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Zanas' Fire Red Nuzlocke

Chapter Text

The crowded seats of the stadium bellowed out in cheers as family, friends and strangers cried out their approval. Feet stomp to a single rhythm, hands clap alongside the stomping and eyes widen as the spray of flames shoot through the air. The man, in the booth, pants as he recalls each second that passes in the fight, into a microphone, speaking with the speed and skill that of an auctioneer or a talented rapper. The field, the stage of the show, is littered with charred grass and rock, sliced up dirt and large indentations from an unseen force, as the combatants raged on with their battle.

"What are you thinking?! He has a type advantage over you, switch out!" a young woman screams at the back of her pick to win, her lover, demanding him to use every trick they had thought off, every strategy they planned out together. She isn't in the fight, less so than the actual trainer, but all the same she is just as involved.

Without turning to face her, the tall figure continues to bark out commands to the real fighters on the field, coaching them and egging them on to just "hold on for a few more seconds." One Creature falls, a tall green insect creature with blades for hands, then another this time a beast whose body seemed to be completely made of a flame. The woman smiles brightly and jumps with glee as her mind races.

"He's got it. He's actually going to win."

The final round ended suddenly, within the blink of an eye. The lover's beast, a large draconic figure with a fire tipped tail and double horned skull, spreads out its wings and roars in triumph over the knocked out foe. The crowd, having been on the lover's side the entire match, jumps and screams in jubilation.

Food, trinkets and clothing flying in the air in perfect sync. The woman joins the crowd, tears smudging her view of the man before her. After all this time, after all the promises and training, they'd finally made it to the top. The lover turns to face her, his long brown jacket flowing from the wind, his medium length hair peeking out from under his rather tasteless fedora, and under that hat is a smile bright and brimming with just a hint of "I told you so" painted in.

She calls out to him, unable to even hear her own voice as it's compressed with the rest of the audiences unified sound. It's rather hard to hear anything with so much excitement.

"Mom?" The voice echoes in her head louder than the crowd. In fact, the entire boom of the people has silenced, as if the mute button was pressed during the movie.

"Mommy?" The lover slowly faded into darkness, along with the entire scene as Catherin is pulled into reality. She opens her eyes to see a dim lamp, flickering on and off next to her. Her body slumped across the living room chair, a rather unstable one at that. She was no longer such a young woman, wearing a night gown rather than her Trainer gear. She sat up straight in the chair, rubbing her eyes as they adjusted to her surroundings. Her small boy, curly brown hair and bright white eyes, gently tuggedon her hand as he held the book she was just reading to him a moment ago, or at least it felt like a moment.

"Mommy, get up, you shouldn't sleep on the chair like that." Catherin yawns and manages a smile as she picks up her little boy, wrapping him up in her arms and holding him up to shoulder length.

"Well young man you shouldn't be up this late anyway. But I appreciate your checking up on me." She kissed his forehead,running her finger through his hair. Arceus he needs a haircut soon. She thought

Zanas yawned and layed his head between his mother's shoulder and neck. "I fell asleep but you knocked me off your lap and woke me up."

She chuckled at this, patting her baby boy's back in apology. "Well let's both get to bed now. You have school tomorrow and it's a bit o a walk to get there."

Zanas poked his head from the woman's shoulder and looked at her lazily. "Can we stop at the professore's along the way, like we usually do?"

"Yes, sweetie, but only if we have time." Zanas noded slowly and placed his head back on the woman's shoulder, whispering "I love you."

Catherin kissed his cheek whispering."I love you too." As she laid him into bed and tucked the covers over the young boy's shoulders, letting him hold onto the book as he slept.

Ever so quietly she left the room, inching the door shut until just a slit of light peaked through the wooden frame. She yawned, though no sound escaped her mouth, and walked back to her own room stopping for a brief moment to try and remember. "…Allin...even in a dream your an ass."

Chapter Text

"Jirachi Christ it's just an Eevee" Zanas groaned, sitting under a tree from a distance, as a circle of girls fawned over the new Pokémon recently given to the. Their screams of delight stung Zanas's ears as they held their "super cuties" in pride.

Some of the Pokémon being held seemed just as joyful as their owners while others looked confused and just as irritated as the young boy under the tree.

Zanas yawned as he reached one arm over his head to the other and stretched out every muscle from his shoulders and back,to his stomach. A loose green denim jacket stretched down from those shoulders, down his back and reached just above his waist line, while his black lightning shirt was being pulled up by the stretching. That shirt never once fit long enough for the boy's height,but he never threw it away simply out of nostalgia. At Least his Jeans were a fine fit, loosely hugging his hips and stretching downward toward his ankles, stopping slightly over the tongue of his white and black tennis shoes.

As he continued to stretch, Zanas held his black colored and white striped fedora onto his head, not wanting the wind to blow it away for the umpteenth time this week. He moaned in relief as he pulled comfortably on every limb, feeling rejuvenated by his nap, even if he didn't wake up in the best of ways. Just as he released himself, the boy heard a similar sound of exhaustion just over him.

"Arceus, how much longer till we can go."

"As soon as Gary and I get back from Viridian," Zanas said, mocking Professor Oak's voice. "It'll be just a hop and skip to the next town over. I'm certain it won't take more than." Zanas grew silent as he checked his watch. His eyes almost erupting from their sockets as he saw the four hour time lapse since he fell asleep.

"Damnit Oak's!" Zanas cried, so loudly that the girls cooing over their pets turned to him. They eyed him for a brief moment only to huddle around and whisper to one another. Zanas's blush faded into sight as he quickly turned and sat down cross legged, pushing his Fedora over his eyes as if to say. "If I can't see them they can't see me."

Another yawn came from the tree as Prince stretched and jumped down onto his human friends lap. The young Rattata smiled teasingly, its buck teeth hiding a portion of the purple furred rodent's lips. "Awww is the wittle boy shy of the opposite sex?"

Zanas grabbed his big toothed friend by his tail, dangling him about as he continued to pout. "Says the rat who hangs out with a male of a different species on a daily basis."

Prince held his paws over his mouth as Zanas continued to shake him, finally yelling in submission, "Ok. OK! You made your point. Animal Abuse!"

"Who do you think would even come to your rescue, PETA?"

"Arceus, I hope not! Have you heard what they do to house pets and strays?!"

Zanas let go of Prince's tail, dropping the Pokémon on his feet. "Hey it's only done to the ones they don't adopt."

Prince groaned and jabbed one of his claws into the boy's chest. "That's supposed to make it better? You humans have a twisted morality system."

Zanas chuckled. "You're just now figuring this out?"

"O no, I've known that for quite some time," Prince corrected as he crawled up to Zanas's shoulder. "I just haven't gotten used to it."

Zanas jumped to his feet as Prince dug his claws into the boy's jacket and continued his lecture. "Your court system is a shame, you try to justify your actions with backward logic, and you, individually speaking, are too afraid to talk to the opposite gender."

Zanas groaned as he forced back his blush, noticing the girls walking away in a pack.

"Well…it's no confidence booster when they consider you a freak," Zanas sighed.

Let alone being the bastard child among all bastards.

A silence fell between the two, an awkward wind howling silence. Zanas began marching toward the lab, letting the gap of sound take over. Prince, however would not stand for this. "Entertainment."

"What?" Zanas laughed, halting his march toward the lab next door to his house.

"I demand entertainment. I cannot just sit here at this high altitude and just have silence. This is exciting being so tall, so…much higher."

Zanas couldn't control himself, holding his stomach as he bellowed out. "And what, your highness, do you want me to do about it?"

"Do a little dance!" Prince erupted into dance, mimicking every show tune and jazz hands he had seen while watching TV with the boy over the years.

"Haha…and what if I refuse?" Zanas teased.

The Rattata leapt from his perch and proudly pounded his paw into his chest exclaiming, "Then you must deal with the purest of heart, strongest of willed, and fastest of speed within my own race." Prince launched his paw into the air, making a fist as he continued to triumphantly cry out. "By the power of Rattata's everywhere, I HAVE...umf."

Zanas pressed the soul of his shoe into the rodents face, putting slight pressure down so to bring down the Rattata's pride. "An inferiority complex."

Zanas pressed his hand against the glass door, opening the frame, laying eyes on a scene he was all too familiar with. Beakers and test tubes placed meticulously on cabinets and edges of tables. Pokémon either slept or waited patiently to be fed treats whilst being examined, sitting maybe too close to the testubes.

In the mean time men and women, old and young, dawning lab coats and for some glasses, ran around each other from table to table thinking out loud as they waited for someone to comment or correct them on their findings. They all worked together as one glorified if not confusing unit.

Prince nervously jumped focus from one scientist to the next, trying his best to keep up with each person who ran past as Zanas continued to walk foreword, waving and verbally greeting all of Oak's assistants as they walked around him.

Each only paid the boy enough mind to return the verbal "Hello" or give him a pat on the back or high five. As Zanas walked pass the two bookshelves, that worked as gates into Oak's private study, Prince slumped on the boy's shoulder looking nauseated. "I hate when they do that."

"Then why do you try so hard to follow where they're going?" Zanas chuckled, petting his friends head, just behind his ears. "You look like you have worse ADHD then they do."

Prince lovingly pressed his head into the hand as it stretched and stroked gingerly, still managing to speak as if nothing was going on. "I'm a Rattata. Fidgeting, scurrying, and anything dealing with staying low to the ground is what I do best. I'm a victim of ultimate design."

Zanas lightly taped Prince between the eyes with his knuckle and turned his attention toward the large desk placed in the upper right edge of Oak's study. He'd been anticipating this day for so long. On the table was not one, not two, but three PokeBalls holding three of the rarest creatures of all Pokemon kind.

One creature of nature, one of fire and one of water, originally gathered for study, but now their fates were intrusted to be the first Pokémon to Gary, the Grandson of the world's greatest Pokémon Scientist, Professor Oak, and his quest to become a pro Pokemon Trainer. Best of all, Zanas would get to pick one just after Gary, as he was promised by both his childhood friend and Oak himself.

Prince leapt down from the fedora wearer, sniffing each PokeBall and poking the ones to the right and left with his claw, half expecting something to pop out. When nothing did he jumped down from the table.

"What was that about?" Zanas asked. Prince looked up to his friend, a confused expression painted on his face.

"Zanas…only the middle one has a Pokémon in it."

"What?!" Zanas exclaimed, but kept his voice to a minimum so not to disturb the assistants. "Are you sure?"

Prince nodded. "The one on the right hasn't had anything living inside it for some time, and the left one seems to have been opened just recently."

"How can you tell? And don't say it's because of your great design."

Prince sacristy rolled his eyes over Zanas's remark. "Any Pokémon can tell the difference between aTrainers Pokémon, especially one born in captivity, and a wild one by its smell. When you're wild, you have a sort of…freshness to you…or sometimes a not so freshness." Prince cringed as memories of horrible smells crawled back from days past. The Rattata shook his head, trying to stay on topic. "A born captured Pokémon has a more plastic or manufactured smell to it, like a new action figure or something."

"And Pokémon caught in the wild?" Zanas questioned.

"Same thing only it's less potent. My point is that two of them are empty and this third one here is still holding a baby in there…the smell is nothing I've ever encountered before but I cant still tell it's an infant, only a few months old at most."

"Looks like no one else knows about this," Just as Zanas finished speaking, both the boy and rodent heard a loud crash from the room just behind them, jumping and jerking their heads towards the source of the noise. The door was slightly ajar, leaving enough of an opening for the two closest to the room to hear the crash, but not enough for the rushing mob at the entrance to notice anything. Zanas and Prince both nodded to one another and leaped into action. Zanas rolled and hugged the wall connected to the door's hinges, while Prince did the same on the opposite end. Zanas reached out his arm and slowly inched the door open, both the boy and rodent peering into the room, leaning on the tops of their feet, or in Prince's case paws, and leaping once more, now into the ones causing such a racket.

A scream was heard from two people as the boy and his rat wrestled to pin their opponents down, Zanas easily over powering the frail human, while Prince was sent flying out of the room by what he could only understand to be a vine. Screaming and yelling could be heard for only the briefest second after Princes exile, and was quickly replaced with silence and an awkward stare between Zanas, and a girl with bright green eyes. Zanas's blush returned with force as his eyes stayed locked to the girls, not daring to look downward to see the rest of her or how he was positioned.

The female groaned as her eyes looked over to the other being in the room, Zanas only having a moment to get a good look at the creature before a vine came and smacked him between his eyes. A green four legged plump looking reptile with a large plant bulb on its back, growled at Zanas as he fell back in pain, its vines coming from its sides where many little studs circled around the bulb. Zanas hoped to his feet, growling at both the girl and Bulbasaur. "What the hell are you doing?!"
The girl gave Zanas a similar glare, while the Bulbasaur continued to growl. "Me? What the hell were you doing jumping me!"
"Did you steel that Pokémon from one of those PokeBalls?" Zanas demanded an answer as he pointed to the three devices left on the table.

To this, the girl blushed slightly and coughed from nerves. "S-stolen isn't quite the word I would have used."
Zanas's eyes seemed to shift into a smaller and more menacing glare. Meanwhile Prince shifted his gaze between both humans then the Bulbasaur. "um…Zanas."

The girl shook her head, still blushing from the accusation. "Hey don't change the subject why did you jump me you pervert."

"No you don't change the subject! Do you know whose Pokémon you've just stolen."

"Zanas!" An elderly voice yelled.

"What?!" The boy yelled as he turned to Prince still glaring, only just realizing the sudden difference in voices as he turned his gaze away from the girl. Prince coughed and inched his head toward the gathered crowd of assistants huddling toward the bookshelf entrance whispering behind where the voice had actually come from. Just ahead of the crowd was Gary, the brown spiky haired grandson of the esteemed Professor oak, with a brown shelled blue looking turtle Pokémon standing at his feet, and a rather angry grey-haired lab coat wearing Professor Oak in the center of the room.

Zanas's angered expression jumped into a cowering wide eyed stare Oak sighed and clenched his fingers between his eyes.

"Zanas…I'd like you to meet Melody, the girl…who will no doubt be assisting you in cleaning this mess up."

Gary shook his head, forcing back a smile as the blue turtle shifted on the ground laughing it's ugly little head off. Zanss and Melody laughed and waved weakly, knowing they were going be properly introduced to one another, but not willingly

Chapter Text

Zanas grunted as he lifted the last of the restocked boxes. He sighed in relief as he looked upon the handful of small box towers, as well as the trinkets and science equipment that he and this "Melody" had spent so much time reorganizing together. Now the once cluttered mess of an office was a much more neatly stacked and maneuverable area.

Boxes and plastic containers were put into corners or in the closet and Zanas even saw Melody organize the Professor's instruments in a neatly fashioned space on his work table, next to the window which was to the back right of his main desk.

The two had done a good job working together, though neither even spoke to the other for the longest time. Zanas even went as far as to refrain from looking at Melody for the first hour. After the second and third hour, the boy couldn't help but peek at the girl he had tussled with, sizing her up to the girls he saw regularly in town.

She had dark brown hair that stretched down to her mid-back and wore a white cap with a large PokeBall symbol in the front. She had a blue sleeveless top that was one strap thickness away from being a tank top, white tennis shoes and a red skirt that came up just above the knees and partially hid her black sports shorts. Beyond clothing, the girl had a slim attractive figure, and looked about the same age as Zanas, seventeen if not eighteen.

Before Zanas could focus even more on the specifics of the girls maturity, Melody turned her head toward him, forcing Zanas to shift his gaze else ware.

Although Melody had not caught the boy staring, he unfortunately shifted his gaze on a very nosy Ratatata.

"So how long are we going to be looking up girls' skirts before we head out?"

Zanas, not amused by his friend's question, blushed and lightly forced a balled fist on Princes head. "I am not looking up her skirt. I'm just…" Zanas paused. "Determining her age. You know, from how she looks and carries herself."

"Go on…" Prince insisted.

"…just….shut the hell up."

Prince laughed, causing Zanas's blush to brighten. Then, acting out of habit, slammed his foot onto the Pokémon's head, to keep the creature's jaw closed. Prince struggled desperately to get out from under Zanas's shoe, but his size, compared to the boy's, was his greatest weakness.

"You have lost all speaking privileges as of today you buck-toothed rat." Prince, seeing no way out, lay sprawled on the floor, held down by a mere teenager's foot.

Zanas, smiling snidely, shifted his gaze back to the girl as she let out a sigh of relief and leaned back slightly, stretching her back, revealing the "maturity" in her chest. Zanas blushed and turned away just from sheer surprise.

She bounced to her tip toes and rolled her arms, to loosen herself from being cramped in one position all day, picking at all the broken pieces of glass and trinkets around Oaks already clattered desk. Melody looked toward Zanas glaring at him, though not as intensely as before.

Zanas lightly kicked his rodent companion to the side and walked over to the girl. Prince screamed "Animal Abuse!", which was ignored by the only one who could understand him. He walked over to the bright green-eyed girl, giving a friendly smiling as he leaned on the professor's desk across from her and the hallway stretching toward the entrance to the building thinking only one thing. Play it cool....don't freak out.

"Sorry about before." He said, offering his hand in good spirits.

Melody continued to glare, now between the boy's hand and face, but soon relinquished her anger and shook his hand with the usual light grip that Zanas was used to receiving from girls. As the boy attempted to retract his hand, the girls grip suddenly grew tighter, much tighter, and her glare came back in force, along with a deep blush.

"If you ever jump me like that again I will end you." Zanas nodded, smiling wider at the girl's poor attempt to scare him. Her blush made her look too cute to fear, but the glare reminded him that to her, this was serious.

Zanas crossed his arms comfortably once his hand was returned to him, still leaning against the desk behind him. "You finished too?"

She nodded, shifted her gaze to the box of trinkets. "The worst part was fitting half of the stuff in those containers. I know I didn't throw as much stuff as he made me put away."

Zanas chuckled. "Ya, the old man likes to get slave labor out of me and Gary whenever we are in trouble. So break it or not, we end up fixing or stocking something."

Melody titled her head slightly. "Gary?"

"His grandson, the brown-haired kid with the….Squirtle?!"

Zanas looked back over at the three PokeBalls untouched on the left table. He remembered Princes words from before, only one Pokémon was in its respective device. Zanas groaned in displeasure "I didn't even get a choice in my partner Pokémon!"

Melody looked off to the right, poking her index fingers together. "Sorry about that. I didn't mean to let Summer out of her PokeBall." Zanas groaned again at the mention of the Bulbasaur's name. Now she has to keep it, she named it already

"It's fine" Zanas lied. "But I would like to hear why you let her out in the first place."

Melody nodded and sat in an untaken chair from the corner of Oak's office. "Well I came here to get my starter Pokémon from Professor Oak, like anyone in this area, and when I walked in I saw the PokeBalls and got….a little over excited."

"Over excited?" The boy asked, meanwhile Prince ran up the boys arm, shaking its head and body in a shiver.

"Is that translated to, she screamed and ran in circles around the table?" The self-proclaimed royal asked. Zanas shrugged, only slightly looking to his friend as Melody continued.

"I might have…picked up the first PokeBall I saw and rolled it in my hand for a bit, but I wasn't trying to open it." At this, Melody reached for said PokeBall and left it deflated in her palm. "It rolled between my fingers and it fell to the floor, and the next thing I know, Summer is smiling and nuzzling my hand."

Zanas and Prince nodded, taking in all the information. Both looking to one another then to the girl as Zanas pointed to her, "So you stole it."

Her blush returned with a vengeance as she jumped like a little girl throwing a tantrum. "I did not steal it!"

"I'm just giving you a hard time, relax." Zanas said, smiling, as Prince snickered next to him.

Melody made a "hmph" and crossed her arms, glaring at the two. "So why are you here?"

Zanas pushed off the table and walked over to the PokeBalls from before. "Same reason as you, to get my very first registered Pokémon." He grabbed the middle PokeBall, the only remaining device holding a creature inside.

"What? You mean that Ratatata isn't your first?"

He turned to Melody, still holding the mini ball in his fingers. "Prince is different. He is still a wild creature technically; he just likes to hang out with me most of the time. Say hello." He asked the Pokémon of interest, who bowed instantly.

Melody covered her mouth and smiled, rushing over and giving praise to the rodent as if he had done a trick. "That's so cute, did you teach him to bow like that?"

"Teach? Hardly, this little trouble maker sees himself as the greatest of his kind. So he carries himself like he's royalty."

Prince shrugged. "I am what I am."

"Yes, and that means you're a buck toothed cheese muncher."

"Hey…." Prince Retaliated, as he pushed his paw on Zanas's forehead. "…Ok you got me there."

Zanas chuckled as he pet his rodents head, turning his focus back to Melody who had confusion drawn on her face.

Zanas blushed and laughed awkwardly. "Right…this might seem kinda weird to you if you're not from around here. I can…talk to Pokemon…and I'm the only one in town who can" Zanas's expression shifted to a blank curios look as he realized, "Wait where are you from anyway? You can't be from pallet since you don't; dress like any of the girls in town."

Melody continued to look dumbfounded, tuning out everything Zanas said. Then she began to smile; widely. At first her reaction was one the boy had seen too many times. The bright eyes and wide smile were a dead give away. Any minute now she's going to call me a fake, or a freak or an idiot or

"Are you psychic?!"

A long silence filled Oaks office, as both prince and Zanas took their turn to gaze dumbly at the girl. Then both males began laughing, at first muffled by their lips squeezing tightly together, then echoing loudly as the two fell over unable to with stain the irony of the situation.
Prince was the first to catch his breath. "Did…did she just say

"Ya…haha…ya she did HAHAHAHA."

As the two rolled on the ground laughing, melody pouted and stomped her foot in anger, balling her fist. Before chaos could erupt in the room again, the office doors flew open again, revealing the professor and his grandson. Oak, standing at about 5'7", a long white lab coat cloaked over his orange shirt and khakis, surveyed the area and smiled, obviously happy with the results the two trainers put into cleaning.

Gary followed as his grandfather passed Melody and Zanas, infatuated by the room. The boy's dark brown spiked hair still defied gravity and logic, and he still wore his purple shirt and blue jeans from before. Gary stopped to help Zanas off the floor, punching his arm per their usual greeting when their parents weren't looking.

Zanas, seeing that Oak was too busy admiring the cleaning job, punched Gary back. "He cooled down since earlier?" he whispered

Gary smiled, "If you weren't so good at cleaning up your messes he'd still be furious."

"Excuse me" Melody interrupted, joining the private conversation as she squeezed between the two. "How long is he going to be psyco boy?"

Zanas looked to Gary who merely shrugged. "Sometimes its short, most times it'll take a few hours….wait did she just call you Psyco boy?"

Melody already chimed in an answer before Zanas opened his mouth. "Did YOU know he could talk to Pokémon?"

Gary simply smiled at the two and shook his head. "So that's it."

"So you did know!"

"The entire town knows. Zanas isn't really shy when it comes to opening his mouth."

"Hey" Zanas said, punching Gary's arm rather hard. "I resemble that remark."

Melody, smiled brightly as she squeezed her eyes shut and wiggled like a she was ready to burst. "This is so."
"Perfect!" Oak cried out, rushing over to both Melody and Zanas, patting the boys head, which he loathed, and the girls shoulder. "You both did a wonderful job cleaning up our mess today."

Both teens looked up to the professor, simultaneously asking, "Our mess?"

Oak smiled as he removed his hands from the two's person and shoved them into his coat pockets. "Well I'd be lying if I didn't take partial credit for the clutter. So thank you for fixing up the office for me."

Both, Melody and Zanas looked to one another, and then back to Oak, bowing politely, "Your welcome sir," Speaking as blankly as possible. The two lifted their heads and watched as the now smiling Oak walked over to his desk, reaching into a drawer and pulling out two red book like tablets. The old man was never good at hiding his excitement for things, and now was no exception as the word giddy came to Zanas's mind, making him shiver in disgust. –That is not the kind of word I should think of when an old man smiles at me-

The Professor walked over to the two teens, and handed them each one of the tablets. "I call it the PokeDex. Basically it's an encyclopedia of every Pokémon ever recorded, or at least within the Kanto region." The professor continued on and on about his creation, as usual whenever Oak or Zanas came into the office. The boys took a seat and sat back watching, or pretending to watch the professor go through his routine.

Zanas moved his gaze back to melody, who was still standing in the middle of the room like a lost puppy, and signaled her to sit down. She cautiously followed the instructions and grabbed the seat from before and sat next to both boys.

"We are gonna be here for a while aren't we?" She openly asked.

Zanas and Gary looked to one another and sighed, nodding. Zanas leaned on his hand, his elbow balancing on his knee, as Prince rolled up on his shoulder for a nice long nap.

Chapter Text

The hours passed as the old man lectured Zanas, Gary and Melody throughout the evening. Thankfully though, his lecture evolved from mindless Pokémon science terms and into something more exciting. Gary had been, and continued to lean back in his chair, balancing on the back legs with his foot on Professor Oak's desk, having heard these stories of real world survival before however Zanas and Melody, it was a first.

Oak ran down memory lane, recalling the days of harsh rain and snow and whatever else Arceus could throw at him in one day. Wrestling Kangaskhan for food, not to capture them, putting out fires on tents and homes in the middle of a battle gone too far, having to fight through sickness and sometimes life changing blows from wild creatures or even the worst of human kind. The professor was lost in retelling his old stories of youth, attempting poorly in relaying the methods of survival to the three while giving into to self praise.

As the old man told his tales, Melody had been writing down every detail she could gather in a three ring binder she had been keeping in her back pack, along with pencils and other utensils of the like. Many times she would raise her hand and ask the Professor to stop or repeat what he just said. This was done to Zanas's displeasure, as for once he was enjoying Oak's long winded speeches. It took a lot of lip biting for Zanas not to scream at the girl to stop asking so many questions and just listen. But in time the Professor had filled his speaking quota, and slumped in his chair and caught his breath. After so many hours of talking, silence filled the room, but it was a welcomed silence. Oak turned to face the clock just above his closet door, seeing the hands point to twelve in the morning.

"My goodness is it already that late?" The professor blushed, as he scratched his head. "Sorry for keeping you three here so late, I never get lost in my own self praise for so long."

That's a lie Zanas thought, and as he and Gary met glances, he knew his friend was thinking the same.

"I don't mind at all, professor." Melody chimed in with an honest tone. "Those were interesting tales, but I actually have a few more questions about how you managed to bring a Kangaskhan down by yourself. If you don't mind keeping me longer that is?"

Does this girl want to be here all night? Interesting stories aside, I wanna live my own adventure not hear any more of his. Zanas and Gary looked between Melody and the old man, seeing the all-too-familiar twinkle in his eye. He was ready for round two, now with a Q and A. The boys jumped from their seats and quickly gave their goodbyes to Melody and Gary's grandfather in incomprehensible mumbles, then bolted for the door like there was no tomorrow.

Zanas and Gary were greeted by the outside world with a cold breeze and the sound of crickets in the background, with the occasional light flickering in the distance from the insect Pokemon of the grass and trees. Zanas leaned backward, attempting to pop his back after sitting in place for so long, seeing a small figure fall off his shoulder along with his brown fedora.

"Hey?!" Prince jolted as he thumped on the ground. The purple rodent quickly shifted to his feet and looked at his surroundings, shooting out questions left and right. "Who? Where? What? How?!"

"Calm down buck-tooth, we're just outside the lab." Zanas assured the Ratatata.

Prince looked at Zanas for a moment, still registering the words. His breathing slowed to a normal pace as he sat up straight and proper. "I can see that now." Prince's eyes went wide and his elegant stance broke as he seemed to realize the time of day. "How the heck long did that old coot keep us in there for?!"

Zanas walked over to Prince after picking up his hat, readjusting it on his head, forward then pushing it back to just above his bangs. "About four or five hours. You should of stayed awake. Things got interesting." The boy stretched his arm out for Prince to climb back up on his shoulder, petting the rat to calm his nerves. "But I give you credit for not begging me to leave for those four hours."

"Well what kind of a proper beeing would I be if I didn't understand the virtue of patience?" Prince moved his front paws, motioning with his words to appear as elegant as he sounded.

Zanas flicked the rodent's nose. "You'd be the same spoiled rotten rat but even more insufferable."

"Count your blessings for my perfect nature then."

Zanas shook his head and went back to petting the Pokémon on his shoulder, as he turned to Gary, who was squatting down to pet his Squirtle's underbelly. Gary turned to Zanas, as if feeling the boy's gaze on him and rolled his eyes toward the blue turtle. "I'm starting to see why you complain about petting Prince so much."

Zanas smiled as he let out a sigh. "Welcome to the world of a Pokémon Trainer. just a fancy title for a personal petting machine."

Gary shook his head and stood up, his Squirtle looking up at its new master with big open eyes. Zanas stared at those eyes, large and black with open wonder…like a puppy. He looked to his friend with confusion written all over his face. "Gary, how old is that Squirtle?"

Gary looked back to his partner Pokémon and shrugged. "Maybe a couple of months."

Zanas walked over and took Gary's place, petting the Squirtle's under shell. The water Pokémon didn't resist and laid back, rocking back in forth in delight. "He's cute."

"Yeah he is." Gary confirmed, kneeling next to Zanas. "But he's a bruiser as well. I tried to tell him not to do something earlier today and he tackled me."

Zanas laughed at this, Prince crawling up and laying in the indent in the boys fedora to stay a part of the conversation. "You got brought down by a baby Squirtle?"

"Ha, hardly." Gary picked up and rolled the Pokémon over with his foot. "Mikey knocked the wind out of me but that's about it." Gary grabbed Mikey by his swirled blue tail and lifted him in the air. "He's pretty immobile when I do this." The Squirtle fidgeted and tried desperately to fight back, its voice resembling that of a small boy to Zanas's ears as it grumbled and whined.

"You really think you should be holding him like that?"

Gary set the shelled creature down as Zanas spoke, Mikey quickly retaliating with a tackle. Gary took the shot hard in the stomach and fell back a couple feet from where he once stood, Mikey flying with him as Gary held him close. Zanas started to run to his friend, but the spiky-haired boy put his hand up before Zanas got too close.

"It's fine." Gary groaned, getting back on his feet. He reached a hand down to Mikey, who flinched, expecting to be hit for his retaliation, but instead was pet gingerly. "I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry." Mikey closed his eyes and rubbed against his trainer's hand, easily forgiving him.

Zanas relaxed and smiled watching the two accept the other apology quickly. "He seems perfect for you."

"You think so?" Gary jumped to his feet placing Mikey on his head like Prince, only unlike the rodent, Gary had to hold Mikey in place for fear of him rolling off.
"Sure. You're both stubborn and have a bad temper."

Mikey glowered at Zanas for the insult, Zanas surprised that a Pokémon so young could even comprehend what he was saying. Smarter than you look aren't you.

Gary took the insult in a more lighthearted manner, but his expression still showed his hurt pride. "Hey I'm not that bad am I?"

"The sleep over on NewYears three years ago."

Prince snickered at that memory. "Your first fight over a female, and you came out on top."

Zanas smiled snidely and bumped his fist with Prince's paw in triumph, as Gary set Mikey down. "Yeah I did get pretty pissed off that day and you beat me up pretty bad." Gary spoke with held back anger as he lowered his face from sight. "You apologized for weeks afterword's, but then…"

Zanas groaned and rolled his eyes as Gary lifted his head, revealing a wide smile of pride that had been hiding behind his feigned gloom. "I got the girl to kiss me in the end and all you got was the title of school bully."

"You can go straight to the Distortion World you jerk."

"Come on and make me fedora boy!"

The two glared at each other, both balling one hand into a fist and reaching behind them for their PokeBalls, just like they had done when they were busy pretending. The difference this time was it was for real. Zanas clicked the mini ball in his hands and enlarged it, pulling his arm back to throw and release his new partner, while Gary pointed toward Zanas and opened his mouth to shout a command to Mikey, who looked all too ready for a fight. This is for real. My first batt-

"Oh no you don't!" Prince shouted, pushing Zanas's fedora over his eyes just before he released the PokeBall.

"Hey, what gives?!" Zanas shouted, dropping the ball as he used both hands to rip Prince off his head. Prince held onto the fedora in his mouth looking at the boy with a blank look.

"It's late, I'm hungry, and we have to get up early tomorrow. Postpone the match."

"Like hell I will!" Zanas shouted. "We've been sitting on our butts for hours now and now is the time for a fight!"

"Hell ya!" Gary cheered, pumping one arm in the air. Even though Gary could only hear one side of the conversation, he still sided for a brawl. Mikey was even copying his trainer's motions and repeating his "Hell ya!"

"No." Prince said, pushing his paw into Zanas's right eyes, forcing it shut. "You will feed me now. Beside's we don't even know how much of a fight your new partner will have in him. Plus we don't even know what Pokémon he is."

Zanas glared at prince with his free eye but eventually subsided with a sigh. He's right. We could be at a huge type disadvantage and not even know it.

Zanas put his hat back on and let Prince back on his shoulder. "Another time." Zanas groaned

Gary shook his head but didn't seem too upset. " Im guessing Prince said no?"

Zanas nodded, glaring at his very needy Ratatata.

"Your just a slave to your pet aren't you Zanas."

Before Zanas or Prince could come back with a smart remark, Mikey grabbed at Gary's pant leg, pointing to his mouth and belly. Zanas and Prince laughed and gave a simultaneous "Awww" As Gary blushed and waved them off, returning his partner after promising him food. "Looks like we're both slaves."

Gary laughed turning toward the lab. "I gotta get my Grandpa out of that building so he can get some sleep. We've all got a long day tomorrow." He walked a bit closer before turning around to Zanas, who had leaned down to pick up the dropped PokeBall, finding it hadn't opened yet. "You got the PokeDex and the trainers badge right?"

Zanas pulled both the red tablet device and his card from his pockets just to prove he had them. Gary nodded and waved Zanas off without looking at him. Zanas turned to walk but halted instantly when Gary quickly shouted "Smell ya later Zanas."

He turned to curse his friend out, but the spiky haired prick had already run inside the lab building. Prince was laughing and desperately clinging to Zanas's shoulder now, unable to control himself. "He'll never let that go, haha!"

Zanas groaned, thankful that the black night would cover his red blush as he stormed home. "I'm surrounded by so much love in this town!"


The door creaked loudly, sending chills down Zanas's spine as he pushed the frame open. He always hated that sound. It was almost as unpleasant as fingers rubbing on a balloon or a foam noodle kids played with in pools. Prince shook his head as he leapt off the boys shoulder, running toward the kitchen, calling him over to feed him. "I demand sustenance!"

The rest of the house was similar to all the other homes in Pallet town. Kitchen in the back left as you come in, living room and TV in mid right. The only difference was the hard wood floors that replaced the usual carpet flooring, that and the recent lack of furniture and curtains and the fact Zanas couldn't see anything in front of him. He reached for the light switch to his left, warning Prince to be ready for the sudden flash. The switch flipped and made a plastic clicking noise, but there was no light from the ceiling fan. As Zanas focused his sight toward the fan, he noticed that there were not light bulbs installed. Zanas groaned, but not like usual. This was more silent and contained, but also more revealing. You even took the bulbs from the fan? I knew we were worse off then you told me.

"Here what I say?!" Prince yelled. "Hungry!

"Alright, alright." Zanas walked to the kitchen and kicked the door to the spin around drawer his mother always called "Lazy Susan". As the door spun around, Zanas was surprised to find both the upper and lower racks to the drawer bare. "Damnit" Zanas slammed his hand on the table, not feeling the cool granite top on his palm, but instead felt paper under his hand. Zanas squinted his eyes, to see the paper better; able to make out letters, but not clearly enough to read what exactly was written. Next to the paper was a cardboard box about the size of the TV the once took up an entire desk.

Prince, used to walks and hunts in the dark, leapt up to the table with ease, and sniffed the box. "Food?!" The rodent cried as he jumped inside and began devouring anything he could.

"Arceus, Prince you act like I never feed you."

"I said I wanted food didn't I?" Prince mumbled with his mouth stuffed.

Zanas nodded. "Ya…ya you did."

As Prince pigged out in the box, Zanas leaned against the table, scanning the house as his eyes adjusted to the dark. It was just as empty as he had left it early that morning, and just like before, it didn't feel right. She really wanted out of this town. Zanas thought. No goodbyes or arguing him not to go. Was he really the only thing keeping her grounded in this place? Maybe it was best she didn't stay. No use trying to convince her otherwise and there was defiantly no need to be teary eyed before tomorrow.

The box next to Zanas continued to jerk around as Prince crawled inside. Zanas chucked and reached in to pull the rat out. "Will you wait for me to get you a bowl or something before you eat evrything?"

As Zanas placed Prince on the table the Pokémon drug out a black hat from inside. Zanas eyed the head wear then took it from the Pokémon, still having trouble seeing anything past the dark of the night. Even so, he didn't need eyes to tell what style of hat he was holding. "A fedora?"

"And by the smell I think it's brand new." Prince added "Maybe a couple days old."
Zanas eyed the hat, and then placed it on the table, reaching in to see what else was hidden inside. "Food…lots of it…a back pack…a map of the island…and money?!" The box was full of things that Zanas, or any other trainer would need to start out their travels. Was he supposed to see this earlier? Was she still home when he was cleaning up Oak's office?

Zanas stared at the content of the box, holding both the hat and the back pack, managing to make out the dark green color of the pack as well as the PokeBall symbol in the middle. When he looked up, Prince was smiling snidely. "What?"

Prince shook his head and made a clicking noise as he sat up proper. "You are such a mama's boy."

"Bug off rodent." Zanas pushed Prince back his hand, but the Pokémon held on. "You can't hide that smile from me, your relieved she didn't just leave you. You were probably going to cry."

Zanas waved the rat off. "Please. Me cry? Not gonna happen anytime soon."

"Mhm" Prince smiled and continued to give Zanas a look that made the boy want to pound him.

"Don't test me buck-tooth."

"Whatever." Prince jumped from the table to the boy pocket, pulling the PokeBall out. "Shall we see what surprise is inside?"

Zanas nodded and clicked the PokeBall to enlarge it. Without hesitation Zanas clicked the button again and the PokeBall opened, instantaneously releasing a burst of white light leaping to the floor. Zanas and Prince winced and covered their eyes, not ready for the sudden flash. For a long moment the two didn't dare open their eyes, until Zanas heard a yawn come from just in front of him. A light reddish orange lizard, with big orange eyes and a fir tipped tail sat on the ground, looking up to Zanas with the same open wonder that Gary's Squirtle did. The face wasn't like any kind of scaly creature Zanas had seen. It was rounded and cute like a human baby, but he could clearly see the scales that ran down it's body.

"A Charmander." Zanas breathed. Silence over took the house for the briefest of moments before Zanas knelt down to the baby, beaming a wide smile. "Hey there little guy." He spoke in a soft friendly tone as he slowly reached his hand out and pet the Pokémon. At first the creature growled, its eyes taking a more feral shape. Prince jumped back a bit, looking between the trainer and Pokémon. "Um Zanas?"

The boy ignored his friend and continued to pet the youngling, who continued to growl. Zanas pulled his hand away and stared at the fire type. "Your grumpy aren't you. Why's that?"

The Charmander didn't answer, instead a loud growl could be heard but not from the baby's throat, but it's stomach. Zanas jumped to his feet, now able to see thanks to the lizards flame, and reached in the bag to pull out a can of Pokémon food, as well as two small dishes. "If that was your only problem you should have just asked."

Zanas poured the dry food for both the baby and Prince, and took turns petting each as they ate. The fire spitter had stopped growling and instead moved its body with the hand that feed and pet it. Once both had finished eating, Zanas reached out his hand to the babe, quickly being licked and snuggled. Prince jumped from the table and stayed close to Zanas as the new born finished eating. "See, nothing to be afraid of."

"Hmm." Prince inched closer to the Charmander, and sniffed the creature, backing away as the Pokémon did the same. Both stared at each other with wide eyes for a long moment. Then the baby, closed its eye's and smiled, lifting a paw up. Prince jumped back, growling, expecting to be scratched. But when the Fire type lowered its paw and tilted its head in confusion, prince realized it meant no harm.

The rodent walked back and lifted a paw, motioning for the Charmander to copy him, which it did. Prince then slapped his paw with the younglings and smiled. The Pokémon looked at its paw then back at the Ratatata and raised its hand outward toward Prince high pawing the royal rodent again. Prince nodded and stood tall facing Zanas. "I never believed this one was trouble."

Zanas shook his head, not wanting to argue with his friend. The boy stood and looked among the things he had pulled out of the box, able to see more clearly now thanks to the Charmander. He reached for the new fedora, and just like Prince said, it was brand new, the tags still attached to the fabric. Zanas removed the stickers and tags, and examined the hat. It was similar to his brown one in style, with the indent on tope that bulged out when worn, and the dip in the front that gave it its specific look. Unlike the other hat it was all black and no other notable designs except for one.

A purple design that looked similar to the ghost Pokémon Haunter was sewn in the right front side of the hat. The design looked just like the creature with a upside down triangular body with two claw like hands that had not attachment to the body what so ever. To make out a mouth and eyes, the designers had left open sockets and gap in place. It was a clever design, one that Zanas hardily approved of. "Not bad mom."

Zanas looked over the rest of the items, the food all was canned or packaged so that it could be stored and cooked for later, and the back pack looked the same in the light as in the dark. Zanas's eyes skimmed over what was left from the box with little interest until his eyes fell upon the note once more. He could make out the words now and read it. He took the letter and squat down to the other to Pokémon, reading the letter to himself as he lightly pushed the Charmander's tail closer toward him.

"I don't know what you did but Oak probably has you cleaning up another on of his messes again. The house isn't going anywhere and your room will be kept the same. I've called in some favor's for that. Sleep well and get rested before you leave tomorrow. The box has everything you'll need. I don't agree with you going on this journey. I never will. But I won't stop you. I won't support you all throughout this but if you ever get into trouble that you can't handle please come home or call me. I love you. Be safe for me."

The note was short, but it said enough. Zanas held the note tightly in his hand as he forced back his tears. No way was he going to cry in front of Prince right now. He folded the paper up and placed it into one of the multiple pockets of the back pack, before loading up the food in as many folds as he could. When he finished he turned to both Pokémon, petting them both but turning to the Charmander. "Were gonna go on one heck of a journey tomorrow. We wanna travel the world, and do some battling along the way."

"Not to mention meet as many women as possible." Zanas flicked Princes nose, but the rat smiled anyway.

"So Duke. Wanna come with?"

The Charmander titled its head for the first time since Zanas spoke. "Duke?" It questioned, with a child's voice.

"That's your name from now on. It's a brave name for a brave guy like you."

Prince snickered. "Not to mention the name of a failed star."

Zanas chuckled. "Well this Duke can bring back the name and make it awesome again." The boy turned back to the youngling and raised an open palm like Prince had done before. "So what do you say?"

The Charmander bit its claw, pondering the offer as best it could. It looked to Prince still questioning its choice, as the rat gave a claw up and nodded his head. This seemed to be enough to sway the fire type as he quickly smiled with an open mouth and pawed the boy's hand. "Well I guess you're in."

Duke nodded his head, smiling with his eyes closed. "You know," Prince said as he pointed to the newly named Duke. "He technically didn't 'Say' anything."

Chapter Text

Two days had passed since Zanas, Prince and Duke marched from the safety of the boy's empty home. It took to pass most of what Pallet town had to offer. A handful of houses were still locked up and quiet so early in the morning, a few shops that sold dolls and homemade trinkets still closed before working hours and of course the lab which may have had its lights on, but if anyone was still inside they were fast asleep.

Zanas didn't stop for even the briefest moment at any of these places. He didn't need to sit down and reminisce about days past. His life in Pallet was like an episode on TV that had been a rerun since the pilot, and he was sick of it. Always the same jokes and people with the same daily grind. It wasn't a bad life per se; it just got dull far too quickly. Add in a rather tough childhood of bullies and bruises up till high school, and there wasn't much to reflect positively on.

Zanas didn't have second thoughts, not this late in. When he stepped into the tall grass, he took off running, holding Prince on his shoulder and Duke in his new napping spot, the indent on the top of his fedora. Before long, Duke and Prince were fighting Rattata left and right, along with the occasional Pidgey, and had grown quickly in level.

Both Duke and Prince were at level eight, the newborn having already learned ember, and the royal rat, gaining immensely in speed, learned quick attack. They reveled in their progress for some time the night before but now both Pokémon were asleep in their respective red and white holders, earning a well-deserved rest. In the meantime, Zanas toyed with the PokeDex, finding it had more than an ever growing encyclopedia for Pokémon, but also a small wealth of information about the creatures' aging process while with a trainer, as well as the league.

"The aging process for Pokémon within captivity can differ greatly from a Pokémon in the wild." The device said with a gender-ambiguous voice. "Pokémon kept as pets can live longer due to being kept from predators or changing weather conditions, but a Pokémon used for battle is quite different. What can be considered a newborn Pokémon can grow into adolescents within a few months to a year depending on how strenuous the living conditions are. Thus the leveling system was theorized as a method to track the growth of a trainer's Pokémon."

The tablet went on to say that the leveling system is not a perfect method as some Pokémon train and live in harsher conditions than others in both the wild and in captivity. "The leveling system is best referred to for trainers that travel regularly and/or are taking the Pokémon League Challenge." The device went on about the rules of the league, but Zanas new these by heart and closed the spring open door to shut the lesson off.

The League rules consisted of the limit of Pokémon a trainer can catch in each area, that being only one per route or cave. This way, humans wouldn't disrupt the Pokémon habitats too harshly and the future generations would still have Pokémon to see and catch. Other than that, the League rules coincided with the state laws, so there wasn't much else to know about the League other than its long history, but Zanas didn't feel like listening to an historical documentary on the PokeDex at the moment. He already knew the most important rule, or rather the most recent one. I've still got nothing better to do then to take on the old challenge

He looked about the Pokémon Center, finally lifting his head from the Pokedex, seeing the mass of people and Pokémon crowded in different groups. The trainers, both young and old, were chatting or arguing about whose Pokémon is the best or which up-and-coming League rival was worth the title of Champion. Meanwhile their Pokémon were off eating, sleeping or fighting like there trainers, but with more growling and biting.

From the outside ,the Pokémon Center was a large white building topped with a red roof. The buildings escalated high off the ground, needing as many rooms for trainers and Pokémon to rest from their travels, or from surgery. Zanas had been sitting in the lobby for most of the day, only sleeping at night in the upper floors. Most people in Pallet town had poked fun at the "prison rooms," but they weren't so bad. Warm blankets, decent bunk beds, and a separate shower room and sink were all a traveling trainer really needed.

The nurses, both male and female, were always kind and patient with their human and Pokémon patients, not to mention some of the women nurses were very attractive. Unless you try to get out of bed before they say you're ready. Then they'll body check you before they let you leave. For the most part, Zanas never saw more than a few of the nurses leave the back rooms where the operations and health checkups were done. In fact, for as many nurses as there were, he'd never even seen a doctor. Come to think of it, he had never heard of a Pokémon doctor ever. Were they all just nurses?

No matter the title, the Centers were a place of recovery and relaxation and the people who ran them made things all the better. Though as helpful as the Center was, like the League, it had its own set of rules. Zanas could only stay for three more days before he would have to move on to the next town and until now, he hadn't caught a single Pokémon. When he walked to the front desk and asked how long his initial starters were going to take, a male nurse told him, "It might be another hour or so. These two were worked to death."

At the comment, Zanas frantically tried to defend his Pokémon's exhaustion, but the man waved a hand as he laughed. "It's just a joke. Don't take it so seriously."

"Sorry." Zanas said, smiling, as he adjusted his fedora downward from habit. "I just don't wanna have those two taken away because of bad Trainer conduct or something."

The male nurse smiled, leaning back in his chair as he fiddled with a pencil. "Unless you walked in here and started kicking your Charmander or beating a Pidgey in the beak, you won't have to worry about losing your Pokémon." The relief on Zanas's face was obvious, and the nurse smiled. "Besides, if you really were treating them poorly, they could just as easily set you on fire or maul your face off."

"Dude." Zanas groaned as he grabed his face, cringing at the thought.

"Good to have a new trainer who has a sense of humor. Pallet town right?"

The question caught Zanas off guard for a moment. "Yeah, how'd you guess?"

"We've been getting a lot of new trainers walking in here lately and since Pallet town is so close by, I just assumed."

So the others got started ahead of me after all? It was probably for the best. Zanas would rather get run down by a Rhydon than have an awkward encounter with anyone from home.

With home on his mind, Zanas quickly thought of one person in particular. "Any chance you saw a brown spiky-haired kid come in here?"

The man thought for a moment, leaning back in his chair as he tried to recall. "Purple shirt, weird yin-yang necklace?"


"Nope haven't seen him."

"You're an ass."

The nurse cracked up at this remark but recovered quickly, seeing that Zanas was looking to get a serious answer. "He came in a few hours ago, while you were out training with your Pokémon, no doubt. Like you, he sort of stuck out from the crowd with that goofy getup of his. Does anyone in Pallet town grasp the concept of style?"

Zanas quickly looked over his cloths; worn out sneakers partially hidden under a pair of loos fitting blue jeans, a green leather jacket and black shirt, and cocked his head to the nurse. "What's wrong with my clothes?"

The male nurse smiled mischievously as he looked over Zanas' clothes, or at least that's what he hoped the guy was looking at. "Nothing much, just they look worn out. You've barely stepped out in the real world yet you look like you just crawled out of a cave."

Zanas shrugged at the man's remark. "They fit me and keep me warm and from breaking any indecency laws, so I don't care all that much if they look good. They suit my needs."

"That sounds like an excuse."

"Well it's not." Zanas snapped back at the nurse. Surprise flashed over the man's face at the sudden bite in Zanas's words. Zanas pressed his fingers against the bridge of his nose and sighed. "Sorry."

The nurse raised his hands in surrender, his smile returning. "No it's fine. I was pushing into your business. Not the first time my curiosity got me in trouble."

"How so?" Zanas asked, thankful to switch the conversation to someone else, but the nurse merely shook his head and told the trainer it was "a story for another day."

Zanas kept himself from asking anything further out of respect for the man doing the same, instead deciding to head outside and get some fresh air. Before leaving, he turned back to the Nurse, wanting to tell him the real reason why he had snapped, but the man had already been dragged away by a Chansey, who seemed very upset at him for some reason.

Zanas walked throughout Viridian, looking in shop windows as he passed them. Brand name gear for the up-and-coming trainer, multiple restaurants serving everything from Orange Island pasta, that Zanas had maybe eaten once, to some hors d'ouevres that he wouldn't even attempt to pronounce. When Zanas took a look at the prices of said food or clothing, the boy's stomach churned. How can you ask me to pay over one hundred bucks for a hat or jacket.

The hat in questions was, for once, not a fedora, but a red billed and white topped baseball cap with a green arrow like insignia on the front. The little label next to the hat said 'one of multiple designs' and had two small pictures of the same hates in different colors, one with a red bill and back and only a white front with the arrow and another completely black and purple. Some of the jackets were of similar design. Others branched out into different brand names, colors and logos.

All looked appealing, but none were within the trainer's price range. Zanas breathed out sullenly. "My cloths suit me. Why would I want to spend money I don't have on anything more?"

He moved on, looking at whatever else the city had in store for him. Seeing many families crowd the shops, while most people his age and older stayed near the PokéMart or open fields. Viridian was definitely a tourist trap for any resting trainer or traveling couple, but in the end there wasn't much to stay for. The city was no different from Pallet town, other than the few attractions to keep children busy. There was an old Gym building out in the farther end of the town, but it had been closed for years. No legal fights, no shows of extravaganza. Just public displays of contempt.

"You wanna say that again!"

"Are you deaf and dumb, you ugly wast of space?!"

Two trainers, looking in their thirties, were arguing outside the PokéMart loud enough for everyone to hear. It was hard to understand what they was so angry about as their words mixed together with shouts. All anyone could make out of their arguing was that the bearded, homeless looking one had dropped his liquor and the clean-cut but overweight man was to blame. Zanas, like the rest of the now gathered crowd, kept at a distance as the two men threw crude slander at one another, then their Pokémon.

The larger man's Sandshrew was the first to catch Zanas's eye. Its cracked desert yellow skin made the creature look foreign to any grassland area, and it's long curved claws showed that it could either climb or dig with great speed. The other Pokémon was a Mankey, a white furred primate Pokémon with a glare as sharp as knives, and a pig nose just under its peepers. Zanas suppressed a laugh at the creature's looks, wondering where the thing's mouth was under all that fur. It looks like a pig with thumbs

The two trainers coached their Pokémon into what moves to use and how to use each. Even while drunk, the men clearly had a strategy in mind. The Sandshrew moved first with a sand-attack and then quickly dug underground after the Mankey missed with a low kick. Seeing there was no way to avoid the oncoming attack, the hobo ordered his Mankey to take guard and jump at the very last second. The primate did as was ordered and crossed its arms over its body, squatting down to jump when ready. Before long, the Sandshrew burst from the ground sending chunks of dry and wet dirt in every direction, slashing upward at the Mankey.

The defending Pokémon took the blow in stride, jumping upward with the Sandshrew rather than letting the digger's force launch it in the air. Now both Pokémon were in mid air, the fat man's Sandshrew having to follow the other man's Pokémon to land its hit. "Now Rogan, grab it and throw as hard as you can!"

Zanas blinked for a second, and suddenly the Sandshrew was being swung around in circles by the Mankey, who had grabbed tightly onto its tail. The crowd marveled and cheered as the white furred bruiser sent the desert mole through the air straight into the ground. The Sandshrew hit with a hard thud, head first as it punctured a head sized hole into the ground, just left of the previously dug hole. "That was a seismic toss!" Someone in the crowd cheered. That was so fast, I almost missed the impact. Zanas looked back and forth between the Mankey, now landing with a roll, and the Sandshrew, yelling at the ground type Pokémon to get back up. The mole did manage to pull its head out of the indent in the ground, but quickly fell backward, passing out from such a surprisingly powerful throw.

The crowd was cheering for more, calling out to keep the battle going, but in the confusion the larger man admitted he had only the one creature on him. "That's alright." The homeless man said, as he crossed his fist against the other's jaw. "I'll keep this going myself!" The two men started to fight one another, throwing punches left and right. Some people cheered for a bigger brawl while others realized that this had devolved into something more than just the usual trainer battle and tried to pull the two off of each other.

Eventually the two were pulled away from each other, the police thankfully not having to intervene. The crowd dispersed, having seen enough. Many of them had gone to start their own Pokémon battles, but not anything too rowdy for either human or the creatures. After the fight had been broken up, Zanas walked around town once more, this time at a faster pace. His hands were shaking, and every little sound made him jump and twitch. He eyed the other fights, but found he couldn't sit still long enough to watch them.

They were tame, normal sportsman like brawls between the trainers and their Pokémon. Nothing else blew out of proportion like at the market. So why did he feel so antsy? For whatever the reason, his hands stopped quaking by the time he returned to the center, less than twenty minutes after the fight. Both Duke and Prince were sitting casually on the waiting room chairs, accompanied by the nurse from before.

"Zanas!" Duke happily cried out as he ran and hugged the boy's leg. Zanas bent down and set the dragon in the indent of his hat, running his hand over the creature's head and down its back.

"How you feeling?" Zanas asked both Pokémon, sitting down to pet Prince behind his ears. Neither Pokémon spoke up while being pet, but the minute Zanas removed his hands, both went frantic relaying how enjoyable their stay was.

Duke gushed over the delicious food he had munched on for the past hour, while the "Nice rainbow haired ladies pet me as I napped." Prince however, went into descriptive detail over how he tried to woo the female Pokémon into curling up with him, never saying the outcome of said wooing, though Duke filled in the details of the physical abuse the rodent suffered.

Zanas gave Prince a look as if to ask, "Seriously?"

Prince shrugged and rolled his eyes. "These girls just can't handle me. They're all too shy or…agitated."

Zanas smiled and pet both of his Pokémon, only now looking up to the male nurse who had been keeping watch. "Thanks for keeping these two from running amuck."

The nurse waved his hand at Zanas, a motion that he must do to everyone, and said it was nothing. "The Rattata was the only one who really gave me trouble, but he came out with more than enough bruises and bites, so there's no need for any more grief." Zanas smiled at Prince, who looked away, standing proper, taking offense to what was said. "So did you see anything interesting in our fair city?"

Zanas told the nurse about the drunken brawl, leaving out the details of the fight between the Mankey and Sandshrew, and for once the nurse frowned.

"Things like that happen here sometimes, but it's still an annoyance to have to patch up both the Pokémon and their trainers over some stupid squabbles."

"Now natural disasters or death, that's a whole different story."

"Exactly!" The nurse broke out laughing, slapping his knee again. Suddenly two Chanseys and three very angry looking nurses appeared behind the male nurse, having heard the man's loud bellowing. The nurse didn't even turn around and when Zanas tried to inform him of what was behind him, he merely waved him off once more. "I know, I know." He said, getting to his feet.

"All work and no play, that's my life." He stood up, shaking Zanas's hand, without giving the boy any time to respond or shake freely, and said, "It was fun while it lasted I suppose." He walked off as the nurses began yelling one thing after another behind him; the only words that Zanas or his Pokémon could understand were Mr. Joy. They sat silently, Zanas and Prince both bewildered by what had just happened. Duke however waved the man goodbye, smiling brightly, oblivious to everything.

Prince, breaking from his confusion, crawled up Zanas' shoulder, lightly pawing the side of his face to get the trainer's attention. "So who won?"

"The Mankey used a seismic toss and knocked the Sandshrew out."

Prince smiled widely behind his large teeth. "Now that sounds like a Pokémon to have on our team."

Zanas looked at Prince blankly for a brief moment then smiled, looking off to the side as he pictured the idea of having a Mankey of his own. "That actually wouldn't be a half bad idea."

At the mere mention of a new Pokémon, Duke leaned forward, over the tip of Zanas' fedora, smiling innocently. "A new friend?"

"That's right."

Duke cheered and hunkered back down into the fedora, wiggling in the indent with anticipation. Zanas pulled out his PokeDex, hoping to find something that would tell him where to look for the pig face thumb user.

Chapter Text

Duke glared intensely at the white-haired monkey, locking eyes with the rival Pokémon, his eyes wide and bulging as his stare grew more and more intense. Prince shifted his gaze between the two, hoping that the Mankey who would break first.

The Mankey, just as wide-eyed as Duke, stared into the lizard's eyes, only with a more comfortable gaze. She sat cross-legged, not moving a muscle. She had her tail wrapped around her waist so the lizard wouldn't have an excuse when he lost. The two sat there for five long minutes, the longest minutes in the Charmander's young life. Duke's eyes were tearing up as his eyelids twitched, the Mankey keeping as still as a statue.

"Come on, Duke, just hold out a little longer," Prince begged the fire breather. "There's too much at stake!"

But it was no use, Duke gave into the need and blinked, slapping his paws onto his eyes and rubbing them as he fell over on his back. "No fair…" he groaned.

"It's completely fair," Babe said, her eyes smiling for her unseen mouth as she too rubbed her eyes in relief. "Neither of you could beat me even after five rounds. I won fair and square." Defeated and emasculated, thy groaned but subsided, knowing they were beat. They looked to one another and sighed, holding their paws out to Babe to finalize their bet with the new member of the team.

Ever since Zanas had caught Babe - a very friendly and interesting Mankey - the three had been playing games nonstop. Duke loved every moment of tag, as well as making their grinding sessions a competition. Work had turned into one giant game for him. Prince felt the same. He was enjoying himself far more than before, now that when Zanas was training one of them, there were two left to keep each other company.

Babe - a very calm and open minded Mankey - was the kind of creature to think any and all thoughts out loud, leaving her friends to tilt their heads in confusion due to the absence of context. She was a character, and that made her fit in with the young boy's group even more. She was already level five when they met her, and easily racked up levels. At the moment, she was the most balanced member of the team. Duke was the powerhouse in strength and had a decent defense, while Prince was the speedy one; first to attack and last to be hit, if ever. Babe had good strength and speed, but was greatest in defense, making Zanas's small team fully rounded.

The three lied in the grass, content in looking at the clouds as Babe named off each shape she saw. "There's a Caterpie." She said.

"I say it's a Kangaskhan," Prince objected.

"Then I say you're blind."

"Who are you to talk, no-mouth?"

"Who says I don't have a mouth?"

Babe gave a small giggle, which sounded alien to Prince, as this Mankey seemed too tomboy to giggle in such a cute manner. A long calming silence filled the air, as they continued to stare at the sky. Duke tilted his head in every direction, trying to find the shapes in the clouds. He had never seen any of the Pokémon mentioned so only the shapes of food and his friends came through.

"What do you think clouds taste like?" Babe asked suddenly. Prince began laughing from this remark and looked at the monkey questioningly.

"What made you think of such a weird question?"

"Your remark about my mouth made me think of eating and since were talking about clouds I wondered what they taste like."

"Maybe like ice cream?" Duke chimed in

"Why would you think they taste like ice cream?" Prince mocked

"Maybe that's why the clouds drop snow in winter and water in summer," Zanas added from a distance, "because they're melting." He was walking toward the group holding a few bags of snacks that were cooked especially for Pokémon. The trio quickly rushed to their trainer, Duke yelling out the boy's name in joy at his return. Zanas pet each of them lovingly, Duke especially since he was struggling so desperately to climb into the boys arms, then reached for the treat bags.

He opened each one and dumped the treats into the hands and paws of his team. Prince and Duke gazed at the food with wide eyes and opened their mouths to devour the treats. Just as they were about to shovel the flower-shaped cookies into their, they heard an unsubtle cough from Babe. Duke and Prince both looked at the Mankey and then to each other, groaning as they unwillingly handed over their snacks. She took their snack happily and after a pause returned half of what she had taken, to the surprise of both Pokémon.

"The shame of your defeat is worth half of what you owe me, so I'll be a generous victor." Both charity cases shoveled the food in their mouths. Prince, now fake crying, bowed in front of the white-haired monkey and said, "all hail the generous queen Babe. Thank you for showing us mortals such mercy."

Babe played along with this game, and raised her hand in the air to signal Prince could rise. Zanas was on the ground, laughing so hard that pain shot through his stomach. "Your royal highness, what have you done?! You have forsaken your status so quickly for food?"

Princes swiftly ran up to Zanas's face, his eyes glaring into the boy's, just inches away. "Don't you dare judge me; you would do the same in my position!" A harsh silence grew from the remark, but was soon shoved off by the boy and rat's laughter. Duke looked at the two, having a slower reaction to the joke.

As things died down, the group sat together, commenting on the day thus far and what all was planned; training, eating, then finally leaving the town later at night, when a loud scream made them all jump to their feet. "Sweet Arceus help me!"

"What was that?!" Prince asked as he rushed up to Zanas's shoulder for an elevated look. Duke stayed on all fours, his tail stuck high in the air as his tail flared more intensely, while Babe rushed up the nearest tree. Zanas listened for the screams, and heard aother voice, just as high-pitched only more frustrated and familiar.

"Incoming!" Babe declared, warning that the voices were coming closer, as she jumped from the trees and onto the first figure that burst into sight. Duke and Zanas then followed suit and leapt at the next figures to appear. Prince lost his grasp on Zanas's shoulders and fell off. Zanas and Duke rolled backwards with their respective targets as they landed on top. Letting this eyes focus after spinning wildly on the ground, Zanas realized who exactly he was sitting on top of.

"…Melody?!" Zanas cried his faced blushing immensely. Not again! The girl that Zanas had met days before was once again under his weight, glaring hatefully at him.

"I'm having a strange and horrible case of déjà vu," Melody growled. Zanas gulped and leapt off of Melody, offering his hand to help her on her feet. He desperately apologized over and over as the girl brushed the dirt off of her white skirt, ignoring most of what Zanas said. Before the boy could start to explain exactly why he had jumped her, again, he heard the source of the earlier commotion right behind him. "Please don't eat me! I'm all boney and stringy!"

The boy turned around, and saw a Pidgey with a food bucket over its head, while Babe stood with one foot on the Pokémon's tail, keeping the brown-feathered and white-crested bird grounded. Duke, meanwhile, was now rolling on the ground, playing happily with Melody's Bulbasaur, Summer. Zanas turned to Melody, confusion replacing his sorrowful look, but the girl's face was still hot red with anger - or blush - and her cheeks were puffed out like a Jigglypuff's when angry.

Zanas felt a cold chill down his spine as he laughed nervously. "So…how have you been doing?" The girl didn't answer; she merely glared at the boy, clutching her hands on her short sleeves. Zanas looked around to his team, his eyes begging for help. Only Prince met eyes with the trainer. Prince looked just as confused as Zanas, and far more irritated, having fallen hard to the ground during the tussle.

"What in the Reverse World is going on?!"


"It's not my fault!" Melody screamed through the girl's bathroom in the Poke Center. "I don't want to go into that forest unless I'm prepared."

"Making me wait two hours while you put makeup on is hardly getting prepared. How much are you even putting on in there?"

"None of your business. Besides, you owe me."Melody snapped

"Ya ya, I know."

Melody had calmed down once Zanas had apologized for the hundredth time. She explained that the Pidgey had been taking food from a garbage can behind the mart. She knew that the forest was full of bug type Pokémon and thought catching a flying type would be a smart move. However, she spooked the creature, after missing it with the PokeBall, and sent it on into frenzy, the bucket covering up the creature's vision as it frantically flew around.

She had sent Summer out ahead to chase it down, running all over town before finally being tackled by Zanas. Melody's anger escalated again when she realized the damage to her outfit, which now had tears and and a assortment of greens and browns from the tall grass and mud she had tracked through to follow the Pidgey. She threatened to "Murder that avian bastard," when Zanas gave a proposition.

He convinced her that he would make up for tackling her again by escorting her through the forst, s well as taking the Pidgey off her hands as she no longer cared for the flying-type SHe agreed, and since then, Zanas let his team calm the newer member down while he paied for the girls laundry bills and waited for her.

Melody insisted they return to the center, after having to dirty her outfit chasing the Pidgey. Zanas was in no position to argue and instead followed her inside. The male nurse was nowhere to be found. Zanas assumed he was being forced to work today, so he sat against the wall, and had what appeared to others as a one way conversation with the wooden door next to him.

Zanas sat against the wall, whistling, rocking and people watching until either his team returned with the Pidgey, or Melody was ready to leave. I should already be in Pewter by now damnit. Gary probably already has two badges at this point.

The thought of his friend made Zanas grow still as he began contemplating how far behind he truly was. What if he is already on his third? Or going to his fourth?! Gary has more competition than just me to deal with. Arceus, I am way too far behind!

Zanas jumped to his feet, and pulled an arm back to bang on the restroom door. They needed to get out of this town now! The door swung open just barely missing contact with the boy's head. Zanas's eyes shot open wide as he looked at Melody in her new attire. She had ditched the white hat and simply brought her hair back into a pony tail. Her blue top was now a bright pink tank top that cut off just a little down her chest, a blue jacket hugging her shoulders with long sleeves that stretch down her arms. Her white skirt was replaced with short denim jeans that stretched just above her knees and she now wore black leggings.

"Alright we can go now, mister impatient." Zanas stood in front of Melody, frozen in place as she passed him. She walked over to a pull out a bin on the far side of the center carrying, her hat in her right hand, which she put back on her head, and in her left was her old bag of cloths. She dumped the cloths in the pull out compartment and then talked to one of the nurses. Zanas didn't hear what she was talking about, his eyes glued to the girl's figure that was much more shown through her new outfit.

The boy was so busy staring up and down their girl's back; he didn't feel Prince jump to his shoulder until he whispered in Zanas's ear. "Ooo Zanas baby."

Zanas jumped and slapped the rat off his shoulder, harder than he meant, and sent him flying against the wall. The boy knelt down and picked up his friend. "Sorry!"

Prince was laughing too hard from the reaction the boy gave to say anything, merely waving his paw at the boy. Zanas looked over his shoulder to see Babe and duke smiling and laughing at their trainer's expense along with the Pidgey they had recently recruited. Zanas sighed, knowing he had been caught but thankful it wasn't Melody who had seen him gawking. The boy helped Prince to his shoulder, and then knelt down to the brown-feather bird, petting it lovingly on its head, just behind its neck. The bird cooed and relaxed into Zanas's hands, but still jumped and twitched at the loud sounds of the Center.

"So, what can I call you? Fidget maybe?"

The bird shook its head and flew to the boy's free shoulder. "I-if it's ok with you I'd like to go by my real name, Pepper."

The boy sat back on one of the rows of seats nearest to him, continuing to pet the bird Pokémon. The voice was soft and hard to hear over the talking and shouting around them, but it was easy to tell that Pepper's voice was feminine. "I hope these guys explained where we are going?"

Pepper nodded, looking down from where she was perched. Zanas smiled and saw that the bird was still hesitant in her choice. "You don't have to come with us. I'd never want to force anyone to do something they don't want."

"But I do!" She suddenly blurted, taking Zanas and Prince aback. Duke looked wide-eyed and confused between the bird and Zanas, while Babe let her gaze trail off, saying something about the addiction to yellow tiles in the building.

Pepper blushed, to Zanas's surprise, not used to anything other than a purple rodent grow red, and shook her head frustrated. "I do want to go on this journey. I'm just a little scared…and confused."

"Confused about what?" Prince blurted. "You'll have me and Duke on your team so there is no worry about getting hurt" Prince shifted his gaze to Babe, who was still preoccupied with her own thoughts and rushed over the boy's arms to the bird and whispered, "But be careful about the Mankey. She's a crafty one."

"I can still hear you, rodent." Babe said, not turning to face any of her team mates.

Pepper froze in fear, Prince in mock fear, both looking to one another as he weakly smiled. "See what I mean?"

Zanas poked the Rattata in the gut, making him fall over onto the cushion. "Don't mind him, he's eccentric." Pepper giggled, covering her beak with her wing. Zanas let her down and pet behind her neck again. "I can promise you that nothing bad will happen to you while you're with us. Not if I can help it."

Duke jumped up to the cushion and patted pepper one the back. "You're a part of the world's greatest Pokémon team. No way we could lose."

"Ok…" she smiled weakly, then brightly back at her team, her fears seeming to subside for the moment.

Chapter Text

"Ah!" Pepper and Melody screamed, as another Weedle crawled closer to them from behind. Pepper franticly flapped her wings, causing a small twist of air to pick up the Weedle, along with two other insect types, away and send them soaring through the tops of the trees.

"And that makes a clean twenty bugs that we've successfully launched into the atmosphere," Prince quipped. Ever since Zanas, Melody, and their respective Pokémon entered the Viridian forest, she and Pepper had done nothing but act paranoid and scream at every bush or patch of grass that twitched in the breeze.

It was starting to get on the boy's nerves, how often the two would carry on their rants about bugs and being creeped on from behind, but Zanas couldn't complain due to Pepper's win ratio thus far. She started at such a low level but now she was almost matched with Duke and the other two, and all they were fighting were wild Weedles and Caterpies. Even so.

"How much longer until we get out of this damned forest of death?!" Melody screamed openly to the sky. Zanas wasn't sure if this was a question directed toward him, or anyone in particular.

"We haven't even been here for an hour yet and you've already screamed your lungs out over twenty times." Zanas said, sharply. "How have you not suffered a heart attack by now?"

"Good cardio and I never go outside of a town or city unless it's totally necessary!" She snapped back.

"She really picked the wrong profession if she didn't want to travel into the wilds." Babe said plainly.

Zanas and Prince snickered at this. Melody, getting flustered, turned bright red again. I'm getting more used to that face than her actual one. Zanas thought, and almost said aloud to his Pokémon.

"You said you would escort me out of this forest and quickly as safely as possible," Melody barked, jabbing her finger into Zanas's chest.

"And I will." Zanas grabbed Melody's hand as she jabbed her finger at him, and threw it to the side with little resistance. "But we can't just run through here blindly. This place is like a maze if you're not paying attention to where you're going, so we need to keep calm and walk." Zanas emphasized the word 'calm' as he poked Melody's forehead, pushing her back a bit.

Melody puffed her cheeks and crossed her arms, turning on her heels and marching forward, too angry to be scared anymore, or at least that's what Zanas hoped. The forest was exactly like any other; long, winding and full of trees that all looked the same. There were a few paths between the numerous hundred year giants, but some paths stretched into dead ends, or worked as long ways around shorter routes. The forest was like a kindergarten corn maze; simple and easy to navigate, but long and tiresome to track through.

As they walked on, Pepper flew to the boy's shoulder, panting hard and shaking and shivering worse than Whismur, a pink bunny looking Pokémon that was prone to vibrate and make murmuring noises when at its most calm.

"You doing alright Pep?" Zanas asked as he reached to pet her.

The Pidgey nodded as his hand ran down her head to her back, calming her down a bit but not enough to make her stop shaking. "They're….they're everywhere. They just don't stop…."

Prince laughed openly about this and climbed up his trainer's pant leg to the other shoulder. "To be fair, Twitchy, most were just offering to show us the way out."

"I know, but," Pepper peeped as she pulled from Zanas's hand. "…they just keep sneaking up behind me and those Weedles have those large poisonous stingers on their heads and those freaky Caterpie's with their large soulless eyes…like a doll's eyes!"

Zanas turned his gaze to Pepper, Duke turning with him. "You want to switch out with the others for a bit? Just to relax?" Pepper nodded, smiling lightly. As much of a surprise powerhouse this little bird was, she still needed to take breaks here and there or else she would pass out from exhaustion, whether from fighting or screaming.

"What's a doll?" Duke asked, clinging to Zanas's pant leg. The trainer picked up the youngest of his team and placed him on top of his fedora, petting the lizard as it gleefully rolled into the indentation of the hat.

"It's a soft little look alike of people or Pokémon," Zanas explained. "Most of the time they are cute and cuddly. Like you."

Duke beamed a smile and hugged the top of Zanas's hat. "So why do you think they are creepy, Pepper?"

The Pidgey looked to Duke, her eyes wide with fear as she recalled what a doll looked like. "Because they have large black empty eyes that just stare at you endlessly, never moving or blinking!"

Duke frowned and crawled forward to look at Zanas. "Does that make me creepy? "

Prince snickered at the desperation in the Charmander's voice. "Kid, the only thing you could scare is a bug or grass type and even that is pushing it."

Zanas resisted the urge to knock some sense into Prince since this half insult half compliment seemed to cheer Duke back up.

"Hey guys?" Babe tugged on Zanas's pant leg. "I hate to break up the cute character moment with you all, but where did the Melody go?"

An answer came in the form of a loud, ear-splitting scream to the north. Babe scampered to the nearest tree and leaped from branch to branch, leaping from branch to branch, as Zanas followed closely behind, kicking up pieces of grass and dirt as he sprinted hard toward the source of the screaming. Pepper, Duke and Prince all clutched to Zanas's clothing, Pepper screaming as the boy picked up speed.

When they found her, Zanas skid to a halt, kneeling next to Melody, who seemed to have been knocked backward, and looked in shock.

"What happened? Why did you scream?" Zanas turned to see a boy, not much older looking than ten, wearing shorts, a white t-shirt, sandals and a straw hat and holding a large bug catcher net.

"So….does that mean I win?"


"If those kids didn't have betting money from the battles, they wouldn't have been worth the trouble," Zanas grunted, as he and his team limped lazily toward the forest exit.

"Too exhausted…for witty comeback," Prince gasped between breaths as he let his body rest limply, like a wet towel on his trainer's shoulder. Duke was just as exhausted, weakly sprawled on top of Zanas's hat, panting heavily as he looked toward the sky.

"I don't like bugs. They are annoying and stupid," The fire lizard wheezed. Even Pepper was exhausted, though she had screamed herself into her stupor. She laid in Zanas's arms, wings open and dead looking, her eyes wide open and staring, just like the dolls she hates.

"If I never see a bug type Pokémon it will be too soon," The white monkey griped for the first time since meeting Zanas. "I almost feel like head butting a tree for entertainment."

"That would give you even more of a headache," Duke moaned

Zanas huffed out a laugh. "Speaking of headaches, Melody hurry your ass up!"

"Excuse me!" the girl said as if not comprehending what Zanas said, which was possible as she too was panting, limping behind the boy and his team. "That is not how you talk to a lady."

Zanas lazily turned his gaze to the Melody, attempting to glower at her but just gave her a look that, if she had noticed, would have confused her. "Maybe not but it IS how I talk to ear-splitting harpy, like yourself."

Melody had been spooked when she ran into the bug catcher boy, who, in her words, assaulted her with a Caterpie, a green skinned and yellow -bellied segmented worm Pokémon with a red y-shaped horn on its head. When she screamed, she doubled over and started kicking wildly in the air trying to fling the insect off of her leg.

The boy then screamed, yelling that she was trying to hurt his Caterpie and the entire argument escalated from there, until the boy's brothers rushed to the youngest sibling's rescue. The fights weren't difficult for Zanas or his team to handle, Babe staying back and letting Duke and Pepper deal most of the damage while Prince ran circles around every worm and cocoon Pokémon thrown at them. The catchers never stood a chance; however these battles did last longer than necessary, what with the cocoon creatures, Medapod, a green-shelled evolved form of Caterpie, and Kakuna, the yellow-shelled evolution to Weedle, all used their harden ability to make them more and more difficult to knock out.

The boys gave Zanas his winnings, then ran off, all crying over how they ever could have lost to such a jerk. Even the eldest, who looked about sixteen, was crying.

After all the chaos, and more hiking, the group had reached a building intersection that jutted out from the north of the forest, or north compared to the boy's line of vision. This building was the only thing separating the forest from the city ahead, Pewter, and the only place to rest for the night under a cool roof. What should have been a two day trip through the woods, had been jumped to a six hour run, the afternoon now long gone and replaced with almost pure darkness, except for the lights from the building. In a way, however, Zanas was much more grateful. After over staying his welcome in Viridian City, he felt like he had made up for the lost time with all the running, and sooner than later he would have his very first badge.

Zanas pictures his first victory as a professional trainer. His first real gym battle would be a complete success. His imagination was let free, with a parade and cute girls and all, until he hit a soft feminine wall. Zanas leaned to the side, as did his Pokémon as they looked to see why exactly Melody had stopped. Sure enough, it was because of another bug. A Medapod, just sitting, or standing depending on the person, in the way of air conditioning soft couches and food.

"You want me to take care of this, or you going to stand here for a while." Zanas said, poking the girl's side and making her jump to the right and slap his hand.

"Just!...just take care of this." She sighed, folding her arms around herself as she continued to watch the Pokémon.

Zanas rolled his eyes, wondering where her previous blood lust for Pokémon had gone. He walked to the Medapod, his team jumping down from their trainers frame and followed close behind. As Zanas neared the green shell Pokémon, he knelt down and locked eyes with the creatures. It looked like every other Medapod he had faced today. A hard green shell that was bent to make the face of the creature, or where a face would be, push forward, with large black eyes that, unlike Peppers description, were very much full of life and at the top of the shell was two sharp edges poking out in a v shape with a large dull point in between, shooting foreword to the sky.

"So," Zanas began, not attempting to hide his exhaustion. "Let me make this clear. I, and my friends are tired, and you are horribly low leveled compared to them.

"I can see that." The Medapod spoke, to Zanas's amazement. He never thought to get an answer out of the living shell, or at least nothing audible. The voice was deep and the accent sounded very Irish. The creature's words rolled and emphasized more on the "I" and "eh" sound more than anything. I'm way too tired to question why. Zanas thought

"So…if we agree on that, then I can assume we can agree that neither of us is up for a fight, correct?"

The Medapod looked away for a moment as if it were thinking intently about what Zanas had said, but answered just as quickly as before. "Aye, I would prefer to avoid trouble."

Zanas smiled, already liking this Medapod; so easy to convince and rationalize with. "So here's the deal. If you move….or allow me to put you to the side, I won't have to do anything rash and exert myself and you won't…"

"Be flung into the far reaches of the unknown?" The Medapod finished Zanas's sentence, making sound like less of a question and more of a fact.

"Exactly. So how about it? No trouble?"

Again the Medapod looked to its side, now taking a moment to contemplate what was said. Its eyes, like babes, shimmered and smiled for its lack of mouth. "Agreed."

"Awesome" Zanas reached to pick up the Medapod, thankful to avoid another fight he didn't want.

"On! condition."

Zanas froze still and glared hatefully at the bug Pokémon. The two locked eyes, staring each other down, neither about to move or blink.

"What?" Zanas asked, with bile.

"You take me with you"

"Why would we want to bring a statue with us?" Prince asked, jumping from Zanas's back to behind the Pokémon. He lightly pushed the shell over, it wiggling desperately to keep still but ultimately failing and falling face first.

"Your right bastard!" It screamed, struggling desperately to sit back up again.

"He does have a point." Babe interjected as she walked over and sat the insect back up. "You have no attacks other than harden correct? That isn't exactly a skill we need for this team."

"Besides I'm sick of bugs." Duke whines. "You are all mean and annoying.

"That right there is racism" the Medapod said in an "as a matter of fact" tone.

"What's that?" Duke asked, tilting his head.

The Medapod looked dumbly at the Charmander, as Babe sighed, her eyes smiling at Dukes cuteness, while Prince snickered at the newborn's naiveté.

Zanas knelt back down to pet Duke. "I'll explain that later. In the mean time." Zanas looked to the Medapod questionably. "Why do you want to come with us?"

The Medapod's eyes grew wide in shock, then in anger. "Are you daft boyo? All I've ever known, ever seen is this bloody forest. I've grown quite tired of this place. Even when I was just a wee Caterpie all I ever wanted was to travel the globe? But I was a bloody worm! No one wanted me. So I decided to make myself evolve and grow strong enough to either leave on my own or for some daft human, like yourself, to bring me along."

Zanas took offense to the "daft" comment but decided to let it slide, motioning the Pokémon to hurry up.

"Meh point is that I want to get the hell out of this place!"

Duke covered his mouth and chuckled. "He said a bad word...right?"

Everyone but the Medapod found this worth laughing for, and instead shouted multiple swears, to the horror of the others.

"Hey, hey, relax." Zanas said, as he placed a hand on the irate creature. "I get the need to want to leave, but you're still not making a case for yourself. I need a strong team, a balanced team." Zanas looked to the squad already amassed, showing themselves off to further the point. Zanas looked back to the Medapod, with the most serious face he could muster. 'What do you offer?"

The Medapod blankly stared at the trainer, as if the question asked was so simple it insulted the creature's inelegance.

"I evolve into a psychic type. And I'll have bug type moves that are effective against water and grass types."

Chapter Text

The inside of the intersection building looked more like a hotel lobby, and a fancy one at that. The building was long in length, with bright tan tiled floors, dark pink walls with flat screens spaced every five feet away from each other and an upstairs which was made up of guest rooms and large windows that let you see the entirety of the forest from a higher view.

After checking into the building and finding a room to stay, Melody rushed quickly off to bed, shivering as she thought about how filthy she and her clothes were. Not to mention she wasn't especially happy that Zanas had brought a bug Pokémon with him, but since she was in civilization again, she didn't complain. Zanas checked into his room, letting the team sleep in the bed, on the fan blades and even in the bath tub. He made the team promise to stay inside the room, or to come to the lobby if they needed him for anything.

"Don't wonder off. I don't want to spend the entire morning looking for you guys."

They all exchanged smart remarks to one another as their way of saying good night and Zanas returned to the lobby letting, himself take the breath he had been resisting for so long. His hands shook intensely and his walk was now more of a jerky robotic limp. Ever since he had easily brushed off those Bug-Catcher brothers in the forest he had felt so antsy. No not antsy, irritated. Zanas had been feeling this intense urge to run or maybe scream, he couldn't tell, and it wasn't letting up like last time.

Not wanting to just randomly scream at the ceiling, he returned to the lobby and sat on one of the red velvet seats in front of the flat screen, and turned the volume up slightly to hear the news. Usually he didn't care to watch or read anything within the world of recent events, but at the moment a pay per view Pokémon battle was out of the question financially and the TV didn't have that many channels besides basic cable. Local school awards, a couple of robberies here and there, but nothing really seemed worth listening to. Zanas just zoned out, bawling his fists up in his sleeves as the intense feeling continued to rush through him.

I just need to relax. He thought. Switch the channel to something… sleep inducing.

He moved to the side of the TV, franticly pushing at the channel button until landing on a documentary channel. If anything was going to help him sleep, it would be the power of learning. The show playing was about the intelligence of Pokémon in modern society and how humans need to adapt to the change. Zanas spent hours watching the show, surprised at the direction it was taking and finding the hosts fairly entertaining. Eventually the program came to an end, but Zanas was not a bit sleepy although his shaking had lessened to a more bearable twitch.

"You still up?" Zanas turned to see Melody, now changed into a white top with a winking Mudkip and text under it saying, "Like's Mudkips," and pink pajamas with Jiggly puff faces all over.

Zanas smiled at the amusing attire, or maybe the nervousness from his twitching, and shrugged.

"Just a little insomnia I guess. You?" Melody sat next to Zanas, who moved over to make room on the small seat, and adjusted her pajama bottoms.

"Pretty much the same. I never could fall asleep very early. I just toss and turn and get fed up after a while." She stretched as if to prove how uncomfortable she was before coming down stairs, her chest pushed forward and her hips pushing back. Melody was definitely a pretty girl, but even this slight flash of body couldn't distract Zanas, who was now kicking his heel off the ground.

"What were you watching?" She asked as she released her stretch.

"Um… a documentary about a theory on Pokémon intelligence."

"For or against?"

"What?" Zanas turned to face the girl, shooting a puzzled look. Melody moved to speak but instead yawned.

"Was… ahhhhhhhwn… was it for or against the theory."

"Um… mostly it was for it. A lot of the scientists and specialist were promoting more equal treatment of Pokémon since they can be taught and comprehend more complex thoughts that most people give them credit for."

"Like your Rattata for example?" Melody teased. Zanas gave a loud "Ha!" and shook his head.

"Prince has a fairly predictable thought pattern once you spend some time with him," Zanas chuckled as he started to count down with his fingers. "Eat, sleep, fail at impressing the opposite sex and then eat again. Oh and less I forget, smart mouthing his trainer. He has been excelling at that lately."

"Like Trainer like Pokémon. You two seem like the perfect pair."

Zanas laughed at the remark. "I hope you're not implying anything with that."

Melody took in a quick breath, acting shocked at Zanas's assumption. "I, unlike certain people, do not think about such things."

"In public." Zanas finished the girls sentence.

"Bite me fedora boy."

The two talked for the next hour, laughing at some of the conversations that Zanas held with his team prior to the events in the forest. As time passed, Zanas was taken aback at how easy it was to talk to Melody. She wasn't like other girls back in Pallet town. She was attractive sure, but she was very down to earth as well. Heck this felt almost as comfortable as talking to Gary, only with less arm punching, which usually led to face punching. I just realized how weird I am around that guy.

"So," Melody began, interrupting Zanas's thoughts. "Why Pokémon?"

Zanas tilted his head, not registering the question asked. "Can you clarify that?"

Melody giggled, in a way that made Zanas blush but smile at the same time. "How are you able to speak to Pokémon and why do you all the time. I mean, I've only seen you talk to a selective amount of people, and you never do phone calls or anything"

Zanas sat up from being hunched over and let out a sigh, his expression shifting to a sign of impatience. Melody picked up on the mood shift and waved her open palms in front of herself. "N-never mind. That might have been too personal."

Zanas shook his head and waved her off. "A little but it's no big deal." Zanas cracked his back, feeling the need after sitting curled up on the long sofa for so long. "To start, ever since I first learned to talk I've been able to communicate with Pokémon. It was faint at first. I could only hear or rather understand the words I had already learned so some times when a Pidgey chirped at me that was all I heard." Melody listened in closely, now hunching over like Zanas was before, entertained with this inner character depth of the strange Kantoian.

"As I got older I was able to understand Pokémon better and talk to them like I would other people only much more... enjoyable."

"How so?"

Zanas rolled his eyes but kept from groaning. "Now you're starting to hit the hard stuff."

Melody grit her teeth, taking the remark too hard and pouting. "Well excuse me for taking an interest in your life jerk."

Zanas moved to bark something back at her, but he knew he was out of line. He didn't have to say that the way he did nor was the eye motion necessary. A brief silenced lingered before anyone said anymore, but before it could take a seat with them, Zanas continued his verbal biography.

"While growing up, I tried to make friends with other kids by promising I could speak with Pokémon and let them know what their pets really thought of them. Sometimes they were impressed, other times skeptical, and depending on what the pet told me sometimes they got violent. Those who believed that I actually had this 'gift' labeled me a freak and those who didn't called me a liar and blamed me when their Pokémon retaliated against them." Zanas grit his teeth, his fists clenching as his body started to shake all over again, only not like before.

"It got worse as I got older. Soon money was a big factor in my 'popularity'. So much so that some of the kids would start rumors with no fact or even logic behind them just to bug me. So eventually I just fought back, but instead of words I used my hands, and occasionally my knees." Zanas chuckled at a memory of kneeing a kid right in the crotch, dropping him like a Geodude. "And for once I felt strong, I felt like I didn't have to hide behind anything. Go ahead let them talk crap about me, let them think I'm a freak. I would make them too scared to say anything to my face let alone actually do anything to me. Then I could just enjoy the company of my real friends."

As Zanas spoke, he would turn his gaze back and forth between the upper wall and to Melody, watching her change her expression each time he looked back at her, from curiosity to what he would assume was pity. It ate at him, more than he should have allowed but still. His expression didn't hide his irritation either. Melody quickly grew nervous again and broke eye contact with the boy, afraid to even turn to his general direction again.

"Sorry," Melody said, taking Zanas by surprise. "I didn't mean to get you so riled up."

Zanas sighed but chuckled as well. "Actually… I feel a lot better. I haven't talked about those days since before Gary and I left town so… I appreciate your curiosity, as annoying as it is." Zanas's smile returned with vigor, parting his lips to reveal his teeth. Either from how goofy Zanas looked, or how forced his smile may have seemed, Melody giggled then laughed at this, hitting the boys shoulder with an open palm.

"Never make that face again. Hahaha."

Zanas reverted his lips to a grin but was no less amused with the conversation. "Don't be making fun of how I smile. I can't be blamed for genetics."

"Sure, act like a stereotypical teen and just blame your parents." Zanas smiled brightly again, turning his pitch higher and mimicking the voice of a typical sitcom teenage girl, making Melody laugh longer and harder. Her laugh was must have been embarrassing for her, because each time she would laugh she would almost gasp for air between each chuckle while covering her mouth with one of her hands. This girl was growing cuter each moment Zanas talked to her, but it was more than that. She was friendly and patient. She was an actually person, a face he could recognize as to having some actually worth to her. So why is she so interested in me?

Zanas voiced this thought, only more subtle, asking why she cared to know more about his ability and past.

"Seriously?" She questioned "You can literally communicate with the most useful and friendly creatures on this planet as if they were people. Heck, every Pokémon that comes into a two mile radius of you practically becomes your best friend."

"Your point?" Zanas asked, raising his brow.

Melody shook her head in disbelief. "I'd give up everything I owned to do what you could do."

"Your completely serious right now aren't you?" Zanas looked at Melody with disbelief. Her expression gave no sign of sarcasm, nor any hint of lying. Zanas began to chuckle, then below with laughter. He laughed harder and harder until his throat clenched from the lack of air, and forced him to cough. Melody reached a hand out to help but Zanas waved her off, still laughing between coughs.

"What the heck was that about?" She giggled.

Zanas was still chuckling slightly as he gained his breath and coughed lightly.

"It's…just different."

"What's different?"

Before Zanas could answer, or avoid answering on his own, one of the guards working in the building made his presence known by his loud footsteps and his hate filled eyes, which were locked on Zanas. The guard lifted Zanas from his seat by his shirt collar, which was impressive as he was only a foot taller than the trainer. Melody squeaked with surprise, maybe expecting the guard to deck Zanas, but the boy simply blinked and nervously smiled as he spoke up.

The man was dressed in the usual officer blue outfit, with badges, sashes and the crown pointed hat that Zanas always wondered whether if it was part of the uniform or just for the cop's ego. He was built bulkier than your usual guard but he looked just as angry as any other blue boy.

"Problem officer?"

The guard didn't say anything, he just pointed toward the stairs as he let Zanas down. Both trainers peeked behind the large man, to see Prince, Babe and Duke all being held up by their tales by other officers. Zanas, now actually feeling guilty, smiled nervously to the officer once again, who merely picked him up and carried him away from Melody. Zanas desperately tried to turn and wav goodbye to the girl, his big silly grin on his face still as he called out to her.

"Still wish you could do what I can?"

Chapter Text


"Yes, it's me….I'm Fine…just a little sleepy.

"No, no I just…Oh Ha Ha!"

"I was just talking to a friend from Pallet Town."

"Yeah, he helped me get past the forest, exhausted but alive."

"So what's new with you?"

The conversation would continue like this for a good half hour.

"How is he?…n…no Haley, you know I…ok…as long as he's getting rest."

"…They want to know where I am? Thats a laugh."

She laughs into the phone for good measure. Haley chuckles and teases her for being a poor human being

"…Thanks Hales…for everything…I will…I just want take in a few more sites before I get back…no…"

She giggles through the phone

"Yes, I'll introduce you to her when I get to Cerulean…tell grandpa the usual…and that he was right."

"It may not be all fun and games…but I'm enjoying myself."


Pewter City

"Breakfast! Nnnnnnnnow!" Duke demanded as he jumped up and down on Zanas' stomach like a cheap bounce house. Zanas shot up from the Poke Center bed, sending Duke rolling to the foot of the bed.

"Geeze Duke, you could have just shook me a little to wake me up." Zanas groaned as he swung his feet out of the covers and onto the cool yellow-tiled floors.

Duke simply smiled and crawled over to his trainer, nuzzling his head into the boy's hand.

"I did, but you didn't wake up, and then I poked your tummy and it felt all squishy and bouncy."

Zanas glared at Duke,rubbing his stomach

"If you ever make a joke about my weight again I'll starve you for a day."

Duke made a small squeak of fear at the threat. He pouted and his eyes grew as wide as a new born's could and filled with tears. Zanas paid the lizard no mind, unsure if those tears were real or if Prince had been giving him acting lessons. He threw on a new shirt, his jacket, fedora and backpack while Duke cautiously crawled up to his usual perch on the boy's head.

Zanas walked toward the bathroom door, his vision blurred from the usual morning dry eyes, leading Zanas to stub his shoeless toe into the open door frame. He jumped in pain, but bit his lips to keep from cursing in front of Duke, who was desperatly holding onto the boy's hat as he jumped.

"Are you ok buddy?" Duke asked concerned.

Zanas looked up at the peering Charmander, and forced a smile. "It's...just one of THOSE days."

Duke title his head in confusion, but kept his query to himself, afraid of being yelled out for questioning his trainer. Zanas pet Duke without looking up to him, reassuring the baby that he didn't do anything wrong. Duke happily accepted this petting and nuzzled the boy's hand while Zanas picked up a small purse like bag from sink counter,minus the shoulder strap.

He unzipped the bag, reaching and flipping on the light switch to the dimly lit room, being flashed with bright light which subsided quickly to reveal a simple one shower, one toilet and sink restroom.

The sink had a small cabinet connected to it to hide the pipe's and hold any soaps and towels the trainer's would need. It also had a head-to-chest lengthened mirror just above it, though unlike the one at home, this wasn't simply nailed into the wall. Rather it was purposefully fit into the wall by design. The floor was the same cold yellow tiled floor as the rest of the rooms, still looking just as old but just as cleanly kept as the rest of the Center. The toilet and shower we simply that, only the shower had a very tasteless yellow flower designed curtain to go with it.

Now that he could see his surroundings, Zanas peered back into the black bag, pulling out a plastic contact's case, one end with a green top and one with a white to signify the right and left contacts. Zanas unscrewed each lid, using one hand to hold the container still.

Duke watched as his trainer cover his bright white iris eyes with the very dark green colored lenses through the mirror, titling his head in even more confusion. Zanas flinched and rubbed his strained eyes from the sting of the contacts, but recovered with only slight irritation from both lenses. He looked himself in the mirror, his reflections starring back at him lazily.

Duke moved in front of Zanas' sight, his orange eyes just as wide as ever. "That looks like it hurts."

Zanas smiled at lizard, petting along his back, mostly to keep a grip on him from falling.

"I'm used to it. It's a necessary evil."

"But why is it necessary? Evil shouldn't be necessary."

Zanas just laughed at Duke's naive understanding, though not mockingly.

"You are right, it shouldn't be...but sometimes people prefer seeing one thing over another...or in this case letting other people see one thing."

"Is it bad to have eye's like that?"

"Most people would think so."

"But why?"

Zanas sighed, his annoyance picked up by the small fire spitter. "S-sorry...I'll stop."

Zanas, picked Duke up from his hat, siting him on the sink so he wouldn't have to struggle to get to the creature's eye level.

"Duke..." Zanas started to speak, but stopped. He couldn't lie to his own more than he could lie to Melody. "I can explain why...but I don't really want to. It's not that it's wrong to have these eyes, but people...just hold petty grudges and...I just look a lot like a criminal."

Duke whimpered sympathetically and placed his paws on the boy's cheeks. "You don't look that bad. Your not ugly enough to be a criminal"

Zanas laughed again at Duke's sincere attempts to cheer him up. "I know I don't look ugly you smart mouth...I just look like someone who did something bad a long time ago, and as long as my eyes stay hidden then most people wont make the connection. I guess you could say it's the ultimate game of Hide and Seek."

Duke smiled Brightly at this and began bouncing on his clawed feet. "Can I play!"

"Sure sure...but you have to keep the game a secret. Don't talk to anyone else about it ok?"

Duke tilted his head again, putting a finger up to his ,mouth. "Not even Prince?" is he doing this on purpose? Zanas thought

He nodded and patted the creature's head, putting him back on his hat and handing him the contacts bag after putting the case back in one of the pouches.

"Put this in the lower left Pocket of my pack Duke." The Pokemon nodded and obliged his owner's request

"...and remember."

Duke suddenly put his hands over Zans's mouth, having easily crawled around his body after slipping the bag inside the pack. "Don't tell anyone."He whispered.

Zanas pet the lizard approvingly and continued out the door, only looking back to check if he had all of his things. With all of his gear packed, and the "game"established, Zanas and Duke made there way downstairs to meet with the others.


Since getting thrown out of the building that led out of the Viridian Forest, the team had spent the rest of the night, and most of the next day in the Pewter City center.

When Zanas came down to pick up his team, he was pleasantly surprised to see that nothing had been broken, burnt or thrown through a wall like the night before.

Other than Hector screaming at the Nurses to pay attention to him, everyone was calm and appeared bored. When his team saw their trainer, they all rushed to hop onto a different part of his body; Babe and Pepper took a shoulder each, Prince hopped into a jacket pocket, and Hector claimed Zanas' hand. Zanas staggered for the first few steps, but he got used to the weight quickly and casually walked toward the waiting room just left to back room. The Nurses and some of the human patients giggled at Zanas as he pushed past the automatic sliding doors, the elder ones whispering and smiling behind cuffed hands while the younger kids pointed and loudly asked their parents "What Pokemon are those?"

"What's so funny?" Zanas openly asked, his team shrugging or ignoring him in response.

"Well, wouldn't you find it funny to see a perch walking around?" A familiar, yet oddly new voice stated.

Zanas turned to see a Young man in a white overcoat/lab coat, not much older than himself, with dark blue hair sitting at the receptionist's desk. Zanas' eyes grew wide as he took in exactly what he was seeing.

"You going to keep staring at me,or maybe you'd like to strike a triumphant pose with that Medapod?" the slim man quipped.

"Sorry, you just look...oddly like someone I know." Zanas said, hesitant to make his assumption out loud.

"Of course you would," The man sighed, clenching his eyes shut in irritation. "You met my brother over in Viridian?"

Finally Zanas figured out why the man looked so familiar., Although this sibling seemed far more sullen, and had a different hair style, he was the mirror image of the male nurse in Viridian City. The Pokémon had noticed this as well, all but Hector, and looked with gaped jaws at the brother.

"If you start drooling I'm going to kick your ass." He growled.

Zanas jumped a little, taken aback by the sudden inhuman noise, while the Pokemon chirped and growled back, unconvincingly trying to hide their sudden fear of this man-beast. "'s just..."

The man sneered a grin, obviously pleased with startling Zanas and the team.

"Relax, I'm just screwing with you." The man, leaned back in his chair, playing with one of the many pencils from desk in his hands. "My parents labeled me Eddy." He said, answering the question that hadn't been asked aloud.

Zanas lifted an eyebrow at this name, while Prince just snickered. Before the rodent could make a comment, Zanas placed his hand over the pocket Prince took refuge in.

Eddy saw this and looked between the pair questionably.

"It...doesn't really suit you." Zanas commented.

This made Eddy smile, as he leaned forward and bounced the pencil skillfully off the table and into a small cup holding similar pencils. The team and their trainer watched, entertained and surprised by the casual skill of the shot.

"I feel the exact same, but at the same time I feel that UN-suitedness suits me quite well."

Duke and Pepper simultaneously tilted their heads in confusion, but Zanas merely chuckled.

"What? Did I say something...funny?" The way Eddy talked, he sounded suddenly more offended even though his monotone never fully broke. The group took aback again at the sudden mood shift, feeling more uneasy the longer they talked with Eddy.

"No I...just appreciate the irony of that statement."

Eddy leaned back in his chair, picking up another pencil and spreading his hands apart, inviting Zanas to explain his reasoning. He caught this, moistened his lips to talk, it had gone dry from nerves.

"You say the name doesn't fit, but you prefer it not fitting because it belongs to a person who simply doesn't fit."

Eddy jumped to his feet with a wide grin now stretched on his face.

"With what?! Society? the world in general? This hospital?!"

Zanas leaned back from how close Eddy was to him and nervously smiled.

"T-take your pick?"

"But I'm asking you to."

Zanas looked at his surroundings, surprised that no one was staring at the young trainer awkwardly leaning away from the blue-haired man.

"...I...Well you could argue all three." Eddy's smile shriveled to a flat line between his lips as he waited for further explanation.

Zanas muttered to himself for a moment as the nurse sat back down, allowing Zanas to stand more comfortably while he thought of what to say. A couple of minutes passed as silence awkwardly planted itself between the two, both waiting for any kind of answer to present itself.

"Well," Zanas started. "You...obviously have the blue hair, so you don't look like your you can stand out more on your don't look exactly like the healing type... work in a hospital...and your name is more cheery-sounding than your...appearance would suggest."

"Yet people continue to mistake me for my brother, I'm one of the best nurses in the region and my mother has told me I am quite the charismatic fellow."

Prince and Babe shared a good laugh at this statement, Zanas unsure what exactly had been so funny, the awkward replay from him or the Nurse's rebuttal.

Zanas grit his teeth, blushing slightly at the teasing and growing more annoyed with Eddy.

"So the lesson here is: don't judge a book by it's cover, right? Nothing is ever as it seems?"

Eddy again smiled, this time flicking the pencil at Zanas' forehead, bouncing it off the trainer's face and into the cup. The team all looked at the cup in shock and amusement, Duke and Prince applauding Eddy for the shot.

"Smarter than I gave you credit for," Eddy said with such a flat delivery, Zanas couldn't tell whether he was sincere or sarcastic. "...but...not smart enough to work solo, are you?"

Eddy slouched over his desk as he reached through the cabinets nearest to his feet. Before long he pulled out a file with few papers inside and spread them out on his desk. At first, all Zanas saw were lines of text until he saw a picture of himself. It was the same picture from his I.D. Card.

"Pallet Town...born in Johto...starter was a Charmander..." The nurse tilted his head to the side to see Duke stretching and snuggling his face into his trainer. Zanas looked back at Duke, then to the nurse, who seemed disappointed, or maybe just unimpressed. The nurse continued looking at the papers.

"And after a few days from when you got your license, as well as getting through the forest, we find you here in Pewter."

The nurse stared at Zanas as if waiting for him to speak, the boy averting his eyes, side to side in confusion. "Ya...thats me..."

"Annnnd?" The nurse questioned, motioning for Zanas to add more.

"And what?" Zanas questioned back, his tone more annoyed then curious.

The nurse rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair.

"How much did Oak influence your admission as a trainer?"

The question felt more like a threat to Zanas. He looked over his shoulder to see if anyone was still watching or had heard. Most were still just chuckling about seeing a walking scratching post for animals to cling to. Zanas returned his gaze to the nurse, who was twiddling a mechanical pencil in his hands, still looking up at the trainer but now with that arrogant sneer even wider than before.

Zanas shrugged nervously, shaking both Babe and Pepper on his shoulders and spoke as calmly as he could.

"What do you mean?"

Eddy made a groan in the back of his throat, leaning forward and tapping one of the papers on his desk.

"These are the only files left that remotely deal with your approved liscense. The twenty or so sheets were full of copy and pasted Tauros crap about where you came from and Oak's personal recommendation."

Zanas grit his teeth, but kept his voice calm, his team now looking more confused than angry.

"So Oak talked a little. Most trainers get some kind of third party to speak for them."

"True, but most don't go out of their way to write half a file's worth of a recommendation." Eddy's grin just wiped over his face, growing wider while his eyes pierced into Zanas', as if seeing the anger and fear building in him. "Your file was also...less public than it should have been."

Zanas shrugged again, this time more naturally, keeping his eyes focused on anything but Eddy's face. "They put me at the bottom of the pile. Makes sense to do that to a no-name from such a small town." His tie. Zanas just kept his eye focused on the nurse's tie under the lab coat.

"Since the war, no one from Pallet Town goes unnoticed." Eddy picked up the photo of Zanas and compared it to the real one.

"You look so...uneasy...why don't you just put on that big grin you had when you took this photo?" Eddy chuckled to himself. "Or did Oak have to do that for you, too?"

Zanas was shaking. His best attempt to look calm just wouldn't cut it. This Eddy could see right through him. The team kept quite, unsure what to say or weather to say anything at all. They continued to look between each other, silently asking with their expressions for someone to speak up. For a long moment no one did.

Eddy, again was the first to talk. "You know...I could easily report you to the League and any kind of trouble you could cause, with that likely forged I.D., would be stopped right here and now."

Zanas snapped to attention, opening his mouth to speak, but no words formed. Eddy Raised his hand in defense and sighed out his words.

"But I wont."

Chapter Text

Eddy walked away from his desk, grabbing a hold of Zanas' jacket collar and pulled the confused trainer toward the front exit of the Center. Zanas yelped as he was being taken by force. With the weight of the team keeping him off balance, he could do little but hop backwards out the door.

The patients and nurses all silently watched in confusion as the blue-haired nurse forcefully pulled the young boy from the building. As the doors slid closed, their gossiping broke the silence.

Eddy led the desperately hopping Zanas out through the front doors, toward the two large trees that stood adjacent to the Center. The team, with some assistance to Hector from Babe, lept off the young trainer. He regained his balance and grabbed Eddy's hand. Zanas bent it backwards with ease, bringing the nurse down to one knee.

Eddy tried to let out a scream of pain, but couldn't manage to make the noise as his hand was bent further and further back. Only gasping high pitched cries were heard between the nurse's begging for his hand back, which Zanas took time returning.

"What the hell was that for?!" Eddy cried, jumping to his feet as he nervously rubbed his wrist.

"That's the question I should be asking you, you nosy rodent." Zanas growled. Prince opened his mouth to comment, but one glare from the trainer made the Rattata back down.

Eddy massaged his wrist, rolling it in circles to test if it were broken. ""Moderate to severe bruising, no permanent damage," Eddy looked to Zanas, who looked ready to do more damage than bruises.

The team, minus the Medapod, circled around Eddy, making sure he couldn't make any quick escapes. His back now facing one of the trees and all eyes shooting daggers, Eddy put up his hands in compliance and kept out of reaching distance from the trainer and his Pokémon. His moods were still jumping from scared to serious within seconds of each other, just like in the Center before.

"You have one heck of an anger problem. Did you not get enough hugs growing up?"

Zanas clenched his jaw and took a step forward, halting as Eddy spoke. "Hey now, save that anger for the real fight."

"Glad we agree that this won't be a 'real' fight." Zanas walked closer to the Nurse.

Eddy didn't move back, though even if he wanted to, a tree blocked his path. Instead he merely tucked on arm under the other, placing the top hand on his face and cocking his head to the side. He looked like he was leaning on an invisible desk or ledge. As Zanas stormed closer, Eddy paced back and forth in the small confines of the circle, talking to himself.

"I'm a schemer, not a fighter. Never have been, really. Not after that whole Petalburg incident. Of course I never have seen the point of throwing my own punches when I could simply…"

Zanas grabbed the man's lab coat and shoved him into the Tree so hard he slumped forward against Zanas' hands. Then Zanas pushed his forearm against Eddy's windpipe and held it there. Eddy's feet dangled off the ground.

"You are going to stop digging up files, starting today."

Eddy merely chuckled haltingly. "Sorry…it's kind of my profession to pry into everyone's personal information."

Zanas pressed tighter, resisting the urge to sock the guy in his prick sneer. "Then you'll stop digging up files on me!"

Eddy chuckled again, never letting up his infuriating smile. "Are you kidding? After the break we got from finding you, there is no way I could just forget you exist. Especially since the big hounds already have."

We? Zanas let go of Eddy's throat and took a step back, letting the nurse slid to the ground, his back still against the tree. "How many know about me?" Zanas asked in a shaky voice, his body trembling now.

Eddy put up his hands in a defense gesture once more, his sneer now a sincere smile. "There is only one other person who knows about you, and they know about as much as I do."

"Quit lying!" Zanas yelled.

All eyes shifted to Zanas who continued to shake. He no longer looked angry, but afraid, though is glare never gave way.

Eddy looked up to the shaking boy, mirroring his glare back at him as he got to his feet.

"Hey, I may be a creeper, but I never lie."

His glare eased up, replaced by the sincere smile again. "I only told one other person about what I found in your file, and little else." Eddy chuckled. "Mostly because there wasn't much else to even tell him."

For a long while, the group stood there in silence, the team looking back and forth between the two humans, neither of their expressions changing. Zanas remained angry and scared and Eddy continued to wear an oddly friendly smile. The silence finally broke, when Zanas eased up and spoke quieter than anyone had heard before. "Why did you tell me about what you found if you're not even going to do anything about it?

Eddy's smile widened. "Who said I wasn't?"

The stares switched back to Eddy, who had no problem having the attention from everyone, folding his arms again as he paced back and forth.

"Like I said, I'm not going to report you to the League, and for one big reason," Eddy stopped suddenly, clenching his jaw and raising his hands to his face for dramatic effect. "I can't stand those self-important bastards. With their, impressive win ratios and their fancy cloths and, 'This steak isn't cooked properly for my palate' and."

'Get on with it!" Everyone yelled. Eddy, jumped at the sudden boom of sounds, adjusted his jacket and continued to pace.

"…So since I…care little for the League as government officials and as celebrities, I'll instead help you."

Zanas looked to his Pokémon, who expressed similar skepticism to their trainer, "That's your only reason? You don't like how the League runs the region?"

"Well, the Elite Poor especially." Eddy grinned at his own joke. However, not so much as a chuckle came from anyone around him.

"Aren't they called the Elite Four?" Duke asked, raising a paw.

Zanas clenched his fingers between his eyes, trying his hardest to hold back a smile. He turned to explain to Duke, but remembered the company they had. Eddy watched Zanas intently, like how the scientists at Oak's labs did with the test Pokémon. It made the trainer feel uneasy.

"I'll…explain later." Babe told the young Pokémon. Duke accepted this with a smile and turned his glare back at the mean Nurse.

"Look," Eddy began. "Just let me tinker with your file a bit. Add some more credible torus crap in there, maybe a few false recommendations from…family member's you've known most of your life."

"And in return?"

Eddy sneered once more. "You help me get to Cerulean City."



The large doors creaked open to his home. Even so deep into the building he could hear the sounds of footsteps, as loud as church bells. The muscular tanned and brown haired man sat in a cross legged position, his hands balled into fists and pressed together.

He kept perfectly still while his breathing stayed in a calm steady pace. After a bit of yelling between two young voices, sounds of broken ground, sliced rocks and burning flames could be heard deeper toward the entrance of the Gym. A gleeful smile spread across his face.

So, someone finally breaks my boredom.

It didn't take long for Brock's self-acclaimed apprentice to be defeated. The child had promise but he was always to rash and impatient to handle any Pokémon Battle well. The boy's shrill cry's of a sour defeat rang through his ear's, making it slightly harder to concentrate.

"I don't care if you defeated me, you'll never beat Brock. He is the greatest! Never ever ever!"

I appreciate the sentiment…but please stop talking.

Finally the footsteps made their way toward Brock. He didn't bother before, but now he made out two human footsteps and a party of claws and paws clapping against the stone and gravel floors. Whoever was here to challenge him was prepared. Or at least they should be.

Brock stood up tall at 6'2", standing over the two guests on top of a large boulder. He wore a grey vest/jacket with black shoulders with sleeves that stretched down to just above his elbows and a black collar with green buttons. The upper mid section of the vest had a slightly out of place organ color scheme to it that stopped just before his ribs and started just after the collar of the jacket.

Before the footsteps grew closer, Brock put a hand up and asked them to stop.

"If you walk too much closer you'll be standing in the middle of the battlefield?" Brock heard only the creatures and one set off human footsteps take a few steps back. The second person seemed to already know the rules here.

"State your name and business here." Brock chuckled as he broke from the practiced speech. "As if I didn't already know."

A breath could be heard from the guest to his left, but the voice that came first sounded toward the right.

"You have fresh meat." The voice rang through Brock's ears, his meditative focus, what was left of it, shattering completely, but not his smile. Brock opened his eyes, and sure enough, his old friend Eddy Joy stood at the opposite end of the field.

Brock quickly ran over and picked up his old friend, squeezing him as he usually did. Eddy let out a small cry, but managed to laugh off the pain.

"A simple…h-hello would due fine." Eddy wheezed as Brock set him down.

"Oh don't be such a wimp. You've taken worse beating from your sister. Speaking of which how is she."

Before Eddy could answer, Brock felt a hand taping his shoulder. The Gym Leader turned to face the trainer, happy to see a new face after so long. However the new face didn't seem so happy to see him.

"What's with the terrified expression?"


"Y-your eyes…" Zanas gasped. The rest of the team looked at the same tan face and spikey hair cut as their trainer, but all focus was on the man's pure white eyes. A dull shady white, like a blind man's, but just like Zanas'. White iris eyes.

Duke looked to Zanas and the other man, moving his paws to his mouth then back away. Unsure which to do.

"Whet te hell is wrong with you boyo?" Hector asked gruffly.

Duke looked to the Medapod, his eyes wide with a yearning to speak, but his paws keeping his mouth shut. After looking between the two trainers again Duke turned to Hector, and the others of the team who now shared Hector's curiosity.

"I don't get this," Duke whimpered. "I don't know who's playing the game anymore…."

Chapter Text

Earlier that afternoon:

Eddy never explained why he wanted Zanas to come with him, and it really didn't matter. After the annoying nurse refused to explain himself, Zanas didn't bother asking a second time. The situation was very simple. He would take this man to Cerulean and then never see him again.

Accompanied by the Nurse the team and their trainer made their way through the town, passing the few homes that were scattered across the area. Most hugged the borders of the town, just barley staying within the boundaries of their Gym Leaders jurisdiction. It made sense, due to many homes working as bed and breakfasts simultaneously. If Viridian was a garage sale paradise, then Pewter was the place everyone went after their shopping sprees had exhausted all of their money and time.

Besides the main mart where trainers could buy food and gear for their travels, the only other building worth noting was the grand museum set at the very back end of the town. Zanas had no interest in stopping there, though Eddy didn't mind wasting time to look at old documents and skeletons as a "treat" to himself. Pepper shook feverishly when she heard the word skeleton, but a quick pat from Zanas calmed her down.

When the group arrived to the gym, everyone climbed off of the trainer and strategized for the upcoming battle. To Hector's displeasure, he again was going to be left out of the fight. He cursed and hopped in anger but soon calmed down when Zanas made a very bold promise.

"If we win this gym battle, then you'll take the front line in every battle until we get to Cerulean." Zanas said with an earnest smile.

Hector didn't know what to say. Half-finished words fell from his unseen mouth, making muffled noises as if he were actually subdued from speaking by his shell.

"Is that so wise?" Babe questioned in a blunt tone. "He has no way of fighting our enemies other than a weak hope and an impressive glare."

Hector turned to Babe and glared at her, causing her to giggle, which took everyone by surprise. Such a feminine laugh did not suit their Zen friend but at the same time it gave the dense mood a well needed release.

"He'll be fine." Zanas assured her. "One of you will bounce in for him after he takes a hit or two, then when he evolves..."

"We can screw the blasted kiddy wheels and let me go Mon on Mon with any daft fool who thinks they can challenge me!"

Zanas shrugged and nodded in compliance. Babe sighed and ever so slightly bowed in respect, accepting her trainer's decision.

"As for the battle, the only two who can manage to win, let alone survive, are Babe and Duke." Zanas looked to the young lizard, who looked around in confusion and pointed to himself when no other Mon stepped forward.

"You can manage to take out the weaker rock types and switch out with Babe when something more dangerous comes our way. She has an extreme type advantage but," Zanas stopped to turn to Babe. "She can't take on the entire gym by herself. Are we clear?"

Babe nodded with another bow. "Like water."

Duke jumped in joy. "I'm gonna be able to play with new friends woohoo!"

Everyone chuckled at the young Pokémon's enthusiasm.

"You are always way too happy to set something on fire, aren't you brother?" Prince patted Duke's back and was met with a pat of his own.

"So you two are ok with staying out of this fight?" Zanas asked Prince and Pepper.

Prince smiled and shrugged. "I suppose, but you're going to make the audience miss out on the battle of a lifetime."

Zanas rolled his eyes and turned to Pepper, who smiled shyly. "I know I'm not much use right now, sorry."

"It's just the type disadvantage, nothing more, OK Pep. You're still one heck of a powerhouse against most of the Pokémon we fought so far?" Pepper nodded as her smile grew. She looked more confident, if only slightly.

"Just be careful not te send your own teammates through the air when yeh have another one of your panic attacks ey lass?" Hector laughed hardily, Pepper's smile brimming now.

The chatting and laughter between the team was silenced swiftly when they heard Eddy's voice calling out to them. "Yoohoo, Slave boy!"

A collective sigh was had, and Zanas grumbled as he got up to his feet after kneeling for so long. "Someone remind me to beat this guy senseless when we've made it to Cerulean."

"Actually," Babe spoke up still in a very blunt tone. "I've wanted to ask you about that."

The expression on Zanas' face mad it obvious he didn't want to talk, but rather than shutting her out he let her continued, giving a silent nod in response. She did the same and in her usual fashion got straight to the point.

"Why exactly are you papers in the shape they are? What are you hiding?"

The team froze in place as the tension from before had returned with a vengeance. This time Zanas had no one to punch or any bones to break, so instead he grit his teeth and clenched a fist tightly. Eddy's annoying chanting grew louder and louder as he made his way over and Zanas knew he wasn't going to be able to walk away from this without giving Babe some kind of answer. He loosed his fist and sighed.

"…I can't explain everything right now… So let's make a deal."

Babe titled her head, intrigued. Zanas smiled at how cute she looked with that simple expression of hers.

"Let's just... focus on the gym battle first ok? Then we can talk about anything you like."

Her once cute face now glared at him. Zanas flinched at the look. Jerochi when did she get so mean.

The others noticed as well, each flinching slightly.

"B-babe?" Pepper squeaked.

"You really should be careful with that look, it might get stuck like that." Prince quipped. Duke then turned to Prince with a worried look.

"Can that actually happen!?"

Prince and Hector both moved to speak, but were instantly silenced by the approaching Nurse.

"Well that was definitely worth the money spent." Eddy was beaming pure happiness, which was creepy on its own and now even more unwelcome. Eddy looked around and saw the upset faces and stopped smiling. "Seems like I came at an awkward moment."

"No, we were just about to go inside." Zanas answered quickly, turning away from the enraged Mankey. "We were just waiting on you." The team all made a expression of disbelief as they shouted "Liar". Even Duke could see past his trainers deceit.

"Well now I feel flattered." Eddy placed both hands on his cheeks and squirmed around as if he were embarrassed. "You were waiting on little old me? How thoughtful."

Eddy didn't wait for anyone to laugh, though no one did, and moved ahead of the others inside the gym, calling back and ordering Zanas to, 'Hurry up and get this battle over with, I've got plans and I'm not waiting for you forever.'

Zanas and the team groaned.

"Can we please eat him or something?" Hector suggested.

"You honestly want to have something that greasy go through your stomach?" Zanas sarcastically asked. Hector gave a loud "Ha!" at the thought.

"You can make anything go down with the right kind of drink to go down with it." Hector puffed out what little of his chest he could as he spoke in a hardy voice.

Prince walked over to Zanas, his back facing Hector as he snickered at the insect's pride. "How do you expect to eat or drink when you-"

Before Prince could even finish his sentence, Hector had thrown himself in front of the rodent, between him and their trainer. Hector's face was awkwardly close to Prince's and the Medapod glared at the Rattata with pure rage. "If you finish that sentence then I'll show you how, ya bruised colored ninny!"

Prince stared back at the Medapod then cocked his head to look behind him where Hector once sat. A good five feet away from either the trainer or himself, Hector had jumped high enough and quietly enough while Prince wasn't paying attention. Prince then looked up to Zanas, who looked just as dumfounded as him, only he seemed more impressed than terrified. When Prince put his gaze back on the Medapod, the insect looked to be smiling, his eyes closed and his face showing an expression of arrogance and victory at the reaction the royal rodent was giving.

"How in the reverse world did you just do that!"

Zanas picked up each member of the team, as they all laughed and bickered with one another, until Babe was the only one left, but unlike the others she did not happily reach up to her trainer. Instead she kept her distance.

"Babe? I can't do this without you." Zanas said, putting his free hand out toward her

Babe sighed. "I know…" She walked closer, and reached her hand out to her trainer's, but stopped short of his grasp. Zanas looked from his hand to her face, seeing the look of fear and rage in her eyes.

"But I will not put my life within your hands if you won't do the same for me." Babe spoke as blankly as usual, but what she said stung all the same. "I have no patience for a trainer like that." She took Zanas' hand and pulled herself up on his shoulder, averting her gaze to anywhere but him. The others grew quiet, as Pepper reached out to Babe to speak to her but whatever serious moment the group was going to have was interrupted again by the Nurse.

"I don't pay lazy body guards to stand around all day you know!" Eddy called through the open door, his voice sounding jokingly feminine.

"Shut the hell up!" Zanas and the team barked back, all except Duke.

"This guy…" Zanas looked to Babe who continued to look away from him. He saw how hurt she was, by all of this and knew how wrong he was as well. If we make it out of this...

Zanas turned away from the Mankey and walked through the door way into the gym. I'll tell you everything.


"Before you squeeze the entirety of my life away let go me!" Eddy squirmed in the large Asian male's embrace, gasping for air in a desperate attempt to stay conscious. At least that's what he made it seem like. Zanas and the team laughed at their added cargo's pain, enjoying the payback that they had been hoping would come to him.

Brock let the Nurse go, smiling obliviously to the pain he had been causing Eddy. "It's been too long Edward. I'm happy to see you stuck with that job at the Center after all." Brock's voice almost didn't suit him at first impressions. He sounded young, not much older than Zanas, and by how he carried himself, he reminded Zanas more of the other kids father's back home; loud, lively, and oblivious. It doesn't help that he's blind. He probably doesn't even know I'm here.

Eddy groaned as he rubbed his chest in pain. "Well it is the family business, so who am I to go against conformity….I mean tradition." Zanas shook his head at the joke while Eddy merely smirked snidely; again the Nurse's attempts to be funny and snarky fell on a majority of deaf ears. You never learn do yo-

"Hahaha! Your still just as cynical as ever. Haha your jokes never get old. You're like a young version of Stephen Lynch" Brock slapped his friends back , but not hard enough to hurt him, filling up the Nurse's ego to dangerous levels of self-worth.

Zanas and the team stood there in astonishment. They couldn't believe their senses. "His jokes…never get old?" Zanas peeped.

Similar sounds came from the team as each spoke up. "Is this guy in sound mental health?" Babe asked, no doubt in her tone that this was an actual question.

"Is this what hell is like, or is this far worse?" Prince said, his face clenching in anger now more than bewilderment.

The other three had similar stances, Hector being the only other Mon to get upset about this strange turn of events. Pepper just laughed at the absurdity and Duke asked anyone who could hear him what was so funny in the first place.

Broke stopped laughing long enough to notice, somehow, that a third person was with them. The Gym Leader turned to Zanas and held his hand out to be shaken. Zanas smiled and took hold of the offered hand and shook with as firm a grip as he could. The trainer almost flinched from the grip he received, which was likely the strongest he had ever had to fight against in a hand shake before. In comparison, the only people he had made hand to hand contact with were girls, Gary, and an old man and after last time Zanas wouldn't make the mistake of the later options ever again.

"Who do I have the pleasure of meeting Eddy? Looks like a…" Brock's chipper demeanor seemed to fade away as he squinted at Zanas and frowned. Brock quickly pulled his hand back and continued to stare angrily at the boy. Zanas stared back but with open confused eyes.

"Is something wrong?" Brock turned to Eddy, with the same glare while Eddy just looked at his "old friend" with a bored look.

"Why did you bring him here?" Brock asked, his voice more gruff than before. This made him sound a bit older, closer to his thirties, which matched his looks far better than before.

"Technically he brought me here." Eddy snarked back at the Leader. Brock grit his teeth and looked ready to yell at the nurse but, in his fashion he lifted a hand up to pause the oncoming rage. "He's going to take me to Cerulean so that I can meet up with my siblings. I didn't realize he had to stop by here first. This was not part of my plan."

Brock continued to glare at the nurse, but his gaze eased back into his closed eye smile. "Alright…I believe you for now."

"What you can't believe me for good?" Eddy joked as Brock turned back to Zanas.

"This is THE Edward Joy we are talking about right? That name alone should be enough reason to be a little paranoid."

Chapter Text

"Hmph, if you were smart you would be more than just 'a little paranoid'."

Again Brock chuckled, shaking his head as he turned back to Zanas. It was hard to avoid the Gym Leader's glazed stare. Brock squinted and glared at people as if he never realized he was blind, and the longer Zanas was around this man, the more he debated whether he truly was.

Maybe this is his way of hiding them… makes sense, but why doesn't he at least try to pretend he can't see.

"So," Brock sighed. "By the looks of you, you're a Trainer." Zanas nodded slowly, feeling a bit stupid for not saying something rather than making a motion. "And I see that you have one heck of a roster on your little squad there?"

"I do… and by the sound of your voice you don't seem very happy about being right." Zanas grinned snidely. "And with how easy you 'Saw' me and my Pokémon; can I assume you're not actually blind?"

Brock mirrored Zanas' smirk, leaning down to meet him at eye level. "No need to assume. I'll tell you out right that I can see every inch of you just fine." Zanas' smile vanished instantly. Not because Brock had said them with a booming voice, but rather he spoke in a soft whispering breath. Zanas took a step back and shivered.

"Welcome to how I see the world sir." Pepper peeped, shaking nervously at the tall scary man.

"Yeh see the world as if everyone is gonna touch you inappropriately?" Hector asked. Pepper shook more and jumped from being scared, to completely terrified.

"They are?!"It took Hector a minute and a scolding from Prince and Babe to understand the severity of what he said.

"L-lass I…that was a joke. I didn't mean it."

"Well it wasn't funny!" She screamed, turning away angrily from the Metapod.

Zanas stifled his laugh and pet Hector's head as if silently telling him she wouldn't stay mad forever.

"Your team is a lively bunch aren't they?" Brock was smiling again and unfurled his brow.

"Those things haven't stopped squawking and clicking since I met this guy." Eddy rubbed his temples with both hands. "It's enough to drive a person crazy."

"You say that as if you're sane now." Both Zanas and Prince shared the same reaction, though only Zanas was understood.

"I didn't intend it that way," Eddy grinned. "I'm just speaking out of experience."

Zanas was ready to make a joke about the irony of disliking Pokémon and the nurse's profession, but stopped himself. If I don't stop now we'll be here all day.

Brock stretched his arms over his head and bent backwards a bit. Zanas could hear the bones popping, hopefully, into place. The noise made him feel even more uncomfortable with the Gym Leader.

"I appreciate you two giving me a reason to move around a bit, but I want you both out of this Gym A.S.A.P."

"Not before he fights you." Eddy motioned to Zanas with his thumb.

Brock's stood there in amazement for a brief moment, and then he began to laugh hardily again. "I knew Joy was mentally unstable but you to kid?"

Brock continued to laugh but when no one else joined him the room became quieter and the air around the three humans felt tense.


Zanas just gave a slight nod. Now Brock shared the same sullen face that the trainer did. Eddy was the only one sporting a different expression, one of curiosity as he looked between the two trainers.

"I'm just gonna sit over here." The nurse walked over and sat on the most stable looking bed of rocks and pulled out some little device to fiddle with. Zanas saw the trinket but paid little attention to it or the nurse and turned back to the Gym Leader, who was already making his way back to his perch at the far end of the field.

"I can only ask you nicely to leave so many times." He said as he sat back down.

"So screw formalities." Zanas said as he marched to what would be his adjacent end of the field. "I demand that you fight me."

Brock looked at the trainer in disdain. The team was taken aback by this spiteful look, and all shifted their attention to their trainer as they asked the same question all at once. What was going on?

"This is dangerous game you're playing here kid." Brock hissed.

Zanas wasn't moved by the man's hateful tone, other than getting a good chuckle out of him. "It's the only game I care to play."

Brock continued to blankly stare at Zanas. The Gym leader's expression matched the same empty look of his eyes. It was unsettling, though Zanas would never admit it. The team, on the other hand, was just fine speaking their minds.

"Are ye gonna fight the bastard or are you just gonna look at his face like a love struck woman…no offense girls." Hector looked to the Babe and Pepper who simply shrugged.

"Should we just leave?" Pepper asked openly "…I mean he sure didn't take kindly to the…um…offer to fight."

"Would someone mind explaining why that is, or is that another answer for later?" Babe snapped.

Zanas sighed, ignoring his team member's and just sat down far across from the gym leader.

"I could just call the police and have them escort you from my home." Brock told trainer, though it felt more like the statement was being made to everyone in the building.

"I don't see any harm in just coming in and asking for a fair fight between two trainers."

"There is plenty harm when you face a government official in his own home like this were the League Challenge!" Brock yelled, his voice echoing off the walls. "That…could get people talking real fast."

Zanas half expected to here multiple screams of confusion from his Pokémon. He was surprised to look around him and instead seeing blank astonished stairs.

"So why are you bothering me with this. By law you are trespassing on government property, which is ground enough to have you thrown in jail."

Zanas shrugged. "I like being a problem for people; it gets me off." He felt very proud of his snide remark; even Prince couldn't help but chuckle a little. The others were not as amused.

"How long has this been a thing Zanas?!" Hector yelped.

"Fifteen years." Zanas answered blankly, which threw the two other humans for a loop. The statement seemed to come from nowhere and Zanas wasn't explaining himself even when the nurse asked what he meant.

The rodent's jaw dropped as well as pepper's beak. A simultaneous repeat of their trainer's words screeched from the two respectively, making sure they had heard correctly.

Brock sat on his rock, still blank faced and eyeing the trainer, titling his head back and forth like he was looking him all over.

"There is no compromise we can come to?" Brock asked earnestly. Zanas lifted himself back to his feet, still smiling snidely at the Gym Leader.

"I don't want a badge or any material compensation. I just want to have the satisfaction that my team and I beat you, one of the great protectors of the region."

More silence squeezed its way between the two trainers until Brock sighed and stood up. "Then I guess I'll just have to comply with your…offer." Brock's sullen face shifted to a challenging smile as he snapped his fingers. At first nothing seemed to happen.

Zanas crossed his arms and looked at the Gym Leader puzzle. "Was I supposed to explode or be shot through the roof or something?"

"Just give them a moment to stretch." This confused the trainer even more, but the sound of cracking and moving rock above him made things clear.

Zanas looked up to the ceiling, locking eyes with over a dozen other pair of stares back at him. As the eyes moved apart from each other, crawling with their two human like hands from the ceiling down to the walls, it was easier to see that these were Geodudes. One of the most common rock type Pokémon in the Kanto Region, Geodude's had no legs or torsos or even necks. They were just head's made of rock with slim to muscular looking arms attached to both sides of the creature's head, just under their temples.

"Zanas!" Pepper screamed right in her trainer's ear. When he turned to her ready to bark at her for that ear piercing noise, the Pidgey pointed to her trainer's feet, where more eyes and arms were crawling around. The Team, except for Hector who was still being held by Zanas, Leapt off of their trainer and onto a large stone that seemed lifeless. Zanas followed suit once he had balance from the ever moving rock Pokémon under his feet. He made a shaky landing and needed Duke and Babe to pull him off the edge, but Zanas made the jump.

The Geodude's that covered the ground now moved closer to their master, taking up different positions along the walls next to their teammates. Zanas and the team looked at the new surroundings, seeing a large bulk of the ground having empty pot holes between the slabs of stone and the ceiling only left with a thin brick covering that kept the wooden roof separated from the inside.

Brock stood from where he sat a confident grin across his face. "I'm giving you one last chance to walk away kid."

Zanas gave a nervous laugh as he yelled back at his opponent. "Not a chance. Besides you look like you're having way too much fun now. Wouldn't want to disappoint you."

Brock didn't say a word. He just continued to grin as if he already had won and raised a hand up to the air in a similar fashion to a general at war. Zanas jumped back from the edge, seeing even more Geodudes move from under the rock.

"Guys…" Zanas called to his team, but the Pokémon already knew what to do. Babe, and Duke took the front lines while Pepper flew off with Hector and Prince and sat down near Eddy, who paid little mind to them.

"We have to win against…all of them?!" Duke sounded like he was scared, but when he turned around a gleeful smile was stretched across his face. It was a little unsettling.

The battles the team had faced before where nowhere as intimidating or exciting as what was before them now. Zanas hoped this would be enough for him. He prayed for it on the inside.

"So should I go for the ones to the right or the left?" Babe joked.

Duke raised both paws, internally deciding which side to take. Brock threw his arm down; signaling the small squad of Geodude's to attack the trainer and his Pokémon in one large wave.

"Duke use ember!" Zanas commanded his Charmander, who looked back at him with more confusion and fear.


Zanas stalled for a moment as he watched the rock types crawl all around the walls and floor toward them. The trainer shrugged and chuckled nervously.


Duke swiftly turned around and built up the fire in his belly. A handful of Geodude's launched themselves at the young Pokémon and was met by a barrage of fire pellets. The Geodude's were stricken with surprise at how badly the burning sensation was, as they frantically slapped their faces to douse the flames.

Babe quickly ran past Duke and with a strong chop sent the Pokémon flying back to their master unconscious. There may be a lot of them…but they're under leveled.

Zanas' confident grin had returned and through habit he adjusted the fedora atop his head. It was going to be a fight of quantity versus quality. Brock noticed this change in attitude but was all the more excited by it. The Gym Leader wanted this battle just as badly as Zanas did.

"Duke keep shooting as many swarms of embers as you can then Babe can follow up and kick the little stoners back!"

Both Pokémon nodded and turned back to the rushing horde. Duke shared the devious smile of his trainer as his, launching swarm after swarm of embers at the Geodudes. The fire itself only did a quarter of damage that Babe could do, it was enough to keep the rock faced Pokémon busy long enough for the barrage of low kicks and karate chops to send the barreling back.

The duo kept this last moment strategy going for as long as they could, but soon the bulk numbers of the Geodude's were becoming too much for them. Duke could only spray the enemy Pokémon with so much fire at once and Babe could only hit them on at a time.

The two had fended off the majority of the still conscious Geodudes to only a small handful launching themselves off the ground and avoided Duke's fire attack. Duke was growing more and more winded however. Even with being a level or two above these rock heads, the Charmander was still at a type disadvantage, meaning each ember had to be given more of a kick if they were to do any lasting damage. All the while, Prince, Pepper and Hector were cheering from the back rows, giving as much moral support as they could muster.

"Come on Duke; show them what it's like to be trained with royalty!"

"Don't push yourself too hard, ether of you."

"When ya two are done, they'll have to put themselves back together…IN HELL!"

The last comment had the other two cheerers looking at Hector, questionably. The Metapod wiggled in a manner close to shrugging. "Too much?"

The last of the Geodude's fell as Babe picked up her pace and low kicked the remaining three across the room. The Mankey panted lightly, but didn't seem nearly as spent as her lizard partner. Duke had collapsed to the rock, laying on his stomach with his tail laid across his back and stretched past his face in a comedic fashion.

"…too much….need nap." He whimpered

Babe crossed her arms only to jet them away from each other in different directions. Her legs spread apart with one foot in front while the other slid behind the first. With both of her knees bent, babe looked just as ready for a fight now as she did when this chaos first started.

Zanas cautiously crawled over to his official starter and picked scooped him up in his arms, raising him with pets and pats.

"You did really w-well buddy." Zanas pulled out Duke's Poke ball, his shaky hands making it hard for him to hold the red and white device steadily, and returned the youngling to the safety of the round capsule. The trainer turned his focus back on the fight at hand, stepping behind Babe once more.

"Not bad at all. Your Pokémon have been raised well."

Zanas shot a confident smirked and tilted his fedora like a cowboy hat. Prince called off from the distance, "Lame" but was ignored.

"All the same, your shaking gives off how scared you really are."

"It's…j-just enthuse-s-siasm." This was getting worse. Something still wasn't right.

All eyes were on the trainer now as everyone turned and looked with enquiring eyes. Even Babe glance back at Zanas and her eyes grew wide with what looked like concern and maybe even fear.

Was it fear for him? Was she just concerned for her trainer? Zanas turned to see the rest of the team and even Eddy staring at him questioningly.

"Are you going to be alright kid? You look like you're having a stroke." Zanas jerked his head like he had just been punched, both hands squeezing onto each arm as he desperately tried to stop shaking.

"I'm…f-f-fine…" Zanas fought to get his words out. "Just n-n-nerves." He closed his eyes and started taking deep breaths as he clutched his hands even tighter. Why was it so bad now? This was no better, maybe a little worse than that night at the intersection. I'm just shaken up a bit…it's nothing. Just excited is all.

He continued to repeat those words in his head. He could handle this little bit of excitement. It was nothing right?

Brock shrugged and seemed satisfied with the answer, but Babe and the cheering squad behind Zanas were not. Prince, Pepper and Hector all called out to Zanas with a bit of cheering and questions if he was up to keep going.

"Zanas." Babe started but Zanas waved at her lazily.

"It's nothing…L-let's just go home…we won already."

"Not quite." Brock called back. He clapped his hand loudly the sound reverberating off the walls like before, and for a long time again nothing happened.

"But you don't have any Pokémon to-"

"That is where you are very wrong." As brock spoke the segment of rock he stood on tore itself from the dirt and gravel below, similar to how the Geodudes did before.

"You ever wonder why I would choose a type preference like rock." Brock called out as the boulders continued to slide and stretch across the field. "Because rocks support and lift our way of life. They even lift me."

Hector bounced furiously. "What is he talking about and what the hell is he standing on?!" Pepper was just as confused but too stunned by fear to vocalize.

"Saw this one coming." Prince said bluntly, which got Hector all the more riled up.

"Da hell are you talking about fur face?!"

"Patience is a virtue you know." Prince quipped, but stopped at that, though Hector of course didn't.

"Zanas…?" Babe's voice made it sound like she knew what was coming as well and was questioning the sanity of fighting such a beast.

Zanas just nodded at her and shot an unconvincing smile at her. "You got this. You can handle this."

Babe nodded and looked like she was smile for a moment, but then he grin drooped back to a more concerned gaze. "I know…but you can't."

"What…are you-"

Boulder after boulder seemed to peel off the walls or from underground as the segmented leviathan made its presence known. The monster's master stood patiently on what looked like its head, as it pulled the rest of its elongated body from hiding. Large boulders made up the each segment of the creature, and the closer to the neck the bigger the boulders became. It became clearer now why the Gym was so big. When you house an Onix this size, one is bound to need some elbow room.

Chapter Text

Onix, the rock snake Pokémon, was one of the world's most intimidating creatures. Even if you had some sort of fighting advantage, the massive beast would still give you hell. This Onix would be no different.

The serpent's body was coiled together in the middle of what remained of the field and sitting atop the Pokémon was its master. Brock leaned against its horn, which jutted from the Onix's skull and angled away from its face in a diagonal. He looked down at the challenger and his Mankey from up high, still wearing his condescending expression of pride and victory.

"He sure seems confident." Babe said.

"A b-bit of over compensation." Zanas fought to get his joke out, which Babe paid little attention to. Brock, however high up he was now, managed to hear the remark and gave another of his hardy chuckles.

"You wanted the full Gym battle experience right? Well here it is." The Onix roared with a noise that was similar to two stones grinding against each other at the other end of an echoing hallway, loud deep, and rather intimidating. The ground shook more under Zanas' feet than they already were, and the trainer dropped to his knees just by the force of the Pokémon's war cry. Listening to that monster's voice was completely different than having it filtered through the T.V. back home. It was no wonder so many beginning trainers feared coming to this gym.

Zanas knelt there for a moment, just letting the echoing fade away inside his head and against the stone walls around him. Though he didn't turn around to see, Prince, Pepper, and Hector were feeling a similar effect from the cry and Pepper was too scared to scream on her own as she desperately buried her face into the two male Pokémon. Had either of the "masculine" Pokémon had any nerve to speak, they would be cracking quips about who Pepper was leaning on more. However, control of one's bladder was more of a concern.

Zanas awkwardly got to his feet and slowly looked up to the behemoth. As he scanned the creature, Zanas could make out several scares and scratches along the Pokémon's surface. This was an old veteran of battle, maybe even more so than its current trainer.

"I'm starting to re-think this plan." Zanas said quietly but was heard by his Mankey anyway.

"Glad to know you're not completely insane yet." Zanas chuckled lightly, still too shook up to give a brighter response. Babe's eyes squinted in her fashion of a smile only to revert to her more serious blank stare as she faced the enemy ahead.

The Pokémon and their respective trainer's didn't wait to start round two. Without needing any command, Babe quickly leapt from the rock she and Duke had been confined to for so long, and sprinted toward the massive Onix. The beast's head shifted back, ready to launch itself right at the rival Pokémon. Zanas saw this, but waited to call a command until he was sure on the direction.

Sure enough, the Onix lunged itself toward the mammal, giving the same stone grinding screech as before. Zanas barked his command but it was clear to the Mankey where and how to jump. She leapt forward and off to the left of the oncoming attack, giving a spin to further roll with the creatures body in case she collided with the tackle, thus having less damage should the tackle make contact. It didn't however and the Onix burrowed its way past the revel floor and into the dirt below.

Zanas looked at the tunnel dug by the serpent but saw nothing more than a crater in place of a gaping hole in the ground. It…fills the whole as it digs?

That hardy laugh was heard again from across the field as the ground shook from the Onix's travels below.

"When this Onix digs it spins its body like a slow turning drill." Brock explained. "It's a bit of a hassle to refill the holes after a battle, so my dad came up with the idea before I even had my eyes on this place."

That confirmed the question of the Onix's age, Zanas thought. But even if I know what I'm up against…doesn't mean I'm prepared enough.

The ground began to shake more violently under his feet, Zanas quickly shifting his eyes back to babe. "Get to a rock, any rock!"

Babe was confused by the command but reacted as quickly as she could. Not fast enough. The Onix had already come up from under her feet, its large beak shaped jaw open wide enough to engulf a car. As the Jaws came down in one swift motion, Zanas shouted the first thing that came to his mind, a reaction that he would question later.

"Kick it!"

Babe complied, too stunned to think on her own, reacting on command and instinct as she spun her body around and threw her right leg into the roof of the beast's mouth, using as much force as she could muster in such a short burst."

Meanwhile, the body of the rock snake fell back to the earth, aiming its head toward the ground and burrowing deep into the surface once more. Zanas, Babe, and the rest of the team were stunned in amazement on how close they were to losing one of their own so quickly. "Eaten alive by a Gym Leader's top Pokémon", now that would have been a crazy story for the newspapers.

As Zanas looked to Brock, the man seemed unfazed by the outcome, or if he was, Zanas hadn't seen the distress until it had passed. Actually, how did Brock eve get over there? Wasn't he on the Onix's head before? The Gym Leader just laughed like always, amused by how confused his challenger was.

"I jumped off. Plain and simple." Zanas grit his teeth. How did he know?

Brock seemed to have an answer for that to as he pointed in the young trainer's direction. "I always get that face and that question when I fight in here, and it never gets old." This must have been all the more entertaining for him with the lack of challengers lately. This guy was treating this battle like a big joke, and it was eating away at Zanas more and more with each chuckle.

Zanas turned to his Pokémon on the field and gave his commands. For the few minutes the battle would be a game of cat and mouse between the little Mankey and the hulking Onix. Every time the beast leapt out of the ground, like a Gayrados does when surfacing from water, Babe would leap forward and as high as she could throw one low kick at a time, but always just narrowly missing the rock type's body and sometimes not even managing to head off the massive thing.

Both trainer and Pokémon were just toying with them and both challenging trainer and Pokémon were growing tired of this game. Babe knelt on one of the stones that were half dug into the ground and half in the wall, panting from exhaustion. Zanas knew that if Babe continued to run around aimlessly she would be too tired to dodge an oncoming attack and with how fast that rock snake moved, size and all, she would need time and room to move.

With the ongoing chase ceased, Brock took his chance to go on the offensive.

"Alfred, bury it now!" Brock's command wasn't as cryptic as the Gym Leader may have liked since Zanas knew exactly what was coming for him and his Pokémon.

"Babe, start moving!" he commanded. "He's using rock tomb!" Zanas could hear her sigh from across the field as she got to her feet and started darting across the field in a serpentine. No sooner did Babe start moving did the Onix burst from its tunnel and send large pillars of collected dirt and rock toward the running creature.

These clumps landed hard into the ground, piercing the surface and lodging themselves where they landed. Dirt and dust were kicked up into Zanas' face. He shielded his eyes with each projectile that landed near him, but Zanas had to also keep his eyes on the field. The physical irritation was inevitable and Zanas had to peer away from the field to rub his eyes clean. This of course made them even more itchy and irritated as his contacts moved around on the surface of his natural lens. Zanas didn't look away for more than a minute or two, but it was enough.

Babe jumped rolled and side stepped away from the clumps one by one, keeping away from the forming dust clouds, but the longer the beast launched its barrage the less room she had to move and see. Eventually the tomb had been built around her and on top of her before her or her trainer could even see it coming.

The three cheering on the side lines grew dead silent and even Eddy managed to pick his head up to see what the sudden mood shift was about. Zanas continued to scratch at his eyes until he slowly removed his hands and felt the stinging fade. The trainer looked over to the cratered battle field to see the pile of rocks crunched together in one small mound.

"Babe?" Zanas called out for his Pokémon as he looked for her with his limited field of vision. The clouds were becoming less dense now, but Zanas still couldn't see his Pokémon and he began to assume the worst as he focused back on the perfectly landed Rock Tomb. Zanas called out to Babe again, more angrily now. No answer came. No budge or movement, but also no blood. At most Babe was hurt, maybe knocked out but she wasn't dead, at least he hoped she wasn't.

Zanas could hear Pepper mumble her fallen comrade's name, only to be interrupted by Hector, who cursed and barked at the Mankey to get back up. Prince joined in, only with less foul language, and eventually Pepper's voice was added to the cheers.

Zanas remained silent, unsure of what to say or even do. What could he do? Get up Babe. He begged. Get up!

Zanas continued to repeat his plea in his mind until the cries came from his mouth, now as commands.

"Get up dammit, you are not done!" No answer still. "Arceus dammit I said get up!" He yelled till his voice cracked and grew sore. Zanas' legs shook so badly he couldn't even stand. His entire body felt like someone had just punched him in the stomach with a jackhammer.

Brock clapped from across the field. Zanas' head shot up, small tears streaming down his face, expecting to see this gesture as an ironic insult to the passing death, but it wasn't. Bock's expressions were a torn sincere face of regret and happiness.

"That was impressive, for any quality of trainer." Zanas, the team, and even Eddy all focused on the Leader as he spoke. "You stood your ground and used what advantages you had in a way I didn't think to use myself. That Charmander's ember is pretty powerful for someone so small."

"What are you doing? This isn't over" Zanas growled, his hands balled up so tightly, wanting nothing more than to punch something or someone.

"I'm afraid it is and I'm sorry you had to lose one of your own, but… maybe now you see why I was so hesitant to fight." Brock walked over to his Onix and placed a hand on the creature's side to pet it. "Killing someone's Pokémon isn't a feeling you get use-."

"Get up!" Zanas ignored Brock. He didn't want to hear it. Babe wasn't dead. She was just being lazy, getting back at him for keeping his secrets. "I said get the hell up you annoying monkey!"

The team stopped cheering and looked onto their trainer in surprise and fear. He was screaming in a tone they'd never heard. He wasn't mad, he was insane with anger. Tears rolled down Zanas' face as he continued to scream bloody murder at his Pokémon. After some time, Brock grew tired of the wait.

"I know this is hard to except, but you have to-"

"Will you just shut up!" Zanas' voice echoed off the walls of the Gym and rang through everyone's ears. His face was cracking, as he continued to scream and holler.

"Not this early you selfish… Not now, not this soon dammit!" He buried his head into his hands as he breathed heavily. His chest was on fire and the shaking only became worse. He was so angry, so scared and weak. Babe wasn't dead. There was no way they had lost this soon. She was too strong. He was too good at this. Not now, not ever.

As Zanas picked his head up, both Brock and his Onix seemed to freeze up. Zanas continued to eye the make shift burial in the field. He slammed his fist into the ground and then another. He continued to beat on the ground, flailing his arms like a child angrily hitting whatever it could get its hands on. He continued to scream for Babe to get up; his voice sounding more and more unsettling with how much rage was built behind it.

Pepper chirped as loud as she could for Zanas to stop and Hector cursed and hollered at Zanas while Prince was desperately trying to understand why the kid was having a mental breakdown like this. Prince however could give no answer, and was too afraid to speak.

"Those eyes…" It was such a soft spoken phrase that Zanas' wild screams almost smothered them. Prince managed to hear the Gym leader's voice and openly questioned the words used.

"What…about his eyes?" The rodent whispered, not thinking clearly about who he was saying this around. Both Hector and Pepper snapped Prince out of his stare and bombarded him with frantic questions about what he was talking about. Before Prince could get a word in, they heard the screeching roar of the Onix as it charged toward their trainer. At first none of them had any idea what to do, frozen in confusion at the creature's action, but all three swiftly came back to reality as they rushed individually toward their trainer.

"Zanas! Move!"

"You bleedin, half-baked igit stop screaming-!"


The trainer stopped pounding at the ground, his hands now scuffed and bleeding gently from the cuts of gravel and dirt, and looked up to see the enemy Pokémon charging at him with such an intense look in its eye. Zanas didn't move away as the serpent made its way down the field, its lust for blood bright as the sun in its eyes. Instead her slowly got came to his feet and charged foreword, screaming at the top of his lungs, running harder than he could ever think to do on a regular day.

The Onix screeched loudly at its target as it charged foreword, and only now could anyone here Brock calling his Pokémon back. It didn't matter. This rock monster was too wrapped up in it's on rage, just like the young trainer charging head first into its path. Both were too long gone for reasoning, all that was left was the need to fight until no one was left and they weren't alone.

Just as Brock's Onix pulled back, ready to launch at the boy, a third addition to the raging screams was added. Babe had flung herself into the Onix, slamming her hand into the temple of the beast with a Karate Chop and smashed the beast's body into the nearest wall head first. The airborne Onix, along with the dust and screams of confusion and anger between the now risen Babe, made the battle field all the more hectic and uncontrollable. The team, now standing where their trainer once stood, could only look upon the chaos before them, unable to see what was going on and where.


Red eyes. Red as blood. It wasn't even the color of his eyes that threw Brock for a heart stopping loop, but when and how they shifted. The boy's eyes seemed to just bleed and fill with red where it was once white, like dripping dye into water. Brock only caught a glimpse of the boy's eyes before the chaos erupted. Fear, anger, and a need to kill due to those feelings. Brock had only heard of eyes like those and always laughed at anyone who believed such a person could still exist.

When the Mankey jetted across the field it tossed Alfred clear across it and sent the Old Onix into a frantic run. Brock could feel the fear and confusion from his old friend, but no matter how hard he concentrated and called out to him, Alfred did not listen. The boy's true appearance had brought back old memories and they weren't going away any time soon. Brock could also hear the Mankey as it franticly screamed in its own tongue. It was as mad as its trainer and likely wouldn't stop until someone died.

Speaking of the trainer, Brock couldn't hope to see the boy through the dust, even if he could see in the usual sense, and the noises and screams made it even harder to track him down. Brock continued to reach out to Alfred, calling his name in both ways, but still getting no response, not until a loud crunch was heard and the Onix let out a great cry of agony and fell back to the ground.

Brock didn't waste his time as he returned the Pokémon to its PokeBall; aiming in the relative area he heard the crash and latching the beam onto his friend. Alfred was pulled into his device, where time would be non-existent to him, leaving room for Brock to get him to a PokeCenter soon.

This boy… what could drive him to the edge so easily? Brock pondered this until he heard the swift clapping of sneakers on rock and gravel, followed by the earlier ear piercing scream of rage as well as a fist slamming into his right nostril and eye.

Over and over Brock felt Zanas swing a fast and impressive punch into his face, jaw, nose, and even once on the right temple. This boy was every bit as strong and fast as a Blood Born should be, even more for his line. However, there was one thing Brock could feel and hear as he was wailed on by the newbie. He was untrained, sloppy, and any minute now-there!

Brock could feel the movements of the trainer's feet, stomping each time he took a step forward. The older man quickly caught wind of the boy's frantic rhythm and after a few quick escapes from his fists he managed to swerve behind Zanas and kicked the back of the young man's knee. This sent Zanas into a brief midair fall, allowing Brock to quickly ball his fist into the boy's abdomen, pressing him hard onto the ground. A loud grunt escaped Zanas' mouth, along with some blood, but he remained conscious until the final blow was struck. Brock's heel dug into Zanas' forehead, pushing the boy's skull into the ground with a hard thunk.

Brock readied another press into his challenger head, but stopped suddenly when he heard Zanas give only a fading squeak until becoming completely silent. He had held back, but the pain and likely bleeding would cause any man to stay in bed for a long time. Of course Brock never could control his own strength when fighting for his life, so this boy could be worse off than that.

Brock slunk back to his meditative position and waited for the dust clouds to clear and the sounds of the boys' team rushing to their trainer and possibly their fallen teammate. Even though the Mankey one her fight, she would still be hurt and exhausted. Without seeing anything, Brock could tell what was happening by sound and the movements alone, though seeing would have been nice. The remaining Pokémon would desperately try to wake their trainer with no avail. Then Eddy would act the casual snarky doctor, and berate everyone involved in this fight as he went to work on the boy.

As Eddy did this Brock would turn to his friend's general direction and ask a very simple question in a tone that asked for no sarcastic remarks.

"Did you know about this?"

Eddy would remain silent for a while, but then chuckle suddenly as if he had just understood an old joke.

"I knew. I just didn't believe…or rather didn't want to."

Brock sighed, feeling sick to his stomach from the irony of this acceptance. The blood line of both Kanto and Johto, the nightmare of Red, was very much alive.

Chapter Text

The phone was ringing loudly, too loudly. It rang in a way that used to drive the aging professor mad in his youth, but since had become a bearing of news and excitement. Samuel Oak pushed away from the table, pulling away from the remains of a broken PokeBall he meticulously picked at, and zoomed across his office while on his prized wheeled desk chair. Soft, poofy and filled with foam padding, Oak was always able to recline comfortably in his expensive chair, and never had to feel guilty about any bird Pokémon having to lose their feathers for his comfort.

Oak reached the other end of the room quickly, ramming his stomach into the edge of another table as he flung his arms in the air and let out a silent 'weeee' that transformed into an audible grunt. He cautiously moved away from the killer table, feeling for only a brief moment like he was going to puke. He didn't thankfully. It would have been a strange thing to explain to his interns when he made them clean up his mess in the morning. Oak took a deep breath as he picked up the phone, trying to speak clearly but instead coming off as a bit strained to the person on the opposite end.

"He-…hello, Professor Oak speaking…oh." Oak heard the distinctive cackle of the young man's voice, and couldn't help but chuckle as well.

"Of course it would be you calling me this late at night, Eddy." Oak smiled as he leaned back in his oh-so-amazing chair and propped his feet up on the desk lazily, leg propped over the other. "So what news do you have to share with me?"

Oak listened carefully to the youngest of the Joy siblings, nodding and smiling wider and wider with the news brought to him.

"So…that bad?" He paused. "Well, I suppose you were wrong once again."

The young nurse didn't appreciate Sam's comment, and began barking like a provoked Houndoom as he listed excuse after excuse for his failed theory. Oak groaned as he reached for his coffee which, to his disappointment, he had left on the table across from him. He put the phone down gently, so as not to give Eddy any hint of his leaving, and rolled back over to grab his coffee, which had cooled down to a more drinkable temperature. Sam took a sip and winced slightly from the unexpectedly weak kick of the drink.

The professor placed the coffee mug back on the table and reached deep into the cabinet just overhead. His arm wiggled past the recently cleaned beaker's and test tubes and pulled back out to reveal a half-finished bottle of vodka. Sam poured a glass shot's worth of the alcohol into his coffee, and stirred the mixture around in the mug, careful not to spill any on the floor or his hand.

After taking another sip and getting the punch he craved, Oak walked back to his seat and got comfy. He returned his legs to the desk and picked the phone up to continue his conversation. To no surprise, Eddy was still talking, but showed signs of ending his rant soon. The professor continued to sip his drink, smiling with each sip he took until as the boy paused to take a breath.

"So, when can I expect my other loud-mouth to come home?" He was extremely pleased with him-self and he didn't try to hide his satisfaction. But that moment would be brief. Sam's satisfaction nosedived straight into a realm of disbelief and anger when Eddy continued his report.

"He-THEY did what?!" If anyone had been in the lab with the professor, they would have surely jumped in fear and chaos would have spread through the building like it was on fire. Most of the Pokémon were asleep in their PokeBalls, thankfully, and since the lab doubled as Oak's home, it gave people all the more reason to respect the man's privacy after hours.

"Why in the Reverse World would Brock go so far?! All I asked of him, of both of you, was to scare Zanas into giving up on the journey, not to beat him to an inch of his life!" Eddy commented on the man's anger and even though it got on his nerves, Oak took a breath and refused to let Eddy's arrogant persona and his temper get the better of him

"How long are the doctors saying?" Eddy didn't give any smart remarks, but couldn't give a straight answer either, since he didn't have one. "Then what do you think." There was a long pause, but the young Joy gave his best guess, not even bothering to call it a hypothesis.

"With that many broken bones, Brock might as well have just paralyzed the poor kid." Sam took a long shot of his mug, clenching his fist over his face as he fought through the tense aftereffect. "Ugh…I'd love to hear his excuse for attempting to murder a family friend."

The explanation was long and really should have been more focused on the events rather than opinion, but Eddy relayed more than enough for Sam to understand. The professor grew quiet as his mind and heart raced together, one telling him what he needed to accept and the other not wanting to believe a word of it. He must have been silent for some time, because Eddy had to say his name over and over to bring him back to the conversation. Once he'd return to reality, Sam downed the rest of his coffee and made a face of regret the second it slid down his throat.

He slumped in his chair and hung up the phone, not before telling Eddy he would call him back soon. He looked to the ceiling, covering his face with his hands as he let sleep creep up on him but not take him yet. As he turned his head to the clock, Oak read 3:30 a.m. and gave a long unnecessary moan of annoyance.

"He just had to lose his mind at that moment," Oak sighed but followed it up with a chuckle. "Well then, I don't have to worry about him putting up a fight now do I?" Oak chuckled some more but stopped himself before he began a full on laugh. It was disrespectful to find someone else's pain so funny, no matter how at peace it made you feel. He reached for his coffee mug out of habit, realizing that he had already gulped down the last of his drink. Sam shrugged and got up from his seat and made his way toward the sink in the far right corner of his office.

He'd had enough to drink, and he planned to wake up semi-sober the next morning, if he could help it. As he lazily moved to the sink, the slashing light of his portable T.V. flashed what looked like half the colors of the rainbow off of the walls. Oak recognized the color scheme as the, opening to one of the few news stations he ever watched nowadays, the World Wide Watch. The W.W.W. wasn't that old compared to the ever popular Satellite News Station, but it was less opinionated on political matters, or any matter really in comparison. He always preferred being given the news, not being told how to feel about it.

Sam finished drying off the mug and ran his finger inside to check for any leftover grinds. When he was satisfied, he placed the mug down next to the sink, turned the faucet off and made his way over to the broadcast. He still knew he would have to call Eddy back, but if that overanxious nurse was up this late, he could wait a few minutes for Sam to catch up on the events of the world.

As he sat down, the screen flashed that an urgent report was going to be shoved into the show's time slot last minute.

"Well, so much for seeing the newest Skitty videos on the web this week," Oak quipped.

He always had a cynical sort of humor, even when something serious was being discussed. Most people figured he was just naïve to his surroundings, which made his jokes all the more funny to him.

Oak shifted the T.V. to aim toward the desk where the phone sat, and rushed across the large office to pick up the device and make the necessary call. When the ringing stopped and Eddy's voice came through, the professor had gone quiet.

Joy was already watching the broadcast live from Pewter and from what the young computer wiz had gathered, so was the entire region that is and once was Kanto.

The message wasn't just playing on the news stations or online. For about 3 hours, every advertisement screen in Saffron City that latched onto buildings, like the Silph Co. headquarters, showed the same bright red timer counting down.

The initial video that came before the timer was what caught everyone's attention. While interrupting whatever toy or beauty cream advertisement was on at the time, a clip showing only a blood red capital "R" with a black background painfully fizzled and cut its way into screen time. Anyone under the age of twenty would not recognize this symbol, and it's likely many twenty-somethings would be left in the dark. However, the rest of Kanto shuddered and froze in place, mesmerized by the mocking symbol of the region's past.

For five minutes, the red symbol loomed over the heads of Saffron City's citizens, while the companies who owned the buildings attempted to shut down each screen. It would be hours from the original screening of the terrorist group's reveal that any of them managed to know how to turn off the virus that plagued their system, and it would have taken even longer just to turn it off.

A dark growl of a voice, clearly edited to hide the speaker's identity, began speaking as the "R" fizzled away and began showing pictures of different cities and locations of Kanto and the young Johto region.

"I don't feel that an introduction is necessary for many of you," the voice began, sounding refined and calm even through the editing. "But for those of you too new to the world and its past, I'll give you the courtesy."

The video cut in the same broken manner as before, showing an artist's rendition of the war that took place years ago. It showed the carnage of the war for both human and Pokémon alike, with blood and bodies flung across the field of battle, de-limbed and broken soldiers continuing to fight till their very last breath. Then another artist's work appeared, and another's as the voice continued to speak.

"We are what remain of a true leader's ideals. We are the growing family of warriors and pure Kantosians that were forsaken and disgraced years ago."

Again the video cut, showing the graveyards placed in the town of rest, Lavender, as well as showing the memorials made to the soldiers and Pokémon that kept the region safe.

"These false idols, your false heroes, were mindless drones of a self-serving government, afraid of new ideas and methods of equality. A government you still serve today. A government that many of you only now see as faulty and broken as we claimed it to be years ago."

Another cut, and the video began to show different towns of both regions, zooming out and showing another town which zoomed out to do the same until the screen showed multiple different clips of the towns across Kanto and Johto.

"This region has been divided. Not because of our attempt at making a better world, but because of your lack of understanding. Because of your lack of acceptance to change, we are a divided power and we will be overrun by outsiders. We are here to take back all of Kanto. We are here to fix that damage your government escalated and forced upon us all."

Each screen now fizzled and cut away showing only static until the entire screen was static itself.

"This time, we will not hold back. In order to make change exist, it must be forced into existence."

The red "R" returned, as well as multiple silhouettes of different people. Body type and faces were covered by the shadows and blended into the background. The only part of their bodies that were shown was their eyes. Bright, blood red, matching the "R" placed behind them. The camera zoomed out and moved up to show an ever growing platoon of these people.

These red-eyed individuals followed the camera and began to call out in a monotone chant, a sort of motto. They grew louder and louder, as the camera moved away, as well as more passionate with their words, until they were screaming madly at the camera as if demanding the world to listen to them.

"To shield the world from its own devastation, to unite all people within our nation, to dethrone the harlots of truth and love, to bring all down and ascend above. Power and Unity. The Red Army fights for all that's right. Follow our cause or fear our might,"

Just as before, the static shifted and jumped the video to a new scene. The red timer gave its first appearance at exactly 11:30 p.m. and since then had been counting closer and closer to zero from its three-hour time limit.

"This will be our one and only sign of mercy. People of Saffron City, take what valuables and pets you can carry and find shelter elsewhere. We have need for this location and your cooperation will be appreciated by us all. Phase one of re-construction will begin when the timer reaches zero. For those of you unable to vacate before this time, I personally apologize for what happens to you. For those too stubborn to heed our warning, you will not be missed in the new Kanto built upon your ashes."

At the time, many people stopped to listen for any more words, but none came. The timer continued to tick away silently on the screens while those poor employees of Silph Co. and others worked desperately to stop what was to come. Some citizens fled, grabbing their families and what material possessions they could. Most others ignored the warning.

Eddy screamed into the phone, trying to get Sam's attention, but the professor just shushed him and eventually hung up, needing to listen to what had happened. He didn't stick to one station, no matter how trustworthy he found W.W.W. to be. He needed to get everyone's additions to the story and learn about any details missed. It had only been an hour since the devastation of Saffron, but things were still getting worse and worse with each passing second. The only large company building left standing was Silph Co.'s, while all the others were toppled over into another building or a patch of homes or just having collapsed on itself.

It would take days for anyone to actually come up with an estimated number of victims, most of them being deaths. Add in the chaos that citizens and possibly members from the Red Army were creating, and the city would truly be lost to Kanto for no less than a year.

He couldn't stand looking at the T.V. anymore, another hour having passed since he started watching the broadcast. Sam could see the sun peeking out of the sky, the clouds a shade of dark blue and pink, with gold trailing just behind both. He needed sleep. He needed more to drink. He needed to call Eddy back. Plans were going to change to the most desperate and half-assed ideas. He pushed the buttons of the phone slowly, exhausted by how late it was, or early, and over everything that had just transpired.

Eddy picked up the phone, but kept silent. It took the professor a long moment to give his instructions. If it were any other day, or any other group that had attacked, he would have rather bit his own tongue out then say these words. Too bad for Zanas, this wasn't any other day nor any other threat.

Oak took a deep breath and, in a broken voice, he mumbled. "Take…take him to Cerulean…Teach him…tell Brock to…Tell him he wins."

Chapter Text

Zanas handed his Trainer's ID to the Nurse filling in for Eddy. He shot her a halfhearted, but convincing enough smile and she mirrored his expression. After seeing that everything was in order, the young raven haired girl returned his card and wished him a good day with a soothing and forcefully alluring voice. Zanas accepted the card politely on the outside, but inside he was screaming for someone to save him.

Since he woke up under those thin bed sheets to the stench of plastic and sanitation, everyone seemed oblivious to what he did. The doctors and nurses never asked any questions about how Zanas got hurt and most the time they treated him like he was royalty. At first it was little things like asking if he was comfortable, or if he needed anything like a drink but the longer he stayed there the more ludicrous their concerns became.

"Would you prefer to move to a different room? How about we bring in the big TV from the back room in here for you? No one ever uses it. Do you need any company?"

If Zanas asked them to jump off a cliff they'd probably ask him if they should go feet or head first. The male nurses and even some of the patients took time out of their days to interview him about his training methods and some details about the battle, while any girl within a year or two of his age gave him the weirdest glances. Like they had something in their eye every time they turned his way. It took him a few days to realize he'd seen the same looks before, but they had always been shot toward Gary, not him.

People are talking to me, a stranger, and girls are…flirting with me? Did that battle kill me and send me to some backwards heaven? This was too weird for him to bear another day; no, not even another minute could be used up here anymore. He needed out.

As Zanas felt the cool breeze of the outside, his smile flashed brighter than a flare. The autumn wind carried whispers that beckoned the young trainer away from the Center, and with the smell of cooked meals echoing the same message, Zanas couldn't resist.

He flipped opened his PokeDex and saw he still had thirty minutes before the team came back from their regular training, something they had enforced since their leader's check in to the Center. More than enough time to grab a well-deserved change from stale tasting taters he thought to himself.

Zanas walked through Pewter, still having eyes look at him with awed facial expressions to match. What was the big deal? What was the secret no one was telling him.

He shrugged it off and tried to ignore the people like he always had, but the more people started to recognize him, the harder it got to be oblivious of them.

Zanas ducked into a convenient store which had an assortment of cheap chips, soda, milk and instant ramen lined up in their bins. The non-refrigerated item bins were just within arm's length once someone walked into the store, just in front of the register and the glass refrigerator doors were kept in the back toward the side back exit and the restrooms. There was also a faucet to fill cups with and a microwave to make a ready meal. It wouldn't be a five star dish, but beef ramen was never a food to shy away from, whether you are a college student or a Pokémon Trainer.

Zanas paid for the food in advance and chugged down a lemon-lime soda while he waited for the ramen to finish boiling. He looked around the store but found nothing more than a middle aged man behind the counter and the static on the TV buzzing away silently like a dyeing BeeDrill. Funny how the safest place to be from curios creeps was a shady run down place like this.

At least didn't have to hide in a dumpster to avoid them.

Zanas heard the ping of the microwave and quickly pulled out the warmed noodle dish. Once the skin burning plastic container had cooled off, he dove into his rich salty flavored pasta, unable to hold back a concerning moan of delight as the flavor. The man at the counter didn't react as his focus was on the TV, hitting and shaking it in a strange attempt to make it comply. Zanas' blush faded away quickly, but just to feel safer, he hid behind the isle of snack cakes as he finished gulping down his noodles from the god's.

The man finally ceased his appliance abuse once the television's flashed an actual moving picture besides fake snow. Though the picture wasn't the greatest, or even in color, it was enough for the surprisingly tanned guy to be satisfied.

"…no sign of reconstruction ending any time soon. Families still morn over their lost ones and many rescue teams are calling off their searches, saying that those found are likely all that are left. Head of construction Tom Allen feels that all focus should go to rebuilding what was lost."

The news report continued but Zanas had heard enough. He grabbed another soda and paid the man, who looked just as annoyed and hurt as he did over the news shared over the fickle boob tube.

Zanas may not have been told everything while he was away, but gossip still roamed the halls of the Center and his team was far more informative that any person could imagine. He knew just as much as everyone else did about the terrorist group, including the one little accessory each member shared. Those damned blood red eyes. The same haunting, taunting looks that symbolized a hatred that had been passed down into every Kantoian since the war, or raised into them at the least.

What should have been a memory lost or left to die seemed to still resonate in the new generation thanks to most people's upbringing. Zanas was no exception, even if his mother wanted to shelter him from the truth.


Zanas stood there in silence, not sulking per say but remembering. The lies and the tears complimenting the smiles were always a constant image in his head; acting as the alarm keeping things in perspective. With how much that had was going the way he wanted, it was easy for Zanas to forget his worries. For a brief moment things were looking pretty simple. Then, per the course, it crumbled, although, this time was feeling different somehow; weird different. Not good or bad, just weird and different.

Zanas blinked obliviously at his surroundings, and quickly chugged on the soda warming in his hands and made his way out the door.

Maybe I am catching a break. He amused himself. Maybe my luck is just slightly improved now and maybe things get better, but in smaller ways.

Zanas smiled at that thought and checked the time on his PokeDex again; seeing he had three minutes to spare a slow stroll back to his meeting place with the others.

"Brooding may not be the way I handle things anymore." Zanas took in a deep greedy breath of the fresh air, wanting to suck in as much as he could hold, and slowly exhaled as he relished in the taste of the leafy smell on his tongue. He loved the outside, and admittedly was fond of the day, minus a few weirdoes. What's to stop him from turning this day around.


"You told them what?!" Zanas' voice, as well as his team's may have had the potential to wake a drunk Snorlax as the reacted to the Gym leader's news.

"Well I had to explain how exactly you got hurt and the only thing that came to my mind was the battle." Brock looked as innocent as a kid he tripped and fell on someone smaller than him and had the results been less catastrophic, then his crimes could have been brushed off just as easily

"That doesn't mean you can claim to be my new mentor!"

Chapter Text

"There was no other excuse you could use?! No other reason that would keep me out of the lime light and out of jail?" Zanas and the others had marched a distance away from the populace of Pewter to have this talk. The whole town was buzzing over the new rock type's protégé and the massive beaten he had received during one of their "more heated sparring matches" or at least that was the lie Brock had conceived during Zanas' time out.

"No there wasn't." Brock said plainly, with just a tinge of annoyance in his voice. "I couldn't think of a valid excuse to use that would justify you assaulting a Gym leader at his home, especially so soon after the cancellation of the League challenge."

The young Gym Leader sat under a tree, arms crossed over his head and legs sprawled out lazily on the fresh due grass. Zanas stood adjacent to his feet, glaring and barking the whole walk down, growing louder and louder the further out of earshot they became. The team sat, in no set shape, around the two trainers, giving them their full attention.

"Along with the recent attack on the city, I needed some way of convincing the people that you wouldn't cause any trouble, while also keeping up their moral. I needed to keep everyone's best interests in mind Zanas, not just yours." The argument had stayed one sided till now, Brock growing tired of taking the barrage criticism from the rookie trainer and not fighting back.

"Couldn't you just say it was a normal fight out of boredom; which wouldn't have been too far from the truth anyway. Also, that kid I had to fight just to get to you could easily start rumors or issues with me just because he-"

"Won't say a thing. He is a handful but he's also loyal to the point of taking orders, or at least favors."

Zanas groaned and paced between the empty walking space behind him and where Brock lay. It just didn't feel right. The whole situation seemed to fix itself far too easily. There had to be some chink in Brock's lie that someone, anyone could take advantage of, but the longer he thought to himself, the less problems the lie made.

"Zanas, don't look a gift Rapidash in the mouth. We caught a lucky break that's all." Prince squeaked in. "There isn't some elaborate scheme or repercussion that we need to worry about, at least not for a while."

"If at all." Babe added, hanging effortlessly from the tree's branch by her tail. "The danger remains the same as before, what with your falsified papers and all."

Zanas glared harshly at his fighting-type, now regretting letting anyone of his team know that little tidbit of information. The Mankey didn't even seem to notice her trainer's reaction due to her eyes being preoccupied with the sky below/above her.

Zanas growled out of irritation and frustration as he paced back and forth once more, unable to accept any of what happen these past few weeks. The attack on Saffron, the sudden attention and praise from the town, all of it just seemed to pile up endlessly along with the other pile of issues he had to worry about.

On top of all of this, he had to explain his abilities to Brock and even Eddy. Freakin Eddy of all people!

So focused on his own worries, Zanas only heard his name hearing called once the entire group was screaming it. He turned his attention toward the loudest voice, that of Brock's, and paused.

"You had to have known that some people would talk. Even if I didn't someone would have found out what really happened. They would know everything about that fight. I mean everything kid."

The young trainer turned away in shame. Then I wouldn't just be jailed…I'd be dead.

"Y-you know Zanas…I don't want to start an argument…b-but if you wanted to avoid this…admiration of everyone then…why did we even train so hard to fight ."

The Pokémon shifted their attention first to Pepper then to Zanas, who merely fumbled his words and jumped his gaze to each member of the team and even to Brock, who merely shrugged, unsure of how to react to what what sounded like a one way conversation, eve if he knew the truth. Zanas paused and collected his thoughts. After a few minutes he sat down, defeated outnumbered by the quizitive stairs all around him.

"…I…" he mumbled.

The team drew closer, a consensus "What?" emitting from the Pokémon. Zanas groaned/growled for the umpteenth time and spoke slowly and clearly, his flush becoming a brighter shade the further into his sentence he went.

"I…I don't know what else I'd be good at." The audience of this confession froze, unsure of what to feel, all except Brock who shifted himself to sit facing Zanas.

"Pffft." Brock began to laugh but quickly remembered himself enough to be slightly respectful. "You're in pretty decent shape for someone your age and you seem more capable of taking care of yourself then most eighteen years old. There has to be something beyond Pokémon battles that you're good at.

"Maybe but…it wouldn't feel right."

"What do you mean?"

Zanas took a breath and scanned the group, his eyes matching each of theirs as he elaborated his desires.

"Like a lot of kids, I had the big and silly dream of becoming a Pokémon Master." Zanas buried his face out of embarrassment as he recollected his life story. "Ugh…Every Night before bed I would even hum the stupid theme the recruitment commercials would play on TV. I was obsessed with the idea of battling and traveling. As I got older, and I got into more arguments that turned into real fights, the urge never went away. Lose or Win, I just wanted to get in a battle to prove how capable I was."

"So…ya want to be a trainer because you're a masochist?" Hector asked. Prince chuckled and Pepper covered her beak to stifle her own snicker, but quickly berated the insect for his rudeness.

"I…kind of?" Zanas rubbed the back of his head and exhaled loudly. "I was never smart enough to get anything more than ok grades in school unless it came to biology, for the most part. I've never really seen myself running a shop or just being a stock boy. I'd probably go mad from boredom and college was never an option because of the money issues at home."

"So fighting naturally became your fortieth." Zanas was taken aback by Brock's sudden interruption, but was pleased that he understood his plight.

"It just feels right, either throwing the punch or coaching someone else to do it. Just being involved in one makes the world of difference to me. It;s the one thing that almost no one can take away from me. even if I lose a fight I always leave with a new goal."

"So, you wanted a profession that would keep you traveling, busy and feed your bloodlust-"

"It's not a blood lust. I don't want to kill anyone." Zanas' tone was firm, taking Brock aback by the boy's sudden objection. The team shared the Gym leader's expression.

"If I have to kill then that means I or someone else has gone so far out of range from a fair fight, that it isn't a standered battle anymore. It's a survival situation. There is no fun in killing."

Another slight pause fell upon the discussion but quickly shifted when Duke stood and tugged on his trainer's jacket. "Then what were you going to do inside the gym the other day?"

"Wha-what do you mean."

"He wasn't there to see you snap but we told him about it." Prince again spoke up to fill in the blanks. "He was resting in the PokeBall even after the fight and we told him what we saw…and…"

"What we saw was an animal protecting its pack." Babe said, almost defensively, but her monotone made the intentions unclear. "I couldn't see you but…I could feel it…"

"Feel…what?" Pepper asked, sounding unsure of the question.

"His anger…his fear…his urge to kill."

Zanas and Brock quickly shot up to their feet, which surprised Zanas as to why the man would be mimicking him like that. Did he think he was going to get lunged at again?

"Lass didn't you just here the man. He said he would never kill-"

"Unless something pushed him far enough." Babe looked to Zanas, with a harsh stare which slowly eased to that of pity. It burned a little. "You saw that Onix hit me hard…and I wasn't moving. So you did what you were used to do when something bad happened."

"He got…mad…when he should have felt sad." Duke thought out loud, looking to the others for confirmation and receiving a nod from Prince.

"Would you have killed Brock if I didn't get up…or if he hadn't been able to defend himself?"

"I-of course not!" Zanas snapped angrily. "First that pity look and now being questioned like a murderer. This is one hell of a day."

"Murder?" Brock was even further out of the loop now. Zanas grit his teeth and slammed the palm of his hand to his forehead. It was so much easier to keep people in the dark when they thought I was crazy.

"Look…this doesn't concern you…can you just leave me and my team to discuss this."

"If you're talking about killing someone-"

"Im not killing anyone!"

Chapter Text

Everyone around Zanas flinched at the sudden boom of his voice. It took longer for the young trainer to realize his fault and as he did the essence of fear shot up his spine.

Brock crossed his arms, his brow furrowed so that it looked like he was leering at Zanas through closed eyes. "Have you always had an attitude problem this severe?"

Zanas moved to talk back to the dark skinned man, but Brock already held a hand up to put the boy's comment on pause. "Don't bother. I apologize. I'll ask that again without the sass. Have you always been this quick to anger or is this only a recent issue?" Brock smiled gently at Zanas as he lowered his hand. "On first impression you seemed like a carefree kid, but…I guess it's not the case?"

Zanas broke eye contact with the Gym Leader, eyeing the ground as he avoided meeting any of his teams gaze. He didn't want to answer Brock, because they both knew what he would have to admit. Instead Zanas just continued to stare at the ground, like a pouting child.

"That bad?" Zanas didn't reply, frozen with the thought of admitting Pallet town was right about him.

"Bud? Are you…going to be ok?" Duke lied over Zanas' shoes, belly up, holding his two paws up trying to reach his trainer. Zanas couldn't help but smile at this adorable guy, which only mad him angrier. He didn't want to give in, he wanted to keep his cards close to his chest, but everyone kept peering over the table. No matter how many times I ask you all to stop, you don't stop pushing.

Zanas lightly rolled Duke off his shoes and began pacing again, slowly and mostly in one direction, away from the group. The humid air made Zanas sweat profusely, making him scratch and wipe his face constantly. Damn it! Why all this? Why today when it was so hot, when everything has fallen apart, when nothing has even started?

After taking a deep breath, leaned against a tree covering his face with his hands, Zanas walked back with a cold serious expression.

The word's wouldn't come to him at first, but as he slowly sounded out each syllable, it became easier for him to repeat louder and louder until Zanas was able to say what was asked of him.

"I…never had…this much anger…until I started battling people…it gets worse the more intense a battle is…I just want to keep fighting until…I can't anymore."

"That's…a little bonkers but that's not so bad lad." Hector hopped in front of his trainer. "I feel that rush all the time. That desire to stand over your opponent triumphantly and take praise in the roaring crowds. Cheering your name as you hold up your trophy with one hand a with your other you raise a triumphant fist to the sky as all cry out the name Hec-" The Metapod was quickly and forcefully pressed into the ground by Prince, the creature's face being dug into the dirt. Hector muffled something incoherent back at the rodent, who merely shook his head condescendingly.

"It's not the same as your idiotic fantasy Insect." Hector furiously wiggled under Prince's paw but with how hard movement already was for the cocoon, having the princely rodent pressed against him made freedom impossible. "I don't think that's what you mean anyway."

"No it's not…" Zanas looked to brock, who still held his serious expression. "I don't remember much from the fight…but I know that look. You saw it didn't you?"

Brock's stern gaze didn't cease, but he nodded slowly. "Blood red eyes. Just like his. Just like the former tyrant head of the Red Army."

Hector's loud muffled grew even louder. Even though no one could understand him, you could assume it was something along the lines of, "Are you out of your bloody Tepig slaughter house mind?"

"Why would you even say something like that?!" Pepper chirped angrily as she flew in front of Brock, buzzing further and closer to his face as she went off into a tirade. The bird grew so loud and furious her entire face shifted to cherry red, her feathers hardly covering the rage exploding from her. "Zanas is nothing like that monster!"

Brock couldn't understand any of it, but the Gym Leader did take a few steps back, showing a rare face of confusion and fear from such a tiny and shy creature. It took Zanas to hold her back as well as a flurry of pats to calm her down. Even still the bird very hurtfully leered at the older man.

"Why is his eye color a bad thing?" Duke raised his palm like he was in a classroom as he spoke up. "And who is Red? I thought that was a color not a person's name…or is it both?"

"The second one buddy. Unfortunately it's the second." Prince finally let off of the Metapod, who wobbled back to an upright position only after rocking back and forth like an inflatable punching bag for kids.

"How long were you planning to play dumb about what you knew?" Zanas asked without looking to Brock, still petting Pepper to keep her contained.

"What makes you think I knew at all?" Brock smiled snidely. "I'm a pretty good sleuth but I'm no mind reader."

"You tell me. When I first told you and Eddy about what I could do you didn't seem too surprised by my talent. Meanwhile Eddy was freaking out."

"Find comfort that it was in a positive way. You were the most interesting thing in his life for a whole three minutes."

"Enough with changing the subject." Zanas growled, contemplating letting go of Pepper and letting her feathery rain unleash on the other trainer.

Brock chuckled at his own joke but shifted back to a respectful seriousness. "Well anyone older than fifteen would probably connect the dots if they saw you when you're angry, and not wearing those special contacts of yours."

Zanas tried not to look surprised but couldn't hide it fast enough for Brock not to notice. "It was easy to explain your actual pure white eye color to the doctor's by saying we were cousins and that it was a family trait."

Brock opened one of his eyes to reveal what Zanas vaguely remembered from the fight and what the team had hardly noticed during the after math. Pure white iris's that almost shined brighter than the actual whites of his eyes. The only differences between the two were there pupils, Zanas' still black as night, while Brock's were glazed over.

"I find it pretty convenient that your eyes revert to that when you're not so upset." The Gym Leader smirked and raised a thumb at the boy. "Good shade of green by the way with those lenses. An excellent match for that dyed brunet hair you got going on."

Zanas pressed the palm of his hand against his forehead once more as he heard the gasping of just about everyone from the team.

"You dye you hair?"

"How the hell did you keep that from me for so long?"

"How do you kill hair? Is that what happens when you get it cut?"

"Huh, fooled me boss."

Babe was the only one of the group not to answer; instead she blankly stared at Zanas with wide eyes. The young trainer only now realized that his fighting type was in this strange emotionless state of awe and wanted to ask if she was alright, but Brock pressed on when the other Pokémon had quieted down and Zanas' concern was cut short.

"Seems you hid the truth pretty well if your own Pokémon didn't even know about that." Zanas sighed and nodded. "So do you want to tell them or should I just burst it out loud inappropriately."

"Do you just want me to admit it so you know you have the right guy to send to jail?" Zanas shot daggers at the Gym Leader, whose expression hardened instantly at the remark. Funny how you're so willing to joke until people start poking back.

Zanas let go of Pepper, lightly tossing her out of his hands toward the others. As she landed between the others she looked up at Zanas with confused eyes. When she looked to the others, all but Duke looked more fearful than confused, and slowly the gears would turn in her mind and she would share the same astonished and terrified look.

Zanas knelt down to the team, feeling uneasy. "Most of you have already figured it out but…for our baby fire breather?" The four eldest Pokémon looked to one another, all seeing that they shared the same concerns. Each slowly gave their approval, unsure if they even wanted to hear the ending to this tale.

"Duke…" Zanas began as his voice came out solid but lined with shame. "The reason that having red eyes like mine are wrong is because only one other person recently had the same eyes. This man started out as a Pokémon Trainer and became a Champion of this region, being the equivalent of a king."

As Zanas told this story, Duke's eyes grew wide with anticipation. Sometimes it was weird to be reminded that Duke wasn't a raging beast or even dumb, but just a naïve child. Easy to entertain and teach but also still an animal that knows how to fight and lash out just by pure instinct. It was an innocence that most don't see until it is lost to them and seen through another's eyes. That innocence made telling the baby Charmander the truth that much harder.

"This man, known to most as Red, had to deal with a lot of issues during his run as the Kanto Champion. Most people felt he cheated his way to becoming champion, others argued that he wasn't completely human."

"Why were they saying those things?"

Zanas smiled gently at Duke and pat his head as praise for being so inquisitive. Definitely not dumb. "Because he could do something that most other people couldn't or at least didn't do. Talk and fight alongside with his Pokémon."

"Just like you can, though I heard you got scary when you started to play too rough."

Zanas nodded. "That's the issue. People started accusing this man of cheating and many other things, some true and some gross rumors. But in the end, it didn't matter. Red eventually used his position as Champion, and his power to divide Kanto, and due to that divide, started a war."


Zanas stopped himself to think on how best to explain the concept of war to the young Pokémon, but another voice chimed in.

"Think of it like a battle that we usually are in," babe's voice seemed as uneasy as Zanas' if not worse. ", only with many more Pokémon all fighting at once along with humans and the battle only stopping when the other side is completely wiped out."

"That doesn't seem so-"Duke began but Babe raised her voice at Duke like he had just insulted her mother.

"Only the no one walks away from it. They die!" Duke flinched as if the word "die" physically assaulted him. Tears started to form in the young Charmander's eyes, but the moment his gaze returned to Zanas', Duke quickly wiped away the water works and begged Zanas to continue.

"The story is pretty long with a lot of details and myths but the gist is…Red…Red did some unforgivable things to both his enemy's and his own allies." Zanas grit his teeth and balled his fists from nervous habit. This story had been told so many times before, even by his lips, but that wasn't what made this so hard.

Zanas turned to Brock and was met with a similar look of grief mixed with what he could only assume was anger, maybe even hatred. He turned away from the Gym leader, not wanting to see the man's face when he reached the end. That face…just like everyone else who suffered.

Zanas took a deep breath and continued, both knees on the ground now, his back slouched making him look defeated. "Red was seen as a traitor to everyone and was eventually over thrown. More rumors grew about how leaders from years and years ago were somehow related to Red and shared his strange abilities of battle and communication. This started rumors of so many different conspiracies over something no one could prove, but it didn't matter. Everyone feared for their lives if another Red would be born, but as far as anyone knew, Red has no siblings to speak of and no family still alive. Except…for the one he started."

Prince jumped to all fours, taking a few steps closer Zanas and Duke. "Zanas stop."

Both turned to the purple Pokémon, but Zanas didn't halt his story for long. "More rumors spread that the Blood Red Monster had started a family that went into hiding sometime before the end of the war."

"Zanas I said stop, you don't have to finish."

Zanas stood to his feet, his voice cracking from the hatred and shame that was building as he grew closer to the truth. "Everyone was afraid that the offspring of that awful man would come back and so they wanted what remained of the Elite Four to hunt down the Mother and child and kill them both."

"Zanas you can stop." Pepper chirped her voice on the brink of tears. Zanas knew why that was. He looked back to Brock who still remained stone faced but melted into an expression the boy placed somewhere between disgust and triumph over being correct about him.

"So if the child did exist and the mother was still alive, she would have to escape to the region that separated itself from Kanto, tot the section of the country where she had been born and raised herself."

"We get it Zanas." Babe's tone was easy, almost loving but even she couldn't hide the contempt in her voice. None of them could and how could they. "Please stop-"

"No! I want to say it." The boy's voice cracked as it took all his gusto to hold back his own tears, hating what he was doing, saying, being, but knowing he had to admit it. He turned back to Brock, who had such a contorted face that placing just one emotion on how he looked would be impossible.

"You all are standing in the presence of not some ordinary kid who can talk to Pokémon. I only had a tough time growing up because of the lies my mother had to make for me. Because of the truth needing to be covered up and being told I couldn't accept this as fact, or else I'd be killed. We had to live in such a rough state all because of the secrets and tiptoeing around other people and I am so damn sick of it!" Zanas screamed his last words, his entire tense until he turned and smiled to everyone. As he smiled and tears rolled down his cheeks, pathetic "eekss" from his hiccups squeezed from his throat and he soldiered on.

"I'd rather die here, having done so much in so little time, admitting what no one wants to accept, the live another day in silence, fearing that I'll be taken to a shooting range or hung. I…I'm done being paranoid about why I can do what I do. I'm tired of everyone giving me those expressions once they know." Zanas pointed to the general direction of the group as he continued to smiley, the tension fading as he became more at peace with his decision.

Zanas' cried grew uglier, with swift gasps of air and depressing moans, but his smile never faded. "I know what to expect…but I got what I wanted in the end so I have no regrets about my life, or at least nothing I can't forgive." A long pause fell once more, the heat beating down on everyone, making anger flushed faces even more flushed and the uncomfortable tension even more unbearable. Zanas lowered his head, now unable to keep the smile going but still able to speak before the ugly crying took over his speech for good.

"My father was Allin Michael Carmine and my mother Is Catherine Mary Carmine. I am the son of the two greatest traitors of the Johto and Kanto regions."

Chapter Text

"Hey….hey kid…are you still alive?" Prince hovered over Duke, who was sprawled out belly side down on the dirt ground of the Pewter Gym. The young Charmander had bright yellow bruises splotched over his back and arm, and every muscle screamed in agony with every inch taken just from breathing. Duke merely whimpered in response, and mumbled about how much pain he was in, but no cohesive words were formed.

"You'll live you big flaming baby." Prince rolled Duke over to the fire tail's distain, and examined the rest of the damage received. The bruises stretched all along the Pokémon's, belly, even brighter and more swollen than the ones on his back. Prince winced at the lumps and pulled away from the hatchling as if he had a fatal disease. "Never mind that's…pretty bad."

Duke groaned in agreement, sounding more comical than believably in pain. No matter how banged he got, Duke always looked worse off than he was. The Rodent turned to the two female members of the team and called out to them across the field. "She have a Pep in her step yet?"

Pepper glared angrily at the Rattata's poor joke, but didn't budge from her lax position on the rock. Babe silently gave a thumb up to her team mate with her usual hidden blank expression. "She's still breathing, which is better than we can say for most."

Prince snickered and turned back to duke, lightly patting the Pokémon's head but minding the bruises. "At least we're all the same level now huh? Or…at least I think we are?"

Duke whimpered and moaned louder at this. "I'm not saying you'll have to do any more training you cry baby."

The orange lizard looked up to Prince with an untrusting gaze and muttered, "You promise?" under his breath.

Prince sighed and nodded, walking toward the left side of the stage. "We've been at this for five days now so I think we've earned a bit of vacation time while our sleeping beauty waits for prince charming to wake him up."

Duke quickly popped to his hind legs and cheered. The three eldest all chuckled at the hatchling's sudden burst of energy after his wounded solider performance, but refrained from teasing. They'd all had a long but productive day of training, and the last thing they wanted was to go back to bickering. Duke rushed toward the door, whispering and groaning in pain to himself as he made his way to freedom, rest and best of all food. Hot piping fresh food.

Pepper called out after him, and begrudgingly flapped to catch up to him, also groaning and eeping at the pain. "That kid would sell his own child for a fresh burger I swear." Prince shook his head in bewilderment as he watched the two scurry away.

"Duke? Procreating? We have a long time before we have to worry about him getting that old."

"Oh Arceus we'll have to deal with a Chameleon coming into age…at least he's male otherwise I would quit the team."

"Ditto." Babe turned to start picking up the pieces of broken stone and dirt clumps that the four had been tossing up since the morning, as per the agreement with the Gym leader allowing them to train and room at his home until Zanas came to. In his words, it was the least he felt needed to be done after tossing their trainer into a possible coma. To the man's luck, the team was calm enough to let that joke slide. The thought of Zanas never waking up, or at least not for a while, hit everyone hard and was only diminished after being assured that the worst case scenario wasn't the outcome.

Prince followed Babe around the gym floor, picking up his own share of pebbles and dirt chunks as he talked the Mankey's ear off.

"How much do you think Zanas will miss when he wakes up? Like, how much do you think we could convince him happened while he was asleep? Hehehe I mean he would have no way of saying we were lying and if someone like you or Duke…ooooohhh hehehehe if Duke relayed the message then the kid would have to belive anything we say haha! We could convince him that Pokémon took over the world and that humans now fight while Pokémon are the trainers…hahaha or or we could tell him that he was dreaming the whole time and that he's a play boy billionaire philanthropist."

This rambling of what if's and should be's continued as the clean-up job was finished. Babe sat back against the wall in her meditative sitting position and let out a light sigh of relief. "Now that the boring part is done there isn't much left to do is there?"

Prince mocked the Primate with a pffft, "You say that like it's a bad thing. Not having anything to do is a blessing in this day and age." The royal rat sat next to Babe, still keeping a proper posture as if he were posing for a photo shoot. "Being a bit of a lazy susan never killed anyway…well not anyone important."

Babe smiled through her eyes and nodded. "I suppose so. We have been working overkill."

Prince titled his head and paused his speech for a moment to register what the female had said. "I think you mean overtime."

Babe shrugged but didn't defend herself. For a long moment the two sat in the empty gym building in silence, enjoying what little moment of peace they had. Prince let out a sigh of his own as he let his posture fall slightly. "It's been a Reverse of a couple of days."

"That…sums up the past week yes."

Another silence fell between the two, babe looking across the stage to the right opposite wall, as if entranced. "You know…I haven't known you for more than a few weeks, maybe a month…but I'm receptive enough to know you bothered by something."

Babe managed to give an earnest giggle, something still alien to Prince's ears. "If I were crazy I'd compliment your observation…only I know I'm not hiding myself well."

"Why do you even need to…hide?" The question broke Babe's blank expression into a more vulnerable state. For once since meeting her Babe looked broken, almost sickly. She didn't face Prince, but instead kept her eyes on the wall far away from her.

"You saw them too didn't you? Those blood red eyes. Those angry bloody…" Her voice cracked for a moment but when she spoke again babe had control over her tone. "I really wish you were as fake and simple minded as we tease you to be but this whole time you've been playing us all the fool…me a fool. You and that human child we call our trainer."

Prince looked to Babe, unsure what to say. He saw her body shake then stop then shake again like a cold chill was crawling up her back over and over. The way she stared made him wonder if she was looking into a whole other world, one being slowly being enveloped and blurred by tears. She talked clearly but the rest of her seemed far away somewhere else. It was starting to feel uncomfortable sitting next to her.

"You can't seriously be growing some falsified hatred for him can you?" Babe remained still and silent, which only made Prince more agitated. "I'm not saying you can't hate what he is but you can't seriously hate him for what someone else did? Your better than that, or I hope you are."

Babe followed through with her silence and slowly drooped her head toward the ground, her tears falling forward as she now stared at her feet. "I wish I could simply hate him or be mad at him or just…anything. I honestly want to have some feeling some opinion on what I've seen but…"

"…but…what?" Prince's tone was showing his anger and eagerness for her speech. "You either hate him or you don't you can't take both roads."

"I know it's just…what he is hurts me…knowing and seeing what he really is makes me fell disgusted of or just being associated with him." Babe fidgeted more frequently and her voice broke more sporadically. "But every time I'm ready to spit his name when I speak it…I catch myself and stop…because I pity him."

Prince got to all fours still unsure what action to take, freezing only in hesitation. Babe shifted her attention to the now alert rodent but her eyes remained opened and fixated on that distant place as she continued to sickeningly weep. "It's so easy to feel how badly he is hurting and how exhausted he is just standing next to him. When I saw that anger and loss in his eyes…I just…I can't feel anything. My mind is so filled with thoughts I just can't help but go blank. I just…want things to turn out ok and for me to just…forget this happened."

For a long moment the two kept eyes locked to each others. While Babe's became more full of tears and mourning, the royal rodent's only mirrored his trainers rage in battle, but with added disgust.

"You think you feel disgusted just by knowing the kid?" Prince spit venom with his words, taking Babe for surprise. "You have no idea what disgust is you self-righteous brat." He began to pace back and forth, never taking his glare off of the curled up Mankey, never letting his tone slacken unlike his posture. Prince walked around Babe like a monstrous beast stalking a weak creature, eyes piercing through the others in a way that just made the victim feel so much smaller than they already felt.

"I get it…I do. What Zanas is hurts because of what it means, what it reminds you of. But to say you're disgusted with his existence makes me only want to end your own. Look at you, so easily broken and confused when days before you took on one of the biggest and most terrifying species of creature that's known to anyone. Your broke an Onix's face in just after escaping a touch of death, but now your quivering over what you should or shouldn't feel?!"

Babe shot to her feet, going on the defensive. "I shouldn't have been able to beat that Onix, Prince! I was out cold; I don't remember doing anything after I got hit into the ground. All I felt was this boiling anger building in me and I know exactly where that anger came from!"

"So what?! Would you prefer bleeding out or crushed into a puddle in the middle of the field instead of getting angry and fighting back?"

"I wanted to kill that Onix! I mean kill, without stopping and not in defense. Not out of protecting me or you or the team or even Zanas. When our trainer got angry, when he got into the fight I lost my mind prince. I wanted to do so much more than to hit that Onix. I wanted it dead. I wanted it to stop breathing! I shouldn't feel that…I…Pokémon should never feel that. Only humans get anger like that and I…"

"You can't speak for an entire species Babe! You didn't want to kill that Onix, you wanted it to be a simple fight and you held back and almost died! Yes what Zanas did, even if it wasn't intentional, was wrong? Somehow he forced his anger on you and it carried through. I get that. I get why you feel…for lack of a better word, violated. You feel used but at least you're still around! No one died and Zanas got the raw end of the deal so let go of this weird bigoted stance you have on him and focus on that one thing that you can that many others can't. You survived."

Prince desperately tried to catch his breath, his body shaking as badly as Babe's. Babe stood there, the tears still building in her eyes but none had fallen down her face since she stood. "He's a danger to everyone around him. He could kill us all killed or make us kill. Even if we don't want to, he could learn to control us."

Prince huffed out a breath and sat back in his proper manner, still giving off an air of agitation. "Zanas could have done that his entire life. He could have broken years ago but he never did. I'm not saying he won't kill and I'm not saying he won't tip our choices to what he wants…but deep down I feel like there's always going to be a part of us that wants to agree with that urge. He didn't lose it until he thought you were gone. He didn't get angry till he thought we lost you…I know what it feels like to let that anger take over but still Zanas has never led me astray."

Prince paused, letting his words sink into the Mankey's head. His calm tone made the Pokémon feel more at ease and the tears dropped away from her chocolate brown eyes but no new puddles formed.

"Did you ever do anything you regret…when you let that anger take over?"

Prince smiled and puffed out his chest. "I wouldn't be the top of my race if I did. Everything I've done I did of my choice, even if a specific voice spoke loudest in my head at the time. I won't pretend I didn't have my doubts…but if you stick around I think you'll see that the kid is worth fighting for…I would even say he's worth killing for, but we'll never have to make the choice alone."

"I…I don't want to ever have to make that choice." Babe hiccuped.

Prince's smile drooped to an empathetic stare. "Even without us you'd have to make that choice. Even without being a League Registered fighter you'd still have to kill."

Babe sat back into her small ball of pity, her eyes teaming over with more tears and Prince sat across from her, his shoulder rubbing against hers.

"…how does it feel to kill?"

"…depends on the context but…for me…it felt like shopping off a rotten limb. You just know you have to do it."

The two caught the other's eyes again, prince smiling as goofy as he could. Babe chuckled but weakly and choppy, like her hiccups were choking her. "You said we wouldn't make the decision alone? You implying something?"

Prince's mouth spread to his dealer's sneer. "If you have to kill, then so do I."

"And if I-"

"No just the one way. If you have to kill, I'll already be there, but you have to kill when I resort to it."

Again babe giggled. "So I have to trust your judgment above all anyone else's?"

Prince nodded, giving a teasing expression as if he were questioning his words. "Ya…that's pretty much it."

Prince shot Babe his only genuine smile and hoped back to all fours, bugging the Mankey up to her feet, as he moved away from the wall. "Because if you can't trust the commander, then trust the second in command. Zanas is still a kid and maybe I'm not the wisest of anyone we know, I know that you know I can be trusted above all else. So just trust me before anyone. The guy you could easily punch through a well with your pinkie. You'll have nothing to fear from me other than my NineTails like charm and my possible ditto sexuality."

Babe froze as the Rattata's words hit her ears. "…You…I really didn't need to hear that Prince…I could have just…ewww."

Prince's jaw dropped only to come back up to start a more comical rant about sexuality and Babe's own awkward feelings. The two had their usual back and forth as they left the gym, Babe grasping her blank monk like façade again only now her voice came off as less robotic and more alive. She didn't take offense or get angry but to prince she just sounded and felt more real than before.

Chapter Text

Brock jumped to his feet wearing an excited expression, clapping his hands at Zanas to stand up. “Which means you’re about as dangerous as you are thick headed. Which means you can’t be left alone. Which also means!...I have to train you.”
The commanding claps hadn’t raised Zanas from his seat, but now the trainer shot up from the ground. “What?!”
“See now I didn’t exactly lie when I told everyone I was going to be your new mentor. You were just the last person to hear about it.” Brock smiled in that smug know it all look that just made Zanas want to deck him in the jaw all over again. Unfortunately, Zanas knew that was a lucky shot at best, and even then he ended up paying the price for it.
“Don’t you have to run the Gym, and take care of Pewter City? And what makes you think I would even accept?!” Brock’s grin only grew wider, baring his teeth now. Everyone shook uncomfortably, but before Zanas could inch away, Brock had quickly leapt in front of the boy, a foot distance between them, and clenched both of Zanas’ arms tightly in his palms.
“Thing is I’ve built up some vacation days that I would kill to use right about now.” Brock’s grip tightened, causing Zanas to flinch and struggle in the man’s grip. Failing to thrash away, Zanas grew more frantic with his motions but was quickly pulled back. Again the trainer’s eyes were locked but Brock’s eyes were no longer gentle. They were fiery, almost vengeful.
“You are a lot things Zanas, and your bloodline says a lot about what you might become. Now I can’t stop you from changing for better or for worse without killing you, and after all the bloodshed and humiliation that’s already plagued us both, I’m certain you don’t want another body or two to be added right?”
Zanas began to stammer as his mind shot a rainfall of thoughts. “But…you…why…this…What is going on!”
“There it is, that anger I was talking about.” Brock reached out to his “student” but was cut off by a swift smack of the hand.
“No…this…all of this…It’s not a part of the plan.” This statement seemed to confuse, then entertain Brock as he began to give his loud chuckle again. “No, don’t you start damnit! This isn’t funny!”
Brock fought to breathe amidst his laughter as he retaliated. “That’s..haha that isn’t entirely true now, otherwise I-“
Zanas grabbed Gym leader’s jacket and pushed the man into the large tree they had been pacing around, the man’s head cracking hard against the ridged bark. “I don’t believe this, any of this. It’s not right. It doesn’t make sense!”
The team watched in fear as, again, their trainer assaulted another human. Uncalled for and unjustified, they were at a loss for words and judgment.
“I believe you meant to say…You don’t want to believe it.” Brock’s words were slow, collective and poisonous to Zanas. They stung worse than any burn and choked him like forest fire’s smoke. “Even now when you’re trying to be tough and scary… you’re just pathetic and weak.”
“Where do you get-“
“Where do you get off!” That booming voice again, only now it brewed fire as he spoke. “You wanted answers; you wanted to know what you are and why you’re so hated, but you don’t even know the very idea of true hatred, not yet.” Brock pushed the boy back with each step forward; both their foreheads mashed against each other as the older man’s eyes shimmered with repressed rage. “You haven’t suffered the true physical and mental brunt of the kind of scorn your father, no, your entire family brought on people like you and me! So many people were chased from their homes, so much blood was spilt all because of one moronic decision that changed the very essence of what it meant to have this lineage, to be a true sage!”
Zanas fell to the ground and began fearfully crawling back from the man as he continued his march, still shouting, still revealing. Zanas broke eye contact only once to see his team, and they too mirrored his fear and confusion. The only emotion they did not share with that brief glance was the boy’s guilt.
“You were protected Zanas. Sheltered and hidden, and I won’t be able to say whether that was a worse hell. Hiding your talents and who you are, I’ll never know that, but you WILL know true shame and regret if you continue to blindly march up to people and demand fights like a damn child!” The Gym Leader paused, catching his breath and drawing his composure, then knelt down to Zanas’ level, hatred and pain still boiling in the back of his throat, but now Zanas could see kindness in peering through the rage just like before, but without a shroud of cynicism or snark.
“Your nothing but an angry, lost, scared, kid, and you’ll just keep getting lost if you don’t accept help from someone. We both have lost a lot…and you’ve yet to lose a fraction of what’s to come, simply because of what you are. But who you are can lessen the blow and make things seem just a little better. You just need a few pointers in protecting yourself, protecting others, and just…being human.”
Zanas stuttered, his body shaking while his mind still raced beyond measurement. “if…I I’m not human..wwhat are you saying –“
“Right now you’re nothing. Not even a monster.” The words were plain and blunt, yet delivered in that same cushioned voice. “You’ve yet to be anything of note…but we can change that…do you want to?”
Zanas was speechless until Brock shook him gently and asked, slightly louder for the boy to answer. The shaking seemed to jolt life into the young trainer as he stuttered a yes, which in turn pulled a grin that seemed to say “Thank you.”
“Then you’re going to let me train you to fight, to get better at using your gifts…and to get you to control of your anger.” Brock sighed, wiping his hands over his face as he cooled off and started laughing. “Meanwhile I’m the one really getting heated over this.” Brock shot Zanas another smile, though this was weaker, with signs of age seeping through. “Zanas, people like us go through a lot in our lives. We’re not like normal people…and that can be a very good thing. For a while it was but now…now we have to strive to make things better. I don’t expect you to believe everything I’ve told you, but you’ve seen what happens when you lose your temper. Please let me help you.”
Zanas let a relaxed smile break through his hardened stare, and spoke in a soft almost constantly sighing breath. “Helping control my anger…that’s all it’ll take?”
“Ha…don’t make it sound so easy. Blood line or none you’re still a pretty angry white kid.”
Both trainers and the Pokémon had a good laugh about that slice of reality. “…I don’t know how much of what you said is just some spoon-fed religious garble you’ve picked up…but a lot of what you said makes sense.” He could really get me a chance to fight all the gym leaders. No questions asked no laws broken. No lives lost…just my dream.
Zanas smirked triumphantly and offered his hand, which Brock happily accepted. With the agreement finalized in this gesture, Zanas felt he truly had an ally outside of the Pokémon kind and outside of Pallet Town. He couldn’t hide how happy he was to finally call another person friend. Even his goofy toothy grin came out to say hello to all the somber faces. It was greeted with similar gestures from all around.
“Glad to hear it.” Brock said with a boom. “Now take off your shirt.”


“It’s not my fault….ok now that….hey….bullshit! Bull shit! I’ve been doing most of the leg work while you two sit around tending to…ya…yes!...ok ok….i’m gonna be chill, I’m cool I’m cool….Yes….Yeees!...alright…so just push the get together when? Alright I think we can manage that…ya take care.” Eddy placed the phone back onto its receiver and slouched back against the Poke Center cushion. So much time had been wasted and still Brock insisted on messing around. Everyone was getting on edge, especially his siblings. But what was HE supposed to do. He already got the kid to agree to leave with them, his part was done, or so he thought. His eldest sister, always the boss in charge, some how got him to agree to babysit for the whole trip to cerulean. One idiot trainer was bad enough…now…this really was bullshit.
“Come on Eddy, relax a little and take a look at the view.” Brock chuckled in his overly loud voice. Eddy groaned and turned to his side, facing the wall where the phone was hung up. He grumbled under his breath as he tightened his curled body, desperately wanting the world to just fix itself. “Eddy your being dramatic again.”
“Well why shouldn’t I?!” The dark haired Joy hissed. “For a little over a month now I was promised safe travel to Cerulean and all I’ve received is waiting, waiting, and more Arceus damned waiting!”
Brock waved his hands at Eddy, motioning him to lower his voice. “Edward, buddy, I promised it would all be alight didn’t I? I always keep my promises.”
Joy turned over sitting up right as he shot a Muk nasty look at the man, spiting venom with each syllable. “This isn’t about trust you boulder brained pedophile. We need to get to Cerulean and fix this Region’s shit!”
A pause for breath interrupted Eddy’s rant, as Brock turned to the window then back to his friend. “He’s of age you know.” The dark skinned trainer opted as he pointed to a shirtless shoeless Zanas, desperately pushing his body off the ground to a straight hand stand. For days, Brock had put the upcoming trainer on a strict physical training regiment, that would leave Zanas more sore each day, and every day he impressed his coaches, both Brock and Eddy, he would have an article of his clothing returned to him. Even then, people still wanted to battle as official licensed trainers, which added as a big spectacle around the town as a half-naked boy defeated each new challenge in his wake.
When this was proposed originally, Zanas had fought Brock to keep his hat and jacket, but found he was no match in any category. Add in that both the mopey Joy and his torturer were the only ones keeping him from getting chased after by angry mobs, and Zanas just had to scowl and bear the humiliation and workout.
“Hehehe…I should have had trainers study under me sooner.” Brock almost bellowed out laughing again, but Eddy’s flinching reminded him, to keep on a low volume. It didn’t help that the empty halls of the Center echoed the man’s exploding vocal cords.
“…Why?” Brock rolled his eyes at the question, but Eddy persisted. “Why bother with him at all?”
“Edward I’ve told you-“
Eddy shot up to his feet, giving Brock little elbow room as he continued to rant. “No you haven’t told me, that’s the problem. He’s just some kid. Not important in the slightest and, you know, he’s even said no one would miss him or at least not notice his disappearance. I mean even his own mother-“ Eddy’s intrigue and anger shattered away instantaneously. He was looking at Brock, but he wasn’t seeing his friend at all. The man’s hands were balled into tight fists clenching his forearms, and that whispered rumor stare faded into reality. “I…did it again huh?”
“..Yeah, you did.” Brock growled, still looking out the glass door of the Center, but now his focus was beyond any person’s sight. “I’m doing this because he deserves a chance. A chance at what, I have no exact idea but a chance all the same.” Brock smirked snidely, turning his gaze to a now uncomfortable looking Eddy. “But if he happens to play a good solider, then…who am I to let him go.”
Eddy shook his head, halting again as Brock’s intense glare pressed down on him. “I can still trust you on this right?”
Eddy rolled his eyes and lightly pushed Brock aside as he left for the back for the Center, Brock’s glower loosening as he was pushed. “I’ll take that as a yes…”
“You haven’t even explained everything to him yet.” Joy called back, clearly angry with Brock but not enough to start conflict. “You want to explain what a Sage is exactly?”
A long pause followed while Eddy fumbled for a soda, some off brand cola that most never heard of, which made the price even more tantalizing when he bought it. The Nurse returned to see his friend, hunched over on the cushioned bench, pondering. “…Honestly…I would…but in all honesty…I don’t think any of the families truly remember what that word means.”


“This is crap!” Zanas gasped as he lay over a park bench, too tired to properly sit, too overheated to be calm and wanting so badly to punch something living and flesh covered. If muscles could have lungs, or just the ability to make noise, they’d be singing in an opera of sores and pain.
Prince sat across from his trainer, stomach aimed toward the sky as his right front leg lay over him, making the rodent look like he had just fainted. “No kidding. There are muscles in my tail that are sore. I didn’t even know I could feel pain in those kind of muscles!”
Duke and Pepper couldn’t agree more, though they were unable to speak up. Both were sprawled on the rest of the bench, shooting off heat that would make a Slugma wince. The exhausted pack simply stayed limp on the bench, the only movement being made now was their chests rising and falling with each breath they swallowed. The only two who seemed unfazed by all the exercise was the team fighting type, who breezed through all the workouts and humiliated the team in just about every stage. Then there was Hector.
“That’s right you jealous avian devils! I, me a bug, your sworn enemy can fly and catch your sorry tail feathers and turn you into a mangled corpse! Hahahah!” After so much waiting the fidgety Metapod had evolved into an energetic, slightly uncontrollable Butterfree. No one saw the evolution coming, as the bug type had been used as a speaking blunt weapon more than a willing teammate, but now hector was free to use his new found psychic abilities to explode minds, both literally and figuratively.
“Honestly you four should be thankful that we are in this situation at all. We really need the extra work.” All residents of the bench lazily looked at the Mankey with somber expressions. “Don’t start, this is good for you and you know it.”
“Whatever you say mom.” Prince lazily waved his paw at the Mankey to send her away, but the Pokémon made no signs of budging.
“Prince…I have no issue with your lounging, but the three of you should be far more energetic.”
“Babe…just,” Zanas started but he instead sighed, not able to fight even with words “…go catch Hector please. Before he does something I’ll regret.”
Babe mirrored her trainers sigh, but bowed in agreement. As she rushed off the four “lazy” members of the team continued to relax on the admittedly wobbly bench. The heat of the sun beat down on them all as those who could sweat wallowed and those who couldn’t just panted like canines.
They all remained silent save for their weezing and groans, until the young trainers voice peeked through the chirping echoes from the bug types afar. “Does…does this change anything?”
The creatures perked their heads up, looking at Zanas, unsure of the question, or the answer he might be looking for. “I mean…if everything…hell if even half of what brock says is fact…that I really am just a time bomb ticking away…does this change us?”
The Pokémon looked to one another, Pepper and Prince moving to speak, but no peeps or squeaks were shared. He could see that they wanted to say no but that would be a lie. If they would say yes they would be afraid to say why or how it changes. It wasn’t a fair question and their trainer regretted asking after the awkward pause.
“Sorry, that’s not entirely-“
“Everything.” The three turned to Duke, taken aback by his answer. “That’s what Brock said right?”
“Well…yes but I’m asking for your guy’s opinion.”
Duke nodded. “That is my opinion…I think it changes everything.”
The two older members looked to their trainer, sharing a glance of amazement. “You’re like us. You get angry only when you’re scared and you fight when you…really need to win. As long as we are with you we are always in danger…right?”
Zanas hesitated but nodded in confirmation. “We all may very-” The footsteps of Babe approaching with Hector interrupted Zanas but briefly. “…we could die out here. I think that’s always been something you’ve known but…I guess we’ve never talked about it but…yes it’s true.”
Now the heat wasn’t the only thing pressing down on the group. This sudden somber reality was let out of its cave and now, they had to face it.
“That’s fine.” Duke exclaimed with a prideful grin, one that seemed like a perfect image of his trainer’s smirk. “That’s ok. Because we won’t ever lose.”
“Haha that’s the spirit candle tip!” Hector cheered as he did summersaults in the air.
“He is way too excited about flying.” Prince teased. “And Duke, that’s a pretty big assumption you’re making that we’ll never lose. I mean I’m top tier but even I’m not that cocky.”
Duke pouted for a moment as he registered the phrase. It seemed that this sudden intelligence and insight wasn’t one hundred percent active for the young fire type. When the phrase seemed to make sense Duke jumped up on the back rest of the bench. “But we won’t lose. We’re just too good. I mean…we beat that big…s-stone serpent. I heard people talk about it like it was the most amazingly fantastic thing ever! So we just can’t lose. It’s not…um…oh! It not in our nature!”
The group laughed, but not at the Charmander’s expense. It was just so perfect to hear such optimistic ideas from someone so young and naïve. Funny thing is though, what he said felt so right. True or not it just sounded like fact; a final answer to an overly complicated riddle. “It’s not in or nature.”
“He has a strong point.” All eyes shifted to Babe, who smiled through her eyes. “We have a top tier rodent, a trigger happy psychic bug, a powerhouse of a Pidgey and an ever growing beast that handled a gang of Geodudes with no fuss.”
“And of course, we have our champion Mankey, who single handedly broke an Onix’s face into the ground.” The team began to clap but babe interjected with a raised hand.
“Please…I know this is something I should be happy to carry with me but…that wasn’t…I’m simply not proud of what happened in that fight. Even if it was necessary I-“
“I’m sorry.”
Babe stopped and her eyes widened, which was impressive as most of her face were those peepers. “I’m sorry?”
Zanas chuckled. “No I am…I’m about as blind as Brock, especially when it comes to you guys. That…power I had…what I did…I know it didn’t feel right to you. And while it hurts to say…I know it…really may have scared you.” Babe ashamedly looked toward the ground, only confirming her trainer’s suspicions. “It won’t happen again.”
“Don’t let Dukes confidence get you too above yourself Zanas.”
“No Babe I swear…I won’t force you to kill anyone. I won’t push you like that again.” Zanas’s lips perked for a partial smile but his words still fell hard on all ears. “If I lose control again, it’ll be me and only me paying the price. Not you guys, and not any bystander…I can keep control I know I can…I just have to.” The boy’s hands clenched tightly to a fist, which he pressed against his bare chest. “I swear on the beat of my soul that you won’t ever have to kill on my behalf.”
“Swear on your-“
“Damn Zanas…you haven’t made a pact like that in…well years.” Prince nodded in approval, turning to Babe, who had an admittedly cute confused stare, giving Prince something to snicker at.
“It’s something Momma Carmine taught him…us. If you swear on your heart beat, the beat of your soul, then you’re promising something till your last breath. You were just gifted our trainer’s wellbeing. Congrats Pig nose.”
“With…with his.” Babe teetered, looking as if she were about to faint. Zanas and Hector moved to catch her, but the sentiment was unnecessary as Babe swiftly knelt in front of the boy, bowing her head to the ground. “I…I’m sorry…I have been…so…I judged you simply on one act of desperation and your heritage and that…that is simply uncalled for. I accept your promise…but only if you accept my counter offer.” Zanas was unsure how else to answer his Pokémon’s request, other than a hesitant yes and a question.
“That would be?’
The Mankey perked her head up, long streams of tears falling down her face, overlaying the closed eye smile of hers. “We never stop traveling…and we never stop growing.”
Zanas’, along with the other Pokémon’s smiles inched wider and wider as they all nodded and verbally agreed to this promise. “To the beat of our soul’s we promise.”
The unknown voice pierced the cheery, sappy vibes of the group and gained the team’s attention. To everyone’s dismay, a small ragtag group of trainer’s, ranging from the young child to the burley adult, were rushing over to the park bench, their eyes locked onto Zanas, clearly relishing a chance to fight. Such a moment, taken away from reality and for a moment they group grimaced and groaned over the upcoming challenge.
“Oi, for once when I’m finally feeling relaxed, and a wee bit soulful, these pine sniffing insect have to come and ruin the moment?!”
The phrasing confused Zanas, and a few of the other Pokémon. “You’re a bug type though so should you be using insect as a negative like-“
“Hey, you purpled fur wan bee royal, guess what my choice of words have to do with my sudden craving for blood sweat and lots of tears? Absolutely nuthin! So let’s get on with it, ya?!”
“I couldn’t agree more.” Without so much as a leap, Zanas rushed forward into the fray, followed by the team. The oncoming trainer’s and their Pokémon halted in uncertainty as they watched this shirtless boy, and the pack of Creatures charge them, some even ready to double back.
“If you wanted to fight then you picked one of the weirdest times to ask for one!” Though context was thrown unkindly to a wall of ignorance, the trainer’s heard what they wanted, a verbal agreement to a legal match. Like many handfuls of trainers before, these people wanted a taste of what Brock’s new student could do. And for better, but mostly worse, they would find out.