From: Bandraptor ( Subject: [PW!] Dogged Pursuit Newsgroups: Date: 2000-09-27 05:58:51 PST A charred, black Porygon flies through the air, somewhat unsteady, as a result of the Burn it's suffering from. It weaves past the Celadon Game Corner, over a hedge of trees, and gwaks to inform its riders that they've passed over the southern city border. "What a crappy day." Nori complains, as she administers Revives to her fainted Pokémon, "First Andrew beats up all of my Pokémon, and then we get run out of town by who knows what..." "Well, don't blame me." Rubix responds, "I tried to warn you. I told ya nothing good ever came of going to Celadon. What were we doing there, anyway?" "Ummm. I had to stop by the gym, to pick up..." Nori stops midsentence, realizing that she's still one Pokémon short, "Fushigidane! We left town in such a hurry, I forgot to pick up Fushigidane!" "Lucky him." "What else can go wrong?" Nori hangs her head briefly, then sighs, and says, "Oh well. At least I didn't have to give that Andrew creep any money. I guess that-- Hey! Where's my wallet?" She jumps to her feet in panic, and begins to check all of her pockets, "Somebody took my wallet! It must've happened while I was running through that crowd..." Rubix shakes his head, "So much for dinner. Now what?" Nori sits down to think this over. "Now, we're going to get some more money, and there's only way I know how to do that. Stealing Pokémon." With that, she pulls out a small, blue and white, pear-shaped device, and begins to wave it around in the air. Rubix eyes the device suspiciously, "What's that? You scanning for Pokédex frequencies, or something?" "" Nori blushes, "I'm trying to get my V-mon to evolve into Magnamon, but I can't find the Digimental of Miracle--" "Take it to AFD!" "What?" "I dunno." Rubix shrugs, "Just something I picked up. Anyway, you'd better forget about this whole stealing idea, because if you even try it, I'll--" "Look, do you want to eat tonight, or not? If we wanna eat, we have to steal...there was a song about that once. Nemesis, fly over by those powerlines, will ya?" "Do you see someone over there? I'll warn them..." Nori pulls out the D3, and begins to scan the powerlines. Rubix screams, "Can't you stay focussed for more than five seconds?!?" Nori sticks out her tongue. "When I need advice from a cowardly Wartortle, I'll ask for it. Meanwhile, let's try to find a spot to land...someplace that's highly trafficked, but not so highly trafficked that we won't be able to catch someone alone...oh, I know!" "What?" Nori scans Nemesis with the D3. The Porygon immediately shorts out, reverts to its default size, and plummets toward the ground. Rubix starts to say something, but can't find words vulgar enough, so he just Withdraws into his shell, and braces for impact. * * * The old father grits his teeth. They've been chasing their prey for hours, and the youngsters are cranky for lack of food. When questioned, the firstborn son had claimed that their prey had escaped on the back of a black bird. A black bird...that could be one of two things. It could be either one of the feathered Pokémon that humans occasionally use to travel from city to city, or one of the metal flying machines that is utilized to traverse longer distances. Either way, this is bad news, for both birds move faster than any member of his family can run. The old father curses whatever luck has wrought this situation upon them. It is unfortunate that they had to lose their home, but he takes this in stride. The truth of the matter is that his family is growing--his oldest daughter will litter this year--and they would have had to find a new den eventually, whatever the circumstances. The real problem lies in the two creatures that they are currently hunting. These creatures have knowledge of his kind! If it is to become common knowledge that his race exists among humans, its members will be hunted like common Pokémon. He snarls in rage at the mere thought of these creatures. Even now, they must be spreading their filthy knowledge amongst other humans; and those humans will tell others still, and so the accursed knowledge will spread like a plague, until his race has been eradicated. He must stop them, the old father thinks to himself, he must stop them, before it's too late. * * * "Soooo," Nori begins, "think we should tell someone about what we saw in Celadon?" Rubix shrugs, "I don't care. Do you?" "Not really." Nori pulls a Pokéball from her belt, "Giseisha, come out now!" "Shaaabokku!" The Arbok has a sizable lump on its head, but if that's causing it any pain, it doesn't let it show. "Giseisha, ya wanna help me catch some Pokémon?" Giseisha nods vigorously, pleased to have another chance to prove itself to Nori, after failing her in battle. "Great! Now, let's just sit back in these bushes, and wait for some poor sap to come wandering down the road." Nori does just that, and Giseisha follows, coiling itself up next to her. Quite some time passes, yet nobody comes down the road. Nori grows bored, and busies herself by starting to rebraid her hair. Presently, Rubix comes and sits down next to them. Nori eyes him cheerfully, and says, "Coming to help us?" "Take a guess." "In all likelihood, you're just coming over here to say something nasty, then Water Gun me in the face." "Yeah, you or your Arbok. Of course I'm not coming to help you. This may come as a surprise, but I happen to have a moral opposition to stealing Pokemon." Nori narrows her eyes, "Since when? You told me that all Pokémon are worthless, and they deserve whatever treatment they get!" "Pokémon are just currency to be bartered with...but since some humans genuinely seem to care about them, it's wrong to take them away." "Give me a break! Don't think for a minute I'm gonna buy into this morality spiel. You've stolen more Pokémon than I have! Lest you forget, you're the one who tried to steal Sarah Jane's Aerodactyl--and *I* got pounded for it!" "I needed that Aerodactyl more than she did! And in case you've forgotten, we *both* got pounded...and it was your fault, for letting that Fearow die!" "Minax is the one who killed Sarah Jane's Fearow. How is that my fault?!?" Rubix shrugs, "Well, you didn't exactly do anything to stop her. That makes you responsible for its death. Wow. A Pidgeot AND a Fearow under your belt. You must really hate birds, or something." "I'm not that partial to Wartortles either!" Giseisha, growing bored of the conversation, slithers out onto the road, throttles a passing trainer, snags his Pokébelt, and uses Nori's Pokédex to transfer the stolen Pokéballs to headquarters, one-by-one. "...And if you hadn't got in the way, Sarah Jane--" "Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane." Rubix repeats in a mocking voice, "I'm so sick of hearing about fecking Sarah Jane. Is she all you can talk about? Do you really believe she's the root of all your problems?" "Of course she is!" Nori scowls back defensively, "If she hadn't ditched me back in Vermilion, I never would've gotten caught up with Team Rocket, never would've been forced into tracking that Persian, never would've been saddled with you! If it wasn't for Sarah Jane, I wouldn't be leading the rotten life I have now--and I won't be satisfied 'til I know she's just as miserable as I am!" "Do you *try* to act stupid, or does it just come natural?!?" Rubix is cut off by a hard kick to the jaw. "...Okaaay, I take it...this discussion is over." "Shaabo," Giseisha cocks its head, and flicks its tongue out to taste the air. "Bokku." "What's up, Giseisha?" Nori crosses over to where her Arbok is standing, "Someone coming? Preferably someone who's easy to steal from? I just wanna get this job done with, and get outta here..." "Shaaa..." Giseisha sighs, depressed that Nori hasn't noticed that it's already completed the task. It gestures to the bushes behind them with a sweep of its tail, then headbutts Nori repeatedly, pushing her out of the brush, and back on to the road. Nori turns to Rubix, "Giseisha thinks that something's hiding in the bushes over there." "Better not be another Dratini." "Hmm..." Nori turns back towards the brush, and yells, "We know you're in there, so there's no point in hiding anymore! Come on out, and give us all your Pokémon! Normally, we'd fight you for them...but it's late, and we're all just rest assured we'd beat you if we did fight, and you should just hand your Pokémon over peacefully, and not incur our wrath, or anything." There's a moment of hesitation, and then five animals stalk out of the bush. They are heavily built creatures with shaggy, unkempt fur--but they don't look mangy, only wild and dangerous. They advance with their heads held low, and even in this particular stance, the one at the center of the group is still taller than Nori. The pair flanking it are roughly the size of German Shepherds, and the two flanking them are larger, but not as large as the one in the middle. The group ceases its advance, and all five of them stare fixedly at Nori and her Pokémon, fangs bared, fur bristling. One of them is drooling a little. Rubix sighs, "Great. Now they've decided to sic their Arcanine on us." "Hmm..." Nori strokes her chin, "I should've just asked for their wallets. If they can afford to feed all of those Arcanine, they must be rich." "I doubt it's any more challenging than keeping any other five Pokémon fed." Rubix thinks this over, then grumbles, "Not that you'd know anything about that." "Heh, but I know plenty about keeping four Pokémon fed, and one in the dark." "WHAT?!?" Nori smirks, "Lucky for us, Nemesis never eats at all! Anyways, you're wrong about the Arcanine. We have one, you, well, my mom does, anyway; and she eats more than all of the other breeding Pokémon combined. That's why we never got a second one...even though we had to pay a stud fee on every litter, it was still cheaper than paying to feed two adult Arcanine. I don't think anyone could afford to keep a full pack of them...well, unless you count what happened in Pokémonpolis..." Rubix cocks an eye, "Okay, I'll bite. What happened in Pokémonpolis?" "If you believe the legends, all sorts of crap. Supposedly, there was a cult of dog worshipers called Arcanists...they claimed that the elements were controlled by three wild dogs, and that these dogs would eventually make their appearance, and deliver their followers to a "new world". Nonbelievers were thrown into a pit of rabid Arcanine, as punishment. But, um, then there were the crusades, and stuff, and they were vanquished by the followers of Goddish and Allahkazam." Rubix scoffs, "And you buy into this?" "Not really..." Nori shrugs, "It's just printed in the 'History of Arcanine Breeding' pamphlet that mom hands out to all her customers. Myself...I'm sorta partial to the teachings of Cloister. His version of heaven includes doughnuts and purple hats." "I believe in Kame-sama..." Since the creatures don't seem to be making any move to run, the old father Arcanine takes his time setting up. The firstborn son is sent to watch the roadside. Not all members of the pack are fast, but this one is--though he has yet to master the brutal speed attacks that his father uses with such efficiency. Since he is the fastest of the group, he makes the best decoy, and if he sees anyone approaching, he will use his speed and agility to lead them around in circles, then disappear without a trace. The firstborn daughter is sent to the opposite end of the road. Her task is to head off any escapes. The two youngest Arcanine stick close to their father. The main strike is up to them. When everyone is in their place, the old father lets out a low growl, going over the attack plan in his mind. Since he is the leader of his pack, it is his honor to take down the creatures' Alpha. His youngest son and daughter will deal with her underlings--but they are still novice hunters, so he must be prepared, in the likely event that they will require his assistance. If things get really messy, his older daughter can be called on for help, but the firstborn son must retain his position as guard, for the worst thing that can possibly happen is that the pack will be seen again. The old father is determined not to let this happen. Either apathetic or simply oblivious to the fact that the Arcanine have them surrounded, Nori and Rubix continue their conversation. "Hrrmm..." Rubix muses, "are Arcanine really that hard to keep? That's a shame. I wanted to put one on my 'Kill Nori' team." "Sorry to burst your bubble." Nori folds her arms across her chest. "Well, I don't really want one either, and they're a bit too ragged lookin' to send to th' I guess there's no point in trying to capture them. Let's get outta here." She reaches for Nemesis' Pokéball. The instant her hand moves, the old father leaps at her, targeting the hand with his jaws. Giseisha reacts immediately, and lashes the Arcanine's face with its tail, knocking him backwards. The two smaller Arcanine raise their hackles, and rush the Arbok, but Giseisha dives underground to avoid the attack. The lion dogs unsheathe giant claws, and begin to dig away at the burrow, but Giseisha bursts from the ground beneath one of the pair, and sends it flying into the other. From the other end of the road, a fourth Arcanine comes running, Rubix aims low with his Water Gun, causing it to slip. He turns to Nori, "You're not doing much to help!" Nori seems to be in a state of shock after the near miss, but a second Water Gun from Rubix brings her out of the trance. She reaches for her Pokébelt again, and tosses a ball to the ground. "Nemesis, Conversion!" Magmar blinks in confusion, "Mag?" "Waar?!" Rubix facefaults, "You grabbed the wrong Pokéball!" "I noticed!" Nori cries, "I..." She looks over her shoulder, to see the four Arcanine regrouping, and realizes there's no time for them to retreat. "Never mind. Magmar, Smoke Screen!" Magmar takes a deep breath, and spews out a cloud of acrid black smoke. The Arcanine instinctively step back, afraid that their prey will escape, but doubly afraid of going into battle without their eyes and noses to guide them. The old father snarls his annoyance, then commands the others with a wave of his tail. He tells them that in their struggle against man, they must be prepared to face all manner of human tricks. Not all of them are equipped to fight while blinded, but one of them is, and she fires a beam of starlight from her maw, cutting through the dark smoke, hitting the creature responsible for the Smoke Screen, and forcing it to cease its attack. Magmar finishes recoiling from the Swift attack just as the four Arcanine begin to leap through the Smoke Screen. It turns to Nori for advice, and she calls to it, "Magmar, Metronome!" The duckbilled Pokémon raises its index-claws, and begins to swing them back and forth, as if it is conducting a marching band in 2/2 time. Suddenly, it begins to glow...and Transforms into a replica of the old father Arcanine! The three cubs leap backwards, as though shot, and the father barks at them, desperately trying to persuade them to finish the attack. The youngest daughter lets out a whimper of despair, and with her eyes and ears she says, "Only a god has the ability to transform its body. Surely these prey animals were sent to us as a test by the gods, and we have failed them!" The old father retorts, "Gods and slimes alike have the ability to transform. This is nothing more than another human trick!" The three cubs stare at him, their faces filled with doubt; then shake their heads, and slowly back away. They tuck their tails between their legs, saying that he is their father and they respect him; but if there is even a chance that this new Arcanine is a god, they will not risk attacking it. Magmar lets out a howl of confusion, and staggers about, unable to make its legs work properly. Nori takes hold of its furry cheeks, and looks it straight in the eye. "Magmar, listen up. I want you to *run*. Don't think. Don't talk. Just. Run." She recalls her other Pokémon into their Pokéballs, and hops on Magmar's back. Magmar lurches forward, trying to run without thinking about running, and actually succeeding to some degree. It pushes off with both hind legs, then realizes it has no hind legs left to catch it, so it braces itself with its forepaws instead. Then it becomes offbalance, so it totters forward on the pads of its forepaws, trying to prevent itself from falling on its face. It's almost gotten the hang of walking on its hands, when its hind paws slam into the ground again, rocketing it back into the air, and starting the process all over again. The old father unsheathes his claws in rage, and charges after them, tearing up great clods of dirt as he runs. He quickly catches up to the pseudo Arcanine and yaps at its tail, but Magmar reacts instinctively, and using one of the old father's own attacks, kicks him upside the head with a hindpaw. The old father is a gnarled, heavy creature, so the attack bounces off him as it would a wall...but it's Magmar's luck to have hit him right on the eye ridge, and for a moment, the Arcanine finds himself unable to see. He stops short, growling and shaking his head about in an attempt to clear the stars from his vision, while Nori and Magmar disappear over the horizon. He smells his children approaching long before he sees them. The younger male has a musk of fear about him, while the older one has something of a haughty air. He wonders if the older one is wagging his tail, laughing at his father's failure. The two daughters seem worried...perhaps they are worried because the creatures have escaped, and are once again free to spread the knowledge that will destroy their race. Or perhaps they are worried about him, worried that he is too old and too feeble to defeat the creatures in question. Very well, let them be worried. And let them feel shame, when he leads them to victory. The old father opens his eyes. Sure enough, the oldest son is standing in front of him, tail raised high...but it is not a mocking display of pride. Rather, he is trying to calm his siblings, telling them that he is not afraid, and they should not be afraid either, because they are all strong. The father's eyes sparkle, oh how he loves that boy! Someday, he will make a fine alpha...but that day is not today, and he forces the boy to roll submissively, as a reminder. To the others, he barks, "Gods and demons alike are creatures to be feared. However, they cannot destroy our race. Only one creature is capable of doing that, and that creature is man. We must destroy the human who has knowledge of our race, and any beta that dares to help her, be it human, Pokémon, or god." The two youngest Arcanine quaver, "Humans and Pokémon, they are mortals, and both can be destroyed. But what about a god? Can we destroy a god?" The old father bares his fangs. "Gods can be created, and gods can be destroyed. Gods can be played, and gods can be controlled...but those who hide behind gods are no more immune to the evils of this world, than are any other beings. We must approach this human as we would any other, and if any god tries to defend her..." he snaps his jaws, "...then god help the god." TBC