The Path of Destiny
Still no sign of him? Wildflame asked Snowcrystal as the growlithe returned to the clearing, looking defeated.
Snowcrystal shook her head. Ive looked everywhere around here, she replied, And all this mud and rain would have disguised his scent. She was confused; they still hadnt found Stormblade, and she would have thought that an injured scyther would be easy to track.
Wildflame nodded and was about to reply when Spark came stumbling back to the clearing, his spiky fur plastered with mud. Thunders gone, he stated rather simply before tiredly collapsing in a heap.
What? cried Snowcrystal, running over to him, I thought you knew where she was!
I did, Spark mumbled, lifting his head, I knew where she was. I dont know anymore. He then lay his head down again.
Well have to find both of them now! Snowcrystal cried, running ahead, Follow me
Spark! Show me where you saw her last-
Snowcrystal stopped in her tracks, frozen in place by the sound of the gunshot, as she and the others looked around fearfully. Poachers, Wildflame growled, We need to get going
we need to leave this place
Id bet theres poachers and traps everywhere!
Were not leaving without Stormblade and Thunder! Snowcrystal cried, What if the poachers are attacking them? Without waiting for a reply, she sprinted off towards the sound.
NO! Wildflame shouted, quickly intercepting her, Do you want to get shot? Seeing Snowcrystals panicked expression, she sighed. Look, you would only get yourself killed
Ill go check it out
I know how to hide well. You two stay here, and I mean it! Before Snowcrystal could object, Wildflame had run off.
It did not take Wildflame long to reach the area where the gun had fired. Sneaking ever so cautiously while using whatever cover she could find, the houndoom managed to get close enough to see two humans clearly. Both were holding guns, but there were no signs of any scyther. And in the slowly increasing daylight, they would have been easy to spot. Wildflame relaxed a bit; Thunder and Stormblade were not here.
As she peered closer, she noticed that one of the humans was holding the limp body of a small spearow. Figuring that the spearow was what the humans must have shot, she quietly turned around and headed back, careful not to make any unnecessary noise.
However, as she walked back towards the others, she could not get the image of the poachers out of her mind. They had guns
and it terrified her. She wanted to get away from this poacher trap-ridden place- far away, but they would never be able to leave until the two scyther were found. And even then, it would be slow going with Stormblade in tow. They were very lucky, she realized, to not have been captured or attacked yet. But that luck wouldnt last long. The only relatively safe place anywhere near the area was the human city, and that was, in a way, almost as dangerous as the poachers. She wanted to get away from these lands as fast as possible, so she could be free from the threat of poachers
far away from here, where Snowcrystal could then possibly lead her to finding a clue about Articuno.
Wildflame thought, a plan beginning to form in her mind. Blazefang had seemed like he wanted to get rid of her, and made her stay in Snowcrystals little group. But what if
what if she somehow managed to find Articuno first? Shed go straight to Firedash, and receive her reward, maybe even a higher-ranking position within the pack, while Blazefang either wandered aimlessly across unknown lands, or simply came in second place. It seemed possible; after all, the growlithe did know a bit more about Articuno than the houndour pack did; maybe Snowcrystal already had some sort of clue she wasnt telling anyone about? And after all, Blazefang had no idea of where he was leading the pack. If anything, he was just as lost as they were.
Speeding up now that she was out of sight and hearing range of the poachers, Wildflame raced eagerly back toward Snowcrystal and Spark. She would somehow find a way to reach Articuno before Blazefang did, and reap the rewards herself. Blazefang didnt deserve them. The biggest problem with this idea was, at the moment, Stormblade. She knew theyd be lucky to get half a mile in a whole day while having to put up with his injuries. And of course, there was still the threat of poachers. They could be caught easily
and what if Stormblade and Thunder had already been caught while everyone else was looking for them? She narrowed her eyes, trying to imagine what Snowcrystal would do. She and Spark would set off to go free them before they could be taken away, or if they had, they might try and find them anyway, and end up getting themselves caught either way. Then Wildflames chance of finding out if Snowcrystal knew anything about Articuno would be completely ruined.
She started to pace slower, still thinking. Well
what if they havent been captured? What if
She stopped, and finished out loud, What if theyve been shot? And suddenly another idea formed in her mind. Snowcrystal and Spark had both heard the gunshot, but they didnt know it had been a spearow that the humans had shot. What if she didnt tell them that? What if
what if she told them it had been Stormblade and Thunder?
With this new idea in mind, Wildflame ran off again, feeling that their traveling problems had just been solved. With Thunder and Stormblade no longer in the picture, everything would go much faster.
Snowcrystal looked up anxiously as Wildflame bounded back into the rocky clearing. Spark sat up, looking just as worried. The look on Wildflames face only served to make them even more concerned. Wildflame, what happened? Snowcrystal asked, as the houndoom turned as if to walk away. Wildflame stopped, and didnt answer, her head held low. She was breathing hard; they figured she must have run a long way.
did you find them? Spark asked uncertainly.
Wildflame replied, But
She stopped for a moment, looking up at Spark and Snowcrystal, whose expressions turned from hopeful to panicked. And then, for some reason she couldnt explain, she couldnt bring herself to lie to them about the two scyther being dead. Captured
she thought, Ill just say they were captured
and far away by now
Looking back up at the others, she continued. Poachers have captured them
and their machine drove away just as I arrived. I couldnt chase after them
they had guns
but I dont think
I dont think they actually managed to shoot Thunder or Stormblade
but theyre probably already miles away
and whats worse
theres other poachers heading this way. We have to leave as soon as possible.
She waited a moment, unsure of how Spark or Snowcrystal would react. For a moment, the two just stood silently, then Spark whispered in a confused-sounding voice, They
got captured? But
but how! Wasnt there anything you could have done?
No, Wildflame replied, shaking her head, I was too late
But how could you just- Spark shouted, but Wildflame interrupted.
You said so yourself, Spark, the houndoom whispered quietly, When poachers capture a pokémon, theres nothing anyone can do but move on
and if we dont leave now, theyll get us too
do you think Stormblade would want that?
Spark was silent again, while Snowcrystal just looked horrified, unsure whether to believe it all. After a moment, the jolteon shook his head. No
he answered, But I dont know how Ill survive out in the wild without Stormblade
he taught me how to hunt and all about the wild
You still have us, Wildflame told him, trying to sound comforting, But not for long if we dont leave. The poachers are coming, and the only thing we can do right now is to leave
we cant stay here and worry, not while theyre coming
we have to leave this area, head to new lands away from poachers, and seek out Articuno once more. Its what the others would have wanted, anyway.
Spark nodded sadly and the three headed urgently off through the trees, Wildflame in the lead as she urged them to go faster, and despite their shock, Snowcrystal and Spark could sense that urgency was needed. Snowcrystal could hardly believe that more of her friends had been taken away from them, probably forever. However, she was not without hope. Maybe
she thought, Maybe theyll find Rosie
and find a way to escape
Just as the thought crossed her mind, she wondered if it really was hopeless. No
she thought, Its not hopeless
and when I find Articuno
Ill find help
Ill find a way to free them someday!
Thunder was pretty sure there were two human vehicles, and that seemed strange. Knowing that any second theyd appear over one of the hills, she turned toward Stormblade, nudging him. He didnt move. She nudged him again, but got no response. Come on, wake up! she growled, frustrated. She glanced toward a group of bushes, and not knowing what else to do, she grabbed one of his wings in her teeth and started dragging him through the mud and towards the bushes. Thunder was glad he was unconscious; this had to hurt.
She managed to get him into the shelter of the bushes just as one of the human vehicles stopped a small distance away, closer to where Redclaw was. There was no time to try and move the arcanine; not that Thunder thought she could anyway, as he was both bigger and heavier than Stormblade.
Thunder backed up further into the bushes, but not so far that she couldnt see the humans through the branches. The second of the humans vehicles stopped not far away from the first, and Thunder stood completely still, hoping she wouldnt be noticed.
Unfortunately, at about that moment, Stormblade started to stir. Fearing he might wake up and attract the attention of the humans, she sharply brought the dull side of her blade down on his head, and he fell still again. That being done, she turned her head in the direction of the humans again, watching. After a moment, she began to realize that they probably werent poachers after all. For one, they had pokémon with them. Thunder was mildly surprised to see that these pokémon were growlithe, and there were about four or five of them that stepped out of the vehicles alongside the humans. They looked healthy and well-fed, so she figured they must either be pets or had been recently captured.
Another pokémon appeared, and Thunder was surprised to recognize Sid, and not just Sid, but his trainer as well. Thunder stared-what was the human she had Wildflame had had to fight off earlier doing here? To her surprise, Katie ran right up to Redclaw, kneeling beside the fallen arcanine. Thunder was just barely close enough to hear her words.
The poachers must have heard us coming! she cried to the others, And it seems like theyve hurt yet another pokémon
Another human stepped up to her, and though Thunder wasnt sure, she thought he might belong to the police. The police were a group of humans Master had always tried to avoid at all costs, usually having Volco look out for them when it was needed, but Thunder was never sure as to why. Needless to say, however, she had had bad experiences regarding Masters hatred of these police.
The police-human turned to another and shouted, Ill take some of the growlithe and see if we can track them down
and Ill send one of them back if we find anything! One of the growlithe barked eagerly-Thunder only caught a few of his words, and he and three other growlithe raced off, apparently trying to find the poachers or Master.
By now, one of the other humans was examining Redclaw, particularly his collar. This one was probably caught by the poachers a long time ago
then escaped, she was saying, Hes alive, but just barely
by the looks of this collar, it must have been a very powerful shock that did this
I suppose the one who owned him decided he was worthless
she added sadly, before turning to the last remaining police officer. We need to get him to the Pokémon Center.
Still confused and unsure of what was going on, Thunder didnt know whether to run and help Redclaw or stay put. Though by the look of the strong-looking growlithe, she decided to stay put, knowing theyd be able to take her down very quickly if she had no way of surprising them.
We cant leave yet though, Katie was saying, which brought Thunders attention back to her and the other humans rather than Redclaw, We still havent found that scyther
the one the poachers must have attacked
he couldnt have gotten far from the rock cave but we didnt have much time to look.
But we heard the battle going on, the police officer replied, We had to come strait here, but for now, Nurse Joy is right
we have to take this arcanine back to the city.
Thunder saw Sids trainer nodding understandingly, and then focusing her attention on trying to keep her aipom from running off as the other humans prepared to leave, carefully working together to lift Redclaw into the back of one of their vehicles. Thunder wasnt quite sure what to do; the humans sounded concerned for Redclaw, but she assumed they must have had a reason for it; maybe they would wait for him to recover and then force him to fight for them; a human wouldnt just suddenly decide to go out of their way to help a wild pokémon.
As Thunder watched the remaining growlithe run towards the other human vehicle, she saw one of them stop. He lifted his nose to the air a few times and sniffed, before shouting to the humans, Theres something over here! He then started running
right in Thunders direction.
Thunder backed away, realizing that theyd just been discovered, as Sids trainer and one of the other humans, the police officer, got out of the vehicle and started following the growlithe, who was now quickly nearing her hiding place. Well
she muttered bitterly, mentally preparing herself for another battle, Here we go again
Just as the growlithe was close enough, Thunder sprang from the bushes, taking the canine pokémon completely by surprise and knocking him clear off his feet. The growlithe then stood up shakily; a large but shallow cut across his fluffy white chest. Katie screamed; Thunders sudden appearance had taken her by surprise. The police officers growlithe opened his mouth to fire a flamethrower, but at a shout from his trainer, stopped, and dodged Thunders next attack instead. As Thunder turned towards him, she caught movement out of the corner of her eye, and turned briefly to see another human holding a strange type of gun. Before she could panic, the human fired the gun, and whatever was inside it struck her in the shoulder, but it wasnt a bullet and it wasnt killing her, so she ignored it and ran toward the growlithe again.
To her annoyance, the growlithe seemed to do nothing but dodge her attacks and run in random directions, trying to throw her off. It was making her dizzy, and it probably wasnt wise for her to be running while she had such serious wounds. She felt something small and sharp strike her in the back, much like what she had felt before, but it hardly hurt, and Thunder was sure the humans must be crazy if they thought that was going to take her down. Then suddenly, for seemingly no reason at all, she collapsed, her vision starting to fade into darkness. Unwilling to give in so easily, she tried to stand up and fight, but her body didnt seem to want to move anymore. For a couple moments she tried to stand again, but she was starting to loose consciousness. The last thing she saw before everything faded completely was one of the humans walking up to her
Hesitantly, Katie approached the unconscious scyther with Nurse Joy and a pokémon ranger, whod fired the tranquilizer gun, beside her. Is this the scyther you were telling me about? Joy asked Katie, giving her a worried look.
Katie whispered, shaking her head, The other one didnt have a collar. And this one
she looked closer, and stepped back, horrified. This one looks like its been shot
and it must have belonged to the poachers for a long time, from the look of it. I dont know how it was even able to stand, let alone fight!
Katie didnt wait for the others responses. She walked away, while Nurse Joy and the others went to help get the scyther into the pokémon rangers vehicle where the arcanine was still. She had seen enough injured pokémon for one night, and she had never liked having to see a pokémon hurt. It was for this reason that she had decided to go back after she had left Justins scyther by the rocks, and bring help.
She did believe what Justin had said about the scyther; there was no way he would lie to her about something like that. Maybe about the reasons as to why he quit pokémon training, but not something like that. Yet, she had still thought that no matter what a pokémon had done, no pokémon deserved to be in that much pain. However, when theyd brought help and found the place where shed seen the scyther before, he had left, and the rain had washed away his scent, so the police growlithe couldnt follow his scent or any of the poachers. Katie had also previously thought about the reasons as to why the scyther had been injured in the first place, and realized that since there were no fire types powerful enough to have caused such damage to the scyther anywhere near this area, she had concluded that the culprits must have been poachers, and had gotten the police before setting out to find the scyther.
When they had arrived at the rocky area where she had found the scyther before, they had heard the distant sounds of a battle, but by the time they arrived, the poachers had left, and all that they found was an injured arcanine and later, the other scyther. With a sudden surge of anger she realized that the growlithe probably wouldnt be able to track down the poachers whod done this-everything was too wet and muddy, and it was starting to rain again.
A sudden excited barking from one of the growlithes alerted her attention, and she saw the police officer parting the branches of a group of bushes, revealing the still form of the other scyther-Justins. Katie was confused for a moment, but then realized that the female scyther must have been protecting him. She watched the others bringing Justins scyther to the rangers vehicle as well, before climbing into it herself. Her shinx stood up as she stepped inside, happily jumping on her lap. She knew it was better to leave with the others now; there was nothing she could do to help the police catch the poachers, and she wanted to see if the pokémon would be all right, and it was important that they got to the Pokémon Center as quickly as possible. As Nurse Joy got in the truck as well, Katie heard what sounded like muffled whimpering, and turned to the back of the truck, realizing that the arcanine was beginning to come around. Softly petting the fire pokémons head, she tried to calm him as the vehicle drove off, back toward the city.
The other police officer watched as his growlithe came back, panting and exhausted. He could tell from their looks that the poachers had not been found. He sighed. Its all right, he told them, petting the fluffy pokémon, Im afraid we wont be able to track anything in this weather.
Regretfully, he and the pokémon turned and headed back toward the site of the battle.
By the afternoon, Rosie was exhausted. Battered, weakened, and alone, the vulpix lay curled up against the bars in her cage, without even Nightcloud to keep her company. The humans had rotated the pokémon guards, and she didnt feel like talking to the granbull who kept giving her angry glares.
Throughout the day, it had been one battle after another, and Rosie had only once been allowed to have a drink of water. The humans had also given her a small amount of food, the hard brown pellets that most trainer pokémon ate. It had tasted vile, as if it was starting to go bad, but she had been too famished to care. The battles she had fought had been difficult, and from what she could tell, the humans were disappointed in her, and according to the other pokémon, that was not a good thing.
Rosie jumped, startled, as the door opened and a human walked in, stepping beside her cage. Some of the other pokémon in the room gave her worried looks; obviously it was a bad thing if the humans approached a pokémons cage randomly after that pokémon had repeatedly failed them. Solemnly, the human unlocked her cage, activating the shock collar briefly to stun her before dragging her out of the cage and onto the floor. However, just as Rosie was preparing to fight her hardest to get away, she realized that the human didnt seem intent on punishing her. Instead, he reached into his pocket.
If you arent a good battler, he was saying, seemingly not knowing or caring if she could understand, Youll still fetch a high price from collectors. Rosie stared as he brought the object out of his pocket. It was a fire stone.
The human pointed the device that activated the collars shock at her, threatening her to stay still as he loosened the collar. Before Rosie could even try to free herself of it, the man pressed the fire stone against the top of her head.
At once, both stone and vulpix began to glow. Involuntarily, Rosie closed her eyes at the surprisingly warm stone was pressed against her fur. She felt a sudden, odd sensation, and with a flicker of excitement, despite her current situation, she realized
she was evolving
The strange sensation grew stronger, and she could feel her tails lengthening, and three more like them growing in place. At the same time, she could feel herself growing at a seemingly impossible rate; her legs becoming longer, sleeker, her muzzle lengthening and becoming more pointed, and fur growing thicker, and longer too.
And for a reason she could not understand, she felt older
wiser. She also no longer felt weak or exhausted. She felt as if she could run for miles, defeat any opponent, do anything
Rosies eyes flew open. The transformation was complete. Feeling the loosened collar still tight around her neck, Rosie twisted away from the human and reached up with a forepaw, feeling her claws snag on the collar as she pulled, enjoying the satisfaction that came with the resulting snap as the collar fell to the ground. With a growl, she turned on her captor, racing forward towards him.
However, it was at that moment that another human appeared from the doorway, and before Rosie could take notice of what he was doing, he had thrown a rope around her neck. The ninetales was yanked back, shocked and wondering if the poachers had anticipated an attack, as she struggled on the floor, seeking to free the rope from her neck.
But the human only pulled tighter, and with shocking alarm, Rosie felt her windpipe being forced closed. Coughing and struggling, she thrashed about on the floor, until her struggles grew weak enough that the other human could fit a spare collar around her neck. Only then did he loosen and remove the rope, and by that time, Rosie was too weak and still gasping for breath, thus unable to resist.
As she lay still, trying to recover, she thought bitterly about how much she wished she could place a curse on both of the poachers
no, all of them. But there was no way a young, barely evolved ninetales could accomplish that feat upon just evolving, and she had no idea of how it was done. In fact, she didnt even know how to use flamethrower.
Through a haze of pain she felt one of the poachers stroking her long, thick fur, and wished she had the strength to turn and bite him. At least, she thought, this would mean an end to the battles
now they would just try and sell her to a collector, and if anything, maybe theyd try to make her appear as healthy and strong as possible, and at least give her a decent meal.
But all the same, as she was dragged back forcefully into her cage by both of the humans, she couldnt help but wonder
if her troubles had only just begun.
To Be Continued...