Hello everyone! Sorry for another long delay, but the new chapter is finally here! I am using a new system of splitting the major arcs into smaller chapters to make things easier on me, so I am not writing fifty page stories every month, and make them shorter and more exciting for the readers. So this is the first of a three part Pewter City arc, and due to the shorter time it takes, the next part will hopefully be up before the end of the month! Enjoy

Weathered Rock

June 14th

As dawn broke over the mountains of the Pokemon League, Casimer stood on his deck, staring into the valley below as the first signs of sunshine rose to east.

The Champion of the Indigo League led a stressful and busy life, and one of the few things that allowed him to prepare for the day ahead was waking up early, getting fresh morning air and savouring the peace and quiet of simplicity before all of the chaos began. Waiting for the sun to rise gave him time to think things over, and by the time it had fully emerged above the mountain tops, Casimer found himself ready to tackle the new day.

A mist clung to the air today, covering the valley floor and obscuring all of the green, brown and blue that made up the grass and water below. Casimer was disappointed to miss out on seeing this beauty, and knew from a simple glance that it would be a chilly day. He looked up the clouds and saw masses of grey painted across the sky, their edges reflecting the bright orange glow of the rising sun but only confirming his thoughts.

Casimer sighed almost mournfully, and he collapsed into the solitary deck chair that he kept on the metal balcony, grabbing a cup of lemon tea that he had left steaming on a table. The air was calm and peaceful, only the distant cries of Spearow and Fearow echoing from the valley floor puncturing the silence, but Casimer was struggling to stay relaxed. Disturbing reports of violent Pokemon thefts had reached his ears, including a particularly gruesome story where a fourteen year old girl had been beaten viciously with bats and stripped to her underwear in the corners of Vermilion City. Tales like this had been growing over the past few weeks, and Casimer was finding it more difficult to put them out of his mind. No one had been arrested in connection to them, despite their being many suspects and suspicions, and victims were showing up across all areas of Kanto. It was Casimer's job as League Champion to help protect Pokemon Trainers, but there were too many factors keeping him back from doing anything, and though it pained him to hear them, Casimer was helpless to their cries.

"If only I had the sun," Casimer sighed as he raised the glass to his lips and took a long sip, staring to the east and seeing only a smear of light across the clouds. It simply looked ugly rather than a sign of hope and beauty, and Casimer shook his head in disappointment, both at the weather and himself. "Sunshine can give any situation a brighter glow, even in the darkest circumstances."

"Oh really, is that so?" Someone whispered from behind, and a cackle cut through the quiet like a knife. Casimer paused for a moment, shutting his eyes and letting the familiar laugh wash over him, and then quickly finished the last of his tea before anything else happened to it.

"Indeed Charlotte," he said, placing the cup back down on the floor and staring fixatedly towards the clouds. "The sun brings us with light and heat, but I am talking of it as a symbol. When people see the clouds parting aside and the sun appearing behind, they are filled with a sense of hope and the knowledge that their situation can always get better. The sun casts fresh thoughts upon us all, and clears away the darkest situation." The laugh continued through this, and Casimer scowled as a see through figure floated before him, hovering over the valley below and showing the brown, rocky cliffs opposite the Champion House.

"Grow up Casimer, that is a load of Tauros crap and we both know it," Charlotte scoffed, and she settled down onto the metal railing as if she could normally sit here. "There is plenty of darkness happening in this little region of ours at this very moment, and I don't think the sun coming out will clear things up."

"The sun has not risen yet, you cannot say how this day will turn out," Casimer replied, attempting to keep his cool. It had been nearly a year since Charlotte had appeared in his house, and though he had been expecting an appearance now that there was all of this chaos, her appearance was still not a pleasant sight, especially her constant smirk and the knowledge that she would only be here for a specific reason.

"Actually, I do know how this day will turn out," the ghost said, continuing to smile. "Tonight, Mark Hansom is throwing a star studded, VIP event at the Pewter City Museum of Science and History, and I know you received an invitation, so don't deny it."

"I wouldn't dream of it," Casimer replied in a silky voice, and Charlotte flashed such a wide smile that if her teeth still existed, they would have flashed.

"As you are aware, Mark has decided to display the four Deoxys meteorites to help fundraise for various boring museum-y projects, the only four …. And, as you also know, my spell book is housed within the very same museum, and I know that whatever magic Arceus worked will prevent it from being moved from the first floor where the event is taking place.

"There will be a number of special guests there: celebrities, sports stars, famous scientists and Pokemon trainers, well off social types with enough money to throw around. But there will also be some uninvited guests showing up about halfway through the evening, with the intention of stealing the meteorites and my spell book."

"Team Rocket," Casimer said with a sigh, and Charlotte simply nodded in answer.

"I will be able to stop them, but I cannot draw too much attention to myself by showing up in the middle of a crowded room and firing magic at them all," she explained. "There needs to be someone with strength inside to protect these objects from being stolen and hopefully send a message to Giovanni about –"

"No!" Casimer said, jumping to his feet as he worked out what she was getting at. "I have told you before Charlotte, I am not getting involved in any of their troubles. I made a deal, as you are aware, and I cannot lay a finger on them!"

"Giovanni is not going to be there, just his glorified minions!" Charlotte yelled, moving from the railing and floating right up into Casimer's face. "You precious deal will stay in place, and you will stop them from laying a hand on the most powerful object in this fucking world!"

"I told you NO!" Casimer roared, and the shout echoed throughout the valley. He paused as his own angry voice came back to him, and he wondered if anyone moving through the mist below would hear him. He wished he had more tea, and turned to go inside but Charlotte quickly moved in front, her hands raised before her.

"Not another step!" She hissed, and Casimer paused, remembering the last time she had raised her hands to him.

"Didn't Oak send his grandchildren out to fight this battle for him?" Casimer hissed, stepping back towards the railing. "Send them to fight in my place, or tell Hansom to use his own bloody Pokemon, or some ancient weapon he unearthed from Mt Moon to fend them off! But I am telling you Charlotte, I am not risking everything to go and battle them!" Charlotte looked enraged for a moment, and Casimer was sure she was about to attack, but a smile suddenly crossed her face. A normal person would have been relaxed by this, but Casimer knew that whenever Charlotte smiled, it did not mean anything good.

"Your right Casimer, so rude of me to force you to risk everything that is important to you," she said in a slow voice as if talking to a toddler. "Why, I am being positively selfish to think that material goods should come before human beings…" The smile crept up to her ghostly eyes, and Charlotte beamed broader as she clicked her fingers.

Behind her, Casimer heard shattering. He stared through her body and watched as shards of glass and china were blasted into the air, plates and glasses exploding on his benches. There were pops, and suddenly his couch had turned to feathers and stuffing, fabric and springs flying around. A glass photo exploded, and all the light fittings shattered one after the other.

"What are you trying to prove?" Casimer hissed, but Charlotte only smiled as she clicked her fingers again. Through the wide deck windows, Casimer saw cabinets and cupboards burst open, the broken remains of whatever they housed spilling onto the ground. His dining table erupted into flames, and his widescreen television turned to miniscule pieces of glass. The entire house began to shake as if an earthquake was running through it, and as the millions of broken objects floated in mid air, Casimer gasped as his polished floor split, chunks sent flying, and bits of his ceiling came loose as well.

"STOP THIS!" He yelled, but Charlotte merely laughed, and Casimer could only watch as his bed fell through a hole in the roof, the mattress exploding as huge chunks of wall turned to particles of plaster. The Champion stepped forwards angrily, wondering if he could fix it, when the glass doors before him exploded. Casimer yelled as the force knocked him back to the railing, and shards cut through the black shirt and track pants he always wore when training his Pokemon. There was a thunderous crack, and Casimer's stomach lurched as he was tipped backwards, staring up to the clouds as his deck snapped off.

Than it all stopped.

Silence filled the air once more, but it was an uncomfortable, unpleasant silence that got under your skin. Casimer found himself hovering above the valley below, standing on a cracking balcony that was a metre down from where it should have been. He looked up at Charlotte, who had remained where she was, and saw that a look that mixed both delight and anger was on her face.

"Giovanni may have you where he wants you, but we all know that I am stronger than he is," Charlotte hissed, and in one second she was right in Casimer's face, staring into his eyes, her faded lips a centimetre from his own. "If you do not go to the museum tonight, I will raze this region to the ground and make everyone wish that Team Rocket had been responsible. I will kill millions of people and make you watch, and then I will maim and mutilate you to the point of death but make you hang on to life, just so you can suffer the destruction you caused in eternal agony, do I make myself clear?" Casimer frowned and nodded, feeling sick inside about having to deal with this sadistic, vicious ghost. "Good," Charlotte said with a half smile, and she clicked her fingers. Casimer cried out as he was sent flying forwards, the deck rising up to rejoin with the building. He rolled through the open door and landed on his healed floor with enough force to wind him. The Champion looked up to see that everything had gone back to its rightful place: dining table no longer burning, cups and plates fully healed, his bed no longer floating through his living room. Casimer wondered if it had all been an illusion or if his stuff had actually been broken, but when he turned to find Charlotte, she was no longer there.

Casimer sighed as he got back to his feet. His peace and quiet had been destroyed, and his day's plans had completely changed. Charlotte was the queen of doing this sort of thing, and Casimer felt disgusted with himself for letting her take control of him. He had a very specific deal in place to protect his side of the region, and her control was only going to risk hundreds of lives. Casimer wondered if there was a way to get around her control, but as he walked into the kitchen, he found his cup was back on the table, already refilled, with the invitation beneath the plate.

"Of course," he said, laughing in a depressed way to himself, and grabbed both cup and invite and moved upstairs to examine the few suits he owned, still hoping that the sun will come out before he set off for Pewter City.

There was a not a chance he could tackle this in darkness.

The light grey clouds that hovered above Viridian City hinted at rain to come, but at Pewter City, the storm had already arrived.

Rain hammered the roads and footpaths, turning the drain pipes into raging rivers of storm water and soaking everything in the city. A violent wind raged, sending rubbish and leaves scattering in miniature tornadoes and threatening to blow trees over. Windows and doors rattled, and the streets were empty, everyone doing their best to avoid becoming caught in destructive weather.

Only four people were daring the weather as they raced across puddle-strewn footpaths, heading directly for the shelter and warmth of the Pokemon Centre.

Red, Leaf, Blue and Janine had finally made it out of Viridian Forest and Route 3, where the rain had turned the green paths in slippery streets of mud that made it impossible to set up tents, and howling wind prevented them from training or talking. It had been a miserable two days, but enough time to recover from the wounds they sustained against Team Rocket. The battle hung over them like another cloud, and the group was looking to forward to being able to put it all behind him them and move onwards with their journeys.

"I need to find something warm and dry, NOW!" Leaf cried as soon as they stepped through the sliding doors, puddles of water instantly forming at their feet and a wind following them in, threatening to send the doors flying off their hinges. It was only when they closed that they saw all the seats were filled up, and dozens of people turned at her cry, causing Leaf to flush as she stripped a paper-thin raincoat off and rung it out over a pot plant.

"I don't remember the Viridian Center being this busy," Blue mumbled as the quarter slowly moved forwards, trails of water following them behind. Groups, pairs and lone travellers all stood against the walls, shouting to be heard over the din of everyone else, though it felt as though everyone was watching them as they moved towards the counter.

"There is a storm, that's why," Janine replied. "Everyone is happy to spend more time in the open when the weather is fine as they can train and catch more Pokemon, but when the skies open, everyone flees indoors." The other three nodded, though the explanation did nothing to settle the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, as if they were being paid to relay information about them.

"Hello, welcome to the Pewter City Pokemon Center!" The cherry haired nurse behind the counter said, smiling widely as the group passed their Pokemon over. "If you are looking for rooms, I believe we have several still available at the rear of our facility. There is a backlog with healing, but I assure you that your Pokemon will be healed as soon as possible. I will just get them into the system before I assign you your room." It was only as the nurse finished that they each noticed the tiredness in her eyes and the flicker in her smile as she struggled to keep it up.

"It must be so stressful to deal with all these people," Leaf whispered, looking around at the people surrounding them as they moved from the counter to an empty spot between a pot plant and an advertisement. "You would think more people would be challenging Brock or visiting one of the sights."

"What sights?" Red scoffed, rolling his eyes at her. "There are only two things to see or do in Pewter City: battle Brock and the Museum. With all these trainers in the city, there is probably a massive wait to battle Brock, and who in their right mind would willingly go to a museum?" Red thought he had made a brilliant point, but Leaf rolled her eyes back at him and tapped the poster directly next to them. The black advertisement showed the three levelled structure bathed in darkness, with a full moon in the background and four dark rocks surrounding the title 'SECRETS FROM SPACE'.

"If you knew how to turn the television on by yourself or had the ability to read," Leaf replied with a wide smile, "you would know that the museum is host to four rare meteorites for the next few weeks, and that there have already been ten thousand pre-bookings on tickets for the next fortnight." Red looked flustered and Leaf smirked, though there was less viciousness than there had been a few days prior. The relationship between the two had softened following their battle and reflective chat in Viridian Forest, and their joking was more in good humour than anything nasty.

"If all of these people are still here, do you guys want to go across to the Pewter Gym?" Red said. "I wouldn't mind getting this gym battle out of the way so we could move on to Cerulean City." Blue had been staring around at the crowd, wondering if there was anyone he might recognize and not bothering to get involved in the group's conversation, but his eyes pricked at this and Blue turned to face Red, looking confused.

"You want to battle Brock now?" He said, scoffing. "We haven't had any time to train over the past few days! You are going to get slaughtered if you go against him now." Red twisted towards Blue, his usual cocky tone cutting deeper than usual.

"What do you mean by that?" He asked, trying to keep his tone normal. "My Pokemon are perfectly up to the task of battling Brock, and I am sure that they would all be able to win." Blue scoffed again, radiating arrogance, and Red could not hold his anger back any longer. "What, just because you've only got two crap Pokemon doesn't mean the rest of us do!" Blue looked as if he had been slapped and turned to properly face Red, the tension suddenly increasing as Leaf and Janine stood awkwardly to the side.

"I may only have two Pokemon, but I have Bulbasaur, and he is super effective against Rock types," Blue replied icily. "You have Charmander and Caterpie, two Pokemon that have a huge disadvantage and will both be hospitalized for weeks if you send them against Brock! Wait a few days and catch some Pokemon that can actually do some damage and leave the gym battles to those of us that are actually prepared."

"How dare you insult my team!" Red said angrily. "Last time I checked, Charmander was the one that fought off the Team Rocket people single-handedly!" Blue looked furious, his face starting to go red and he bared his teeth like an animal. Before any more words could be exchanged though, Janine forced herself between them, and with surprising strength pushed them both backwards.

"If you two are going to start fighting than take outside to the rain and the mud, otherwise shut up and grow up!" She hissed. Both boys fell silent, but Leaf's eyes flickered between the two to see the anger was still engraved in their faces and body movements, and could only wonder what had brought this on.

"Excuse me," the voice of the nurse rang out behind them, "but I have a room ready for you." Leaf left the fight behind and rushed over to grab the keys, but the nurse slid over a piece of paper and a pen before passing over the keys. "A waver to say you will pay for any damage to the room. Just a formality when things get busy," she explained with a coldness that implied it was not just a formality. Leaf smiled awkwardly and filled in the sheet, but as she passed it across, someone else snatched the keys from the nurse.

"I am going to get changed," Blue said with unnecessary grumpiness, and he turned and stalked down the hallway, the eyes of several fellow trainers following after him. The tension remained behind as Red stood solemnly by the wall, clearly thinking about what had just happened. Leaf looked over at Janine who help, but her new friend merely shrugged and went after Blue, his clothes still dripping as she disappeared. Leaf was left alone with Red, and she realised her awkward position: she and Red had just started to get on better terms, but could Leaf really side with him over her own cousin, even though Blue had randomly started the fight?

"Red, I think –," she began, but was cut off before she could think of what to say.

"I am going to the gym," Red said with a blank voice, and he stepped past her towards the counter. Leaf wanted to discuss the fight and clear the air, but no words came to mind, and a minute later Red was gone, disappearing out into the storm and leaving the tension and her behind.

"How can you still be wearing those clothes?" Janine leapt in front of her, face framed by wet hair and dressed in a dry robe that was a lighter shade of purple, shaking Leaf from her silence. "If you stay like this, all you are going to do is get a cold and create a safety hazard." Janine was smiling, but Leaf was still rattled by the argument, and it must have shown as Janine's grin slipped away. "Are you still thinking about the fight?"

"Yes," Leaf replied sadly. "I have to travel with this two, and if they are going to start randomly arguing, then this journey is not going to be fun… not that it's been so brilliant anyway. I don't even know what caused it! Blue always says dumb things like that, but today he seemed extra vicious."

"Just forget about it," Janine said. "They are dumb boys; of course they are going to argue about stupid stuff like this. Wait a day and everything is going to be better, you'll see." She smiled, but Leaf's expression did not change, and the argument continued to weigh down upon her. Janine looked like she was getting annoyed and Leaf felt guilty, but suddenly her new friend's face lit up as she peered over at where they had just been standing.

"Don't worry, I know exactly what we can do to take your mind off things."

The Pewter City Museum of Science and History was one of the most well known buildings in Kanto. Being the only tourist attraction in Pewter, and one of the only reasons to visit the city, it was extensively promoted throughout the region and the wider world to attract more visitors, and most people would be able to instantly recognize it whenever they saw it. It was three stories high and painted a rich shade of mahogany, with white bricks making up the edges and all the window frames painted the colour of snow that give it extra texture. The roof was pointed and made from grey tiles, and carved stone ornaments of various Pokemon stood around the tips of the building to give it extra character.

It was a well known piece of architecture and a truly beautiful building, but at the moment, the rain and wind made it look drab and grey. The windows were being lashed, and cold air swept throughout cracks in the old building. The usually beautiful green lawns that surrounded the building were an unattractive pool of swirled brown mud, created by the rain and the various vans that had been forced to park on the lawns in preparation for the night's big event. Workers were rushing to and from the museum and the various vans, unloading food for catering, tables, sound systems, collapsible podiums and various items that were being sold off in a silent auction, struggling to not slip over in the mud and avoiding the gazebos and statues that stood ignored amongst the torrents of mud.

"Looks like this is going to THE event OF the year," Janine said in an exaggerated posh voice as they ran up the concrete pathway towards the museum, and Leaf snorted with laughter as they quickly sidestepped four men struggling with an impossibly long table. The car park was being kept empty in preparation for the limousines and taxis that would be arriving soon, and a giant cover was being set up by a dozen workers, but the girls still got soaked as they rushed up towards the slowly revolving door.

"I would not want to be going to an event in this weather," Leaf said. "Imagine going to all that effort putting on make up, doing your hair and getting a nice dress, and then you're soaked the second you step out of the car."

"Please, rain and mud are my make up, and I would sooner die than end up at some smoozy party like this," Janine said with a roll of her eyes, and Leaf laughed as they stepped into the lobby, her voice echoing in the high ceiling entrance, and the few people inside turned towards her in shock.

"Sorry!" Leaf muttered as they approached the counter, embarrassed for the second time in an hour, Janine struggling not to laugh next to her. "That wouldn't have been so bad if there were actually some other people here! It's a ghost town!" Leaf had read that the museum got so popular during summer that the line for the counter stretched out onto the main road, but there was no one else before them in the line, and the only people they could see where those setting up for the function.

"Maybe people thought it would be closed all day for the function?" Janine suggested as they approached the counter, attended by a tall freckly teenager. "I came past here a few weeks ago before going into the forest and there was an hour long wait to get inside, and that day it was an absolute scorcher."

"Must be the case then," Leaf mumbled in agreement, noticing a sign saying it was free for all trainers and fishing out her PokeDex. She could not help but be impressed with all of Janine's travels: she had told them about all the places she had visited, covering nearly all of Kanto, and discussed all the amazing techniques she had learnt along the way. During lull periods in the weather, Janine had shown Leaf several impressive defence techniques, most of them ending in flipping Red onto his back. It made for an impressive back story, but Leaf could not help but feel a bit jealous. Each day she was venturing further than she ever had before in her life, but none of their travel stories involved escaping a pack of angry Arcanine or fighting off muggers like Janine's did. Leaf had imagined her journey would be as exciting as her friend's tales, but so far it all had been arguments and near death experiences and she wanted to start living the journey she had always wanted.

"What is this fancy pants party for again?" Janine asked as they passed through the barrier. Unfolded tables and overloaded carts blocked them from having a proper view, but four giant crates stood in a square in the middle of the first floor, surrounded by museum attendants arguing about where a series of fossils should be displayed and stressed looking party planners rattling things off into headphones.

"They are displaying four meteorites that are meant to be connected to the legendary Pokemon Deoxys," Leaf explained, remembering the article she had read at her grandfather's lab a few weeks prior. "I believe that they radiate special electro-magnetic waves that cause Deoxys to change form or something like that." They continued to stare at the set up for a few more moments, but three simultaneous rapping noises came from behind them, and the two girls turned to the staircase as a figure slowly descended.

"Was that my old mind acting up, or were you two young ladies discussing Deoxys?" An elderly woman said as she limped towards them. She was dressed in a beautiful blue dress that shimmered with each step, a mixture of different shades with small jewels forming wave decorations. Steely grey hair was down up in a bun, and long white gloves encased her hands. Two of the sounds emerged from matching high heels hitting the stone, while the third was from a golden handled black walking stick.

"Um… yeah, we were," Leaf said awkwardly, exchanging a glance with Janine. Neither of them wanted to be caught up talking to some lonely old woman that had clearly arrived for the party a few hours too early, and felt nervous as she moved towards them, seeing her wrinkled face was covered with a delicate layer of foundation.

"What is with the stunned faces?" The woman said with a smoker's laugh. "Are you expecting me to start telling tales of when I grew up alongside those fossils over there as I take my afternoon pills? Children are so judgemental!" She rapped her cane against the ground and clicked her fingers at a passing waiter, making the young man jump. "Boy, bring me the finest champagne you have, and make sure it is ice cold! Would you ladies like a glass each?"

"We're only thirteen," Leaf replied in shock, and the old woman tutted.

"And, since when did that stop anyone?" She scoffed. "Children these days! Just one for me then boy, and make sure it is in the largest glass you own!"

"Yes Madame," the boy said, bowing so low that his tray nearly hit the floor, and he scuttled away so quickly you would think she was chasing after him.

"That was pretty impressive," Janine said, grinning broadly, but the old woman shrugged her shoulders.

"That is nothing. I once made the entire wait staff at Celadon's finest restaurant burst into tears just by looking at them all, and all because my steak was medium rare." Leaf and Janine laughed at this, and the elderly woman raised an eyebrow at them before clicking and pointing at a chair, and two waitresses nearly fought over each other to bring it across to her.

"Now, neither of you answered my question," she said as she sat down in the chair with a relaxed sigh. "Deoxys are very interesting Pokemon, do you know the story?" They both shook their heads, and the woman shook her head. "What do they even teach children these days? Well, I am bored shitless waiting for this bloody party to begin, so I might as well kill some time."

"Deoxys is a very interesting Pokemon in that it were not created by the usual means. The Mossdeep Space Research Centre scientists have spent years researching its origins, and even they are uncertain to the full story. What they do believe was that a meteorite with strong electrical energy, the sort that only comes once in a millennium, was flying along its usual course with nothing happening. But as it passed between Earth and our moon, it came into contact with a strange and rare magnetic disturbance that interacted badly with the electrical energy of the meteorite. The meteorite exploded, the pieces scattering across the universe, and from the energy and dust formed Deoxys. Pieces from the meteorite landed on Earth, most notably in Veilstone City, the desert in Unova, and right down the road on Route 3, on your way to Mt Moon, the ones that are now on display before us.

"Scientists still do not properly understand Deoxys, but the Pokemon appears more regularly than many other legendaries. It will fly down to be near its meteorites, and people have caught footage of it glowing strange colours before taking off again, now in a completely different forme. Deoxys can change between four very different formes, and when it appears, sometimes in the same forme as its last appearance and sometimes one of the other three. The sky always ripples and glows before an appearance, and it grows into an aurora after it has left, marking its appearance across the sky for all to see."

When she stopped talking, Leaf and Janine stood in silence, their mouths slightly a jaw and the sound of the rain hammering the glass skylight directly above them echoing. The elderly woman had told the story with such intensity and passion that the girls were left in complete shock, processing the detailed back story as their eyes kept flickering between her and the covered meteorites in the middle, the four objects that were more powerful than they had realised.

"Good god, that took you long enough!" The woman snapped at the waiter as he passed over her champagne, and her voice snapped them back into reality. "I thought you children never stopped talking! If I could only tell people one story to make them fall silent I'd never have to deal with any of my friends again! Come now, I have my drink, let us continue." She leapt to her feet with a surprising amount of vigour, one hand clasped firmly on the glass and another on the cane. "Ignore the stick dears, it's just for beating people and making sure I can get disabled parking whenever I feel like it." Janine laughed, and Leaf began to soften up as well, and the three began walking around the edge of the party area towards the opposite staircase.

"Excuse me, but you never told us your name," Janine said, as she and Leaf struggled to keep up.

"That's because no one knows my real name," she replied. "My age, my weight and my name are the three things I keep to myself, and nothing is going to change that. You may call me Madame, as everyone else must." Janine laughed again, enjoying the brash old woman and her company, and walked in line with her as they began to ascend the staircase. But Leaf fell behind, her attention being drawn back to the four meteorites that stood crated in the middle of the lobby. Now that Madame had told her story, she could almost feel the power radiating off from them. She imagined Deoxys flying down through the skylight to change formes, and then disappearing back into the solar system, light spreading across the sky as Leaf and her Pokemon stood watching below.

"That is the story I'm looking for," she whispered to herself, smiling widely, and followed after the two, wondering if there was anything she could do to summon Deoxys down.

The storm continued to rage outside the museum, and showed no signs of stopping. Red watched as umbrellas were torn away from a middle aged woman popping down to a small supermarket, and saw tree branches hanging dangerously from damaged trees. One road had been flooded due to blocked up drain pipes, and several stores had been shut down as a result, sandbags piled high outside their doors to stop the flooding.

After crossing the entire storm struck city, Red had finally reached the giant artificial boulder that served as the Pewter City Gym. Unfortunately, a sign covered the door, stating Brock would not be back for a few hours. Annoyed and disappointed, Red had been forced to find somewhere to wait out this time, and uncovered a nearby cluster of trees that barely served as shelter. Five trees stood centimetres apart, their branches and roots wrapping around each other due to their close proximity, creating a multi layered natural platform. The thick branches stopped the wind and provided a mildly dry and tidy cubby away from the storm, though did nothing to stop the cold creeping in.

"Let's practice a few moves before Brock gets back to make sure we're ready!" Red called to his team, having to shout above the wind. Charmander, Rattata and Caterpie stood amongst the roots, all at different heights from the strangely knotted bits of nature, ready to squeeze in some last minute training. Red, meanwhile, was half naked, his wet jacket, shirt and pants hanging from a branch as they dried at an agonizingly slow pace, leaving him standing shivering with a warm blanket as his only protection.

"Rattata, Caterpie, set yourselves up and we'll do a mock battle," Red said, trying to smile and be encouraging, but his mind kept drifting back to the argument in the Pokemon Center. Blue's insults had come from nowhere, and Red wanted to prove him wrong by defeating Brock and throwing the Boulder Badge in his face. Unfortunately, he knew that his apparent friend had a point: Charmander and Caterpie had huge type disadvantages, and Rattata was not at the level of strength Red would have ideally liked before going into a gym battle. Whilst stuck in the storm struck forest, only Charmander had had the chance to get any training in, and, having learnt Metal Claw in the process, Red thought it best to focus on getting Rattata and Caterpie up to the same strength.

"Both of you use Tackle while trying to avoid the others move!" Red said. Caterpie took the time to nod and smile, but Rattata moved quickly, the speedy Normal type leaping over a large curved root and slamming into Caterpie before the Bug even knew what hit him.

"CAAAAT!" He cried as he was sent soaring backwards and slammed into a tree trunk with enough force to send bits of bark flying. Red leapt up in shock, his blanket falling to a bundle at his feet and exposing his skinny body. Charmander quickly moved forwards and helped Caterpie up, but the Worm Pokemon looked fairly dazed and flopped over the second he got straight.

"Rattata, that was just a tad more than I was expecting!" Red said, mouth hanging open in surprise. Rattata looked ashamed, his head hanging low and tail nervously twitching. Red sighed and bent down low to stroke the Mouse Pokemon along the back, knowing at once that it had been a bad decision. "Sorry both of you, I should have planned this out better… just a spur of the moment thing."

"Rata Ta Ta Rata Ta," Rattata said in a sad squeak, staring apologetically at Caterpie, and the Bug type smiled and nodded in acceptance. However, he suddenly sprayed a String Shot forwards, catching Rattata in the head and covering him in the sticky white substance. Charmander and Caterpie both laughed, and Rattata managed too as well once the shock had worn off, and he quickly chased after Caterpie, the Worm Pokemon climbing up the tree trunk to escape him. Red laughed weakly with his team, but after a few moments collapsed onto his blanket, rubbing his head and sighing as a shiver crept through him, feeling horribly uncomfortable in only boxers and wet socks.

"Mander Char Char?" Charmander asked, looking concerned as he approached his trainer. Red smiled and pulled him closer, instantly feeling warmth from the dancing flame on his tail, and was pleased that he had his starter nearby for comfort.

"I am just a bit lost in thought," Red replied sadly. He wanted to forget all about the argument and move on, but Blue's words were weighing down on him. He knew that he had a good team, his three Pokemon loyal, caring and strong, but Red could not shake what Blue had first said. Was he too rash trying to battle Brock without properly training? He watched as Rattata tried using Quick Attack to scale the tree, Caterpie laughing from a branch half a metre above. Red had heard Brock was the easiest leader, and thought he could have just gone in and been done within ten minutes. Now he imagined going into battle against Brock right now, facing off against Geodude, Onix, Graveler, a whole army of Rock types towering above his three Pokemon: would any of his team be able to defeat them? What if his Pokemon were seriously harmed as a result and the backlog at the Pokemon Center stopped them from being treated in time? Red would not be able to live with himself if something bad happened to them, and could imagine Blue's expression when he came running back in a state of emergency.

"Charmander, would you mind drying my clothes please?" Red asked, and Charmander nodded, knowing that a small favour would do all the difference. "Caterpie, come down and try using Tackle on Rattata, but Rattata, I want you to try running around. Let's see if we can do some work on speed while we wait for the weather to stop." Rattata and Caterpie nodded, and Red felt better as he watched their little test begin, but knew that it was not time to battle. He had seen Leaf and Janine run past while he had tried to find shelter and could only guess they were now at the museum. He would go there once his clothes were dry and think of what to say before he saw Blue. Red was still annoyed about the insults and Blue's general nastiness, but it happened whenever they got competitive, and he hoped that they could make up and move on. Some things were more important than winning arguments, and as Caterpie chased Rattata across the maze of roots, Red knew that he had made the right decision.

In a tiny room at the very back of the Pokemon Center, Blue stared angrily out of the tiny window of his shared room, watching as the grey rain lashed against the glass, feeling the cold seep in through the ajar window. He had a lovely view of the waste bins at the back of the Center, backing onto an alleyway that made the day even more depressing. There was a constant trail of changing voices and footsteps echoing off tiles as people marched past the door, and Blue was tempted to yell at them all to go away and leave him alone with his thoughts, but knew better than to draw attention and simply watched as the rain washed away bright pink spray paint on the concrete wall of a café.

Blue was furious. He had an injured arm that continued to throb, despite Janine's managing to heal up the wound, and the constant pain was making him irritable. And despite trying to focus on different holes in the wall or flying pieces of rubbish outside, Blue could not stop thinking about his argument. Red was stupid to think he could simply march into a gym and battle after wandering through a forest for nearly a week, backed up with three Pokemon with type disadvantages and minimal battle experience. Blue had been trying to help his friend, and had not expected to be abused in return, and could not work out what had come over Red.

Just because you only have two crap Pokemon… Blue thought of Bulbasaur and Rattata being healed just down the corridor, and knew in his mind that they were good Pokemon. He had expected Red and Leaf to compete over catching Pokemon and being the better trainer and petty nonsense like that, but Blue had never considered he and Red would face off with each other. They had always been in competition at school events, but Blue thought that was all in the past.

Even if we are in competition now, it is not exactly a close race. Bulbasaur and Rattata are both clearly superior, and when the time comes for us to show our power for the world to see, I will be the shining star the world has come to expect… Even Grandfather would be proud of me.

Blue was starting to annoy himself by constantly thinking about it, and knew there was no point getting angry, and he would just have to wait for Red's apology. Leaf and Janine were on his side, or at least Blue believed they were as they had come through the room before leaving for the museum. He checked the grime covered clock hanging above the door and saw it had nearly been over an hour since they had arrived, and decided his Pokemon had to be ready. Blue swung off the top bunk and moved towards the door in two steps, the confined room making for easy movements. He flung the door open, and nearly leapt back in surprise.

"Oh, hello there, lucky timing!" The man standing in his doorway said before laughing in delight. He was wearing a white apron over jeans and T-shirt, with a hair net covering greasy black hair. A large tray was hanging from his neck, and it clattered every time he moved, the contents rolling around inside.

"Can I help you with something?" Blue asked, his tone frosty and suspicious. He was not in the mood to be bothered by strange people, but was curious as to what was rattling inside the man's tray.

"Sorry, I hope I am no bother!" The man said, smiling in an overly friendly way. "I am just going door-to-door to see if any of you wonderful trainers would like to buy my rare and powerful Pokemon!" He dramatically whipped off the lid, revealing over a dozen PokeBalls rattling around inside, the light bouncing off the red and white surfaces. Normally, Blue would have been very sceptical of someone coming up to him and claiming to have rare Pokemon, and probably would have sent them packing. But Red's words were floating around at the front of his mind, and all he could think of was proving him wrong.

"What Pokemon are they?" Blue asked, reaching into his back packet for the winnings he had collected from defeating trainers in Viridian Forest. He went to snatch a ball with his free hand, but the man pulled the tray away, shaking his head.

"No, no, no, it's a surprise!" He explained, grinning widely. "Lucky dip, random Pokemon chosen! Keeps things fair, you see." Blue paused, starting to feel unsettled by this, but saw $500 was scrawled across the side of the tray. He could make that money back easily, and his mind was clouded with thoughts of getting back at Red.

"Here," he said, thrusting a mixture of notes across and grabbing a PokeBall at random. The man quickly leapt backwards as if been shocked, the lid covering the tray again in a single swift movement, and only know was Blue suspicious.

"Thank you, very nice doing business," the man said with his beam, but Blue now thought he could see a touch of malice in the man's eyes. He stared doubtfully down at the PokeBall now in his hand, and wondered if he had just been tricked,

"Hey, get back here!" Blue yelled, letting his anger with Red channel through him, and he set off in a quick sprint. The man with the PokeBalls disappeared behind the corner, and Blue suspected he would have to knock on every door in order to find him. He turned the corner and prepared to run, but was met with a scream. Blue quickly halted, finding himself face-to-face with a teenage girl, a single step more and he would have bowled her over.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to, didn't see you," Blue replied quickly, side stepping her and looking around for any sign of the man.

"Blue, is that you?" The girl said, sounding shocked. "It's me, Susie!" Blue groaned as he halted again, knowing that he was letting the man get away, but turned towards the tall blonde he had nearly smacked into. Now that neither of them were moving, Blue instantly recognized his cousin's best friend, the tall, skinny girl that was always at his house, currently looking soaked in a plain black raincoat over a wet pink sundress.

"It is so good to finally see someone I recognize!" Susie cried in delight and pulled Blue into a hug. "I tried finding Leaf in Viridian City, but the nurse told me you guys had left, so I followed after you through the Forest, but that was a nightmare, but now I am here, so hooray!" Susie pulled away from the hug still smiling, and Blue managed to falsely smile back, knowing it would be better to avoid any awkward questions. He was not a big fan of Susie, having seen enough of her at his house to know she could be loud, shrill and very annoying and demanding whenever she got bored, and Blue did not want to be caught alone with her.

"So… are you travelling now or something?" He asked, trying to make conversation as he tried to remember why he had gone to the door in the first place.

"Yeah, actually, I am!" Susie replied. "My dad agreed to let me do a gym journey, so I thought I would give that a shot! It is still just me and Spearow, but I think we will do alright." Her optimism and stupid thoughts instantly reminded Blue of Red, and he began to silent seethe in anger as the words came back to him. "Do you know where Leaf is, I was hoping to catch up with her if she's free."

"I think they went to the museum," Blue replied, trying to keep his cool. He hoped she would leave him alone with his thoughts now, but as Blue considered the idea of going back to his room by himself with only his thoughts for company, the more it seemed like a stupid plan. "I will show you the way, just let me grab my bag and my Pokemon."

"Sure thing!" Susie said with her continuous beam, oblivious to any annoyance or anger Blue was portraying. Blue quickly raced back to his room and gathered up his bag, noticing the only untouched bed in the room below his. Red would be back soon no doubt, racing to have his Pokemon healed after his spectacular loss at the gym. Blue would have loved to be here to say I told you so, but thought that leaving Red to stew a bit longer would make his apology even sweeter.

"Come on then, let's go," Blue said once he rejoined Susie, his smile matching hers as he raced past her towards the nurse's counter. The thought of a distraught Red, the same boy who always outshone him at every competitive event their school had ever held, was more than enough to dwell Blue's anger, and he became so caught up in this delight that he absently pushed his latest PokeBall into his back pocket, completely forgetting how he had gotten it.

"I know I am about five years above the target age for this, but I don't think I have ever had so much fun in my LIFE!"

Leaf laughed as she peered over Janine's shoulder, watching as her friend fired laser beams at animated Kabuto and Omanyte moving across the screen. Janine had been playing for fifteen minutes and was already nearing the top score, the number of fossils she had received increasing as the amount of Pokemon she had to hit doubled each second.

"Come on, you only need another five hundred points!" Leaf screamed in her ear, quickly becoming hysterical as the prospect of beating a three year old high score enticed them both. Janine frantically jabbed at the controls, firing as many laser beams as she possibly could, but as they got nearer to a score, words flashed at the bottom of the screen: MUST RELOAD GUN.

"NO!" Janine screamed, and she tried to move the animated cartridge across from her bag, but the ancient Pokemon quickly began to swarm them, and by the time the gun was reloaded, it was all too late. The screen went black, and then several dancing Kabuto and Omanyte appeared around GAME OVER, before switching to a list of scores.

"Bastards!" Janine shouted and she kicked the machine, but she and Leaf were both still laughing despite the disappointment. "It wants me to fill in a name. Do you think any of the little kids would understand if I wrote 'Ifyouckay Ulot'? Or how about something that has cock in it…?"

"Do it, give their parents a fright!" Leaf said, doubling over from ten minutes of excitement and laughter, and she collapsed onto a multi coloured couch a few metres away. The top floor of the east wing of the museum was a children's educational facility, designed to teach them about the various fossil Pokemon, the history of the universe and legendary Pokemon, do scientific experiments and had a currently closed section that was used for temporary displays. Several curators that had come to inspect the closed off area frowned at the two girls, but they did not say anything under the watchful eye of Madame. She seemed entirely in the wrong place, sitting on a bright yellow couch beneath a kiddie version of the periodic table, dressed in her beautiful dress and sipping champagne.

"Keep the noise down you two, I am trying to see if there is any point donating money to this section," Madame said loudly as she frowned at several of the displays. "It does seem a bit too childish, wouldn't you say?"

"As opposed to having blood and gore and dissections?" Leaf suggested, and Madame laughed. Despite their initial thoughts, Leaf and Janine had quickly bonded with the elderly woman, her brash sense of humour making the tour of ancient civilizations and the history of Mt Moon twice as interesting and fun as it should have been. Leaf was glad to forget about her worries of a dull and boring journey and put the argument at the Pokemon Center behind her, and was enjoying being able to actually have fun for the first time since leaving on her journey.

"What else is there to do?" Janine asked, sitting down next to Leaf and picking up a tatty book about Pokemon evolution. "Should we go and explore the west wing?"

"Go on without me, I have already been over there today and I have had enough boredom to last me the rest of the week," Madame said with a sigh, finishing her champagne and placing the glass on top of an oversized puzzle. "Tell someone to come and collect this, and I will meet you two downstairs soon. I feel like relaxing for a few moments longer."

"Please, when do you ever not relax?" A voice said from behind that made Leaf jump, and they all looked up a ramp that led towards a second storey of activities. A man in that looked barely over twenty descended the ramp, flashing his white teeth at Leaf and Janine. He wore a white shirt and black pants that hugged a toned body, a tie draped across shoulder and bristles of blonde chest hair showing through the undone buttons. The man had a handsome face that made Leaf's heart skip several beats, with sandy blonde hair that looked like it had been done by professionals and dazzling blue eyes that sparkled like Madame's sapphires. She had no idea who he was, but Leaf was instantly attracted and blushed as he walked past before exchanging girlish giggles with Janine.

"And what would you know about relaxing?" Madame said with a short laugh as she raised a gloved hand to the man, allowing him to kiss it. "Girls, this is Mark Hansom, one of the head curators of the museum and the organizer of tonight's event, which he clearly isn't ready for!"

"I was just sorting out a few things in the attic, don't worry!" Mark said, and let out a laugh that was as beautiful as his face. "Are you ladies attending tonight's event?"

"Oh, us? No… no… no we aren't," Leaf stuttered, her face going bright red again.

"We're just passing through as we wait to battle Brock, and Madame offered to give us a tour," Janine explained, unfazed by his beauty. "I can barely afford food and this is the only dry outfit I have, so I doubt that I would be able to attend." Mark flashed a smile once again, and Leaf thought that she was about to faint.

"Not a problem! I enjoy having trainers come to these events in order to give them a taste of different areas that they could go into once their journeys are over." He reached into his pockets, Leaf imagining him fetching a ring, but instead pulled out several silver tickets. "There are always a few left over once the big names have signed up, so take them, free of charge!"

"Oh no, we can't, it's a fundraiser!" Leaf said, horrified at the thought of showing up at the party in a soggy pink jumper.

"Maybe you will be able to pay me back some day," Mark said with a twinkle in his eye, and dropped a small wad of tickets onto Leaf's lap. "See you girls down there, and that includes you as well Madame! I don't want to find you've fallen asleep up here!"

"What, and give Evelyn Athlew the pleasure of laughing at me?!" Madam scoffed. "Take my glass for me and I will be down in half an hour." Mark laughed again and took the empty glass, gave them all a parting wave and disappeared, giving Leaf a view of a firm rear that only made her swoon more.

"My god, could you have made it look more obvious?" Janine said once Mark was gone, cackling with laughter. Leaf flushed as she saw Madame eyeing her suspiciously, and quickly jumped to her feet.

"I have no idea what you mean," she said, turning towards the exit as her face turned bright red.

"You have the hots for him, don't deny, it was written all over your face!" Janine teased, getting to her feet. "There's nothing wrong with that: he is one sexy man, but you just failed to control yourself. If you fail to control your feelings in front of every hot guy you come across, you are going to have a hard life."

"Oh shut up!" Leaf said, and stomped out of the educational zone. Janine followed after her, unable to laugh, and after a moment Leaf calmed down and began to laugh as well. "Alright, I admit it, Mark is really really hot! But don't you dare say anything to him if we do go to this party tonight." Leaf bypassed the staircase and leaned over the balcony that overlooked the lobby below. More displays had been unveiled, the tables had been set up and the food was being arranged. The four meteorites were currently being moved into their central position around a raised podium, and soon they would be taken out as well. She clutched the silver tickets in her hands, and Leaf imagined what it would be like to walk amongst the rich and famous, to be up close to the meteorites and feel their power. She could picture herself in a flowing, puffy purple dress, Pidgey flying behind her to hold up the trim, and then she would dance with Mark, feel his muscles, stare into his eyes…

"There you two are!" A voice said from behind, and Leaf nearly screamed, quickly turning it into a cough as she and Janine turned around. Red looked red in the face as he walked up the staircase, his clothes looking less damp than they had been when he had left the Pokemon Center. He was smiling again, the anger and silence disappearing, though Leaf found herself unable to smile back. Part of her suddenly felt guilty for having her fantasy, though she was not sure why.

"I looked through every floor for you!" Red said as he approached them. "One of the waiters told me that two girls had come on this side with an elderly woman, but I thought you might still be on the first floor. I didn't think you would have come all the way up here in such a short time."

"Well, we do have quite advanced brains, we are able to process information relatively quickly," Janine replied with a joking smile, but both Red and Leaf both picked up on something darker in her tone.

"I didn't battle Brock in the end," Red said, looking awkwardly at Janine before moving on. "I realised that I did have the disadvantage going in, and I was not going to risk harming my Pokemon for that."

"Wise decision," Leaf said with a smile, and was pleased to see that the fight would be over. "Do you want to come down with us or keep looking around? One of the curators has gifted us some free tickets for the 'Secrets from Space' event and we are thinking about going."

"Free tickets? Seriously?" Red said in shock, and Leaf passed them over. "Wow, this is pretty impressive! Do you know why he did it?"

"He had some spares and said it is good for trainers to come to these sorts of things and learn more about Pokemon," Leaf explained. She was feeling happy to know that things would be able to move away from the fight, and could now imagine all four of them at the party tonight, chatting to Mark and Madame, experiencing the high life and the special objects on display. It would be a great story to tell everyone about, and Leaf could already imagine telling her grandparents about it.

"Well, well, well, look who's reappeared!" Someone snarled from the staircase, and Leaf's dreams shattered in an instant as she heard the tone in Blue's voice. Red's face sunk as well, passing the tickets back to Janine and turning to face his friend. Blue rose up the stairs, his smile a mixture of cockiness and anger, and the tension increased with each stair that raised him up. Someone else appeared behind him, and Leaf's jaw dropped at the sight of Susie, the last person she had expected to see here. She wanted to run across and embrace her friend, but she did not dare move while Red and Blue were getting annoyed. Blue got to the top of the staircase and froze, crossing his arms and staring defiantly at Red.

"Blue, I am sorry for what –," Red began, but Blue interrupted.

"Aren't you meant to be getting your butt kicked by Brock at the moment?" He said with a snarl. "Or have you already lost and came here in hopes of avoiding me?" His delight at Red's apparent defeat reached his eyes, and Leaf looked across at Red to see his face turning the same colour as his name, his lips thinning to form a scowl.

"I realised that my Pokemon were not entirely ready, just as you suggested," he explained. "If you had let me finish my sentence, I would have apologised and tried to make up with you, but right now I don't see any point." Blue turned angry at this, but quickly shrugged it off and tutted.

"You probably realized that my Pokemon would weaken Brock so much that he wouldn't recover fully in time to battle you, giving you a slim chance of actually winning."

"Please, my Pokemon are ready enough to defeat Brock, I just wanted them to have extra training to make it an easier win! I could defeat Brock right now if I wanted too!"

"Not if I defeat him first!" Blue said, taking a step backwards onto the stairs. "My team is fully healed and ready to go, and I think I have a better chance of winning." Silence fell, and Leaf looked between her cousin and her companion, wondering who was going to say or move next. She knew that she should say something and put their silly fight to a stop, but words failed her once more as her mind drifted off to the fantasy she had held only a few minutes ago, and realised there was no chance it would happen now.

In a sudden movement, Red was off, racing down the stairs before Blue even noticed. The brunette took after his friend a moment later, and their feet pounding the stairs echoed back up, and Leaf sighed to herself, wondering what would happen next in their squabble.

"Well there goes the need for those extra tickets," Leaf groaned to Janine, and pushed her dreams of the perfect experience out of her mind for now before turning to her friend, trying to put on a smile. "Susie, hello! I can't believe you're here!"

"I can't really believe it either!" Susie replied, rushing forwards to hug her friend. "What is up with those two? The last time I saw them together they were best friends!"

"Stress, tiredness and the fact their stupid boys," Leaf replied warily, making Susie laugh. "Janine, this is my best friend from Pallet Town Susan." Janine made a smile as she shook Susie's hand, but Leaf saw irritation in her eyes, and could not tell if it was left over from her sudden annoyance with Red or something to do with Susie's appearance.

"Terrible weather, isn't it?" Susie said, shivering as she took off her dripping raincoat. "Not as bad as those sea storms we use to get in Pallet, but this is pretty bad as well! Though I figured being inside would mean I would get warmer, but it is just as cold in here."

"The Educational Room is pretty warm," Leaf replied, gesturing weakly at the area they had just left. "They probably have to keep the little kiddies from freezing or something." She moved towards it before anyone else said anything, in desperate need to sit down to stop herself from freaking out. She was angry with both Blue and Red, furious for ruining her idea of a perfect evening and stopping any of them from having their first fun night out since they started their journey. It did not seem like too much to ask for, and Leaf hoped Brock defeated both of them just so that they got put in their place.

"So Janine, where are you travelling from?" Susie asked as they trooped inside. Leaf was too lost in her own thoughts to think about what was being said, but Janine never responded, instead letting out a gasp. Leaf looked around in shock and saw Madame lying draped over the edge of the couch, her right arm and leg dangling off in an uncomfortable manner. Susie screamed and Leaf rushed forwards, quickly grabbing Madame's dangling hand and feeling for a pulse.

"What happened? She can't have just dropped dead like this! She was fine a minute ago!" Janine cried, but Leaf could feel a faint heartbeat beneath her fingertip. Relieved, she turned to tell the others, but something on Madame's neck caught her attention. A white capsule the size and width of her thumb stuck out, and when Leaf gave it a pull, she saw a thin needle sticking out.

"Guys…," Leaf said nervously, fear taking over her body, and she quickly turned to the others. She could only watch though as Susie collapsed face-first to the carpet, and a stunned Janine followed a moment later, the same darts in the side of their necks. Leaf screamed and jumped up, dropping the one that had struck Madame and sprinting for the door. If she could just reach the balcony, she would be able to scream down to the waiters below for help…

Something slammed into the side of her neck, and Leaf screamed again as her neck felt like it was being slit open. She tried to keep running, but her legs were already feeling weak, and she slowly collapsed to her knees, feeling the cold of the stone beneath them as she raised a hand to her neck, but it started to shake, refusing to move.

No, Leaf thought as she fell onto her back, her head hitting carpet but shaking as if she had just entered an earthquake. Her vision blurred and her breathing became ragged, but she clung onto consciousness long enough to see a figure dressed all in white loom over her, catching his arrogant smile as she saw a familiar head of violent turquoise hair. Leaf wanted to scream, but her throat seemed to have closed, and everything was going black.

The last thing Leaf felt was someone grabbing her shoulders, and she wondered if she would awake in time for the party as everything around her went black.