The leader had grown weak in his old age. And that meant that he could no longer rule over the team. Eltan’s eyes narrowed as he walked into his room, still feeling the sting of his master’s stern rebuke. That had been a deadly mistake, although Gertal didn’t realize it.
Eltan closed and locked the door. He went to his closet, and stepped inside, similarly locking the door behind himself. He pulled out a small flashlight and turned it on to examine more closely the environs in which he found himself. He located the hidden button and pushed it. A panel slid back to reveal a hidden room, and quickly stepped through before the door snapped shut noiselessly on hidden hinges.
After the door was closed, the lights came up, revealing an array of advanced communications gear, and flashing consoles. He moved over to one that was dark, and pushed several buttons. Within moments, lights flared to life, and the hidden communications array was ready.
He pulled out his pocket chronometer, flipped it open, checked the time, and adjusted the frequency. He keyed a query. If anyone saw his transmission, they would think that it was simply a spike in the force field containment power in the sewage part of the base.
Eltan quivered with barely controlled rage. How dare Gertal speak to him like that. If only Gertal knew who he really was. If he did, then he would have been pleading for his life. The only reason that Eltan hadn’t struck him down where he stood was because he wasn’t ready to fight every single Blizzard using only his fists. Not yet. But he had friends that would help him.
Gertal’s desire for the conquest of Nuschantz had been a key factor in his master’s plans. Now that he didn’t want to fight them anymore, he was simply a roadblock to be removed. Gertal had weakened him. And anything that weakened him would be killed. It was as simple as that.
And when the time came to kill the doddering old man, Eltan would not forget it. Words from some piece of classic literature he had heard somewhere came back to him. “If you cut us do we not bleed,” he murmured to himself, “If you tickle us do we not laugh?” a slow, almost devilish smile passed across his face, “If you poison us, do we not die?” his eyes narrowed as he began formulating plans, knowing that headquarters would confirm what he had already decided to do.
“And if you wrong us,” he said softly, “Will we not revenge?” The last sentence of the prose he had been reciting subconsciously echoed around the small room, seeming to bring him energy just hearing the words.
Lorelei stared up at the Resort, not believing what she was seeing. The place was huge. At least three quarters the size of Silph Company’s headquarters in
The Itale Retreat, he had told her, was also the second largest in terms of land area. Lorelei moved forward slowly, not really believing that somehow they’d managed to bring in all the building material. And how in the world did they bring in everything that they needed to sell?
“Teleporters,” Lukas responded to her question, grinning, “We’ve got a massive Teleporting network over the entire country. Mainly Jynx. There are outposts throughout the mountain that hold about thirty Jynx at a time. They’re usually staffed by a family or two. It makes getting things or people from one place to another really easy, since we don’t really have roads, and it’s not very easy to travel otherwise.”
Lorelei stopped, and glared at him, “Then why,” she asked, her eyes narrowing, “didn’t we take them here?”
Lukas grinned, “Because it’s more fun this way.” He darted in front her towards the entrance to the Itale Lodge, and it was all Lorelei could do to suppress the urge to strangle the little bugger. Actually, it was more like her Smoochum freezing her feet in place.
“Hey,” she grumbled, “Will you stop doing that?” she demanded. She needed to get inside as quickly as possible. She knew that Sneasel was fit to travel, but obviously not to fight, and she’d be able to pick him up here.
“Smooch, um, um, smoochum!” her baby ice-type replied replied, and Lorelei wished, not for the first time, that it could talk English, or that she could speak Smoochum. But at least it unfroze her feet with a weak Confusion. Of course, her feet were very sore afterwards, but at least she could move around.
She stalked up towards the Lodge, and threw open the doors which had closed behind Lukas, and stopped dead. There were stores of many kinds throughout the first level. It looked more like a mall than a ski lodge. She walked forward, glaring at any shopkeeper who came close to her, and finally found the room where the skiers actually relaxed.
She peeked around, and was relieved to see that there were no shops inside. It was a large room, probably fifty feet in length, with a Nurse Joy and a Chansey by a large fireplace. And, more importantly, a desk with a Pokeball teleportation pad and a Healer. Comfy seats were stationed near the fireplace and the Nurse Joy.
Lorelei hurried up to the Nurse Joy, who was deep in conversation with Lukas, who kept pointing at her and talking excitedly. Lorelei groaned, and stepped up her pace. When she reached the Nurse Joy, the woman stared at her, as if in shock, “You actually want to go see Allnian?” the nurse shook her head, “young lady, do you know how many people have died trying to do that?” she caught sight of her Sneasel, “And what did you do to your poor Smoochum?” she exclaimed, jumping to her feet, and nearly knocking over her Healing machine.
Lorelei narrowed her eyes, “Look, lady,” she riposted, “Right now, I care about one thing, and one thing only. Contact the Prito Resort. My Sneasel’s resting there, because the Verin Retreat was too dangerous. Send it here, now!”
The Nurse Joy made a face at her but initiated a query of the Prito Ski Resort. It took five minutes before someone on the other end responded, but finally the transportation process took place. Except, when it was over, TWO Pokeballs were sitting on the array.
She spotted Sneasel’s Pokeball at once by the distinctly Altan art on it. She grabbed Sneasel’s Pokeball and held the other up to the Joy. “What’s this?” she demanded suspiciously.
“Yachne Prito said that that had been at the Verin Retreat at the time of the attack, and had been sent there to be kept safe. It’s one of Johto’s Professor Elm’s Vulithe.” The Nurse Joy explained, glancing down at the laptop computer that was connected to both the teleportation array and the Healer. “Apparently, he hasn’t asked for it back yet.”
Lorelei released her Sneasel as close to the ground as she could, and felt a wave of relief flood through her as her Sneasel leapt up, albeit missing its left arm, and hugged her. Lorelei forgot about everything else and wrapped Sneasel up into her arms. It felt so right to have her there. She had nearly forgotten why she had come to Nuschantz in the first place, and now she was reminded of her Pokemon’s predicament. She had begun to doubt herself, but now…now she knew that she’d do it, on her own with only her fists, if need be.
Lorelei felt tears begin to well up in her eyes, and made no effort to stop them. If she didn’t have him, then what did she have to live for? Nothing at all. But now she was reunited with Sneasel at last, and everything would be okay. Sneasel was the only surviving link that she had to her past. Well, that HAD been the case in Kanto, but why did it have to be so now?
Tears still rolling down her cheeks, she looked up at the Nurse Joy and asked, “What’s the limit of Pokemon a person can have at any one time in this country?” she asked.
The Nurse Joy smiled, obviously touched by the reunion, “Why, it’s ten, I believe.”
Lorelei’s eyes narrowed, and she felt the old, familiar, assertive grin begin to spread across her face. “I need to make a long-range teleportation request. Key up Silph Company Headquarters in Alto. I need to talk with my brother.”
Bugsy looked up from the map he’d been studying of the layout of the country around the Verin Estate and saw Lefar Verin himself coming through the door. He was something of a military man, and Bugsy had nothing but respect for the man. Bugsy had, with a lot of the older man’s help, plotted out a defense strategy.
“I have word,” Lefar said. The gray-haired man smiled at him, and said, “It appears that after your help planning out our defense here, the other Retreats would like your assistance in planning their defenses as well.”
Bugsy nodded, “All right. Not like there’s a lot that I can do here. I’ll assemble my team and get moving.”
Lefar nodded, and held out something covered in cloth. “I thought as much. But first, I want you to have this. It used to belong to a Johtan general back in the times of the Reformation.” Bugsy nodded. He hadn’t learned a lot of Nuschantian history, but he knew that the Reformation was basically a revolution that had risen up about a thousand years prior against a dictatorial tyrant named Tadorae, and that Kantans and Johtans had been instrumental in helping the Nuschantians learn how to fight.
Bugsy nodded, “Thanks, Lefar.” He’d learned already that refusing a gift in Nuschantz was the equivalent of slapping the person offering the gift in the face. He took the velvet-covered sword, and smiled, “Well,” he said, “I guess I’d better be going.”
Lorelei grinned into the receiver, “Thanks,
The Nurse Joy made a face at her again and Lorelei took a deep breath as she held the Pokeball that contained the Vulithe in front of her and brushed the release button. Instantly, a beam of red light formed, and a form began to appear.
A short, almost canine figure materialized. Its strong, semi-muscular legs were tense, it had a mane and three thick, bushy tails, long ears, and its fur was a warm, chocolaty brown. Where it wasn’t burnt.
The creature was in bad shape. It was ripped open, bitten, burned, frozen, and singed. Lorelei heard the nurse Joy gasp, and it was all that Lorelei herself could do to keep from throwing up. Without thinking, she scooped up the Poekmon, and set it onto the Healing Machine.
To the horror of the Nurse Joy, she turned to the laptop and activated the Healer. “Don’t!” The Nurse Joy cried, “That much radiation in that quantity will kill it! Recall it first!” Lorelei hurriedly recalled it and put the Pokeball into one of the grooves that had been designed to hold Pokeballs, but hurriedly pulled her hand back as something seemed to scorch her hand.
As Lorelei stomped around the room yelling and shaking her hand as fast as she could, her Sneasel, now sitting on top of a chair and watching her with an amused expression on her face, waited patiently for the tirade to end.
The Nurse Joy watched her with a deadpan expression on her face. “Didn’t you learn anything in Pokemon Training Survival 101?” The Nurse Joy demanded, “Pokemon are healed in Healing Machines by Grenthor Radiation. If the Pokemon isn’t protected, it will be affected by the radiation will kill it and any other living thing by breaking down the chemical bonds that compose it.”
Lorelei glared at the Nurse. Lorelei definitely wasn’t in the mood for any lectures. She glanced at the teleportation array, and spotted the Pokeballs. She hurried over and grabbed the Pokeballs with her left, unburned hand. Immediately, she released them. Her original Pokemon, Haunter, Duskull, and a Sneasel appeared. For a moment she didn’t recognize Graveller, but then realized that he had evolved into a Golem. The four took a moment to look around the room, and then Haunter, Duskull, and Golem hurried to Lorelei and embraced her. Sneasel, on the other hand, rushed over to embrace his daughter.
For the second time that day, Lorelei’s eyes filled with tears. “I’ll explain everything,” she said to the elder Sneasel as he glared at her accusedly, “Just give me a second.”
Eltan smiled as he shut his communications equipment down. Headquarters had confirmed what he should do. Eliminate Gertal, and conquer Nuschantz. It was vital that it happened.
It seemed odd, though, Eltan thought, that his masters in the Specter Corporation would want to take over a country. He knew that Specter Corporation’s legitimate businesses rivaled both Devon Co. and Silph Company. They were ruled by a board of directors, which was led by two Directors.
They made all the decisions regarding the Specter Shadow Guard, which furthered their aims by unofficially acting on behalf of their employers. And if all of their actions weren’t necessarily on the up and up, that just meant that their extensive training paid off.
It certainly had for Eltan. He hadn’t seen any of his fellow Shadow Guard members for several years, but he knew that it was just part of the job. And, right now, his job was to eliminate any and all resistance to Team Blizzard in Nuschantz. And if people would die while he achieved his goals?
Then so be it.
“And so we just need to find Allnian,” Lorelei finished, “And make it heal Sneasel.” Both of the Sneasel looked at her. “Er, Sneasel Junior anyway.” She amended quickly.
The Nurse Joy rolled her eyes and shook her head sadly, “You think it’s that simple, don’t you, young lady? That you can just waltz in and see Allnian? I’m afraid that you couldn’t be more wrong. As you may or may not know, Nuschantz has three guardians. Auroura, Borealis, and Austrealis. All three have to agree that you can see Allnian before you can see Allnian, according to what we’ve been told. And once they’ve agreed, you have to climb five thousand feet nearly straight up to Allnian’s eyrie. Men have spent years trying to find the Guardian tigers of Nuschantz. What makes you think that you’ll find them any easier?”
Lorelei grinned as she listened to Nurse Joy’s monologue, and replied, “Well, I’ve always enjoyed a good challenge. I’ll find a way.”
The metaphorical figure stared at the timeline he had been supervising. He had tried to interfere, but the woman had rebuffed him. And now things were getting more and more out of hand, and farther and farther from the timeline. The temporal flux was becoming more and more unstable.
The Dark One’s armies were growing too rapidly, being drawn from too many timelines. They were gathering in the Dark Nexus Realm, and were preparing for an attack. The Council was preparing its defense, but things were not looking up. Nothing like this had ever happened before. The Guardians weren’t doing their jobs, and the portals had been taken by the Dark One.
The man who had tried to intervene in the
He had to do something.
And he had to do it fast.
Lorelei walked through the stores, amazed that there was so much diversity in everything that there was. She could probably buy everything, including the resort, due to her family’s position in Silph Company, but then her parents probably wouldn’t let her near the family checking account for years afterward.
She grinned at the though, and knew that some girls that had the nearly unlimited resources that she had would go nuts, and just buy and buy and buy. She, on the other hand, would go slowly, and buy just what she would need. So far, that had come up to about seven thousand dollars worth of healing supplies. True, that actually wasn’t a lot of healing supplies, but it was quite a bit of money.
She had it all in her backpack, and her younger Sneasel, whom she had dubbed Junior, was watching out for anything that she might need. If she saw something, Junior would yank on her hair and point it out to her. So far, she’d pointed out a clothing sale, a clothing sale, a shoe sale, a hat sale, a hair cutter’s shop, a clothing sale, and another hat sale. Lorelei shook her head. Why wouldn’t she do anything that would help her? She ignored every single Pokemon supplies store, and kept pointing out shops of that manner.
Golem, Senior—The elder Sneasel, Duskull, and Haunter were elsewhere in the massive resort, procuring goods. The Vulithe, now fully healed, trotted along at her side, keeping an eye on Frocarin—the ice dog she’d caught earlier. Vulithe, who had had many trainers before her, and would likely have many after, had trusted her instantly. However, when she’d let the Forcarin out for the first time, it had taken nearly a half hour to get within recall range again, let alone near it. It seemed to enjoy being by itself, but she had made it clear to the Pokemon that it was part of her team, and she wasn’t releasing it. It was an odd feeling, having six battle-ready Pokemon. Only a few hours before, she had had only one, and now, by Kantan standards, she had a complete team. She’d called in the heavy artillery, and she was ready to fight.
She grinned. Now she’d be able to show whoever might get into her way who was boss. In fact, she was almost looking forward to it.
She shook her head and adjusted her backpack. She felt Junior shift slightly to maintain his balance, and then resumed her vigil. Lorelei grinned. She hated to admit it, but this was kind of fun.
Of course, the best part was having all the nerds in the Pokedex store drool over new Pokedex. She grinned. It was the simple things in life that you treasured most.
“Mike!” Lukas called out, and Lorelei glared down at him. She had thought she had ditched the little sucker back at the Retreat’s
Lorelei glanced over at where her pseudo-guide was looking, and saw another little kid. She groaned to herself. She couldn’t stand little kids. If she ever married, she’d go after him with a pair of garden shears before he laid a hand on her. Okay, so maybe she was exaggerating. She’d just use an ordinary pair of scissors.
Her dislike of little kids made no exception for him, especially when she spotted the Cyndaquil on the kid’s shoulder. If there was one thing that she hated more than kids, it was fire types. The little rat stared at her, and for some reason, it made her nervous. Fire types always had.
Ever since that Arcanine had stepped on her head in the petting zoo while she was trying to pull its mate’s tail. Of course, the mate had asked for it, because it had grabbed the rest of her cotton candy. Although that may have been a reprisal for refusing to give it back one of its Growlithe. But it had started it by growling at her. She shook her head. Why some people thought that Growlithes and Arcanines were a good judge of character was beyond her. They stunk at it.
“Hey, Lukas! Good to see you again!” the kid’s energetic, buoyant tone made Lorelei want to scream. It was one thing to put up with Lukas, but this new kid’s energy was just…just…She couldn’t find the words to describe it. “When did you get back here?” Maybe she could just slink away, and he wouldn’t notice her. “You said you didn’t think you’d be back here for a couple months!”
Lukas grinned and jabbed a finger at her, and Lorelei sighed. She should have known it was impossible to escape the kid, “She’s gonna try to reach Allnian. I’m her guide! Wanna come see?”
Lorelei glared at him. It was one thing to have to follow the kid around, but having to put up with his friends too? It was almost too much to bear. She opened her mouth to say something, but the kid stuck his hand out. “Hi!” he said in a painfully cheerful voice, “I’m Mike Gallow, I just moved here from Blackthorne. Hey, I know you! You’re the girl from the
Lorelei squinted as she took the kid’s hand, then realized that she did, indeed, recognize the kid as one of the brats from the
Lorelei frowned, and turned to Lukas. “Sheer Cliff?” she demanded, feeling a twinge of uneasiness set in.
“Oh, yeah. It’s the cliff that Allnian lives on top of. It’s almost vertical on every side.” Lukas grinned at her, “Really beautiful. A big tourist attraction. A hundred people get hurt permanently trying to climb it each year. But I know that you won’t have to worry about that.”
Lorelei swallowed. Suddenly, finding Allnian was starting to sound harder and harder. She glanced back at Senior, her very first Pokemon, who smiled encouragingly. Lorelei swallowed hard and knew that very soon, she’d be tested to the end of her limits.
She turned around to leave, and bumped into someone. “Sorry,” came a familiar voice.
Lorelei frowned. She knew that voice. She looked up. “Falkner?” she asked, not believing her eyes, “What are you doing here?”
Eltan clapped the Blizzard he had been talking to on the back and continued on his rounds. He’d been assigned to survey the outer defenses. He’d found that almost half the men that he asked considered Gertal unfit for command of the team. He was certain that within hours, he could announce his takeover of the team over the entire base, and he’d be able to come out of it alive.
Gertal would never allow him to live, of course, if he made such a pronouncement, and would try to kill him. But if he were to kill the old man, then he would be the uncontested ruler of Team Blizzard, and they would be able to rule the entire country, and possibly expand its borders at the same time. He’d heard rumors that news of the attack plan had been leaked, and that trainers from all over the world were coming to Nuschantz, but he wasn’t worried. If he lured them out into the wilderness, he and the other Blizzards would have no trouble eliminating any opposition.
He had heard rumors that the Bug type Gym Leader Bugsy of Johto himself was going to be planning the defenses of the resorters. Eltan frowned. They should have killed him when they had the chance. He was one of the greatest Gym Leaders in the world, and the fact that he was helping his enemies gave Eltan a slight moment of pause. But it was nothing that he couldn’t handle.
The elder fool, Gertal, actually thought that the troop build-up he had begun a few hours before actually had to do with finding Allnian, and asking it to help them in their war against the Nuschantian Retreats. And it was a war, whether the old man realized it or not.
He would find Allnian, and it would help them in their war, but they would not ask. They would demand. They would capture the so-called Legendary, enslave it with the newest Wipe Ball ever to come off Specter Corporation’s assembly lines, and force it to give his men eternal life, and a cure for any disease or injury that they might sustain.
With a broken Allnian under his control, there was nothing that would prevent him from dominating the world. Him. Not Specter Corporation. They were fools too, if they thought that giving him all that money would make them loyal enough that he would give up the opportunity to rule the world.
Of course, he was sure that they weren’t that stupid, which meant that they had operatives within Team Blizzard. He would have to tread very carefully, or he’d end up as nothing more than another world ruler wannabe. He would rule the world. There was no changing that.
When he would was the issue, however.
Bugsy shoved open the simple doors to the Prito Ski Resort Retreat and entered quickly, closing the doors behind himself. He took off his hat and gloves, and grinned at Yachne, the main proprietor of the resort, he’d been told. “Hi,” he said, waving as he took off his coat, “I’m sure that Lefar got word to you that I was coming.”
The rather large woman’s face brightened, “Oh!” she exclaimed, “You’re the one that wants to help us defend ourselves. I just baked some cookies, would you like some?”
Bugsy chuckled, “Thanks,” he replied, “But no thanks. I’d like to get started on my work first.” He glanced around, “Where’s Lukas? Lefar suggested that I talk to him. Said something about him being quite the Pokémon trainer.”
Yachne smiled, “I’m sorry, but he left yesterday with a girl called…what was her name? It was Altan, I know that. Oh, yes!” she cried, “It was a girl named Lorelei. She’s got the insane notion in her head that she’s going to find Allnian.”
Bugsy felt his blood run cold. It wasn’t possible. It just wasn’t. She was dead. He’d seen her go out the door of the plane himself. He’d heard the explosion. It HAD been her, the explosion, right? It had to be. And even if it hadn’t been, the impact from falling from that high up would have killed her instantly.
“Are you all right?” the woman asked, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Bugsy swallowed hard, and looked her straight in the eye, “Actually,” he said slowly, “I think you did.”
The metaphorical figure ground his teeth. He wouldn’t be able to afford any more delays. There was simply nothing for it, but he had to intervene in the Physical Realm. But how? How could he do such a thing?
Then, the man formerly known as Gerahid the Liberator smiled. He had an idea. He knew of a woman from the past that would be perfect for the job. She was smart, cunning, strong, bullheaded, beautiful, and, at one point, had been his second chance at true love, after his wife had died.
Unfortunately, both of them had died as well, before anything could happen. He smiled, and began making the necessary arrangements. He smiled and prepared for a temporal transport.
There was only one person that he’d trust this mission to. With one final gesture, he said the woman’s name aloud, tenderly. “
Of course, it had been a constant harangue, but maybe she and this Lorelei would get along good because they were so much alike, albeit from completely different centuries.
Gerahid grinned, and finalized the transport. Now, there was no reversing it, and there was no way that he’d be able to do anything more. Once the Council found out about this, they’d have his tail in a sling, not that he had a tail, unlike many of them, and he’d be restricted from ever having anything to do with the Physical Realm. Aside, from maybe Passive watching under their close supervision.
He only hoped that it was worth it.