“Hey! Hey, NightGale!” Someone shrieks after me.
“Arc, hold up a sec,” I say, turning around.
Arc stops, snuffling slightly. Soise and Brith look around as well, though the pack take longer to stop.
“I… I challenge you. To a battle.” The boy pants, holding an ultraball in front of him.
I raise an eyebrow, slipping from Arc’s back. “You do know I won’t hold back, right?”
“Why d’you think I’m challenging you? No one else around here comes close to my level!”
I snort. He was in for a thrashing.
“So, what rules? One on one, no switching? Only, I am supposed to be somewhere else.”
Like my ship, getting ready to sail again. I glance up, seeing Sayri circling above us. He’d’ve seen us stop, but maybe we should call them down… just so he knows what’s happening.
“Seems fair.” He grins. “Let’s go then – Thelrin!”
And of all the pokémon he could pick… the biggest arbok I have ever seen thumps onto the ground in front of us. I gulp.
“Concentrate, Blue,” Brith murmurs. “Shall I take this?”
“No.” I shake my head. “Soise?”
“Yeah?” She looks up from her claws.
“You’re up to go. Let's see how you fight now.” I gesture her forward, stepping back. “Give ‘em a bigger pitch!” I call.
The boy steps back five paces, and I motion the rest of my pack back ten.
“Brith, act as judge?” I ask. “Lap, call him, would you?”
Brith nods and steps to the side, moving so that she is halfway between us but not on the pitch. LapWing launches herself into the air and roars at the birds, barrelling towards them.
“Name, kid?” Brith asks, catching his attention.
“Kevin Glenn, of Celadon!”
Brith nods. “This match is between Kevin Glenn and BlueJay NightGale. One pokémon each, no switching. First to faint the other’s wins!”
We both nod back.
“As ever!” I call.
“And waiting!” Kevin retorts.
Sayri lands with a screech, startling Kevin. I stifle a grin as Jayden jumps from her back.
“I can hardly resist a challenger.” I grin back. “Come on over.”
Jayden whistles to his birds and they take off again. He steps around to stand beside Brith, and the pack move to sit down around them. They’re all watching the newest member of our team, interested. Haven’t really used Soise in battle before… and certainly not knowing she’d evolved. Mostly because she only pulled that one on us a few days ago.
“Then – begin!” Brith claps her paws.
“Thelrin – poison fang!”
“Soise, foul play!”
The arbok darts forward, opening its mouth to reveal fangs dripping purple-ish poison. Soise leaps to the side and darts behind it, jumping to catch its head. Thelrin continues for a moment, until Soise twists his head around to bite into his own scales.
Thelrin hisses in pain and writhes, sending Soise skidding onto her side. As she gets up, I see shadows drip around her.
“Soise! No illusions!” Brith calls. “Let’s keep this simple, shall we?”
Soise laughs and nods. “Right y’are, judge!”
Soise darts out of the way of a veritable flood of poison that the arbok spits out in a seemingly never-ending stream. It stops before it reaches me, though Vulp hisses at my feet, her fur standing on end.
“She’s too fast,” Kevin curses. “Thelrin, use rock tomb – bury the field!”
Thelrin slams his tail into the ground, levelling rocks out of our surroundings. Arc yelps and flattens herself against the ground as one soars over her head.
“Watch where you’re getting them from!” I yell.
Soise darts about the field, trying to avoid the falling rocks – but there are too many. With a yelp, she stumbles as one gashes her leg. Another slams into her back as she doubles over, and she only just avoids getting crushed beneath it.
Maybe I should’ve given the guy more credit.
The arbok rears up and spits a concentrated stream of poison at Soise.
“Soise – night daze, deflect!”
She glances back once and nods, before slamming her forepaws into the ground. Shadows erupt from the contact point, actually furrowing the ground as they speed outwards, spreading slightly. They hit the poison and force it to split, streaming passed Soise. Soise snarls in triumph and limps forward.
“Wait for it, Therlin,” Kevin calls.
Soise pushes herself from the ground and starts to run, limping slightly.
Hell, maybe I should’ve called for another night daze.
Poison fang!” Kevin yells as Soise gets within range.
Therlin shoots forward, bearing his fangs. Soise drops to the ground and kicks her feet into his coils. Therlin hisses and slams his fangs into Soise’s leg – the already gashed one. His fangs sink deep into her leg, and Soise just about screams.
“Soise!” I yell, glancing at Brith.
She’s watching the match, apparently unconcerned by it all. Well, she does have to be impartial.
“Ok, we’ve got them now!” Kevin cheers, punching the air. “No so tough, huh NightGale?”
I snarl. He’s getting it now.
“Soise – hone claws!”
She scrapes her claws along the ground, producing a sickening sound. She leaves flecks of blue behind, but her claws are gleaming black underneath, and deadly sharp.
Therlin tries to disengage his fangs, to get away – but Soise grabs his head and forces his fangs out, hissing softly. Standing up, she throws him onto the ground and drops after him, kicking through his coils once more.
Again she slams her claws into the ground, shadows erupting from them to tangle in Therlin’s coils, almost knotting them up.
She laughs brutally, once. The shadows disappear as she stands upright, definitely favouring her leg as blood drips through her fur.
Therlin hisses weakly and tries to get up. Poison drips from his mouth as he tries to spit it at her.
“Well done, Therlin,” Kevin says softly. “I give. You win.”
“BlueJay NightGale and Soise win the match!” Brith announces.
“Knew you would.” Jayden grins, stepping to meet us.
Kevin runs onto the pitch to Therlin’s side. I run to Soise just as quickly, sorting through my bag.
“I’m quite good at that.” I flash a grin at Jayden before tossing Kevin some pecha berries and an antidote. “Here. That should help.”
“Thanks.” Kevin grins. “He’s normally not affected by his own poison.”
“Best to make sure,” Soise says. “I did push it right into his blood stream.”
She accepts some pecha berries, and hisses as I spray an antidote on her leg.
“You fought well, Kevin.” I nod. “Thanks.”
“Not well enough, though.” He sighs. “I’d trained for ages! I really thought we were good.”
Therlin hisses slightly as he eats the berries, lifting them with a forked tongue.
“You are good.” I laugh. “We’ve just been training longer.”
He nods excitedly. “I know, I’ve heard about you! You’ve beaten all five leagues! You travel the seas looking for worthy opponents to your title!”
Brith laughs, stepping towards us. “Is that what they say, now?”
“Yeah! They say you’re Rayquaza’s Trainer, that’s why you’re always travelling – you have his strength, his power. Because of him, you’re unbeatable!”
I laugh again, glancing back towards the volcano town we’d left that morning. “Not unbeatable. I am Rayquaza Kind. Maybe the first acknowledged one in a long time. But… I’ve just been a trainer for a long time. I’ve travelled the world, I’ve practised a lot. Keep training, Kevin. You’ll get there some day.” I grin.
“You think so?”
“Yep. Come on, Soise.” I stand, helping her up.
She stumbles slightly. “This mean I get to ride on Arc?”
“Yeah, sure – Arc?”
She moves to my side, snuffling at my hand for berries. I help Soise onto her back.
“Oh – here!” Kevin rummages in his pocket and pulls out a shard of something that glitters like crystal. “For the battle.”
I take it, examining it. Not quite sure what it is.
“Ash glass. It was part of something big, I think. A statue they used to have… of the weather trio.”
I smile. “Thank you. I’ll treasure this. Maybe it was Rayquaza’s, hey?”
He nods, grinning. “I’ll find you again, NightGale! When we’re stronger!”
Therlin hisses, rearing up at his side.
“Do that, kid.” I swing onto Arc’s back behind Soise, Vulp leaping up beside me. “I look forward to it.”
He steps back as I whistle, calling the pack back around us. Jayden whistles in duet with me, and the flock soar around us as well. He leaps onto Sayri’s back as she slows down, and then they all take off. We race off, leaving Kevin and his arbok in the rocks.