her alive throughout most of this debacle. There's also the question of how to have a relationship when such things could be disastrous."

"Oh come on Dawson, how bad could it be. Even if you two don't end up together it's not like it'll tear the group apart. You're both adults and it seems like you're both mature enough to deal with the fallout of an unsuccessful relationship." She replied.

'It's not a matter of it not working out I'm worried about. It's the matter of what could happen when it does work out." Dawson said with a sigh.

He heard the splashing of someone moving on the other side of the hot springs. Realizing Clair was getting out he dunked his head under the water to fully immerse himself for a moment before surfacing. Climbing out and grabbing the towel he dried himself off quickly and threw back on the robe he had left in the changing room.

Stepping outside into the hallway roughly the same time as Clair the two were greeted by Haunter who swept his arm towards the far end of the hallway. Without much else to do the two headed down and were directed into one of the rooms by a Ghastly with a smile. As they opened the door Dawson couldn't help but notice.

"These things smile too much." He said.

No reply came from Clair and as he looked into the room he could see why. The room was a dining room filled to the brim with food. Dawson wasn't sure how but the ghosts had managed to cook a full course meal for them along with plenty of other side dishes. Both trainers were flabbergasted at the sight. Eventually Clair recovered first, reaching a leg forward she tapped the ground in front of them before stepping in.

"Clearly you were worried that the floor would fall out from beneath us if I didn't check." She said with a wry smile before sitting down at one of the chairs.

Dawson slowly followed her into the room and sat down opposite of her, "No I'm still trying to figure out how they even managed to make this spread." He said.

Taking a bite of the food Clair let out a small squeal of delight before reaching over to eat something else, "So what did you mean?" She asked between bites.

"Pardon?" Dawson asked tasting various things.

"How it would somehow be worse if you and Joy ended up together." She said.

"Oh, that's easy I mean sex." He said smiling at Clair choking on her food at his response, "Or more accurately the end result from the aforementioned sex." He clarified.

"The end result?" She asked after coughing down her food.

"If we were to end up together sex would inevitably happen. I doubt very much my willpower would hold up to her insistence or vice versa if it came down to it. If we did have sex then there's a very likely chance she'd get pregnant at some point even if we're careful. What then?" Dawson said adopting his somber tone once more, "As much as I'd like to act on my feelings for her I can't in good conscience do so while we're still so much in the dark as to what's going on. The saving grace it seems is that she's naturally timid and that's giving me a least a bit of time to figure things out."

"OK, It seems my advice from earlier was a bit useless." Clair said, "Telling you to not to think about something is apparently a very tall order."

Somewhere unknown.

A bored man sat at a desk adorned with a massive array of monitors and computers. They all hummed with life and occasionally blinked their lights at the man. The screens monitored information that was useful to some but extremely boring to the man at the desk.

His sitting was slouched and his head rested on his balled fist as he gazed at the multitude of monitors before him. Occasionally his eyes would close and his posture would slouch more before it finally caused him to slip out of his position and jostle him awake. Each time he'd straighten up and try to refocus only for the whole process to repeat a few minutes later.

During his most recent bout of sleep his head started to dip. Before it could slip out of his hands he bolted upright as a beeping sound from one of the computers woke him up. The light of one of the monitors flashed a few times and the man blinked to clear out his vision and try to wake himself up. After a few moments of clearing away his blurred vision his eyes opened wide and he scrambled out of his chair.

Bolting out of the room he entered into a hallway filled with light that blinded him. Wincing and cursing himself for being an idiot he moved down the hallway and reached one of the doors further down. Knocking twice he waited for a moment taking the time to adjust his uniform.

From inside he heard the sound of cursing before the door opened. From inside came a fairly disheveled man who had just finished throwing on a shirt. His hair, while messy maintained it's style of pointing in a single direction off his head. He was a fairly large man who had more muscle than most of the other agents he worked with.

"What hour is it and why are you bothering me at such a terrible time." He said with a yawn.

"Sorry commander Tyson it's just we got another signal from one of our bases. It looks like their computers were off or had been damage which is why it took so long for them to respond." The officer said.

Tyson blinked a few times before he put a hand up to his face, "Of course this happens in the middle of the night." He mumbled before signaling to the man to lead the way.

Entering the room Tyson stared at the screen for a moment before he scratched his hair and let out a mumble, "Sir?" The officer asked unsure of what he said.

"Oh, I'm just wondering who's at that location." He said.

"Well I would think some of our comrades… right?" The man said.

"Except this place has been abandoned ever since the experiment was deemed a failure. Who the hell wandered into that base?" He said as he looked at the map as it displayed the signal coming from the lake of rage.