Heart of a Sword (Harsh language/Violence) Oct 3, 2011 14:28:34 GMT -4
Post by artmage on Oct 3, 2011 14:28:34 GMT -4
So, I do a lot of spare writing and Pokemon RPs in my time, and a few of them are serious labors of love.
On one of my old Pokemon sites, they have a bi-montly audition for Pokemon from inactive accounts---basically meaning that you need to write a short story on how you met this Pokemon to earn it.
Below is an audition I think made a pretty good standalone story. I hope you guys will enjoy it as much as I did writing it (Never got the Pokemon mentioned, by the way. Mods went cross-eyed reading it)
Reviews are not only encouraged; They're allowed
Rated for strong language and intermediate violence.
“So, what’s your story kid?”
The gruff question jolted Hale out of her thoughts which had been slowly stewing for the past half-an-hour as she sat at a corner of a medical bay with whitewashed walls which was decidedly Spartan-looking despite the gleaming steel and polymer tables, chairs, surgical tools and bleeping monitors that recorded the vital signs of the mutt who was splayed out on the stretcher in the middle of the room, out like a light as a grizzled old doctor worked over him diligently.
The needle and fine surgical thread between his fingers carefully weaved in and out of the flesh of the dog’s left cheek which had been sliced open into a Glasgow grin as though he had been hacked at by a butcher’s knife.
Hale felt a lump in her throat rising as she kept her eyes on the young Houndour, her starter who had taken a terrible beating in his very first battle despite his win—part of her wondered whether it would have been far better to forfeit before he got to this stage, but what was done was done.
“Don’t get a lot of cases like this here, see, especially with them starters fresh outta the labs.”
“Long story short, he got on the wrong side of an Axew. Part a’ me is pissed at meself for makin’ a hash of it---maybe I should’a called him in, throw in the towel. Ye should’ve seen the look in his eyes though…..like, he couldn’t give a shit if he dropped dead there as long as he gave it his all.”
The girl murmured quietly, a far cry from her usual cocksure stance as she hugged her knees to her chest and let out a raking sigh, pushing her hair out of her face as she saw the medic briskly move away from the bed to take off his gloves and wash his hands in a nearby basin.
“I mean, comin’ from a military background and all, ye’d think ye’d get used tae that by now….but it’s murder when it’s from something that small.”
By the time the medic had taken off his disposable mask and cleared away his utensils, the young woman had already left her seat and was by the bedside, gently stroking Raziel’s ears as he laid under the clean sheets motionlessly, veins still full of the anesthesia which had been applied thirty minutes back to the pup’s panicky protest as she had clung to him, keeping his paws from flailing around and toppling the kidney dishes while whispering to him whatever she thought could calm him down.
“Military huh? Well that’ll explain a few things.”
Said the doctor as he raised an eyebrow at Hale who turned around to throw on her jacket, for a few moments showing off the deep scars she herself had gotten from that ordeal. With a humorless grin, he pulled out a set of dog tags hidden inside the black workshirt he wore beneath a white labcoat and flashed them at her.
“Ronan Chase. EMT for the Zapdos Platoon from Vermillion. Knew Surge when he was still on potato duty for sneaking his Raichu buddy out of the kennels during curfew, but enough with the old soldier’s tales.”
Almost immediately, the despondent demeanor Hale had been mindlessly wallowing in since she walked into this room lifted; she straightened her back and instinctively saluted the man with the salt-and-pepper hair as though he was a commanding officer.
“A pleasure, sir. Hale Callahan of the---“
“Alto Mare Navy huh? Nice place to retire that. The place I mean”
Said Ronan as he peered at the dog tags which were around Raziel’s neck; a welcoming gift from Hale the day she had left the laboratory with him. He pat the dog’s neck as Raziel let out a soft ‘whuff’ in his sleep and was then carted out to a nearby ward.
“He’ll be fine. Drugs should wear off in a couple of hours and he’ll be good to go in two days though I suggest you keep away from Axews for the next couple of weeks.”
“Well thank ye for yer help once again sir. If there’s anything I can do---“
Hale said with a nod as she walked next to the doctor down the hall of the cramped Pokemon Center---her sentence was cut short and her brow creased slightly as she noticed that this center was more packed than usual tonight, stepping aside swiftly when a group of paramedics pushing a stretcher bearing a battered, bloody Machop which was howling with agony from several jagged gashes and an arm that looked almost twisted off its shoulders made to rush past them.
“Night shift just ended. Graveyard takes over, and I’m going to get coffee.”
Ronan’s gruff voice called her attention back onto him as he looked at his wristwatch and checked out his punch card before stripping off his labcoat. He narrowed his golden eyes at her, raising a skeptical brow as he inquired in a business-like tone.
“How serious are you about ‘anything’?”
The feverish, animalistic roar around them was deafening as Hale instinctively clapped her hands up to her ears-----she hated crowds, more so this drunken, violent mass of what was for most part a males-only gathering judging from the sour stench of sweat, beer, vomit which painted the dank, dirty floors in several places and what was unmistakably the iron pang of blood in the air which almost made her gag.
“Kid, I appreciate the respect but please stop calling me that---it’s Ron alright? Besides I never had a fuckin’ rank back then.”
The man standing next to her muttered under his breath, half his face hidden in shadows cast from the brim of the flat cap he wore. Where he looked very much the trusted doctor back an hour ago, now he resembled a shady booker from the alleys of Goldenrod though given the crowd they were mingling with right now, it was a good thing he didn’t stand out too much from them.
Hale reiterated as she pulled the brim of her beret down a little, hiding most of her eyes as the keffiyeh wrapped haphazardly around her neck covered most of her lower face.
She watched him cursing under his breath as he slipped a cigarette between his lips, reminding herself that perhaps this was a habit he picked up during his time in the army. He was fumbling with something in his pockets as she wordlessly took a Zippo out of her pocket---one she used for igniting fires during camping sessions, to light the end of the stick as she heard him mumble his thanks.
“What the bloody ‘ell are we doin h---“
“Do I look the part?”
The doctor suddenly inquired, pointing to his grizzled mug as he blew a stream of smoke between his lips.
“Any shadier and ye’d be makin’me deals I can’t refuse in the back of some dark alley as sad jazz music plays in the background.”
Came the trainer’s dry reply as she self-consciously zipped up her jacket when several men passed by her, hiding her cleavage from their view. Something told her that women did not partake in whatever this crowd was reveling in.
Wordlessly, Ronan motioned for her to follow him as they snuck through the throng of jeering men, some barely out of high school, some with graying temples, all with the same bloodthirsty look in their eyes---the crowd were too transfixed on what was going on in the middle of the underground hall to care about the man in the heavy overcoat and his friend in red who were skulking off to perhaps get a beer.
“You want to know why the E.R bay is more crowded this time of night?”
Said the veteran as he led Hale up a flight of rickety steel steps which zigzagged right up to a second floor. Here, he leaned over the railing slightly and pointed to the middle of the hall where a large, rudimentary cage of fence mesh and chicken-wire stood. Inside, the floor was stained with the dark browns and reds of drying blood, and the two combatants inside it, a Gallade and a Machoke seemed to be adding to the morbid display; Hale winced bodily as the Machoke threw a vicious haymaker at the Psychic-Fighting type who was seemingly frailer than he. The blow knocked the Gallade back several feet as he slammed into the mesh steel and the lizard-like humanoid sneered at his fallen opponent before attempting to strangle his struggling form on the mesh itself which bit into the Gallade’s flesh, leaving a criss-cross of deep cuts in the creature’s back.
The Gallade proved to be quite the fighter however, as his elbow-blades extended and he smashed his head into the Machoke’s face, cutting the behemoth’s snout with his crest. As the Machoke staggered back, the smaller Pokemon let out a loud snarl and barreled towards him, hacking away furiously with the blades. A spray of red painted the cage wall on the left side as he deftly sliced open his opponent’s belly, almost disemboweling the Machoke who retaliated with a sharp blow to the Gallade’s crest, breaking off a portion of it.
Livid, the Gallade lashed out with a foot, kicking the Machoke callously in the belly as the beast roared in pain and doubled over----this gave the Gallade an opening as he launched himself mid-air and landed neatly on the Machoke’s back, driving both his elbow blades deep as he could into the Pokemon’s exposed back as they tore out through the chest and the beast reared back with an anguished roar of pain before staggering slightly and crashing to the floor face-first like a felled Redwood, his blood adding to the gruesome display on the ‘canvas’.
The Gallade leapt off his opponent nimbly and retreated towards his side of the cage, throwing a dirty look at the booker outside who was racking in bets as he kicked the cage door open and left.
Ronan noticed Hale’s breathing rate rising considerably as he took the cigarette out of his mouth for a moment and stared at the motionless Machoke who was being dragged out of the cage, undoubtedly dead.
Wetting her lips with her tongue, it was a few moments before Hale finally spoke, her brow arched in blazing anger and her hands balled up into fists.
“That’s why? Is that all ye can say? What sort a’ bollocks is this town made of that ye people can let this happen and not do a bleedin’ thing about it?!”
Hale snarled when Ronan quickly clasped a hand to her mouth holding a finger to his lips.
“Any louder than that and you’d be ruining the only chance we’re got of doing something about it, kid. These guys, they move around a lot----we get the grunts but they don’t tell the cops nothing and frankly, I’m sick and tired of dealing with their shit in the medical bay. Now are you going help me piss on their party or are we gonna stand here all night long pointing fingers?”
“Count me in.”
said the brunette as the doctor barely finished his sentence, her thumbs tracing the broad side of the Rambo knives strapped to her belt.
“And jus’ point me in the right direction.”
Ron smirked humorlessly as he pointed across the hall where the railing snaked to a small door in the back which was being guarded by two men who looked more interested with the battle going on in the cage which was now hosting another violent no-holds-barred battle between an Infernape who was beating to death a bloody pulp of a Scrafty who could barely fight back.
“Right there, honey. Sources tell me that’s where they’re holding the rest of these critters. Best we get there before this round ends and another one is sent out there. I’ve got the Popo on speed dial, but they’re gonna take a while to come down here----double homicide on west end.”
From the looks of the Scrafty who was shying away from the Infernape which had burnt off half his face, Hale thought that it wasn’t going to be long. Both fresh cadet and veteran nodding in understanding to one another, she nimbly led him through the narrow railing and stairways, carefully scaling them as to not attract any attention. The rust-eaten steel could barely take their weight and Ronan almost fell off when a piece of the stairs broke away, crashing into the floor below.
Hale caught him deftly with a hand and pulled him back up as they waited with bated breath to see if anyone would notice----none did, the noise likely drowning out in the pitiful yelps of the Scrafty pleading for mercy and the thunderous roars and jeers of the crowd like spectators out of Gladiatorial Rome.
Hale’s lips pulled back into a silent snarl, the vindictive part of her yearning to spit in the faces of everyone present-----Pokemon battling was a test of the bonds between a trainer and a partner; This, along with the bets the bookers were making off the ‘fighters’ was nothing short of a sickening blood sport.
The last few steps of the stairs were missing, and she leapt off them like a cat, landing on three points as Ronan followed a few seconds later, rolling haphazardly next to her and patting his back gingerly.
“I’m getting too old for this.”
He said grumpily as he scrambled to his feet and ran-hopped towards Hale who had her back against a wall and was looking out towards the guards of the back door with a little smirk playing on her lips.
“Save that fer later, aul man----we’re this close----“
Her sentence was suddenly cut short by a voice that was not Ronan’s, and it made her blood run cold.
“This close to what?”
The doctor was suddenly dragged away from her side, tossed onto the floor like a ragdoll as a pair of blood-red eyes stared at him like a hunter would prey and those familiar elbow blades gleamed in whatever little light there was from the main ring.
“Wh-what the fuck?!”
Ronan managed to sputter out as he tried to sit up only to have the humanoid creature of green and white plant a foot down on his chest hard enough that he crashed back down and almost swallowed his cigarette.
“Lost are we? Bookers are that way, old man. Unless ya skulkin’ around here for somethin’ else……because I smell a rat. Now, do I have to make you sing a song for me or is we gonna play nice?”
The Gallade from the previous fight wreathed in shadow, his blades encrusted in drying blood which he had yet to wipe off with the grimy towel around his neck leered at the doctor and showed off his fangs as he grabbed the man by the lapel of his overcoat and was just about to lay a blow on him when something smashed into his face, forcing him to release Ronan who quickly skittered back several feet.
“Leave him alone, ya git!”
Came the feral snarl from a person in red donning a scarf, likely the doctor’s compatriot. The Gallade thumbed the trickle of blood dripping from the corner of his mouth and grinned at the smaller human in a wicked manner as he approached with deliberately slow steps.
“You’ve got some fight in ya, slim”
The crested Pokemon drawled as he extended his elbow blades a little further and noticed the two Rambo knives which were dragged out from sheaths on the stranger’s sides.
“I like that.”
“Then ye’ll love me.”
Came the low tone of voice as the stranger’s eyes narrowed behind the brim of the hat, and this was all of the green light the Gallade needed to flip on his killswitch.
He lunged at the stranger, slashing with his blades in a wanton manner as the person ducked and dipped each shot in a limber fashion as well as countered several with well-aimed blows of the knives which clanged hollowly against his own bone-based blades in a strange dueling dance----a furious dance which went on for several long minutes as they expertly sidestepped and dodged each other’s attacks. Not only that, but the knives came too close for comfort, almost grazing his arms and neck, and this served to piss him off even more as his movements grew less graceful and more brutal.
“Not used ta fightin’ someone smaller, are ye?”
Came the snide comment from the human, making the Gallade's blood boil even more as he let out a low growl of frustration.
A wild swing of his arm almost took the human’s head off as the person took this chance, this opening from his inertia to land a sharp blow to the back of his neck…..with the dull edge of the knife. As he reeled back from the shot, his smirk turned into an ugly scowl and his hands clenched and unclenched.
The back of the knife.
What, was this an insult to his capabilities, that the human was refusing to fight him properly? Did they think him unworthy of a real battle? And why was this person extending their hand to him? Was this….pity? He didn’t need their pity---he didn’t want it! He wanted a fight and anything less was an insult! Oh he would show them….going easy was an insult to him, and nobody in their right minds dared to insult him!
“Look, I don’t want tae hurt ye alright? Just keep the hell down and we can talk this over—”
The Gallade said sarcastically as he grabbed the offered hand and wrenched it close to him so he could lash out with both his legs, harshly kicking the person to the ground before hopping back onto his feet and approaching the human with a cocky saunter, ready to deal a coup-de-grace.
“Sorry mate. My fists do the talking, and they don’t like what ya have to say---uh----oh fuck…. “
The rest of his words were incomprehensible as his face twitched a little upon casting his eyes upon the figure who was sprawled on the ground, breathing heavily-----the blow had torn open the zippered jacket, and the heavy breathing made two globular things on the human’s chest rather obvious to him as his face went from a dirty greenish-white to beet-red faster than an interstate traffic light change.
Clamping his hand to his face first, and then his mouth, his warrior’s edged dropped slightly as the muscular Pokemon twirled his fingers and made a very astute observation;
“You’re……..you’re a woman.”
The sweet smile on those lips disarmed him considerably as they formed a single sentence;
“Aye, and ye’re banjaxed.”
And with a single WHUUUUDD! at the back of his head, his world went dark.
“Did ye have to hit him so hard?!”
Hale gasped, breathing freely for the first time in a good ten minutes as she muttered choice curses under her breath and got up from the ground---her back was aching from the rough fall, her body weary from the exertion of battling the Gallade though for most part, it was him battling and her trying to fend him off and not hurt him which was like attempting to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time.
“A simple ‘thanks’ would have sufficed----this isn’t a John woo film damnit---he could have gotten you killed and he would have if your curves didn’t bloody distract him.”
The gruff doctor countered back as he used his jacket to tied up the Gallade, knotting the arms firmly so there would be less struggling involved before dragging the Pokemon to a father corner so they wouldn’t be noticed should anyone pass by. With him was the large piece of broken steel railing he had used to knock the Gallade out and as he propped the violent Pokemon upon a wall, he brandished the thing like a sword just in case the humanoid creature was playing dead.
“I could have talked to him about this! Look, if there’s the slimmest chance we can use him to help out, don’t ye think we should?”
The trainer tried to argue as she tipped the Gallade’s chin up, looking into his dazed and unconscious features which were twitching every now and then.
“Did you not see him in that ring?”
Ronan inquired in an increasingly annoyed and urgent tone, flabbergasted at her stubbornness..
“He isn’t going to be all sunshine and daisies and ‘Kind humans come to free us say, O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'. He’s a monster!”
“I ain’t a monstah, I’m a warrior.”
Came the weary retort as the Gallade slowly came to, glaring at the doctor who jerked back in shock at how fast he regained consciousness and lifted the piece of steel to knock his lights out again.
Hale hissed, launching herself at the doctor and grabbing the railing piece before he could brain the Gallade once more as the Pokemon watched the altercation between the two with mounting confusion.
“Please, will ye just listen to me?! We need a diversion damnit, and he could help us---”
“Help you what?”
The Pokemon reiterated, suspicion playing in the light of his eyes as he struggled against the makeshift straightjacket Ronan had tied around him.
“Will someone please let me know what the FUCK is going on here?!”
He was immediately silenced by Hale placing a finger to his lips and he stared at her dead in the eyes as though sizing her up. It was here that she got a good look at the Gallade’s features which were rather sharp and well-sculpted beneath the grime and sweat and blood and bruises. He looked to be well-cared for once upon a time somewhere, and his understanding and proper application of human language as a Psychic type not in the form of telepathy but actual spoken words told her that he used to have a trainer.
His crest had a large chip in it from the Machoke’s assault and there were two scars on either side of it in his helm as though he had been cleaved at with an axe or something similar, no doubt received in another bout---it had healed up but still left two large, discolored stripes running down his head.
“Well you’re definitely not one of them, are you? You ain’t piss-drunk and your friend looks like he’s a nine-to-fiver.”
He spoke up finally, gesturing with his head towards the rowdy crowd as the Scrafty’s dying yelps filled the air.
“No we’re not. We’re here to help ye.”
Hale said when the Pokemon cut her off with a disbelieving smirk, a rumbling chuckle and a low utterance of ,
“Let’s just brain him now and save ourselves the trouble.”
Ronan gruffly suggested though Hale went on acting as though she hadn’t heard a word of what he said.
“Why would ye say that?”
She demanded quietly as the Gallade’s gaze never broke away from her.
“I’ll tell ya why sugar. See that crowd of putrid little assholes acting like they’re big shots with their prized Pokemon? My old owner dumped me like I was trash, and I get to deal with that seven days of the week just to get something to eat-----people think it’s easy enough to just cast us out. Oh he’ll be fine, his natural instincts will kick in! If I had a tooth kicked out of someone every time I’ve heard that out of them……Now tell me, asides a pretty face what the fuck makes you and your old man any different from them?”
He finally said after several seconds passed and the bitterness in his voice was hard to mask, as was his pride which was undoubtedly dented by having to ‘survive’ under such conditions.
Hale’s brow creased and her mouth bobbed open as though about to lash out a retort to his statement when she clamped her jaw shut once more, knelt down and resolutely began working to undo the knots Ronan had tied in the jacket to keep the Gallade captive.
“What in the blazes are you doing?!”
The doctor hissed as he smacked a palm to his face when Hale finally managed to undo the arms of the jacket and slipped it off the Gallade’s shoulders.
Said the young woman in reply to the Gallade’s question, still at eye-level with him.
“I could spend half a day explainin’ to ya how we ain’t like those asshats just like not all Gallades are as loose in the head as ye are, but we ain’t got ourselves half a day, so laugh all ya want fella---we’re here for a reason and unless ye’re gonna help us out yer best be getting yer mug the bloody hell outta our faces.”
“And what’s to stop me from killing you right here?”
The Gallade inquired coolly with the ghost of a smirk on his face as he suddenly held his arm close to Hale’s neck, blade extended. His shoulders were bristling, taking offense at Hale’s suggestion that he was mad.
“Do I look thick to ya? I know your kind, I know it well. Ye’d kill someone in a heartbeat, but ye didn’t kill me back then and you ain’t gonna do it now. Got a soldier of fortune thing going on in yer eyes, and a personal code of honor too which won’t allow ya to kill someone who ye owe somethin’ to in cold blood.”
Said the trainer calmly as she gently pushed the blade away and stood up.
“I thought ye could help us out, but eh, I’ve been wrong a coupl’a times…..leave yer merry way and let us go on ours. Ron, long arm o’ the law ready to crash the party yet?”
“Ten minutes. They’ve got a few guys surrounding the place, but no moving in until backup arrives.”
Said the doctor as he tapped at something lodged in his ear and something else that was pinned to the lapel of his shirt.
“We need to move, before they call something else out into the ring. Get past those guards.”
A loud roar erupted from the crowd, making both humans flinch though the Gallade seemed used to this. The Scrafty was no longer making any noise they could hear over the din.
The Pokemon quipped casually before looking at Hale.
“You guys are actually serious about this? About freeing all those others in there? Getting them outta this hellhole?”
Came the firm reply from the young woman zippered up her jacket again and picked up her beret.
“Ye have my word, as a fighter just like yerself.”
The Gallade said as he punched her in the shoulder gently before narrowing his eyes at Ron and uttering,
“I am most certainly not!”
The doctor retorted heatedly, scandalized by the term when Hale made to clamp her hand over his mouth and drew out a box of cigarettes from the doctor’s pocket, taking out a stick which she handed to the Gallade before tossing him her Zippo which he caught easily in one hand.
Lighting the cigarette which he had balanced between his lips, he tossed the Zippo back to its owner and took a deep drag before walking down the corridor towards the ring.
“What’re you doing?”
Hale called out to him as Ronan blinked in puzzlement at the Gallade’s decision to go right back to the pit of death.
“Personal code of honor---you don’t expect someone like me to stand by and let you guys get all the glory, do you? You need a diversion.”
He said without casting so much as a glance over his shoulders.
“I’ll give you a diversion---one I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. Get that fine ass movin’ once the guards get itching to join in the fun.”
For a few seconds both Hale and Ronan stood rooted to the spot, curious as to what the Gallade was up to, when the announcer’s voice was suddenly strangled from the MC system. The voice that boomed into it moments later was very familiar and made both of them swear up a storm.
“Hey nimrods! Yeah I’m talking to all of you sorry, pathetic degenerated dregs of humanity come together tonight to celebrate your astounding lack of sack between your legs----that’s right! Each and every one of you sorry losers aren’t worth the nine months your slut mothers slaved carrying you; Dumb bitch should have snapped your necks while you were all still screaming for her tit and ya wanna know why that is? Because all of you sons of bitches aren’t fit to kiss the asses of the Pokemon you’re sending out tonight, getting your rocks off on beer throwing up in the worst hangover since Woodstock, counting your little bundles of fifties as your ‘friends’ fall like fucking flies in this shithole! You make me sick! Why don’t we come up with a new bet huh? Oh, oh here’s a good one----what about me and my friends here kick your fat, pimply asses to kingdome come, huh? Winner takes all, no holds bared unless each and every one of you little asswipes are fucking cowards!”
Hale’s jaw fell open as she quickly whipped her head towards where the guards were stationed----the men were leering in an evil fashion and rolling up their sleeves. In ten seconds flat, the uproar had reached new levels of unbearable and part of her wondered how on earth could this din not be heard by outsiders as the guards bypassed them to join the fray.
As Ronan and Hale snuck out of their corner, it was clear to them what the Gallade had meant by diversion; He and several of the stronger Pokemon were creating nothing short of a miniature riot, tossing bodies left and right as the Infernape set fire to everything within reach that was flammable.
“He’s going tae get himself fucking killed!”
“Wow. You two really have a thing going on with making reckless decisions, don’t you?”
Said Ronan dryly as he couldn’t help finding humor in the young woman’s outrage despite having told her pretty much the same thing not too long ago.
Quickly, they rushed into back room and slammed the door when the sound of frantic squawking behind them became evident and they spun around to come face to face with a confused looking thug of a man who was dragging out a molting, scarred Combusken on the end of a short chain. The thing was leaving long claw-marks in the ground as the man yanked at it harshly and kicked it in the ribs out of anger.
“Move it ya dumb b---”
Both Hale and Ronan darted for him, smashing the back of his head with a fist each as he let out a single grunt of surprise before falling to the floor like a sack of potatoes. The Combusken scrambled to get away from them but Hale gently pulled the chain close to her and pried open the weak link with her knife, freeing the bird who stared at her in a dumbfounded manner before shakily accepting the hand which she held out.
All around them, the noisy din of agitated Pokemon suddenly fell into a hush as they stared at these new humans wide-eyed from behind their cages.
One of the imprisoned Pokemon, a young Mankey began to smash its head against the cage door frantically while screeching like a banshee while an Ursaring in the corner of the large room let out a loud grunting roar and strained against its chains and the ring pierced through its nose. A pack of mange-riddled Poochyena puppies eagerly batted at Ronan’s hand as he knelt down to check on their condition, yapping frantically and begging to be taken out.
“We hit the jackpot.”
Said the doctor as he used the piece of steel in his hands to bash at the lock several times until it broke and fell off, releasing the puppies who crowded around his legs and ran around, undoing latches and yanking at mesh cages to try and rip them off the crates that serves as makeshift pens for the younger animals. The crowd of Pokemon which grew bigger were soon turning the place upside-down, aiding the two strangers in their attempts at freeing everything in the dank holding area.
“Come, help me out here luv…”
Said Hale to the Combusken as she hacked away at the Ursaring’s chains until they broke while the bird’s beak cut through the rope which was tied to the ring in its nose.
The bird squawked in rudimentary English she undoubtedly picked up from humans along the way.
“Aye. We’re the good guys. Now could ye be a nice birdy and tell us if there is another way out of here?”
The Combusken nodded and pointed a little further south where a small corridor stood in the shadows. Ronan gathered several of the smaller, injured Pokemon into his arms as Hale gently tried to coax the lumbering Ursaring towards what she hoped was an exit.
“Where does that lead?”
Ronan enquired hastily when the door of the room suddenly flew open and an Infernape went sailing into one of the walls, smashing it headfirst before sliding to the floor in a daze. He looked as though he had been beaten half to death as several patches of blues and blacks adorned his body and his jaw was askew at a strange angle which made it impossible for him to talk.
A Drillbur and Toxicroak dashed towards him, helping him up as the toad Pokemon croaked urgently for the crowd of Pokemon to move, which they did with all the panic of a stampede running away from a pack of predators the moment the Gallade appeared, fending off a diminished but still large number of furious men armed with bats and steel rods and pipes and broken bottles.
“MOVE! I’LL HOLD ‘EM BACK!”
The Gallade yelled out to the two humans---Ronan didn’t need to be told twice as he herded the smaller Pokemon into the exit and tugged at the sleeve of Hale’s jacket, but the trainer’s eyes were transfixed upon the Gallade’s who was holding back the wave, slashing and tearing at any of the men who broke ranks even as they pushed further and further into the room.
Sweat was rolling down his back which was a patchwork of bruises of every color imaginable as his shoulders were slack with exhaustion, but the cavalier smirk never left his face as he kicked one of the men to the far side of the room and rammed his elbow blades up the belly of two more who made to grab him by the arms. He spun around in place like an insane dervish, driving the men back until he lost his footing for one second, and it was all of the opening they needed.
“I’ll show you what happens to traitors in this rig you useless piece of shit!”
Armed with a broken beer bottle and almost frothing at the mouth in fury , one of the bookers rammed into the Gallade, smashing the sharp edge of the bottle into the Pokemon’s face as the Gallade let out a sharp howl of pain when the man made to repeat this act two, three times. He flipped the man off deftly and struggled to get to his feet, clutching at his left eye socket which was bleeding profusely when another hail of men buried him in a dogpile, bashing his body with fists and Doc Martens until a booming baritone roar ripped through the place and several men at once were sent forcefully flying into the walls.
The Ursaring, now free from his chains and nose ring was all too happy to thrash up the rest of the group who retreated slightly, allowing Hale to jump off the beast’s back and drag the barely-conscious Gallade with her as she threw his body across the bear’s shoulders and quickly slung her legs over them, keeping a tight grip on the battered warrior.
The girl ordered as the bear’s feet quickly trundled away from the rabid mob who continued to give chase to them right down into the winding corridor. The pitch darkness made it hard to see anything, but that problem was terrifyingly averted when something exploded next to the bear who let out a grunt of shock and veered to the left as Hale threw a glance over her shoulder toward the mob, who were now hurling bottles stuffed with some rags which were lit on fire.
“Well that ain't good.”
The girl muttered to herself as she kept her head low and held on tight to the bear’s fur.
“Keep it up boyo! Yer almost home free! Come on!”
The Gallade’s voice was weak but he was still struggling to hold on to that thinning thread of consciousness as his one good eye narrowed as he arched his foot back.
Hale didn’t question his command as she dipped her head low and his foot lashed over it deftly, kicking one of the flying Molotov Cocktails right back into the mob where it exploded on impact, knocking several of the men back.
She ignored the burns on her hands as she held on to the Gallade who passed out again after a small groan of pain and soon enough spotted a light at the end of the corridor---they were close. A dark figure stood there , gesturing frantically for her to hurry up as she clung to the rampaging bear tightly and closed her eyes.
“Jump for it!”
With a mighty lunge, the bear threw himself through the opening at the end of the corridor, barely missing another Molotov as he skidded across the floor and smashed into a wall, accidentally throwing both Hale and the Gallade off his back.
Dazed from her fall, Hale could still hear Ronan’s voice echoing through the walls as she dragged herself to her feet, gingerly feeling up the bruise on her forehead as she looked up to see the corridor end, which was now barricaded by what seemed to be electrified bars as the Pikachus and Raichus who were holding it in placed smiled mischievously at the trapped mob. As they tried to turn tail, the thugs were assailed with a series of deep, booming barks from the other end of the corridor which made them remain exactly where they were---Arcanines were nothing to mess with at a minimum height of six feet and the ability Flash Fire.
The doctor made his way to her side, a triumphant grin on his face which was flushed red with excitement over what was probably the first successful raid the local county had in a while as a group of men dressed in black swooped in to surround the perimeters of the loading bay before taking in the remaining members of the mob one at a time.
“We did it kid. We got ‘em all out and we’re alive to tell the tale. Damn this feels like the old days. I could get used to this again. ”
The medic pat her on the back, and she would have been in high spirits as he was, had it not been for the concerned grunts of the Ursaring behind her who was gently nudging the prone body of the Gallade who was bleeding out on the floor. With a strangled cry, the young woman darted to the humanoid Pokemon’s side and gently rolled him over as she vaguely heard Ronan yelling for paramedics from the local Center to be called onto the scene.
Her fingers skimmed over the left orbital socket of the Gallade which was nothing but a mangled mass of glass, coagulated blood, bits of ruined sclera and a stream of vitreous fluid from what has previously been his left eye.
“He’ll live, but if you’re thinking what I think you are, I’m afraid not. None of us here are miracle workers.”
Ronan said in a grim tone as he inspected the rest of the Gallades injuries while the EMTs who arrived on the scene quickly tended to the rest of the injured and several cops helped to herd the smaller Pokemon into the back of vans headed for the local center.
“What’s gonna happen tae ‘em all?”
The brunette inquired shakily, watching as the Ursaring lumbered eagerly after a trained medic who was luring him into the back of an ambulance with a pot of Combee honey.
“Once the healing process is over, they’ll be evaluated for temperament and adopted out to families, trainers and occasionally the local laboratory for Starters. A lot of them are either young or in decent condition despite their injuries, so I wouldn’t worry too much if I were you.”
The doctor attempted to assure her though it was plain that the process wasn’t going to be as much of a breeze as he made it sound.
Her gaze never left the Gallade who was in terrible condition , as her lips formed out the simple question;
“And what’ll happen tae him?”
The sterile scent of iodine and disinfectant which assailed her nostrils brought back several unpleasant memories of a part of her childhood that she would rather not relive, but as much as Hale despised the reminder, she couldn’t deny that these establishments were a place of healing, not the pain and suffering and loneliness she, as a child made them out to be.
After all, Raziel was seemingly back to his puppy self, slobbering all over the bed when she had gone to visit him a short while back and whining when she had to leave him to the nurses for a final check-up with the promise of returning for him, at least as soon as took care of something else.
It didn't take long for her to find the Pokemon she was looking for, as the staff were all too eager to point in the direction of the stairwell which she scaled three floors up to the roof, throwing open the door to be assaulted with bright sunlight which she had to shield her eyes from. Once they got used to the surroundings, she found that the roof had beautiful, front seat view of the bay of Birchfall City which achingly reminded her of home as her gaze made out the silhouette of a familiar figure.
Clutching the package under her arms a little tighter to herself, the brunette made her way towards the figure and took a seat next to him. The Gallade for most part looked better than he had been two days back. The bruising had subsided in places and he was well-fed; The sallow color in his cheeks were gone and with the grime and blood washed off, she had to admit than even by Pokemon standards, he was a rather handsome creature.
“So, the nurses told me that ye broke another mirror in the ward….that’s seven years of bad luck right there fella.”
The brunette awkwardly broke the ice as the Gallade finally acted as though she existed, iris and pupil flickering in her direction. Then he made to turn to face her---what she saw of him was only in profile, and it was only now that she could see the large, gapping hole where his left eye should have been. Several healing scars surrounded the empty socket which he scratched at casually before smiling at her in a humorless manner.
“Y’know lady, I’ll be willin’ to take that chance. It’s not like fate’s been handing me flowers and candies ever since---”
The Gallade’s voice died off as he swallowed a lump in his throat and Hale felt compelled to finish his sentence for him;
“Even since they abandoned ye?”
Face burning with a mixture of shame and anger, his featured scrunched up in scowl as he looked away from her and kept his gaze out at sea.
“Don’t act like ya know me. What’s it to you anyway?”
Said the Gallade with a snort as he leaned back slightly to enjoy the salty ocean breeze before adding with a bit of snideness,
“Hell, I’m sure you’ve never had it hard. You’re probably just some daddy’s girl who—”
He turned to look at her and was rewarded with a good view of the ugly scars which marred her shins as she lifted the pants of her jeans slightly to show them off to him.
“Me daddy died when I was ten.”
The brunette said solemnly as she hugged her knees to her chest.
“The man who killed him, he was a lot like the ones you saw down there. Broke me legs to draw me aul man out, beat him tae death in front o’ me……and I shot the feckin’ bastard…one…two….three.”
The Gallade watched wide-eyed as she mimed a gun with her right hand and pointed to her left arm, right leg and finally her head where she mimicked brain matter exploding as he raised an eyebrow at her and said calmly,
“Lady, you are one crazy-ass bitch, and comin’ from me that’s saying something.”
A little grin snuck up upon Hale’s lips, the same one which slithered up the Gallade’s jaw as the two of them shared a small chuckle of understanding.
“So….what do I call ya? I mean, you probably have a name of some sort right?”
She inquired as he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly and sighed.
“Blade. It’s stupid, I know. Most obvious name in the history of obvious names, but I suppose that won’t matter anymore. No one’s going to want to take in some one-eyed thug---”
“Ye dropped the ‘thug’ part when ye almost got yerself killed for us.”
Hale deadpanned as Blade chuckled it off in a cursory manner.
“Don’t flatter yourself sugar. I was doin’ that for me. I got a beef with those guys for ages and hey, you guys just parked in on the right night.”
Said the Gallade as he gingerly touched his left eye socket and let out a low growl.
“If I knew they were going to do this to me though, I would have fucking cut them sooner…”
“For what it’s worth, Blade, I think ye’re no less excellent a warrior now than ye was with two eyes and if ye’re anything like I think ye are, ye’re gonna show those toerags that their shit ain’t stoppin’ ye from being the best fighter ‘round these areas while their asses rot in prison.”
Hale blurted out rather suddenly as the Gallade stared at her with a rising flush in his face and a half-smile on his face.
“….Thanks, but that’s easy for you to say and harder for me to do. Hell, where do I even start? I ain’t going back to those hellholes ever again, and tournaments here need me to have a trainer.”
The Gallade said morosely when something was flipped towards him and he caught it neatly in his hands. It was a small golden pin of some sort in an intricate design which shone in the sunlight when he looked over at Hale, the young woman was wearing a wide smile which disarmed him the same way she had the first time they’d met.
“That there’s the symbol of the Diarmaid clan. My daddy used to have a brotherhood in his younger days who watched out for each other. The same sorta brotherhood I'm offerin' tae ye.”
Said the trainer sincerely as she placed a hand on the Gallade’s shoulder---he flinched slightly as though not used to being touched in such a fashion.
“Come with me. I could use a warrior with yer caliber, veteran skill and strength on the team. Ye want fights? I’ll bring ye to them. Honorable fights, nothin’ like what ya had to go through down there, and when that’s done with, ye’ll have a home with me and a place yer prowess will be appreciated and accepted for being that of a hero, not a thug.”
“….You’re not talking about Valhalla are you? Because me, I love the adulation and all that but really, I’d rather much have it while I’m alive for most part.”
Blade sputtered as Hale cracked a small giggle at his expense.
“Nae. I plan tae serve in the local army one day with me brother when I get stronger. What better way ta prove valor than protecting people and Pokemon alike instead a’ just pickin’ random fights with everyone who looks at ya funny? That there’s a purpose fella, and I’m willin’ tae share it with ye.”
For the first time since she had met him, there was this joyful little grin on the Gallade’s face that wasn’t at all like his usual cocky smirk or his feral, murderous leer and it served to make him only more human in her eyes.
Fiddling with the pin in his hands, he mulled the offer over but there was no hiding the hurt in his eyes no matter how hard he tried to hide it, rather like a pit bull who was still wondering what became of its old master.
Hale reached out for his hand and clasped it gently as she placed the package she’d bought for him in his lap, noting the way he stared at it quizzically.
“Just a little something from me---somehow I think the look would suit ya, but hey, I’ve made mistakes before. Ye don’t have to decide now. Think it over alright? I’ll be here till this evening.”
With that she left the Gallade to his own thoughts, making her way to the lower floors where a commotion had started up in the second floor ward where Raziel, having caught her scent was trying to rampage his way up the stairwell and was dragging an IV drip with him.
Letting out a mirthful laugh, the girl caught the energetic little puppy in her arms and kissed him several times before carrying him back to his war, careful to pull the IV drip with her as a nurse waited there with feet tapping impatiently, ready to remove the damn tube from the dog’s paw. There was a sharp whine from the pup as Hale held his head so he wasn’t looking at the needle as it came away from his skin.
The moment he was free, it was as though a switch had been flipped on in his head as he went back to his favorite past time of painting her face with slobber, his stumpy tail wagging a bout a hundred miles an hour as he almost bowled her over when Ronan stepped into the room with a smirk to find her sprawled out on the floor with the dog showering her in kisses.
“So this is the real Raziel huh? Far cry from the little guy you brought in back then.”
The veteran quipped as he knelt down next to Hale to carefully examine the dog’s facial scar, nodding every now and then and making notes on his clipboard.
“Ye caught the little bastard on one of his off days.”
Said Hale dryly as she sat up and cleaned her face before looking at the bag of medication and what looked like a plastic cone she assumed was for his neck so he wouldn’t do the things dogs did and accidentally reopen the wound.
“These for him?
“Yeah. Just keep to the regiment I told ya and he should be fine. Scar won’t go away, but hey, soldiers wear them as a badge of honor, right? Same way you’ll wear yours---bonds forged by a trial of fire are the strongest as they say.”
The doctor noted as he finally tucked the clipboard under his arm and pat the dog fondly on the head---a gesture Raziel reciprocated by licking his hand and fingers and crevice between those fingers in his usual over-friendly manner.
“So ya talked to him about it?”
Hale replied with a quick nod of the head as she added quietly,
“I’m giving him a bit o’ time tae decide on that. He’s been burned before, I don’t thinking he’ll be too inclined to take on some other human who might leave him again.”
“Hey, don’t sell yourself short, brown-eyes. If our little rendezvous told me anything, it’s that you’re making those dogtags ‘round your partner’s neck proud. Sure, you’re reckless as hell and prone to occasional ego-riddled stupidity, but hey, which fighter hasn’t had that once in a while?”
Said the medic with a smirk as he extended a hand to her.
“Been a pleasure, by the way."
“Gee thanks. That makes me a lot better about meself.”
The young woman said sarcastically even though she couldn’t help the smile that formed on her lips as she clasped the doctor’s hand and then saluted him.
“Likewise doc. Look me up next time yer in the neighborhood eh?”
“As long as you get coffee.”
Ronan remarked with a wink before leaving the room when his name was called out over the intercom system, requesting for his presence at the fourth surgical bay.
Hale’s haze never left him until he turned around a corner and with that she let out a small sigh of relief and gently whistled for Raziel to come to her, which he did skidding all over the smooth tiles and almost knocking into the door.
“Come on fella….”
Said the girl as she took his medication and placed it in her sling bag before walking towards the visitor’s waiting area.
“Bet ye’re tired of hospital food now, ain’t ye? I had that stuff for three months, I know.”
The Houndour whined and nodded in agreement as he mimicked throwing up before bounding at a familiar feathery figure of a blackbird who was lazily sitting at a couch in the lounge area, reading a raunchy magazine which was clasped between a pair of clawed feet.
When the bird put down the magazine, it was to stare right into the eyes of the rambunctious pup who was lopping towards him, eager to slobber him half to death again as the Murkrow let out a loud squawk of alarm and threw the magazine away, flying up high so Raziel couldn’t lick him.
“Ah ah ah ah ah! No licking or I steal your face!”
The bird warned him exasperatedly, shaking one of his claws like a nagging finger as the Houndour’s ear drooped and Hale shook her head at the relationship between the two ‘Mons with a small grin. Valjean never liked the dog, but she did appreciate him waiting here for Raziel however. The bird flapped close to her face and rolled his eyes in boredom as he gestured towards the entrance.
“We go now yes? This place, it is so dreary I am molting. See?”
“Valjean, ye molt all the time.”
Hale said as she managed to sneak a pat on the Murkrow’s head before he tried to snap at her fingers. With a huff, the bird flew ahead of her and Raziel practically pranced next to her, all too happy to finally leave the confines of his ward.
“Well, we got till sundown here. Let’s grab lunch or something while we----”
“Table for four?”
Came the voice which made her stop in her tracks the moment they walked out of the center’s doors. Spinning around in her tracks, she saw the Gallade casually leaning on the wall just next to the door, but the uncertainty she had seen in him before had almost completely gone, replaced by the same cocksure demeanor she had seen from him much earlier.
He smirked at her, proudly sauntering towards Hale as a passing Lopunny cast her bambi eyes at him in piqued interest before smashing headlong into a lamp post, much to her trainer’s surprise. The classic, sleeveless aviator’s jacket which fit his form quite well did not help matters, nor did the eyepatch he was adjusting over his left socket.
“You said ya made a lot of mistakes, well I’m here ta show ya that I ain’t one of them. I like this look---it’s got a little….”
A Gardevoir waltzing past them blushed behind her hand which she held up to coyly hide her face as she tapped him gently on the shoulder, whispering in a gigglish “Call me!”
“…..Charm of its own. Ladies love the one-eyed ‘Mon huh?”
“Well when they’re lookin’ as dashing as ye are, that’s hardly a surprise.”
Said Hale as she shook her head with a small smile and Raziel made to yap happily before dancing around the Gallade’s legs. She touched the Diarmaid pin the Gallade wore on the lapel of the jacket she had bought for him earlier.
“Looks good on ye, Blade.”
“That name’s gotta go. Not sexy enough for me, y’know?”
The Gallade’s face scrunched up in dislike at the term as he looked around and saw a book in the glass display of a store next door which caught his eye.
“Artagnan. That sounds pretty cool.”
“Artagnan. It’s a good name.”
Said Hale as she extended her knuckles to him, a gesture he understood and appreciated as his smirk grew wider and he pounded his knuckles with hers.
“Welcome tae the team.”