In which Candela Blaise and her Flareon get on board
Candela Blaise. First-Class Pokemon Ranger. One of the most advanced younger trainers of the Hoenn Region. The perfect candidate for the 'Government Operations' job position. She was still sorta kicking herself for accepting the letter in the mail a few weeks ago. Her job had all the things one could ever want, especially how high her rank was. Reasonable, flexible hours, good pay. The people were nice, she was a leadership position, and the land of Hoenn was beautiful. She could have had a nice, safe, respectable career.
But the thing was, she wasn't ready to decide her career yet. As good as being a Pokemon Ranger was, Candela felt like she could be something more, something else. As high as she could have settled, it was still settling. And it's not this 'Government Operations' job was so incredible, being extremely vague in its job description. Her fellow rangers tossed the opportunity away at the first glance, simply assuming it was a desperate scam. Candela thought the same about it at first, but her curiosity had gotten the better if her once again.
"Well, if this doesn't work out, maybe they'll let me come back and clean the toilets, huh Flareon?" She looked down at her companion, a red Pokemon with tufts of yellow fur that made her look like a walking candle. A plush candle, mind you, but candles can leave severe burns if mishandled.
"Flare, flare." The Pokemon chirped in response.
Currently the duo were walking up to the bus stop that would take them to their destination. Although some of her ranger coworkers offered her a ride, Candela preferred to walk, wanting to get one last look around the region before departing. So putting on her walking boots, ranger boots, and a red tank top, Candela strapped on her knapsack and was in her way.
"Not gonna lie, I'm gonna miss this place." She said, smiling at the beauty of nature around her. The breeze flowing into her was a refreshing contrast to this rather hot day. Let's not dawdle here for too long, don't want to miss our boat."
Reaching the harbor, Candela found her boat, a large, magnificent cruise ship. "Say, where does this boat go anyways?" She asked the clerk.
"Oh, this ship is going to the Kanto region young lady!" The clerk replied. "Here is your cruise card, an all-in-one electronic card used as your boarding card, room key and onboard credit card, and pamphlet give you a schedule of the events and a handy map of the ship. Enjoy your cruise!"
Once onboard, Candela found her room, #136, and walked inside. It was a small room, with one bed, a desk, and chest of drawers with a TV over it. No stove, but that's what the buffet is for.
The foghorn blasted from above, and Candela watched from her window as the cruise ship left the harbor. Flareon settled on the bed, snuggling up against the pillow.
"Well Flareon, looks like we're off."
"No, I'm not bringing out everyone else in this cramped room." Candela said as she unpacked. "One ill-timed nudge and Scyther is turning the TV into swiss cheese. They have a place on the ship where I can bring them out, don't worry about it."
"Attention passengers!" A voice from the intercom came on. "This is your director speaking! We will have a dinner celebration in 2 hours at our luxurious dining hall, as well as our all-you-can-eat buffet outside on the deck! If you're coming to the dining hall, please try to dress formally. However, the buffet is as casual as you can be! So come on down for a meet-and-greet with your fellow passengers, and come see what we are all about! See you there!"
"They're probably going to let us hang out with our Pokemon at dinner, especially the outdoor one. In that case, I better go shower."
Flareon got one whiff of her Trainer, and wrinkled her nose, covering it with her paw. "Flare! Flare!"
"Yeah well breaking news, you don't smell so great either. You and I both walked down here. So if I smell, you smell. So get off my bed."
Flareon jumped off of the bed, slowly walked up to Candela, and looked her right in the eye as she resonated heat from her body, cleaning herself off.
"Well some of us can't super-dry clean ourselves on command, you little furball."
Flareon snickered as she jumped back on the bed. She knew the day was hers.
"Well if you don't want to pester me anymore, I'm going to go shower now."
Getting out of the shower, Candela saw that Flareon was asleep on the bed. Better stay quiet, don't want to wake here up just yet. Alright then. She thought. What to wear? What to wear...
Candela decided to pick a Moltres T-shirt and jean shorts. And now that that's settled, what am I going to eat? I'm famished after that walk to the harbor.
Suddenly, the perfect thought came to mind. Ribs. Endless and endless amounts of ribs..." Candela could smell it now. That succulent meat that was just begging to be ripped right off the bone.
She looked at the clock. There was still an hour and 15 minutes left.
Candela turned towards the door. Maybe they'll start early. I'll go check.
And that's when she noticed an envelope by the door. Apparently it had been slid under the door while she was showering.
That's weird. Candela thought to herself. That wasn't there when I came in. Maybe the crew gives it out. I mean, I was in the shower. Welp, let's see what's inside. Probably a bunch of coupons or something.
Opening the letter and reading the note, Candela gasped. Oh my God.
"I know who you are, Candela Blaise,
and I'm coming for you."
- Blanche Paige
Chapter 2: Predator and Prey
Candela must go on the offensive...
Candela stood there, frozen in shock.
Someone knew who she was, and had found her room. She looked over to Flareon, still sleeping innocently on her bed. How easy would it have been to open the door? Candela knew there was security on cruise ship doors, but strong Pokemon can break it down. They could have...they could have...
"Flareon! Flareon get up!" She aggressively shook her Pokemon.
"Flare? FLARE!" The startled Pokemon started to heat up at being so rudely awakened.
"Flareon FOCUS!" Candela yelled. "Someone came to our door and left this note. We're being hunted."
"Someone called Blanche Paige. Whoever they are, they want us out of the picture. I bet it has something to my new job. I don't know what, but I'll figure it out later. Right now, we have to find this Blanche. At least they made one mistake; they gave us a name. Granted, it could be fake, but it's all we have to go on right now. We have to try to get a face with the name. Let's go see if we can get something out of management." Candela got out her phone and typed into it.
With Flareon at her side, Candela walked to the door, grabbed the handle, and remembered she might not be dressed well enough to talk to officials.
"Wait a sec, gotta change into something better." She went back into her luggage. One of the first things she learned in Ranger Training was to always dress the part. Clothes matter. Gotta get into something more pristine...
When she was finished, she looked at herself in the mirror. a white and red coat with white and red shoes and black tights. "Add a little bit of lipstick... perfect."
"Flare!" Her Pokemon snapped, rushing her to get out of the door.
"Oh, where was this urgency when you were busy napping? If you have been awake and alert, protecting your trainer, you could have seen them leave the note, and go right after them! So slow ya road, we'll leave when I say we'll leave. You know what? Maybe I want to put on a little hat, I'm feeling cute tonight."
"Flare! Flare Flare Flare!" Flareon pleaded.
"Well, since you asked so nicely, I suppose we can leave now." She clenched her first as she walked down the hall. "So you want to play Blanche? Let's play."
"Administration's Office, how can I help you?" The desk clerk asked Candela.
"Okay so, I'm gonna try to make this quick." Candela got out her phone. "I'm looking for my friend, Blanche Paige. You see, we were supposed to come on the cruise together. Blanche can be a bit of a ditz, so when I wake up this morning, I call her to get the response that, the phone didn't charge overnight and it's about to die. 'It's okay, just meet me on the ship! Later!' Now I've been up and down this ship since before we took off. I mean just look at these texts!" Candela showed the clerk about a dozen messages, covering up the times with they thumb. "Now I'm scared that Blanche got on the wrong boat. Mr. and Mrs. Paige would tear me a new ass if that happened. So can I please get her picture and room number? I want to make sure Blanche's at least on the boat, and work from there."
"Um, certainly. I can ask for her name on the intercom if you'd like. Parents lose children all the time, so this isn't the first time we've heard of this."
I don't want Blanche to know I'm coming. "No thank you, just the picture and room number."
"Alright then, let me pull it right up... and here it is!"
Candela quickly took the photo. "Thank you for your time."
Walking down the halls of the ship, Candela studied the photo. "Alright, Blanche Paige. For starters she's female, didn't want to assume the gender back there. White hair, blue eyes, fair skin. Hair tied back into a ponytail. Room #314. Let's go pay her a visit."
Walking up to 314, Candela was about to bang on the door, then Flareon stepped in front of her. "Flare! Flare!"
"Yeah, you're right. They'd instantly recognize me, but maybe not you."
Flareon went up to the door and pawed on it, putting on the most innocent and sweet look she possibly could. Candela had to stifle her laughter. Who was this Flareon? Candela had never seen her in her life.
Despite Flareon whining outside, the door was not opening up. She came back over to Candela, disappointed.
"It's alright Flareon, we just have to wait it out. Maybe she'll come out for the buffet. We just have to wait."
Candela and Flareon camped outside, waiting for Blanche. And they waited, and they waited, and they waited...
"Flareon, why is Blanche going after me?" Candela said, breaking the silence. "What is so important about this government position that someone would take me out before I've even arrived to the job?"
"I don't think I'm so famous that I'm worth stalking." Candela replied. "But still, this must be a really important job..."
"Attention passengers, you may now proceed to both outside to the buffet, as well as to the dining fall."
The pair immediately snapped back to attention. "Here she comes... here she comes..."
Candela and Flareon were pushed from behind by a wave of passengers. "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Candela, holding Flareon in one arm, was desperately looking for something to cling to. ITS JUST LIKE A MUDSLIDE!
As she was carried down the hall, Candela kept her eye on Room 314, but was inevitably surged out onto the main deck of the ship.
"OOF!" She landed next to the salad bar. "Well, I'm not getting on that ride again." She suddenly realized that Flareon was no longer in her possession. "Flareon? FLAREON!" She screamed out. Please don't be trampled, please don't be trampled, please: don't be trampled.
She saw Flareon safely munching on some fried Magikarp. "Omnom nom, Fla- om nom, Flare!"
"FLAREON YOU LAZY BUM! TO THINK I WAS WORRIED ABOUT YOU FOR EVEN A SPLIT SECOND!"
"Flare! Flare Flare!"
"YOU CAN EAT WHEN WE ARE SAFE! NOW LET'S GO FIND THIS GIRL!"
Candela searched around the buffet, Flareon begrudgingly searching around with her. Humans and Pokemon mingled amongst each other. Candela and Flareon had to snake their way through the crowd. Pop music pulsed through the crowd from speakers hung overhead.
"I don't see her around here, do you?"
All Flareon was seeing was a piece of strawberry shortcake. "Flare..."
BONK! Candela threw a bone and it clocked Flareon right in the skull. "Come on, we're going to the dining hall."
Walking down to the dining hall, Candela peered around. Once again, humans and Pokemon dined in harmony. However, there was an obvious rise in decorum. Classical music came live from a small orchestra in the corner "I don't see her here either. Do you think she's still in her room?"
Then she caught it. the back of a white ponytail.
"There she is." Candela hid behind the corner to avoid being seen. "What should we do now?" It seemed like Blanche was dining over filet mignon. She would never see Candela coming if Candela snuck on her from behind. I can't start a fight here. Too many innocent people could get hurt. I'm just going to confront her and hope for the best.
Steathily, Candela emerged from the shadows and tried to zig-zag her way to Blanche, running smack first into a Machamp. "S-S-Sorry my bad." Candela focused back on her target, who was only a few a steps away.
Candela could feel her heart pounding faster and faster. She reached her hand out to grab Blanche's shoulder. Got you...
"Candela Blaise, I presume?" Blanche said, never even looking behind her.
Chapter 3: Preludings
Candela and Blanche battle.
Blanche picked up the last bit of her filet mignon with her fork. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched a certain someone move down a wall of the dining hall. Everything was going according to plan. Slowly eating her remaining food, Blanche took out her napkin and wiped her mouth. Getting up from her seat, Blanche pushed in her chair and turn to face a stunned Candela.
Candela backed away slowly, looking for a place to run. How on Earth did she know Candela was behind her?
Blanche stepped forward. "You and I have something to discuss, don't we?"
Candela broke off in a full run. Pushing past people and Pokemon alike, Candela went back to the where she came from.
"We have to leave, now." Scooping Flareon up, Candela ran back down below deck. I gotta get to my room. All my Pokemon are there. I should have brought them with me. Maybe I can hold Blanche off until I get off of the ship.
As she ran down the hall to her room, something was waiting for her. Someone.
"FLARE!" Flareon yelled, jumping out of Candela's arms and electing to hide behind her trainer instead.
"Flareon, what's wrong?" Candela looked and quickly identified the object. Her heart stopped as well. Oh no. Not just a water type, a very certain water type.
It's blue tail slowly slinked back and forth, the fins bright and ready for combat.
Vaporeon. And it was cutting off Candela from her room.
"This was a trap from the start." Candela whispered to herself.
Candela heard footsteps from behind her. Blanche came down the steps wearing a navy blue wetsuit with a whitish silver vest and low-heeled boots with a long, sky blue trench coat.
"Surrender." she said in a cool but strong tone. "My water type overcomes your fire type, and Vaporeon will NOT let you get back to your room."
Vaporeon advanced. Candela backed away slowly. Flareon was still behind her, trembling.
"Ember at Blanche. Now!"
"FLARE-ON!" Flareon shot out a barrage of fireballs, spread out in a scatter so that Blanche couldn't possibly dodge them all.
Blanche jumped down the stairs and fell back, allowing the blasts to go over her head. "Water Gun!"
Vaporeon fired a stream of water. Candela quickly picked up Flareon, ran to the wall, and jumped right off it, spinning through the air and landing on the other side, dodging the attack.
"What?" Blanche said as Candela raced up the stairs.
"Vapor." The Pokemon apologized for missing the shot.
"It's fine. I didn't think she would dodge it either. After them."
Candela came to a crossroads. One would lead back up to the deck and buffet, where everyone else was. The other one lead to the battle facilities. No way could Flareon beat Vaporeon in a fight. Candela had to go back upstairs. Blanche wouldn't risk a fight on the deck in front of everyone, would she? Candela thought to herself. What am I saying? How could I ever be that desperate to risk other people's lives? I was a ranger damn it!
Candela decided to head for the battle area.
"FLARE! FLARE!" Flareon screamed.
"I'm not putting other people in danger! We'll figure something out!" Candela said, running as quickly as she could. She could hear footsteps in the distance.
Reaching the battle rooms, Candela ducked behind the corner of a battle room.
"Be quiet! Candela said in a tense whisper. "When they come by, use Ember again. We only win if we make this quick."
As the footsteps got closer, Flareon heated her body, ready to unleash another barrage of fire.
The lights went out in the entire battle room wing, shrouding everything in darkness.
What? Candela said. What is she doing? She looked down at her Flareon, who was a nervous train wreck of burning heat. "She just trying to scare us, stay strong." She said in a softer whisper. "Stay strong. I promise I won't let anything happen to you."
Something popped out right in front of Candela and Flareon. A small blue object close to the ground. Vaporeon.
"FLARE!" Flareon let out another burst of Ember, which blasted Vaporeon on multiple direct hits.
"YES, IT WORKED!" Candela said.
Vaporeon detonated a wave of water from its body, slamming Flareon into the wall with a tidal wave.
"FLAREON!" Candela shrieked. She quickly turned back behind her. "WHAT THE HELL DID WE HIT THEN?"
The last pieces of a blue trench coat burned to ashes in front of her.
"What you hit was my coat." Blanche said, stepping into the battle room in her dark blue wetsuit fully exposed. "I assumed you would try to ambush me, so I used my trenchcoat as a decoy."
SHE'S A STEP AHEAD OF ME AGAIN?! Candela thought. HOW DOES SHE KEEP DOING THIS?!
"I have a few questions for you. And you're going to answer them." Blanche said.
"You're not getting anything out of me." Blanche snapped back. Well, she wasn't wrong. If Blanche already knew who she was, she wasn't exactly getting any more information from her. Not mattered how bad Blanche would torture her...
"You are not in a position to defy me." Blanche said.
"You're welcome to come put me in my place if you want. Come on." Candela made the 'Bring it' sign with her hand.
Vaporeon took a step forward, but Blanche held him back. "Fine then. Fight me like a woman."
Candela grinned as she starting taking off her jacket. She had noticed earlier that Blanche was wearing heels. All she had to do was get Blanche off balance. Maybe she could make Vaporeon surrender if its master's safety was at risk. She took off her coat leaving her in a red short sleeve buttoned-up shirt. "I am going to kick, your, ass."
This is obviously a desperate attempt to turn the tables on me. Blanche thought. However, once I defeat her, I might be able to get her to talk easily. She tapped the side of her heels, and the shoes started to transform into sneakers. Besides, even I lose this fight, Vaporeon would still be able to overwhelm her. As long as I'm not beaten so badly as where Vaporeon has to compromise herself, we should win. Even if that Flareon gets up again, Vaporeon would neutralize it again.
Candela cracked her knuckles and kept her malicious grin, which only masked her worry. She accepted, that means she knows how to fight. I wonder what style she's trained in. I guess I'm about to find out. Kickboxing skills, don't fail me now... wait, did her shoes change? What the hell... screw it, let's get this over with. She got into a fighting stance. "Ready when you are."
Blanche got into her own fighting stance. "Attack me, now."
Candela charged, leading with a straight left jab. Blanche ducked under it, and raised her first into the side of Candela's exposed ribcage, twisting her first as she made contact. Candela was stopped momentarily as the punch rattled her body, but came right back and threw a hook.
Blanche aimed a punch right at Candela's stomach and connected right into the solar plexus. Candela was stunned, but her momentum sent her fist straight into Blanche's forearm, the forearm that was currently being extended for a punch.
Coach wanted me to do something with my breathing for something like this.Candela's mind raced as the effect pulsed through her respiratory system. Inhale or Exhale? Inhale or Exhale? Inhale or Exhale? Inhale or Exhale?
Oh god. Wrong choice.
Candela sunk to the floor, gasping for breath.
Blanche reached for her arm which had exploded in pain, her dominant left arm at that exploded in pain. I hope it's not dislocated. She saw that Candela had dropped to her knees. She's still conscious, I can't take any chances. Blanche set her feet, and then kicked Candela straight in the face for the finishing blow. Candela's head snapped back like a rubber band before falling over to the ground, unconscious.
Blanche went back to holding her elbow. The fight is over, take your time, take your time. I don't think my arm is dislocated, but I shall have to take special notice of my arm for the next few days. I'm going to have to send Sensei a thank you card and a gift, his teaching saved my life.
She turned around. Now, what to do with her now that she's uncon-
Candela slowly reached out to the ground to get on all fours. A puddle of blood had formed under her face.
I needed to interrogate her anyway. "So, are you ready to give up now?" She tried to sound intimidating, but the prospect of continuing to fight with a bad predominant arm was daunting.
"Give up now? Why? I've already won." Candela turned her head around, and to Blanche's horror, had a grin on her face. The bottom part of her eye was swollen, and blood was dripping from her face. And yet, here she was smiling like she was having the time of her life.
"You're the one on the ground bleeding, and yet I'm the one whose lost. Interesting logic."
"I couldn't help but notice that you're nursing your arm. That's your stronger arm isn't it? I guess we're both southpaws then. So now when I hit you, I'm gonna make it hurt."
She has to hit me first. Blanche went for another kick, but Candela caught her foot and yanked it from under her, sending Blanche on the ground back first. Blanche quickly rolled up on her stomach to get back on her feet, but slowed down and grimace as she had to use her bad arm to support herself back upright. Candela got back to her feet at the same time, and went on the offensive, throwing quick right jab after quick right jab. Blanche chose to pivot and block with her shoulder and holding her left hand up as some means of defense. Candela chose to aim for Blanche's hand; no matter how many times Blanche caught her fist, she couldn't do anything with the injured elbow.
Deciding that Blanche had fallen into the rhythm, Candela decided to finish her off. Candela placed a kick into Blanche's shin, knocking Blanche off balance and sent her back stumbling. Candela moved inside and aimed a right hook straight at Blanche's face. Blanche moved her right arm to protect her face on instinct, but then Candela pulled her hand back.
What the? Blanche traced Candela's body flow, and looked down to see her left fist about to ram into Blanche's liver. The real target all along. Blanche realized too late.
Blanche let out a gasp and fell to the ground in a heap as Candela tenderized her liver into mince meat.
Candela sat on top of Blanche and pinned her arms back. "Told you I would make it hurt." She whispered in Blanche's ear. "Are you done now?"
In between gasps of breath, Blanche admitted her submission. "I...concede."
"Good, because I have a few questions for you. First of all... what was your name again?"
"Hydro Pump? Is that like a code name or something?"
Candela turned around to see the Pokemon charging its attack. "Forgot about you in all this... oh boy."
Vaporeon shot out a geyser that plastered Candela across the against the wall. Turning back to her trainer, Vaporeon picked Blanched up by the wetsuit and dragged her to the wall, helping her get back to her feet by using the wall as support.
"I did not expect her to be so tough." Blanche muttered. "Thank you for saving Vaporeon."
Candela came back to conciseness to find Blanche and Vaporeon standing over her. She started coughing up water as she got to her knees. "Don't suppose...ugh... I'm getting another fight, am I?"
"Well that all depends on you. The three of us have been waiting for you to make a decision."
"Three of us?" Candela looked over to see Flareon at her side, tense and ready to defend her trainer.
"So, what's it's going to be Candela? Are we going to fight again, or do you just want to talk?"
Candela looked at her two adversaries, and then at Flareon. If they couldn't win the first time, they won't win any other times. Further resistance would only make it worse.
Flareon looked at Candela in shock. "Fla-"
"Flareon, get behind me, I'll take care of this." Candela slowly rose to her feet. "What do you want to know?"
"How did you fight out who I was?"
"I went to management. They gave me everything I needed to know to find you."
"Are you really Candela Blaise or is that some kind of codename."
"It's my real name."
"Who do you work for?"
"I work for some Government agency, at least now I do."
Blanche raised an eyebrow. "Continue."
"I don't know what else to tell you. They offered me a job, put me on a boat, and here we are."
"Last question: why are you stalking me?"
Candela was at a loss for words. "...Why I'm stalking you..."
"You left a note under my door. I have it right here." Blanche took off her shoe and pulled out a note.
"I know who you are, Blanche Paige,
and I'm coming for you."
- Candela Blaise
"I DIDN'T WRITE THAT!" Candela yelled. "I GOT THE EXACT SAME NOTE FROM YOU! I THOUGHT YOU WERE STALKING ME!"
Blanch's eyes lit up, becoming super-alert in an instant. "This was a trap. Someone wanted us here. Someone wanted us to fight."
"Relax ladies, the worst is over, for now."
All four turned to the entrance as a new figure walked in. He was a rather tall man with surprisingly white hair for his seemingly middle-aged face. He wore a white lab coat over a black collared shirt with a neon green trim some black gloves, and completed his outfit with a teal wristwatch, brown shorts, a black undersuit and some black shoes with neon and teal trims and white soles. "My name is Willow. Professor Reed Willow Sr.. I am technically your boss for your new jobs. This is a test I designed to evaluate your performances in possible field scenarios. Both of you were supposed to be convinced that the other was gunning for them and I sat and watched it all unfold."
"So, how did we perform?" Blanche asked.
"Both of you passed!" Professor Willow replied, giving them the thumbs up. "Although I will say I'm curious as to what would have happened if you two had received the notes at the same time. Blanche had a half hour head start, possibly the greatest reason for her victory. If that would be the case, her Vaporeon is most definitely the second. Though you did put up one amazing fight Candela. I came here to say that enough's enough, the simulation is over, you may now enjoy the rest of your cruise however you like. See you two around!"
With that, Professor Willow walked out the room.
A rather awkward silence followed, as the two girls realized the damage they had inflicted upon each other was all for naught.
"Y-Y-You're still bleeding." Blanche noticed, looking at Candela's nose. "Here, I have napkins in my coat..."
She looked over and saw scattered ashes of what was once her coat. "Oh wait, that's right..."
"It's fine, I've got it. Thanks for the offer." Candela wiped the blood on her sleeve. "I guess that means we're gonna be co-workers then, huh? No hard feelings right?" She said to the woman whose liver she had tried to turn into ground chicken 10 minutes ago.
"Of course not. We were both just trying to protect ourselves and our Pokemon." Blanche said, equally as flustered as Candela was. "So I guess I'll be seeing you around later? I'm going to get my arm looked at."
"Yeah I gotta take care of this nose. So, maybe you can stop by my cabin later? We can talk?"
"Certainly. Here's your coat." Blanche handed Candela her coat back. "Come on Vaporeon, we have to go." They hurriedly exited the room.
"Well, Flareon," Candela said as she put on her coat back. "At least my new job's gonna have excitement."
Chapter 4: Debriefing
Candela held an ice pack to her nose. God that kick hurt. In her fight with Blanche, Candela leaned her head back and rolled back with the kick as it nailed her. That had been enough to keep consciousness, but her nose was leaking quite heavily.
They don't tell you about this in kickboxing class. She turned her attention to Flareon, who was on the bed trying to warm up. "You okay Flareon?"
"Flare." Flareon responded somberly.
"Listen, I know you must not be feeling the best, but I could have been worse. I'm okay, and you're okay, and that's all that matters."
"You're not supposed to fight water-types anyway. That's why it was so easy. Besides, you came to my rescue when I was down. That makes you my hero." She went over and gave Flareon a kiss on the cheek.
"Flare." Flareon settled down on the bed, both embarrassed from her performance and Candela cooing over her.
Sitting on the bed, Candela decided to turn on the news.
"And tonight's top story: Arson About! A fire burns down a Kanto warehouse."
"Ugh. Why is there never anything good on news?" She just cut the TV straight off. "Oh wait, that's right! I gotta call back home. Oh man, they're gonna kill me for being so late." She got out her phone.
"Hey Mom, hey dad, I'm on the cruise ship. I'm about to go to bed. I met someone I'm going to be working with on this ship! That was...nice. Hey Pyrus, hope you're asleep getting ready for school tomorrow and not pulling an all-nighter, you little dweeb. Anyways, love you, talk to you tomorrow. See ya."
Fireworks we're coming from the top of the deck. Flareon paused at stared at them in awe.
"You wanna check out the fireworks before we go to sleep?" Candela asked. "Sure. It's not like we have anything better to do."
"Vaporeon, are you awake?" Blanche asked, looking at her Pokemon who had curled up into a ball.
"I've been thinking about what happened today." She started off, blanking staring into space. "Today was our warm-up, our introduction. If that was the test, what is our actual work going to be like?"
"You're right. I should just wait and find out." Blanche crawled into bed and looked up at the empty ceiling. She had wrapped up her elbow in a bandage, so maybe it would heal overnight. She just needed some sleep.
Sleep that wasn't going to happen with her mind burning with questions.
"I can't end the night like this. I just can't." She rolled right out of bed.
"I'm going to at least try to find Willow. I need more answers than this."
"What happened at the warehouse?"
Blanche and Vaporeon stopped in their tracks. It was Willow.
"So the whole thing had to come burning down? Did you at least try to infiltrate it? You could have called the police or something! And you wonder why you're getting two co-workers. ... They did well, I think you'll like them. Here's what happened- ... what do you mean you have to go? Fine. See you later."
Blanche and Vaporeon retreated as Willow hung up the phone. Getting back to their room, the two tried to process this new information. "So Willow has something to do with a warehouse being burned down? I bet that's news."
Turning on the TV, Blanched flipped through the channels until she got to the news.
"And in new developments, Kanto Firefighters are going through a fire that erupted at an abandoned Vermillion warehouse that started several hours ago. The cause appears to be a grease fire, as water was unable to extinguish the flames. The reason why this occurred may have something to do with the criminal organization Team Rocket, as several items that bear the groups notorious insignia have appeared in the area. Police Officer Jenny says that no matter what the reason, arson is still arson, and the suspect is at large."
"Willow knows who burned down that warehouse?" Blanche said. "In that case, should I go to the police with this? If he works for the government like he says he does, this shouldn't be a problem. Officer Jenny wouldn't be out looking for the criminal, right?"
"... I guess your right. Officer Jenny might not know it was whoever these government people are. I should just wait. Still, keep and eye out Vaporeon. This might be a bigger trap then we thought. I don't think we are getting anything else tonight, we should get some rest."
"Ah, nothing like a good bowl of quinoa to start your morning!" Candela took her tray and slid it down the aisle with everyone else. It was a new morning, and a new day, time to meet it! Candela took a spoonful of berries and put it in her bowl. "Oh, I suppose a little chocolate won't hurt either." She dumped a few pieces of dark chocolate in there too.
Getting to her table," Flareon was already there happily munching on Taurus steak. "Food's good, huh?"
"Flare!" Her Pokemon nodded in agreement.
"Um... Candela, right?"
Candela turned around, it was Blanche. "Yeah, hi."
"Is it okay if I sit here, I think we need to talk about- woah." Blanche paused as she saw the purplish welt under Candela's eye.
"Oh, this?" Candela tapped the bruise. "This is nothing. I've had plenty worse. If you want to sit down, sure."
Blanche set down her plate of eggs benedict, toast and fruit slices, and a smoothie. Vaporeon leapt up on top of the table, causing Flareon to jump back a little.
"So what do you want to talk about?" Candela said.
Blanche gave Vaporeon her toast and fruit. "Did you watch the news last night, about the warehouse that burned down in Vermillion City?"
"I heard about it. Didn't really listen to it, I didn't want to think about bad news that late."
"Well, I overheard Willow on the phone last night, he was talking with the person who burned down the warehouse."
"Wait, what? Are you serious?" Candela pushed her food to the side, suddenly not hungry anymore.
"Yes. And apparently, we are going to be working with that person. That person is wanted by police right now."
"So one of our co-workers is a wanted arsonist? I didn't sign up for this." Candela stood up and slammed her hands. "We need to go find Willow, right now!"
Her stomach started roaring loudly. She hadn't taken a bite of her quinoa.
"Okay, we finish eating, and then we go find Willow, right then!"
This is what he needed.
A pina colada in hand as he looked out from atop the deck onto the beautiful water. Seels, Seakings, Magikarps and Seadras swam around in the calm blue below. It had been awhile since Proffessor Willow last had a vacation. Granted he was supposed to be working, but since he had gotten the girls out of the way, he could spend the rest of the cruise to himself.
Willow looked down. Well, maybe not all to himself.
"Hey there little guy! Whatcha got there?"
The furry, brown Pokémon dropped a tennis ball at Willow's feet and wagged it tail excitedly. "Eevee! Eevee Eevee Eevee!"
"Oh, a game of catch, eh? Alright." He picked the tennis ball up. "Just promise me one thing: that you won't overdo it. If anyone complains about you running around, we're stopping. Got it?"
Eevee nodded. "Eevee!"
"Okay then... fetch!" Professor Willow threw the ball across the deck. Eevee quickly dashed away to retrieve it.
Ahhhhhhhh, this is the life. He thought as he sat back in his chair. Time to kick back, enjoy the day, and just relax...
"HEY WILLOW!" A voice from behind him screamed out.
"What the devil?" He turned around and-
A hand yanked his chair from behind, pulling him down to the floor with a hard thud. CRASH!
"OW! WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!" He looked up rubbing his neck. Candela was standing over him and Blanche was right behind her, and Flareon and Vaporeon brought up the rear.
Maybe directly confronting him with this information was a bad idea. We could have waited. Blanche thought.
"You know the person who burned down that Kanto warehouse? What the hell kind of job are we in where arson is allowed?"
"How did you know that?!" Willow said shocked.
"Uh... Uh..." Blanche stuttered, at a lost for words. Him asking that is EXACTLY what I was afraid of.
"Does is really matter? You're not denying it, so tell me! What's going on?" Candela took over. "You have 5 seconds to spill it or I'm calling security."
"Alright! Alright! I'll tell you. Just don't get security." Willow relented with a frustrated sigh. Just when I was starting to enjoy my vacation... "Ever since Team Rocket became an established criminal organization, local police have been death-locked in a struggle with them. Despite their best efforts, Team Rocket just keeps growing and growing. They have even establish a presence in the Junto region Your jobs as government agents are going to be to stop Team Rocket in the Kanto region, by any means necessary. Your official rank is going to be 'Guardians'."
"Hold on. 'By any means necessary.' Guess that means arson too, huh?" Candela pointed out.
"Acts that break the law are not encouraged. However, things happen, and that is understood. Guardians are supposed to be trusted to have and use sound reason and logic. That is why you two were selected. Your resumes speak for themselves. Listen, team Rocket is a very ruthless and dangerous group. I cannot guarantee your safety when you combat them."
"I figured that was a given when you said Team Rocket. I'm not afraid of them. They hunt and steal Pokémon just to sell them off like property. More of them I take down, the better." Candela said.
"So will our work consist of going after key members, or fighting Team Rocket in general?" Blanche asked.
"Both. Taking out Team Rocket Administrators, as well as their overall leader Giovanni, would be critical blows to the organization. But since they won't always be so easy to find, taking out whatever grunts you can find will also be appreciated."
Willow tried to think of anything else to say. "And I think that's the gist of it. Any questions?"
"What is housing going to be like? I'm not sure renting an apartment in a city filled with gang activity is a good idea." Blanche said.
"Oh, of course. You two will stay at my Pokémon research facility. It has a weaponized security system. You'll be safe there. Any other questions?"
The girls looked at each other. "... No, that's all for now."
"Well in that case, we still have some time to kill before we get back to Kanto, so relax! Have some fun you two. Enjoy the cruise."
As the two new Guardians walked away, Willow breathed a sigh of relief as he fixed his chair back upright and sat down again. Think positively Reed. It had to happen sooner or later. At least its out of the way. Now we can get back to vacation.
"Eevee! Eevee!" The Pokémon came bounding back with the tennis ball in his mouth.
"Hey! I see you've got the ball back. Good job!" Willow scooped the ball out of Eevee's mouth. "You want me to throw it again?"
Eevee jumped up and down, nodding his head. He couldn't wait to go fetch again.
"Alright! Now where to throw to..." As Proffessor Willow scanned the deck, he noticed a very, very, very angry Mankey with a trampled foot coming right towards him. The Pokémon was blistering red as it came charging forward.
"Oh boy," Willow gulped. "Something tells me this ain't gonna be good..."
"You know, I just realized: I don't really know anything about you." Blanche said.
"Huh, I wasn't really thinking about it, but now that you mention it..." Candela stopped and outstretched her hand. "Hi, I'm Candela Blaise. We've don't personally know each other, but I believe your foot already has already met my face."
"I said I was sorry!"
"It's fine, I'm just messing with you."
"So Candela, what did you use to do before you came here?"
"Well I was a model, but I guess that career's gone now."
"Just kidding! Don't take it seriously! I was a Hoenn Pokémon Ranger. What did you do?"
"I was getting my degree in Pokémon science. I was thinking about becoming a Professor like Willow, or at least a researcher. I was always researching why they evolve."
"That sounds neat! So, did you ever do any battling? I was always casually battling other Rangers since Rangers aren't supposed to go into competitions. Honor and credibility and stuff like that."
"I did go into a few local tournaments, but I never went full pro."
"Speaking of which, where are you from?"
"I'm from Castelia City in Unova. I just graduated from Kanto University."
"Oh, congratulations! So, what do you want to do for the rest of the day?"
"I heard there's a live music band playing, do you wanna go check it out?"
"Sure, sounds fun!"
"Target spotted." A man spoke into the radio.
"Are you sure it's the right one?" the radio spat back.
"Same trainer and everything. Jesus Christ that thing is ripped."
"Well, it was the longest consecutive World Pokemon Boxing Administration champion for a reason. But now that it's retired, it's a great time to snatch it up for ourselves."
"That thing's gonna make a pretty penny in the underground fight clubs. So, how should we capture it?"
"Same as always: make a distraction, and then pop an Incense. Tag it, bag it, and get out of there. Has security been taken out yet?"
The man looked around. All guards and maintenance were lying on the floor out cold. "Yep. Cameras are being wiped now."
"Good Report back as soon as you have completed your mission."
Chapter 5: On The Job Training
"This band is pretty good." Candela said while kicking back and enjoying a choclate milkshake. Flareon sat comfortably in her lap. The music talent was a jazz group playing over a harmonizing Chansey.
"They play with a cool tone that gives off a soothing vibe. I like it." Blanche said enjoying a vanilla milkshake of her own. "You listen to jazz alot?"
"Jazz, RB, Hip-Hop, and Pop. Depends on how I feel. How about you?"
"Mostly Classical. But I like most instrumentals I hear."
"Oh, Alright. Hey, wanna see something cool?" Candela took out a Pokeball. "Come on out Hitmonchan!" Out popped a Hitmonchan. "Watch this."
Hearing the music, Hitmonchan started punching to the beat. "Hit-Hit-Hit-Hit-Hit-Hit!"
"That's pretty nice." Blanche observed. "I'd love to see it in dubstep."
"Attention passengers!" A voice on the intercom said. "If everyone would report to the bow for just one second, we would like to give you all a special presentation."
"A special presentation? This should be interesting." Blanche said getting up out of her feet as people began filing out.
"You go on ahead. I'm going to the bathroom. I'll catch up. Flareon, go with Blanche." Candela quickly hurried off to the restroom.
"Alright then, let's go everyone. Stay with me." Blanche led them out of the music hall.
Hitmonchan brought up the rear. "Hit. Hit. Hit. H-hit?" Hitmonchan stopped and sniffed the air. "Hit?"
Hitmonchan turned around and started walking towards that incredible aroma. "Hiiiiiiiit..."
Professor Willow finished putting bandages on himself. That was one tough Mankey. The gashes on Willow's arm that radiated pain proved it. I have no idea how Eevee managed to beat that thing. "And as for you," Willow turned to his Eevee. "I hope you're proud of yourself." After being in the scuffle with the Mankey, Professor Willow had been asked by deck security to quietly return to his room.
"Eevee." Eevee hung his head in shame on the bed, covered in several bruises himself.
"Look I know you get very excited easily, but you have to learn how to calm down, and look at your surroundings and not just have tunnel vision."
"At least we won't be in too much trouble. They'll probably let us out of here tomorrow. And we did try to apologize to that Mankey. You know what? How about we go to that little show they are having. We stand in the back where no ones sees us, and we go right back to our room. It's like we never even left."
Eevee immediately perked up. "Eevee! Eevee!"
Walking down the hall, Eevee kept circling around Willow, tail wagging vigorously. "Hey, remember what I said: stay calm. Control yourself." Willow warned.
"ALERT! ALERT!" An alarm went off in Willow's pants.
"Oh, what now?" Digging into his pants, Willow pulled out a small gas detector.
"WARNING! INCENSE DETECTED! INCENSE DETECTED!"
"WHAT?!" Willow froze. "How did Incense get here on this boat? That can only mean... I have to find the girls. Eevee! Forget the show! Stick to me! Get ready to fight! Hold on." Going back to his room, Willow retrieved two Pokeballs and put them in his pocket. "Something tells me this is gonna get ugly."
Stepping out of the bathroom, Candela looked around at the empty music hall. "Hopefully I can get to the deck before-"
"Rocket Agent #2563 reporting in. Entering Music Hall."
Candela ducked right back into the bathroom. Rocket Agent? As in Team Rocket? They're here on this boat?
"Don't see any stragglers in here." The man in casual cruise attire said. "How much longer until we leave?"
"A few more minutes. The Hitmonchen Pokemon are coming down to the stern now. 5 minutes max. Get ready to leave."
"Over and out." The agent put his radio away. "Ugh, I gotta take a leak."
Hearing the approaching footsteps, Candela saw her chance. Swinging the door open, she caught the agent by surprise and whacked him on the shoulder.
Emerging from behind the door, Candela slammed the stunned agent's head into the wall. Kicking the agent in the shin, Candela dropped him down to the ground before bashing him with her knee, knocking the agent out cold.
"Woah." She could hardly believe she did that. The fight with Blanche had been a good warm-up in combat after all.
Dragging the agent into the bathroom, Candela tried to figure what to do next. I know I should probably get security, but since I'm a guardian now, isn't this my job now? Should I go look for Willow and Blanche?
Hearing incoming footsteps, Candela snapped to attention. After she looked around for something to use. "This new grunt might see me coming, but they won't expect Mr. Chair!"
As the grunt turned the corner, Candela swung with the chair.
"WOAH!" Professor Willow ducked at the last second as the chair crashed into the wall.
"Oh, Professor Willow! I'm so sorry!" Candela immediately dropped what was left of the chair. "Listen, Team Rocket is here on the boat!"
"I know. Where's Blanche? I may need help."
"Blanche is at that presentation-"
"It's a distraction, set up by Team Rocket so they can hatch their plan. If I had to guess, it's the mass hypnosis trick."
"It's a machine that amplifies the affects of Psychic abilities. Can turn waved of people into harmless bystanders in seconds. If Blanche's there, it might already be too late for her. We have to go ourselves. C'mon, let's move!"
"Professor Willow, what is their plan?"
"Walk and talk. We have to get to the stern before they get away." Willow and Candela started running through the empty halls to the back of the ship. "Do you have any Pokemon on you?" Willow asked.
"Gloom, that's it."
"It'll have to do. Hopefully there won't be too many of them."
"What is Team Rocket doing, and how are they doing it?"
"They're stealing Pokemon away." Willow growled. "They're using a chemical called Incense which can target a specific Pokemon species' brain waves and genetic code. Normally Incense attracts all kinds of Pokemon, but you can use it to attract a specific Pokemon if you know how to manipulate Incense, which Team Rocket does."
"That kind of power is insane. Being able to just round up any kind of Pokemon you want like this at any time you want."
"Wanna know something? The gas is in the air right now. You're breathing it in."
"The chemical won't react to you, but to whatever Pokemon it is targeting, the stuff is absolutely intoxicating. It was originally created to make aggressive Pokemon docile."
He looked at his Incense Detector. "If this thing would just tell me what Pokemon is being targeted, I might be able to figure something out. All it's telling me is that its some kind of Fighting type. I need a few more minutes before I know the actual Pokemon."
"Professor Willow! Candela!" Blanche came running down the adjacent hallway, with Flareon and Vaporeon behind.
"Glad you could make it. We've got an emergency."
"Hold on," Candela looked around. "where's Hitmomchan? I left him with you, right?"
"I'm so sorry, I lost him. I stared backtracking when I realized he had left us. That's when I encountered a Team Rocket member! We defeated him, but there are more of them, and they have taken out security!"
"I figured that. So Hitmonchan is the targeted Pokemon? It fits my data. But why?"
"The stern is just up ahead. We have to stop them." Candela said.
"Wait, before we go out there, I want you two to realize that we need to work together. Team Rocket doesn't mess around. This isn't going to be easy"
"I mean, this is why you hired us right? We'll try to not let you down boss. Now let's teach Team Rocket a lesson: don't mess with the Guardians!"
Opening the door to the outside, the group found a dozen Hitmonchen on the stern, surrounded by a group of people with grey and black clothes. An 'R' logo was on their shirts.
"Who are these two punks?" One of them said. "Willow? You're here too?"
"Yep. And say hello to the Guardians! Fresh out of the oven."
"Team, let's take care of these three, here and now!"
"Why the hell are you even here?" Candela asked.
"See that really big Hitmonchan? We're gonna use it in underground fight clubs. No ones gonna be able to top it!"
"Are you serious? Some of those places allow actual murder! There's no way I'm letting you take him away." Candela got out her Pokeball. "Gloom, let's go!"
"Areodactyl, Gengar, come forth." Blanche summoned her Pokémon.
"Pidgeot, Magneton, I need you!" Willow cried, throwing out two Pokeballs.
Eevee, Flareon, and Vaporeon came to the front.
"Feel the power of Team Rocket!" The gang members said in unison as they threw their Pokeballs out. Out came an Eggecutor, a Marrowark, a Parasect, Raticate, Machamp, Scyther, Hypno, Golbat, and a Beedrill.
"Flareon, Ember! Attack Eggecutor!"
"Eggecutor, Seed Bomb! Block it!"
Flareon's barrage of flames were intercepted by Eggecutor's flurry of exploding seeds.
"Stay back everyone! They'll mow us down at close range. Vaporeon, Water Gun!"
Looking around the stern, Blanche realized that there wasn't much room for a battle of this size, especially with the Hitmonchen off to the side taking up space.
"Marowark, Mud Slap! Keep them busy!"
"Marow!" Marowark threw out mud to block Vaperon's water shots.
"Machamp, charge and use Bullet Punch!"
"Pidgedot, Aeriel Ace! Keep that Machamp back no matter what!"
The Machamp barreled forward, headfirst into the gust of winds hurled at him by Pidgedot. Clapping his hands together to make himself as aerodynamic as possible, Machamp slowly lurched forward, coming to a standstill in the middle of the battlefield.
"Scyther, Fury Cutter! Beedrill, Bug Bite! Take that Pidgedot down!"
Beedrill and Scyther flew high into the air, then dive-bombed straight at Pidgedot, weapons ready.
"Aerodactyl, Ancient Power! Help Pidgedot!"
"Aerodac!" Aerodactyl launched a barrage of rocks at the oncoming Pokémon. Due to them diving headfirst, Beedrill and Scyther were unable to dodge them all and got smacked out of the sky!
"Golbat, Bite and overwhelm that Pidgedot!"
"Magneton, Thunder Shock! Blast that Golbat down!"
"Magne-TON!" Magneton shot out a bolt of electricity. Careful to not end up like Scyther and Beedrill, Golbat quickly ended its attack and focused on dodging the electricity.
"Hypno, Confusion! Take those Eeveelutions out!"
"Hypno!" Hypno fired out a weak telekinetic force.
"Gloom, Razor Leaf! We need cover fire!"
Gloom hurled out razor sharp leaves and disrupted the Confusion blast.
"Raticate, Bite! Charge with Machamp!"
"Gengar, Shadow Claw! Keep them back."
Gengar surrounded his claws with the power of shadows. It slashed at the huge Raticate as Raticate brought down its big teeth. But on this bright and sunny time of day, Gengar wasn't at his strongest, and was slowly going down to one knee as the Raticate had the weight and size advantage.
"Parasect, Bug Bite! Rip them to shreds!"
"Eevee, Tackle! Help Gengar!"
Parasect went in with a series of swipes, trying to snatch up and crush Eevee with its claws. Eevee darted through the swipes, jumped off of Parasect's shell, and crashed straight into Raticate, taking the Rat Pokemon off of his feet. "Eevee Eevee Eevee!"
"Gengar!" Gengar stopped to thank Eevee. "Gen-"
"Para!" Parasect swatted Gengar to the side, sending Gengar through one of the cruise ships deck chairs.
"Eevee!" Eeevee tried to face off against Parasect, but Raticate was getting back to his feet, infuriated. Eevee! Eevee decided to scramble away.
"We're outnumbered here!" Blanche said, trying to stay calm. "I don't know how much longer we can keep this up!"
"We're keeping them back for now. We just have to wait for something to develop." Willow said. "For as much flack as I give him, I kinda wish Reed was here right now."
"Here it is! Right on time! Look!" Candela said.
Flareon's rapid-fire Ember hit home on Eggecutor, who had been unable to keep up the Seed Bomb attack. The leafy head was now caught aflame, and Eggecutor was now running about wildly trying to blow out the fire with its numerous coconut heads.
"Alright Flareon, now use Fire Blast on that Machamp!"
"Flare-ON!" Flareon shot out a ginormous orb of flame. It hit Machamp square on the chest, blasting the huge Pokemon off of his feet. The winds of the Aerial Ace swooped Machamp up and there him into the air, and Machamp suffered thunderous crash as it fell back onto the ship.
"Flareon, advance and use Ember!"
Flareon dashed forward, moving around everything in her way. Going right up to Parasect, she blasted the Bug Type point-blank with a shower of flame shots. The blistering Parasect jumped into the pool to try to cool off. Eggecutor, seeing the solution to his burning problem, jumped in himself.
"Ratta!" Raticate tried to chomp down on Flareon, but Flareon dodged and hit him with an Ember. Eevee followed up with another Tackle and took Raticate back down.
"Keep it up!" Willow said. Then he heard something from above him.
"Aero!" Aerodactyl came crashing down and exploded through a table right next to Willow.
"Aerodactly!" Blanche looked up. Scyther and Beedrill had knocked Aerodactyl out of the sky. "Oh no. I forgot Aerodactly can only keep up Ancient Power for so long..."
Beedrill and Scyther moved in on Pidgedot.
"Vaperon! Aqua Tail! on Scyther and Beedrill! Keep them back!"
Wetting her tail, Vaporeon leaped on to a table, jumped onto an umbrella, and sprung into the air, colliding with Scyther and Beedrill. The two flying Pokémon absorbed the hit well together, and Vaporeon bounced off of them back to the ground.
"Let's switch!" Proffessor Willow said. "Magneton, Discharge!"
Mageneton let out a surge of electricity that pulsed through the air, frying Scyther and Beedrill.
"Vaporeon, Hyrdro Pump on Golbat!"
Vaperon fired out water like a fire hyrdrant, blasting Golbat dead on.
Good, it worked! We almost have them beat! Willow thought. This is turning into a great first outing for the girls.
"Marowark, use Earthquake!"
Marowark jumped high into the air, and came back down slamming her bone club into the ship. The shockwave pulsed through the stern. Gloom fell and crashed into a smoothie bar. Flareon and Eevee were flung into the wall of the ship with the impacts srnding nasty thwack sounds going through the air.
Candela ran out to her injured Pokemon. Eevee was out, Flareon was barely conscious. "Fl-Flare..."
"It's okay!" Candela rushed to their aid. "I'm going to help the both of you! Just hang on!" She scooped the two Pokemon.
"CANDELA! WATCH OUT!"
Candela saw a large shadow being cast over her. Machamp brought down his foot to crush her into the ship. She rolled out of the way as Machamp stamped his foot into the ship, creating a hole in the floor.
"Machamp! Machamp!" The burly Pokémon tried to pry his foot out, but he remained stuck.
"CANDELA, RUN!" Willow shouted.
Machamp stretched his arms out to grab Candela, but Candela juked the first arm and slid under the second.
"Marowark Mud Slap! Don't let her get away!"
Candela ran to a hot dog stand and turned it over, using it as a shield as the mud blasted into the stand.
"Eggecutor, Seed Bomb!"
Candela dashed from behind the cart as the seeds impacted the cart, making the hot dog stand erupt in a small inferno.
Almost there, almost there...
"Parasect, Raticate, stop her!"
"Para! Para!" Parasect grabbed her leg and took her down to the ground.
"STAY AWAY FROM THEM!" Candela kicked Parasect in the eye as she scrambled back.
"PARA!" Parascect opened its mouth, ready to chomp down on Candela.
"FLARE!" Flareon shot an Ember right into Parasect's open mouth. The Bug-Type screamed in pain as it felt its insides burn.
Candela tried to get to her feet, but found herself hobbling forward. "My leg! I can't-" She looked down. Blood stained her leggings.
Candela looked up. Raticate was pouncing on her, teeth ready to gouge into Candela.
Time started to slow down for Candela. Quickly throwing Flareon and Eevee to the side, Candela raised her arm, anticipating the oncoming strike.
Raticate was flung back by a geyser of water.
"What the-" Candela said, gasping for air.
"You are not touching her." Blanche said.
"Here, let me help you." Professor Willow picked Candela up.
"B-B-But, Eevee, and Flareon..."
Pidgedot swooped in and carried both Eevee and Flareon back to safety.
"Sorry it was so late. Hydro Pump takes a second sometimes." Blanche apologized.
"Nah, It was right on time." Candela tried to stand up, using the wall to lean on. Her leg instantly gave out.
"Is it fractured?" Willow asked.
"I'm not sure. But I definitely can't stand on it right now."
"Here." Willow pulled up a chair. "Sit down."
"Professor, despite saving Candela, we are still in a lot of trouble." Blanche looked at the battlefield. It was Vaporeon, Pidgedot, and Magneton against Eggecuter, Machamp, Parasect, Hypno, Marowark. They could try to fight, but odds were slim.
Blanche look over. Gengar was getting back to his feet. "Gen..gar."
"Gloom." Gloom sat up, rubbing her head. Toxic fumes started to emerge from the pistils.
"They aren't ready to quit, and neither am I." Willow gritted his teeth. Despite his brovado, he felt the battle starting to slip away.
"Is this all your new 'Guardians are worth, Willow? Pathetic."
Candela turned to her other Pokemon, who was still in a lucid daze."Hitmonchan! Help! Snap out of it!" Candela pleaded.
"It's no use! The Incense gas is going to stay on for at least another 15 minutes, and there's plenty more where that came from They're all under our control and there is nothing you can do about it!"
"Is there a way to take out the Incense Professor Willow?"
"Not that I know of. Incense is strong, and it spread fast and wide."
"Wait a second, it's gas?" Blanche said. "Hmmm... hey, I have an idea." She whispered it to Willow and Candela.
"...That might actually work!" "Gloom, Sludge Bomb!"
"... It's our only shot." Proffessor Willow agreed. "Pidgedot, Hurricane! Aim for the Sludge Bomb!"
Gloom leaked out a handful of disgusting pus-like sludge from the pistils of its flower. Gloom chucked the foul smelling gunk into the air where it met the fierce winds of Pidgedot's Hurricane.
A toxic smelling aroma filled the air. "Oh my God, that's awful!" One Team Rocket member said, trying to blow the odor away from her nose. One was choking on the nausea-inducing scent. Another Rocket member vomited over the side of the ship.
"Hit! Hit! Hit! Hit! Hit H- Hit?" The Hitmonchen smelled the overwhelming revolting scent. "Hit? HIT! HIT! HIT! HIT!" They snapped out of their trance and started looking for fresh air. "HIT! HIT! HIT! HIT! HIT!"
"Yes! It worked!" Candela said.
"Incense may be strong, but the pungent smell of Sludge Bomb is even stronger. Especially from a Gloom." Blanche concluded.
Team Rocket now had to deal with an angry swarm of angry Hitmonchen.
"All units, retreat!" The captain ordered. "Get the submarine!"
"Submarine?" Candela looked over the side of the ship. A large black submarine was pulling up next to the ship.
"You'll regret this! You've made enemies of Team Rocket!" After putting their Pokémon back into their Pokeballs, the Rocket members climbed down the ladder off the ship and into the submarine. They quickly sped off into the open water.
"Good riddance." Candela muttered. "Ruined my favorite leggings."
"WAIT FOR US!" Two Team Rocket Agents came scrambling for the door. Instead of rescue, they found a herd of Hitmonchen and three non-friendly trainers and their Pokemon.
"What the- Who are you people?"
"We're the Guardians." Candela said with a smile. "And you're under arrest."
Chapter 6: Dismissed
"Congrats to the Guadians on a sucessful first misson!" Professor Willow said. "That was really good work. That just let's me know I made the right decision to hire you two."
"Aw, shucks! It was nothing!" Candela said. "Thanks Professor!"
The group had met up in Willow's room. After defeating Team Rocket in a semi-orderly fashion, the crew had rewarded them with a personal buffet.
"I have something for the both of you." Going into his backpack, Willow pulled out two medals and pinned them on Blanche and Candela. "In addition to being Gaudians, you are now Government Agents of the state of Kanto. Blanche, you are now Agent Mystic. Candela, you are now Agent Valor."
Blanche looked at her medal. "Articuno, one of the Legenday Birds."
"Sweet, I got Moltres!" Candela beamed at her red medal.
Willow poured himself some Chardonay. "Do you girls want anything to drink? They sent plenty of bottles."
"I don't drink alchohol." Blanche said.
"Ever since a Ranger caught a DUI a few months back, I've been trying to kick the habit. I'm good." Candela said.
"Suit yourselves." Willow poured himself a tall glass.
"So, what now? What's our next mission?" Blanche asked.
"Well, once we hit mainland, you two are going to move into the research center, and then you'll rendezvous with Agent Instinct. He's my son. Reed Willow Jr." Willow opened his wallet and pulled out a picture. "Here he his." The picture showed Reed Jr. on the edge of a canyon, holding a yellow Jolteon.
"Tall, blonde, and handsome. He single?" Candela asked, munching on a Tauros rib.
"I'm not sure actually. Wouldn't suprise me. Reed can be...moody. But don't worry about anything else. You both have had enough for today."
"Yeah, honestly, I think I'll take my food to-go. I'm exhausted." Candela said.
"I feel tired as well. I'm going back to my cabin." Blanche started packing up her food.
"Well, good night girls. Once again, thanks for all you help. You've both earned your jobs."
Once the girls had left the cabin, Willow got out a notebook. "Note to self: remind medal makers that the Mystic logo is wrong."
Candela stumbled and fell against the wall.
"Flare!" Flareon said in alarm.
"Are you okay?" Blanche asked.
"My leg... it, it isn't stable. I just gotta stay off it for a while."
"Here, lean on me. I'll take you back your room." Blanche wrapped Candela's arm around her neck.
As they walked down the hall together, Candela noticed that Blanche was wincing. "Hey, you alright?"
"It's just my elbow, it hasn't fully healed yet."
"Great. Now I feel bad that your biggest injury since becoming a Guardian isn't because of Team Rocket, but by your fellow agent."
"Oh, I'm sure it'll heal soon. I'm more worried about your leg."
"Oh, this? Trust me, I've had way worse. This one time, a Nidoking hit me with Poison Jab, and I ended up dying. They had to stick a needle full of Antidote into my heart. But I was legally dead for 5 minutes. Any longer and my brain cells would have started to die off."
"What?! That's unreal. How much vacation time did they give you after that?"
"3 hours. Then they gave let me do deskwork for the next few days."
"Are you serious? Is that even legal?"
"It's the life of a Ranger. I can tell you all kind of stories."
"You're going to have to tell me some of them sometime." Blanche said. "You were absolutely incredible on the stern today. I still can't believe the way you moved, and that was with two Pokemon in your arms."
"I can't believe the way you got rid of that Incense. The solution was right in front of us and you were the only person who saw it."
"I didn't know if it was going to work. I just had to try something. You're only a genius if it works."
"Well, it worked. Guess that means you're a genius." They reached Candela's room. "Welp, here's my stop."
"Are you sure you're going to be alright?"
"I'll be fine. 'Night Agent Mystic." Candela said with a smile.
"Good night, partner Agent Valor." Blanche returned the smile as Candela and Flareon entered their cabin for the night.
"So Vaporeon, how do you feel about being a Kanto Guardian?"
"Yes. I believe I am going to like the experience as well."
A man in white clothes rushed into the office. "Giovanni, I have some news."
"You seemed troubled Archer. Must be pretty bad." Giovanni sat in his chair, holding a martini. A Persian sat at his side.
"Well you see, it's-"
"Stop. Don't say another word." Giovanni set his martini on the table. "I don't like it when employees step into my office worried. Have a drink. Seems like you need it."
Archer hesitantly took the glass.
"There we go." Giovanni smiled as Archer downed the drink. "Now if you're calm, explain to me what's troubling you."
"One team of ours was on a boat doing routine robbery, when they encountered Professor Willow. It seems that Willow has recruited Pokemon trainers to join him."
Giovanni raised an eyebrow. "So, Reed got himself a little posse. Cute."
"They defeated our team. Two agents were arrested."
"And they know how to fight! I like it. It's a challenge."
"Sir, we already have one of Willow's agents fighting us. Two more could be a serious problem."
"Well then I guess we better shape up then, huh?"
"Do you think Willow knows about Project Hive?"
"Archer, only 5 people in the world know about Project Hive. 2 of them are in this room. We've kept the different parts seperate to keep it mole-free, remember?"
"You're right. I'm so sorry. I'm just worried."
"Don't stress out over this. I'll handle this. Look, go get yourself another drink or two. Enjoy yourself. You are dismissed."
Once Archer was out of the room, Giovanni smiled to himself. "So, you think you can stop me Reed? Oh, I've got something for ya..."
End of Arc 1.
Chapter 7: Relocated
Time for a change in scenery.
"We are now approaching the Kanto Pier! Passengers, please prepare to exit the ship."
After defeating Team Rocket, it had been quiet for the rest of the cruise. Blanche examined her elbow in the mirror. Two weeks of rest had done it good. At least good enough to take the gauze off. "Off with this at last." She took the bandages and threw them into the trash. "How are you feeling Vaporeon?"
Vaporeon stretched her back. As good as the cruise was, it could feel awfully cramped and bothersome at times with so many people and Pokemon constantly moving around. Half the time she was just trying not to get stepped on. "Vapor."
"Good." Blanche finished packing up the luggage. "Once we get off this ship, we become Guardians. Let's get moving."
"You may now begin exiting the ship! We hope you have enjoyed the cruise, and look forward to seeing you again. Have a nice day everyone!"
Rolling her suitcase off the ship, Blanche looked around. Candela and Willow have to be around here somewhere.
"Hey Blanche, over here!" Candela waved to her.
"There you are, it's great to see you." Blanche greeted her. "So, where's Willow?"
"Professor Willow is getting his car. We're going straight to his research facility and moving in there today. I'm so excited!"
"So, how's your leg feeling? I know it's been getting better in the past few days."
Candela started running in place "Oh, it feels great! I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought!" The mark under Candela's eye had healed, as had her nose.
"Flare." Flareon started running around in circles, proving that she had suffered no lingering effects from the battle against Team Rocket.
"I'm glad that you're feeling better. I was worried for the first few days."
"Yep! I'm healthy and can't wait to get going!"
Walking up to a tourist site, Candela got out a map. "Apparently we're in... Fuchsia City! 'The spirit of renewal flows through this city like the wind!'"
A grey Honda Civic rolled up. Willow let down the window. "Hey girls! Put your stuff in the trunk, and hop in."
"Where are we going?" Blanche asked as she buckled up Vaporeon and herself.
"We're going near Celadon City to my research facility. We get on Route 18 for a bit, then the long strip that is Route 17, then a turn on Route 16 and ride on in from there. It's gonna take a few hours, so just sit back and enjoy the view."
Getting on Route 18, the group saw an abundance of Flying-Type Pokemon. Flocks of Spearow, Fearow, and Duduo went about their business freely.
"Bird types generally run this place," Willow commented. "They eat grass, berries, and prey on Rattata. They can take out Raticate, but the un-evolved are much easier. We got a few bird breeders out here since they are so plentiful."
The land surrounding the highway started to thin out. Willow started to slow down as he made a turn and drove up to a turnpike. ROUTE 17 was on the gate.
"That'll be 350 Pokedollars." The tollkeeper said. "A gray Honda Civic, license plate 1996 RBY... got it. Have a safe drive on Route 17." After he finished typing on his computer, the tollkeeper pressed a button and the gate opened.
"Why does a highway have that much security?" Blanche asked.
"Kanto is making a crackdown on criminal activity going in and out of the region," Willow responded. "Route 17 makes it easy to get out to sea. And speaking of water, if you look to either side, you'll see plenty of it."
Poliwags and Shellders rested on the rocks as Tentacool and Goldeen swam in the water. Seels bathed in the calm waters.
Candela saw an exit on the highway. "Where's that lead to?"
"That goes into a rest stop," Willow said, driving right past it. "It's a place where bikers and motorcyclists can hang out. Speaking of which, there's a rough gang of bikers called the 8-Ball Gang that hangs around there. They'll leave you alone if you leave them alone, but they have been known to rough up outsiders. Try to stay away from them."
Getting to the other side of Route 17, Willow checked in with the toll keeper before turning and getting on Route 16.
"Here's the home stretch. Almost there."
"So, what are our work hours? Is this a 9-5 Monday-Friday thing or are we working around the clock?"
"Ummm... actually, I hadn't really thought about that," Willow admitted with a nervous laughter. "You're really the first two people I hired."
Candela and Blanche looked at each other. Is he serious? Candela mouthed to Blanche.
"Well, what does Agent Instinct do?" Blanche asked.
"Reed just comes and goes to the research center whenever he wants. Like I said, Reed can be moody. Not having restrictions is one of the reasons we get along. I'll grant the same lax office hours to the both of you two if you can be responsible."
"Alright then." Blanche said.
"Reed seems like quite the card," Candela observed. "What's the problem between you and him?"
"We had a falling out a few years back. My boy is a good kid but... It's a long story." Professor Willow said somberly.
Candela chose not to pry further, instead choosing to look at a road sign. "Well, we're not far out from Celadon City."
"The facility isn't in Celadon City, we're getting off this highway in a little bit before we hit the city."
Soon enough, Willow pulled off into a dirt road. "Here we are, Sliph Road."
Driving through the underbrush, they came into a clearing. "Hey, I think I see it!" Candela said. "Wow, that place is huge!"
"Woah..." Blanche was breathless.
The Kanto Pokemon Research Center was a massive site placed near the edge of a woodland's tree line, having a field of grass in the front and a forest behind it. Pokemon sprawled about in peace. It appeared to be made up of the main house for living, then broke off into numerous other facilities.
"Welcome to your new home! Here is the main living area, your rooms are upstairs. The observatory, laboratory, battle stages. and other facilities are down the surrounding corridors. But before you go off and explore, The fridge is right here and I know you two must be hun- What's this?" There was a note on the front of the fridge. Investigating into a Team Rocket base around Pewter City. Should be back in a day or two. Took the jackass with me.
Willow crumpled the note up. "Damnit Reed, you were supposed to be here."
"If he's out on a mission, can we go with him?" Candela asked.
"He's in Pewter City. By the time you get there it's going to be dark. No, I'd rather just get you settled in today. Here, let me get you two into the security system."
Walking into the computer room, Willow turned on the security system. "Create a password. It'll allow you to get in and out of the facilities anytime you like. Reed liked to keep it simple, so he went with 'Thunder Yellow.' I went with 'Aqua Blue.'"
"Alright. I'll go with... 'Fire Red!'" Candela entered her password.
"In that case, I'll take... 'Leaf Green.'"
"And I think that's it for now. You can now go unpack and get situated. You can head out first thing tomorrow."
"So, this is our first night in our new home." Blanche moved her bishop across the board.
"I guess it is." Candela pushed her pawn forward. "Thought it would be more exciting than this, no offense. Just with the whole impromptu battle on the ship, I expect to be dodging sniper fire right about now, I suppose."
"Oh, it's fine. Checkmate, by the way."
Candela looked down at the board and realized jus how one sided the entire affair had been. Several pieces looked untouched. She had barely been able to get 3 of Blanche's pawns. "Welp, I guess I suck at chess." She knocked her King over.
"Oh, it only takes some practice. Anyone could be good for it. Right, Vaporeon?"
"Vapor." Vaporeon started setting up the board again.
"Wait, you taught your Pokémon chess?" Candela said incredulously.
"Honestly wasn't too hard to do so. It takes about the same time it takes to teach a human. I could probably teach and train you to have an ELO of 1400 in a few months or so."
Candela laughed it off. "Tell ya what: if we survive this business with Team Rocket, sure, I'll give it a try." Candela got up and walked out of the room into the hallway. "I'm gonna grab a snack, want anything?"
"No, I'm fine."
Going downstairs, Candela went into the kitchen and looked for food. "Let's see here...crackers...chips...marshmallows! That'll do."
Retrieving the bag of marshmallows, Candela looked in and saw that Blanche and Vaporeon were in an intense match. Every few seconds Blanche would put her hand out before pulling it right back in, unsure of her next move. Vaporeon sat still, stoically waiting for Blanche to make her move.
Blanche should have taught Vaporeon poker because that Pokemon is completely unreadable. Candela thought. Deciding to not interrupt this highly competitive mental struggle, Candela tiptoed back out.
"Well, they have their games, and we have ours. Don't we, Flareon?" She said as the Pokemon sneaked beside her.
Candela started throwing up marshmallows in the air. Flareon jumped up and scarfed 'em all down in midair. "Flare!" She said as she munched on gooey marshmallow.
"Good girl." As Candela took a few marshmallows for herself, a small blast of Ember whizzed past her ear.
"Flare!" Flareon got into a fighting stance. She was not going to let Candela hog them all.
"Oh, so you want to bite the hand that literally feeds you, huh? Well you can sleep outside in the hall tonight while I'm in bed with my marshmallows." Candela dashed up the stairs.
"FLARE!" Flareon chased after up the stairs, Flareon blasted her back with a tiny shot of Ember. Candela fell down. "OW! That hurt, you little-"
Flareon bounded up, snatched the bag in her teeth, and kept running. Flareon was in the clear! All she had to do was get inside and lock the door, and the marshmallows would be all hers! Getting the door, she reached up and...couldn't get a grip on the round doorknob!
"Gotchya!" Candela tackled Flareon, wrestled the bag out of Flareon's mouth, and jumped into the room.
Click! The lock sealed Flareon outside.
"FLARE!" Flareon pounded on the door.
"It's time you learn you place Flareon!" Candela shouted from the other side of the door.
"You wanna come in? Beg for it."
"Well in that case, I'll just be lying in bed with my marshmallows. You can sleep outside tonight."
"FLARE! FLARE FLARE!"
"Say please. And a little nicer this time."
"There we go. See, being polite once in your life wasn't too bad now was it. And as a reward, I'm gonna let you have the rest of the bag. Hold on, give me a sec."
Flareon snickered as she heated her body up. As soon as Candela opened the door, Flareon was gonna blast her with Ember nonstop!
"Here's the bag!" Candela slipped the bag underneath the door.
"Flare? FLARE!" The bag was completely empty!
"I could feel your heat through the door! Nice try! You can sleep outside tonight and we'll see how humble you are in the morning.
"Goodnight Flareon. See you in the morning!"
Chapter 8: Taking A Hike
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! The alarm clock rattled off noise before a hand came smacking down on the Off Button.
Blanche groggily got her head off the pillow and looked at the clock. 8 A.M.
Today I'm supposed to ride out with Candela to Pewter City to look into that Team Rocket base. She thought, turning to Vaporeon, who was starting to wake up in bed beside her.
Blanche couldn't shake the feeling that all of this was a mistake. Talking with Willow yesterday proved that she was just a canary in a coal mine. No set protocol or anything, not even a quota for capturing Team Rocket members. They were supposed to be government law enforcement. How did Willow even get everything set up and approved by the state of Kanto? This entire thing just made her feel uneasy.
But she couldn't let Vaporeon know that. Blanche was responsible for her. She was Vaporeon's trainer, Blanche owed it to Vaporeon to be a good role model. She always had to give it her best and most serious effort for not just Vaporeon, but for all her Pokémon. That meant committing to questionable choices, like becoming a Guardian. Let's just get through today and see where it goes. She thought. Hopefully, they could wrap up the Team Rocket base in a neat fashion.
"Vaporeon, it's time to get up. We have work to do." Thinking about Vaporeon gave Blanche the extra energy she needed to get out of bed. "Get Candela and Flareon up. I'll go make breakfast."
Walking into the kitchen, Blanche looked into the refrigerator for ingredients. Eggs. That was a start. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, with half a container of apple juice. She could work with this. She checked the cabinets. Instant brown rice and some granola. Good enough. She cracked an egg into and dumped the yolk down the sink.
The smell of food cooking on the stove wafted through the halls and underneath the doors, right into the nose of a certain little Eevee. "Eevee!" She jumped up with a start."Eevee! Eevee!" She reached up to the door to paw at the doorknob, but little paws couldn't grasp round doorknobs. She turned to Professor Willow, who was still asleep in bed. Only one logical thing to do. Eevee jumped off of the TV stand and splashed onto Willow's stomach.
"ACK!" The professor's senses kicked on from zero to overdrive in a nanosecond. "EEVEE!" he shouted, calming down enough to be coherently livid. "WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU-"
Eevee ignored her trainer's fury, turning back to the door. "Eevee Eevee!" she tried to explain.
"Oh...that must be the girls," Willow said. "I guess they're up. Wow." He sniffed the air. "I'm not gonna lie, that smells great. Guess we better get in on that before it's gone. AFTER I call Reed," he said sternly at Eevee.
Eevee settled down and patiently waited as Willow called his call. The call immediately died, and Willow found himself getting a text.
Reed messaged: Can't talk rn. in Viridian forest. What's up?
Willow's brow furrowed in concern. "Are you okay?" he texted back.
Reed messaged: The asshole ran off. Trying to find him and not be spotted.
"Oh goddamnit," Willow said. "I won't hold you up. The girls will be on their way soon. Going to eat breakfast with them right now." He texted.
Reed messaged: K. I hope ur wearing a shirt. And not those XXXSmall pajama shorts. U R, aren't you?
"No I'm not." Willow quickly texted back. He put down the phone and immediately reached into his closet looking for a white T-shirt and his long black pajamas. After a few seconds of quickly changing, Willow got back to his phone.
Reed messaged: Ur lying. I know ur lying. And as ur son I'm disappointed. Please wash ur face tho while we're at it.
"You have a mission to get back to." The professor texted.
Reed messaged: L8R. BTW Jolty says hi.
"Stay safe. I love you." Professor Willow sent out his last text before going to wash his face. and going down for breakfast.
Reaching the kitchen, Willow found Blanche serving out breakfast to the others. "Mornin' everyone!"
"Good morning Professor!" Candela said between bites of egg and rice. "Blanche made breakfast. It's really good."
"I...hope you don't mind," Blanche said, remembering just how rude it was to go in someone else's refrigerator. "I wanted to cook something before we headed out. But I probably should have asked first..."
"No it's okay, help yourself!" Willow waved it off. "Besides, I'm a terrible cook. The only things I make in the morning are cereal and the microwavable breakfast burritos I keep in the freezer. I'm not a very good cook, you see. Reed is a lot better than me. He's the one that does the cooking around here." He grabbed himself a plate of food and a glass of juice and sat down.
"So, about our mission today, in Pewter City," Blanche said, getting ready to wash dirty dishes.
"Yes. About that." Willow paused to scarf down some egg. "Lately, there has been a rapid disappearance of Pokémon in around the mountains and the Viridian Forest. The disappearances are pretty much Team Rocket's M.O. Reed, or Agent Instinct, has been in Pewter City looking for their hideout. Your job is to help Agent Instinct find the Team Rocket base. Find. Do not try to attack. We leave that to local and state police. You have the authority to arrest any Team Rocket grunts you come across.
"Job seems easy enough," Candela said. She checked the time. 8:35. "Blanche, wanna leave around 9:10?"
"Sure. That sounds good."
Done eating her food, Candela stood up from the table. "Flareon, I'm gonna go change. Why don't you go run around outside for a while and get a good morning exercise, ya bum?" Candela flicked a marshmallow from her pocket at Flareon, smacking her on the top of her head.
"Flare." her Pokémon hissed.
"Here's Reed's number. He carries it with him constantly. So if he doesn't answer the first time, you should probably send him a text," Willow said. "Here are your state-issued IDs. I packed a bunch of stuff in the trunk of the SUV outside, pretty much everything you're gonna need."
"In that case, I think that's everything." Blanche went through her Pokéballs again to make sure they were there.
Candela took the keys. "I'll drive. Let's go, Flareon." She went outside to the silver SUV and checked the trunk.
"Everything's packed. We're heading out Professor Willow! We'll call you when we reach Pewter City!"
"See you later ladies! Good luck!" Professor Willow and Eevee waved them goodbye as the Guardians drove down the road.
"And we're off!" Candela said. "It should only take us a few hours to get to Pewter City." She looked back at Flareon and Vaporeon in the back seat. "You two comfy back there?"
The Pokémon nodded. "Flare." "Vapor."
"Hopefully we meet Agent Instinct before we meet Team Rocket," Blanche said, looking out the window?
"You alright?" Candela asked.
"It just bothers me," Blanche said. "Why would so many people join these poachers?"
"I've dealt with a couple of small time gangs as a Hoenn Ranger," Candela said. "Every 6 months all the regions hold 'Ranger Seminars' to discuss things are are going on. So I kinda know a lot about groups like Team Rocket. Really, it's a trap. At least for the people on the bottom of the pyramid. Money's the bait."
"What do you mean?"
"You know how a lot of people first run into Team Rocket?" Candela asked. "A Team Rocket member will dress up as an old lady or an old man and ask for help catching a Pokémon or two. They can't do it since they're 'disabled' and crap. Once you catch them, they give you a decent amount of money for it. And then they get your name. So now, they have your face and your name. They look you up in something like Whitepages, and now they have your name, your face, your address, and your phone number. Basically, they only met you once in like a park or a mall or something but somehow they have your entire background check. They know who you are but you know absolutely jack shit about them. And that's how they drag you in," Candela said. "They'll blackmail people into capturing more Pokémon. I've met some of their victims. They know how to give a threat."
"So just like how Professor Willow had us running around the cruiseship."
"Yeah, kinda like that."
Blanche thought back to the little 'test' Willow had set up for them on the cruise ship. Someone she had never even met knew who she was, what she was doing, and where she was going. "I know who you are, Blanche Paige, and I'm coming for you." She could still remember her heart skipping several beats the first time she read it. When she was in the dining hall, waiting for Candela to come find her, every bone in her body was begging her to take Vaporeon and the rest of her Pokémon, lock herself in her cabin and wait out the cruise looking at the door in anticipation. When Candela was creeping up on her, it took all her composure to not take the knife an inch from her hand and rush Candela, and she somehow stayed stoic the entire time.
"I've seen kids as young as 10 fall into traps like that. It's pretty much a standard strategy wherever you go," Candela said.
"They go after kids?" Blanche asked. "That's sick. I mean I know I probably shouldn't be surprised because it's Team Rocket we're dealing with, but still, that's sick."
"The kids don't really ask questions," Candela explained. "And they don't really understand what's going on. To them, going off to catch a Pokémon for a random person is like being asked to mow a lawn by a neighbor. 'Hey kid, do this for me and I'll give you money. Sound cool?' The kids don't even think about what happens to the Pokémon once they've been handed over to groups like Team Rocket. And even if they do, any lie will work. 'I'm giving one as a gift to my sister.' 'All my Pokémon are in the Pokecenter right now.' 'I'm new to the area and I don't know which Pokémon are where.' Just enough to where a kid will nod their head and run off with their new money. Even if the kids aren't recruited into the crime syndicates, they're still the ones doing the actual poaching, so it's harder for police to track and make arrests. Who's gonna arrest a little kid for poaching?"
"I guess you're right," Blanche replied. "I hate to say it, but it's pretty smart."
"Most of the kids do it just to have a little extra money going around. Buy some new sneakers. Save up for a phone. They aren't a part of the organization, but they are a big factor in keeping them going. And you have the actual organization." Candela rubbed her temple. "A decent amount, especially the grunts, are ex-cons that can't get a decent job elsewhere and decide they've got nothing left to lose. I wouldn't be surprised if the people we fought on the cruise ship had records. They're the expendable ones. Your placement in the syndicates depends on your loyalty and your dedication to the ideal of the group. Most ex-cons do it for the pay. Honestly, a small amount of me feels kinda bad for them. It's really a no-win situation for them. They're in survival mode 24/7."
"What about the higher-ups?" Blanche said.
"Those are the psychotic fucks that actually torture and experiment on the Pokémon once the grunts bring them in. The goal of groups like Team Rocket is to capture Pokémon and use them to take over the world. And they actually think they can do it. And they'll do anything to benefit themselves." Candela white-knuckled the steering wheel, stepping the gas pedal a little harder. "Team Rocket's one of the most dangerous groups in the world. Never thought I'd get a chance to go after them."
"I read up a little on Team Rocket last night. Don't they also do mugging, too?" Blanche asked.
"Yeah." Candela sighed. "Basically they like to ambush people when they go out alone. Sometimes they wait in a forest, they'll drag someone into an alley, stuff like that. Ugh, They're such gutless cowards. We can't get there fast enough."
Blanche notice Candela was going 15 over the speed limit. "Try not to get a ticket. You're going a little fast there."
"Sorry! My bad." Candela started to slow down. "I just get worked up about this kind of thing. I sorta start rambling. Sorry if I do that, by that way."
"No it's fine." Blanche assured her. "I was kinda wondering something else too. I noticed Willow didn't talk about anyone else other than Agent Instinct. Candela, doesn't this whole Guardians thing seem kinda... disorganized and meek to you?"
"Yeah, but I didn't want to say anything," Candela said. "He seems like a nice enough guy. He's a Pokémon Professor, not an Officer, Ranger, or anything dealing with law enforcement. This feels like working for a start-up company. But if it means I get my hands on Team Rocket, I'll give it a try. At least for now."
"So, since we have time, why don't you tell me one of your ranger stories?"
"Well, okay. So one time, we decided to have a picnic outside. Everything was going fine until a huge swarm of Venomoth attacked us. You haven't seen the epitome of the human spirit until you see someone fistfight 5 Venomoth and win, all over a chocolate cake. Stung to absolute hell too."
"In his own words: 'I paid two thousand Poke Dollars for that cake. I ain't leaving without eating it.' I mean, he was a pretty big boy. Probably would have ate the Venomoth if we had given him the chance."
Blanche wiped a tear from her eye from laughing. "That's incredible."
"You should have been there to see him. He looked like a pin cushion." Candela chuckled. "At that point we had to let him eat the whole cake because frankly, he just deserved it. So, what about you? You got any stories of your own?"
"Not much. Just boring stories of me staying up all night studying."
"Oh come on. You went to university right? There had to be something going on over there."
"There was, but I never got into any of that stuff. I never even joined a sorority. I had a couple of people I worked with. But if it wasn't working it was just me sleeping and watching TV, honestly."
"That's fair. Honestly. Hey, want me to tell you the story of the Ditto and the break room?"
An hour later, the group took their first steps into the Viridian Forest. Blanche got out her phone. "Hello, Professor Willow? We're on the trail."
"Good. Reed was in the Viridian Forest looking for the Team Rocket Base. He said he'll meet you at Trail Station 3. After that you can explore the forest. "
"Alright. Agent Mystic, over and out." Blanche put her phone again. "He said go to the Viridian Forest. Trail Station 3."
"The entrance was Trail Station 0, so depending on how far they stretch the trails out, this could be quite a hike," Candela jerked her thumb to the pathway that led to the Park Ranger's area. "You wanna get a bike?"
"If Team Rocket is around, we might have to sneak around. I'll be fine without a bike."
"Let's move. It probably won't be too bad. as long we stay on the path."
For the next hour, the party moved on a generously straightforward walk on level ground. Numerous times, the path would branch off into different routes.
"What do those lead too?" Blanched asked.
"Special areas, away from the Trail Stations." Candela said. "Those are for people looking for a challenge or other stuff. We should keep going the normal way."
"If you say so."
As Trail Station 1 approached, Blanched looked at Vaporeon. "Do you want to stop?"
"Yeah I agree, This isn't so bad," Blanche said. "Hey, Candela, let's just keep going, no reason to waste time at Trail Station 1 when we have 2 more Trail Stations to get to."
"Are you see you don't wanna take 5 minutes to rest?" Candela said. "The next station is probably on the other side of those hills. Those can be a challenge if you're not used to walking up hills."
"I'm alright." She nodded.
Candela shrugged."If you say so. Onwards we go!"
Going up and down the hills, Candela noticed that Blanche started to go slower after several rather steep hills. "You need a sec?" She asked as they reached the top of another hill.
"I'm fine, we can keep going," she said, slighting panting.
"Come one, take some water, it's not a problem."
Blanche paused to grab and open her water bottle, and starting drinking as she walked downhill.
"Flare." Flareon murmured, eyeing Blanche and Vaporeon.
"Prove something? Nah, she's just committed. That's a good thing," Candela replied. "Might as well keep up with her."
After several more hills, they reached level ground again. Blanche was definitely walking slower than before. She's just trying to catch her breath. Candela surmised. It wasn't a bad walk for her. She was sweating of course, but she was in good shape.
As they reached Trail Station 2, Blanche elected to lean against the Trail Station. After drinking some of her water and having trail mix, Candela decided to contact Willow.
"Professor Willow, we're on Trail Station 2, we're just taking a little break."
"A little under two hours! Not bad girls!" Willow said. "I'm was just about to call you because I have a little bit of bad news. I lost contact with Reed a while ago. I think he turned his phone off. So be careful. Hopefully he's still at 3 or coming to your position. Contact me when you all rendezvous."
"Got it. Later."
She hung up. "Agent Instinct shut his phone off, we might want to do the same. Everyone, keep your eyes out."
"If that's the case, let's keep moving. Wait. Actually," Blanche pulled her binoculars and turned her attention back to the route. "I'm just going to survey the third Trail Station from here." Looking up, she saw the Trail Station ahead at an elevated position.
"Do you see anyone there?"
"No." She put the binoculars down, looking a bit worried.
"So he cut his phone off, and not where he said he would be. That's not good." Candela looked around. The trail was in a woodland area, they were surrounded by the Viridian Forest. She hadn't realized it before, but for a forest, this area was just a little too quiet. Not enough screeches, rustling bushes. Birds in trees. "And here we are, out in the open."
"While if anyone wanted to ambush us, they would have tree after tree to hide behind." Blanche started looking around. Vaporeon and Flareon got on alert.
"Even if they're just spying on us, Team Rocket knows where we are." Candela fingered the Pokéballs on her belt.
"So, you think they got to Instinct?" Candela asked.
"Well, we know Team Rocket is in the area. It's not hard to fathom that they ambushed him while he was at the Trail Station."
"I was afraid you'd say that." Candela said. "So, what do you want to do? Go to the Trail Station anyway, or just go back?"
"They've figured it out. Move in."
"I think we should-"
"Look out!" Candela tackled Blanche to the ground as a crack of lightning zipped over their heads, blasting into a tree and knocking it down.
"FLARE!" Flareon shrieked, tracing the blast to a bush.
"It's Team Rocket!" Candela and Blanche got back to their feet. "Flareon, use Ember!" Candela shouted.
"FLARE-ON!" Flareon let out a ball of fire. A Team Rock Member and an Electabuzz jumped out of the way just in time as the bush burst into flames.
An electric type. This isn't good. Blanche thought. "Vaporeon, use Wat-"
The ground started shaking, knocking Blanche off of her feet.
"Get out of the way!" Candela shouted. She recognized this. "It's an-
An Onix rose up out the ground, Blanche on top of its head. Seeing Vaporeon, the giant Pokémon smacked Vaporeon with its tail, and Vaporeon crashed into the Trail Station.
"OH SHIT!" Candela saw another Team Rocket grunt come from behind a tree.
"FLARE!" Flareon backed up into the back of Candela's legs, and the pair realized they were surrounded.
"Perfect execution!" Electabuzz's trainer said. "They never saw it coming!"
Blanche was hanging onto the fin of the Onix.
"Hey Onix," the other grunt said. "Why don't you go knock that flea off ya?"
The Onix shook its head as Blanche held on for dear life, but she could feel her grip getting looser.
The Onix whipped his head upwards and Candela lost control, and she found herself going flying.
"BLANCHE!" Candela shouted as her partner went skyward.
The ground was getting farther away, but Blanche felt her rise into the air slow down. She would have less than 5 seconds from her peak height until she hit the ground. Only one shot at this.
Grabbing the Pokéball on her left hip, she quickly threw it down and waiting for it to open. A couple of seconds later, she started to fall. She blinked, and the ground was suddenly much closer. She didn't even have time to scream.
Just before she hit the ground, she felt herself catch on something. As her senses came back to her, she realized she could hear the flapping of wings.
She looked up and gave her Pokémon a smile of relief. "Just in time."
"No way!" The grunt with the Onix was dumbfounded. "She was supposed to go splat on the ground!"
"Flareon, quick use Flamethrower at Electabuzz!"
Flareon fired a stream of fire, blasting the Electabuzz right in the chest.
"Onix, use Tackle!"
Onix surged forward and dove, trying to crush Candela and Flareon. The pair both jumped out of the way.
"Vaporeon, use Hydro Pump!" Blanche shouted.
"VaPOR!" Vaporeon's overwhelming flood smashed into Onix's face. The Onix fell back and landed flat on its head.
"Requesting backup!" one of the Rocket Grunts shouted into his radio.
"Forget backup! Let's get out of here!" After reclaiming their Pokémon, they scrambled into the bushes.
"You are not getting away." Blanche said. "Vapo-"
"Let them go," Candela said, holding them back.
"Why?!" Blanche said, furious she couldn't finish the job.
"They called for backup, that means there's more, probably nearby. We need to focus on getting out of here. Those two clowns will only slow us down." She got out her phone. "I'm calling Willow."
Fortunately, Willow's voice came through. "...Candela? What do you need?"
"Professor Willow? We just got ambushed."
"WHAT?!" He shouted. "Are you two okay?!"
"We're fine. But Agent Instinct isn't at Trail Station 3. We think he's been captured."
"So he wasn't with you?" Willow's voiced trailed off. "Captured? There's no way... listen!" He regained his vigor. "You two need to get back to the car, ASAP. if you have a map, try to get off the path, you're an easy target there."
"I agree. We'll call you once we do that. Bye," Candela said, hanging up. "So much for an easy first mission.
"Vaporeon, are you okay? You looked like you hit your head." Blanche looked at the ugly bruise on Vaporeon and checked her bag. "Here. Take a potion." She sprayed it on Vaporeon's head, rubbing it in. The bruise on Vaporeon's head faded.
"No problem. You deserve it."
"We need to move and get off the trail. Now." Candela got out a map. "I think I find a good route."
Then she turned to Aerodactyl. "Thank you, Aerodactyl, you saved my life." She tossed him a quick berry before returning him to his Pokéball.
Blanche's phone started ringing.
"It's Agent Instinct," she said in surprise. "This seems a suspicious. Should I answer this?"
"Oh boy," Candela said. "They just saw our little encounter with those low-level scrubs. And they want us to know where they're keeping him."
The phone kept ringing.
"I suppose so then," Blanche said was still looking around. How many more Rocket members were lurking around, just waiting to strike? They could only take on so many members at once. Numbers were not in their favor.
"Good afternoon Ms. Blaise. And you too Ms. Paige. Nice to see you've made it this far," a voice replied. So... how was your little fight, ladies?"