Outskirts of Navdia CraterPainfully sunny- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -"Day two of special training, friends."
- Practice Firestorm
- Special session with Ismene to hone her abilities
- Cement Ismene's place in the team(maybe earn happiness bars??)
- Possibly work on Kalliope's pokemon handling aptitude? If there's not enough don't bother! ^_^
Kalliope announced. All three pokemon looked at their handler. Kazimir was on the ground rather than on Kali's shoulder--very out of the ordinary. Ismene and Erebus sat at Kali's feet. "You did impressive work last time. Let's kick it up a notch. First I want you both to practice what we did last time. Use the wall of smog, then the ring. Finish with five or six bursts at a time. Once you've done those perfectly, we'll start working on applying them in battle situations."
Ismene bobbed up and down, her easily inflatable body barely touching the ground. Erebus twitched his nose and started off away from his handler. "Let's see what you can do, hatchling."
He muttered. Ismene rolled in his wake, complaining loudly at the insult. Her high, lilting voice was for the most part unintelligible as she rolled. "Stop flapping your jaws and get to work."
He fell to his haunches. His chest cavity swelled with air and he felt the shift from oxygen to poisonous gas. As soon as his lungs filled to bursting, he bellowed out the thick smog. It was thicker than the last time they practiced--he'd been working on concentrating the noxious gas to cause a better explosion. Ismene refused to be outdone.
She bounced to a stop and opened her tiny mouth until her jaws hurt. Flames rushed straight into the center of the cloud. Heat boiled outward in a whoosh. The fire ate the gas faster than the eye could keep up with, turning the whole noxious smog into a huge explosion of flames. As it died down, Erebus twisted in a circle, unleashing a second, more concentrated burst. Ismene didn't let him trip her up. She followed his movements with her eyes and swelled up with anticipation. The second he connected the two ends of the ring, she hit the merge point perfectly. If she used a bit too much fire at least she did so with relish. The ring flashed into heat and flame, raging outward and eating up the oxygen until it ran out of gases to burn. The stench of burnt earth and poisonous air filled the vicinity.
Erebus didn't stop. Before the ring had completed its denouement he kicked his hindlegs and barreled forward. In his wake he crafted six nearly identical bursts of gas. Ismene stumbled to keep up but managed to roll to her feet at the last moment and punch through the first three, one right after the other. They burst like a chain reaction--each fading burst blended with the beginning of the next. She hit all of them but the last one, which she missed by barely a foot. Ismene stared at the quickly fading smog and her little face scrunched up in pure hatred for making a mistake. She enveloped the whole of it in an unrelenting flamethrower, overtaking whatever explosion it might have offered. Kalliope clapped her hands."Excellent first try. You did well, Ismene. Consecutive moves are difficult to master but you didn't falter. I think before we can go further you and I need to work on control."
She twitched her fingers, beckoning. Ismene rolled over with clear disappointment. Her face drooped and her arms hung limp at her sides. "I realized we've never personally worked together. We've battled rogues, fought in the schism, and traveled all over Harper. But you and I have never worked on something together have we?"
Kalliope folded her legs and sat down. Ismene watched her in confusion. Their eyes were almost level as Kalliope leaned on one arm.
The sun baked the stones beneath Kali's backside and left her uncomfortably warm but she ignored it to engage Ismene. "I know one of the reasons you act like a child is because I allow you to do so. I treat you like a child who misbehaves and can't control herself instead of teaching you how to behave and showing you the proper way."
Kalliope stroked Ismene's cheek. "How can you trust me if I can't show you I trust you? No wonder you act up all the time. I give you no reason to believe in me."
Both Kazimir and Erebus sat a ways away, leaving the two to their private talk. Ismene couldn't remember a time where Kalliope sat down with her alone. Kazimir was constantly at her side, translating or making snarky comments.
He thought she didn't hear them. Of course she did, he had a big mouth and he projected his thoughts outward at everyone. Ismene didn't fully understand the psychic type but she could tell when he was saying mean things. He got this...red feeling to him. But right now he was out of earshot - mostly - and silent. Ismene stared up at Kalliope. "I don't think I ever asked if you wanted to be a part of this team."
She admitted. "I was so caught up with what an asset you'd be, how strong you are and how clever you might become, I forgot to take a step back and see if you wanted this too."
She tilted her head to the side and examined Ismene, who looked so young but who could cause the kind of damage that even a fire-immune fire type pokemon was affected.
Even if they were incidental, the facts changed everything. Kalliope couldn't afford to indulge her fantasy that Ismene was too young to understand. "Let me tell you a story about a stupid kid who rushed headlong into danger and nearly died. When I was a child, barely bigger than you are now, I decided to go after bad guys. I was playing by myself in a dangerous place and heard adults arguing. I investigated and found them smuggling goods. My father was a very successful merchant, I know the difference between craft and stolen goods."
Kalliope closed her eyes. "I remember there being two of them. I had a sword I stole from my dad - it was much smaller than mine now but so heavy back then. I thought: this. This is what I can do to prove I'm tough. I rushed into their conversation swinging. I was strong even for a young girl and I had surprise on my side. I cut them pretty good before they realized what happened and fought back. I thought I was properly grown up. I didn't need to learn any more. I could do anything. While I battled one with my blade thinking all the while I was going to win, the man behind me released his pokemon. I should have noticed but I was too stubborn."
Ismene crept forward unbidden, her little hands touching Kalliope's knee. Her eyes grew so huge Kalliope could see her own reflection in them. Pale, bright red hair. "I was so sure I would win that I didn't hear the poochyena's warning growl until it sunk its teeth into my shoulder and tore my arm up."
Kalliope pulled the edge of her collar down to expose the white scars, less puckered after all these years but hard to miss. "It bit me deep and one of the men punched me in the face. They took turns kicking me, then left me for dead. When I woke up I was in a healer's home and my father was standing over me. I thought he'd be furious. But he was so upset he hugged me too tight and began to cry."
Ismene didn't understand. Kalliope could tell by the furrow between the igglybuff's brows. "He wasn't mad. He was terrified. I hadn't thought twice about what I was doing, I just leaped into the fray and expected strength was enough. It's not the first time I almost died but it's one of the few I have lasting proof of. You're a lot like I was. Reckless. Stubborn. Those are good traits when your skills have been honed and you know what you're doing. Fear is dangerous. My father had a problem after all the times I frightened him half to death. It did...bad things. His fear crippled him as much as his age. But his fear protected him numerous times over the years. You and I, we don't see fear. We see opportunity and determination. We see what we want and we take it."
Kalliope sat up straighter and put both hands on Ismene's hand. "We need to be able to use our skills. You're strong and fearless. In a battle you are the wild card. Anything can happen. You could take down five opponents with one attack--or die. With proper training, you'll grow strong. If you fight training, if you act up, if you spend too much time selfishly thinking of yourself and no one else, you'll only grow closer to death. I don't want to lose you, Ismene."
Kalliope picked her up and held her close. Her soft, plush body was so weightless Kalliope wasn't fully sure Ismene was in her arms at all. "This team is going to face dangers. Criminals, murderers, thieves. We're going to run into fires, jump into flooded rivers. We're going to fight for justice and rescue innocents. More often than not we're risking our lives every time we go out into the field. This is what I love. This is what I plan on doing the rest of my life.
"If you don't want to risk your life, if you don't want to learn discipline and become strong, if you'd rather throw in the towel and do something else with your life I will accept that. But I need you to be sure of what you want. Don't half ass training any longer if you choose to remain. If you want to relax and live a different life, I'll make that happen. But whatever you do, do it with your whole heart."
Kalliope set Ismene back on the ground. "I can't give you a treat every time you do something right. It's going to be hard work with not as much reward as you would like. But we'll be making a difference in the world. It's up to you. I respect your choice either way."
She got up and dusted off her overheated backside. "Think on it for a while. I'm going to speak with Kazimir and in a few minutes we'll begin practicing again. You don't have to make the decision now. If you could put in your all for the next few hours at least, I would appreciate it. If you're not up to it, I understand as well."
Kalliope left Ismene to think. Ismene for her part was torn. She loved being strong and doing what she pleased. She liked that Kalliope never made her do any of the hard work like the others. She liked getting candy and playing around and showing up to save the day. Save the day?
Ismene considered it. She'd rushed in during that one fight with the bad but good lady. She didn't use the best moves, admittedly, but she'd turned the tide of battle. In fact, every time Kalliope called her into a battle it was a derisive tactic to change the battle entirely. Wild card. Wild? Am I wild?
Ismene wondered. Sure, she liked to burst into flame for no reason. She had temper tantrums and couldn't be controlled--oh. That's what Kalliope was saying. She was wild. She was uncontrollable. Before she might have liked knowing that fact. Right now? It meant her own handler couldn't trust her. That was why Ismene was only ever released as a last resort. Never because her particular skills would be useful. Had Ismene ever obeyed one of Kalliope's orders? Not in the middle of a battle. Ismene preferred to wing it. And it worked. But this would only work until it didn't anymore. Wasn't that what Kalliope was trying to say? What happens next time? If she makes the wrong choice and gets seriously hurt? Not only that but if her handler only calls her on dire emergencies, what would happen to everyone else if Ismene chooses wrong?
The psychic was a jerk. He had such negative aspects on life, Ismene could all but see the sharp needles sticking out of every pore to keep people away from him. Erebus was rude, stupid and over eager. He had a hard head too but a different kind. He obeyed Kalliope. Mostly. And he was let out to play way more often. Ismene frowned. She didn't like the idea of being a last resort, someone only called out when there was no other choice. She wanted to be first pick. Or at least chosen for what she was good at. What am I good at? Burning things. But the mutt can do that. What do I do special?
Ismene's chest clenched like she'd swallowed a stone. I don't have a special skill do I? I'm just...here. In the way. Again.Is that all you want to be? A burden?
Kazimir's voice cut through her mind. Ismene flinched. Congratulations. You succeeded. If that's all, how about you leave?I don't want to!
Ismene protested. I want to help. I want to be...
Kazimir barked a laugh. It resonated in his mind, a painful echo that doubled in on itself. I want to be more.How can you do that? You don't even know what you're going to do now. Part of you wants to leave and have it easy. I can sense it.
Kazimir chided. Never try to hide things from a psychic. We check in your secret hidey holes first. If you don't want to be here then leave. I'll tell Kalliope she was wrong. You are a coward. You're afraid.
Ismene swelled. I'm not afraid! I'm tough!Then what's this overwhelming fear I sense? You're afraid you'll fail. You'll disappoint everyone and get someone killed. You're not wrong.
Kazimir watched her from twenty yards away. Ismene felt his beady eyes on her beneath the cover of his bangs. Unblinking. Give up. Failure is what you're good at anyway.I'm not afraid! I'm not going to fail.
Ismene argued. Her voice trembled even in her own mind. It's not scary. I'm not scared.You're lying.
Kazimir chided. Kalliope's voice rang in Ismene's mind; a faint echo, a recollection. Fear is dangerous. Fear crippled him.
Kazimir's haunting voice followed on the tail end of Kali's words. You're full of fear. Admit it.I'm scared! I'm so scared. What if she dies? What if I die? What if because I'm not strong or smart or brave enough something terrible happens? She said it herself. Fear is dangerous. I am dangerous.
Ismene drooped. Her body trembled with the threat of tears. I can't hurt her. I can't--I can't--You can't, you can't, you can't.
Kazimir scoffed. Or you won't. No one's stopping you.The only one in your way is you.
He accused. He didn't move from his position but it felt like he shifted beside her. The heat of his fur, the pale rose eyes staring into her own. You're useless. You give up before you even try. Every single time.
The world around them narrowed. White light from the sun surrounded them. Her attention dwindled to Kazimir's haunting eyes. You can't do anything. If you don't want to be here, leave.I want to...I want to be here.
Ismene barely allowed the thought to exist. She pictured leaving, never seeing Kalliope again. Never going on adventures. She recoiled. I want to stay.
She whispered. Even in her mind, the words were quiet. Where would she go? Not to the woman who stole her in the first place. Kalliope would never do that. To an old human who stays home all day? To a little kid for their first pokemon? Passed off on whoever walks by? Ismene didn't want that. It wasn't just the fear of the unknown. She felt safe with Kalliope. She--she belonged. Even when they were arguing, the other pokemon never hurt her.
They weren't very nice pokemon. But they were never cruel. Cruel? I'll show you cruel.
Kazimir's soft voice surrounded her. Suddenly she saw Kalliope passing off her pokeball to some faceless human. Instead of seeing the faceless human, she saw Kalliope leaving. The redhead disappeared down the road. Bad humans attacked her and Kalliope called out Erebus and Kazimir. The battle was heated, if blurry with motion and attacks. Kalliope was cut down by her attacker. She lay in the dirt, bloody and sweating, her blade up defensively. The faceless man above her laughed and gripped his blade with both hands, driving it downward. Kalliope's sword snapped beneath the weight and the blade kept going--"Nooooo!
Ismene screamed and flame erupted from her. Everything in the vision caught flame except Kalliope's dark, lifeless eyes. Ismene screamed again and fire exploded outward, engulfing the vision as well as the haunting eyes Kazimir projected in front of her. "I won't let that happen! I won't! I won't, I won't, I won't! You can't! I won't!"
Ismene trembled, eyes squeezed shut and tears dripping down her soft, pink fur. She covered her face with her hands and shook. Kalliope picked her up immediately and squeezed her tight. Ismene had to close her mouth at the last moment to avoid burning her, so traumatic was the sight. But she recognized the smell of her handler and the tight embrace. Kalliope hugged her tightly and rocked her until the igglybuff breathed without sobbing.
Ismene looked up with wet eyes. Kalliope was holding Ismene in her lap, stroking her back. Kazimir hadn't left his position twenty feet away. Erebus on the other hand was circling the pair, snuffling at Kali's knee and making soft chuffing sounds under his breath. He looked at Ismene with a cocked head. No one had seen what Kazimir had been doing. Ismene wasn't sure even Kalliope knew what had happened. I hope you can back it up.
Ismene flinched and ducked her face in Kalliope's shoulder. Don't be such a caterpie. None of it was real.Leave me alone.Why? So you can walllow some more? You've done enough wallowing and pouting. Grow up, Ismene.
Kazimir responded. His tone was cool and precise, nothing like the voice he'd been using before. You wanted to leave. I was only showing you what might happen if you do. Sure you'll find a nice family to go to and you'll probably never spend any time battling rogues or chasing down murderers.
Kazimir shrugged both physically and in her mind. But you'll be leaving her vulnerable. She relies on you. Your strength, your resilience. Your ability to see past everything and do what must be done. That's what she sees in you. I know, she never holds anything back. She loves you.
There was a trace of jealousy in his voice. Ismene's forehead furrowed. The squiggle above it wrinkled in tandem.She wants to do what's best for you. She still sees you as a child. But she can't let you live as a child all your life. You need to grow up and start learning responsibility. You're strong--but you waste your strength. You're determined--but you give up as soon as you hit resistance. Anger fuels you instead of your own innate fighting spirit.
Ismene's eyes opened wide and she stared up at Kalliope. The voice in her head wasn't Kazimir's. It was, but it tasted and sounded like Kalliope. It was like one voice on top of the other. No, she's not communicating. That's what she thinks about while you're training. Ways to help you grow strong. She studies your weaknesses because she senses her own weaknesses in you. At least, that's how she sees it.
Kazimir started forward, a surprisingly quick gait for a small psychic. You passed.
Do you think I'd let some wild, foolish creature put my Kalliope in harm's way? Someone so selfish you'd probably run off in search of berries in the middle of a dangerous situation because your tummy is rumbly?
Kazimir demanded. Kalliope trusts you a lot more than I would like. So I tested you. In the end, you would have thrown yourself between her and the blade.
Grudging admiration. Kalliope thinks, for some inane reason, she needs a full team to become the best Guardian. If she's going to keep sticking idiots on our team, they at least need to have complete loyalty for her. She should be able to trust her team, not worry they're going to get her killed. But you...you might actually be decent. If you stop crying all the time and get some actual work done.
Kazimir reached the pair and patted Kalliope's knee. The dog snarled at him but without any malice. He was confused, Erebus. Something was wrong and he didn't know what but he figured the psychic was to blame. Ismene saw his concern. Not only for Kalliope but for her. He nosed her foot. He was a big bully sometimes. But maybe he wasn't doing it to upset her or to belittle her. Maybe...maybe he was trying to train her too. He was terrible at it, if that's what he was doing. Ismene patted his nose. "We should get back to training."
His nose wrinkled in confusion. "What happened? What did the psychic do?"
Eerie demanded. He glared at Kazimir. "Nothing. We need to train don't we?"
Ismene wiggled in Kalliope's arms until Kali put her down, then she rolled toward where they previously trained. The stench of smog still tainted the air. Erebus wasn't certain what was going on but he followed behind, tail stiff. You want to be a part of this team? Prove it. Our lives will be difficult. If you want this, seize it with both hands and never let go. So long as you do that, we will always have your back.
Ismene peered over her shoulder at Kazimir.Kalliope is my life. I would throw my own life away to protect her.
She felt his eyes on her. Get strong. Prove you can protect her. Prove you can be her strength.
His voice disappeared. So did his presence in her mind, though he hadn't realized how strong it was until it was gone. There was a faint tendril of power remaining. His Telepathy ability, keeping everyone safe from friendly fire. Ismene swelled up. The psychic hated everyone. The mutt was loudmouthed and a bit rude. They both believed in her.
That's what Kazimir was saying. And she needed to believe in herself. Kalliope watched the trio of pokemon, keeping a safe distance back. Kalliope believed in her too. It was in the human's nature to put her trust and love into her team. Ismene had understood this from the beginning. How quickly Kalliope accepted her, fought with her, fought for her. Ismene knew if she were ever in danger, Kalliope would throw her life into the fire to save her. Ismene would do the same. Trust was a difficult bond to build up to when you had no recollection of what the word 'trust' really meant. But Ismene was beginning to understand the depth of it. The strength of it. Be her strength
. Ismene shivered. Her little heart pounded in her chest like a trapped pidgey. Adrenaline surged in her veins. She smiled. "Let's do it, Eerie."
She swelled, anticipation and energy coursing through her. This was her team. Her family. Maybe she's not what they expected--they certainly weren't what she expected. But they accepted her. She closed her eyes and breathed in deep. Erebus built up another cloud of smog. When she opened her eyes, she blasted a perfect spout through the fog and ignited the gas. It burst outward like a sea parting for a wailord, waves of heat eddying in both directions. Erebus flowed into the next move and Ismene followed. They moved in tandem.
When it came time for the small bursts, Ismene didn't rush into the roll. She waited until the first formed, blasted it, and followed Erebus' path with her round body, rolling easily beneath them. She timed her rolls so she fell beneath them, face up. Just long enough to ignite and roll to the next. They hit seven balls of flame in sync. When they finished, Erebus caught her mid roll and rolled her upward. He bumped her with the wet point of his nose, tongue hanging out with delight. Kalliope clapped proudly and cheered them both on. "Excellent! You managed even more this time. Well done."
Kalliope bent down to kiss them both on the head. "You're working well together. I knew you could do it."
Kalliope stood. "Now we're going to try something new. Same concept, different application. Kazimir?"
Kalliope put her hands together, head tilted to glance at the psychic. He waltzed over, all pomp and bluster. He looked smug already. "I'm sure you both want to know how we're going to use this in the field and when. It's not something we can suddenly throw into a situation. So I decided we'd practice. Kazimir has a particular skill that's quite useful for what we're doing. He can create illusions as most psychics can.
"He's going to design illusions and you're going to decide whether to attack or hold back. Kaz."
The psychic nodded and five people formed in front of them. One was a perfect replica of Kalliope. The next was a woman with two children, one a baby and the other a toddler with dirty blonde hair. The man after that was dark skinned and dark haired with vibrant clothing. The remaining pair were clearly siblings, possibly teenagers. They had the dusky skin of bulwari or dorani coupled with rich mahogany hair. "These people are the innocents. If you see them, don't fire."
She explained. Kazimir made them vanish and replaced them with five others. Two were women, one blonde and the other a redhead. They were pale and carried blades in each hand. The next was an older man with a bludgeoning stick in one hand, his grizzled face dark with a beard. The next was a dark-skinned female with a seviper at her feet, hissing angrily. Finally there was a young man with big, dewy eyes and an ugly sneer on his otherwise handsome face.
These people weren't imaginary. Kazimir had seen all of them at one point in time or another and for reasons beyond himself committed them to memory. Each had a natural stance or body language insinuating friend or foe. They had voices, though none spoke of yet. "These are the criminals. You don't know their crimes, you don't know who they will hurt next. But you know you can stop them. Kazimir will change the scene every fifteen to thirty seconds upon his discretion. You'll see about five scenes before we stop for the first round. Begin in three, two..."
The illusions disappeared. A ring around thirty feet in diameter encircled Ismene and Erebus with Kazimir just on the outside. Kalliope stepped out of range just in case. "One!"
What was once a sunny day went black.
They were in an alleyway. A dingy wall covered their back, another in front of them fifteen yards off. The ends of the alleys disappeared into mist. Before them stood two of the criminals: the blonde woman and the young, dewy eyed boy. They stood on opposite sides. The woman charged them but the boy remained in place, wielding a thin looking blade. Erebus billowed out a wall of smog stretching between them and the blonde. Ismene ignited it quickly, bursting outward to engulf the woman. She screeched and jumped back. Behind Ismene, the male attacked. He kicked her soundly in the backside and she lifted up and bounced hard ten feet away. Erebus snarled and shot flame of his own. The scene dissipated. It was a bright morning in a grassy field, the sunlight gentle instead of searing.
The young woman with two children cowered nearby. The grizzled older man stomped toward them with his weapon raised over his head, the blunt stick thick enough to break bones. Erebus shot two balls of smog at him. By now Ismene had righted herself and followed at his side, igniting both. The man stumbled back, then swore and raised his weapon again. Erebus modified the original ring of smog to make a thick rope between him and the innocent. Ismene lit it up a little off kilter, spreading the fire a little lopsided but enough to force the man back. The scene vanished.
They were in a busy street, a market of some sort. The people around them were blurred and faceless but there was a cart laden with fruit and a cart full of leather goods. Between them were two women stealing items from both while a third, this one the kindly looking dorani talking quickly with pair of faceless merchants, shaking her head. Erebus growled but didn't make any smog. Ismene poked him min the side. "Hurry up! We're running out of time."
Erebus shook his head. "No. It wouldn't be useful."
He tried to explain. Ismene frowned and blasted fire at the two girls stealing. They screamed and the carts on either side caught fire, burning quickly. The scene vanished. Ismene wasn't sure what happened--it didn't really count did it? The next unraveled. An unnameable road with a cart. One busted wheel kept them from going anywhere. Two men, the dewy eyed man and the darker skinned male had daggers and they were jabbing them at the innocent family, the woman and her kids. Erebus ran between them and Ismene followed. One tried to stomp on her. She felt his foot glance her side when she dodged. But Erebus had already built up a wall of smog between them, which circled around the men's legs and torsos. They covered their mouths and backed up.
Ismene just barely ignited the fire and shot them backward onto the ground, clothing smoldering, when the scene vanished. The last one had seven people all in a group, moving and shouting and hitting at the wall of some business. It might have sold clothes or bread for all she knew. The front window shattered under the onslaught. Erebus tossed his head back and forth, wavering. "Follow my lead."
He rose up on his hind legs and aimed upward. He built up a moderate sized ball of smog, one that rose upward instead of toward the mob. Ismene blasted upward as soon as he closed his maw. It burst with a loud bang and a whoosh of heat. The humans dropped to their knees and covered their ears.
The scene disappeared. They were back in the bleak volcanic dirt. Kalliope stood apart, watching them. Her eyes were dark with thought. "Tell us your thoughts. Don't worry, Kazimir will translate. Where did you go wrong?"
Ismene looked back and forth between her and Erebus, uncertain. "Did we do bad?"
Her tiny voice wavered. Erebus bopped her with his nose. "Pay better attention. She didn't say we failed. She asked what we did wrong. It's how you learn. Think back on what we just did. Was there any moment where we did something we shouldn't?"
Erebus sank to his belly and folded his paws under his chin. "Take your time."
Ismene obeyed. She thought about them all. The first one they didn't make any mistakes. The second not really. She pursed her lips. "Do you mean the thieves?"
He nodded. "Well...when I fired at them, the carts caught fire. That was bad?"
She thought. "And when I got kicked both times. That wasn't good either, was it?"
She tilted her head. "How did they kick me anyway?"
Kazimir laughed. "They didn't. I did. I used a little telekinesis to make it more realistic. Pretty cool, huh?"
He went silent for a moment, translating. Kalliope nodded her head. "Do you know why those were mistakes?"
She asked. Without waiting for them to respond, she answered. "The first time, you forgot to pay attention to your surroundings. If you'd been watching for him you could have dodged, Erebus could have smogged him and then you could have incapacitated him with the blast. Though there are other ways you could have stopped him. The second one was pretty good. But the two girls stealing? It was a bit of a trick, I'm sorry."
She stretched her shoulders, one arm behind her back. "We're going to see all kinds of different crimes. Sometimes violence is the wrong answer. They could have been hungry. They could have been scared or lost, or they might be petty thieves who get caught for this a lot. Either way, we would have arrested and restrained them. Attacking them is the wrong move. Sometimes peaceful ways are better. Understand?"
She explained. "During the caravan robbing, you might have used a little less smog and concentrated it more in one place, Erebus. The backlash of the explosion might have hurt you or the innocents behind you. As for the final scene, very well done. You were resourceful, Erebus. Attacking the humans would have been a bad idea."
Erebus' tail wagged. "They were vandalizing and mobbing a store but instead of using force, you got their attention and made them stop. Well done. Overall you did a great job. No one is perfect their first try. Ready for another round?"
She smiled. Erebus got up and barked in agreement. Ismene bounced up and down as well. Kazimir stretched and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Everything went black. When the light came back on, they were trapped in a small room, maybe ten feet wide. Kalliope was bound and strapped to a table of some sort and two of the bad women were standing over her. Erebus rushed in and started to mime biting at their legs. The women reeled back and started to swing. Ismene was starting to get it.
Follow their movements, assess the situation. Respond.
They were attacking Kalliope. She couldn't move. Erebus distracted them by attacking first. Ismene bounced behind him and took in a tiny breath. Lips pursed into a tiny o, she breathed. A tiny jet of flame, perhaps four inches long, came into being. She used it to mime cutting the straps holding Kalliope down. Then she turned at the sound of Erebus' yelp. One of the women tried to stab him, which dropped him to the ground. "Eerie! Smog, quick! Keep to the ground."
Erebus huffed, leaking smog. The woman stomped on him and he grunted but kept spewing out more gas. Ismene rolled toward him and ignited the gas, continued rolling, and blasted a flamethrower behind the women just as they jumped back from the flames. They fell to the ground and rolled, trying to put out the flame. The fake Kalliope leaped in to arrest them. The scene faded.
Suddenly a dozen pokemon surrounded them. All types and sizes, running toward them in almost slow-motion. Erebus rose to his feet and shakily turned, building up the ring of smog. The pokemon were getting close. He finished the ring and looked at Ismene. "Hurry!
But she bit her lip at his request. What had Kalliope said the entire time they'd practiced this tactic? Know when to set the gas on fire. The pokemon weren't close enough. Rattled, Erebus started the ring over again, trying to keep it thick as it slowly dissolved. When the pokemon got in range, Ismene fired. The twice-thickened ring exploded outward in a whoosh, hitting most of the pokemon full in the face. A few it effected very little. But for the rest, most were thrown backward by the attack.
The scene disappeared.
They kept on with different sorts of scenarios, from attackers holding their victims down to all out attacks. One distinct scenario depicted one of the innocent women but without her children, leaping off a building with a knife in her hand. Erebus mimed knocking her to the ground and Ismene followed in with heal pulse to ease the wound in her broken wrist. Another was an interesting tactic. For a full minute Erebus and Ismene were attacked by a warm of zubat. Speedy buggers, they had to be dodged or hit with a tiny burst of smog to keep them away. When it was over, Ismene counted less than half were dodged or stopped by fire. She swelled with frustration. The normal anger that flooded her veins when she was upset started to rise. Channel your strength of spirit into battle, not anger.
Kazimir whispered. Ismene sensed they weren't his words. Her tiny fists squeezed tight. "We've finally found something you need to practice."
Kalliope clapped her hands together derisively. "You've done quite well at adapting to each new scenario. Mistakes are expected but you've shown a lot of promise in your ability to respond in times of danger. I'm proud of you."
She beamed. Kalliope ruffled her hair, pushing the thick tresses from her face as a rare breeze blew them into her face. "I was afraid we'd never find something to work on."
Erebus canted his head. "You do well when you have a few seconds to plan and execute. The zubat prove you need a little work at quickfire. We'll try again. No one masters a move at once, so don't worry if it's not perfect."
She didn't look directly at Ismene but Ismene felt the comment directed at her. Erebus huffed, knowing full well it was directed at both of them. After a few minutes to rest, they started again. "We'll keep going until you can hit twenty targets without missing one or it's been five minutes."
They began once more. First only five zubat swooped in. This time they had full range of the sky above them as well as thirty feet in every direction. The first two swooped down and the pair managed to hit them both full on, driving them away. However, the third rounded behind them and flew right through them. Start again. They caught five zubat and dodged two more in a row before a pair of zubat zigzagged downward and tangled Ismene's and Erebus's attacks to ruin their streak. They kept going. Eleven dodged or hit. Thirteen. Seven. Fourteen. When they hit fifteen in a row, five more zubat burst into existence. They lost. Erebus howled in frustration.
Ismene wiped sweat out of her eyes. Or maybe they were frustrated tears. She ignored them and fought. They got up to ten targets before three caught them off guard. Eleven. Thirteen. They made it to fifteen again. After each defeat on, another zubat entered the fray. They were on nineteen and running out of steam. The whole of the zubats began to swirl in a tornado of wing beats and screeching. "Surround us both in the smog. Fill everything. As much as you've got."
Ismene panted hard, her chest heaving. She was so tired. But Erebus obeyed. He expelled quickly and with force, trying to get as much smog out of his depleting lungs as he could. When he could get no more, the zubats all descended as one. In the center of the blast, protected by Telepathy and Erebus' natural immunity to fire, Ismene ignited the attack from within. All the zubats phased out of existence and the resulting firestorm rose up and up, eating at every ounce of gas.
It took a few long seconds for the flames to vanish. Ismene coughed, a little soot stained around her face. Dirt covered her backside, her feet, her paws. Erebus' coat was dingy with the various amounts of dust and dirt all over his body. Ismene sat hard on her butt and panted. "We...we did it."
She huffed. Air rushed in and out of her like a whirlwind. When her breathing started to return to normal, Ismene laughed. "We did it! We beat them!"
She laughed again and lay down. Her eyes closed immediately and she fell asleep. The poor girl tuckered herself out working so hard. Kalliope picked her up and held her while she slept. Erebus lay on the ground panting but happy. He was exhausted, sure, but perhaps not so tired he would fall asleep. "You both did absolutely amazing. You worked hard and well."
She praised. "I'm so proud of you both. It's time you rest."
She stroked his fur and returned them both to their pokeballs. She would feed them and let them rest once they got back to their room in Navdia. Then she bent down to pick up Kazimir. He made it look easy but the illusions coupled with telekinesis had taken a toll on him. Ismene and Erebus lasted longer than he'd anticipated. He'd used up too much energy and needed a rest too. She didn't bother offering his pokeball--he wouldn't take it. Instead she carried him as they headed back to the city. They were impressive weren't they?
Kalliope asked. You didn't make it easy for them.
Kazimir sensed the well of love and admiration Kali had for him. She drowned him in her own silent praise for working as hard as he did. He would never admit to exhaustion to the others and probably not to Kalliope if she hadn't known it on her own. Kali filled her whole heart and mind with love and joy that they were all together, becoming a real team. Kazimir drowned in the wealth of emotions and said nothing. He closed his eyes, heart slowing as he let her warmth fill him. She's staying.
Kazimir mumbled. Kalliope sent him a faint question. She doesn't want to leave you. Or the team. She's devoted to you.
His usual jealousy wasn't present. Softly, as he drifted to sleep, Kalliope heard something she probably wasn't meant to hear. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad...
Kalliope smiled and held Kazimir close as he slumbered, trekking the rest of the way into town on sore feet. She would suffer anything for her team. But more than that, she would give them anything they desired to make them happy for they gave her the deepest and purest happiness she had ever known. She kissed Kazimir's green hair and began to sing softly, a song her father taught her many years ago. A lullaby.