A/N: Okay, this isn't the REAL A/N, but I want to get it out of the way before I start the story, for unobservant people who didn't pay attention to the summary. This is the sequel to Friend Ball, another story I've written. So go read that first or this will make absolutely no sense. o3o

Today, cold-time crept over the forest and frost crackled under my paws, the air just a pinch sharper and clearer.

Today, I was running for my life.

Ferns whipped past me, unloading cascades of dewdrops onto my pelt. Twigs snapped in my face, sharp stones and branches poking my paw pads. I gritted my teeth, lowered my head, and ran faster. My breath puffed out in icy clouds, but I wasn't afraid. I knew I could outrun them. Still, I couldn't help but remember how this had come to be.

I had been wandering in this Mew-forsaken forest for months. Three, to be exact. Sun-time was gone, and brown-time was coming to an end. When I woke up in the morning, my breath was visible, curling from my nostrils like cold smoke. Frost crept up the roots of the trees all around me.

The forest was endless. At least, it seemed to be. Tree after tree rose from the ground, each exactly like the other. Bushes and shrubs and ferns, unchanging, unyielding.

I had a mission. Find my sister, be she dead or alive. And to do so, I had to first escape this forest. For days, I had been travelling on a tip given to me by an old and decrepit arcanine. I didn't know how accurate it was, but it was my only lead. I hadn't spoken for another pokemon in days; most were busy readying themselves for cold-time, and being a Dark-type and predator, I was generally avoided.

Each night, I would find an abandoned burrow, a hollow between tree roots, or even just a spreading bush, and drop nearly instantly off to sleep. Each day, I pressed myself long and hard, waking with the sun and travelling until after dark. If I passed by a berry bush, or came across a small pokemon like a rattata or pidgey, I would stop momentarily to have a meal; although, the last berries were drying up, and prey was becoming scarce and swift. Afterwards, I would go on, pushed on by a driving force to know the truth. Occasionally, I would be able to ask a pokemon for directions; many times, however, my efforts were useless.

Take the day before, for example. I had stumbled upon the first pokemon I'd seen for days, besides fleeting glimpses of rattata or pikachu in the undergrowth, or pidgey and spearow perching on high-above branches. It was a young oddish, pacing along between clumps of fern. She couldn't have been living on her own for long, if that.

Trying not to startle her, I stepped from the brush and greeted her in what I hoped was a friendly, or at least non-threatening, voice: "Hello."

Squealing in surprise, she cringed and called out, "Don't eat me!"

I sighed and soothed her, "I'm not going to eat you. I could've killed you already if I wanted to eat you."

Okay, maybe that wasn't as soothing as I'd hoped. Still, the small oddish drew herself up a bit, red eyes, narrowing, and piped up bravely, "Wh-What do you want from me?"

"I just want to know if you know any way out of this forest," I replied carefully.

"N-No! Why would I want to leave? I was born and raised here!" With that, the oddish dashed into the undergrowth as quickly as her stubby little legs could carry her.

It was a lot of effort for absolutely nothing. So I kept following the arcanine's lead. The arcanine whom had stared off into space, thought about it for a while, huffed, and indicated a direction with his tail, mumbling gruffly, "I reckon it's that a-way." Still, it was better than choosing a random direction and pursuing it for a week or two - or until it became evident this wasn't the correct way, which had probably only gotten me even more lost.

Asking pokemon for directions was hard. Most avoided me like the plague. Those that didn't or whom I managed to surprise usually didn't know - why leave, after all? - or didn't care.

At night, I had another issue. The nightmares. The nightmares where Kiera spoke to me, pleaded to me, the ones where I was helpless or immobile, the ones where everyone I'd known in my home forest flashed by, leaving me alone, laughing at me, taunting me...

I had had them many times before. They shouldn't frighten me, shouldn't bother me. They were only dreams, after all.

Yet they did.

And now, back to my current predicament. It was caused by a single careless misstep, a lapse in attention. That was all.

I'd been thinking about my plans for cold-time. It was reported that this region got a lot of snow during that season. Doubtless that would slow down my progress; I'd have to struggle through snowdrifts, prey would become even scarcer than it was now, and berries would be unheard of. I'd have to spend much more time scrounging around for a meal. I'd lose a lot of progress...


That sound caught my attention, as something wet and gooey seeped around my paw. My eyes widened as my gaze drifted slowly downwards.

A spearow's nest was tucked in at the base of a tree.

I'd just stepped on an egg.

Spearow are not known to be forgiving pokemon, nor logical, nor even particularly reasonable. Instead, they are known as fierce, warlike, mean-spirited flying-types who will literally peck your eyes out for revenge.

"Spear-r-r-roww!" The infuriated, trilling cry rang out on a branch above me.

"Spear-r-r-roww!" Answering cries rose from neighboring trees as spearow spread their wings, talons gleaming, excited for the prospect of battle. As if as one, they rose from their branches and dove after me.

Oh, Mew. Spinning on my heel, I dashed as quickly as I could into the undergrowth. My only hope was to outrun them. There was no way I could fight this many pokemon - there were at least a dozen.

I sped through the forest, dodging trees and bushes, darting between oaks and sycamores, my paws hardly touching the forest floor as I sped, legs pumping, away from my enemy.

Unfortunately, Spearow are also known to be very, very fast. They sliced through the air with wings held tight to their sides and reached me much more quickly than I had thought possible. Now they flung their wings from their bodies, suddenly whooshing to a near stop, only to mobilize again as they dove for their victim. Namely, me.

I kept running as the first stabs of pain came, as if there were still some desperate hope I could get away from them. Their sharp little talons began slicing at my shoulders and sides, while their cruelly tapered beaks tore at my ears, tail, and back. They swept in close, battering my face with their wings, making me stagger and stumble. Gleaming claws sought my eyes, but I snapped at them with sharp teeth, desperately driving them away.

But soon, it became clear to me that this was a losing battle. I was slowing, panting harder and harder, leaving an even clearer target for the merciless spearow. I bled freely from countless tiny cuts and scratches, but added all together, they made my body ache and tingle with pain. And was I beginning to feel dizzy - or was it just my imagination?

In my desperate dash, I didn't notice the trees thinning. I didn't notice the loose soil, or the sound of rushing water, or the increasing number of pebbles scattered about. I didn't notice, that is, until it was too late.

I blinked blurriness from my vision and instantly my eyes flew wide open with shock. In just a few feet, the ground fell away from me in a sheer cliff, water roaring and tumbling beyond.

In a split second, my options were assessed. No time to turn around, or veer away; that would only result in me tumbling awkwardly over the edge, likely badly injuring myself. No, my only choice was to jump straight over. For a single moment, I bunched my muscles, grunted, and leaped.

I sliced through the air, paws outstretched, soaring across the yawning chasm. For a moment, I thought I was going to make it.

Then I started falling.

My paws went past the opposite cliff face only a few inches before I would've hit it and managed to hold on. Yelping in shock, I tumbled towards the river, which was swelling viciously with brown-time's abundant rain.

The water hit me like a charging nidoking. Pain erupted across my side and face. The freezing temperature knocked the breath out of me.

Bubbles swirled past me; the cold was all around me, pressing in, swirling around me. The current whipped me around, my limbs seizing up with shock.

Then I hit the first boulder, sending pain lancing through my ribs. Something snapped inside of me then, and I fought my way to the surface, clawing at the water. I managed to take a couple of great gulps of sweet, clean, freezing air - before I was swept under again.

I'd hit the main current. It was extremely powerful, fed by constant rain, roaring in my ears and tossing me around like a frail brown-time leaf. I paddled uselessly at the frigid water, but I gained no leeway. My lungs felt like they were about to burst, until I could hold my breath no longer. I gasped in water, water that flooded my mouth, throat, and lungs, crowding into my nose, eyes, and ears. I was swirled around a bend, and suddenly I was banged into rock after rock after rock. My already-battered sides were bruised and injured; my leg was slammed, hard, against a boulder, sending explosions of pain up the limb.

My mind buzzed dizzily; my thoughts became hazy and blurry. I gave one final cough before blackness enveloped my mind. Total, complete, aching blackness.

A/N: Hello, people, I'm glad to be back! It's hard to believe that it's literally been 10 months since I completed Friend Ball. And 22 since I began the story! That's almost two years! Crazy, just crazy. Anyway, as the fans I PMed know, this chapter is being released faaaaaar after I told them it would be. Sorry 'bout that. I had writers' block, I've been busy, I've had other projects, and ultimately, I became unmotivated and forgot about it. Again, a PM from a dedicated fan is what got me back onto my feet. I had a burst of inspiration today at school, and voila. CrystalSakura, at your service.

Anyway. So this is it, the first chapter of Chasing Dreams, the much-awaited sequel to Friend Ball. And I've stuck poor Je into quite a predicament, haven't I? Hmmm...

As usual, I hope to update soon, but no promises. This fanfic will be updated sporadically, as Friend Ball was. (Although hopefully not AS sporadically.) I hope all y'all enjoy!