Goldenrod City Pokémon Center
Hareta walked through the cafeteria in the Pokémon Center, carrying a bag of bread with him. Looking around the room as he walked, he stopped as he spotted what he was searching for: a toaster. Stepping up to it, he thought to himself, "I was looking for this." He then loosened the tie around the opening of the bag and put two slices of bread in. He stood by the toaster and waited, as he still needed it.
A couple minutes later, Hareta returned the bag of bread to where he had found it and walked over to the two tables that he, Gold, Kotone, and their Pokémon were using, carrying a large tray that had nothing but unbuttered toast on it. When he reached the table some of the Pokémon were at, he asked, "Who wants toast?" Luxray spoke, "(I like 'em crispy!)" Grovyle nodded, "(I like 'em crispy on the outside.)" Lucario smiled, "(You got that right!)" After distributing toast to all of the Pokémon and leaving some butter with them, he took his seat at the other table, across from Gold and Kotone, ready to eat his breakfast.
As everyone was enjoying their breakfast, Hareta asked, "Hey Kotone, what's Blackthorn City like? Do you know?" Kotone replied, "I don't know very much about it personally, but I've heard that it's the home of a Dragon Pokémon clan. Many of the strongest Dragon-type Trainers in the world come from Blackthorn City." Gold said, "Dragon Pokémon, huh? I'll bet that's the type of Pokémon the Gym Leader uses." Kotone nodded, "Wouldn't be much of a surprise if it turns out to be true. Since we have to pass through the Ice Path to get there, we should try to find some Ice-type Pokémon. That's one of the few types that Dragon-type Pokémon are weak against."
Hareta asked, "Are there any other types that they're weak against?" Kotone thought a moment, then replied, "The only other type they're weak against is their own. Most other types aren't very effective against them." Hareta nodded, "I see. I haven't seen a lot of Dragon-type Pokémon, so I was wondering." Gold said, "I think we'll be prepared if we get a little training in along the way. Gible's still having trouble with Draco Meteor, but he still knows a few other Dragon-type moves, plus all of our Pokémon have been strong enough to get us this far. We'll probably have to work hard in battle, but we'll still be fine." With that, everyone turned back to their respective breakfasts and went back to eating, talking a little more as they finished up.
After breakfast was finished and the plates were sent to be clean, the trio returned most of their Pokémon to their Poké Balls, Bayleef, Pichu, Minun, Quilava, Croconaw, and Togetic staying out. Stepping out of the Pokémon Center, Kotone asked, "Should we fly back to Mahogany Town? We'll save a few days travel if we do." Gold said, "Nah, let's walk back there. It'll save some strain on Pidgeot and Crobat, plus we'll have more time to practice with our Pokémon." Both Kotone and Hareta agreed, so they headed for the north gate, traveling towards the National Park and Pokéathlon Dome.
The trip back to Mahogany Town took about three days, due to the trio dropping by the Pokéathlon Dome to have some fun, as well as spending some time in the National Park and revisiting some spots in Ecruteak City. Whenever they stopped, be it for a meal or any other reason, everyone practiced with their Pokémon. Hareta also did some Aura training, Kotone and Gold helping him by giving him targets to aim Aura Spheres at or trying to help him focus his Aura into different parts of his body to see what effects it provided. Thanks to these sessions, his aiming and ability to hold an Aura Sphere began to improve, and he found he could move faster by focusing his Aura into his legs and gain strength by focusing it into his arms.
Hareta would also spend a little time with Tsumugari. Judging from what Hiori had told him, he'd be training to learn how to use it sooner or later, though he only mentioned the encounter to his Pokémon; he decided not to tell Gold or Kotone until later. Surprisingly, the blade was not as heavy at it looked; even Pichu and Minun were able to hold it if they used both hands. Still, they had to keep in mind that it was a real sword, made of steel rather than foam. It was also longer than the practice swords Hareta and Grovyle used, so the first step was learning to get used to how long it was.
After its reach was firmly set in everyone's mind, Hareta began to experiment with swinging it and learning basic swordplay. During these sessions, both Grovyle and Scyther would be there to instruct him on what to do, and Hareta was grateful for their help. There was no doubt, though, that it would take a while to really get the hang of it. Still, by the time they got back to Mahogany Town, Hareta was able to swing the blade precisely without the danger of falling over or tiring himself out too quickly.
After passing through Mahogany Town, they made it far enough down Route 44 to catch sight of the Ice Path. Even as far as they were, they could feel the cold air coming from within the cave and were sure that it would get even colder now that the sun was going down. Not willing to go all the way back to Mahogany Town to stay at the Pokémon Center, the group set up camp for the night, Hareta bringing out the cooking supplies he was given to make dinner for everyone. A short while later, everyone was eating the stew that had been prepared, all of them hungry after all the training they had done that day.
When dinner was finished, everyone spread themselves around the campsite, nobody ready to go to bed yet. Some of the Pokémon, like Buizel, Grovyle, and Luxray, sat down in or at the base of a tree, while others, like Pichu, Bonsly, Croconaw, and Cubone, stayed near their Trainers around the campfire. As he watched the stars with Gold and Kotone, Hareta thought about what Hiori had told him. He remembered Faust's bone chilling presence; even though he had done his best to keep a brave face during the battle, inside he was terrified by the man's presence. If it was going to take more than a cave-in to stop him, was it possible to stop someone so powerful? And strangely enough, it almost felt like he had met Faust before; beneath his cloak, he had a familiar scent, though Hareta wasn't sure why it was familiar.
His thoughts were interrupted when he, as well as Gold, Kotone, and the Pokémon saw the stars vanish from view. Looking closer, they saw that it was due to a cloud that seemed to be swirling around. After a few minutes, Noctowl, who had been perched up on a tree branch, started calling to the Trainers. Hareta went over to the tree and climbed up to the branch it was perched on so he could hear clearly. He asked, "What is it? What did you see?" Noctowl spoke, "(It's not actually a cloud! Over the mountains, maybe above Blackthorn City, is an opening, like a vortex!)"
Hareta asked, "A vortex?! You mean like a whirlpool kind of vortex?!" Noctowl nodded, "(Yes, it's very similar to a whirlpool! The vortex itself appears to be a purple color, while the opening in the center is black! And I believe that there are flashes of lightning coming from the center. I'm not sure what it is or what it's going to do, however.)" Hareta thought about Noctowl's description, "It almost sounds similar to the portal leading to the Distortion World that dad found in Turnback Cave. Hmm
I also remember Professor Oak and the Nurse Joy of Violet City mentioning that Pikachu came from a similarly described vortex when Articuno appeared at the Violet Gym. Does that mean this vortex is also a Distortion World opening?"
After several minutes of watching, the vortex vanished as suddenly as it had appeared. Kotone spoke, "That was an interesting spectacle. Do you guys think something might have happened in Blackthorn City?" Gold said, "I don't know, but I'm not waiting to find out! No way am I gonna get to sleep after seeing that!" Hareta asked, "You mean you want to go through the Ice Path right now? But it's
" He looked down at his Pokétch, which was on the Digital Clock function, and said, "
almost 8:30!" Gold replied, "I know that! But something weird just happened and until I at least hear that nothing bad happened because of it, I'm not going to sleep easy tonight!" With that, he ran to get his backpack and recall his Pokémon. Knowing there would be no talking him out of it, both Hareta and Kotone did the same.
Following the faintly lit road, they soon ascended the stairs leading to the entrance of the Ice Path. Glancing inside, Hareta said, "Gee, i-it's kinda dark
" Kotone glanced at Gold and asked, "You bring a light?" Gold looked at her over his shoulder and said, "No
?" Hareta turned to them and said, "I've got one in my backpack. It's in this pocket." Kotone opened and checked the pocket on the side of the bag that Hareta had tapped, soon pulling the gray flashlight out. Turning it on, she said, "Let's just get through the Ice Path tonight. According to the map, there's still a bit of distance between where it empties out and Blackthorn City. We can camp out there." Both Gold and Hareta agreed to this, so they stepped through the cave's opening.
As soon as they were inside, they immediately began to shiver. As expected, the breeze they felt when they were outside was nothing compared to the cold inside. It was also rather dark, even with the flashlight, so Hareta held up a hand and focused his Aura into it, causing a blue flame to surround it, which created some extra light and a little warmth. Seeing a line of boulders in front of them, Kotone said, "These look pretty sturdy. Let's see if there's a way around them." Walking to the right of the cave entrance, they looked for a gap that they could squeeze through. They were so focused on the boulders that they didn't notice they were walking towards a patch of ice until Hareta slipped on it and went sliding into a rocky rise! Both Gold and Kotone looked on worried as Hareta pulled his face off the rise, groaning. Refocusing his Aura, he noticed that there seemed to be a way to go around, so Gold and Kotone followed after him, both of them slipping on the ice as well. Gold ended up falling on his back as he slid, while Kotone almost lost her balance.
A while later, after slipping around on more ice and pushing boulders to get them through a large room of ice, Gold, Pikachu, Kotone, Hareta, and Minun found themselves on what was likely the lowest floor of the Ice Path. As they looked around for another ladder that they could use, they could hear a light wailing coming from nearby. Hareta focused his Aura a little more, the flame around his hand getting brighter. Tracing the wailing to a set of rocks covered in ice, they peeked around the corner. There, standing next to one of the rocks with its claws pawing at it, was a Sneasel. It was shorter than the average Sneasel, and it was crying. It whimpered, "(Where am I? How did I get here? I can't see anything. I don't know what I'm doing
)" Hareta could tell by its high-pitched voice that this Sneasel was still a baby and, if the head feather wasn't enough proof, a girl. He rounded the corner, wanting to try to comfort the young Sneasel.
Before Hareta could get close to the Sneasel, something dashed in front of him and slammed into his chest, sending him sprawling onto his back and putting his Aura out. Kotone, Gold, Pikachu, and Minun came around the corner, Kotone pointing the flashlight at Hareta's attacker. As Hareta sat up, everyone gasped at what it was. Covered in golden-white fur and with nine orange-tipped tails, all of which were pointing up as if it were ready to attack again, it was the Fox Pokémon, Ninetales!
It bared its fangs at the group as it growled, "(What do you think you were doing? Were all of you going to gang up on a helpless little girl? Even I can tell that she's lost and doesn't know what's going on!)" Hareta stuttered, "No, that's not what we were doing! I was going to try to help her!" The Ninetales closed its mouth, hiding its fangs, but it continued to stare at Hareta, Gold, and Kotone, as if trying to look into their souls. As the flashlight shone over it, Pikachu gasped, "(Hey
That scar on that Ninetales' rear left leg
No way! It can't be her!)"
Ninetales began to approach Hareta, who was still laying on the ground, her eyes watching to make sure he didn't try anything. Before she was right in front of him, Pikachu leapt onto his shoulder and jumped in front of him. Ninetales halted at this, wondering if the human was up to something, but her eyes widened slightly as she looked at the Pikachu in front of her. "(
Pikachu? Are you the same Pikachu who volunteered to come to this world as a scout?)" Pikachu smiled, "(It IS you, Ninetales!)"
Ninetales smiled, pleased to have found one of her oldest friends unharmed, but she soon asked, "(What have you been doing? Did something happen?)" Pikachu replied, "(Sort of. I ended up coming to a place called Violet City. At the time, the Legendary Pokémon, Articuno, was resting at the Gym there. I had to battle it since it began attacking after I landed, and since then, I've been traveling with Gold and his friends.)" He gestured to the group behind him after saying that.
Ninetales looked up at the group, then back down at Pikachu and asked, "(Why were you traveling with them? Did you forget about your mission?)" Pikachu replied, "(No, I didn't forget my mission. But I also didn't know the Johto region very well. At first, I was traveling with them to learn about the region and gather clues, but I eventually began to see them as friends. As we traveled, I kept looking, and I eventually found the man we were looking for.)" Ninetales asked, "(The doctor? Was he back to his old self?)" Pikachu hesitated a moment before replying, "(He was when we found him, but
Well, we got separated while trying to help a sick Pokémon. By the time we came back to where the Pokémon was, he was gone and, according to what Hareta told us, it seems he has returned.)"
Pikachu then looked up at Ninetales and said, "(But that isn't the point right now! After traveling with them this long, I assure that they would never try to harm any Pokémon! Please, give Hareta a chance to show you he means no harm. Please, Ninetales.)" Ninetales looked at him a moment more before looking up at Hareta, who had just stood up. She then moved her legs so she was in a sitting position, which told him she was allowing him to pass.
Hareta walked past Ninetales and over to the Sneasel, who had calmed down due to the exchange that just took place and was now looking forward with curiosity. She started to get nervous as Hareta got closer, saying, "(Please don't hurt me
I don't know where I am or what's going on.)" Hareta slowly moved a hand towards her, Sneasel flinching when he was about to touch her, but she relaxed when he gently placed it on her head. As he rubbed her head, he simply said, "I know. And I want to help." Minun came over and cheerfully agreed that everyone would help. Reassured that Hareta was a good person, Sneasel allowed him to pick her up and carry her.
As Hareta turned around, Ninetales walked up to him and said, "(I have misjudged you, human. If you are going to the city that is surrounded by the mountains, please allow me to guide you through the cave as an apology.)" Hareta replied, "You don't have to apologize; how could you have known what I was going to do? But if you really want to help, we'd appreciate it." Ninetales nodded, "(Very well then. I just came from there, so I know the way. Follow me.)" She began walking, followed by the trio.
As Ninetales showed them the way through the cave, Hareta asked about the vortex above Blackthorn City. Ninetales replied, after a moment of thinking, that she saw the vortex, but it did not do anything to the city itself. Hareta told this to Gold, who was satisfied that all was well and would be more than willing to go to sleep once they got through the cave.
After sliding around on the ice more and helping a Kimono Girl whose sandals were frozen to the ice, the group reached the Ice Path's exit. As they stood in front of the opening, Kotone checked her PokéGear, which said that it was past 10:00pm. After settling on a spot to sleep for the night, Hareta looked at Sneasel and asked, "Do you want to stay with us tonight?" Sneasel replied that she would and slipped into his sleeping bag along with Minun, curling up against his chest.
While the rest of the group went to sleep, Pikachu and Ninetales stayed up a few minutes longer, whispering to each other. Ninetales said, "(Let's make sure I have this correct. According to the boy with the blue jacket, Faust has returned and taken over Dr. Kiyoshi again. Is that what you're saying, Pikachu?)" Pikachu replied, "(That's what I gathered from what Hareta said. But I don't know how strong he is at this point. Things have been a little hectic, so I haven't gotten around to asking him.)" Ninetales nodded, "(I see. Well, I'm just glad you're alright. We didn't hear from you for weeks and we feared the worst.)" Pikachu said, "(We'll talk about what to do next in the morning.)" Ninetales nodded and they both came over to the group to go to sleep. Pikachu curled up in Gold's sleeping bag, next to his face, while Ninetales slept close to Hareta's sleeping bag.
The Sinnoh Region, Sandgem Town
Mitsumi lay asleep in her bed, her grandfather having gone to bed a short while before she did. As she slept, her light snoring being the only sound that could be heard, she began to dream.
It was such a beautiful day. The sun was shining, white clouds drifted lazily across the sky, and the nearby forest was alive and vibrant. Mitsumi sat on a rock, her Pokémon out and either sitting with her or playing with her friends and their Pokémon. All around her were her friends, enjoying the beautiful day. Kotone was playing with her Pokémon in the sand, Jun and his father, Palmer, were getting into another argument about her, Kaisei and Johanna were seated on the grass nearby, talking, and Gold and Hareta were playing together. It was a perfect day.
Mitsumi smiled as she watched Hareta and Gold play while patting the head of her Eevee. Even though she didn't get to know Gold very well during the group's vacation, she was quick to tell that he and Hareta were as close as brothers. She turned her head away from the two as she heard someone approaching, seeing that it was Jun. He looked like he was ready to ask her out on a date as he stood looking down at her, but before he could say anything, something caught everyone's attention.
The sun was suddenly blocked out, a shadow being cast over Sandgem Town. Everyone looked up at the sky to see a large gray cloud in the path of the sun. What's more, it seemed to be rumbling, as if it was going to unleash thunder and lightning. And it did just that, unleashing a large bolt of lightning that was headed straight for the ground! Everyone scrambled to get as far away from the spot it was headed for. As it struck the ground, a bright flash covered Mitsumi's vision; when it cleared, she opened her eyes to a horrifying sight.
Everything seemed to have gone from its natural color to gray. The grass, the dirt, the sand, even the houses. The large cloud from before was still blocking out the sun, though it seemed to have spread all across the horizon. But what really horrified Mitsumi was that the bodies of her friends and the Pokémon were strewn all across the ground. She could not tell if they were unconscious or not, as there seemed to be little movement from them. As she scanned them, she realized that someone was missing.
"Hareta! Where are you?!" she screamed. A few moments later, she heard Hareta call, "Mitsumi! I'm over here, in the forest! Come quickly, there's
" Mitsumi panicked when Hareta did not finish his sentence and rushed into the forest, heading for the spot where she had heard his call. She eventually reached a clearing in the woods, where she was confronted by a horrible sight.
In the center of the clearing, Hareta lay on his knees, his face frozen in an expression of pure shock and terror. He fell forward as something was pulled out of his back, his body lying motionless on the ground. Mitsumi looked up at the figure standing behind him, which seemed to be the same height as Hareta. In its right hand was a sword that had a black blade, which was being held in a reverse grip. It wore a kind of armor that covered most of its body, though its arms were exposed and it seemed to be missing a helmet.
Mitsumi, who was in tears at seeing what happened to Hareta, was about to move when the figure turned towards her. When she saw its pale, orange eyes, she became frozen in fear and disbelief. Although the eyes were not the same, she knew only one person who those eyes could belong to. The figure took a moment to change its grip on the sword before it dashed towards her, leaping once it was close enough with its sword held back
Mitsumi woke up in a panic, breathing heavily as sweat slid down her face. After breathing for a few moments, she looked around to see that she was in her room. Getting out of bed, she walked over to the window and looked out, calming down somewhat when she saw the moon in the sky and everything else was normal.
She turned around when she heard someone ask, "Mitsumi
?" She saw her grandfather standing in the doorway and asked, "Grandfather? What are you doing up?" He replied, "I was coming back from the washroom when I thought I heard you making noise. I was just checking to make sure you were alright." Mitsumi sighed, "I'm fine, grandfather. I just had a bad dream, but I'm okay now." Her grandfather nodded, "If you say so. Don't be afraid to come and talk to me about it if you're having trouble getting back to sleep." He then left the room, closing the door as he began walking down the hall.
Mitsumi walked over to her bed and sat down on it. She thought about what she had seen in her dream; it was scary how such a good time changed in the blink of an eye, but what really frightened her was who she had seen at the end. She looked over at her dresser, which had a picture of her, Hareta, Minun, Empoleon, and Jun. She shook her head as she thought about the times she journeyed with Hareta before and after the Sinnoh League, "Impossible. He could never turn into something like that." She then looked up at the ceiling as she muttered, "But still
Maybe I should talk to someone if I keep having dreams like this
Faust stood at the peak of a snow-capped mountain, a light snow falling around him. His cloak appeared to be torn and his mask had a few cracks in it, but otherwise, he seemed like he came out of the fight with Hareta unscathed. He growled, "That boy
I don't know what that was, but he'll pay for humiliating me. No one attacks me and lives to tell the tale. His ancestors have already met their end on their own, but I'll get my revenge on him, that kitsune, and her rat friend soon enough. And then both worlds will be mine