From: "Bandraptor" <bandraptor@yahoo.com> Subject: [PW!] The Great Grandaddy of All Tyrants Date: Tuesday, January 20, 2004 7:27 AM One day after the closing ceremonies of the Silver Conference, the mountain range at the easternmost edge of Johto is the epitome of tranquility. The massive quantities of humans and Pokemon who came to watch the Johto region's largest tournament have dissipated, most either returning to their homes in the neighboring cities, or Teleporting to Olivine to catch the S.S. Tidal. With the tourists gone, a sense of normalcy has returned to the Silver Mountains. The rare full-time residents of Silver Town have said their adieus to their guests, and are now beginning the arduous task of preparing for the following year's tournament. The Pokemon that went into hiding during the mass influx of humans are also resuming their normal lives. Baby Teddiursa have begun to creep out of their dens, eyes sparkling with an eagerness to explore. Adolescent Phanpy are congregating by the Silver Lake, happily spraying each other with water from their trunks, though taking care to be mindful of their elemental weakness. Alert Ursaring and Donphan are watching their progeny from afar, but they too feel more at ease, now that the excitement of the Silver Conference has passed. The tranquility of this scene is abruptly broken, as a flock of Pidgeotto comes flying overhead, screeching and cawing loudly. An orange streak speeds after the fleeing birds, agitating them further! In short time, the brightly colored blur catches up with the Flying Pokemon, and begins weaving in and out of the V-shaped formation, as if it is a race car driver, and the Pidgeotto are plastic cones. After about ten seconds of zigzagging, when it feels that it has thoroughly proved its superiority to the speedy birds, the orange streak pulls ahead of them, blowing the flock backwards with a sonic boom. "Hotshot!" The Pokemon Trainer who's riding on the back of the overly competitive Dragonite scolds her steed. "Was that really necessary?" Given a choice of answers, Hotshot the Dragonite can only smirk and nod his head. However, he does take note of his mistress' complaint, and he slows his speed slightly. "Sorry about that..." Cassandra Gale looks over her shoulder at the other passenger on her Dragonite's back, a spiny-haired girl named Nori. "Hotshot's a responsible Dragonite, he really is--but when he sees another speedy Pokemon, he just *has* to race with it." "That's okay." Nori responds casually, though she also maintains her death grip around the Dragonite's ribcage. "We're in a hurry, so it's better to fly fast. Right?" "Right!" Cassandra agrees enthusiastically, glad that Nori isn't chiding her for being reckless, something her sister would probably do if she was present. "So, where exactly is this breeding ground that we're heading for?" "Hmmm..." Nori dares to gaze over the side Hotshot's back, down at the mountains that are rushing by beneath them. "I usually travel there by foot, so I'm going to need a minute to get my bearings. I normally just follow the trail of destruction..." Nori scans the ground until she finally finds what she's looking for, an area where the trees and underbrush have been completely trampled. "That's the spot!" She frowns, squinting at something else below them. "Cass, go down for a minute." Cassandra relays the command to her Dragonite, who immediately begins to descend. As soon as they touch down, Nori hops off the Dragonite's back, and begins running in the direction of the thing that caught her interest. She slows down as she approaches it, a hulking, green creature that's lying in the grass in front of her. She begins to tread softly, since she doesn't want to startle it. "Hello, Mister Tyranitar," she quietly addresses the creature, "what are you doing so far away from the nesting grounds? It isn't safe out here in the open." The Tyranitar lifts his head up off the ground, and stares at Nori for a long beat. After about a minute, he formulates his response, "Grraaaan, tyran, ran i tar." Since the Tyranitar speaks very slowly, instead of slurring his words together into a long screech like most members of his species do, Nori has no trouble deciphering his message. "You were traveling from Silver Town, and you got lost? What were you doing in Silver Town? Did your worthless Trainer abandon you there after the tournament ended?" The Tyranitar furrows his stony brow, not sure which of Nori's questions he should address first. "Graaaan..." "Hey, I know!" Nori says, not waiting for a response, "You should come with us to the Tyranitar nesting grounds! There are lots of other Tyranitars there, and you won't have to worry about your Trainer abusing you ever again. What do you say?" The Tyranitar shrugs, and laboriously gets to his feet, unable to think of any reason not to go. "Oh...Mister Tyranitar?" Nori frowns uncertainly at the Armored Pokemon. "Did you know that there's a Tentacool sleeping on your back? Would you like me to get it off for you?" The Tyranitar shakes his head no. "Raaan." Cassandra, who's still sitting on her Dragonite's shoulders, watches as Nori returns, Tyranitar in tow. "Hmm. Well, I guess we're walking the rest of the way to the breeding grounds," she muses, not seeing any way for them to get airborne with such a large passenger. She slides down Hotshot's back, and recalls him into his Pokeball. "So, now what?" "Like I said, trail of destruction." Nori points to the flattened path ahead of them. "It's just as well that we walk from here. If the Tyranitars spotted your Dragonite flying over the breeding grounds, they'd probably try to shoot it down, and I think we've seen enough Hyper Beams for one week." The next few miles are walked in silence, as Alex reflects on the possible fates that may have befallen her friend, Smasher. She whispers a short prayer under her breath: "With all the trouble we're going through to find you, you have to be alive." Nori quickens her pace slightly, since she knows that Cass is in a hurry to get to the port in Olivine City. She casts a glance at the black Heavy Ball that's clipped to her belt, and says, "Hmm. I prefer not to carry my Pokemon in Pokeballs, since I think they're subversive, but my Natu was in his Pokeball when I visited Olivine last week. If I'd stuck to my principles, and hadn't bought Set a Pokeball when he asked for one, he would've had a chance to map out the city while we were there, and he'd be able to Teleport us there today." "Don't worry about it." Cass says simply, "Hotshot'll get the two of us to Olivine in no time." Nori scratches the back of her head sheepishly, "Did I mention that my Blastoise doesn't have a Pokeball?" "I don't think you did..." Nori shrugs apologetically. "Well...I guess I can always have Cerberus carry him. My Dodrio isn't as fast as your Dragonite, but it's no Shuckle. I don't think it'll slow us down too much." "Let's hope not," Cass says with a sigh. "Look," Nori begins, a slight edge to her voice, "you don't have to come with me if you don't want to. If you're worried about missing the boat, just go on ahead to Olivine." "And miss my chance to see the Tyranitar breeding grounds? Not likely." Cassandra rubs her hands together eagerly. "I've always wondered what the Tyranitars' natural habitat looks like, because Ob--" Cass stops just short of mentioning her Tyranitar's name, recalling how Nori reacted when she found out about Bo's Tyranitar. "...because, OBviously, that's the best place to see a Tyranitar, inside their natural habitat!" She sweatdrops as she finishes this sentence, hoping her hastily crafted excuse wasn't too transparent. "Are you sure that you want to go inside? You don't seem to be wearing any type of armor." Nori rubs her scarred left shoulder through the heavy, leather sleeve of her jacket. "Well, it's your choice. As long as you don't antagonize the Tyranitars, they probably won't try to eat you, but I still wouldn't be showing off any exposed limbs." Cassandra giggles, "If there wasn't any danger involved, this wouldn't be an adventure!" She winks, "Don't worry about me. I'm a big girl, I can take care of myself." "Who's worried?" Nori asks, sounding slightly annoyed. She steps cautiously across a series of uneven stones, and makes her way up a slight incline, moving towards the gaping mouth of the cavern that's several meters in front of them. "I just want to get to Olivine without incident, if possible. Now, listen. Once we get inside the cave, keep your voice down, and try not to touch anything." Cassandra holds up her right hand and swears, "I'll behave. Scout's honor." The two of them enter the cave, and a moment later, they are plunged into darkness, as the Tyranitar follows them inside, and his enormous body blocks out the sunlight. Cassandra gropes her way through the inky blackness, sliding her hand along the pitted wall of the cave to maintain her orientation. Even with this guide, she finds herself overcome with a sense of vertigo, and when the wall itself seems to move beneath her fingers, she jerks her hand away from the stone structure, and touches it to her forehead, gripping her temples to allay her dizziness. There is a heavy crashing sound, like that of two boulders crunching against each other. Cass stifles a yelp as her eyes slowly adjust to the darkness, and she sees that the structures she has been running her hands over aren't part of the cave at all. They are the bodies of dozens of heavy-jawed Pupitar that have cocooned themselves into the wall of the cave. The Pupitar nearest to Cass strains towards her, continuing to gnash its stone teeth together, Thrashing violently in an attempt to break free of its bindings. Cass backs away from the ravenous Pupitar, murmuring under her breath, "Okay...now I know why she said no touching. Hey, Nori, wait up!" She jogs after the shorter teen, who is being mindful to walk at the center of the path, beyond the Crunching range of the Pupitar. "Woah, I'd forgotten how creepy Tyranitar's pre-evolved form is. They're so cute as Larvitar, and then puberty hits them like a Brick Break attack..." "Brick..?" Nori repeats, not understanding the reference, since she isn't familiar with the Hoenn TMs. "If you like Larvitars, wail 'til you see this." She beckons Cassandra over to a branch of the tunnel that is bathed in an iridescent light. The narrow path soon opens up into a large cavern, which is illuminated by four walls of glowing, green lichen. As she ventures further into the cavern, Cassandra realizes that the ground she's standing on is little more than a catwalk--the stone floor in front of her has been dug up and hollowed out into an enormous nest. At a glance, she estimates that the hollow is at least thirty feet across in any direction, though it is impossible to tell how deep it is, since the hole is filled to the brim with leathery green eggs. A few yards away from where Cass and Nori are standing, at a spot where the path widens considerably, a group of six fledgeling Larvitar perk their heads up, and gaze at the humans in curiosity. There hasn't been any excitement in the nursery since the new guy showed up, three days ago, and he hasn't been much fun to talk to, so they're eager to greet their visitors. Since the Larvitar have seen Nori around before, they toddle over to Cass first, more interested in the unknown than the familiar. When the six Larvitar run towards the entrance of the cave, a seventh Larvitar, who was previously shielded from view, is suddenly exposed. Though this Larvitar is both bigger and older than the fledgelings he was hiding behind, he does not exhibit their sense of fearlessness. Much the opposite, when he catches sight of Nori, his eyes widen, and his entire body becomes rigid with fright! Although he wants to confront Nori, to demand that she reunite him with his Trainer, Big Shot the Larvitar is too terrified of his kidnapper to make a move. Avoiding the younger Larvitar, he quietly slinks off to hide behind some stalactites, hoping she doesn't notice him. Cass kneels on the ground, allowing the baby Larvitar to sniff her hands. "You're affectionate little Pokemon, aren't you?" she coos, as each of the fledgelings approaches her in turn, chirping happily, and nuzzling her arms. Off in the shadows, just out of sight, the female Tyranitar who's been assigned to guard the nursery lies splayed on the ground, watching the group through ever wary eyes. She doesn't really trust the humans who are playing with her charges, but for the time being, they're keeping the fledgelings out of her proverbial hair, so she permits the Trainers to stay. Even so, she keeps a Hyper Beam attack half charged under her tongue, ready to fire in the event that things get out of hand. "It looks like you're set for the moment," Nori comments, as Cass continues to play with the Larvitar. "I have some business to attend to. Do you mind waiting here?" Cassandra can't open her mouth to respond, because one of the Larvitar is licking her face. Nori takes this as an indication that Cassandra will be kept occupied for a while, so she turns back towards the entrance to the cavern, and motions to the Tyranitar who's waiting in the tunnel. "Follow me. There's someone I want you to meet." They backtrack through the tunnel, the light from the nursery slowly fading behind them as they move farther away from it. For a few minutes, they are once again plunged into darkness, but Nori follows the path by memory, and the Tyranitar is able to focus its eyes on her silhouette, so they never brush against the Pupitar infested walls. When the path finally brightens again, it is a dim light, much duller than the warm glow that encompassed the nursery. The iridescent lichen is sparse in this part of the cave--the path is well-traveled, and much of the lichen has been inadvertently stripped from the walls by rapidly moving Pokemon who've unintentionally brushed against it. Nori cautiously steps into the cavern at the end of the dimly lit tunnel. There is reason to tread lightly, for packed densely together on the floor of the immense cavern are the bodies of dozens of sleeping Tyranitars. Nori steps quietly around the snoozing behemoths, choosing a path that both she, and her less nimble companion can follow. At the far end of the cavern, there stands a single wakeful Tyranitar, who is standing guard over the entrance to yet another cavern. Nori makes her way over to the sentry, and asks, "Is your father in there?" The sentry snorts out an affirmative, even though the resident of the lair behind him is not actually his father, or even his grandfather, but an ancestor from times forgotten. Knowing that the diminutive human occasionally drops by to confer with his Leader, the sentry only gives her a brief visual scan before allowing her to pass. When the unfamiliar Tyranitar who's with her attempts to follow, the sentry allows him to pass as well, since all newcomers to the nesting site must meet with his Leader's approval, before being permitted to stay. As the sentry reassumes his position in front of the entrance, Nori and her Tyranitar companion move further into the cave. Here, it is even darker than it was in the section of the cave that housed the Pupitar, for the lair of the Tyranitars' Leader is buried deep underground, far away from the light of the sun; and the glowing lichen that lined the walls of many of the other caverns has long since been sandblasted out of existence. There is no movement in the shadows, and the sound of Nori's own footsteps echoes off the walls in a way that makes the room seem eerily empty. The girl's eyes dart around uncertainly, as it occurs to her that the Leader of the Tyranitar might not be present, after all. Being a creature who's fathered a thousand children, he doubtlessly possesses wisdom beyond that of a normal Tyranitar. If he wished to leave his chambers without his sentry knowing, Nori is certain that he could do so. She calls hesitantly into the darkness, "Typhon?" With a thunderous howl of rushing wind, a torrent of sand streams into the room, blasting Nori with such force that she is lifted off the ground, and sent hurtling backwards into her Tyranitar companion. The Tyranitar grits his teeth, and leans into the wind, struggling desperately to keep from getting blown away himself. As the Sand Storm continues, two glowing red eyes appear in the vortex of rocks and dust. These eyes grow progressively larger, as the creature who owns them advances on the struggling pair, Screeching in a voice that drowns out even the roar of the wind. "SCREEEEEEEEAAAAAAAA!!!!!! SCREEEEEE! SCREEEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!" "What?" Nori asks, caught off guard by the unpleasant greeting. "I betrayed you? What are you talking about?" The monster snarls, "SCREEEEEEAAAAAAA!!!!" "Hey!" Nori lowers her eyebrows in anger. "I haven't been slacking off. *I* remember our deal." As the Leader of the Tyranitar glares at her with his fiery eyes, Nori shouts against the wind, "I promised that I'd retrieve all of your children that had been kidnapped by Pokemon Trainers, and I've been *doing* that. And, might I add, I'm using my Movedex to unlock the secrets of the devastation moves, which, once learned, will ensure that your children are never captured again--that's something that wasn't even a part of our original bargain. I don't know what you're so ticked off about. I brought you a Larvitar earlier this week, and I have a Tyranitar with me now. *I'm* the one who hasn't gotten anything out of this deal so far. All I asked for was a lousy Dragon Scale, I don't know why you can't just give me one." "SCREEEEAAAAAA!!!!!" "So, I've only brought you one Larvitar and one Tyranitar in the past five months, and the Larvitar is a nervous wreck because he was traumatized by the kidnapping. So what? It's not my fault that the Larvitar is a little brat. You can blame his previous Trainer for making him soft--" "SCREEEEAAAAAAA!!!!!" "Free will?" Nori scowls. "After all the trouble I went through to bring you that Larvitar, you want me to reunite him with his Trainer, just so he'll know that he has a choice about whether he wants to come here or not? That's the lamest thing I've ever heard--" "SCREEEEEAAAAAAA!!!!" "Fine, fine, I'll do it." Nori looks down at her Pokebelt in dismay. "That's what, eight Pokemon in my party? I shouldn't've stolen that Gardevoir..." The Sandstorm slowly subsides, as the Leader of the Tyranitar calms slightly. He growls a greeting to the Tyranitar who's accompanying Nori, welcoming his lost child back to their ancestral home. The two of them converse briefly, and when all that needs to be said has been said, the flames in the Leader's eyes slowly dim, as he retreats back into the shadows. As they leave the sand torn cave, and return to the dimly lit cavern where the sentry is standing watch, Nori scans the area, looking for a familiar form among the sleeping lacertilians. Finding it after a brief search, Nori tiptoes over to the fully Withdrawn turtle, and raps on his shell with her knuckles. "Hey, wake up." Rubix the Blastoise pokes his head out of his shell, working his jaw groggily. "I just had the most *bizarre* dream...you were at some Pokemon Center, with Doppler, and that Derek kid from the Silver Conference...and then MINAX showed up, and you were fondling her..." Nori cringes in disgust. "Leave me out of your dreams, okay?" Rubix drops the issue. "So, where's my money?" Nori cringes again, but this time, it's for an entirely different reason. "Umm..." "Let me guess," Rubix narrows his eyes, "since you jumped the gun, and kidnapped the Larvitar *before* your match, instead of afterwards--which is what I suggested you do--you turned the whole thing into a grudge match, and your opponent tapped into his sense of outrage to win the fight." "Yeah...pretty much." Nori admits, "That, and his Pokemon totally outclassed mine. But enough about that. Guess what! We're going to Hoenn!" Rubix's expression becomes even more critical. "Who did you piss off?" "Nobody!" "You don't just move to a different country for no reason." Rubix points out. "We only left Kanto because the cops were on our trail..." "I just think it's time for a change of scenery." Nori explains. "Will you come with me?" Rubix sits up, and pokes his arms out of his shell. He holds one paw out in front of his chest, as if weighing his options, and says, "Let's see. On the one hand, here in Johto, I have a life, an apartment, a *paying* job. Meanwhile, in Hoenn, there's..." he waves his opposite paw around in a small circle, gesturing to the empty air. "Tell me again, why should I go to Hoenn?" "Hoenn's an island." Nori says simply, "You can use Surf." "Ah." Rubix gets to his feet with a sigh. Nori starts walking towards the pathway that leads back towards the nursery where she left Cass. Her Blastoise follows her, and the Tyranitar, not knowing what else to do, follows both of them. As they walk, Nori glares over her shoulder at her Blastoise, disapprovingly, "I can't believe you had a dream about Minax. Do you have a crush on her?" "Blow me." Nori folds her arms across her chest, and grumbles, "Why settle?" They round a corner, and are once again greeted by the iridescent light of the lichen coated nursery walls. Cass smiles when she sees them approaching. "Hey, you found your Blastoise! Great! Now we can go to Olivine." Cass stands up, and the baby Larvitar that were swarming over her run back over to the stalactite covered area where they were playing, before she came in. Big Time is so startled by the stampede of fledgeling Larvitar that he jumps into the air, giving away his position. Nori walks over to the Larvitar, scooping him up off the ground before he can run away. "Sorry, little guy, but you're coming with us. Typhon wants me to reunite you with your Trainer. I know you're better off here, with other members of your species, but orders are orders." Big Time stares at her distrustfully, not believing for even a minute that she's planning to take him to see Smasher. Although he hasn't really enjoyed his stay at the Tyranitar nesting grounds, given the choice between staying, and traveling with Nori into unknown territory, he would much rather stay at the nesting grounds. As Nori and her group begins to move out of the nursery, he calls to the Tyranitar nursemaid for help! In a flash, the Tyranitar is on her feet. She leaps over the wide pit that holds the clutch of eggs, and muscles her way in front of the nursery's only exit, forcing the group backwards, away from the tunnel, and away from the nest. When they are a safe distance away from the eggs, the Tyranitar attacks in earnest, lowering her spiny crown, and charging forward, her Skull Bash attack connecting with Cass, Nori, and Rubix, and sending all three of them flying into a wall. Unharmed thanks to her protective padding, Cassandra gropes at her Pokebelt, ready to launch a counterstrike. "Rose, go--" The command is cut short when the female Tyranitar lunges forward, knocking the Pokeball from her hand. As Cass struggles with the Tyranitar, Nori reaches for her Delibird's Pokeball, intending to use Magby's Smokescreen-like Blizzard technique to blind the nursemaid. "SCREEEAAAA!!" The Tyranitar bellows, ramming into Nori once again. She's pulling her punches to avoid injuring the Larvitar that Nori's holding, but she's determined to prevent Nori from reaching her Pokebelt. Despite the Tyranitar's interference, Nori still manages to activate a Pokeball--but the Pokeball she activates isn't Magby's. With a melodic cry, a pure white Persian touches down on the ground in front of Nori, her claws retracted, but her whiskers sparking with bolts of electricity. Absolutely famished after spending nearly a week in confinement, the Classy Cat grins hungrily at the nanny Tyranitar, looking for a quick meal. "SCREEEEAAAAA!!!" The angry Tyranitar lunges at the Persian, prepared to use as much force as she needs to use to defeat her, since the Persian isn't hiding behind one of her charges. "GRRAAAAN!" Sharp teeth clamp down around the nursemaid's neck, and a powerful set of jaws pulls her away from her target. The enormous male Tyranitar who's been following Nori around maintains his hold on the nursemaid's neck, enduring her Thrashing, as he finds the leverage needed to throw her to the ground. He pins her to the floor with one of his heavy feet, and tries to reason with her, repeating what he heard during his audience with Typhon, and explaining that the father of all Tyranitars wishes to see the Larvitar returned to his Trainer. The nursemaid calms down as she processes this information, and the male Tyranitar removes his foot from her ribcage. Everyone present releases a huge sigh when they see that the situation has been defused. Everyone but Rubix. The Blastoise glowers at Nori, and points to the Persian, "BLIZZARD?!? BLIZZARD'S your sixth Pokemon?" "Pretty cool, huh?" Nori asks rhetorically. "I saw her walking around after we crash landed in front of the Silver Stadium, so I captured her. You were still unconscious, so you wouldn't remember..." Nori smirks, "It's been six years since I was ordered to capture Blizzard. Boy, does this give me closure. I might even say it's cat-thartic--" Rubix snaps, "I'm not working with that Persian!" "Chill out." Nori recalls the Persian into her white Fast Ball. "She isn't going to be with us for very long. I'm going to take her back to Mahogany Town, so I can--" Nori stops talking when she sees Cass looking in her direction. As much as she wants to turn her captured Persian over to Giovanni--both to get the reward money, and to restore herself to his good graces--she knows she can't risk taking a trip to the Rocket base in Mahogany Town while Cassandra is with her. She also knows that it will look suspicious if she ditches Cassandra, so for the time being, she's stuck. "Okay, maybe she will be with us for a little while..." Rubix slaps his forehead. "So much for 'without incident'." Cass sighs, returning Rose's Pokeball to her belt. "I'm definitely ready to go to Olivine now. After getting tossed about by that Tyranitar, I hope my suite on the S.S. Tidal has a hot tub." Nori nods, "Ditto." She turns to the two Tyranitar, one of which is sedate, while the other one is watching her with a very odd expression, "Thanks for your help, Mister Tyranitar. I hope you like it here at the nesting grounds. Oh, and don't worry about the Larvitar. I'll take good care of him." The nursemaid nods in response, but the male Tyranitar just narrows his eyes in suspicion. As they walk down the tunnel leading out of the cave, Nori speaks to her Blastoise, "Rubix, I've been thinking, apartments in Goldenrod are pretty hard to come by, aren't they? If you come with me to Hoenn, you can rent your apartment out to someone under the table. You could probably charge them an extra hundred or so dollars a month over the cost of the rent, and pocket the extra money." Rubix considers, "Hmmm..." When they emerge into the bright sunlight of the outside world, Cassandra calls upon her Dragonite, while Nori releases her Dodrio. After a few minutes of debating seating arrangements, the two Flying Pokemon and their passengers embark on their trip to Olivine. Unseen by them on the ground below, a Tyranitar with a Tentacool on his back is giving chase, moving slowly, but following their movements precisely. * * * "All aboard!" The guard standing atop the S.S. Tidal's gangplank shouts these words with a feeling of relief. After being chastised by numerous women, elderly Eskimo and otherwise, while attempting to do his guardly duties, he's glad that the cruise ship is finally hoisting anchor, and he doesn't have any more passengers to frisk. Just as he's about to close off the entrance to the ship, he sees two teenagers running towards him. One of them, a redhead, is waving her arms wildly to get his attention, while the other is just struggling to keep up. The redhead runs up the gangplank, and stops in front of the guard, panting. "Cassandra Gale." Pant, pant. "My sister purchased a ticket for me." "Ah, yes," The guard nods, removing a pair of tickets from the will call envelope, "She said that you would be arriving with another Trainer. I have the keys to both of your rooms right here." He asks Cassandra, "Would you mind if I checked your backpack?" "Oh, no problem." Cassandra slams her backpack down on the ticket stand, her rollerblades bouncing against the fabric with a loud smack. After double checking the compartments of Cass' backpack to make sure that she isn't carrying any contraband, the guard turns to Nori, only to see that she isn't wearing a backpack. Noticing the Blastoise by her side, he comments, "Obviously, since this is a cruise for Pokemon Trainers, we have no problem with you carrying Pokemon outside of their Pokeballs. However, in the interest of public safety, we ask that your Blastoise keep his hydro canons inside its shell, when it's not in an official Pokemon Battle." After Nori, Cassandra, and Rubix board the ship, the guard starts, once again, to rope off the entrance, but is stopped, once again, by the sight of a straggler approaching. A large Tyranitar walks halfway up the gangplank, then stops, and a Tentacool hops off his head. The Tentacool walks up to the guard, balancing on his two tentacles like stilts, and says, "Coolta tent, tent cool tenta tent coolta tentacool." "You're Captain Stern's father?" The guard blinks. "Well, by all means, come onboard! Here's a key to the luxury suite on the top deck. Enjoy your stay, Mr. Stern!" The Tentacool snaps up the key with one tentacle, and exclaims, "COOL!" genuinely meaning it for once. As the Tentacool and the Tyranitar disappear into the crowd on the deck of the ship, the guard realizes, "Hey, that wasn't Captain Stern's father! That wasn't Captain Stern's father at all!" He removes his baton from his belt, and takes off after the pair. "Get back here, you hooligans! Crew members' children are supposed to stay below deck!" TBC... --Beth