Lorelei’s eyes narrowed as she watched the sixteen arachnid Pokemon scurry into a circle around them. This wasn’t good. She was just starting out, and her second battle was against sixteen Pokemon. One of whom was in its most highly evolved state.True, Sneasel had a type advantage over them, but that wouldn't make a difference in this battle. Lorelei glanced to her right, spotted a branch that looked sturdy, and decided to make the first move. She crouched and rolled to her right, causing the first volley of Poison Stings and webs miss horribly.

She didn’t have time to see if Sneasel had escaped harm, but if he wasn’t still functioning, she was screwed. She landed in a crouch near the branch, but was forced to straighten to avoid a strand of Spinarak web. Deftly, she used her foot to launch the dead limb into the air, and she caught it easily.

She spun round, twirling the stick like a baton, coming around to face the Spinarak. Sneasel was doing a good job of keeping them busy, but he could only handle four of them. That left eleven Spinarak for her to handle. Plus the Ariados. Lorelei grinned. This would be fun, unless they killed her.

She crouched, waiting for the next move, and didn’t have to wait long. The Ariados launched a flurry of Poisonous barbs towards her, and the rest fired webs at her. She spun away from the attacks, extending the stick experimentally towards the spider-like Pokemon. Immediately, they shifted their aim, but one was faster than the others, and its web quickly engulfed the upper part of the club before Lorelei could duck away.

Lorelei frowned as she retreated further, blocking webs and Poisonous barbs with the stick, and doing her best not to get hit. So far, she’d been doing fine, but it was only a matter of time until she was hit.

Then, suddenly, she had an idea. Most Pokemon were scared of fire. She’d give ‘em, fire, all right. She’d give ‘em an inferno! She shifted the stick slightly so that most of its weight was in her right hand, and dug with her left in her pocket for her lighter. The Ariados, perceiving weakness, chose that moment to press its attack, and sent dozens of tiny poisonous darts zipping through the air towards her. Fortunately, its aim wasn’t very good, and all it succeeded in doing was wrenching the makeshift weapon from Lorelei’s grasp, and into the darkness behind her. Lorelei growled, and, giving up on the lighter, slipped her backpack from her shoulders and charged forward, swinging it around her head and shouting at the top of her lungs.

The Spinarak parted before her, and then she was face to face with the Ariados. One quick movement and it was out of the way. From beside her, a web reached out and sent her backpack soaring into the woods. Crap. Just then, she spotted something glinting in the starlight and one of Sneasel’s Ice Beams. It was her lighter.

She dove for the lighter, making the next round of webs miss, and flicked the lighter open and swung it towards the spiders, jabbing the lighter forward. It was what would forever stand out in her memory as one of the things that saved her life. A spider had gotten perfect aim, and had fired a split second before. It would have sent her flying into the dirt, most of her head covered in spider web, and the battle would have been irrevocably lost. As it was, the spider web barely missed her, and passed directly over the lighter. The web exploded into flames, sending the startled insects scurrying back, and the light showed her the weapon she would use to turn the tide.

She darted forwards, through the Spinarak, ignoring them as they regrouped, and snatched up the club that she had dropped, and lifted her lighter. Immediately, the entire upper half of the club burst into a bright flame.

Suddenly confident, the young woman spun forward, swinging the makeshift sword every which way, blocking poisonous barbs, connecting with webs, thus adding more fuel to the fire, and jabbing.

When next Lorelei looked around, three Spinarak were down, another was retreating, and the remaining seven were staying as far away from her as they could. Then the Ariados strode forward.

Lorelei, for some reason that she would never remember later why, bowed, and the Ariados mimicked her. Then the battle began in earnest. Lorelei was never quite sure what happened to the Spinarak afterwards, but her battle was uninterrupted, even to its conclusion. It was a terrible battle; one that Lorelei many times thought that she could never win, but she always managed to spot some kind of weakness and exploit it.

What seemed like several hours later, but was most likely only a few minutes, the two paused, and looked at each other. At that moment, her entire focus was on the Ariados alone. Nothing else registered. She would never be able to recount what her Sneasel was doing, or what the Spinarak were doing, but she would be able to remember very vividly every action that the Ariados made.

Then the short pause was over, and the battle was back in full. Lorelei jabbed, and the Ariados slapped her flaming weapon away with one leg, while shoving its other front leg forward towards her. Lorelei had a sudden thought, and dove towards the ground, using her weight to jab the torch towards the rear of the Ariados.

Enraged, it shrieked, and scurried forward, and Lorelei, anticipating the reaction, shot her left fist into the spider’s web production sac. Squiealing again, the Ariados scurried away, and Lorelei could feel web coating her hand. Knowing that she didn’t have a moment to lose, she swung her blazing brand around, and slashed it through the trailing web, before the Ariados could separate her strand of web from its main body.

She tensed as the fire roared up the web and onto her fist. She howled, and leaped to her feet, and suddenly realized that the Spinarak were once again pressing their attack. Howling in outrage, Lorelei jammed her fist into one of their eyes. While that did nothing to quell the flames, it did wonders to prevent that Spinarak from attacking her again.

The rest of the Spinarak glanced warily from her flaming club, to her flaming hand, to Sneasel, which had just dropped the last of his original four opponents, to the writhing Ariados, and quickly scurried back into the forest.

Lorelei yelled like a woman possessed, charging after them with her flaming club in one hand, and her burning hand in the other. Terrified, they scattered before her, and suddenly she was facing the Ariados once more. Its entire backside was aflame, but the inferno was beginning to calm down.

The unquenchable pain that wracked her hand fueled her rage, and sent her surging forward with a scream of fury so terrible that, she heard later, caused all Pokemon to flee the area in a two mile radius, and stay away from it for three days. Then there was nothing but pain, slashing, and bleeding. After five minutes, the battle was over, and Lorelei stood over the defeated spider, staring down at its battered, broken frame. It was unconscious now, and would probably remain so for some time.

With a satisfied smirk, Lorelei glanced down at her badly burned left hand, and looked around for her Sneasel. It was waiting, staring at her with its mouth wide open, and seemed to have a new respect for her. It did, however, seem to be leaning forward more than usual, as if it were very tired. “Come on,” she grumbled, glaring at her hand, “Let’s get going.”


No fewer than seven hours later, they reached
Cherrygrove City, just as all the late-night stores were beginning to close, and the moon was reaching its apogee. The eery silvery white light cast long shadows, and revealed the late-night trainers scurrying here and there for reasons that only they knew.

Lorelei wearily looked around the town, looking for the
Pokemon Center. She needed some sleep, and she’d kill the next person who challenged her to a match before she could get some rest. She glanced down at her hand. It was still raw, but it was a little better after she had applied a Burn Heal and a few Potions to it, but it still looked terrible. She couldn’t wait until she could get some sleep and get her wrist looked at.

It wasn’t so bad at first, when she had something to hit, or even while the pain-killing agents in the Potion were in affect, but now, it just hurt. Pure, raw, unabated pain. And she couldn’t use another Potion because she had fixed all she could with Potions, and, besides, she didn’t have that many Potions, anyway.

She nearly wilted in relief as she spotted the
Pokemon Center, and pushed the doors open. Despite the late hour, there was a large crowd gathered in the Pokemon Center, most of whom were standing around a poster.

One person, a boy that looked vaguely familiar, was expounding upon why he was going to win some tournament this year. His boasting was cut short abruptly when the Nurse Joy, who had been watching him with a bored expression on her face, looked over to Lorelei, and saw her hand.

She let out a screech that ripped everyone’s attention from the boy—what was his name—and over to the young woman that was standing before them in ripped clothing, a backpack that had only one strap remaining, and a badly burnt hand that was wrapped in parts of her aforementioned ripped-up clothing. “Lorelei?” a voice demanded, seconds before Nurse Joy and the rest of the two dozen or so people fell upon her.

It was too much for her, and she fell down, unconscious.


“I’m fine!” she insisted, sighing into the video phone, and wishing that she’d at least gotten to Violet City before her parents had caught up with her. She had awoken after several hours of being unconscious to find that her hand was nearly completely healed, thanks to one of the Nurse Joy’s Blisseys, and had immediately been spirited away to the array of videophones that lined one wall near the entrance.

There she found her parents on the line, from Saffron. They had at first demanded that she return to Kanto, and she had, of course, refused. Then her parents had threatened to come to Johto to take her back by force. Lorelei had shot that argument down by pointing out that she was registered in the Johto League, and, because she was over fifteen, she was considered an adult.

Her parents had then accused her of forging their signature, and Lorelei replied calmly that she had given the papers for them to sign as part of a collection of papers that allowed her to go into the Safari Zone, the one time she was in
Fuschia City. That was a lie, but she wasn’t about to admit that to her parents.

After that, they had seemed to resign themselves that there was nothing that they could do, and asked her where she was, and she told them. They just stared at her in shock. Lorelei shook her head, grinning, as she broke the connection. This was it. Her parents knew about it, and she was still about to compete in the Johto League. This was going better than she had thought.

“Are you going to enter the competition?” the Nurse Joy asked cheerily. Lorelei turned to look at the woman questioningly, “That’s why everyone was here last night. Cherrygrove is holding its annual Pokemon Tournament. The winner doesn’t have to pay anything at any of the stores in Cherrygrove for the rest of his life.”

Lorelei grinned, “That sounds great! Have you seen my Sneasel? I’m gonna enter him.” She glanced around, wondering where her companion had gone.

The Joy’s expression faltered. “Sneasel?” she asked, “That Sneasel was yours?” she looked around, not meeting Lorelei’s gaze. “Oh dear,” she said quietly, “Oh dear. I’m afraid I have some bad news. Follow me.”

Lorelei frowned, and followed the Nurse Joy through a door and into a hallway identical to the one that she had fled down in a different
Pokemon Center the day before. She walked through the door that corresponded with the one she had tricked her fans into entering, and stopped cold. It was the emergency ward.

Aipom, Stantler, Ponyta, Squirtle, Pikachu—dozens of Pokemon lined the room, each in critical condition. Lorelei’s scan stopped when she spotted a Sneasel. And it was her Sneasel. She felt a lump suddenly form in her throat as she rushed to her side. “Oh no,” she breathed. “Is he okay?” she demanded of the Nurse Joy as she watched her first Pokemon since she moved sleep before her.

“Lorelei,” the Nurse Joy said softly, “I have to tell you something. From the Poison we extracted from its system when it came into the
Pokemon Center, it was stung by Spinarak.”

Lorelei nodded quickly, trying to stop the tears from blurring her vision, “Yes,” she said quickly, “Yes, we fought off sixteen of ‘em yesterday.”

“Sixteen?” the Nurse Joy asked, then shook her head and continued, “Well, scientists aren’t quite sure what it is, yet, but there’s something more deadly about Spinarak poison than any other kind. It affects humans normally, but in Pokemon…” she trailed off, and looked at the floor.

Lorelei felt a fold fist clamp itself around her stomach, and turned slowly, as if in a bad dream. “What?” she asked slowly, “What does it do to Pokemon?”

Nurse Joy shuffled her feet, and sighed. “Do you know what a Carentamous Assembly is?” without waiting for Lorelei’s response, she continued, “It’s a part of the brain below the Brain Stem that stretches the entire length of the Central Nervous System. In some Pokemon, it extends past the Central Nervous System, and into its mouth, tail, or other areas of the body to allow it to perform special techniques, such as Flamethrower, Hydro Pump, Dragon Rage, or…” she paused, “Poison Sting.”

Lorelei nodded, “Yeah,” she said, “I know about Carentamous Assemblies. I’m friends with Professor Silph, and have gotten all the lectures about it. What’s so special about Spinarak Poison Stings?”

The Nurse Joy swallowed. “In small doses,” she said slowly, “Nothing.” She paused and took a breath. “In large enough doses, however,” she looked at the ground, “It begins to dissolve the Carentamous Assembly itself. Thus rendering the affected Pokemon essentially helpless in Pokemon Battles.”

Lorelei turned back to her Sneasel, her face as white as it could possibly be, dreading the Nurse Joy’s next words. “The Carentamous Assembly was essentially gone by the time that we got to her. To save your Sneasel’s life, we had to surgically remove what was left of her Carentamous Assembly. Even now, there’s not a big chance that she’ll make it through.”


Lorelei walked into the main lobby of the
Pokemon Center, still in a bit of shock. How had this happened? It wasn’t supposed to. She’d had her journey all planned out. From here, she’d march over to Violet City and freeze Falkner Senior’s birds out of the sky, then travel on to Azalea Town and beat the stuffing out of Bugsy’s bugs. From there, she’d travel throughout Johto, eventually studying under either Morty or Pryce for a year, before returning to Kanto to defeat its league.

Now her plans were dashed to pieces. If she had been stronger, she would have been able to beat the Spinarak before they had stung Sneasel too many times. Had there been something that she could have done to help him? She felt tears spring into her eyes, and swiped at them angrily, looking around to make sure that no one had seen them, and got up.

She slowly got to her feet, and looked around. What was she doing here? She couldn’t just sit here. She had to be doing something. That was just who she was. But first, she had to do something. Steeling herself, she moved towards the bank of phones.

Steeling herself, she drew the privacy curtain around herself, and keyed in a number to a place that she had once called home. On the third ring, the call was received. “Stephanie,” she heard her brother say distractedly, as if he were doing something else, “If this is another one of your prank calls, I’m hanging up.”

Brandon?” Lorelei asked, hearing the word as if it were said by someone else. It was spoken with such fear, with such sorrow, with such…vulnerability and humility that it sounded as if someone else had said it.

Instantly, the vid-screen of the other side flickered on, and her brother’s worried face appeared. “Lorelei?” he demanded, “What’s wrong?”

Lorelei felt the tears come over her again, and this time, she couldn’t contain herself. “Everything,” she cried, laying her face on her wrists, “Everything.” She repeated, crying harder than she could possibly have imagined a mere day before.


Lorelei swallowed, composing herself. She’d somehow managed to tell her brother all that had happened since she had left, and convinced him to hold off telling her parents about Sneasel, at least for a few hours. “Lorelei,” he said gently, “You can’t stay in Cherrygrove. You’ve got to get back onto your feet, and back on your journey.” Lorelei shook her head, tears flowing freely, grateful of the protection of the privacy screen, and the sound dampener that prevented outsiders of hearing her conversation. “Look, I know how this is for you, but you’ve got to keep going. I’ll send you two more Pokémon. A Duskull and a Geodude. They’re children of the other two, or, rather, three of your Pokemon that found mates.”

Lorelei shook her head, “But what if I mess up with them, too?” she asked. She had been totally positive of what her path would be when she had started her journey to Johto, but now, with this happening…what if it was a sign that she wasn’t supposed to go on a journey?

As if reading her thoughts, Lorelei heard her brother’s voice urgently say, “Lorelei, I know it’s hard. I know that you didn’t expect this to happen. But this is what a Pokemon Journey is all about. Going out, finding adversity, and facing it. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose a lot. But no matter what, you never give up. If you give up your Pokemon Journey after you begin it before you reach your goals, you ever even deserved to start the journey in the first place.”

Lorelei slowly looked up at her brother, tears streaming down her face, her mouth feeling as if it would cramp up and permanently freeze up in a frown. “I’m trying,” she said weakly, “I really am. But it’s so hard.”

Brandon’s face split into a smile. “I know, Lorelei, I know it is. I felt the same way when my Dramon died. I received that from the Executive Chief of State of Tintia himself. When Dramon died…it took me years of soul-searching to find my way back. And most of that searching was done through the bottom of a bottle.” He glanced down at his hands, then back up to Lorelei, “I-“ he paused, “I don’t want that to happen to you. Lorelei, here is my advice. You look around you, you find something worthwhile to fight for, and you go for it with all your might. And never, no matter what anyone says, give up that dream.”

Lorelei smiled through her tear-streaked face, “Thanks,” she said softly, “I appreciate it. I’ll get right on it.”


Lorelei swiped at her cheek and turned a page on the giant book that lay before her. Her brother had told her to find something worthwhile to do, and, by Allnian, she’d find something. And that something was to find a way to heal Sneasel. No matter what. Then, a thought occurred to her, and her heart soared. That was it. Allnian!

She slammed the book shut, drawing glares from several people, and ran through the hallways of the library, looking for a specific book. Then she found it. Lorelei grinned, and brought it back to the table where she had been reading.

Sitting down, she opened the book. Inside the front cover was a picture of the majestic avion. In the picture, Allnian’s dark lavender head was glaring at her from the page. A thin, black streak ran from its beak, over its eyes like a mask before narrowing to a thin line down its back, branching out onto each indigo, fifteen-foot wing, and finally down onto its tail, spreading thinly along the middle of each brilliant sapphire tail feather. Its talons, each three feet long, both grasped a fully grown Miltank in full flight.

The Titan Bird of Poison, Allnian was one of the few Legendary Pokemn that was actually confirmed to be real. Each year, over a thousand sightings were reported. Allnian held the powers of health and disease. She could heal a person from an otherwise incurable disease, or afflict them with something so terrible, it could kill them in seconds. Allnian was a flighty bird, and used to having her own way. If she were provoked, there was no telling ho much damage she could cause. But if she were requested to do something that was in her power while she was in a good mood, she might accede to the request. And among Allnian’s powers, according to the book before her, was the power to regenerate any organ of any creature, by means of a special germ that would reconstruct it—or so the scientists speculated.

Lorelei’s eyes glittered, feeling the first real hope she had had since the Nurse Joy had told her that her Sneasel’s Carentamous Assembly had been destroyed. Something stirred within her, something compelling her to go forward, find Allnian, and get her Sneasel healed.

She grinned. Nothing could stand in her way. Well, nothing after she picked up the Geodude and Duskull her brother was sending her.


Lorelei smiled at the Nurse Joy as she received the two Pokeballs from the red-head. “Thanks,” she said, and turned back towards the couch that lay against a wall. She took out her Pokedex, and flipped it open, beginning a scan of the device’s interior for information on Allnian.

“Miss Winters?” she heard the Nurse Joy ask. She turned to look at the woman, who smiled. “Someone has been waiting for you.”

Lorelei turned to look at where the woman was gesturing, and spotted a boy no older than fifteen standing there, arms crossed, appraising her. “So you’re the great Lorelei Belle Winters,” he said, smiling as he locked gazes with her. “Bruno can’t stop talking about how good you must be that you beat him.” Lorelei felt herself flush with embarrassment, and stranger grinned, “Or how much he’s going to beat you by the next time you two meet.”

Lorelei smiled. “Yeah,” she said quietly, “I guess that’s me. Who are you?” she asked quietly, looking the green-haired youth up and down. “And who gave you those military clothes? They don’t fit you at all.”

The boy smiled, “I’m Bugsy. Maybe you’ve heard of me? I’m the Azalea Town Gym Leader. As for the clothes…” he grinned, “Altan Army Surplus usually is green, and since I’m a Bug Trainer…” he trailed off, and shrugged. “Your brother sent me. He had a Menill teleport me. I’m told that they’re capable of the longest range teleportation recorded? Remarkable creatures.”

Lorelei’s eyes narrowed. “Speaking of Menill,” she replied, making a mental note to berate her brother at the next possible moment for sending someone to babysit her when she was fully capable of handling things herself, “I was wondering if you could help me with something.”

Bugsy nodded, and leaned forward, “Sure, doll, whatever you want.” Suddenly, Bugsy found himself on the floor, staring up at Lorelei’s smirking face.

“First off,” Lorelei said coolly, “Never call me ‘doll.’ Secondly, you’re going to help me find Allnian,” she said, grinning tightly, her arms crossed.

Bugsy swallowed. “But,” he said, “I don’t know anything about Allnian besides it’s a Bird Legendary.”

Lorelei’s eyes narrowed. “You said you’d help,” she said coldly, “You better learn a whole lot more. Like where she lives, and how I can find her. And how I can make her heal my Sneasel.”

Bugsy frowned, “What’s wrong with your Sneasel?”


Several hours later, after Bugsy had explained to her that he barely knew anything about Allnian or the Flying-type beyond the type advantages, and she had explained to him what had happened to her, they began planning in earnest. Although Bugsy later could never remember exactly how he got dragged into the crazy scheme. Or how he had failed to get out of it.

“All right,” Bugsy said, “We’ve already confirmed that we both know next to nothing about Allnian, right?” he asked, looking at the woman whom he’d come to know over the past several hours.

Lorelei nodded, “That’s right. We don’t even know where Allnian is living.”

Bugsy nodded, “In that case, may I recommend going to the experts on bird Pokemon?”

Lorelei glanced at him. “Who?” she asked.

He smiled thinly, “Why, the Falkners, of course. They’re only a Route away in
Violet City.”


In a place where neither time nor space held any meaning, a lone figure watched the events unfolding, his feet metaphorically spread apart, his hands metaphorically at his metaphorical back. Of course, he wasn’t really standing there. That wasn’t how it worked there. It was his consciousness projecting the image from his previous memories onto his current point of view. The figure metaphorically smiled and brought himself back to his original train of thought. This was not supposed to happen. This was not the way the time line was supposed to play out.

Someone had been tampering with it, he knew beyond a doubt. He suspected that, if he followed the trail of clues far enough, it would end up that the Dark One was to blame. This was unacceptable. If the Dark One were to escape…

Of course, it COULD be that there was more than one person trying to interfere with the time line, or that it wasn't the Dark One at all, but he didn't really believe that.

For how long would the safeguards last, the metaphorical figure asked himself. How long would it be, until the Dark One escaped from his prison? How long until the battle to decide the fate of the world would take place again. One last, final, overwhelming time?

A final darkness would settle over the world. Mankind and Pokémon alike would be slaves to his will. Powerless against his sheer strength. He had been released once before…and only once, at the cost of his own life had the Dark One been restrained again. Well, not EXACTLY with his life, because his consciousness lived on, but…

Metaphorically he sighed. He’d never get used to life like this.