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EVERYONE: Phobos & Mystic: A Pokéjourney

Chapter 1: Fairview Hamlet


Eevee Madness
Feb 1, 2024
Reaction score
  1. He/Him

Chapter 1: Fairview Hamlet​

'What about Pidgey, they’re easy!’ Phobos declared.

'Pidgey?' Mystic raised an eyebrow.

'Yeah, Pidgey!'

Phobos yanked the Pokédex he had gotten last week for his sixteenth birthday, out his pocket and, with a dramatic flourish, jabbed at its controls. The Pokédex screen lit up, displaying an image of a rather stoic looking bird. A robotic voice chimed in, from a speaker beneath the screen.

'Pidgey!' the voice proclaimed. 'A common sight in forests and woods. It flaps its wings at ground level to kick up blinding sand.'

Mystic lifted his head, letting the sun break past the high rim of his fedora, and seep onto his face. With a soft chuckle, he pointed out past the cobblestone porch they stood at the Wildroot Expanse, the seemingly endless flatlands and fields beyond the borders of Fairview Hamlet.

'There’s your first problem,' Mystic explained. 'There ain't a forest or wood, for miles! Surely, you would want your first catch to be a little closer to home, give you time to train it up before you come across the bigger stuff.'

Mystic pulled a Poké Ball from his belt, and tossed it across the porch. It bounced twice then snapped open. A blinding light, then standing there, was a blue bird, known as a Cramorant. It squawked then immediately turned on the spot, and stared right into Phobos’ eyes. It was unnerving to say the least.

'See, I found Neuro here back in Galar, on the banks of the river that ran along my hometown. He was my first catch.' Mystic beamed. 'He was gulping up the fish, much to Tom, the old fisherman’s chagrin!'

Phobos had to look away from Neuro. It was freaking him out.

'I know, I know.' Phobos sighed, rolling his eyes. 'You told me how you found that blue thing already… and it was…'

'...the proudest moment of my…'

'... life, I know! Now, can you kindly put that thing away, please,’ Phobos pleaded, before noticing Mystic’s confused look. ‘I mean… nothing personal but… you know, how do I put this politely…. I absolutely hate that thing!’

Phobos shuddered.

‘This again? Seriously, what’s wrong with Neuro?’

‘The way it stares at me… I swear it’s following me around! I keep finding it in places it really shouldn’t be.’

Mystic shook his head. ‘Impossible, Neuro never leaves my side, and more often than not, stays in the Poké Ball. You’re imagining things.’

‘I am not! I’ll be there, opening my bedroom window for some air, and bam… it will be there on the rooftop of the next building watching me… or I will be near the river, fishing, and it will be there on the opposite banks, staring right into my soul…’

Phobos snuck a quick glance back at Neuro. Those eyes, so expressionless, so vacant… was anything going on inside that head? Phobos shuddered, why did Mystic have to like that thing so much anyway.

‘You’re talking nonsense, Neuro here will be a star one day! One day the world will know the name Neuro, and of course, his trainer, the amazing Mystic Hatherby! Long after people have forgotten Phobos Gwylan, my name will live on!’

Phobos rolled his eyes. ‘You’re lucky I don’t take that personally you know.’

Mystic stopped, laughed, then quickly stammered. ‘Anyway, you were talking about your first catch…’ Mystic said, as he stepped toward and retrieved his empty Poké Ball from off the ground. ‘What were the other two potential candidates you had in mind?’ he asked, trying once again to get the conversation back on track for the umpteenth time.

‘Oh, right, yes… well I thought perhaps Wooloo, I’ve seen them out there in the fields, they shouldn’t be too much hassle to catch, right?

‘They belong to the Pokémon Ranch; were you planning on theft?’ Mystic asked with a mocking laugh. ‘You gotten that desperate?’

Mystic pointed out to the Crested Haven Pokémon Ranch which lay a fair distance out from the Hamlet. It was a wooden building, sturdy but old fashioned. Next to it were fenced fields full of Wooloo.

‘I’m talking about the wild ones beyond the Ranch, obviously! Yeah, sure the ranch took most of them, but there are some wild ones left.’

Phobos jabbed a button on his Pokédex.

‘Wooloo!’ the Pokédex’s electronic voice proclaimed once more. ‘Its curly fleece is such an effective cushion that this Pokémon could fall off a cliff and stand right back up at the bottom, unharmed.’

Mystic nodded. ‘Sure, sure, there are plenty of them out there, but don’t assume just because they look docile that they will be a pushover when it comes to catching one! So, the final candidate, what Pokémon would that be?’

‘Eevee, of course!’ Phobos declared. ‘Who else?’

Another button press later and the Pokédex chimed in.

‘Eevee! Its genetic code is irregular,’ the Pokédex proclaimed. ‘It may mutate if it is exposed to radiation from Evolution stones.’

‘Where are you going to be finding this Eevee? There aren’t any around here, not local, wild ones anyway. I don’t even think there are any wild ones in Cambria period, for that matter. There’s the Professor’s two, but both of them are from far away. You’re mad if you think you’ll find one out there!’

‘That’s not true, I saw a couple run past, from my bedroom window last night!’ Phobos protested. ‘Clear as day! Or… you know… moonlight.’

Mystic held his empty Poké Ball aloft, in extended arm, roughly towards Neuro the Cramorant. Which had the entire time it was out its ball, not broken eye contact with Phobos, not even for a single moment.

'Cramorant, return!' Mystic barked.

The wretched blue bird promptly turned into a cloud of roughly bird shaped energy. This cloud of light was in turn absorbed into the maw of the open Poké Ball, like a vacuum cleaner sucks up dust and detritus. With a smirk, and a small chuckle, Mystic snapped the ball back onto his belt, next to his other two.

‘First you think Neuro is stalking you, now you think you see Eevee running around in these parts. Have you considered, perhaps, that you are bonkers?’

A slight chill in the air silenced them both. Instinctively they both knew what it was, or more specifically, who it was. Mystic didn’t even turn his head to address the new presence on the cobblestone porch.

‘Hey, Eclipse, is the Professor with you…?’ Mystic asked.

Phobos turned his head. There was the familiar sight of the moonlight Pokémon, slender, dark furred, with orange eyes and deep black pupils. Eclipse just stood there, looking at them both. The professor however was not with her, Phobos cocked his head, he was nowhere to be seen.

‘The Professor not with you, Eclipse?’ Phobos muttered.

Eclipse looked around herself, then back at Phobos. Even without the ability of human speech, the gesture of the sarcastic, “No? Really? I didn’t notice,” was plain for the young trainers to see.

Eclipse turned on the spot as though to head back where she came, off towards the back of the porch, towards Mapleleaf Avenue. This was the main street that spanned from one side of Fairview Hamlet to the other, culminating at the professor’s lab. However, before actually departing, Eclipse turned her head and looked back towards Phobos and Mystic and stood silent, waiting, expectantly.

‘I think she means for us to follow her,’ Mystic said.

‘Why, is the professor not coming? He told us to wait here for him,’ Phobos countered. ‘Was he held up, or something?’

‘Or something… probably.’

It was only after Mystic and Phobos got moving, that Eclipse herself set off, heading from the Pokémon Fan Club’s porch towards Mapleleaf Avenue with the two young trainers following behind her.

‘Just to make sure you’ve been keeping up with the training… You remember what species Eclipse here is, young Phobos?’ Mystic tested him.

Phobos rolled his eyes, he was the same age as Mystic, who had only started as a trainer a year or so ago.

‘Yeah,’ he piped in. ‘Umbreon right, one of Eevee’s dozen different evolution possibilities, unlike all other Pokémon, who evolve into a set next stage Eevee. for some reason, has a multiple choice option when it comes to what it evolves into… each a different type, Umbreon here, is dark type.’

‘Well it’s not the only one to have multiple options in evolution. Ralts and Snorunt are the same, and a dozen more, it is the most famous though… and definitely has the most amount of variations.’

Phobos pulled out his Pokédex.

‘Umbreon,’ the Pokédex chimed in. ‘When darkness falls, the rings on the body begin to glow, striking fear in the hearts of anyone nearby.’

‘Spooky…’ Phobos whispered, before exclaiming aloud, ‘but also lies! Striking fear? Eclipse is a sweetheart, she wouldn’t do such a thing!’

‘When agitated,’ the Pokédex continued, ‘this Pokémon protects itself by spraying poisonous sweat from its pores.’

As they made their way down the avenue, their path took them through Harmony Plaza. This was the central hub where folk gathered for events, markets, and festivals. Along the southern side of the plaza, stalls were set up, and it was from there that sounds of amazement and excited chitter chatter could be heard.

These sounds let both trainers know who they were about to bump into. As they passed the blossom tree at the centre of the plaza, Mystic didn’t even have to look to see who a building crowd of youngsters were climbing over themselves and falling over in excitement for.

Between the blossom tree and the market stalls, next to the Hope Wishing Well and the Friendship Stones, among a crowd of adoring youngsters, was the elegant creature, Miyako, the lavender furred resident, and local celebrity. Eclipse rolled her eyes, unimpressed, and simply kept walking.

‘Now of course, you got to know what she is, right?’ Mystic exclaimed.

‘Of course,’ Phobos replied. ‘She’s a Ninetales!’

Another jab at the Pokédex later. ‘Ninetales,’ the Pokédex declared. ‘Very smart and very vengeful. Grabbing one of its many tails could result in a 1000-year curse.’

Phobos looked across at the crowd of youngsters.

‘I do hope that part is not true, Mystic… otherwise that toddler there is in for a very rough, and unusually long life… or does playful grabbing not count?’ Phobos pondered. ‘Well for his sake, I hope not.’

‘When was the last time you updated that thing?’ Mystic said, pointing at the Pokédex. ‘That was disproven long ago, I think… Anyway, that thing is cheating,’ Mystic tutted, mockingly, ‘you know, you better not let the professor catch you using that during his tests.’

‘What? I’m revising… not like I’m going to use it during a test, besides, the professor takes it off me during them… so it’s not like I could.’

Miyako seemed to enjoy the attention from the youngsters, lapping up the love and affection, posing majestically for photos, bowing elegantly at the cheering, adoring crowd, and allowing the odd toddler to stroke her lavender fur.

‘Also, you forgot two details, Phobos, first Miyako is not just a Ninetales, she is an Alolan Ninetales, the regional form from… well… Alola, naturally.’ Mystic explained. ‘While Ninetales is usually a Fire type, Alolan Ninetales are Ice and Fairy. Second, she isn’t just an Alolan Ninetales either, she is a shiny Alolan Ninetales. You know, shiny… extremely rare variations of Pokémon. The ones that come with different colours to the standard, and other cosmetic differences I’m sure. They’re very desirable to trainers. Alolan Ninetales, for example, is usually icy blue.’

Phobos stopped for a moment to behold the exquisite beauty of Miyako. Her eyes met his, noticing his wide-eyed dazzled expression.

‘Icy blue, you say, Mystic?’ Phobos said. ‘Inconceivable! Lavender is definitely your colour, Miyako, I couldn’t imagine you any other way!’

Miyako nodded approvingly, then resumed playing with the youngsters. An impatient call from Eclipse snapped Phobos out of his reverie, and they were soon on their way again, following the avenue out the other side of Harmony Plaza. Leaving the bustling marketplace, and the excited whoops and cheers of the crowd behind.

As they made their way further south down Mapleleaf Avenue, passing Melinwell Library and then Evergreen School, any faint lingering sounds of cheers were instantly drowned out for the two teenage trainers, when they heard what sounded like a distant explosion.

Eclipse tensed up, Phobos and Mystic locked eyes with each other.

‘Okay, I’m not imagining things… again… am I? That sound definitely came from the lab, right?’ Phobos asked.

Eclipse pounced into action, breaking out into a sprint, disappearing in a cloud of smoke and dust as she made off for the laboratory.

‘Sounds like it!’ Mystic barked, brushing dirt off himself. ‘Come on, Phobos, we need to make sure the professor’s okay!’


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Chapter 2: Professor Kyuubi

Chapter 2: Professor Kyuubi​

Fairview was not a particularly big place, so it didn’t take very long to get to the laboratory. It was a large rustic stone and iron building next to Brynwyn Ravine, a steep limestone gorge that bordered the southern edge of the Hamlet.

The young trainers ran around a man made hedge, around to the main entrance to find Eclipse, pawing at the front door. Mystic reached her first.

'Eclipse, what’s wrong?’ he called out. ‘Can’t you get in?’

Mystic tried the door himself, it did not budge.

‘Locked?’ Phobos asked, just catching up, out of breath.

‘Locked,’ Mystic responded bluntly.

Eclipse raised her head, sniffing the air. Her eyes narrowed. Phobos smelt it too, a burning, metallic odour. Eclipse looked back and forth, concerned. Mystic stepped around the side of the building.

‘Over here…’ Mystic called over, beckoning his hand for his companions to follow. ‘It’s coming from here…’

Phobos and Eclipse followed Mystic around the side of the building and were met with what looked like the site of an earthquake. There was a large hole torn into the side of the lab, billowing smoke. Was the professor okay? Should they go inside? Was it safe? Probably not, but they had to do something.

Eclipse did not hesitate and leapt inside, followed by Mystic and Phobos. Inside, they found themselves in a long corridor, where several fires had broken out. Surely this was insanity, coming in here, Phobos thought.

‘What are we doing, Mystic?’ Phobos called out. ‘The smoke... it's getting really... I can barely see anything.’

But that wouldn’t be a problem for very long. As only moments after entering the building, streams of cool water shot across the corridor, dousing out the flames in seconds, leaving expensive, charred equipment drenched, but at the very least no longer aflame.

Phobos spun on the spot to see a trio of Floatzel, small sea weasels, making their way down the corridors extinguishing every flame, every ember, every hint of spark or cinder to be seen. One of them held the professor’s Sinnoh League trophy protectively in his paws, on it was embossed, Sumari Akio Kyuubi.

‘Good work, boys,’ Mystic declared, watching the Floatzel run past and disappear around a bend in the corridor. He turned back to Phobos. ‘Come on! We have to find the professor!’

Mystic, Phobos, and Eclipse made their way down towards a set of double doors, torn off their hinges. This led to the main laboratory area, where the professor and his aides worked. From inside, they could hear voices.

‘I won’t ask you again, mister, hand over all the Pokémon, right this second!’ A rather nasally, unpleasant voice screeched.

‘And I won’t keep repeating myself,’ the professor’s voice replied, calmly. ‘First, it’s professor, not mister, Professor Kyuubi, and second we do not keep any Pokémon at this facility, it is not our policy to…’

‘A Pokémon laboratory with no Pokémon?’ The unpleasant voice responded coldly, harshly. ‘Seems rather far-fetched if you ask me.’

Mystic and Phobos peered into the room. Three men stood before the professor. Two of them were unassuming in stature, but the third, standing ahead of the others, was an absolute giant, towering over the professor who had to crane his neck to meet the brute’s eyes.

The men wore all black, the two shorter men wore frock coats, with tails, and large metal studded boots. The beast of a man at the head of the pack, was bare chested, revealing a latticework of intricate tattoos along his back.

‘Well, what about that one there…’

Phobos edged around the corner as much as was safe for a better look and noticed Maelstrom, the professor’s loyal Vaporeon. A bulky, grizzled, imposing creature, coldly staring down his aggressors, refusing to back down, no matter the impossible odds.

Standing at both shorter men's sides were a Poochyena each and before the giant, a ferocious Mightyena, snarling at the unfazed Vaporeon.

‘You are not taking him,’ Professor Kyuubi said, plainly.

The giant raised his fingers and then, in a slicing motion, moved them across her own throat, clicked his tongue as he did. The Mightyena growled and then raised its head, giving off a single low howl.

It echoed through the room, and instantly set off the two Poochyena, who began to howl and bark, the terrible display of aggression, before an attack from a wild Pokémon. The unbearable noise echoed and reverberated through the lab, yet the professor barely flinched.

‘Dip! Attack now!' the giant ordered. 'Tear this fool to pieces!’

Eclipse let out a screech, louder than Phobos or Mystic had ever heard her before. The Mightyena halted, mid attack, his ears twitching toward the sound. Showing no concern for her own safety, Eclipse darted into the room, past Mightyena, to the Professor.

As much as Phobos and Mystic tried to pull themselves back out of view, clearly they were not fast enough.

‘There's no use hiding, pipsqueaks! I saw you,’ the giant called out. ‘Come out before I set Mightyena on you… and trust me, you won’t outrun him. Dip loves a good chase, you see… so you might as well show yourself.’

Mystic stepped out, followed reluctantly by Phobos. Eclipse, though she trembled with fear, stood beside Maelstrom, between the professor and the three outsiders.

‘There, that wasn’t hard, was it?’ the giant smirked. ‘What, are you on some kind of work experience program or something? Shouldn’t you be in school?’

Mystic looked to his right, the main entrance to the lab was barricaded with tables and chairs, along with a good serving of expensive equipment.

‘No! We finished school in July, and…’ Phobos protested.

Mystic elbowed him in the side, shutting him up.

‘... and we are already on our way to becoming formidable trainers, so you better watch yourselves. We do seem to be more evenly matched now.’ Mystic spoke steadily, and as authoritatively as a sixteen year old could.

‘What? But I don’t have any…’ Phobos protested.

Mystic elbowed him again.

‘... any Bug, Fairy, or Fighting types, yes, a shame, but we do not need type advantage to take these fools down.’ Mystic said, his voice wavering. Would they really buy that?

Professor Kyuubi raised his hand. ‘Maelstrom, hold your position, Eclipse, Toxic! Now!’

Eclipse lowered herself, then lunged her body forward, unleashing Toxic. The vile men backed off, as a spray of poison was sent their way. In the momentary confusion the professor addressed Phobos and Mystic.

‘Get out of here, now!’ he yelled.

‘But professor, we can help!’ Phobos protested.

‘Now! Do as I say, GO!’

Phobos would have ignored him, but Mystic, understanding the gravity of the situation, grabbed his friend and yanked him towards the exit. The two trainers made their way back out through the hole in the wall and into the fresh air.

Phobos spun and pointed at Mystic. ‘We can’t leave!’

‘We aren’t! We are getting help! Come on, you idiot, do you really think we could have taken them on?’ Mystic said.

Phobos said nothing, not wanting to concede the point, but also having nothing he could say to counter Mystic. Mystic always seemed to know better than him. Even when Phobos got something right, Mystic would step in with something he missed, like earlier, when he had pointed out Miyako and how she was…

‘...Fairy!’ Phobos cried.


‘Yes… Fairy!’ Phobos repeated. ‘You said it earlier… Alolan! Miyako is an Alolan Ninetales, dual Ice and…’

‘Fairy! Yes, Dark Types are weak to…’

‘Fairy!’ Phobos cried out. ‘Come on! We have to go get her!’

Harmony Plaza was no less filled with the deafening sounds of squeals and shouts of affection. Clearly deafening enough to cover the distant sound of an explosion, Phobos thought to himself, as he and Mystic reached the crowd.

It had more than doubled in size since earlier. Now approaching dinner time, workers and shop owners on their lunch break had joined in, showering the local hero in love and affection. Phobos and Mystic could barely break through the crowd.

‘Can you see her?’ Mystic grunted, squeezing between a baker and the local librarian. ‘I can’t see her!’

‘Miyako!’ Phobos called out.

Through a gap between two plumbers, Phobos caught a glimpse of her pressing an inky paw against a poster. The Alolan Ninetales lazily glanced over towards him, as he burst finally into the centre of the crowd. Phobos hoped she was picking up the urgency in his voice.

‘The professor! He’s… he’s in trouble!’ Phobos sputtered, out of breath. ‘The lab is under attack, he needs you…’

Miyako gave an exasperated gesture, as if to say ‘Oh no, not again’, and leapt to her feet. With a mighty roar, she scattered the crowd. The adults cleared the youngsters out of the way, giving the town hero a path through. Then she was off, charging out the plaza, leaving a trail of inky pawprints in her wake.


‘Final chance, professor! Just hand over that Umbreon, and that Vaporeon, and we'll be on our way…’ the giant hissed, snapping his knuckles.

The professor stood silent, determined, resolute.

‘Very well, professor… Dip! Attack!’

Mightyena advanced on the professor, gnashing his razor sharp fangs. Eclipse and Maelstrom readied themselves for a fight, ready to defend their master till the end.

There was a thunderous crash. Chunks of furniture, the doors and other debris flew across the room, crashing in a pile beside the goons. A mug cracked against the giant’s head, the words “Employee of the Year” splitting in half.

Through the now-doorless doorway, Miyako, the majestic Alolan Ninetales strode in, her mane billowing in the now permanent draft.

‘Dip, hold…’ The giant barked.

The Mightyena froze, jaws open wide, just moments from taking a bite at the professor and his noble protectors. For several uncomfortable seconds, a lingering silence filled the room. The professor sighed in relief.

‘You should retreat while you can. Miyako here can get quite ferocious when she’s angry.’

The giant did not retreat.

‘Poochyena, attack!’ The giant ordered.

Despite not being their master, the Poochyena obeyed, leaping into action, howling, barking, raring to strike at Miyako. One Poochyena charged in for a tackle and the other leapt, jaws open wide, ready to bite.

Miyako smirked, and began to glow, blinding bright, as sunlight on snow. The goons shielded their eyes. When Miyako’s Dazzling Gleam ended, both Poochyena lay unconscious on the ground, twitching, and the majestic Alolan Ninetales stood victorious.

Miyako shook her mane, sprinkles of energy dancing from out of her fur. The brief moment of celebration was cut short by the giant letting out a cold, terrible cry.

‘Now, Dip, Poison Fang!’

Lost in her self-congratulation, Miyako could do nothing to prevent the venom-lined jaws bearing down upon her. Contact, a dreadful, painful cry. The agony in Miyako’s voice was echoed in turn by Professor Kyuubi.

‘You think I haven’t learned to cover my weaknesses, professor?’ the giant taunted. ‘I am surprised that your Ninetales is still conscious! I’m almost impressed. Back down professor, your Ninetales has lost.’

‘You talk too much…’ Professor Kyuubi sighed. ‘Maelstrom! Hydro Pump! Eclipse, Heal Bell!’

Maelstrom leaned back then lunged forward, sending a torrent of water crashing towards Mightyena, who only just leapt out the way. The underling goons were swept away in the blast. The giant was able to stand his ground, staying rooted to the spot as lashes of water drenched him.

Then the sound of rushing water was broken by the echo of an invisible bell. At once, Miyako’s pained, ragged breaths softened and slowed, though she remained slumped on the floor.

The giant laughed. As the last waters washed out the room, the Mightyena leapt and landed back before his master.

‘You think that changes anything?’ the giant taunted.

‘Eclipse, ready your Wish!’ the professor ordered. ‘Maelstrom, Protect, give her the time she needs!’

‘Dip! Crunch! Stop that Umbreon! Now!’ the giant roared.

Maelstrom leapt before Eclipse, shrouded in the luminous glow of a protective shield. Mightyena pounced, jaws closing down around the barrier, but unable to break through. Enraged, the savage beast glared daggers at Maelstrom, for daring to stop him from crunching his foe. The Vaporeon glared back, determined, concentrating on maintaining the shield.

Behind the Vaporeon, Eclipse cocked her head a moment then raised it high, as she summoned a shooting star to wish upon.

‘Dip! Use Roar! Now!’ the giant barked.

Mightyena raised its head in a roar that almost shook the very ground itself. Maelstrom faltered, the shield flickering, as the deafening sound finally broke his concentration. It was the opening that the Mightyena needed.

‘Maelstrom, get that shield back up!’ Professor Kyuubi exclaimed.

‘Now, Dip! Use Torment, quickly!’ the giant barked.

Maelstrom struggled to reraise the shield, but it was too late. Mightyena let out a series of odd, discordant barks, unleashing its Torment. With that, the frustrated Maelstrom’s focus was broken, and the last glimmer of the shield shattered.

‘Now Crunch! Again, Dip! Crunch!’ the giant roared.

‘Maelstrom! Aqua Tail, make some space! Eclipse, Toxic! Use the opening!’

The Mightyena opened his jaws to make another attack and received a mouthful of ice cold water, as Vaporeon’s tail crashed into him like a wave. Before the Mightyena could recover, shaking, spluttering up water, he was hit with a glob of glowing poison, courtesy of Umbreon.

Mightyena slumped, whining as the toxins took over. The giant thrust a hand into his pocket and threw a Pecha Berry his Pokémon’s way.

‘Eat up, quick.’

The Mightyena caught the berry out of the air and swallowed it whole. Strength and rage returned to the beast's eyes, as the toxins were flushed away.

‘Eclipse! Now!’ Professor Kyuubi exclaimed, pointing towards the badly weakened Ninetales.

‘Oh no you don’t… Dip, Crunch that Ninetales… finish it! Quickly!’ the giant barked.

Eclipse squeezed her eyes and let off the wish, but the Mightyena’s jaws had already closed on Miyako. Her eyes opened just in time to watch her ally crumple to the ground, unconscious.

Phobos and Mystic burst in. Mystic’s Cramorant regarded the battle with a blank, unblinking stare.

‘You might want to leave now! The cops are coming for you… and you got a nice healthy crowd building up outside. They are all ever so eager for a Pokémon battle,’ Mystic taunted.

‘How many do you think these goons can take, Mystic?’ Phobos postured. ‘Four? Five?’

‘Five? More like one,’ Mystic smirked. ‘Mightyena looks like a light breeze’ll blow him down.’

The professor and the giant glared at each other, a standoff that felt like it would never end. Maelstrom advanced on the giant, swishing his tail menacingly. There was a crack, and a fallen table split in two, the threat implicit. The giant relented. Behind him, the two smaller goons groaned as they got to their feet.

‘Men, retrieve your fallen pooches,’ the giant barked.

The two men meekly raised their Poké Balls, and the fallen Poochyena were zapped back to their masters. The giant retrieved his own Pokémon, then turned and headed on out. He turned back, ice in his eyes.

‘Don’t think this is over, professor!’ he snarled.

The three men made good their exit. Phobos watched as the goons charged past him out onto the cul de sac edge of Mapleleaf Avenue.

There they were confronted by a squad of six Vulpix, half of them Alolan, the others Kantonian. They were Fairview Hamlet’s police force, known to the people as the “Tails of Justice”, a dramatic name, that fit their more than earned reputation of stopping would-be ne'er do wells.

‘Oh, what the…’ the giant yelped, seeing the Vulpix advance forth.

The head Vulpix, Glacier, growled at the goons, backed up by her five comrades. Each wore small blue caps, and black padding along their legs and back. The Tails of Justice were ready and raring for a fight.

‘Come on, men, we’re in no state to fight, we gotta get out of here,’ the giant barked at his two underlings.

The giant and his men turned and ran, a barrage of fire and ice followed, missing them, dancing at their feet, causing them to dance in turn to avoid the attacks. The Vulpix gave chase but the goons managed to make it to Brynwyn Ravine, and climbed down out of sight.

The Tails of Justice made it to the lip of the limestone gorge, but did not pursue any further. They glared down and watched as the goons climbed into the depths below.

‘They’re gone, professor,’ Phobos said.

Miyako whimpered, Professor Kyuubi knelt down beside her.

‘Miyako, my sweet princess, you just never learn, do you?’ Professor Kyuubi muttered under his breath. ‘I suppose we’re all a little rusty.’ He sighed and turned to the others. ‘Okay, boys, it seems like I have a lot of work to do here, putting everything back together. Head on home, stay there, until things calm down. I’ll let you know when I’ve got this place back to normal again. We will get back to your training soon, I promise.’
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Chapter 3: Phobos’ First Catch

Chapter 3: Phobos’ First Catch​

A tense few days followed the attack. Miyako, though physically recovered, was barely seen outside the Pokémon Centre. The Tails of Justice, with help from Maelstrom and Eclipse, patrolled the Hamlet’s outskirts regularly, keeping watch for the attackers’ potential return.

Eventually, as the week neared its end, the tension began to ease. A new day dawned and the sun was shining, bringing Fairview’s residents back out of their homes, as business resumed and things returned back to normal. Only the patrolling Vulpix remained uneasy.

'Come on, young master Phobos! Keep up now,’ Professor Kyuubi called out. ‘Time to get you your first catch.’

Professor Kyuubi charged eagerly through the fields of the Wildroot Expanse, beyond Fairview Hamlet. Maelstrom and Eclipse trailed at either side of him, while Phobos and Mystic rushed to keep up. They had left the Helmet's defences in the capable paws of the Tails.

The professor and the trainers had set out rather early that morning, much to young Phobos and Mystic's annoyance. Phobos let off a yawn rivalling a Snorlax.

Mystic was feeding berries to his Zigzagoon, Bandit, the tiny raccoon Pokémon, sat on his shoulder. Realising he was falling behind, he sped up his pace to walk alongside the professor.

‘Professor, I have to ask.’

‘What is it?’

‘I’ve never heard of Professors having the trainer catch their first Pokémon themselves. Why do you do that?’ Mystic asked with wide-eyed intrigue.

Professor Kyuubi came to a stop along the fenced edge of the Crested Haven Pokémon Ranch, and pulled out a set of binoculars. He scanned the horizon, leaving a miffed Mystic, hanging on for a response.

The Wildroot Expanse was sparse and mostly featureless besides the ranch, the odd smattering of trees and bushes. In the distance, marshes and swamps lay before the far-off mountains. The only wild Pokémon that could be seen were the flocks of wild Wooloo, grazing, rolling, minding their own business.

‘Professor?’ Mystic repeated.

‘Ah yes, sorry Mystic, I was lost in thought there. Yes, it’s true, my approach is a little unusual. I met almost all of my Pokémon, including my first, out in the wild, and our bond began organically. I truly believe it leads to a stronger connection between trainer and Pokémon. No offence, Maelstrom.’

Professor Kyuubi lowered the binoculars. Then, he drew out an electronic map, running his finger across it, planning out the day’s route.

‘You got your first Pokémon that way, I recall you telling me once, right Mystic?’ Professor Kyuubi said, half his mind still on the map.

‘Yeah, I got Neuro by myself… but that’s because I never met Galar’s Pokémon Professor… uh Magnolia. I just kind of stumbled across him,’ Mystic explained. ‘So, where are we going to go first, should we try for those Wooloo?’

‘Ooooh, Wooloo would be good… easy…’ Phobos chimed in.

Professor Kyuubi nodded, stashing the map back in his satchel. ‘Come along, my friends, let’s not waste the daylight,’ he proclaimed.

As they left the ranch behind them, something up high caught Phobos’ eye. Looking up he noticed what looked like blue birds with clouds for wings soaring overhead. Phobos pointed excitedly up into the sky.

‘Look Professor, up there, in the sky! Phobos exclaimed. ‘It’s… it’s… uhm….’

The professor glanced up. Mystic, of course, jumped in eagerly, cutting Phobos off, who was still stuttering, falling over his words.

‘Swablu!’ Mystic declared.

‘I knew that… I was going to say… you beat me to it,’ Phobos sputtered, pulling out his Pokedex. ‘Let’s see…’

‘Swablu!’ the Pokedex chimed in. ‘For some reason, it likes to land on people's heads softly and act like it's a hat.’

Phobos looked from the Professor with his stetson, and Mystic with his fedora, then rubbed a hand over his own bare, exposed head.

‘A hat would be nice,’ Phobos sighed.

‘I don’t think you’ll be getting one of those, Phobos,’ Mystic said. ‘Not unless you have a very good throwing arm.’

‘...Or they come down!’ Phobos countered.

‘...Which is not very likely,’ Mystic jumped in. ‘Not this time of year, anyway’

‘I’m afraid so,’ Professor Kyuubi sighed. ‘They’ll be heading back to the mountains now that we are entering Autumn. We won’t be seeing them again until Spring.’

‘... and look there, looks like there is an Altaria at the head of the flock,’ Mystic exclaimed, pointing. ‘It’s leading the way.’

‘Yes, good spot there, Mystic.’

Phobos rolled his eyes, Mystic was always the brighter student. He always seemed to get the right answers, or say the right things.

Professor Kyuubi ushered the two trainers on, towards the herds of Wooloo. Amongst the closest, a duel was brewing. Two Wooloo, one light, one dark, were bracing, baaing, glaring at each other. Just to one side was a towering tree. No, not a tree, but a multi-rainbow of colourful berries.

‘Ah, stop young trainers, looks like those Wooloo are engaging in competition. We should keep back, until they are finished.’

The dark Wooloo launched into a roll. The light Wooloo rolled in return. The two met in between, crashing against each other. They bounced with such force, they were sent hurtling away again. Back and forth, the Wooloo attempted to roll into the other, some hitting, some missing, but neither backed down.

‘This could take some time, perhaps we should try elsewhere,’ Professor Kyuubi said. ‘Wait, Mystic, please tell me that’s not Bandit.’

The professor pointed out the Zigzagoon, running across the field towards the large pile of berries. Mystic brushed his shoulder feebly, as though in the futile hope that it was perhaps a wild Zigzagoon. No such luck. It was Bandit, and he was about to make a horrible mistake.

‘What can I say…’ Mystic sighed, rubbing his neck. ‘Bandit loves him those berries… huh…’ he chuckled meekly, then snapped, ‘Bandit! Get back here, now!’

Bandit either didn’t hear, or more likely was too single mindedly determined to get at the berries to care. The cheeky Pokémon bolted forth, launched into a dive, and landed on the pile. Wasting no time, the Zigzagoon began scoffing berries.

‘Bandit, that’s enough. Come on, we are leaving!’ Mystic barked.

Bandit loaded some more berries into his mouth, then pounced back down to ground level. Mystic sighed in relief as his Pokémon returned to him.

There was silence. It dawned on Phobos that the raucous had ceased. The Wooloo had stopped rolling, stopped fighting, they had stopped right in their tracks, united. Clearly they had not missed the cheeky Bandit living up to his name.

Now, as Bandit climbed back up onto his master’s shoulder, the Wooloo glared at the humans.

‘Professor? They uh…. They… They don’t…’ Mystic mumbled.

‘...Look happy,’ Phobos finished his sentence. ‘Do… do…. You… think… we should… should…’

‘... Run?’ the professor added, ‘Perhaps… first… let’s back away now… come along, no need to set the nice woolly Pokémon off anymore than has already been done.’ The professor kept his voice low. ‘Though when I say so… and only when I say do… do in fact run.’

Maelstrom and Eclipse placed themselves between the slowly retreating humans and the enraged furballs.

The unified Wooloo bent low, charging themselves, getting pumped, for the roll of their lives.

‘Should we keep backing away slowly?’ Mystic asked.

‘Yeah… about that…’ the professor said. ‘Run.’

‘What was that professor?’ Phobos asked.

‘Run!’ the professor barked, louder.

Then they were off, humans, their Pokémon, and their angry pursuers. Mystic gave Bandit an annoyed side glance. He was met with a meek, sorry face that melted his heart and made him instantly forgive the tiny, furry thief. No matter what Bandit did, Mystic could not stay mad at him.

Phobos risked a glance back. The Wooloo were gaining on them. Also, Maelstrom had stopped, turned, and was facing down the charging Wooloo. Phobos kept running, not really looking where he was going, his eyes now fixed in concern at Maelstrom.

Maelstrom glowed and projected a shield. He was using Protect, Phobos remembered from the professor’s teachings. The Wooloo collided with the shielded Vaporeon. The light one bounced back into a large ditch, leading down to some swampy waters. The dark one bounced over Maelstrom, his momentum carrying him up and over, still on the trail of the humans.

‘Come on, we’ll head to those bushes,’ Professor Kyuubi called out. ‘We'll lose them in there!’

‘Hey!’ Mystic suddenly yelled. Phobos looked across to see Mystic’s Zigzagoon dive off his shoulder. ‘Bandit, where are you going?’

Mystic came to a stop, then Phobos, and finally Professor Kyuubi. The three watched as Bandit faced down their remaining pursuer, and initiated his Swagger, launching into a cheeky jig that enraged the Wooloo to the point of confusion. Then, Bandit turned and ran, heading off towards some large rocks half buried in the mud.

Goaded into recklessness, the Wooloo blindly charged forth, not even noticing the slight shimmer of the Zigzagoon. It barreled in, only to phase right through, slamming right into the largest of the rocks, then collapsing into a sad heap. The real bandit popped his head out from behind the rock as the false Bandit faded away.

He had used Double Team. A move which created a false target, helping a clever Pokémon to evade attacks, Phobos recalled.

‘Ah, Phobos, quick, now’s your best chance for a catch…’ Professor Kyuubi began, but Wooloo stood back up, bleated, then ran away. ‘Ah, rotten luck, it fled. These things happen.’

‘Yes!’ the oblivious Mystic cried out. ‘I knew getting those TMs was worth it!’ he cheered watching the Wooloo run away.

Soon Maelstrom caught back up with them, and stretched out his back, as if this was just a warmup.

‘Good job, Maelstrom, I’m proud of you.’ Professor Kyuubi beamed.

‘You were great, Bandit.’ Mystic cried, pulling out a handful of berries for the thief-turned-hero. ‘Here, you earned it, you good boy!’

Bandit beamed back at his trainer, before promptly climbing back up onto his shoulder and brushing his head against his.

Phobos noticed something, near the bushes. From between two roses a small orange and white bird popped out with a chirp. Then trotted along to a pond and started lapping up some water. It froze, noticing the humans.

‘Professor, look!’ Phobos exclaimed.

‘Not so loud,’ Kyuubi hushed. ‘Ah, very nice, a Fletchling. Not a bad find, by any means.’

Phobos pulled out his Pokédex. ‘Fletchling!’ it exclaimed. ‘This amiable Pokémon is easy to train. But when battle is joined, it shows its ferocious side.’

‘Easy to train?’ Phobos cried out. ‘Perfect!’

‘Keep your voice down, Phobos, you’ll scare the poor thing away. Now, take this…’ Professor Kyuubi said, handing over a Poké Ball to the young trainer. ‘Aim, and then throw that toward the Fletchling.’

Phobos locked eyes on the small bird, then held his breath, and lobbed the ball hard. It sailed through the air, arching over the Fletchling, who turned its head high to watch it sail by. Ultimately, it landed with a plop into the pond, splashing water onto the small bird.

‘What?’ Phobos yelped.

‘Slightly overshot there, young Phobos… Don’t worry, try another one…’ Professor Kyuubi encouraged him gently, as the smalle shook itself dry. ‘Just try to angle the shot a little lower, put a little less force into the throw, then…’

A second Poké Ball thudded next to Fletchling, who eyed it curiously, tweeted, approached it, then tapped it softly with its beak. The ball snapped open, and the bird was zapped swiftly inside, and the ball snapped shut.

Phobos turned around. ‘What the…’ he cried, noticing Mystic with his arm outstretched, a look of anticipation on his face. ‘What? Did you…’

The Poké Ball wobbled side to side, glowing, shaking, vibrating like a Voltorb about to explode. It fell silent, still, and then a light pinged.

‘Yes!’ Mystic squealed, punching the air. ‘It’s mine!’

Mystic sprinted over to the Poké Ball, scooped it up, then twirled on the spot, launching into something that sort of resembled a dance. After twirling around some more, and performing a somersault or two, Mystic returned to the startled professor, and the livid Phobos.

‘Look, everyone!’ Mystic exclaimed, holding aloft the Poké Ball for all to see, giving off the largest grin seen by human or Pokémon alike. ‘Did you see that? I got myself a Fletchling!’

There was practically steam shooting out of Phobos’ ears. ‘That was supposed to be mine!’ Phobos exclaimed.

‘Hey, too slow on the throw, no Pokémon for you,’ Mystic sang.

‘Why you…’

Professor Kyuubi stepped between the two young trainers, keen to prevent the matter from escalating.

‘Come on now,’ Professor Kyuubi laughed nervously. ‘No fighting! We’ll get you something else there, Phobos. And, Mystic? You ought to work on your throwing form as well. Most Pokémon won’t just let themselves into the ball like that.’


They took a quick stop for some lunch at midday. They had curry and rice, and for dessert, berry cake, with glasses of Moomoo Milk fresh from the local farm Miltank. Afterwards, the two young trainers trekked alongside the professor towards the thick long thickets and brambles of the marshes.

There they spent most of the afternoon, failing to find anything for Phobos to catch. He made an attempt at a Ponyta, which promptly ran away after he threw the Poké Ball too hard in frustration, hitting a tree and causing it to scamper.

It was a pretty dull time there, and Phobos was still fuming at Mystic for taking the Fletchling, especially when he already had two Pokémon.

‘It’s getting late, we’ll have to head back soon…’ Professor Kyuubi said solemnly. ‘Sorry, Phobos, sometimes it goes that way. We’ll have to try again, another…’

But before he could finish, he heard something, a distant call, high pitched, scared, and then a movement caught Phobos' attention. It was small, so small that he had almost overlooked it.

‘Professor! I see something! Over there!’ Phobos exclaimed. ‘It looks odd, aren’t they usually browner?’

The professor looked across and gasped. ‘No, young Phobos, not usually. You lucky thing, that right there is a shiny.’

‘Shiny? Oh, and it is what I think it is right?’ Phobos asked, waiting for the nod of approval. Phobos spun and threw Mystic a raised eyebrow. ‘See, I told you. They did go past my window!’

Mystic just rolled his eyes.

It was indeed an Eevee. A rather out of breath Eevee, clearly had itself a run, Phobos thought. It was covered in brambles and twigs, and mud from the marshes. Snap! It trod on a branch, stumbled and almost fell into the pond. Shaking, dripping water, the Eevee mewed into the darkening sky.

The professor handed Phobos another Poké Ball. ‘Okay, we’ll try this one last time, then we're definitely heading back. It will be getting dark soon. So whatever you do, don’t miss.’

‘Don’t worry,’ Phobos said, gripping the Poké Ball tight. ‘I won’t!’
Chapter 4: Lucky

Chapter 4: Lucky​

The Eevee looked so small, so helpless. Phobos didn’t even realise that Eevees could be so tiny. Was this one an infant? He’d never seen an infant Eevee before.

Phobos raised the ball, angling it towards the Eevee. Would he even be able to aim the Poké Ball correctly? His confidence faltered, as did his arm. Of course he would! He readied himself once more. Wait, what if he aimed too well and hit the poor little guy. After all, he wasn’t a very good shot. He lowered the ball.

‘I can’t…’ Phobos sighed.

‘I can!’ Mystic exclaimed, raising a Poké Ball of his own.

‘Not so fast, Mr. Hatherby!’ Professor Kyuubi snatched the Poké Ball away, ignoring Mystic’s protests. ‘You’re not taking Phobos’ last chance away. That Fletchling will be quite enough for you.’

Phobos turned meekly. ‘No, I really can’t,’ he sighed, beginning to walk away, back towards the distant Hamlet. A firm but assuring hand on his shoulder stopped him.

‘You can do this,’ the professor insisted. ‘At least give it a go.’

Phobos closed his eyes, readying himself to try again, getting himself pumped. He could do this. Okay, remember what the professor said.

‘Hey guys…’ Mystic said.

Phobos furrowed his brow.

‘Not now, I’m concentrating…’ Phobos said.

‘What’s Eclipse doing…?’

‘Shut it, Mystic!’ Phobos snapped, frustration finally overflowing from the earlier Fletchling snatch. He took a deep breath. ‘Fine… fine, I’ll give it a go.’

Phobos and the professor returned back to their original positions. The Poké Ball felt warm and clammy in Phobos hand as he raised it high. He could do this! It wasn’t a big deal, why was he worrying so much? It was going to be… Wait, why was Eevee approaching? Was that normal?

Never mind! Phobos angled the ball and threw it. Time seemed to slow as the Ball sailed through the air, towards the Eevee. It was on target, surely, Phobos hoped, as he awaited the catch, eagerly.

Eclipse leapt in, with a sharp growl, landing in front of the Eevee like a concerned mother. Her tail swiped out, swatting the Poké Ball away. Splash, the Poké Ball crashed into the nearby pond.

‘What?’ Phobos yelped. ‘Professor, why did she do that?’

‘Huh… odd…’ Mystic mumbled.

‘I’m not sure. Eclipse?’ Kyuubi whistled. ‘What are you up to?’

Eclipse paid him no heed, for her attention turned to the distressed Eevee. She began mewing softly at them. The tiny Eevee remained silent for a time, but soon was mewing weakly back in turn. Eclipse stroked her cheek against the Eevee’s forehead. Then she locked eyes with Maelstrom, prompting him to approach, concerned, curious.

Mystic’s eyes narrowed, what were they doing? ‘Hey guys… Umm… Do… Do you mind?’ he called out.

Eclipse turned, stomping the ground between the humans and the Eevee. Maelstrom stood at her side, as he might when facing battle.

The Eevee began to mew and cry out, running in circles then awkwardly ran across towards the thick grass and thickets. Phobos gasped, believing the catch lost to him, but the Eevee did not disappear back where it came. It turned and looked back towards the humans, calling out to them.

Then the tiny shiny Eevee set off through a small gap into the brambles. Eclipse motioned with her head for the others to follow, and slipped through the thicket, only just fitting. The larger Maelstrom swatted the brambles aside with an Aqua Tail, blasting a way after them.

‘Professor? What’s going on?’ Phobos questioned.

‘Where are they going?’ Mystic asked.

‘Something I would like answered also,’ Professor Kyuubi proclaimed. ‘We better follow them… quickly. I do believe something serious is afoot!’

‘It was this way!’ the tiny Eevee squeaked. ‘I think… or this way… no this way.’ The Eevee stopped and spun in circles. ‘No. I’m certain it was that way.’

Eclipse placed a paw gently on the Eevee’s back, steadying the spinning Eevee, calming him down.

‘It can’t be that way, little one, that is the way we came from. You need to try to settle down for a moment, so you can focus and think clearly,’ Eclipse said softly. The Eevee looked into her eyes, his breathing slowed. ‘Close your eyes, look into your mind’s eye, picture the route you took.’

The Eevee shut his eyes, Eclipse’s soothing voice pushing away his coursing adrenaline and fear.

‘I… I think… I passed… a broken tree… No, wait, I was able to climb underneath it… it was next to a stream.’ Eevee said, concentrating.

‘That one?’ Maelstrom sighed, jabbing his tail towards it.

The Eevee opened its eyes and whooped.

‘Yes! That’s it… that one there…’ he cried, seeing the sad fallen oak, next to the trickling waters of the stream. ‘That’s the way!’

Behind them the brambles and thickets rustled and creaked as the three humans attempted to keep up.

‘Eclipse, Maelstrom, any chance you’ll slow down?’ Professor Kyuubi called out.

The two Eeeveelutions looked at each other.

‘What do we do?’ Eclipse asked.

‘Ignore them, just keep going,’ Maelstrom grumbled. ‘Not like we can’t find them again later if they lose track of us.’

Eclipse scowled at him. Then, with a deep breath, she sent a Wish towards the shiny Eevee, letting the shooting star serve as guidance for them and the humans to follow. The Eevee gazed at the shining beacon with wide eyed wonder, reaching a paw out to touch it.

‘For your safety, little one,’ Eclipse smiled. ‘Could you lead the way?’

Eevee set off, almost tripping over a rock, making his way deeper into the marshes and thickets, the star leaving a gold trail behind him. Eclipse and Maelstrom followed, into the wild untamed grass, past the fallen tree and into the dark.

‘... And they’re off again,’ the professor said, giving off a low whistle. ‘Come on now, we have to keep up. So much for getting home before nightfall…’

‘What are they up to, professor?’ Phobos asked.

‘I wish I knew.’

As they made their way deeper into the marshes, the tree coverage, the long thickets and grass grew denser. Low trees and thick vegetation created a serene yet dark and chilly atmosphere.

The ground grew soggier and their feet began to sink into the mud. Wide bodies of water forced them around winding, twisting paths. As they delved deeper into the wild, Phobos felt the cold air biting at him. The wet ground soaked into his shoes and socks. Still, turning back was not an option, not while Eclipse and Maelstrom were out there, alone.

Far too often they stepped in dirty, smelly water, their feet squishing down into the marsh. Each time they got wetter, muddier, colder.

‘Come on, shake your leg… you’ll be fine…’ the professor chimed. ‘Muddy water never hurt anyone… except maybe fire types.’

‘No wait, professor, Muddy Water? Your forgetting ground and rock types…’ Mystic chimed in.

Forever the show off, Phobos thought to himself, rolling his eyes.

Eventually the three of them reached dryer ground, full of berry bushes and the occasional elm tree. Phobos’ feet were tired, and he was thinking about home when he almost walked right into the professor.

‘Professor? Why did you stop?’ Phobos exclaimed.

‘What is it?’ Mystic asked.

The professor held out an arm, keeping the two trainers in the tree line, out of the clearing. ‘Keep your voices down.’

‘What is it?’ Phobos whispered.

The professor pointed to a deep fire-light ahead. An ambient glow radiated from beyond a group of large bushes.

‘Wait, isn’t that just Eclipse?’ Phobos asked.

Mystic nudged him. ‘Does that look like Wish to you?’

‘Her Wish faded a short way back, I’m surprised you hadn’t noticed sooner, Mr Hatherby. My guess is this is what she’s been leading us to. Looks like someone has set up a campfire. But out here? The marshes? It could just be lost campers, or it could be poachers, hunters, not folk we want to bump into.’

‘What are we going to do?’ Phobos asked.

‘Well, Mr Gwylan,’ Professor Kyuubi began. ‘I’d rather not get any closer, so we stay back for now. But we do need to find Maelstrom and… Eclipse!’

Eclipse’s head poked out from the bushes like a newly sprouting black rose. Professor Kyuubi started, mouth wide open, his plan evaporating as the Umbreon beckoned them closer.

‘Oh, well that just scratches that idea, doesn’t it…’ Professor Kyuubi sighed. ‘Really, Eclipse, that way?’

Eclipse motioned her head for the humans to follow, then disappeared back into the bushes. The humans left the trees, dashing through the opening to the bushes, pushing through branches, leaves, and thickets. They emerged on the other side into long thick grass that thankfully masked the three of them from view.

Here, amongst the grass awaited Eclipse and Maelstrom. Then another sight caught Phobos’ eyes, and he forced back a cry of shock.

‘Professor? What are they doing?’ Phobos stammered, his voice full of horror. ‘How could they do this?’

Before them lay a wide dry mud clearing amongst the marshes. Hidden away in a nest of bushes was the camp. A tight scattering of smaller tents surrounded a larger one, like eggs surrounding a ferocious matron Ariados.

Around the camp, men sat, stood and patrolled. Some made light chit-chat, others held brawls, drawing battle-hungry eyes. Amongst them lay that which had caused Phobos such horror, the cages.

Stacked beside the main tent were three large oak log cages, filled with Eevee. There must have been at least a few dozens or so, Phobos thought to himself. All crowded into their dirty, smelly prisons, mewing, crying out, scared. Phobos could not bear to see such cruelty, and the professor had to restrain him from rushing straight to the cages.

‘No, Phobos,’ Professor Kyuubi hissed. ‘You aren’t taking on a camp of poachers alone. They look familiar though. Could they be? Of course, those attackers from last week. Surely no one else would dress so ridiculously.’

The men around the camp wore gothic threads, noble, black suits, long tails, studded shoes. All were pale, with as little skin showing as possible. Wrapped black bandages hid their faces, along with dark scarves and hats of various kinds.

‘Oh, they are… professor, look.’ Mystic pointed.

From out of the large tent, a giant of a man emerged - the one that led the attack on the lab. He cracked his knuckles, then beckoned some goons over to him. They did so instantly, dropping whatever they were doing without question.

‘Listen here, we better get that Eevee back, or it’s all our necks on the line. Boss told me, his sister’s birthday present comes before anything else. Trust me, it won’t be me delivering the bad news.’

‘Yes, sir, Lord Crunch, as you command,’

Crunch grabbed a particularly scruffy goon, and pulled him close.

‘Oh, and Gareth, don’t think I’m taking the fall for this,’ Crunch said, pointing to a small, empty cage, a small hole in the dirt beneath it. ‘I’m telling the boss about your little screw up with the TMs. You were meant to give it Fake Tears, not Dig!’

Phobos looked down at the tiny Eevee. It shuddered, its face glazed over with a flood of haunting memories.

‘You were lucky to get out of there…’ Phobos whispered. The Eevee turned and gazed up at him. ‘I am so sorry this has happened to you, little guy.’

Lord Crunch slammed a fist on a table, splitting it in two. The men around Crunch jumped, yelped, and shivered.

‘If you don’t find him…’ Lord Crunch snarled, ‘You answer to the boss, and we all agree it’s your fault. What are you waiting for? Off with you, get it back!’

Phobos' eyes passed over the caged Eevee once more, concern growing even stronger. What were these monsters going to do to them?

‘We will save them, right professor?’ Phobos looked across at Professor Kyuubi. ‘Right? We are going to save them?’

‘I’d like to, but I am not sure how, we are vastly outnumbered.’ Professor Kyuubi said, looking around. ‘I count a dozen or so goons including the giant, and there may be more in the tents. Goodness, if only I had my full team. Nightstar, wish you were here.’

The professor motioned to Eclipse and Maelstrom.

‘Looks like we will have to manage by ourselves on this one. We’re not abandoning those Eevee.’ Professor Kyuubi said, getting determined nods in turn from his Pokémon. ‘Maelstrom, circle the camp, try to lure out any goons you can, and incapacitate them, quietly if possible. How you will lure them, I’m not sure, but I trust you can do it.’

Phobos glanced from the professor to Mystic. Well, it would have been Mystic, had it not been for the blue bird beside him. Phobos was met with the blank vacant eyes of Mystic’s Cramorant, Neuro. How did he manage to pull that thing out so quietly, Phobos wondered, as its eyes pierced his soul once more.

‘Neuro can handle that, Professor,’ Mystic whispered. ‘Trust me. Cramorant can be very distracting when he wants to be. He can draw them out.’

The professor nodded. ‘Very well, Neuro, can you do this for me? You can work with Maelstrom on this, right?’

Neuro stared blankly, unresponsive. Then, with no warning, spun on the spot and waddled out through the bushes. Maelstrom, after a moment of awkward silence, bounded after him.

‘Hopefully he understood,’ Professor Kyuubi muttered.

‘Oh, don’t worry, he did,’ Mystic responded confidently. ‘I think.’

The professor addressed Eclipse. ‘You, my dear, stick to the shadows in the camp, and try to distract the Team Leader, incapacitate him if you can. And, just for once, do try not to get in too much trouble.’

Eclipse nodded and disappeared deeper into the camp, sticking to the bushes and the shadows. The professor spun and addressed Mystic.

‘Send Bandit to find the keys to the cells, making sure to avoid any contact with the goons. At no point should he engage them unless absolutely necessary. Also send out your new Fletchling…’

‘Pyro,’ Mystic interrupted.

‘Very good, tell Pyro to survey the scene from up high. Phobos, watch that Eevee,’ the professor said.

The professor had only just finished strategizing when he heard a truly bizarre sound ring through the air. If he were to try to describe it, he would say that it was sort of a squawk, sort of a screech, but also the sound one may make if they stepped on a sharp rock, and was being as dramatic as possible about it.

‘What was that?’ Lord Crunch called out, he pointed at one of the goons. ‘You, Blaze, go check it out.’

Blaze nodded his head, tipping his top hat.

‘Yes sir.’

Maelstrom observed the bizarre blue bird. His wings were raised aloft, and he repeated his strange cry. Even being a fellow Pokémon, Maelstrom could not understand Neuro. He unnerved him.

‘You can stop doing that now, Neuro,’ Maelstrom grumbled. ‘They heard us the first time.’

Neuro kept squawking.

‘Stop.’ Maelstrom repeated.

Still he squawked.

‘Shut up!’ Malestom barked finally.

Neuro ceased, then swayed his head to meet Maelstrom’s glare with blank indifference, eyes locked on, unblinking. Was he angry, Maelstrom wondered, or was he merely complying with the order and waiting for the next? Who knew? Did it matter?

‘Finally,’ Maelstrom sighed.

The Cramorant continued staring, silent.

From behind them came rustling from the bushes. They parted, and the goon, Blaze, emerged. There was a thud in the dirt as he threw out his only Poké Ball in precaution. Maelstrom’s ears flattened back and his eyes narrowed at the new arrival.

Blaze’s eyes widened, and he opened his mouth to yell out, but too late. Maelstrom let loose a Shadow Ball that popped in Blaze’s face, releasing a dark, oozy vapour. The goon shuddered, coughed twice, then fell down on his face.

‘Quite enough from you…’ Maelstrom said.

The Poké Ball rolled behind him, clicked, then snapped open with a small flash. Next to Maelstrom stood a black Rattata. This was a very inopportune space for it to be summoned. It landed, blinked twice, and waited for an order that didn’t come. It only just clocked that its master was unconscious, then whoosh, a swift Aqua Tail sent it soaring into the distance.

‘That takes care of that,’ Maelstrom said.

Neuro just turned and waddled away.

‘Do you actually have a plan, or are you just wandering?’

Maelstrom was met with only silence.

‘I do hope you know what you are doing.’


Several squawks later, and the numbers in the camp were dwindling, as Crunch sent goon after goon to investigate. None returned. Eclipse stuck to the shadows, waiting for her moment to pounce. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Bandit getting ready to make a run for the tents.

‘Not yet,’ she hissed. ‘Wait a moment, until I deal with the leader!’

Bandit either didn't listen or was otherwise too preoccupied with dreams of nabbing shiny things. Whatever was on his mind, it drew him from safety, towards the tents.

Eclipse sighed, fought back her fear, then stepped out after him. Bandit was going to be spotted. With the flat, featureless ground, there was no way Crunch would miss him. Not unless he had spontaneously fallen asleep standing up.

Well, it was up to Eclipse to stop that from happening! Before Bandit could reach the danger, Eclipse leapt forward and fired her Confuse Ray at Crunch. It pulsed around his face. He grunted, groaned, and swayed side-to-side, drool trailing from his lips.

Bandit was clear, and disappeared into the tents.

‘That’ll keep you under control for a moment,’ she sighed, hurrying back to cover. ‘I hope.’

Another squawk filled the air. Goons looked to their leader for orders, but none came. Crunch mumbled something about coffee. Another squawk echoed out, and Crunch jabbed his finger forth towards the bushes. Instead he jabbed himself in the nose, hurting himself in his confusion.


‘Where are you, shiny thing?’ Bandit sang. ‘Master wants you for… human reasons.’ He looked but could not find it. ‘Whatever those are?’

Bandit scurried about, beginning his search. He checked chests, scoured along wooden tables, pulled down coats to dig through the pockets. Nothing. Well, plenty of small trinkets for himself but nothing that his master would be interested in.

‘Okay, maybe Nasty Crunchy Man has it!’

He dodged around the stumbling oaf, avoiding his thunderous feet, making his way to the large tent.

Aha, bingo! Bandit’s eyes narrowed.

‘What have we got here?’

Yes, could it be? There, on a table next to the bed, shining, sparkling, enticing, just ripe for the taking. Bandit leapt up and tucked into the delicious berries, forgetting his mission entirely. As he gulped down the berries he almost tripped on a small bronze key, kicking it away in annoyance.

The bowl was licked clean of berry juice, when Pyro, the Fletchling, came flying into the tent. ‘What’s keeping you, friend?’ she called out. ‘You’ve been in here ages! Where are you… oh there you are!’

Pyro landed next to Bandit.

‘What do you want?’ Bandit exclaimed. ‘Do you have more berries?’

Pyro looked around. ‘You were entrusted by your master with this! Stop thinking about berries and… oh never mind!’

Pyro’s eyes locked in on the key, sat discarded on the ground. She swooped down and snatched it up in her small claws. She gave Bandit an annoyed huff before leaving the tent.

‘I’m going to take this back to the humans… you do whatever you do… but I would strongly recommend you do the same!’

Bandit nodded.

‘Fine, I’ll be right… wait… what is that?’ Bandit yelped.

It was, his eyes did not deceive, an unattended, giant jug of MooMoo Milk, and a plate of Lava Cookies. He licked his lips and made his move, scurrying to his prize. Pyro rolled her eyes and made to leave. Then, a thud, and a click and a flash. Pyro looked down.

‘Oh, it's the thing master threw toward me before… what’s it called?’ Pyro said. ‘What do the people call it?’

‘A poh… eh…. all,’ Bandit mumbled through mouthfuls of Lava Cookies and MooMoo Milk.

Pyro was just about to ask him to repeat himself when she was faced with a shocked Hoothoot.

‘Hello?’ Pyro smiled.

Hoothoot’s beak dropped open, then they screeched.

‘What is it, Nocturne? Did you find something?’

Hoothoot screeched again.

‘Bandit, this guy seems awfully upset!’ Pyro exclaimed.

Bandit, mouth full, grunted something incoherent. What he said, Pyro would not find out, as two goons burst in.

‘Hey, I was right, Kiln. See, and you said I was imagining things!’ the one goon barked, pointing right at Pyro.

The other goon, Kiln, rolled his eyes. ‘Yeah, rub it in, Buddy, but you didn’t seem in too much of a rush to check it out yourself! Don’t be having a go at me!’ Kiln shot back.

‘I was trying to get the boss’s approval to enter his tent!’ Buddy said, turning to Kiln. ‘I think that grunt meant yes. Did it sound like a yes to you?’

‘Arceus, I hope so.’ Kiln shuddered. ‘Wait, where did that Fletching go?’

Pyro had indeed slipped away during the squabble. Nocturne continued screeching ever more frantic, jabbing her wings across the tent.

‘You idiots, you deaf? Look, right there, over there! I really gotta do everything?’ Nocturne hooted. ‘Don’t make me!’

Nocturne let off an Echoed Voice in frustration. Her screech snapped the two men out of their pretty squabbles.

‘What is it, Nocturne?’ Buddy exclaimed.

Nocturne jabbed a wing at the greedy Zigzagoon.

‘Oi! He’s stealing the boss's cookies!’ Buddy shouted. ‘Get him, Nocturne! Nocturne? Wait, where are you?’

Nocturne had already left the tent, giving chase to Pyro. The goons stared at each other then threw out a Poké Ball each. They landed with small thuds, drowned out by Bandit’s eager munching.

He didn’t notice the clicks nor the flashes. He did, however, notice the screeches and the growls. Breathing down on him, raring to attack, a Zubat and a Growlithe. Bandit whimpered, swallowed, then gulped.

‘What, did you want some?’ he laughed nervously, nudging the plate towards them. ‘There’s plenty for all of us.’
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