Houndoom , use Crunch.”
“Alakazam, block it with your spoons!”
Amy’s Mega Houndoom bit down on her opponent’s Alakazam’s spoons. Amy smiled. She had Mega Houndoom right where she needed him to be.
“Houndoom, use Dark Pulse.”
Before the opposing trainer could react, Mega Houndoom opened its mouth, let go of the spoons, and blasted Alakazam across the arena with dark energy. When the dust settled, Alakazam was on the ground.
“Alakazam is unable to battle, which makes Amy your Johto League Champion!” The judge said and the crowd cheered.
Amy walked over to her opponent’s side of the field while Houndoom devolved into his normal form. Alakazam recovered on her way over and joined his trainer.
“What an intense battle.” said Amy. “She offered her hand, “you were a worthy opponent.”
“I would hope so,” said the blue-eyed trainer in front of her, “it took a long time to get here.” He sighed, “maybe next year, huh Alakazam?”
The Pokemon nodded in affirmation.
“Well that bit where you made Alakazam block Houndoom’s physical move with his spoons was genius.”
The trainer kicked the dirt, “Thanks…I guess.”
“Hey, I hate to break up your post-match chat, but I need to borrow you two for the closing ceremonies,” a judge said.
“Sure,” said the trainer.
Together, they followed the judge to the center of the battlefield, where a platform had been hastily set up. There were three tiers for first, second, and third place. The judge that had interrupted their conversation directed Amy, her opponent, and the third place trainer to their respective tiers.
The judge picked up a microphone. “This weekend, hundreds of trainers gathered after a year of collecting gym badges to determine who would be the next Johto League Champion!”
The crowd roared.
“Well, ladies, gentlemen, and children of all ages, you have your Champion: Amy Magnolia of Saffron City! Congratulations to runner up Tim Lowbell from the Sinnoh Region and third place, Mark Katana, from the Unova Region!” The judge then draped bronze, silver, and gold medallions over them.
The crowd cheered even louder. Amy drank it all in, basking in the achievement that took Houndoom and her so much work and time. She wanted to stay on that platform forever, if possible.
Unfortunately for Amy, there was an explosion.
Amy could hear screaming and her ears were ringing. She felt pain in her left shoulder. She had been thrown from the platform. She sat in the somewhere in the battlefield, where mere minutes ago her Houndoom had been fighting for the Championship.
“Staraptor, blow the dust away with your wings.”
The air around Amy cleared and revealed Mark. The third place trainer had been the one that gave the order to Staraptor. Seeing him snapped Amy back into focus. She grabbed a Pokeball from her belt. Tossing it in the air she called out, “Go, Fearow! I need you to fly above and figure out what is going on. Help people if they need it.”
Her Pokemon nodded and flew above the dust cloud. Amy ran back in the direction of the platform. Perhaps it held answers.
It was difficult to make it to the platform with all the dust, but she finally did it. The platform was mangled beyond repair. Underneath what was left of it was a small crater.
“Clearly, you were supposed to die,” said a voice coming from the dust cloud that sounded like sandpaper on gravel.
Amy reached for Houndoom’s Pokeball. “Where are you? Who are you?”
“I’m a friend”
“How do you know that the explosion was meant to kill me?”
“Before I answer your question, it would be better to speak face-to-face, don’t you think? Ho-oh, would you kindly use Defog?”
Amy took a step back as the Legendary bird appeared before her, its wings shining as it cleared the dust from the arena. “No way,” she breathed out. Standing below it was a man with hair like a gray bush and glasses like moons. In his hand he held a black Pokeball and there were more clipped to his belt.
“Clear the rest of the arena, Ho-oh. We can’t let them get away.”
“Let who get away?” Amy asked.
“If I am correct, and I usually am, this is the work of Team Rocket.”
“How do you know that? Team Rocket was disbanded three years ago!”
“Were they? Besides, isn’t it odd that the dust from an explosion confined to a small area of the arena and hasn’t settled yet?
“So there’s a Pokemon using Sandstorm, and we’re going to find it.”
Just as the old man was speaking, the arena became perfectly clear. Ho-oh was flying above the center, where some goons had several bird Pokemon captured in nets. They had a red M emblazoned on their chests. The Pokemon using Sandstorm was Boldore.
“That’s odd,” the old man furrowed his brow, “Team Rocket usually uses Pokemon from the Kanto and Johto regions.”
“Whoever they are, they aren’t stealing my Fearow!” Amy said as she seized a Pokeball from her belt. “Go Houndoom!” She touched her Mega Necklace as soon as Houndoom’s feet touched the ground, “Mega Evolve!” Houndoom was surrounded by a blinding light, and as soon as it disappeared, Houndoom was in its Mega-Evolved form. The goons’ eyes widened in fear.
“Quick, get the stolen Pokemon out of here! The bosses won’t be happy if we lose them.” one of them said. “Boldore, prepare for battle.”
Before it could react, a beam of dark energy slammed into Boldore, launching into a wall. The Rock-type Pokemon slumped over, defeated.
Amy was about to order Mega Houndoom to attack the goons but the old man stopped her. “Wait,” he said, “we need to find out why they are stealing Pokemon.” Then he turned to the goons. “Who are you? Why are you stealing bird Pokemon?”
“We’re Team Magnus!”
“Who’s Team Magnus?” Amy said.
“What’s the word the bosses used?” The goon puzzled for a moment. “Oh yeah. We’re a ‘conglomerate’ of all the teams in the world.”
“Ho-oh, free the Pokemon, would you?”
While they were talking, Ho-oh had been sneaking up on the net. Now, Ho-oh used its large beak to shred it and the bird Pokemon flew out. The Team Magnus grunts realized they had been routed and teleported away in a flash of light.
“Looks like we won the day.” Amy said.
“Not exactly,” said the old man.
“What do you mean?”
“We never figured out why they were stealing bird Pokemon, or why all of the teams joined forces. Does that sound like a win to you?”
“We freed the Pokemon and sent Team Magnus goons running.” Amy shrugged, “Sounds like a win to me.”
So where are we going exactly?” Amy was sitting in a plane with her brother, Ray. The windows were blacked out.
The old man gave her a cold stare. “If I told you that, I would have to kill you.”
“R-really?” Amy’s younger brother said. The man gave a curt nod. “Amy, please don’t make him tell us where we are going.
“Fine.” Amy said. But now her curiosity was piqued. “But could you at least tell us who you are?”
The old man sitting in front of them was still a mystery. How did he have a Ho-oh? How did he know the gangs so well? More importantly, why was he surprised by the appearance of Team Magnus?
“Very well, I suppose that knowing my name wouldn’t hurt. But you have to swear on your Pokémon that you’ll never tell anyone.”
“We swear,” said the siblings simultaneously. The plane taxied down the runway.
“My name is Professor Hemlock. My primary interest is Pokémon-type interaction, but I bet I can answer any question you have about Pokémon.”
“Awesome!” said Ray, and never being one to miss an opportunity, he continued, “do you know why Flabébé are so small?”
The plane lurched forward. It was taking off. The passengers clutched their seats as gravity tried to pull them down. The plane grappled with it and took off.
“Flabébé uses its size as a sort of camouflage. Because it is so small it is able to hide in the grass more easily. Then predator Pokémon, like Spearow, can’t find it.” Professor Hemlock answered.
“Wow, that’s so cool.” Ray said. While he asked another question and chatted with the Professor, Amy thought of the strange circumstances that led her here.
They had just stopped Team Magnus from grabbing the bird Pokémon. Amy reunited with Ray. The Professor approached the both of them and said, “That was some excellent work back there. You could keep traveling and battling in gyms or you could use your talents and join me. You could make a difference in the world. Come with me.”
At first, Amy was wary of Hemlock’s offer. It sounded shady and vague. She wanted to have a positive impact on the world–and what he said was true, that vying to become champion in each region wouldn’t really make a difference.
While she was weighing her options, her brother had said, “You should go. It sounds fun.”
“Okay,” she had said. “But only if you go with me.”
“Sure! It sounds fun!”
The Professor hadn’t seemed bothered by this. “We must be going quickly then.”
He took them to the plane that they were on now. Amy still had dust on her clothes and face from the battle, but it seemed so long ago.
“You’re so cool, Professor Hemlock,” said Ray, snapping Amy back to reality. “I want to be a Pokémon Professor someday too.”
“Oh really?” said the Professor. “What would be your area of study?”
“I think I would want to find a way to unlock a Pokémon’s potential without battling.”
“Oh ho ho. That’s going to be very tough. Pokémon like to battle. Right Amy?”
“You betcha,” Amy chimed in. “Houndoom lives for the battle. I’m sure if I let him out of his Pokéball right now he would want to start training.”
“Not to mention you would have to change the entire culture around Pokémon too. But perhaps you should start by finding out why Pokémon like to battle.”
“Yeah…” said Ray.
The pilot turned the light on to indicate that the passengers needed to fasten their seatbelts.
“Looks like we are about to land.” said the Professor.
The landing was silent and uneventful. Amy and Ray stepped off the plane and were greeted by amazing sight. They were facing a jungle. They could hear all sorts of Pokémon in the forest. Bird Pokémon chirped and cawed. Bug Pokémon creeped up vines. Amy was sure she saw a Donphan peeking through the trees as well.
“Impressive, yes?” Hemlock said, standing behind the trainer and her brother.
“There so many Pokémon here” Ray said.
“Indeed, but for now this is not our destination. Come along, there will be plenty of time to meet the wild Pokémon later.”
The group walked off the plane and onto the tarmac. The facility that loomed in front of them was designed like a modern castle, with towers, turrets, and a parapet. Inside the castle structure was a large glass dome and several other buildings. They chatted while walking towards it.
“There are many people who would do very bad things to get their hands on our technology. This fortress is here to protect us and keep them out.” The Professor said.
“Has anyone tried to attack in the past?” Amy asked.
“Our old facility in Kanto. Team Rocket attacked it looking for powerful Pokémon and technology to abuse. We had to evacuate and destroy everything.” He bowed his head and took a labored breath, “so much knowledge was lost simply because someone was greedy. But that is why this location is so remote and so well defended. Let’s go inside.” He took off his glasses and presented his eye to a panel.
“Professor Hemlock, welcome” said a mechanical female voice.
“Thank you, Martha. I have two guests with me today.”
“Welcome Guest 023 and Guest 024. Scanning….” A beam of light shot from the panel and enveloped Amy and Ray. “Guests appear to be no threat, though Guest 023 is carrying six Pokéballs all containing Pokémon. Proceed with caution.” The door opened.
“Ha ha! That’s Martha for you, always the jokester.” The Professor said. He led them down a maze of hallways and into a dark room. Large computer monitors lit up the remains of previous ‘meals’: bags of chips, caffeinated soda cans, and microwaved pizza boxes littered the floor and tables. A tall man with light hair sat in a chair, typing away. An Abra snoozed in the corner.
“Yo, Prof! How did your mission go?” He said, swiveling in his chair to face the group. He had a short nose and a thin layer of grease covered his hair. He spotted Amy, who was silhouetted in the doorway. “Well look what the cat dragged in.”
“Jake, down. And why are you asking me how my mission went? You saw the whole thing through the security cameras and you communicated with me through comms. I radioed in a report as soon as it was over. You should be working on figuring out who Team Magnus is and what it is they want!” The Professor ranted.
Jake held his hands in the air like he was surrendering. “Relax, Prof, I’m on it.” He swiveled back around in his chair to face the monitor. He tapped a few buttons on his keyboard and footage from the attack began playing. “I’ve been over this footage two or three times since you left the scene Prof, and none of it makes sense. Team Magnus was using Team Galactic tactics but with a Team Rocket kind of flair. Maybe they really did come together.”
“That would be inconceivable. Their interests are too distinct. The gangs would consume each other before they ever teamed up.” The Professor said.
“I dunno Prof,” said Jake, shrugging, “it’s sure what it looks like.”
“Check thermal imaging from the stadium. I have to continue the tour.”
The group left Jake behind and walked out the door. “Sorry about Jake, he’s kind of a mess and doesn’t know respect, but he’s the best I.T. man in the world, so we keep him around. At times, even the smell can even be charming.” said the Professor. The group turned a corner.
“I dunno. He seemed okay to me.” said Ray.
“And don’t worry, I get hit on all the time.” said Amy, “It can be embarrassing sometimes though.”
They turned into another doorway, which opened into the dome that they had seen from the outside. Amy’s and Ray’s jaws dropped. Inside the dome was a vast wilderness with trees, grass, a battlefield, and even a small stream. All sorts of Pokémon played about. Golduck, Magikarp, and Feebas splashed in the stream. In the forest, Grass- and Bug-type Pokémon pollinated flowers.
“That’s a lot of Pokémon,” Ray said.
“Yes, and they’re all owned by the facility for study. They’re also very friendly,” the Professor said.
“At last! A battlefield! There has to be someone here who wants to battle!” Amy said, running towards the battlefield. “Go Houndoom!” She said as she tossed his Pokéball in the air. The Dark Pokémon landed on the battlefield in a flash of light. Amy caught his Pokéball. “Professor, can you summon Ho-oh? We really want to battle it!” Houndoom calmly nodded in affirmation.
“Why not? You did it at the stadium to help defeat Team Magnus.”
“It’s complicated. If you accept our offer, I could tell you. Otherwise, it’s confidential information. We cannot allow the technology to get into the hands of the enemy.”
“Oh Prof, always so uptight.” said a female figure in the doorway. “Just tell her where she is already.”
“Only if you agree to step into the light, Agent Toast.” replied the Professor.
She scowled. “Fine.” A girl about Amy’s age stepped towards Hemlock. She had dark skin and hair, which was cut short. Her eyes were green. She was wearing all black. Her shirt was adorned with a black Pokéball, and there were several black Pokéballs around her waist, along with some red ones. “Now tell her why she’s here.”
“Very well. Amy, welcome to Pokéspot. Here we research Pokémon-capture, link cable, and Pokémon-healing technologies. We also fight bad guys, like Team Magnus. That’s why we have agents like Toast. They are our special ops and take out teams when civilian trainers aren’t making the cut. I am inviting you to be one of our agents.”
Amy furrowed her brow. Looking to Houndoom and Ray she asked, “What do you guys think?”
“Will I see you again?” said Ray. “I would miss you. And I really enjoyed traveling and learning about Pokémon with you”
The gears in Amy’s head started grinding. “I’m only staying if Ray can stay too.”
“Do you think he’s trustworthy?” The Professor said. Amy nodded. “I don’t see why he should be excluded. He’s sharp and inquisitive. He can learn about the Pokémon here by exercising and training them. He’ll be a welcome addition to the team.”
“Okay, I’ll join.”
“Welcome to the team, Amy.” Toast said, walking to one side of the battlefield, “now let me whup you in a Pokémon battle.”
Amy raised her eyebrows and took her position on the other side of the battlefield. “Oh really now? You’re talking to the current Johto League Champion.
“And you’re talking to the former Unova League Champion. Time to put your money where your mouth is. Go, Jellicent!”
The giant pink squid Pokémon came out of its Pokéball and floated above the ground.
“Amy has never battled a Jellicent before.” Ray said.
Professor Hemlock adjusted his glasses. “Jellicent is a Water-Ghost type and Houndoom is a Dark-Fire type. Neither side has the type advantage. I expect to see more Water-type moves coming from Toast and more Dark-type moves coming from Amy, though.”
“No holding back! Houndoom! Mega evolve and use Sunny Day!” Amy said, touching her Mega necklace. Tendrils shot forth from it and connected with similar tendrils coming from Houndoom’s Houndoomite. Waves of power emanated from Houndoom as he changed into a fiercer, more terrifying form. He howled and the battlefield was enveloped in a harsh sunlight.
“An interesting move, to be sure.” said Toast, “but it isn’t enough. Jellicent, use Toxic.”
The Floating Pokémon lobbed a ball of poison at Houndoom. The Mega Pokémon tried to dodge, but was hit with the poison anyhow.
“Oh no, Houndoom.” Ray said.
“Houndoom’s going to take increasing increments of damage after each attack. Amy’s going to need to find a way to finish this battle quickly.” The Professor said.
“Protect!” a field of energy kept the dark type move from hitting Jellicent. The Dark Pulse reflected off the shield and into the ceiling. An alarm started sounding.
Amy blushed. “Sorry”
“No, that wasn’t you. That’s the alarm that summons everyone to Jake. He must have found something,” said Professor Hemlock. “Let’s go.”
The group raced through the hallways again. Amy was pleased that she was remembering some of the twists and turns on the way to the control room. More people joined them on the way. They were all wearing black suits with a Pokéball on the chest, like Toast’s.
“Fellow agents,” Toast said while they were running. “You’ll meet them all soon enough.”
They turned a corner and entered the control room. Jake was standing in front of the monitors. A map of the world was displayed, and there was a red dot in the Kalos region.
“Jake, what’s going on?” the Professor said.
“Team Magnus is attacking in the Kalos region.” His eyes were wide. “They’re stealing the Rotom.”
“How many goons are there?” one agent said.
“Not many, but reports say that one of their leaders is there.”
This caused the group to murmur among themselves. Whoever brought the leader in would surely get be rewarded, but it would be dangerous.
“Quiet! Quiet!” Professor Hemlock said. He stood next to Jake. “I want Toast and Amy on this mission. Capture the leader and stop the poaching of the Rotom. If you fail to capture him at least figure out what his purpose is. Toast, you need to show Amy the ropes. Dismissed!”
“Follow me, quickly,” said Toast, “we need to get you a uniform.” She led Amy down another series of hallways into a room with glowing orange panels in the floor. “Stand here with your arms up. Take off your belt.” She gestured to a spot behind a curtain.
Amy did as she requested.
“Hold still.” Toast tapped a button on the wall.
Amy’s clothes were replaced with a uniform with lightning speed. It was so fast that she was pretty sure no one could have seen her naked–that, and there was no one in the room except her and Toast–but the thought of it still made her blush. The uniform was like that of the other agents. It had a belt for her Pokéballs, just like the one she usually wore. She attached her Pokéballs to it and noticed that there were more than the usual six slots. Were agents permitted to carry more than six Pokémon in their party? On her chest was the black Pokéball insignia. Underneath the uniform was a white undershirt that had long sleeves. Amy noticed that the machine had also tied her hair into a ponytail without her realizing it.
“C’mon, let’s go!” Toast said, stepping onto an orange panel.
Amy did the same.
Toast flipped a switch and Amy started spinning. She felt like she might get sick, and the walls around her started floating away.
Amy’s feet hit the ground hard, like she had been dropped from the top of Pokéspot. She was dizzy from all the spinning.
“Don’t worry, you get used to it,” said Toast.
“I hope so,” Amy said, clutching her head, trying to keep the world from swirling around her. “I hate spinning.”
Toast chuckled, “Haha, well usually we don’t use the teleporters. They’re only for emergency deployments, like this one.”
Amy looked around. The place she was in was very old. The tiles had a black-and-white checkered pattern. The wallpaper was peeling off of the walls and the whole place had a musty smell to it. It was dark. A light bulb flickered above them in a series of three short flashes followed by three long flashes.
“Ever been to Kalos before?” Toast said.
“No, I’ve only traveled around the Johto region.”
“Then you probably don’t know where we are, then?”
“I have no idea.” Amy said.
“Welcome to the Lost Hotel,” Toast said with a flourish, gesturing to the furniture in the corner that desperately needed reupholstering. The light continued flickering. “This place has the highest concentration of wild Rotom anywhere in the world.”
They began walking down a hallway, looking for Team Magnus.
“Why would Team Magnus want Rotom, anyways?” Amy said, opening the door to a room and peeking inside.
“The applications of the Rotom’s abilities are limitless. They’re even putting them in Pokédexes now. ‘What couldn’t a gang like Magnus do with the Rotom?’ is a better question.”
“Yeah, you’d think that they’d make more noise while trying to capture them.”
Toast checked another room. Empty again. “Rotom are Electric-types that can merge with appliances, instead of checking every room, maybe we should check the laundry room and the kitchen.”
“Good idea, let’s split up.”
“Stay on comms.”
The pair went downstairs and fanned out, looking for rooms with appliances. The hotel always seemed dark, except when Amy entered a room. Then, the light would turn on in three short flashes followed by three long flashes, and continue in a series like that.
After the fifth room, Amy noticed something about the pattern. She touched her hand to her earpiece, like Toast had shown her while they had been walking around. “Toast, I think i found the Rotom. Do the lights in the rooms you are opening flash three times at a bunch of different speeds?”
“That’s SOS in morse code. Someone is using the lights to call for help.”
“Blast the lights.” Toast said.
Amy summoned Houndoom and instructed him to use Dark Pulse. The light exploded in a shower of sparks. A Rotom popped out of the light and instantly zipped into Amy’s earpiece. Houndoom growled.
“It’s okay, Houndoom.” Amy said.
“Zzzzt…bad…bad.” The Rotom said in Amy’s ear through the earpiece.
“Woah. You can talk?”
“What? What do you mean? Are you talking about Team Magnus? Do you know where they are?”
Amy reached her hand up to her earpiece, but once her finger brushed against it she was electrocuted by the Rotom. “Ow! Okay, can you talk to Toast and tell her to come to me then?”
The Rotom obliged, “Bad….bad…bad,” he said into the earpiece.
“Amy? Is that you?” said Toast.
The Rotom repeated itself.
“Did a Rotom take over your earpiece too? I’m going to try to get it to lead me to Team Magnus. I’ll meet you there.”
“Okay, Rotom, can you lead me and Houndoom to…‘bad?’”
“Bad…” Rotom floated out of Amy’s ear while still in the earpiece. He rushed down the hall. Amy had to run to keep up. Houndoom outpaced her and caught up to Rotom. The hallways were like a maze and Amy lost track of where in the hotel they were. She could tell they were going down, though.
Finally, the group reached the basement level. Team Magnus goons had a machine hooked up to a fusebox in the wall. Amy could see a bunch of Rotom in a glass bubble that was attached to the machine.
“Bad….bad,” said Rotom, returning to Amy’s ear, “…bad.”
“Jellicent, use Toxic!” Toast was battling two Team Magnus goons that were protecting the machine. Another leaned on the machine and watched.
“You!” Amy said, “Move out of the way or I’ll make you.”
The goon’s lips turned into a smile. Her dark hair was braided into a crown that went around her head, and her uniform was silver, with a golden sash that went from her shoulder to her hip. It was pinned to the costume with an M. There were three stripes at the bottom of her sleeve. Her eyes were brown and her nose was short. She stood erect, like her job was to order the world and she needed to set a good example.
“Make me, then,” she unclipped a Pokéball from her belt, “Go Rapidash.”
Houndoom stepped in front of Amy, ready to do battle.
The two beams of energy collided and their combined power knocked Amy and her opponent to the ground.
This apparently spooked the goon with the sash because she ordered one of the goons battling Toast to secure the Rotom.
“Use Crunch, Houndoom.”
“Don’t let him bite you, use Thrash”
The two Pokémon traded blows. The goon weaved through the battlefield and hit a red button. The Rotom were being sucked into a tube with a satellite dish on the end.
“Amy, they’re going to transfer the Rotom wirelessly! You have to stop them!” Toast said, but Amy didn’t hear her over the roar of the battle in her ears.
Once the physical combat ended, both Pokémon retreated to their sides of the field.
“Bad…bad,” said Rotom.
She wasn’t paying attention. She was focused on the battle at hand.
Rapidash was looking a little dazed from using Thrash.
“Quick, Rapidash, eat this.” The trainer threw a Persim berry at Rapidash. The Fire Horse Pokémon caught it in mid air and ate it.
“Mega Evolve and use Dark Pulse,” said Amy touching her Mega Necklace.
“Amy, the bubble, aim for the bubble!”
Again, both energy beams arced through the air and collided, but this time Mega Houndoom’s was much more powerful and destroyed the Flamethrower. It connected with Rapidash and slammed her and her trainer into the wall.
“Decima, the transfer is complete!” said a goon.
“Let’s get out of here,” she said. Rapidash got up and blasted a hole in the floor above them. Then Decima and the goons mounted the horse. “Agility!” Rapidash became a blur and ran up the wall and through the smoking hole in the floor.
“Bad…bad,” said Rotom.
Toast’s face was red. “What were you thinking?!”
“I…uh…wanted to apprehend the girl with the sash.”
“Not everyone needs to use one Pokémon, Amy. She probably had more! She was just buying time to transfer the Rotom. Now those Rotom are in the clutches of Team Magnus and it’s your fault for not using a perfectly good Dark Pulse to free them from the container. Do you understand? Your lust for battle cost us the mission!”
“Bad…” said Rotom.
“I’m…I’m sorry.” Amy fell to the ground. “I like battling so much.”
“I get that, I really do. But this isn’t the league anymore. You have to be craftier than these guys, because they do not play by the rules. When a superior gives an order, you have to follow. Understood?”
“Yes. Yes. Understood.”
“Good.” A smile returned to Toast’s face. “Now, let’s see if we can figure out where they sent those Rotom.” She walked over to the machine and looked at all the buttons and levers. There was a screen, and a keyboard too. She pulled a lever and an alarm went off and lights on the machine started flashing. She pushed on the lever so that the machine returned to normal.
“I think we should call Jake in on this one. He can figure out any sort of technology.” She touched her finger to her earpiece, which still had the Rotom that she found in it.
“Why can’t you be that accommodating?” Amy whispered to her Rotom. It shocked her.
“Bad,” it said.
“I can’t reach Jake, we are going to have to get out of here to communicate.”
Amy asked her Rotom if it could lead them out of the hotel. As a response it left her ear and took them up several flights of staircases. As they passed, garbage cans rattled, as if their contents knew what had just took place in the basement. Once they reached the ground floor the duo went outside. Rotom returned to Amy’s ear. Toast tried her earpiece again.
“I hear you loud and clear. Did you secure the Rotom?”
“No, Team Magnus got away, too.”
“So you’re saying that the mission was a complete and utter failure?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
“Prof’s gonna be so mad. I could have Abra teleport you to Unova or something.”
“Thanks, Jake, but that won’t be necessary. I’m not the one Prof is going to be mad at.”
Jake had teleported in with Abra and right now was typing away at the machine’s interface in the basement of the Lost Hotel.
“Wow. This is a piece of work. It uses Rocket-style engineering, but has Galactic levels of coding, and Flare-type, well…flair.”
Toast was tapping her foot. “Can you trace the signal?”
“Yeah…but it’s going to take a while. They bounced that signal all over the place. And even then they probably moved the Rotom to some other location. Finding out where the signal went will only lead us to where the signal went, not where the Rotom will ultimately end up.”
Toast scowled and grumbled, “You know, if someone had just freed the Rotom when they had the chance, we wouldn’t have to trace ‘bouncing signals’ only to lose the Rotom again.”
Amy held up her hands in surrender. “I know. I’m sorry.”
“You need to stop,” Jake said, “Not only is your taunting her slowing me down, but this was her first mission, Toast. She was bound to mess up. You weren’t a star agent when you first started either. Do I have to remind you of the Opelucid incident?”
All Toast did was turn around and walk out the door.
“Where are you going?” Amy yelled.
“Fresh air!” Toast said without turning to look back.
“What was the Opelucid incident?”
“Remember a few years ago when Team Plasma froze Opelucid City?”
“Toast was on that frigate. She didn’t stop Team Plasma from freezing the city, which allowed Ghetsis to steal the DNA splicers,” Jake continued typing away, “A heroic trainer had to stop it all by defeating Kyurem in a merged form. It was a most spectacular failure.”
“Yeah, but Toast bounced back. She went off to train for a while, but she returned with more resolve–Ah ha! I got it.”
“You know where the Rotom went?”
Jake just stared at the screen with wide eyes.
“Jake? Where did the Rotom go?”
“We have to get Toast in here now. We have to teleport immediately.”
Amy touched her earpiece, thankful that she had coaxed the Rotom to leave it an hour ago. “Toast? Jake says we need to go. Now.”
All she heard was static. “Toast?” She tried again, half-heartedly. “Jake, Toast isn’t responding.”
Jake raised his eyebrow. “Oh? Let me try,” He touched his earpiece, “Toast? Copy, Agent Toast. Do you read me?” He shook his head. “She isn’t responding, and we need to go now. She can take care of herself. Abra, get ready to go.”
Amy was nervous. She had never teleported with a Pokémon before.
“Don’t worry,” Jake said, picking up on Amy’s rattled appearance, “teleporting with Abra isn’t like using the teleporters back on Pokéspot. You just hold onto Abra and he’ll take you where you need to go.” Jake held onto Abra, and Amy held onto Jake.
“Alright, Abra, I need you to teleport to the location that I showed you.”
At first the Pokémon didn’t move. Then the world around Amy went dark. She could see stars all around her and something was blowing her hair around. She tried talking to Jake but she couldn’t open her mouth. She tried moving her arms. No luck. It was like she was frozen in between time and space. After what felt like hours in limbo, the world began regaining form. First there were greens. Next, the sunlight returned and the sky regained its blue color. She could smell the earthy musk and the scent of tropical flowers.
Finally, Amy’s mouth was able to move again, “Jake? That was amazing. Why doesn’t everyone use Teleport like that?”
“It really only works when you and the teleporter have a strong bond, and it’s hard for the Pokémon to teleport places that they haven’t been. I’ve only ever seen my Abra do it, and we trained for years. It’s way better than the warp teleporters though.”
Amy nodded in agreement. She was getting nauseous just thinking about her last trip in a warp teleporter. “Are we at Pokéspot?” she said, looking around.
“Yeah. Go Magneton!” Jake’s Magneton burst from its Pokéball. “I need you to find any metal in the area.” The trainer turned to his Psychic-type Pokémon, “Abra, I need you to teleport inside the castle. Tell Prof to put Pokéspot on high alert.”
Magneton floated away and the two agents pursued it.
“So the Rotom were transported here?”
“That’s where the signal led. It could be a red herring, or Team Magnus could be using the Rotom to infiltrate Pokéspot through the electrical network.”
“You’ve blocked that though, right?”
“The network is so advanced that no human could hack it and no electric Pokémon could overload it. But I never thought about Rotom. It could just ride in.”
The two agents continued running through the trees, following Magneton. Amy spotted something out of the corner of her eye.
“Wait!” she said and began picking some Chesto berries from a nearby bush.
“What are you doing? We don’t have time to be picking berries!”
“No time to explain,” she tossed one to Jake, “Eat this, but chew very slowly.”
Jake did as he was told, and Amy did likewise.
“Fearow! Bellossom! Time to shine!” Amy’s Pokémon appeared before her as she threw their Pokéballs, “Bellossom, use Worry Seed on Fearow.”
The Pokémon spun around, shooting seeds onto Fearow, which changed his ability into Insomnia.
“Jake, I need you to call Magneton over so Bellossom can use Worry Seed on it.”
“Sure thing. Magneton!”
Magneton returned and Bellossom used Worry Seed on it too.
“Be sure to carry a bunch of Chesto berries on you,” Amy said to Jake. “Bellossom, get on Fearow’s back. You are going to use Sleep Powder all throughout the forest while Fearow flies around. We’re trying to find a Magnus goon operating a station. Magneton is going to help you find that station. Once you find them, put them to sleep and signal me. Got it?”
Both Pokémon nodded, and Fearow took off with Bellossom on his back and Magneton not far behind. Amy nibbled on one of the berries to resist the effects of Sleep Powder.
“That was…pure genius. One question though, won’t it put the forest Pokémon to sleep?”
“Yeah, but they’ll just wake up in a bit. By then we should be done with the goon.”
“Where did you learn that move?”
“It’s a technique I picked up during a double battle awhile back. I had just defeated Chuck in Cianwood City and some of the spectators who had witnessed the battle wanted to battle me too. They put me in a tight spot and I needed to incapacitate both of their Pokémon or I was gonna lose,” the girl nibbled on another berry as the Sleep Powder fell like snow around them, “that was the only thing I could think of so I tried it. It worked and I won the battle. I always keep it in my back pocket now.”
“I see now why the Prof chose you.”
“He has only seen one of my battles though.”
“Not exactly. Pokéspot keeps tabs on trainers who make it to the fourth gym in any region. The idea is to find only the really exceptional trainers and invite them to Pokéspot,” Jake broke a branch that was in the way, so it didn’t hit Amy as she walked by.
“You mean you guys have been spying on me since I battled Morty?”
“Yes. He said that you had a knack for thinking outside of the box. We’ve seen most of your other battles too.”
Fearow cawed and circled around in the air, above the treetops. Bellossom came charging out of the undergrowth.
“We’ll discuss this later,” Amy said as her face started getting red. Bellossom was tugging at her pant leg. “Bellossom, return,” A red beam shot from the Pokéball that Amy was holding and engulfed Bellossom, storing it back in the capture device. “Let’s find out what Fearow and Magneton found.”
You know what this means, right?”
“It means I’m a failure.”
Jake and Amy were standing around a machine that looked exactly like the one at the Lost Hotel. Jake’s Magneton floated behind them while they stared at the metal contraption that had been used to broadcast the Rotom that would soon be used for Team Magnus’ nefarious purposes. It was a box with a grimy plastic bubble to see the Rotom as they arrived and departed. A grey satellite dish was set above it.
“Yes, it does. If I had detected the Magnus agent when they landed on the island, we would have the Rotom.”
“And if I wasn’t so battle-hungry, we wouldn’t be standing in front of this transmitter.”
“It sounds like you are both performing metacognition. Good. This lesson will serve you in the future,” said a voice that sounded like gravel.
The duo turned around.
“Prof!” said Jake, “Toast and Amy didn’t save the Rotom–but we have a bigger problem. There was a security breach on the island.”
“I see that,” said Professor Hemlock, sweeping his head from left to right, observing the machine, Amy, Jake, Fearow, and the still-asleep-but-tied-up Team Magnus grunt, “Well, at least something came of it. Amy, where is Toast?”
Amy’s cheeks flushed. She hadn’t thought about Toast since arriving on Pokéspot in pursuit of Team Magnus. “Toast got mad at me and left the room. We tried to call her back before we left, but she wouldn’t respond. Pokéspot was in danger so we decided to leave.”
“You made the right decision. Toast will turn back up. She always does. Island security is our chief concern. Speaking of which: Jake, have you located the next transmitter?”
“I’m working on it,” he said, typing away at the keyboard, “but like I told Amy at the Lost Hotel, they probably just moved them to their base physically after they were transmitted.”
“At least it will be something,” said the Professor, “Amy, it’s time you learned some more about Pokéspot, follow me.”
“Wait, Amy should leave Bellossom with me, just in case this sentient turd decides to wake up from their catnap.”
“Bellossom, come on out!” Amy said as she opened Bellossom’s Pokéball. She kneeled down to where the Pokémon was so Amy could talk to her at eye level. “I need you to watch the grunt and make sure he stays asleep while the Professor and I are back at Pokéspot.”
The Pokémon nodded and squeaked in affirmation.
“Fearow, we need you to stick around and guard Jake. You’ll be carrying the grunt back, okay?”
Fearow spread his wings and took off, cawing in frustration.
“You can protest all you want! But this is important! You better listen to Jake!” Amy shook her head. “That Pokémon,” she muttered.
They began walking through the forest together. The aftermath of the Sleep Powder flurry could be seen everywhere. Bird Pokémon snoozed on branches. Bug Pokémon had fallen asleep on tree trunks and on flowers that blossomed along the path back to the base. Amy even saw a Venusaur napping. She was pretty sure it wasn’t from the Sleep Powder, though.
The duo approached the door and the Professor presented his eye for scanning again.
“Martha, I’ve returned, and I have Agent Amy with me.”
“Welcome, Professor Hemlock and Agent Amy.” The door slid open.
“I’m officially an agent now?” Amy asked.
“You were when you went on that mission. Ray is too, but he won’t be seeing battle for some time. When it comes to Pokémon battling, he’s a little–”
“Odd?” Amy finished the Professor’s sentence while they walked through the hallways of Pokéspot.
“I was going to say interesting, but sure.”
“I should probably say ‘Hi’ to him. It feels like forever since I last saw him.”
“Of course, but first there are more pressing matters to attend to.”
Amy’s brow furrowed. “Like what?”
“You need to meet with Alicia and let your Pokémon rest.”
They rounded a corner and entered a room. It had white walls and a counter. Behind the counter Amy could see all sorts of repels, potions, and berries. There were also the black Pokéballs that every agent seemed to be carrying lined up on a shelf over the counter. A girl with dark skin and dark, curly hair stood behind the counter, with a Blissey by her side. She wore a black apron with a white Pokéball logo on the front.
“That’s Alicia. She’s our equipment specialist and she also takes care of our injured Pokémon. Alicia, meet Amy.”
The girl waved. “Hello! I can also answer most any question you have about Pokéspot–I’ve been running it with the Prof since the beginning.”
“I do have two questions. Why does everyone call the Professor ‘Prof’ and what’s with the black Pokéballs?”
Alicia laughed. “I’ll let Prof answer the first question, but your second one. The black Pokéballs are an invention of Pokéspot’s. We call it the Mirror Ball. It allows us to create a copy of a Pokémon without actually capturing it.”
“That’s why the Professor had a Ho-oh!”
“Exactly. He ‘captured,’” Alicia made air quotes, “it so we could study it further. Unfortunately, the copies are very frail, and a few hours after they are let out of the Mirror Balls they dissipate. They can’t use attacking moves either. That’s how a certain someone,” she glared at the Professor, “lost us a Ho-oh that we could have learned a lot from.”
The Professor scratched the back of his head. “Someone needed to step in and dissolve the Sandstorm. The Ho-oh could use Defog.”
“You know what else could use Defog? Your Swanna. In fact, if your Swanna had used Defog, it wouldn’t have disappeared.” Alicia was tapping her foot, and Blissey had turned her face away from the Professor, perhaps feeling the embarrassment that radiated in waves off of him.
“First impressions are important, you know that.”
“Yeah, but so is research. You know how hard it is to find Ho-oh? The team spent months trying to locate it, and then you messed it up by letting it out of the Mirror Ball before we could transfer it.”
“Transfer it?” Amy interjected.
“We do more than just study the copies of the Pokémon that we capture. We also send them to other worlds through the link cable.”
Amy’s eyebrows raised. “We send copies of Pokémon to other worlds? Why?”
“There are many worlds that just do not have any Pokémon,” Alicia said.
“No Pokémon? That’s impossible.”
“It is possible in the universe where Pokémon do not exist,” said the Professor.
“What do you mean ‘the universe where Pokémon do not exist?’”
“You’ve heard of the Ultra Wormholes in Alola, right?”
“Well each Ultra Wormhole contains a universe on the other side. These universes each have their own rules, and their own Ultra Wormholes. There are therefore infinite possibilities. One universe could have Pokémon but no humans, and another could have humans but no Pokémon.”
“My mind is being so blown right now.”
“It took me a while to get it when I first heard about the multiverse, too. Along with stopping evil teams like Magnus, one of our missions is to bring the joy of Pokémon to worlds that don’t have them. So we transfer the information we have about them from our Mirror Balls to all the worlds we can. The people in one of them even invented this cute little card game,” Alicia pulled a piece of card stock out of her pocket. It had a Gardevoir on it with a bunch of little, pink symbols, “I transfer a lot of information about my Gardevoir, so they make a bunch of Gardevoir cards.”
“I thought if you caught as Pokémon in a Mirror Ball it disappears a few hours after it’s let out of the ball. How can you say it’s your Gardevoir?”
“That is true. But you can catch other trainers’ Pokémon with Mirror Balls,” the Professor said.
Amy finally sat down. This was a lot to take in for her. It was like her entire world was being torn apart and reshaped in front of her. “The Pokémon go back to their trainers though, right?”
“Right. The process only takes as long as catching a regular Pokémon. Once the capture process is complete, the original Pokémon breaks out. Pokéspot has incorporated Master Ball software into the Mirror Balls, so capture should never fail. We mostly try to capture wild Pokémon in the Mirror Balls, but in the past we have asked gym leaders and captured members of evil teams for copies of their Pokémon, so we can study the effects that trainers have on their Pokémon,” said Alicia. Then she walked over to the counter where the Mirror Balls were kept and grabbed three. She handed them to Amy. “Pokémon captured in Mirror Balls do not count towards your party limit, so you can have as many copies of Pokémon on you as you can hold.”
“Thanks,” said Amy, taking the Pokéballs and hooking them to her belt, “can I see Ray now?”
“Of course,” said the Professor. “I think you’ll be surprised with the progress he’s made with the Pokémon in the biodome.”
So Professor, you never told me why they call you Prof.”
Amy and the Professor were walking in the hallway to the biodome.
He scratched the back of his head. “The team thinks it bothers me.”
They walked through the sliding doors, into the biodome.
“Amy!” Before the Professor could answer, Ray tackled Amy in a hug. She lost her balance and they both fell onto the grass. “I missed you. The Pokémon here are so fun,” he said.
A Chikorita jumped on top of them and joined the reunion. The siblings laughed and got up, brushing the dirt off their pants.
“Ray, who’s this?” said Amy.
“This is a Chikorita that became affectionate towards Ray soon after you left. The two have been inseparable ever since, which reminds me,” the Professor pulled a Pokéball out of his coat pocket, “this is Chikorita’s Pokéball. She’s your Pokémon now. Take care of her.”
Ray accepted the Pokéball and nodded, “I will, thank you, Professor.”
The Professor was still digging around in his coat. He furrowed his brow and muttered under his breath. Finally, he produced a small, red tablet with a Pokéball on the back, “and this is your Pokedex. You can use it to learn more about Pokémon, check their current level, and review their attacks.”
“Wow, this is awesome,” Ray scanned Chikorita while the Professor searched his pockets once more.
“And these,” he presented ten regular Pokéballs and three Mirror Balls, “are Pokéballs to catch more Pokémon. You can ask Alicia about the black ones.”
“Thanks so much Professor!” the young boy was grinning widely, but then looked down at the ground, like a sour thought had just overcome him, “but I always wanted Amy to catch my first Pokémon.”
Amy blushed. “I’m sorry, Ray, but you didn’t like it when I would battle wild Pokémon to try to catch one for you. Plus, this Chikorita really likes you. You guys will make a great team, I can already tell.”
“You’re right! I really like this Chikorita too.”
“It isn’t important how the Pokémon was caught, just the bond you share. Some Pokémon will come to you through battling, but sometimes you find a gaunt, wet Houndour outside your door. Other times you free a Spearow from a net. Or maybe it’s a Gloom that no one wants because it smells so bad. Ray, you will grow your Pokémon, but your Pokémon will also grow you,” Amy said.
“Ray, do you know the best way to grow Pokémon?” the Professor chimed in.
“Pokémon battles. Pokémon just love to battle,” Chikorita began running around Ray in excitement, “I think Chikorita wants to give a battle a shot. Why don’t you battle Amy?”
Amy’s eyes lit up at the thought of battling, “Oh yes! Professor, could I borrow a Pokémon that is about Chikorita’s level?”
“Sure,” he said, then quieter, so only she could hear, “try to choose a Water-type, they are down by the stream.”
“Thanks,” Amy ran to where she saw the stream when she first entered Pokéspot. She scanned the banks for a suitable Pokémon. Golduck and Psyduck waddled along the stream’s edge. Magikarp and Feebas jumped in the stream. None of these caught her eye. She walked down the current until she spotted a Corphish digging in the sand. She took out her own Pokedex to check his level. She noticed there was dust around the edges as she familiarized herself with his attacks.
“Hey little guy, how would you like to have a battle?”
The small, red Pokémon looked up from his foraging and nodded.
“Follow me,” Amy said.
They returned to the battlefield where Chikorita was jumping around and Ray looked like he was about to puke. Corphish and Amy took the opposite side.
“I’ll be the referee,” said the Professor.
“You can have the first move,” Amy said, “you’ll be just fine!” she added.
“O-Okay,” the young trainer said. “Use Razor Leaf!”
Chikorita used the leaf on her head to fling sharpened leaves at Corphish. Before they reached the Ruffian Pokémon, his shell hardened and the leaves bounced off.
“Poison Powder–NO! Use Growl!”
“Close the distance and use Vice Grip.”
Chikorita started to gather the poison spores for Poison Powder, but then had to stop when the new command reached her. She planted her feet and growled at Corphish. Meanwhile, he had been closing the gap between him and the Leaf Pokémon. When the growl reached him, he didn’t stop. It was like he wasn’t affected. Corphish was close enough now. He pinched Chikorita’s leaf with one of his claws and slammed her into the ground.
“Chikorita!” there were tears in Ray’s eyes. “Amy, you have to stop. Chikorita is hurt.”
There was a fire in Amy’s eyes now. She could taste victory. “Corphish, use Vice Grip again!”
Just as Chikorita was recovering from the last attack, Corphish grabbed her leaf and again threw her to the ground again.
After this attack, Chikorita stayed on the ground, unconscious.
“Chikorita is unable to battle, Amy is the winner,” said the Professor.
Ray ran out on the battlefield, where Chikorita was recovering. Ray scooped her into his arms. “I’m sorry. I’m no good at battling. I won’t make you do it again, if I can help it.”
The young Leaf Pokémon squeaked in affirmation at his first statement and growled at the second.
“Looks like your Chikorita likes battling, Ray,” said the Professor, “I know it’s hard to see your friends injured, especially when they are under your command, but battling is how Pokémon grow. They even do it in the wild. You can’t stop something that is in their very nature. We can only take care of them while they do it. Now, let’s get Chikorita to Alicia.”
Here’s your Chikorita, Ray.”
“Thanks, Alicia.” He took the Pokéball from Alicia.
They were in the storage area, where Alicia gave Amy the Mirror Balls. Houndoom was stretching his legs outside of his Pokéball.
“Ray, you did a really good job for your first battle,” Amy said, “maybe someday you can battle Houndoom and me.”
Ray eyes narrowed. “I am never going to battle again, if I can help it.”
“What if you need to defend yourself?”
“I’ll battle then, but only to save myself and my Pokémon. But I won’t battle for fun. It isn’t fun for me.”
“Very well,” said the Professor, “I’m sorry I tried to get you to battle, Ray.”
Ray stared at the ground, “It’s okay Professor, you just wanted me to break out of my shell.”
Jake trudged in as Ray was saying this. Fearow and Bellossom followed and took their places next to Amy, and she returned them to their Pokéballs. Jake was running his hands through his hair, waiting for his turn to speak.
Amy was the first to notice, “What’s wrong Jake?”
He sat down. “I found Toast.”
The group–Professor Hemlock, Ray, Alicia, Amy, Jake–were walking back to Jake’s computer room while he explained.
“While I was tampering with the transmitter that sent the Rotom it lit up again, like it was going to receive another signal. A video popped up on the screen,” they turned the corner into Jake’s room. Abra was sleeping in the corner, but Jake had made no attempt to clean up his…leavings, this time. Jake woke the computer up and played the video.
A face appeared on the screen. He had a short nose and short, dark hair that was spotted with gray. He had a focused look in his eye, like he knew the world was already his. He was wearing a bronze chestplate. A red cape flowed behind his shoulders.
“My name is Marius. If you hadn’t guessed already, I am the leader of Team Magnus. It was such fun to humiliate you. One could call it preemptive justice for meddling with my plans at the Johto Champion’’s Festival.”
Then, the camera panned to behind Marius. Toast was sitting in a chair, bound up and gagged. Her eyes betrayed no fear.
“And it’s going to be so much fun…extracting information from her. Oh, and cracking the encryption on this,” he held up a crushed Mirror Ball, “is going to be tough. But I’m sure it will prove profitable.” He laughed and the video cut.
The Professor rolled up his sleeves. His gaze turned cold. “We’re getting Toast back,” was all he said. The phrase sat in the air for a few moments before he spoke again, “Jake, do you have the coordinates of the transmission?”
“Of course, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where Toast is.”
“I’m aware,” said the Professor, “but it’s the only lead we have. Amy, you’re going. I’m coming with you.”
“Why?” Amy protested, “I should go alone. I was the one who made Toast mad. I’m the reason that the Rotom are gone and that Toast is gone. You’re the leader of Pokéspot. If they capture you, it’s all over.”
He turned his icy eyes towards her, “You are not going into an enemy base by yourself.”
“I agree with Amy,” said Alicia, “You can’t go in there. The risk of you being captured is too high. Professor, we need you here.”
Jake nodded in agreement.
The Professor slammed his fist on a table. Everyone jumped. “I’m going and that’s final! Jake, set the warp panel coordinates to the origin of the last transmission.”
Jake scrambled to the keyboard, rapidly typing the coordinates into the computer. He leaned over the computer and sighed. “Done.”
“Good, Amy, you’re with me.” He stalked off.
Amy shrugged and looked to her friends for support. They simply stared and shrugged back. She left and followed the Professor. She was getting used to the building now and made her way through the hallways to the room with the warp panels.
The Professor had changed into the black suit of Pokéspot. He sported several Pokéballs in his belt. His face was pointed with concentration. He had returned to the collected and calm Professor that Amy had gotten used to. “Leave your Mirror Balls here. Marius has made it clear that he wants them. It’s a lot easier to break encryption on a whole ball than a broken one.”
Amy unhooked the Mirror Balls from her belt while the Professor shouldered a backpack. She set the black Pokéballs on the table.
“What’s that for?” she asked.
“We’re going to blow up their base.”
“We’re going to what?”
“Blow up their base,” he stepped on a warp panel, “what else would we be doing with a bunch of bombs?”
Amy stepped on the second warp panel, “Don’t you think that’s a little…excessive?”
“They may have extracted information from the Mirror Ball. We cannot let them have it. And they took Toast.”
“I know, but it seems so…them of us to do that.”
“You are part of Pokéspot. You will do as I say.” He grabbed a Pokéball from his belt, “we’re going in Pokéballs at the ready.” With that, he flipped the switch and Amy felt the walls spinning away from her as she descended into darkness.
This time Amy stuck the landing, but she still felt dizzy from all the spinning. She grumbled. “I hate warp panel travel.”
“Shhh!” The Professor held a finger to his lips. He whispered, “We don’t know where we are or if anyone is here.”
They were in a dark room. Light seeped in from small, rectangular windows near the ceiling. A giant computer monitor reached from the floor to the ceiling. A keyboard was stationed right in front of it.
The Professor touched Amy’s arm and gestured towards the wall. “Looks like we got the right place.”
“No kidding,” she said. The wall had a huge M imposed onto it. The dominating presence it cast onto the room made Amy uneasy. “Maybe we should get out of here.”
“Just a moment.” The Professor reached into his backpack and pulled out a small disc. He touched it to a watch on his wrist and attached it to the back of the keyboard station. “The watch is the detonator,” he explained, “it will keep all the bombs synced up–oh, and I almost forgot,” he took two orange buttons out of his bag and gave one to Amy. “Attach it to your belt, like a Pokéball. If you get into too much trouble, it will warp you and anyone touching you back to Pokéspot.”
Amy attached it to her belt near the back, next to Belossom’s Pokéball. “What’s the plan?” she asked, staring at the M.
“We’re splitting up. You’re going to find Toast and I’m going to keep planting these bombs. Stay on comms. We will meet up in this room when we are ready to blow up the base.”
Amy nodded. She understood, but she didn’t feel ready. She opened her mouth to talk about it more, but the Professor had already left. Her heart fluttered in her chest. She stared at the still-swinging door that the Professor escaped through. She would also have to go through it eventually. There was only so much time to find Toast. Taking in a deep breath, Amy stepped out of the room.
The light was bright compared to the dark room. She waited for a moment for her eyes to adjust. She stood in a hallway. There was an intersection to her left and the hallway continued to the right, until there was a bend. It was like the place was carved out of the ground.
“Now if I were a Marius, where would I hide a Toast?” Amy said to herself. She picked a corridor and walked down it. Surely there would be a sign to the prison along the way.
She continued like this for 20 minutes. There was no one in the hallway as she walked, which was odd. Surely Team Magnus’ base would be full of goons. No signs pointed Amy in any direction, either, so she was lost. Worry sliced through her. She felt the orange button at her waist. The button kept her safe. All she had to do was press it and she would be back at Pokéspot.
Rounding another corner, the new Pokéspot agent found a door. Maybe Toast was in there. She peeked around it. Nope. The room was empty. Washers and dryers sat around it haphazardly. Amy could smell scrubbed lavender and opportunity.
There was a surprising amount of plain street clothes hanging up or folded on chairs. Blouses, tank tops, skirts, blue jeans. There were male clothes too—shirts like Jake wears, polos, even ties. But none of these were what Amy was looking for. She scanned the room again. Ah ha! There it was. A patch of dark red, folded on one of the dryers. She crept over to the dryer and picked it up. Holding up a crop top, she found it was exactly what she wanted. A big, dark-red M was emblazoned on the low-cut chest. It was a genuine Team Magnus uniform.
Scouting around, she found a pair of black pants and a belt to match. These she slipped on. Amy plucked the Pokéballs that held her partners from her old belt and put them on her new one. She grabbed the orange button that was her way home and attached that to the new belt as well. Then, she stashed the Pokéspot uniform in a garbage can. Hopefully no one would come in and notice it, or her cover might be blown.
Amy walked out of the room, her chin held high and the tightness in her chest gone because of her disguise, even if it did make her feel exposed. She turned a corner and saw a goon walking toward her. The goon was short. Her hair cut to her shoulders and a she had a round face. She wore a standard Team Magnus uniform, with the dark red M on the chest.
Amy ducked back around a corner, but it was too late. The goon had spotted Amy.
“Hey, come out from behind there,” she said.
Amy cowered. She covered her face with her hands. They were sweaty. She was about to be discovered. She was about to fail the mission. Again.
“Hey, why are you hiding?”
She looked up. The girl’s forehead was furrowed with worry. Maybe Amy’s cover hadn’t been blown. “I’m just a little shy, that’s all.”
“That’s okay! I was on my way to get some food, but I think the barracks are empty. Want to hang there for a moment?”
Amy was about to reply with “Sure,” but the girl had already beckoned her down a hallway. The Pokéspot agent shrugged and followed the Team Magnus goon. She led her down a series of hallways until they reached a door marked with the silhouette of a Nidoking. Her new friend walked past it and through a door with a Nidoqueen on it. Amy followed her.
The room she entered wasn’t impressive. The walls were blank, except for a Team Magnus logo that was positioned like the one in the room that Amy had warped into. The whole room was lined with bunk beds. The bedding was made but each bed betrayed a personal touch. One’s headboard had a band promotional poster for Koffing and the Toxics. A scarf hung around one of the posts on another bed. Julius Caesar was tented on a pillow so the reader could come back to the right page. Amy shuffled over and picked it up. She read where the last reader had left off:
DECIUS BRUTUS: Great Caesar,–
CAESAR: Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?
CASCA: Speak, hands for me! [CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR]
CAESAR: Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar.
“I love that play,” said the goon, plopping on the bed. She reached for a bag at the end, extracted a pen, and grabbed the book from Amy’s hands, “the passionate Casca, the strong Brutus, and the tragedy of an emperor’s fall.” She took a moment to scribble a note in the margins.
“I’ve never read it,” said Amy, sitting next to her, “I stopped going to school to go on a Pokémon journey.”
“I wanted to go on a journey too, but my parents wouldn’t let me. ‘Get a proper education, Lilianne,’ ‘Pokémon battles won’t serve you any good later in life,’ ‘You need to get a job,’ they would always tell me. So one day I stole a Pokéball from a Pokémart, caught a Purrloin, and ran away. The problem was that Purrloin and I were never any good at battling, so we never won any prize money,” she fiddled with one of the Pokéballs on her belt, “at night we would have to raid dumpsters in Castelia City, and beg for money near Skyarrow Bridge in the mornings.”
“Why didn’t you go home?”
“I tried, but my parents wouldn’t take me back. They said ‘If you wanted to go on a Pokémon journey this badly, then you should have to face the consequences.’”
Amy looked into Lilianne’s glistening eyes. She could remember losing her share of battles with Houndour. But they always got better after each battle, and Amy knew they could go home if they needed to rest. She couldn’t imagine her own parents turning her out.
“That’s about when Marius found me. He bought me a Casteliacone and told me that he had a plan to make sure no one in the world ever went hungry again, but that he needed people to help enact it,” she smiled and brushed a tear away with a finger, “and I’ve never gone hungry since.”
“Wow, that’s pretty impressive,” Amy said. Maybe this Marius guy wasn’t as bad as she thought.
“Yeah,” the girl looked down at her book again. “So why did you become a Team Magnus agent?”
“I don’t know. I guess that I wanted to make a difference in the world.”
There was silence between them for a moment. Finally, Lilianne said, “how long have you been with Team Magnus?”
“Not very long at all–I’m still learning my way around and I am technically supposed to be in the prison area right now. I got lost on the way.”
“We prefer to call it Containment. You’re new, so I won’t really hold you to it. It is just down the hallway, actually. All you need to do is take a left at the next intersection.”
“Amy?” The Professor was trying to contact her, “I’m in position, find Toast and tell me when.”
Amy drew in a quick breath. The Professor wanted to blow up the place, and here was this girl who couldn’t take care of herself.
“Something wrong?” Lilianne asked.
“Where’s the bathroom?”
Lilianne pointed to a door in the back of the room. Amy nodded to thank her and crossed the room. She entered the bathroom and pressed the button on her earpiece.
“Professor, we cannot blow up this base,” she whispered.
“What do you mean we can’t blow it up? They’d do the same to us. They have Toast.”
She took in a breath. The bathroom smelled strongly of bubblegum. “Aren’t we the good guys? You told me when I joined that I would be doing some good in the world.”
“This Marius guy is bent on world domination. By blowing up the base we are doing good in the world. We have to stop him here and now.”
Amy felt her cheeks flush with anger. She yelled into the earpiece. “You don’t know that! There’s a person here who was homeless before Team Magnus. What will happen to her?”
“Find Toast. Find the Mirror Ball. Get back to Pokéspot. Those are your orders. Don’t make me remind you that you were the one who got us in this mess.”
“Fine,” said Amy. She stormed out of the bathroom and slammed the door.
“You lied to me!” Lilianne stood next to the door. “I suspected it when you said ‘prison area,’ but I didn’t want to believe it. I thought I was making a new friend.”
Purrloin was out of his Pokéball.
“What?” Amy was still processing how to get the Professor to not blow up the base. She didn’t know that Lilianne had overheard her.
“Purrloin, use Fury Swipes!”
Long, glowing claws extended from Purrloin’s paws. The Pokémon jumped up and tried to rake Amy’s face with the attack, but she ducked, grabbing a ball from her belt. Throwing it, she commanded, “Azumarill, use Play Rough.”
Azumarill burst from the Pokéball and rushed to Purrloin. Covering him with a thick cloud of dust and stars, all that could be heard was the muffled cries of Pokémon fighting in hand-to-hand combat. The cloud moved towards a bed and demolished it. Then, the cloud dissipated and Purrloin was motionless, buried in the rubble.
“Return, Purrloin,” a beam of red light converted the Devious Pokémon back into energy. The Team Magnus goon took a moment to stare at the Pokéball and said, “You’ll pay for that.” She unclipped another Pokéball from her belt and threw it. “Go Zubat! Use Bite!”
“Use Waterfall when he gets close.” Amy felt the familiar blaze in her eyes. The gnawing her stomach. She was going to win. She was going to win and then she was going to find Toast. Then she was going to stop the Professor from blowing up the base.
Azumarill’s arms swirled with water. Zubat attempted to latch onto her but was met with a water-fist before he could get close enough. The Bat Pokémon’s wings stopped beating and it plummeted to the ground, knocked out.
“Stop knocking out my Pokémon!” She stomped her foot, and returned Zubat to his Pokéball. She ripped the last Pokéball from her belt. “Go Sandile!”
“Use Aqua Jet as soon as Sandile leaves the Pokéball!”
Sandile didn’t stand a chance. The Aqua Rabbit Pokémon was already hurtling towards it in a stream of water. As soon as his feet hit the ground she smashed into the Desert Croc Pokémon. He slumped over, defeated.
Tears flowed from Lilianne’s eyes. She returned Sandile to his Pokéball. None of her Pokémon were going to be functional anytime soon.
“First you trick me, then you knock out all my Pokémon! How rude!”
Amy felt her skin run cool again. The heat of battle was leaving her. “You attacked me with your Purrloin. What was I supposed to do?”
“You lied to me. You made it seem like you were on my side. I thought I would finally have a friend.”
Amy grabbed a blanket from one of the beds as Lilianne continued her rant. She was stomping her foot again.
“But instead you lied. You lied and you beat me and now I’m all alone again.”
Amy quietly returned Azumarill to her Pokéball and called out Bellossom. She whispered an instruction to the Flower Pokémon. Nodding, it released spores in a little twirl, putting the fuming Team Magnus goon to sleep. Amy caught her and placed her on a bed. Covering her in a blanket, Amy took a moment to note how small her frame was. Lilianne really was just a kid. She wiped a tear from the young girl’s face and swept out the door frame, into the unfamiliar hallway.
Amy walked down to the end of the hallway and turned left, just like Lilianne had said. There were a few doors down this hallway. Amy noticed that they had symbols on them: there was one with a plus, one with a bike, one with a pair of handcuffs. The one with the handcuffs had to be “Containment.” Toast had to be in there.
Amy opened the door and looked around. The room was white. Everything seemed to sparkle. It hurt Amy’s eyes. On her right was a control station, presumably for the containment cells in the back that crackled and popped with energy. To her left was a row of lockers. What they needed lockers in the containment for, Amy didn’t know. There was nobody inside.
“Toast?” she said tentatively. “Toast? Are you there? I’m sorry for what happened.”
She touched her earpiece, “Professor? Are you there?” Amy could only hear crackling of static in response. “Well if you are there, I’m at Containment, but I can’t find Toast.”
The Pokéspot agent took a few tentative steps through the door, making sure to leave it open in case she needed to make a quick exit. Unsure of what else to do without the Professor’s guidance, she tried opening one of the lockers. It wouldn’t budge. She tried another. This one was just as unforgiving.
There had to be something in the lockers if they were locked. She drew a Pokéball and commanded, “Fearow, use Drill Peck on the locker.”
As soon as he was out of the Pokéball, white energy spun around Fearow’s beak. As soon as the attack built up enough power, Fearow flew at the locker. The white glow collided with the blue locker and Fearow bounced off. The locker remained standing, undented. Fearow sat up on the floor, appearing a little dazed. Amy winced.
“Sorry, Fearow,” she said, “return.”
A red beam of light struck the Beak Pokémon and he was returned to his Pokéball. Amy scratched her head. There had to be a way to open the locker. She took a couple steps back to get more perspective and she bumped into the control panel.
Amy tried pressing a button that was the same shade of blue as the lockers. They all swung open. Only one actually had anything in it.
She crossed the room and looked at the object. It was Toast’s belt, with all her Pokéballs. Amy grinned. This was more than she found since she lost Toast. She grabbed it and wrapped it around her waist, under her stolen Team Magnus belt.
Finding Toast’s belt meant that Toast had been here. Amy felt a weight lift off her chest, and she bounced around the room, looking for another clue. She scanned the cells, lit up by the green energy that surrounded them. There was nothing in the first two, but in the one furthest from the door, she noticed some red splotches on the floor. Amy shivered, knowing what it meant. The largest of them turned into a trail of smaller ones that led out of the cell.
It was possible that these drops of blood were Toast’s, and she had been moved. Amy followed the trail. They didn’t lead to the door, but around the console to the back-right corner of the room. The trail disappeared behind a wall. Amy stared at it and put her hands on her hips.
“How does someone just disappear?” she said to no one.
Then, Amy heard a crash. She jumped and grabbed a Pokéball from her belt. A sound like a strange machine came from the wall. It was some weird cross between a conveyor belt and the hum of an engine.
Whatever it was, Amy did not like it. She ran to the door. It was closed. Amy was sure she left it open. She twisted the handle. It resisted, so she tried forcing it open, but it was clearly locked. The burgeoning Pokéspot agent was trapped.
The sound ended with another crash.
A voice she vaguely recognized spoke, “And so the Rattata takes the bait. Everything is happening just as I planned.”
She turned around, and where once a wall had been was Marius, standing among a throng of Team Magnus goons and Decima. On his left was the crushed Mirror Ball, sitting on a pedestal. To his right were Toast and the Professor, bound to chairs and gagged. Toast had bruises on her arm and a gash near her right eye. Blood dripped down her arm.
“You thought you could stop me by coming here, didn’t you? You probably thought that I blundered when I sent the transmission from this base, thinking that I didn’t know you could track it? I was counting on it! I invited you here, and I don’t appreciate when guests try to demolish my home,” Marius motioned to a goon that was standing behind the Professor with an electric baton. The goon touched the Professor with the weapon and his body seized up. A grunt that turned into a scream escaped his gagged mouth.
“But not to worry, all of the bombs have been collected. I’m not about to let my life’s work go to waste when the Event is so close to beginning.” The leader of Team Magnus strutted over to the recovering Professor and pulled the gag out of his mouth, “How do you feel about that, Hemlock?”
Between breaths, he replied, “You will never win.”
“Perhaps the good Professor requires more instruction. Shock him again.”
“No!” Amy said.
The goon touched the Professor with the baton again. He writhed in his seat and cried out again. When it was over he slumped in the chair and was silent.
Marius grasped a knot of messy, white hair in his fist and pulled the Professor’s head up. “So, the mighty Professor Earnest Hemlock, the man who pioneered in the field of type discovery, faints after two measly shocks, huh? Pathetic.” He let the Professor’s head fall and turned to Toast. Amy silently unclipped a Pokéball from her belt.
Marius crouched so that he could look her in her good eye, “And you, you slime. You let your emotion cloud your judgement, and that’s what caused your downfall. That’s why we took your eye.”
Toast clenched her jaw and used the eye she had left to shoot lasers at him. She wouldn’t let him intimidate her.
“Very well. I will spare you pain this time, as you have been conducive to my plans. But don’t cross me, or you will know my power.”
“Use Dark Pulse!” While Marius had been rambling on, Amy had called upon Houndoom, and now a burst of dark energy was hurtling towards the Team Magnus leader.
“Rapidash, block it with your body. Protect our great leader!” Decima had called upon Rapidash when Amy had let out Houndoom, and now the Fire Horse Pokémon leapt in the way of the attack. Marius side stepped, avoiding the whole of the blast. Toast was not so lucky. Rapidash plowed into her as the Pokémon took the bundle of darkness.
“Fool! You will be disciplined for your insolence.” Marius seized a Pokéball from his belt and flicked it into the air. “Aegislash, para bellum!”
Out of the Pokéball came a Pokémon that Amy hadn’t seen before. It was a shaped like a sword that had attached itself behind a shield. A single eye peeked out from behind the shield. The Pokémon floated in the air, and darkness clinged to it.
Amy held up her Pokédex for the second time in the last few days. The machine identified the Pokémon quickly, and informed her that Aegislash was a Steel-Ghost type. He was weak to both of Houndoom’s strongest moves. Amy glanced at Marius’ belt. He had more Pokémon available. Why would he pick the worst type combination for this battle?
Marius drew his sword and pointed at Houndoom. “Use Iron Head!”
Aegislash’s sword released from his shield in a spin and he caught it using one of his tassels.
“Wha-?” said Amy. She shook her head to get back in the battle, “Use Flamethrower!”
Aegislash’s blade glowed white. Houndoom fired his attack, but Aegislash spun to avoid it. It sailed past the flat of his blade and struck a goon in the background. The pure-white blade connected with Houndoom’s snout and he crumpled to the ground. He rolled and jumped up behind Aegislash. The attack wasn’t very effective.
Houndoom’s teeth grew, filled with dark energy. Before he could bite down on Aegislash, the Royal Sword Pokémon spun around, reattached himself to his shield, and threw up a barrier between them. Houndoom bit down on the barrier. Blue light flashed underneath him, indicating that his attack power had been lowered.
Amy smiled. She had Houndoom right where she needed him to be.
“Use Dark Pulse!”
The Pokémon were so close that Marius didn’t have time to issue a command to Aegislash. Houndoom opened his mouth and blasted Aegislash with dark energy. The force of the attack sent him spinning across the room, only stopping when he crashed into the lockers. They collapsed around him.
“Yes!” Amy pumped her fist. It was time to finish this. She touched her hand to her necklace, “Houndoom, Mega Evolve!”
The familiar tendrils shot out from her necklace and met Houndoom’s Houndoomite. A ball of energy began to form around him.
“I don’t think so,” said Marius. He unclipped a circular remote from his belt and pointed it at Houndoom’s sphere. The Team Magnus leader clicked a button and the energy crumbled like a wall that had been introduced to a wrecking ball, disintegrating around the changing Dark-Fire type. The tendrils that had once reached out receded back into their stones. “Can’t have you getting a leg up, now can we?”
“What did you do?” Amy squeezed her keystone harder, but the usually warm rock was cold. She felt panic rise up in her chest. Her heart beat faster. Houndoom stood before her, half Mega-evolved. He shook his head and looked at his legs. It was like he couldn’t understand what happened either. The horns on his head were as large as his normal form, but the the bone collar had only just begun its evolution, and so it was smaller and less imposing than usual. The tail had a split in it, but it wasn’t as fully formed as a Mega Houndoom. Mega Houndoom typically had red claws, but the Houndoom that stood before Amy had bone-white ones. Amy had about half a Mega Houndoom to battle with.
“I blocked the Mega Evolution signal to your Houndoom,” Marius admired the device for a moment before clipping it to his belt again, “it’s a little something I picked up from Lysandre Labs when I…acquired…Team Flare. Now, back to the business at hand. Aegislash, to me!”
The Pokémon appeared from the rubble and took his stance in front of Marius. He didn’t even appear hurt. Amy felt the battle begin thrumming in her ears, and Half Houndoom shifted to face his opponent.
The enemies stared each other down, willing the other to make the first move. Half Houndoom pawed the ground. Aegislash did a spin. Both were waiting for commands from their trainers. For a second the onlookers held their breaths–then both combatants shouted their orders:
Both Pokémon sprang forward. Half Houndoom’s mouth filled with malevolent energy, and Aegislash’s blade glowed a blinding white. The two collided. Half Houndoom went for a quick bite on one of Aegislash’s tassels, but Aegislash smashed his shield into the malformed Dark Pokémon and slammed into him with Iron Head.
Half Houndoom staggered up, aiming his attack at Aegislash.
“King’s Shield!” Marius swiped his sword in the air like a maestro of destruction.
The barrier came up again, and Houndoom’s attack bounced off and struck the ceiling. Some pieces came loose and struck the barrier as well.
“You think I would fall for the same trick twice? I know your style now, Amy Magnolia, and this has gone on for far too long. Use Sacred Sword!”
There it was. The coverage move that Amy knew Aegislash would have. Why else would Marius call out a Pokémon with type-disadvantage? “Dodge it!” The Pokéspot Agent instructed her Pokémon.
Aegislash changed forms and swung at Half Houndoom with his blade, which was glowing blue. Half Houndoom jumped back to avoid the first strike, but a second strike caught him unawares. Amy could feel waves energy coming off the hit when it connected. She could only imagine how Half Houndoom felt. Emotion welled up in the back of her throat. Houndoom was in pain, and Amy could feel it. The attack flung him back into the console and created a small explosion. The cells dropped their shields. Team Magnus goons cheered.
Half Houndoom got up, but he was panting and struggling to stand. Amy felt fire in her eyes. She wouldn’t lose. She couldn’t lose.
“Use Sunny Day!”
Half Houndoom roared and the battlefield became cloaked in a harsh sunlight. Swords encircled Aegislash and he flashed red to show that his attack power increased.
“Amy! I need my belt!” Toast dodged a strengthened Flamethrower from Rapidash. Somehow Toast had gotten loose and Decima was commanding Rapidash to fire on her. Amy couldn’t hear her fellow Pokéspot agent, though. She could only feel the flames that spread through her body as the battle raged on.
The twisted Dark Pokémon opened his maw and fired at Aegislash. Flames flew across the room. Aegislash put up the shield before the blast reached him, and he successfully blocked the attack, reverting back to Shield Form in the process.
“Would you stop that and take the attacks like a real trainer!” Amy taunted, “It’s easy to win battles when you hide behind a shield all the time.”
“Child, you will soon learn that you can’t brute force everything.”
“There we go,” Toast had picked her way across the battlefield and snatched a Pokéball from her belt on Amy’s side, “Long time no see.”
Amy gasped when Toast said this. She was surprised by the Pokéspot agent that suddenly appeared next to her.
“Don’t say anything, just battle,” Toast said.
But it was too late. Amy was distracted for too long. “Sacred Sword!”
While the two friends were reuniting, Aegislash closed the distance between him and Half Houndoom. His blade glowed blue. Half Houndoom tried to dodge the first strike, but the battle and incomplete Mega Evolution had wore him down. The blue blade hit him in the side, and he was launched into the wall. It shattered like glass on top of him. The powered up Sacred Sword was too much for him, and he slumped over, defeated. He reverted back to his normal form.
Amy and Houndoom hadn’t lost a battle since her gym battle against Chuck. Houndoom was her trump card. They always pulled through. And this…this jerk comes along and beats them. She returned Houndoom to his Pokéball and stared at it in a moment of reflection. She would avenge Houndoom. She would win this battle in the end. Amy unclipped another Pokéball from her belt. This Marius guy was going to pay.
But then Toast gently guided Amy’s hand back to her stolen belt, where the magnets reclipped the ball. “It’s time to go.”
“No! He can’t win. I can’t let him win. I. Don’t. Lose!” She ripped a ball from her belt and threw it. “Bellossom!”
The small Grass type stood, ready to battle, in front of Amy and Aegislash.
Marius calmly returned Aegislash to his ball. “Sometimes you just have to learn when you are beat. There will be no more battling today.” He nodded to Decima, who returned Rapidash to her Pokéball and stood at attention. “Now, instead of the customary prize money for a loss, I have a proposition. You and your compatriots may leave if you unlock this.” He gestured to the pedestal that had the crushed Mirror Ball. “Otherwise, you will become prisoners.”
The harsh sunlight allowed Bellossom to power Solar Beam up quickly. She let loose and the energy beam sailed across the battlefield, where Marius stood. The attack almost connected, but he sidestepped just in time. He almost seemed disinterested as the attack flew by, mere inches from his chest.
“Enough,” he said, “do you really wish to needlessly hurt your Pokémon? You lost when you had the type advantage. Do you really hope to win now?”
“Yes! I don’t stop and my Pokémon don’t either!”
To cement this, Bellossom gave the air a few quick jabs with her arms.
“Very well,” Marius drew a Pokéball from his belt, and made to throw it.
“Stop!” Toast stood between the two combatants with her arms out, “I will pay the price!”
“Toast? What are you doing? I can win this.”
“No,” she said, “you can’t. You charge into battle, ready to sacrifice yourself to a war you don’t fully understand,” she walked over to the Mirror Ball, and touched her forefinger to the activating button on the ball, she stared at it for a moment, her good eye an ocean just after a storm, “sometimes you lose battles. Sometimes you need to go home and lick your wounds, rethink your strategy. Getting yourself needlessly killed doesn’t help anyone. Grab the Professor.”
“–That is an order, Agent! Can’t you just listen for once?”
Amy’s arms fell. She dug Bellossom’s Pokéball off her belt, and returned her to it. Then she trudged over the Professor, and linked arms with his limp, but still breathing, body. Toast joined them.
The defeated Pokéspot Agent surveyed the room once more: The dented lockers, the scowling Decima, and the laughing goons. Toast linked arms with the Professor, and Amy hit the orange button on her belt. The last thing she saw as she spun into darkness was Marius staring at her with a scowl.
“This isn’t over,” she mouthed to him.
She was recruited to Pokéspot soon after she became Champion of Unova. Her hobbies include training with her Jellicent, consuming Professor Hemlock’s secret stash of Mint Chip ice cream, and showing Amy how Pokéspot works. Toast is known for her patience and cunning in battle, preferring to outlast her opponents rather than beat them to a pulp.
When he was a child he met Professor Sycamore, since then his biggest wish is to become a Professor one day as well. He doesn’t like battling much and thinks it is a waste of time and hurtful to Pokémon. He craves to change the world of Pokémon battling and even extinguish it completely if possible. His biggest hobby is collecting Pokémon cards, and his collection is massive!
She is as competitive as they come and all she wants to do is win, and she pretty much always does. She and her Houndoom have won many tournament prizes and after that she decided to want to join Pokéspot to use her skills for the sake of goodness in the world of Pokémon.
Jake is “the guy in the chair” for Pokéspot. He keeps the tech up and running and even invents new tech for the agency. Jake even wrote the base code for Martha, the AI system that defends Pokéspot’s castle. He loves pizza. Abra is his main partner, but he also owns a Magneton that helps him find problems in magnetic fields.
She is all about the goods and will be able to answer any questions you might have on our cardshop. She likes to converse so don’t be shy and ask her anything you need to know about our products!
She helps all Pokéspot agents with their equipment and planning, and also takes care of all the Pokémon at the agency. Before the eruption of Pokéspot she was Hemlock’s secretary.
He welcomes new members to Pokéspot and is willing to guide them wherever needed. He knows not only about Pokémon and their strengths and weaknesses, he knows pretty much anything about Pokémon. All other Pokémon professors look up to him and his achievements and is the director of the Pokéspot Agency, secretly of course.
He’s the leader of Team Magnus. Marius formed Team Magnus after conquering all of the Pokemon world’s evil teams. To him, the world is a mass of chaos that must be brought into order. His order.
Amy stared at her plate. There was a sandwich. A small bite had been taken from it. Amy hadn’t tasted anything. Normally she loved sandwiches, but she didn’t feel hungry. The Pokéspot agent pushed the plate away and put her head on the table, sighing.
She kept replaying the events of what had come to be known as “The Invasion” in her head. Marius, Toast’s cut eye, and Houndoom crashing into the wall and fainting. That memory especially caught in her mind. How could she fail him like that?
“You’ve been so moody lately.”
Amy looked up. Toast stood above her. She was spoon-deep in a container of mint-chip ice cream. An H had been scribbled on it with a marker.
“Wanna bite?” she held out a spoonful of the cold, green substance. It dripped onto the table.
Toast pushed the sandwich to the side and pulled a chair up to sit in front of Amy. She put the tub of ice cream on the table. From Amy’s forlorn position, it looked like it was crying.
Then, she felt her head being lifted up by cold, wet hands. Toast had grabbed her and was now repositioning her so that they were staring at each other. The spoon was in the container. She adjusted her eyepatch. “Alright. What’s up?”
Amy slouched back in her chair. “Nothing.”
“Right. And Tepigs fly,” Toast snatched the spoon from the container. “There’s something wrong with you. This,” she gestured at Amy with the spoon. Some of the ice cream landed on her face. She didn’t bother wiping it off, “is not the Amy Magnolia I battled with three months ago.”
Amy drew her legs up to her chest. Hopefully, if she stayed like that long enough, the table’s edge would make them fall off. “I’m fine.”
“Good, because you and Houndoom are going to battle me and Jellicent. We never finished that one.”
Amy grumbled but didn’t protest. Maybe she really did need a battle. She began the slow process of unraveling herself. She put her legs on the floor, then pushed herself off the chair with her arms. Amy’s head pounded from getting up so quickly. For a moment she felt dizzy, then her senses returned to her. The motion of walking was familiar, but seemed distant. She thrust one leg in front of the other, until she was at the biodome.
The scent of grass and the sound of water bubbling greeted her like an old friend. It was like Nature herself was giving Amy a warm hug. She tugged at Amy’s hand, begging her to breathe the fresh air and wring out the negative feelings she was struggling with. Amy pulled away and took her place at the opposite end of the battlefield as Toast.
Toast stuck her spoon in the ice cream container and grabbed a Pokéball from her belt. “Go Jellicent!” she called out, throwing the Pokéball. She caught it when Jellicent emerged from the ball, then plucked the spoon from the container.
Amy wrenched Houndoom’s ball from her belt and merely opened it to loose Houndoom from his Pokéball. He growled and pawed the ground when he landed.
“Labies first!” Toast said.
She swallowed. “Ladies first!”
“Sunny Day!” At first Amy had felt anger rise in her throat. She’d heard that many times from people who underestimated her abilities, but then remembered that Toast was a girl too. Toast was probably trying to be funny. Amy wasn’t in the mood for funny.
Houndoom roared and the battlefield brightened. A jet of steaming-hot water shot out of Jellicent’s mouth and soared over the battlefield. The attack pushed Houndoom back, but he stood firm. When the sun went up, Amy could see that Scald became slightly weaker. The water didn’t bulge as much, and it had seemed to travel a little slower. The attack left Houndoom unscathed.
“Dodge it, then use Trick Room!”
Jellicent began floating up as the beam of dark energy sailed through the air. It looked like the attack might connect, but she somersaulted over it–like a hot air balloon doing a backflip. The Dark Pulse passed under her and hit a tree in the background. Jellicent flashed blue and a room with colorful squares surrounded the battlefield as the tree fell over. A plume of dust rose where it used to be.
“Time to take control!” Toast waved the spoon around, flinging drops of ice cream onto the dirt around her. “Use Toxic!”
Houndoom’s fangs lengthened and became dark, charged with power drawn from shadow. He tried to race forward, but it was really more a lurch. His usual speed had disappeared. It was easy for Jellicent to aim a gob of poison at him. She launched the purple sludge in a perfect arc. He took the attack and tried to counter with Crunch, but Jellicent was a blur. She easily dodged out of the way.
Houndoom flashed with a light purple. The poison was setting in.
It was time. Amy touched her Mega Necklace. “Houndoom, Mega Evolve!” The Mega Stone attached to Houndoom’s chest sent forth tendrils of pink and purple light that connected with the ones coming from Amy’s necklace. A ball of energy surrounded Houndoom.
Then, the ball cracked. Instead of Mega Houndoom bursting from the shell, it crumbled around him. Half Houndoom stood where a Mega Houndoom should have been.
“What?!” Amy said.
Toast dropped her spoon. It clattered on the edge of the battlefield, and bits of dirt stuck to it. She squinted with her good eye. “That’s not good.” Toast carefully put down the ice cream and ran to the edge of the biodome. The one-eyed agent pressed a button, “We need Alicia to the biodome immediately. A Pokémon is hurt,” she said into a speaker. She sprinted back to the battlefield. “Amy, we have to keep battling or Houndoom will lose his form, and then Alicia won’t be able to look at him.”
“Right. Right,” she said, her lips trembling. How did this happen?
Half Houndoom seemed perplexed as well. His eyes kept darting around, lingering only on the doors of the biodome.
“Use Crunch!” Toast was right. Amy had to keep the battle going, even if she felt stiff all over.
“Dodge it, then use Scald!”
Half Houndoom rushed towards Jellicent, but because of the Trick Room, it was closer to a crawl. When he closed in, he tried latching onto one of Jellicent’s tentacles with Crunch, but she pulled away and intentionally missed her blast with Scald. Half Houndoom flashed a bright purple. Alicia was on the clock to get to the battlefield. Half Houndoom was taking bad poison damage.
A ball of shielding light surrounded Jellicent as the dark energy slammed into her. The shield stayed up but the power from the attack pushed her halfway across the battlefield.
“I’m here! What’s wrong?” Alicia’s hair bobbed as her head flicked back and forth, trying to figure out what was going on. She saw Jellicent fly across the battlefield first, then she saw Half Houndoom, “Oh crap.”
“Alicia!” Amy said, “There’s something wrong with Houndoom.” She risked taking her eyes off the battle for a second to see that Ray was with her.
“Stop battling,” she said, “I want to see Houndoom revert to his normal form.”
Toast whipped out Jellicent’s Pokéball: “Return.” The familiar red beam shot out and recaptured the Water-Ghost type. Soon, the swirling colors of Trick Room disappeared as well. Rainbow light enveloped Half Houndoom and peeled away. Houndoom was left, but he didn’t seem happy. His eyes had grown shifty and wild.
“Nothing seems to be wrong with his reversion,” said Alicia. She rubbed her temples. “Can I see his transformation?”
“Absolutely,” Amy touched her necklace, but nothing happened. “Oh right, I need to be battling.”
Toast nodded and drew Jellicent’s Pokéball again.
“No,” said Alicia, “I want Ray on the other end. It may help Houndoom to see a face that he is more accustomed to.”
Houndoom kneaded the ground with his paws.
“I don’t think that me and Chikorita are willing to battle,” said Ray.
“You wouldn’t actually be battling, just simulating one enough for Houndoom to Mega Evolve. We just want to make Houndoom more comfortable. The process of Mega Evolution is very stressful for Houndoom, and it’s probably being exacerbated by its failure.”
Ray gulped, “Alright.” He took a side on the battlefield and Amy took hers. He grabbed the Pokéball on his belt and called on Chikorita: “Go, Chikorita!” The Leaf Pokémon danced around in a little circle, squeaking with joy at the thought of battle.
Amy motioned for Houndoom to enter the battlefield, and he did so while panting. He took up a position opposite Chikorita, who was still running in a circle.
“Sunny Day!” Houndoom roared and the field was drowned in a harsh sunlight.
“Poison Powder–wait, no–Razor Leaf!” Chikorita began gathering spores for Poison Powder, but when she received the new command she shook them off in frustration, and flung the new attack at Houndoom. The leaves bounced off the Dark Pokémon. They had little effect on him.
Amy touched her Mega Necklace. What Amy never imagined could happen four months ago happened again, for the third time in a row. The ball of light formed around Houndoom and crumbled around him like old concrete. Half Houndoom was before her, not Mega Houndoom. She was no longer taken by surprise, but her head drooped all the same. Why couldn’t she protect Houndoom from this? She was failing her calling as his trainer.
Alicia furiously jotted down notes. Without looking up, she said, “Amy, make Half Houndoom use an attack.”
“Yeah, sure, I guess. Use Flamethrower, but miss Chikorita.”
Half Houndoom shook his head violently, like some demon had taken hold of it. His eyes were bloodshot, and he began foaming at the mouth.
“Amy–get Half Houndoom in his Pokéball!” Alicia said.
“Right,” she swiped the Pokéball from where it was on her hip and clicked the button. A red beam shot out and glanced off of Half Houndoom. He didn’t take notice and focused on Chikorita, who had just used Growl. Half Houndoom opened his mouth and blasted the poor Leaf Pokémon with a Dark Pulse. She didn’t get up.
Half Houndoom raced to the edge of the biodome and melted a hole in the side. He jumped out, onto the parapet of the castle, and escaped into the jungle beyond.
Alicia scribbled in her notebook faster than before. Amy’s jaw was open. Toast had her arms crossed. Ray was comforting his downed Pokémon.
Houndoom was gone.
Houndoom disobeyed Amy.