From Everland to Reborn ~ Episode 74
Longass chapter with an awkward ending but it do be like that sometimes.
As planned, Candy, Ame and Adrienn went to the fake Devon Corp’s main entrance while Victoria, Arclight and I headed down the stairs to the railnet, which had a second entrance.
“Arc calling Ame,” Arclight said when we were in our positions.
There was some buzzing sounds but soon we heard Ame’s voice.
“Go ahead,” she said.
“We’re at the entrance. We await your signal.”
“We’re ready as well. Let’s go in now.”
Arc turned off transmission, and we followed him up the stairs and broke the door in front of us. We entered the building’s basement and found New World Orderlies awaiting us. That confirmed it for us that this building indeed was a Team Meteor base hidden under Devon Corp’s facade.
“Oh? Finally someone shows up,” said one orderly.
“Finally?” I whispered, but the Meteor grunts didn’t offer an explanation. Instead they sent out their pokemon to engage us in battle.
The battle wasn’t hard; however, it seemed as though the orderlies were stalling us unnecessarily. There was a metallic gate too, which would have stopped us in our tracks had Victoria’s incineroar not been able to soften it with heat and tear it apart.
We followed through to the next floor, which was a corridor that connected the path we came from with the path Ame and co were supposed to take. I thought they should’ve been waiting for us here, since we took a while to clear the bunch in the basement, but they were nowhere to be seen.
“Maybe they went on ahead,” said Victoria.
“Come in, Ame,” Arclight said to the transceiver. “Do you copy?”
There was no response for a moment, but then we heard Candy’s voice.
“I copy. What’s up?”
“That’s what we’d like to know.”
I clicked my tongue and ran over to the storefront.
“Hey Vanilla,” Arclight called behind me. “Don’t make rash movements.”
The storefront wasn’t empty, but Ame and Adrienn weren’t in it. Only a few Team Meteor grunts were sitting or lying on the floor unconscious. They didn’t appear to have been physically assaulted, but I couldn’t be sure of that with their uniform covering them from head to toe.
“Ame, do you copy?” I heard Arclight’s voice, but this time through a radio transmission.
I looked around the messy storefront and found it. A transceiver I judged to be Ame’s.
“I found Ame’s transceiver,” I said through it. “She isn’t here, though.”
“I’m coming in,” said Candy.
She flung the door open and found me shaking limp bodies.
“Vanilla. Gosh, I told you guys I’d only participate if we weren’t killing people,” she said, shaking her head.
“They aren’t dead,” I said. “They’re unconscious for some reason. Didn’t you hear anything from outside?”
“Not at all, it was really silent. But this room sure is a mess. A fight must’ve gone down here, somehow.”
We went back to regroup with the other two, and I gave Arclight the transceiver I found.
“We have to call it quits,” I said. “They knew we were coming, and set a trap for us. They must’ve also captured Ame and Adrienn already- otherwise, that transceiver wouldn’t be here.”
“Wow Vanilla, you’re sounding like a leader,” Candy commented.
“They bested Ame and Adrienn, who are above me strength-wise,” I said. “I’m not so stupid as to force a battle I know I’ll lose for sure.”
“I agree, let’s return to the Grand Hall and plot a plan to rescue Ame and Adrienn,” Arclight said, and we would’ve done just that, if only a thick gate didn’t fall with a loud thudding noise, blocking the way we’d come from and the storefront simultaneously. Victoria sent out her incineroar to try to break the gate like she did in the basement, but whatever the material was, it did not seem affected by the heat. We tried the brittle-break method I’d used a couple of times in the past as well, but nothing.
“This isn’t looking good,” Arclight said.
“There’s no choice but to go forward,” I said. “We’ll be walking right into their trap now.”
Upstairs, we found a few Team Meteor grunts and orderlies awaiting us. In front of them, was a panel on the floor, which Arclight found had electricity flowing through it through a physical demonstration.
“Dumbasses. The panel is a puzzle,” said one of the grunts. “See that display over there? You can control the tiles from there. If you figure out the timing on which to switch the tiles, you won’t need to get electrocuted. There are more of these in the next floors too.”
The puzzle, indeed, required one of us to remain on this floor to control it. Arclight volunteered to stay, and gave me Ame’s transceiver.
“I don’t have one for you, Victoria, but you should be able to do with two among the three of you,” he said. “Copy me when you need the tiles shifted.”
We battled the enemy on every floor while carefully orchestrating the tiles.
The enemy knew about us. I mean, every one of us. They knew Candy was a Pokemon caretaker and breeder in Obsidia, who was once Hoenn League champion. They knew Victoria was a graduate of Apophyll Academy and even that she was hurting from the loss of her mentor. Sometimes they made fun of her for it, and she repaid them with a punch or kick to the face. Oh, and they also knew who I was, but that wasn’t all that surprising since I also remembered some of these people by face. However, this all made it even more clear that somehow Team Meteor had found we were going to invade their base, and what our every move was going to be. I was starting to get suspicions that I wasn’t proud of having, but I couldn’t help but draw parallels between this event and the one that happened in my hometown many months ago.
My mind was thus engaged in deep thought when we entered a small room, which closed its door shut behind us as soon as we entered it.
“It’s no use. It’s the same as the gates below. Nothing can penetrate these,” Victoria said, knocking on the metal.
However, shutting our means of escaping wasn’t all this time. The walls started closing in on us, threatening to make us a human sandwich. Victoria’s incineroar bought us some time as Candy and I followed to the next room.
“She found me,” I heard Arclight’s voice through the transceiver.
“What’s happening? Arclight! Answer me,” I shouted, but the transceiver only transmitted one last cracking sound and went silent.
“Tsk. He’s gone.”
“Without him we can’t change the tiles. We’ll get electrocuted.”
We didn’t get electrocuted, but also that was the last thing I heard before my eyesight suddenly started blacking out and my legs gave in on me.
Pikachu was patting my cheek when I woke up.
We were all alone in a tiny room that was filled with boxes but also a computer with which I could change up my party pokemon and a healing machine.
“Do you know what happened?” I asked Pikachu, but he shook his head sideways.
I tried standing up, but the whole front side of my body hurt so much I could pass out from it. I couldn’t quite remember, but perhaps I fainted and fell on the floor. Otherwise I couldn’t explain this localized pain.
I used the wall to prop myself up and tossed my body towards the computer. I checked my pokemon party and I switched Golden Key (klefki) and Gretel (slurpuff) for Bambi (sawsbuck) and Aladdin (medicham). I was expecting to fight a Team Meteor admin or Solaris, or at worst Lin, on a Factory Field, so I judged pokemon that could withstand electric and steel type attacks would give me an advantage.
Then, I exited the small room. Outside of it was a pokemon battle field, and a cage in which I probably had to enter. I obliged, since I saw no choice but to fight.
I waited a little while, but the person that came in from the other side wasn’t whom I was expecting to fight.
“Vanilla,” Victoria exclaimed when she saw me in a cage.
She also entered hers, and was surprised when it trapped her inside.
The large monitor on the left side of the field turned on, and Lin’s face was broadcasted through it. A microphone’s unpleasant screech filled the room and when it was gone, Lin started speaking.
“I understand you and your petty shambles of acquaintances have come here to stop me,” she said. “How funny. You thought you were strong together, and yet, here you are now.”
“What do you want?” I asked.
“What do I want? Many things, but for now, to teach you a lesson,” she said. “Numbers do not help. Friends do not help. Spirit does not help.”
“What does someone like her know about spirit,” Victoria mumbled.
“In the end, you are still powerless. You are still a victim. You always will be, won’t you?”
The last question seemed to be more directed towards Victoria than to me.
“Now we will play a game,” Lin carried on. “In order to reunite with your so-called friends, you must fight them. The winner may proceed. The loser will suffer a penalty. There are no rules. Begin.”
The monitor then shut off without warning.
“That b*tch,” I said, cracking my knuckles. “She has such a punchable face that it makes Jasmin’s look kissable. I can’t wait to be in the same room as her.”
“Not so fast,” Victoria said. “We have to fight so that one of us can leave this cage. Otherwise, I’m assuming we’ll be stuck here indefinitely.”
“Yeah, I think these cages’ bars are made of that same material we encountered earlier,” I said, examining them. “We’ll have to fight. Let the stronger trainer punch Lin’s face in.”
“I couldn’t have said it better.”
Fortunately for me, I was the stronger trainer. Victoria pulled a good fight, but it was clear she had been rusty in pokemon battling, presumably because she had been busy with the city renovations.
When we were done battling, my cage’s door opened and Victoria screamed in pain. She started trembling uncontrollably, and I wasn’t sure what was going on until I touched one of the bars of her cage for a brief moment and felt the electricity.
“So this is the penalty she was talking about,” I said. “Hang in there, Victoria. Don’t die on me.”
“A-as Kiki’s s-successor,” she said while barely able to command her mouth. “It’s g-gonna take a l-lot m-more than th-this to break my s-s-spirit.”
I rushed out of that floor and encountered a new puzzle upstairs. This one was also a tile puzzle, but a little more complicated- from what I could figure out, there were also moving tiles that I had to change the course of in order to make it to the next area.
“Team Meteor often has some kind of puzzle in their bases,” I commented to Pikachu. “I always thought it was to stall us and buy them some time. However, now I’m starting to feel as though I was just being toyed with.”
Toyed or not toyed, I had to keep playing the game. Candy had to be in here somewhere, and I had to continue going until I was reunited with her.
On the next floor, there was a battlefield just like the one I battled on with Victoria. My next opponent was Arclight, who was waiting inside his cage already.
“Vanilla,” he said. “I’m glad you’re alive and well.”
“What happened to you? Have you seen the others?”
“I got caught by some orderlies under Lin’s orders,” he explained. “I haven’t seen most of our team, but I was with Adrienn a few moments ago. Xe’s on the floor below.”
“Getting electrocuted? I also won the battle and left Victoria downstairs.”
“No, in xyr case, xe refused to battle me and received the penalty by default. The floor in xyr cage was searing,” he said and hit the bars of his cage.
“I didn’t know forfeiting was an option.”
Right then, our conversation got cut short because the monitor turned on again and Lin was there to speak.
“Do you understand yet? You have no control. You never did, even if your glass-spun egos depend on convincing yourselves otherwise.”
“I’ll judge for myself what my glass-spun ego depends on,” I spat on the ground.
Lin ignored me and continued to talk.
“You are pigs to be herded. You are pigs to be hurt. Sputter, shiver and squeal. It changes nothing.”
Then she again turned off the monitor abruptly, leaving the two of us to battle.
“She’s gonna eat those words when one of us ‘little piggies’ catches up to her,” Arclight said. “Regardless, for all my tough talk, I don’t have a way out of this. It pisses me off, but she’s right. We got cocky, and now we’re trapped.”
“There’s still one way out of this,” I said. “And it’s by winning in a pokemon battle. Let the better trainer out of the two of us escape and be the ‘little piggy’ that catches up to her.”
Arclight looked at me in silence, before nodding and smiling.
“That’s true. It’s still too early to be losing hope.”
I thought I would lose this battle when Arclight sent mega-evolved his ampharos. The pokemon kept zapping my pokemon and paralyzing them, so I thought it would finish my whole team one by one in no time. Fortunately for me, its luck ran out and missed two attacks which was enough for my Anna (K-ninetales) to make it faint slowly but steadily.
“Great job, Vanilla. You’re pretty on par with us in the Nightclub. Maybe we’ll see you there soon,” Arclight said when the battle concluded.
However, before I could respond to his comment, the floor beneath him caved in and he fell down while screaming. I hoped, rather than believed, that he would survive the fall. Yet, I must carry on.
While I solved the next puzzle, I wondered who I would encounter next: whether Ame or Candy. From what I had gathered so far, the fights appeared to be in tournament format. Victoria and me, and Adrienn and Arclight were paired, and so it must be the case that Ame and Candy were paired with each other. The winner would be the one to face me, I figured.
The said winner was, surprisingly perhaps, Candy.
“I didn’t think you’d beat the current Reborn champion in battle,” I said. “It seems you’ve still got it in you.”
“Perhaps, or perhaps I got lucky. Ame is a stand-in champion, after all,” she said.
“To be honest, I was looking forward to fighting you when this tournament thing began,” I said. “I want to know how much I’ve grown as a trainer and beating you, who gave me these pokemon in the first place, will prove my team’s strength.”
“Would prove it,” Candy said, but she didn’t seem to be in her best mood. “I’m sorry Vanilla, but I can’t lose this battle.”
Before I could ask her what she meant with that, the infamous monitor turned on and Lin interrupted us.
“If you think family bonds could be stronger than mere friendships, you were wrong. Friends, family, lovers. No bond between two people is stronger than the power of a single independent and efficient individual. Your case is a textbook example of this.”
The monitor turned off.
“Perhaps our bond isn’t strong enough to beat Lin,” Candy said. “But I hope it’s strong enough to keep both of us safe and sound.”
“What do you mean?”
“Send out your pokemon, Vanilla. We’ll test the strength of our bond in battle.”
I wasn’t sure what she meant by testing our bond in battle either. All I knew was that when our battle was over, I was on the losing side of things.
“You said you couldn’t lose, and it seems I couldn’t overpower you,” I said.
“I’m sure, and afraid, you will in no time,” she said and exited her cage to approach me. “Your progress is amazing. And I’m not only talking about battling, either. I’m proud of the person you’ve become.”
“Weird thing for you to say when you know I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot the enemy dead.”
“Even if we have our differences, even if we can’t walk the same path, and even if we can’t always agree with each other, I will always be your cousin and your friend.”
She turned her back to me then, and sighed.
“I wish I could be proud of myself too, but age hasn’t made me anymore mature or courageous. On the contrary, it’s made me selfish and anxious.”
“You? Selfish and anxious? Come on now, you can’t be serious.”
“I am, and today is a textbook example of it,” she said and shook her head. “Don’t mind me. I’ll go ahead.”
I saw Candy go up the stairs, and then I was just alone with Pikachu. Yet, it seemed off. In every other instance, the loser received a penalty, yet no matter how long I waited, such a thing didn’t appear to come my way.
“Is my cage broken, or did Lin run out of torture devices?” I asked no one in particular.
Anyway I sat down with Pikachu on my lap, waiting for something to change, or for someone to come to my rescue. I got bored and started playing rock paper scissors with Pikachu, until the cage’s door suddenly swung open.
“What’s the meaning of this?”
I wasn’t going to complain about not getting my piece of punishment.
Because Candy had solved the puzzle before me, it was quite easy for me to just follow the path she laid for me. I made it to where she was in no time, but when I found her she was sobbing on the floor.
“Candy? What happened?” I stroked her back.
However, she didn’t need to give me a response. A quick look about the area allowed me to find what seemed like Ame’s body lying but 10 meters from where I stood. At the sight of it, I had to hold my mouth lest I might puke right then and there.
“Lin’s hydreigon,” Candy said between hiccups. “It chomped on Ame’s head.”
I took a few deep breaths and composed myself.
“Let’s go Candy. We have to finish what we started.”
I cut a piece of my bubblegum dress and gave it to her so she could wipe her tears, and we slowly walked out of the place. When we passed next to the headless body, I couldn’t help but take a glimpse of it. I wished I could take it with us so that we could give her a proper burial, but that would have to wait. I wasn’t sure what awaited us next, and I doubted I could protect Candy while carrying a body on my other shoulder.
On the next room, we found ZEL. They seemed quite distressed- even more distressed than the last time we met in their Tanzan base, when they were struggling to control PULSE Abra.
“Just what the hell did you mess up so badly?”
“This wasn’t a user error. Some kind of corrupted program must have been injected into the system.”
“So your security system was just shit.”
“Stop blaming her! I don’t see you helping.”
“Shut up Lumi. Can the data be repaired or not?”
We could’ve just interrupted their self-conversation, but I told Candy to stand by. I felt that since they weren’t aware we were standing in the same room, they might spill some vital information that could be of use to us.
“All PULSE2 and Arc-PULSE data has been left unaltered,” they said. “However, the PULSE-Magnezone damage is irreparable.”
It all appeared to be an issue with the PULSE-Magnezone, which was blinking intermittently on one corner of the room. They couldn’t leave the Devon Corp base until it was fixed, or at least made to be in a moveable state, but they hadn’t managed to and that had delayed their stay until now.
“Tch. Lin must’ve known this was coming,” they said. “I bet it has something to do with the hero brigade she had hauled in here.”
Then, they finally noticed us.
“Speaking of the devil, huh? They’ve already come to destroy this PULSE like all the others.”
“So it’s too late already.”
“Well, there’s no way in hell I’m going to let you do that, Vanilla. Prepare yourself.”
“Control your temper, Zero. Remember, Lin requested that Vanilla not be harmed.”
“She what?” I exclaimed unwittingly. “Why could she possibly request that?”
“I don’t know what goes in Lin’s head. If it were up to me, we’d have erased your existence out of this planet already,” they said.
I had to be satisfied with that response, but I honestly couldn’t be. It creepily matched with the earlier happening with my penalty not coming through, and I knew I couldn’t rest until I found out what was Lin’s motives in keeping me “safe” at least temporarily.
“If you insist on destroying the PULSE, we’ll have to counter with a pokemon battle.”
“I didn’t really come to destroy it, but I guess I might as well,” I said. “Take it as a little payback for the pain your leader inflicted on my comrades.”
Perhaps due to it being in a state of highwire or perhaps because it wasn’t built to fight off a trainer, the magnezone went down to a single Hi Jump Kick from Aladdin (medicham), concluding the battle.
“Magnezone, magnezone! Please be okay,” they screamed when they saw their PULSE flashing ever more alarmingly.
However, it was pointless. Seconds later, the machine shut down and caused a small earthquake, while a cloud of smoke emerged from it and almost asphyxiated all of us in its perimeter. Perhaps not Candy, though because with all the snot she had in her nose, I doubted she could even breathe in the smoke.
We found ZEL lying on the ground, and I wasn’t sure whether they had survived the mini explosion from a close distance.
However, when Pikachu poked their head, they slowly came back to their senses.
“Hmm. The… PULSE. The PULSE. Hey, we didn’t lose hearing in the explosion, did we?”
“It wasn’t that loud, to be honest,” I said.
“I can hear you,” ZEL said. “But Lumi and Eve. Hey! Say something!”
“I thought you were crazy, but it seems that concussion made it worse.”
“Oh no, the magnezone. It’s gone,” said ZEL, ignoring me and instead knocking his face on the broken machine. “I’m… alone. I’m alone. I’m alone, and… empty.”
I’m not going to pretend that ZEL’s face at that moment wasn’t terrifying. I felt like they might take a knife any minute and kill either me or themselves… or himself, since I presumed the only one left in that body was Zero. Fortunately for me, he didn’t do any of that, and instead quickly left after whispering that he had to get to Agate.
“What was all that?” Candy asked after blowing her nose.
“It’s a long story for another time,” I said. “Since Zero headed for the exit, we mustn’t be that far from it either. Let’s go.”
VANILLA RATES: REBORN CHARACTERS
Phewh that was a lot of battling and editing yeet hope it was kinda enjoyable