Jaret King belongs to aggies2015

Viola Almach belongs to Ariesbird

Juliet Grey belongs to Dolcebrio

Seria Day belongs to Kittynip

Ryuu Sinclair belongs to Tendou Souji

Cody Frost belongs to Hodge Podge '97

Victoria Reed belongs to Lord Farquaad

Honovi belongs to Jentus

Cloyster blinked a few times. Dragonair flowed out in front of Juliet, his eyes narrowing disdainfully toward him. The dragon's eyes flicked to the Glaceon plastered into the rock. Though he undoubtedly gave off a regal air, there was a faint trace of anger. Cloyster bit down on his initial reaction.

It annoyed him.

Soon, it was beyond just him snarling under his breath. With that Pokemon throwing his life away, it'd make the girl even more defenseless. The Larvitar had burnt himself out and had even gotten the Glaceon run through, who lay there unmoving. Cloyster was only going to reinforce his current mindset as the Dragonair watched him with a subtle but confident smirk. Regals had no place on the battlefield, and he was sure they both knew such a thing. It was grounds for fighters, those who weren't afraid to dirty their hands in another's blood.

And yet this "Argo" stood before him, eying him with cold superiority. The gesture made the dragon all the more aggravating.

"Shah!" Cloyster lunged forward but Argo held his ground, slithering adroitly so that his tail fell down from overhead. Cloyster grimaced as the tail hit its mark, catching him unaware and throwing him into the den ground with a resonant crash. He was quick to rebound, however, picking himself back up almost immediately. He wasn't hurt, but was intrigued. Argo gave him an arrogant toss of his head and Cloyster was nearly goaded into attack again.

"Cloyster, that's enough."

"Hnnh?" Victoria met Cloyster's virulent stare, but it softened mere moments later.

"Don't worry. It's not that I don't believe in you…You just need my help." She shifted nervously and Cloyster blinked dumbly at her. He responded with a furious shake of his head. This was his fight, and he was going to dethrone a little tyrant of a Pokemon. Argo watched him with a level stare, a flitter of arrogance passing through his eyes. To him, Cloyster was a buffoon, a foolish dolt with no understanding of strategic elegance in battle. His recklessness would be the death of him. That was, if Argo didn't put him down first.

Cloyster roared and Argo prepared himself and in the next few moments, Cloyster's shell was slashing by him, entrenched in silver. Argo took Cloyster's offensive with ease, employing well-placed dodges and steps, making abrupt shifts in his movement, navigating the prongs in grooves in Cloyster's shell. Cloyster bellowed with another roar of annoyance.

"Cloyster, calm down." Cloyster roared as a response. How could she tell him to calm down, especially when someone they both couldn't stand to look at was sitting right before them? He took aim at Argo, a small piece him surprised that Victoria hadn't put him in his place; Argo readied himself again. The air broke and Argo felt a spire of ice lance by him, much closer than he would've liked. He even had to retreat back to Juliet's side on occasion to protect her from a few stray shots.

A noise of amusement escaped him unintentionally. Juliet's mind was rattled and her grace and performance had been whittled down to raw skill and sheer dumb luck. He had even seen from his ball a small girl that shared similar characteristics. Light freckles that went across her face, similar hair and both of them having a similar air in their eyes, though Juliet's was much more edged. She was more than likely a family member and more than likely the "Eve" he had heard her talk about so fondly at times. He couldn't say for sure, but she was more than likely the reason why she had slipped so much as of late.

Cloyster appeared before him, fast, but Argo was that much quicker. Cloyster's speed didn't faze him in the slightest and he shuffled downward and away from his opponent with a sneer; Cloyster responded with indignation, turning his eyes to follow after him. A burst of darkened red dusted across his eyes and Cloyster withdrew. As he fell back, he caught wind of Argo.

Something radiated from him, something more so fierce than majestic. Cloyster found the only way he could describe the dragon before his eyes was intimidating. Juliet only watched, her own gaze full of awe at the Dragonair. Only seconds later, she recalled the Charicific Valley. Casanova had fought against a Charizard with the same ability, and had nearly paid for it with his life.

"Oh Cas…" She wondered what the Charizard was doing or how much stronger he had become. Another pulse of energy jolted her to attention, making her come to the realization that she had actually never really remembered teaching the Dragonair Dragon Dance, though most of the fights she had used him in, and that was sparingly, it had usually taken a few bouts before his opponent was lying prostrate and unable to battle.

Cloyster trembled slightly and Juliet found that prospect a bit unnerving if not groundbreaking. Was he actually scared? That monster of a Pokemon was actually frightened of Argo? Juliet shook her head. It wasn't Argo, it was Dragon Dance. Not only that, his fear seemed to be mixed with his reckless mindset. He was actually getting a kick out of the fact that he could possibly die. She had seen how Argo's noble air upset him, and how most people of affluence or opponents were cowards at heart. He probably thought Argo was nothing more than a fool.

It was different now that Argo had proven him wrong.

Cloyster turned back to Victoria, who snickered at him. He shot her a downcast look.

"Cowardly like every other Cloyster, whiny like Crawdaunt. How can you even hope to close the gap between you and Kingdra if you can't even get over Sagark beating you to a pulp? Dragons are nothing to be afraid of, especially when you hold the advantage over them." There was recognition in the Pokemon's face and he swallowed nervously. He was almost like Victoria in a sense, but at least in personality remained constant. Victoria patted the Pokemon's shell.

"It's alright, Cloyster. Just because I'm hurt doesn't mean you can't go all out. You don't have to be so cautious. I can handle myself." Cloyster's eyes fell to her ankle. Dirt and debris had found its way into the wound, resulting in a black clump of broken flesh and a pungent odor to match. He gave her a look of genuine concern. "Cloyster, if I can handle what I've been feeling for so long, then I can handle whatever physical pain is out there. It's alright. Go ahead and cut loose." Cloyster swallowed again, but the gesture that came after that was a reassured grin. He saw Victoria's hand move then and his eyes followed and he nearly gawked in shock when she placed a hand on his shell, her other hand placed across her heart.

It had been so long since he had seen that gesture. For a moment, he had seen Victoria Reed.

He turned back to Argo, his mind still ablaze. Victoria used to do that often, a gesture that become synonymous with the term "family". She had done that so much when Ryuu had been around, so much that he'd thought he'd never have to see her without it. But he had been wrong…so very wrong.

His vision focused on Argo then, who still eyed him with cool superiority. It still irked him, but he managed to keep control of himself; he had learned his lesson from earlier, and Victoria Reed was still in his mind. He missed his trainer dearly. Argo had goaded him into a foolish offensive and was attempting to do so again. Instead, he watched as the crimson aura faded into obscurity around the dragon. It could've been the end of him he realized, if he had been a bit too late in his retreat.


Cloyster kicked off. The exchange went the same as the rest, Cloyster moving on the offensive while Dragonair slipped by him time and time again, striking at him with reserved taps that ached but never definitively hurt him. He was trying to goad him into foolishness again but Cloyster held back, no matter how irksome it truly was. Argo watched him with intrigue, a noble's grin forming on his features. Holding back his frustration was becoming a painful endeavor to the Pokemon. The anger at the false pretenses of nobility was beginning to cloud his mind again when he came to a realization.

He was still holding back.

Despite Victoria's speech, despite the gesture she had done, he found that he couldn't bring himself to run wild like he had at the valley, or when he had killed off the Glaceon. He couldn't cut loose but he knew why. Even though Victoria said she'd be fine, he didn't quite trust the statement, or her state of mind. She was so riddled with guilt that it was eating her from the inside out. Not to mention that he had seen the trainer who once was. He made a low noise, something that may have suggested that he was struggling with his own guilt.

"Cloyster!" Her voice threw him off. Victoria was here to scold him again. Could she do nothing but kill these days? Kingdra would've been much more vocal if she were casted from her ball. Maybe that was why she hadn't made an appearance since the valley. "Stop holding back you dolt! How the hell are you gonna' let some spoiled elitist top you!?" That was the glaring difference between her two persons. Her voice had been soft and caring, heartwarming even. Now, it was barbed with anger. She was just trying to get her point across. A lot of the time, she never meant her words. At least, not to him or Kingdra. He grunted.

Argo moved in. His body pulsed faintly with the crimson red from earlier and Juliet immediately knew where he what he was planning. He was going to end the bout in one fell swoop. She recalled the Charicific Valley.

"Argo, Outrage!" The crimson aura pulsed again, and the Dragonair rushed by with a flick of his tail. Cloyster went by it the first time, but before he turned to meet the dragon, he caught wind of the earth that had broken under the Pokemon when he had lunged for him. Cloyster grimaced a bit before turning around; Argo was already darting for him, his eyes steeped in pure rage, in pure anger. Cloyster felt something rise within him. Despite being a noble little tyrant, Cloyster saw a little of himself in the Dragonair.

He didn't like it.

Cloyster exploded with a uncharacteristic roar, a piercing screech that resembled something closer to a horrendous scream than a roar. Juliet's hands fell from her ears. Her eyes focused on Argo's expression. It was fear, an expression that she knew very well. All too well. She pried her eyes away from him, settling on the Cloyster next. What she had found was unsettling.

Cloyster had seemingly doubled in size, and his body had nearly encompassed the entire cavern, making it near impossible to get by him.

"Is this really happening…?" It was odd. She remembered herself saying something along those lines when Victoria had appeared with a 9ft Charizard. Of course this was happening. Anything was possible so long as Marus was running around. "What…on earth…?"

Cloyster frowned.

"Keh." Juliet tensed.

"Razor Shell." Cloyster was then after her. No, after Argo. Cloyster had been eyeing the dragon throughout the battle, but she hadn't expected Cloyster to completely disregard her in order to go after him. Argo fell back with a start and a spire went by him. His ferocity faded from him as he was thrown back on the defensive. Argo wrapped himself around it for mere moments before he was off and slithering through the enlarged grooves of the shell.

Argo kept about his movement. He seemed fine and Juliet let some of the tension ebb from her shoulders.

"I forgot. They're all pretty decent battlers…" Juliet took a deep breath, her order at the ready. They were all great battlers, though she was so used to Tux and to a lesser degree, Casanova overshadowing the rest of them. She grinned a bit. "Argo, Aqua—" her breath caught as she heard something shift and Argo let out a cry of pain. She tuned her eyes in then, finding that one of Cloyster's spikes had actually struck him, managing to impale the edge of the Dragonair's tail. Cloyster's spikes glistened again, and Juliet read the slight flush of panic on Argo's face.

He yanked himself free then and Juliet couldn't quite tear her eyes away. Why could she never look away when something horrible happened? Argo had torn away but he had slowed considerably, both of their eyes honing in on the small piece of flesh that still clung to one of the grooves. Juliet clenched her jaw tight nervously. It seemed as though Cloyster had control of every single curve and spike on his shell.

"Damn it…Damn it Damn it damn it!" Argo made a noise and she turned to him and for once, his eyes held hers. He was hurt, and there he was trying to protect her with his life. It was flattering, but Juliet found that she hated it. Instead, on her face was a grim understanding, a calm horror that Argo couldn't quite decipher.

"Shaaaah!" Argo turned to attention and a spear of ice lanced into him, breaking against his scales. The impact had been a painful one, but it would take more than just that to bring him down. He went by the next few spires expertly. Another one found its mark and soon after, a third one did as well. Argo was slowing down. The pain was growing exponentially and every piece that broke against his skin sent a horrid and sharpened pain throughout his body. It was almost as though his blood were freezing. He was exhausted and bloodied, but Cloyster still pressed on. It was painfully apparent to the Dragonair that his opponent had been holding back the entire time, and it was a bitter pill for him to swallow.

Argo grimaced inwardly, biting at himself in frustration. What was he doing being so weak? Wasn't it a noble's job to protect those who couldn't protect themselves? Wasn't that the very definition of being "noble"? He scoffed. He was nothing near noble. He was always able to get what he wanted, no questions. His bigwig former trainer had made sure of that, always showing him off, not that he minded. He had always felt that he was entitled to things, taking what he pleased, when he pleased.

It had been Juliet and her "noble" tendencies. She was always caring for the weak and frail, those who couldn't defend themselves. She was a philanthropist in his eyes, and it had intrigued him because she seemed so much more…hardened by life, despite her high standing. It was actually one of the most pivotal, if not only things that stopped him from killing her outright.

And now she had grown so much on him that he wanted to protect her brood. In a brief moment of respite, he had caught a small glimpse of Angel, who hung lifeless, run through by so many of the shots he had managed to get by. How did that happen? How could he let that happen? He had caught sight of the small Larvitar, who was also in bad condition, though still alive.

"Shah." Argo turned back to Cloyster with a glare, but Cloyster only stared back at him, his same frown still apparent, unfazed even. It was a challenge. Cloyster had known that Argo wouldn't be able to keep up, had doubted it from the start. Like his trainer had done so many times, he was showing just how helpless he truly was. He hadn't the slightest chance of even matching him. "Shah!"

Argo flinched foolishly and went to move back. Instead, his tail exploded with protest and he winced, only managing enough time to glance up with disbelief as Cloyster's steely blue shell fell over him.

"Argo!" Cloyster rose slowly, revealing Argo, who lay beneath him, run through and horribly mutilated. Juliet saw him blink weakly. Juliet covered her mouth in horror. She felt sick, horribly sick and she watched as the Cloyster merely sat over the dragon.

"Heh…" He was still frowning. Cloyster knew that his mastery over Razor Shell would prove too much, but the added Iron Defense had been a little bit of overkill. He had actually managed to tear the body into separate pieces. The thought made him cringe. He found it even stranger when he paid his respects to the dragon. Victoria was out for blood. He normally wouldn't have had a problem with it.

Had he grown so used to Victoria that he had lost sight of himself too? What would Victoria Reed think?

He shook his head turning to a terrified Juliet. She was literally blue in the face, and he watched as his breath flowed from him before disappearing. She was trying to reaffirm her will, but she was finding it terrifyingly hard.

"I-I'm next…What do I do…?" She was distantly aware of the sound of her footsteps, backing away from Cloyster. She had never felt such an overwhelming feeling of terror. It was almost as if she had never experienced fear, despite seeing so much death.

Despite how much death she had seen, she found that she was afraid to die. Eve first, then a friend second. Now, she had watched two of her Pokemon die before her, and the sickening part was that she had, for a brief moment, been grateful it wasn't her.

"Why…? Why!?" Death was always around her, always at her shoulder. No matter how far she ran, or how hard she tried to ignore it, it seemed as though it was always there in her face, ready to remind her all too happily should she forget. Her voice came out weak and so uncharacteristic that she was unaware that she had even said anything.

"Conner...where are you…?" His name was a whisper on her lips. "Conner…" He would've been able to sort her out of this mess, he always could. He always had a way of getting her out of things. It almost seemed like he was good at everything. Where could he have gone? When he had met Victoria so long ago, had he even imagined that she'd be the one attempting to kill her? Was he even remotely aware of anything?

Cloyster shifted and he returned to normal size. His frown was there, even now. The image was so instilled into her mind that she shivered despite herself. He moved a bit closer and Juliet felt her body shrink away in panic. Her foot caught something then and she slipped.

She had expected to fall and slam her head against the rock floor, but instead, there was a burning pain in her shoulder. She went to move but it tore at her and she fell back into place. There was a warm sensation that flowed from her shoulder then, down her arm and into her fingers. She was bleeding and rooted to the spot no less.

It wasn't until she saw Cloyster and his frown sitting right before her that her mind broke and the hysteria erupted. She began thrashing wildly, the wound in her shoulder tearing open a bit more, but she didn't care. She had to get loose, had to get away from this monster of a Pokemon.

"I don't want to die! I don't want to die! I can't…!"

"Juliet, calm down," Juliet thrashed even more.

"Calm down!? How can you tell me to calm down!?" How could Victoria ask her to calm down? Sit still while Cloyster ripped her apart? That wasn't going to happen. Victoria frowned, but said nothing. She only stepped aside, bringing Eve into view.

It was almost as if the strength had been sapped from her and Juliet settled down. The wound in her shoulder burned intensely now, but she didn't care, her focus only on her sister.

"E-Eve…" the younger girl looked away, and Juliet turned venomously to Victoria. "What the fuck do you think you're doing with her!? Get away from her!"

"You forget that she's already dead." Victoria retorted, a bit sharper than intended. Juliet's jaw clenched. That was true. Eve had been dead for a few years now, but she couldn't help but feel a perverse sense of joy as she saw her sister again, this time "alive". She came to a somber realization then.

She didn't want to die. Why was that so? Why did she struggle against something so natural? She was bound to grow old and die sometime, so why was it such a big deal now? Eve had died in one of the worst ways possible: slow and painful. When Luxray were on the prowl, they made sure to incapacitate before they indulged. Eve had felt every bit before she had actually died, and Juliet hadn't been there to save her.

Then there had been a friend in the Sinnoh underworld with her, someone who had followed after her because "friends care about each other". It was nice to have them there, but instead, they ended up swept away by the current, and were soon drowning themselves, melting away until they had faded completely; they had followed her there.

If she had caused so much death, then how could she be afraid when it finally came to take her away, no matter how early? It wasn't fair to Eve. It wasn't fair to her lost friends. She deserved it, didn't she? She felt one of the spikes drive deeper into her shoulder and beyond, driving into the rock wall behind her. Cloyster inched closer in, so close that she had to look at him. His frown had softened however. It was something plain, like he was waiting for a response, a punch or a kick more than likely. Her hands ached at the thought. It'd be a pain if she broke something. For a long second, the two stared at each other.

"Juliet!" Her ears quivered with recognition at the voice. Virgil came sprinting down the pathway, and judging from the numerous footsteps, Viola must've come with him. Virgil stopped for a moment, breathing in the gruesome scene in front of him, his eyes settling on Juliet's bloody shoulder. He had even caught sight a younger girl that looked something like Juliet. Was that the Eve he had heard so much about?

"What…happened…?" Juliet Glaceon hung lifelessly against the rock and a Dragonair, presumably hers, lay shredded in a bloody pile.

"Stay out of it." Virgil bit back a retort and ran his eyes over the bloody scene again. Victoria could wait. Victoria had to wait. Virgil took a step forward and he felt Cloyster's eyes dart on him, already evaluating him. Virgil caught the Pokemon's frown.

"Tch," Cloyster heard the signature click of a poke-ball, his eyes filing over to a Grovyle that watched him with an analytical edge. He grinned. He remembered that Grovyle. It was the same that had stopped him earlier, when he was in the midst of breaking Virgil's spirit. Cloyster turned away, making some slight noise of annoyance. It had been different back then. There was anger building within, anger at Victoria. Her gesture hung prominent in his mind.

Would Victoria Reed approve of what he was doing?

Cloyster growled irritably, and he caught wind of a flicker of recognition in Virgil's eyes. He saw it. Virgil had seen him falter for just a slight moment. Cloyster strengthened his resolve then and Virgil's eyes widened with terror as he realized what he was going to do.


A loud snap, like gunpowder, echoed through the halls. Oddly, it had felt different. Juliet's mind was a fog, but pulsed alongside a near unbearable pain in her shoulder.

Her shoulder…

She had found that she was actually free of the Cloyster and for a moment, she had to weigh the significance of her actually getting away from him alive. It was strange to her still because she had blacked out for mere seconds, coming to, and finding that she was free of Cloyster, though Virgil looked at her with a distraught expression all together. The boy looked a mess; his eyes were wide with absolute horror. Her body still ached, and she wanted to shake the pain loose and went to stand.

Blood trailed after her, and the cloying metallic scent made her glance down at her shoulder.

She had found nothing. No stump, not even a hanging limb. Her entire arm was gone. She felt her lips part into a voiceless scream, more so out of the fact that something like this had happened to her. It wasn't such a stretch that this could happen to other people, but to her… She had figured that she would at least die without having to witness herself torn apart.

She thought of Eve.

Suddenly, she was panting heavily and very soon after that, crying. She hadn't noticed Virgil approach her. He went to take her in his arms, but instead he kicked at him, struggling away from him in a bout of hysteria, some of her blood spraying across his face. Virgil bit back a sick feeling of panic and dread.

"First Seria, now this…?" What was happening to his friends? "Damn it Jaret! Where the hell are you when I need you!?" She still struggled in his grasp vehemently and forced her down. "Juliet! Juliet! Calm down and listen to me! It's Virgil!" In all of her hysteria and fear, she froze, froze because she had seen his face riddled with such a fear for her that it had caught her unaware.

"V-Virgil…?" He nodded. "I…I don't want to die…" His eyes trailed over her missing arm, finding that it had actually torn a bit out of her chest with her arm. She could bleed out at any moment. He looked to his clothing, finding it drenched in her blood.

"I…don't want you to die either…" He was at a loss for words. What could he possibly say to make her feel better? Something welled within him. Something he couldn't quite describe, and it was nothing like his scrappy anger. In fact, he was reduced to just being blunt with people. He was genuinely surprised when she nestled her head into his chest.

"I don't…want to die," She whispered weakly. Her head was foggy and her sight of Virgil was growing faint. "Is this what you were feeling, Angel…?" She pictured the Glaceon strung up, then Argo crushed under foot. She hadn't even gotten to have a proper reunion with Cossette, and now that she had some kind of lead on Conner, she would never be able to capitalize on it.

"Conner…" She thought she had been thinking his name, but she saw the look Virgil had given her, which meant that his name must've trembled from her lips. Virgil blinked and his face read in the same manner it had back in Violet City, though it lacked the annoyance. Instead, he was just tense and worried. Tense like back where they had met, in an alleyway of all places.

She wanted to grin, but the delirious cries for her brother seemed to be the only thing coming out. At least she had finally been able to read someone through their face, and ironically, it had been Virgil of all people. She had really hoped she was smiling.

Virgil watched her in his arms and she moved with subtlety, barely. He found that he couldn't put her down. Instead, he buried her head closer to his chest, brushing her hair a little. She hiccuped a few times and then she finally went still.


No response.

"Juliet," he said a little louder, but there was still no response. His hands tightened around her shoulders a slight bit and he nearly screamed after her but caught himself when he felt her chest rise and fall the slightest bit. He let out a relieved breath.

"Viola, take her and get out of here."

"…I take it you're going to fight her…?" He turned to her. "You do realize that we'll need to make it to the Holy Land. There's no telling what Jaret and the others have gotten themselves into…" Virgil felt a part of him rise in protest, but he nodded.

"Heh…You're…pretty distant about the whole fact she was nearly killed…" Viola kept quiet. "You're really goal-driven aren't you?" He went to gauge the reaction in her eyes and found a certain kind of pain in her eyes. She was trying her best to understand what he was feeling,

"Leave her here." Virgil turned his attention to Victoria.

"Leave her?" She nodded. "I can't do that. She'll…she'll die if I leave her here…" Victoria shrugged.

"You'd rather watch her die and tear yourself apart?" Virgil reciprocated her shrug. "It's not easy having to lose someone you love, especially when they're dying in your arms."

"I…don't love her." His protest was weak. "She's just…understands me best…Besides, I'd rather give her chance at life than none at all."

"With a missing arm? There are fates worse than death." Virgil cringed just as Viola gave him a timid tap on the shoulder.

"Since one of use needs to get to the Holy Land, I suggest that you go and I'll fight her." He turned to her, his hand coming to a rest on her shoulder protectively. He had softened up, no thanks to Jaret.

"I'm not going to let you fight her. If she's given Jaret so much trouble, then what makes you think that either of us will stand a chance?"

"Either way, it's still a problem. If we don't do something, Juliet will die, but we also can't let her hold us up any longer. More of our friends could die in seconds…" Virgil knew she was right and the pressure of the situation weighed on him heavily. He cast his eyes over Juliet's missing arm and reached for a ball. Lucario sprang to life, passing Virgil a knowing glance. Virgil set Juliet down then and Lucario went about sealing the open wound.

Virgil rose, obscuring Juliet from Victoria's vision; another ball was in his hand soon enough. He'd rather think of something else, anything else than fighting Victoria. It was as though he didn't realize her strength until he saw what she done to Juliet. But what other choice did he have? He said nothing as he pointed the poke-ball in her direction.

"So we're fighting…?" Virgil nodded and a sad sigh escaped from Victoria. "Please, stay out of this…" She caught him off guard for a moment. She had been begging and on f she was hesitant. What had happened to that bloodthirsty trainer that appeared at the valley? What had happened to the monster of a person that nearly killed him at the Bell Tower?

"I…can't. I won't leave her here." Her eyes focused on the ball in his hand.

"Dewott? Ampharos?" Virgil shook his head. "The frightened spider?" Virgil's hand snapped into action then and the poke-ball was hurling toward Victoria before bursting into smoke. She saw a white spotted rabbit appear, spinning dangerously fast. Her tail had become like a blade and Cloyster retreated. Azumarill missed and landed with a solid thump into the earth. She smirked before kicking off after him.

"Double Edge!" Cloyster frowned. Did Virgil really think raw power was going to break through him? The steel glint formed over his shell and he simply waited for the Pokemon rushing him. Her body changed however, seeming to suddenly explode with an aura for a moment. Cloyster stared incredulously for a moment before the memories of the Larvitar came rushing back.

He pulled away fearfully at first before he realized that the Azumarill had disappeared. His eyes glanced over the scene, finding only the two trainers. He blinked and he heard a venomous snarl. Dewott had formed right before him, his scalchop whirring to life. He slashed.

He bounced away and Cloyster responded with a snarl of his own, loosing a barrage of spikes in response. Dewott moved, feeling one of them tear along his fur; he ignored the pain and pushed onward. Dewott gritted his teeth in focus as he managed his way back into range. Cloyster spun once, one of the spikes spinning toward Dewott. Dewott rose his shell in defense at the last moment, the spike pinging from the shell and launching Dewott away. Almost immediately after, Virgil saw the spikes on Cloyster's shell shift.

Dewott felt the ground beneath him shake as Cloyster fired again. Dewott was hurriedly on his feet and the first spike that aimed for him, he had dodged easily, moving by it with no trouble. The second one, however, had missed by sheer dumb luck. The third had caught him off guard, nearly lancing him through, but he responded at the last moment, his shell-blade roaring to life and cleaving it in two.

From there on out, the otter was forced on the defensive. The spike shots had grown much more accurate, as if Cloyster had been toying with him from the start and every shot was far too close for Dewott's standards. The otter cursed. He would never be able to get in close at this rate. He had managed glances through Cloyster's oppressive offense. He had caught sight of the long dead Glaceon and the newly dead dragon, who was nearly ground to dust.

"Shah!" Cloyster materialized before Dewott. Dewott turned his eyes back on Cloyster and pivoted, avoiding a stab of Cloyster's shell.

"Take aim, Cloyster." Virgil cringed and Dewott felt a twinge of panic nip at his mind. His trainer had said to take aim. Did that mean that Cloyster had been firing after him half-heartedly? Virgil found that his eyes were watching only the Cloyster, who watched Dewott zigzag through the shots. Cloyster's eyes followed Dewott closely, discerningly; eerily. Dewott cursed again.

Suddenly, he stopped, straightening his stance and turning to the Cloyster.

"H-hey! Dewott, what the hell are you doing!? "Dewott snorted irritably. Virgil was an idiot. Had he been listening to anything the trainer with the strange eyes had said? Mastery was based around the inner strength and trust between a Pokemon and their trainer. Why couldn't he just trust him? "Don't be stupid!"

Dewott chattered irritably again, and Virgil shut up. It was odd, Victoria thought, to watch Dewott face certain before a Pokemon as murderous as Cloyster. It made very little difference to her. As if to prove her wrong, she felt a familiar feeling rise in her chest then and it sprang all throughout her body, molding its way around her, coursing through her veins like a toxin. Victoria frowned. She hated feeling guilty.


"Damn it! Dewott!" He didn't budge and suddenly, the feeling of understanding was back again. It was the same feeling he had felt when he had started this whole mess, when Jaret had annoyingly stirred him from his house. Again, he understood how passionate Dewott was when it came to his battling, and how badly the Pokemon wanted to master it. The Pokemon drove himself into the ground attempting to unlock all of his potential; Virgil felt like a fool as the answer slapped him in the face.


Unlike him, Dewott had known about mastery for some time, way before he had even met Ryuu. It would've made perfect sense with how disciplined and stern the Pokemon was. Virgil felt his legs shaking then.

"I'm shaking…!?" His vision pulsed with black and he grunted through the feeling. His strength felt as though it were being drained through his feet.

"When a technique is first mastered, it takes a massive toll on the trainer. It just about wipes the trainer out when used for the first time." It was like Ryuu said, and Virgil didn't like the feeling. The world slowed down then. The shell-blades seemed to extend outward further before snaking away from the shell entirely, wrapping itself around Dewott like a protective cloak.

Dewott bellowed, stomping into the earth before kicking off. Virgil wasn't sure if he was the only one who felt the ground tremble a bit. The aura was bursting from Dewott now, and a single goal ran through his mind: He had to win. He simply had to.

He felt something hard press against him then. Blinking a few times, he realized that Cloyster had fired another blast. It felt as though it were steel. He pressed back as the spire struggled to run him through. He refused to become like the Glaceon that hung from the walls, like the Dragonair that lay crushed and broken.

He would win.

He felt the spike dig a little deeper, past the aura and into his skin. He snarled. He knew that no one had seen him with it, especially not Virgil, but he clutched the Tide Incense in his hand. What would happen if he lost? What would happen to everyone? He gripped the incense tighter still. What would happen to Seria?

He gave another snarl and the spike flagged before disintegrating under him. Virgil gawked. Dewott had seemingly done the impossible. His legs quaked, and he reaffirmed his position a bit, but he slumped in exhaustion. Cloyster steeled himself.

Or would have.

Dewott slammed into him quicker than he had expected, and he felt his shell ache yet again. The same fear from earlier made Cloyster shudder and he went to fire again, anything to get Dewott away from him. Instead, Dewott bounced away, the aura-like water still about him. Dewott raised a hand and the water gathered there forming a shell. It was another scalchop. Dewott slashed again.

The blade dug into Cloyster's shell, and Victoria realized she had been a moment too late. She had known what Dewott was aiming for, but for some reason, it didn't seem quite feasible to her. As far as she knew, no other Pokemon knew hail. If Cloyster's shell broke, then he would be completely vulnerable. She had to get him away from Dewott, even though the Pokemon seemed to have burnt himself out.

The aura died out then and Victoria seized the opening.

"Press him into the ground!" Victoria felt something nip at her. The toxic feeling made her feel sick. She really hated feeling guilty. Cloyster roared.

"Shaaaaaaaah!" Cloyster bucked and Dewott felt the earth against his back. Closter reared over him before charging. He had to move. He couldn't lose. Victoria made a noise of disapproval then, more so at herself. Holding a hand over her mouth.

"Cloyster, stop!" And he did. His eyes bored into the otter's. His shell had been mere inches away. Dewott had been lucky. The Pokemon stood shakily to his feet. His face burned with rage and focus; Cloyster found it interesting, though it made him think. Why had Victoria spared him when he had already done away with two others? Virgil let another taut breath loose.

"Y-you spared him…?" Victoria made no implication she was listening, instead looking to Juliet.

"How is she?" Virgil felt the sides of his mouth pull at a small smile. He didn't understand why, but he had thought of Victoria as… different in that fleeting moment.

"You sound genuine."

"There's a lot you don't know…"

"Aside from your fixation with Ryuu?" Viola cut in. Victoria responded with a wry smile.

"I'm surprised you just stood there." Viola looked away with a frown.

"Jaret and Virgil are alike in more ways than they know. Virgil wouldn't have let me interfere." Victoria kept her eyes on Juliet.

"We're complex creatures, you know." Virgil and Viola both caught a glint in the trainer's eyes, which meant she could only be on the verge of tears again. She cradled her head in her hands as she leaned up against the rock wall for support. Her eyes passed over the Glaceon, over the Dragonair and she found herself muttering words that couldn't possibly have taken back everything she had done.

"You aren't even human…"

"Who says I need to be?"

"I'm sorry…I'm sorry... I'm so…sorry…" Viola felt a tug of guilt herself. A part of her wanted to know why Victoria was like this. Apparently, Ryuu had been at the center of whatever she had become. It was moments like this where Viola remembered that Victoria was a human too.

Virgil heard Lucario give a yowl of pain and they both whirled around. A Magmortar stood there before them, holding Virgil's Lucario by his neck.

They had forgotten about Cody.

Magmortar threw the Lucario at Virgil, knocking him over, and Cody stepped out from behind the Magmortar, Juliet slung over his shoulder. His eyes fixated on Victoria.

"V-Vicky…" She looked up to him and she caught the frown on his face. "We gotta' hold it together, okay?" She cast her eyes downward but gave a small nod. Cody grabbed at his waist then, and another Pokemon appeared at his side, golden and hypnotic.

"Hypno, you know what to do. Get us out of here." The Pokemon gripped his pendulum, snapping his fingers once before a flash of purple light flashed, blinding Virgil and Viola. When they each came to, they had found no one but themselves in the cavern halls.

A/N: I'm sorry this has taken so long to get posted. I had thought updates would be able to come a bit faster, but it seems like it'll be varying. I think that the most accurate assumption might be to say that this is to be updated every month from now on. I've been pretty busy as of late and not to mention that a lot of SNK one-shots have been keeping me from focusing on Phoenix a whole great deal.

Until next time,

~ Reknownst