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I wish you nothing but the best Fugman and life tends to go pear shaped at the worst opoprtunity! Thank you for the chapter and looking forward to your newest updates.
Heh. I think we will get one gigant Nevemore. Also can he cosplay a certain grimm nevermore? Specifically mass bombarding with steel missile feathers? In macross style?
Good God Fuggman, that all really sucks. Sorry that all that stuff happened to you; hope it all gets sorted out okay and you feel better.
Heh. I think we will get one gigant Nevemore. Also can he cosplay a certain grimm nevermore? Specifically mass bombarding with steel missile feathers? In macross style?
I crave Gigantamax Hate-Crow coming down like a meteor shower.
... I have to be honest, this felt like a bit much. One of Maxie's psychics being so powerful they can seal off the entire mountain? With so much power that a Dark-type attack from Corvisquire couldn't make the barrier so much as flicker? Megas are so horrifyingly strong and unnatural that other pokemon go mad from terror just seeing them?

It's the kind of vertical leap that removes all stakes for me, because either the story ends next chapter after Corviknight gets ripped in half by any of Maxie's pokemon or a miraculous coincidence results in them being able to crawl away half-dead with long-term injuries while Maxie's team suffers no real issues.

Maybe Corvi manages to miraculously punch through the barrier protecting Maxie and murder him, which breaks the mega evolution and Camerupt is revealed to still be badly wounded under it? It'd be a bit questionable, with how thoroughly that barrier stopped him cold before. But then, even if he manages that there's a berserk Claydol to worry about.
The thing that bothers me the most about this is that the two Pokemon that Maxie has are so powerful that people should really know about them. For one thing, you don't get that ridiculously powerful in a vacuum; you'd need to train, and unless Maxie goes completely-isolated mountain hermit such a massive Camelrupt, much less the possibly-corrupt Mega form, would have been seen and commented on by someone, if only because Pokemon battles are the only sport and so literally everyone would be posting videos of some random super-sweeper like this. For another, if Maxie had this kind of world-shaking power already, he ought to be using it more, especially given the arrogant posturing he displays in this chapter. Someone who acts like this wouldn't be content skulking around for years when he has the equivalent of an armored division in his back pocket; he'd be hammering his opposition into the ground, using them to bolster his reputation.

Also it really reads like Mawile is just fucking dead.
It really does seem that way doesn't it? No mention of a recall, just a Steel-type Pokemon being crushed under a Fire-type's foot.
Honestly, its likely there are more Claydol/Baltoy around. They tend to travel in groups and work well together.
That's my thinking as well. Maxie seems like the type to cheat like hell and use illegal/dangerous substances/techniques to ramp up his pokemon. Camerupt has probably been psychically conditioned by groups of claydolls for months to be the puppet juggernaut it currently is.
Act 2: Chapter 18
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With the supernatural cool of chilled steel and the leashed, frantic energy of danger seeping into his mind, Corviknight analyzes his foe as he screams down through the air. Thoughts of a tactical sort supersede all else, and objectives take form.

Lee and Ninetales must be defended at all costs and evacuated as soon as possible.

Brendan and Zinnia must be defended and evacuated.

Barriers and obstructions preventing evacuation must be removed.

Bystander casualties must be avoided where possible.

All foes must be disabled where possible.

From the most important to the least important, it all comes to him with lightning speed and assured confidence. A small part of him, a bit left over from his prior evolution, seethes at the notion of leaving such impudent opponents intact, but it's silenced swiftly. The most important aspects must take precedence, and that means none of his can die.


A mere second before impact, the mockery of a Camerupt seems to realize something is amiss and raises its head. Its eyes, small and bloodshot, don't seem to register the approaching danger.

A moment later, Corviknight drives his beak into its neck with hellish speed and ferocity.

The beast skids back several inches, its hooves practically grinding the rock beneath it to dust. And most worrying of all, Corviknight feels his beak sink less than an inch into the flesh of his foe.

That… is not good. At least Camerupt's attention shifts away from the catatonic Lee and disabled Ninetales.

With a bellow so loud Corviknight can feel his armor rattle, Camerupt turns its wild eyes to him and opens its mouth, fire building within its throat.

With a single flap of his broad wings, Corviknight pulls back and twists his bulk through the air, flying over Camerupt at an angle too sharp for his neck to follow. Beak glowing with power, Corviknight stabs the beast's neck once more, and just as last time, his efforts produce a wound that barely even bleeds.

'Damnation! What in the world is this thing?' Corviknight grimaces, once more throwing himself out of the way when Camerupt turns to him, firing a retaliatory Flamethrower. Just being near Camerupt makes his armor feverishly hot, and the added heat from the Flamethrower makes Corviknight's stomach roll in nausea. 'I'm striking with all the strength I can muster, yet it barely notices.'

"Another interloper?" The red-clad human behind the monstrous Camerupt frowns. Maxie, Corviknight believes his name to be. "This is becoming bothersome."

Although few would interpret Maxie's words as some sort of order, Camerupt re-doubles its efforts to strike Corviknight down. The beast's volcano-like hump gurgles and boils, throwing globs of lava into the air, forming a miniature shower around it, forcing Corviknight to back off lest he test his new armor against molten rock.

'Wonderful…' The great raven sneers to himself. He takes stock of the battlefield once more.

Lee, still ashen-faced, is focused on Ninetales. Even so shocked, the man's eyes roam her numerous injuries, treating what he can, and when he can do no more, he draws her pokeball. With a whisper too quiet to hear, Ninetales is drawn back into the protective sphere. He cradles the ball to his chest, unable to do much else.

Zinnia and Brendan stare up at his armored form with wide, disbelieving eyes. The Dragon woman's arms are wrapped protectively around the boy, partially shielding him with her own body. Considering the frightened, vulnerable state of them both, neither must have any battle capable pokemon.

Behind Maxie and the Claydol at his side, a trio of pokeballs lay on the ground. Neither Lee, Zinnia, nor Brendan would dare ever drop such critical lifelines, so Corviknight vows to keep the trio of potential unknowns in his peripherals whenever possible.


With a grunt, Corviknight once more twists out of the way of a gout of flames, looking at Claydol once more. Though he is no expert on the natives of Hoenn, Claydol is unmistakably a psychic.

The corvid's eyes narrow.

Something ephemeral pokes Corviknight's instincts, warning him that things are not as they seem, and he listens well to the silent urging. The Claydol must be responsible for the barriers, unless he has unseen compatriots positioned around the mountain, which is not an impossible occurrence. This is far from a regulation battle, after all. Regardless, something simply isn't right here…

With all of his focus and his newfound power brought to bear, Corviknight dances through the air as if he doesn't weigh half a ton, weaving around Camerupt's mindless, furious attacks with inches to spare. The black armor coating his form feels as though it should make him invincible, and dodging almost feels cowardly, but seeing Lee's First and Most Faithful put down so brutally pushed all notions of pride and bravado aside. He will dodge until he cannot.

So begins a rapidfire back-and-forth exchange. Camerupt's flames, burning as hot as anything Ninetales could throw, whip by the deft raven with palpable wrath. Corviknight, meanwhile, darts in and out, patiently driving beak and talon into his foe's flesh the instant an opening presents itself. How utterly wrong the existence of the thing before him is, and the revulsion that follows is pushed aside with great effort. Many times Corviknight has to abort his strikes, unused to his new size and the sudden difficulty of squeezing between his foe's projectiles. Each time, he curses under his breath.

Camerupt finally becomes frustrated with Corviknight's evasiveness. The camel stomps its hooves as if throwing a tantrum, shaking the volcano down to its foundation. Then it draws back its head, mouth open wide. From the open maw comes an ocean of blinding white fire, aimed squarely up at a scowling Corviknight and the entire area surrounding him.

'Damn it!' Corviknight already knows there is no way to dodge such a wide attack with his natural abilities alone. Taking a deep breath, he ignites the bright cloak of Extremespeed around him. An instant later and with a sharp crack of displaced air, he is on his foe's opposite flank, and Corviknight's entire body screams in protest. The sudden onset of pain nearly makes Corviknight lose altitude.

'I should've expected such a thing. Grovyle did not master his new body for a week after evolution, and I am only a mere talonful of minutes into mine own transformation…' the raven growls under his breath. His heavy armor protested against the sudden change in inertia, feeling as if it was going to rip itself free from his skin. 'I cannot dally. I haven't any idea how many more times I may use Extremespeed without injury, but it surely cannot be many.'

His foe, the twisted Camerupt, presents a serious hurdle, however. The nicks and small wounds upon its face and neck are far from debilitating. Unless he can inflict more substantial damage, the fight will boil down to a battle of attrition, one that Corviknight is not equipped to win.

Unbidden, his self-imposed objectives come back to him.

Lee and Ninetales must be defended at all costs and evacuated as soon as possible.

Brendan and Zinnia must be defended and evacuated.

Barriers and obstructions preventing evacuation must be removed.

Bystander casualties must be avoided where possible.

All foes must be disabled where possible.

Corviknight scowls once more. Camerupt is a danger to objective one, and needs to be defeated now. 'Very well, then. I suppose I can no longer afford any level of fair play.' He stares down at the wild-eyed Camerupt below.

The camel bellows a deep, ground-shaking roar.

Corviknight answers by parting his beak and letting out a piercing screech, one akin to the shriek of tortured metal. Then he dives.

The raven twists by a stream of fire, and throws his wings out to arrest his flight, stopping just short of being struck by an opportunistic headbutt.

Camerupt was clearly expecting his skull to impact Corviknight, as the monster overextends, leaving its face vulnerable for a precious split second.

Without a hint of remorse, Corviknight jabs his steel-coated beak, shining bright with a Pluck attack, right into Camerupt's eye…


…Only for his beak to skitter off some sort of invisible barrier.

'What in the world?'

In his surprise, Corviknight is a split second too slow to totally avoid a roaring blast of flame from Camerupt's mouth. The corvid rises up and out of the way, but not before a glowing molten trail is carved into the side of his breastplate, dangerously close to cooking the flesh beneath.

Corviknight growls and darts out of the way of a follow-up blast, his mind working a mile a minute. The beast before him is supernaturally tough, quick, and doesn't seem to react to any kind of pain stimulus. All these things tickled his instincts, but now, after seeing a debilitating attack simply glance off?

Corviknight's eyes turn to Claydol, just in time to see the faintest of violet glows fade away from around its body.

Unbeknownst to Corviknight, Lee would share his realization almost exactly.

It takes entirely too long for Lee to compose himself in his eyes. Even now, he can feel the phantom pain of a burning stone lodged between his ribs. Despite knowing that it's all within his mind, the agonizing sensation still drove him to his knees.

The knowledge that Ninetales is suffering the real thing hurts infinitely more.

Even so shocked, or perhaps because he is so shocked, Lee reverts back to what feels natural, and immediately sets to tending Ninetales' wounds in a dazed sort of autopilot. He dares not remove the shard of stone embedded within her chest, lest she bleed out or lose pressure in her punctured lung. The wound was cauterized shut, but still, Lee removes the Super Potion from his bag and uses the last of it upon Ninetales' various wounds, finishing off the last spritz around the edges of the chest wound. Finally, he returns her to her ball, back in the safety of stasis, cutting off the shared pain and leaving only something phantasmal behind. Ninetales falling into a painless unconsciousness is the only solace.

Precious time bought, but Lee can still feel her life force slowly ebbing away, even through her ball. He knows deep down that if she dies here, then so will he. Not at the hands of Maxie, no, but from his own heart giving out.

Ninetales is his world. If she dies, then it all may as well come to an end, no matter how pathetic such a sentiment sounds.

They need to leave. They all need to leave immediately.

There is a bone-shaking bellow, met by a spine-tingling screech.

Lee's head shoots up, and he shakily rises to his feet, watching the battle of the behemoths before him. Every time they clash, the entire volcano shakes. Of course he noticed the Corviknight descend from above and distract Camerupt. Even so distraught, such a titan would be hard to miss. Only now, though, does it sink in that the gigantic bird might be his Corvi. The viciousness, the determination, the fury, all of it is Corvi to a T. Did he contact help? Was he stopped? He must have been stopped somehow if no backup followed in his wake. Lee eyeballs Claydol, gulping, knowing that the Ground and Psychic-type must have been responsible.

The raven's identity is driven home when Corvisqu- Corviknight ruthlessly stabs his beak right into Camerupt's eye.


…Only for the attack to glance off of something invisible.

'What the hell?' Lee's eyes instantly turn to Maxie's Claydol, and he's just in time to see the doll pokemon glow with a psychic light so faint, Lee has to wonder if his eyes are playing tricks on him. His mind whirls, and he comes to a horrible conclusion. 'Our fight against Camerupt was never a two-on-one, it was a two-on-two the entire time. That son of a bitch!' Lee tries to recall any other manipulations Claydol might have thrown into the fight for their lives, but he comes up blank. 'Either Claydol is so slick that we haven't noticed a thing, or Camerupt is only just now getting help, but…'

His mind jumps back to just a short while ago, where Grovyle valiantly took up the fight to delay the inevitable. The wood gecko was as fast as they come, darting in and out of danger to land a Night Slash right on Camerupt's flank. Despite still having a few difficulties with manipulating Dark, Grovyle's attack carved a hard-won wound into Camerupt's flesh that only Tyrunt's lucky Bite on the camel's leg could match. Every attack that isn't Dark (or Water, Camerupt's critical weakness) seems terribly muted in comparison.

'Dark moves, the antithesis of Psychic, damaged Camerupt.' Lee comes to a wide-eyed conclusion. 'Claydol has been interfering since the very start! He's been defending Camerupt from as much incoming damage as possible!'

…But if Claydol has been participating the entire time, why hasn't he thrown out any attacks? Lee knows for a fact that a well learned Psychic can attack and defend simultaneously, making them into lethal enemies.

'No…' Lee looks at Camerupt's eyes.

The bloodshot orbs are still just as wild and hateful as they were when the pokémon was first released from his ball, lacking any sort of apparent spark of intelligence or self-awareness. It's the gaze of a drugged animal, one in the between state of consciousness and stupor.

'Is Claydol not attacking because he's… controlling Camerupt? Can he not split his focus that much?'

It almost feels like a leap of logic, but everything lines up so neatly that Lee can't help but physically stumble back a step. 'It's almost like with Ninetales' Foxfire move. Trying to control a body that isn't yours with telepathy is a chore… And that's when the body isn't potentially putting up a fight…'

A plan takes shape in Lee's mind, and with his shock passing and the knowledge of everything on the line weighing on his shoulders, a blessed lucidity takes him. He looks back at Brendan and Zinnia.

Both of them stare back, looking smaller and more fragile than they ever have been before. Brendan clings to Zinnia like a lifeline, his youthful face pale and gaunt in his fright.

Zinnia's face is arguably worse, for she stares back with resignation. It looks so alien on her that Lee nearly mistakes the expression for some sort of trick of the light.

Lee then scans the battlefield.

The area is pockmarked by craters and spots of rock that glow an ominous red from all the residual heat. The ground, battered and uneven, is barely fit to be walked upon. Far in the distance behind Maxie, a number of grunts along with Tabitha and Courtney all hang back, watching the goings-on with undisguised terror. Courtney's face is pale as a sheet, while Tabitha wears a smile that is barely hiding panic. Courtney must have briefly braved the danger of the field to retrieve her pokeballs, for all three are back on her belt.

'Maxie…' Lee looks at the Magma Leader, who doesn't so much as glance his way. Without Magma, without this man in particular, none of this would be happening.

His secrets, secrets of the world before this one, wouldn't be in jeopardy.

His life, one set for peace and the fulfillment of childhood dreams, would still be on the rails.

His friends, the town below the mountain, hell, the whole world wouldn't be in danger.

His pokemon, his beloved family, would still be healthy and whole.

Ninetales, his greatest friend across two worlds, wouldn't be in her pokeball, desperately clinging to life, life nearly stolen from her.

For the first time in his entire life, genuine hate for another human being boils within Lee's chest. He's seen deplorable people from all parts of the world and all walks of life, and he thought he had seen it all, but apparently not. From common malcontents on the street to apathetic, greed-driven criminals, each one evoked distaste, but Maxie has reset the scale. This is no cartoonish plot for a videogame, but genuine, remorseless evil beyond the capacity of a sane man to comprehend. The end goal of Magma's ludicrous endeavor can only be selfish and destructive, ruining an untold number of lives.

It's galling on a level deeper than words.

Lee sets his shoulders and scowls. A plan clicks into place, and with that plan, his fear yields to something infinitely more useful.


'I will not die again. I will not let my friends and pokemon die. I will not let Ninetales die.'

"Corvi!" Lee's exclamation echoes across the volcano like a gunshot.

Maxie's eyes focus on Lee.

Brendan and Zinnia both jump.

Corviknight's baleful red eyes turn to meet Lee's unflinchingly.

"Pursuers!" Lee roars. "Hit him with everything you have!"

Corviknight's beak twists into a smirk, the crow seeming to relish the order. He spreads his wings, and above him, five, no, seven, nine, twelve seething orbs of cloudy shadow hiss into existence. Where Corvisquire's Pursuers were the size of tennis balls, Corviknight's are the size of human heads and writhe with barely contained rancor. With an ear-rending screech, Corviknight throws a wing forward, sending all of the Pursuers down at Camerupt.

Maxie's Claydol hums ominously, and Camerupt doesn't remain idle. The Mega pokemon grunts, rings of light appearing around him. The rings then coalesce into the spear like-stones of Stone Edge. The rocky projectiles shoot up to intercept Pursuers with vengeful speed.

'Not willing to tank this one, are you?'

Corviknight laughs in reply, no doubt noticing as well. It's a deep yet hoarse sound with a metallic timbre, and just a hint of a rattle. As if following the glee of his voice, the balls of darkness Corviknight threw dance out of the way as if possessing minds of their own, letting the rocks fly past.

Camerupt snorts twin plumes of black smoke. Then seemingly without warning, his eyes go wide and he freezes in place, letting the barrage of dark orbs smash into him and detonate into caustic clouds.

As the residual tendrils of smoky Dark fade away, Lee clicks his tongue when he is treated to the sight of Camerupt free of injury. 'Damn it all, how is he doing that? Compacting air between panes of psychic barriers? Micro shapes to distribute and disperse the impact like dragon's teeth or breakwaters? It can't be brute power, can it? Regardless… Camerupt froze in place.' He glares at Claydol. 'Can't defend at full power and direct Camerupt at the same time, can you? Fine then.'

"Again!" Lee orders.

Corviknight screeches and swipes his man-sized wing again, sending another burst of Pursuers at Camerupt.

The hum coming from Claydol deepens, growing a little louder.

Just like before, Maxie's pokemon roars in reply. This time he blasts a wide cone of fire to try and disperse the dark spheres homing in on him. The fire claims three of the spite-like orbs that can't scatter fast enough, but the others smash into Camerupt, who goes ramrod still a second before impact.

"Charge two more volleys!" Lee smiles a vindictive smile. Is the fight actually turning around? He looks at Maxie.

The Magma Leader isn't smiling. Good.

Corviknight spreads his wings. This time a mantle of dark balls numbering nearly twenty-four take form around him, hovering like a band of spirits awaiting a command. The raven's eyes narrow in focus.


The armor clad raven throws a wing forward like a general issuing a command to charge, and twelve of the Pursuers heed the order, racing down towards Camerupt.

This time, Camerupt merely freezes and doesn't retaliate.

"Now!" Lee calls once more. "Send the other volley at Claydol!"

There is no hesitation and no wasted movement. Corviknight caws shrilly and the other orbs beeline for Claydol just as the first set impacts Camerupt.

For the first time since his fiasco began, Maxie is taken aback.

The violet glow of psychic energy around Claydol finally grows to a truly visible level. A circular shield erects around him, stopping the Pursuers dead.

By now, the residual darkness around Camerupt has faded, but the camel pokemon remains as stiff as a corpse propped up upon its feet as Claydol's shield is battered by the Corviknight's assault.

'Disgusting. Claydol really is piloting Camerupt like some kind of meat puppet,' Lee's face is drawn back into a disdainful grimace. "Again! Hit them both!"

Corviknight obliges with a vindictive shriek, drawing his wings close and then thrusting them out once more, shooting repeated cavalcades of Pursuers at both Camerupt and Claydol with tireless zeal.

Claydol's shield remains raised, and Camerupt is stuck frozen in place, forced to endure with whatever leftover protection Claydol can offer him. While Claydol goes uninjured under the relentless barrage of attacks, Camerupt is finally beginning to falter. No pained noise, not even a whimper, comes from the brainwashed Mega, but the Pursuers leave a tiny patch of cracked, withered skin with each strike. In a matter of seconds, the Mega, unable to defend himself, begins to shake.

A vein begins to bulge in Maxie's brow, and Lee takes notice.

Camerupt's shakes begin to become more pronounced as the withered, cracked sections of his flesh begin to bleed after the tenth volley. Claydol's humming continues to increase in volume, but the shield around him holds.

Maxie's face slowly grows red, and sweat begins to dot his brow. Then, something changes.

'What?' Lee blinks. Suddenly, he can feel a breeze again. Immediately, the sensation raises red flags. 'Wait a minute, the volcano acting up should be producing updrafts and wind if I remember my eighth grade science correctly. All of the hot air and ash traveling upward should drag the surrounding air up from the surrounding valleys. Why did it just start now?'

Before he can puzzle it out, Camerupt's eyes shoot wide open and he throws his head back, ignoring the latest batch of Pursuers pelting him. He bellows to the heavens with such outrageous force that a pressure wave explodes from his body.

Corviknight's constant parade of attacks is interrupted as the giant bird is physically shaken midair. The bellow echoes off of his armor like someone screaming into a stockpot.

Lee stumbles back a step, feeling as if someone put both of their hands on his chest and shoved him. He hears both Brendan and Zinnia gasp and struggle to stay up right behind him. "Jesus, what the fu-!"

Like some sort of video played in fast-forward, Maxie's Mega Camerupt whirls on his hooves, angles his body so his hump is aimed at Corviknight, and with a gurgle of molten rock, roars, shooting a shotgun blast of lava in a wide, devastating net at the raven.

'Lava Plume,' Lee's subconscious provides the name of the attack. "Corvi! Move!"

A white, rolling aura overtakes Corviknight, and in a flicker of movement, he vanishes from the realm of sight with a loud crack of violently displaced air. He reappears a split second later on Camerupt's other side, grimacing. The lava, meanwhile, falls to the ground, hissing and popping.


And Lee can see exactly why his pokémon is grimacing.

A number of steely feathers fall to the ground like discarded knives under Corviknight's feet, and in his wings, a number of other feathers are out of place. Lee quickly connects the dots and curses under his breath. 'Extremespeed is too much for him right after evolving.'

"Hit them both! Just like we were doing previously!" Lee's adrenaline surges anew with the realization that they aren't out of the woods yet.

Camerupt doesn't give them a single moment of reprieve, once more moving with simply unnatural speed to turn and face Corviknight, who throws his wings out again, sending a simply titanic wave of dark, hissing orbs down at both Camerupt and Claydol.

The still raised shield around Claydol endures the repeated blows and the caustic clouds left behind, as does Camerupt… Without a hint of slowing down. The Mega fires off yet another burst of horrid lava in such a wide area that Corviknight has no choice but to use Extremespeed to dodge out of the way. Vanishing with a sonic crack, Corviknight reappears behind Camerupt with his face set into a deep scowl.


More metallic feathers fall to the ground, and Lee's heart falls when he sees several of the dark pinions are slick with blood.

'Shit! We can't keep doing this! Corvi isn't going to last!' Lee's mind races, desperately reviewing all the moves that Corviknight knows and how he might apply them here. One in particular jumps out to him, yet he hesitates.

'This… This could be our saving grace, or could backfire horribly and get all of us killed…' Lee watches, despising the helpless feeling in his chest as Corviknight barely avoids being cooked alive once more by a wave of molten lava. 'I don't think I have any time to think about 'what-if' anymore. We have to do something and do it now!

"Corvi!" Lee calls, praying to Arceus this goes right. "Use Taunt-"

Maxie's eyebrow rises.

"-on Claydol!"

Maxie's face screws itself up into absolute horror, and Lee can't help but revel in it a bit. Immediately, he grabs at Camerupt's pokeball from its place on his belt… but is just a hair too slow.

At the same time, high above, Corviknight stares down at Claydol, eyes alight with cruelty. "Craw caw haaahaaa!" The words are lost to Lee, but the mocking, impudent tone is not. The raven then throws his head back and laughs. The deep, raspy sound is supernaturally grating upon the ears, and even Lee finds himself a touch annoyed just hearing it.

So it's no surprise that Claydol's shield drops, and all of that psychic power instead finds its way to the clay doll's eyes as an evil, vengeful glow. Before the psychic can so much as move, however…

"▂▃▃▂▃▂▃▃▅▅▆▆▆▅▇▅▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇▇ !"

Camerupt makes a sound of such nightmarish agony that Lee is instantly sick to his stomach. All eyes are drawn to the camel; even Claydol's fury is forgotten for a moment.

The Mega writhes and seizes on his hooves, and to Lee's horror, wounds begin opening up all over his body.

The slash Grovyle put upon his flank splits open.

The bitten leg, courtesy of Tyrunt, struggles to hold weight.

The countless strikes from Corvi's Pursuers begin to weep red.

Worst of all, the deep wound from Marshtomp's waterjet attack suddenly reopens, and steaming hot blood begins to pour down Camerupt's flank, pooling at his legs at an alarming rate.

'W-What the fuck is happening?!' Lee struggles to process just what is happening before him. Was Claydol doing something to keep all the injuries suppressed? How? Why?

Corviknight shoots down, rumbling the ground when he lands next to Lee, and the man is pulled into a protective, engulfing wing.

Yet, despite all the wounds, Camerupt remains standing. Its terribly blank eyes are now lit up with absolute loathing and blind rage. The pokemon bellows the same horrid sound, a sputtering flame building within his mouth. He throws his head side to side, blasting everything and anything around him indiscriminately with bursts of flame. He stomps his hooves, sending spatters from the pool of blood beneath him flying as his breathing becomes shallow and erratic. Then the pokemon goes still, his eyes gaining clarity for the first time Lee's seen him.

And they're filled with murderous purpose.

With slow, lumbering steps and a flagging ball of fire in his throat, Camerupt turns to look at a grim-faced Maxie, who has a pokeball raised.

"That will be quite enough…" Maxie's words are as frigid as solid ice, contrasting sharply with his smoldering eyes.

All Camerupt can do is hack up a mess of embers and bloody spittle before he is recalled back into his ball in a flash of light.

For a handful of seconds, everything is silent. No one dares say a thing. Then from the town of Lavaridge below, emergency sirens begin to sound.

Maxie draws in a deep, calming breath, and his expression returns to neutrality. "Mister Henson…" he begins, tone conversational. "You and your compatriots have each made terrible mistakes. The consequences will come back to haunt you."

Gritting his teeth and clenching his fists, Lee glares back. "Funny. I was about to say the same thing to you."

The eco-terrorist smirks, seemingly amused, and damn if the expression isn't infuriating. He looks between Lee, then to Brendan, and finally Zinnia. "Enjoy the minor setback you have caused here today. You will not have the opportunity to make another."

Without letting Lee get another word in, Claydol glows in a bright rainbow corona, one that engulfs Maxie, Tabitha, Courtney, and all of the distant grunts. Then with a blinding flash, all of them vanish, Teleported away in an instant.

All at once, the energy from his racing adrenaline leaves him, leaving Lee leaning into Corviknight like one might a wall. With a deep, shuddering breath, he turns to Brendan and Zinnia, who slowly separate from one another.

"…Is it over? They ran away?" Brendan asks breathlessly. He looks at the devastation around them, from the ruined courtyard to the still-burning visitor center.

Zinnia takes a deep breath, color returning to her tanned face. "Yeah, yeah it looks like…" She gulps, and with her fright receding, a more characteristic anger takes its place. "Those no good mother fu-!"

"Let's hold off on the freak-outs for now, please," Lee grunts. The phantom pang within his chest begins to return, once again reminding him that the longer they dally, the greater chance that… "We need to go to the Pokemon Center, and we need to do it now." Lee stands on shaky legs and looks up at Corviknight. "Corvi, can you carry all three of us?"

The raven's answer is a resolute nod, and Lee once more thanks Arceus for the splendid pokémon he's found himself with.

"Say, boss? Why didn't we go down and trash the place when that red prick's Claydol dropped the shield around the mountain? I thought that's why we were here?"

From their place on a high mountain just a few kilometers away, another group was given front row seating to watch the metaphorical fireworks upon Mount Chimney from behind the safety of binoculars.

Standing all around the cliff side of the nameless mountain, a group of twenty all watch the proceedings wrap up upon the volcano. Each man and woman is dressed in fashion of their choice with the exception of a single accessory: a bandanna.

Each of them sport blue bandannas bearing a stylized, bone-like "A" stitched into the fabric. Some wear the bandannas upon their heads, and others have them tied around their arms, but all wear the calling card of Magma's rivals.

Team Aqua.

Around the Aqua members are their pokemon, a multitude of different Water-types, all ready to rumble. A curled up Huntail, a Wartortle with his arms crossed, and a Staryu idly twirling on one of its points are just a few on display.

With a hum, a figure in the middle of the group raises his binoculars again, watching the trio of curious trainers all pile onto the back of a Corviknight. "That's why we were here at first, yeah." The figure lowers the binoculars, revealing his tanned face, sharp eyes, and the beard along his jaw line. He turns to the grunt who spoke up. "Sometimes, though, you'll learn more by watching than by doing, you get me?"

The grunt raises a hand to his forehead in a lazy salute. "Aye, Leader Archie."

Archie raises his binoculars again, grinning a grin that would look more appropriate on a shark than a man. "I'll tell you guys what. I certainly learned a lot today," he says, looking at the spot Maxie vanished from. "A whole lot indeed."

The ride on Corviknight's back down to the Lavaridge Pokémon Center is a nerve-racking and unpleasant affair. Corvi keeps his flight slow and level like a pro, but it's only Lee's desire to save Ninetales that keeps him from panicking as the ground rushes by below.

Flying on a giant bird is not as easy as it looks in an anime.

As they fly, they pass a helicopter escorted by a Togekiss and a Flygon on their way to the top of the mountain. The Togekiss, who is being ridden by a familiar pokemon ranger, breaks off and tries to intercept them, forcing Lee to shout over the howling wind and through lungs being crushed by Zinnia, who is hugging his back for support. Once the ranger hears the words "Hurt" and "Critical", she reluctantly allows them to pass.

The entirety of Lavaridge is on lockdown as they approach, as the emergency sirens are still blaring. Pokemon Rangers and police officers are standing on every street corner, each one nervously fingering their radios and watching the volcano. Several try to pull them over, but Corviknight ignores them and beelines for the Center.

The instant they storm into the Pokemon Center, Nurse Joy only needs to look at their haggard appearances and hasty steps before she rises and flags down other nurses. Quickly, Lee, Zinnia, and Brendan's pokemon are handed off to different teams.

"She…She has it the worst, Nurse." Lee gulps to try and soothe his sore throat, realizing just how parched he is as he hands over Ninetales' pokeball. "Impalement in the chest, dangerously close to the heart. At least one of her lungs was struck. She has numerous other injuries, but the chest wound is the most critical."

Nurse Joy remains as cool and composed as can be as she hands off Ninetales' ball to a waiting Chansey wearing a nurse cap, one of many standing in a line and ready to take care of the sudden wave of patients. "Have Doctor Kay's team prepare for emergency surgery immediately. Expect significant chest trauma," she orders the little pink pokemon.

Chansey takes the ball in her stubby arms and hustles back into the rear of the Pokemon Center, moving as fast as a human at full sprint.

Once the Chansey is out of sight, Nurse Joy turns back to Lee and puts a gente smile on her face. "Go rest, Mister Henson. You obviously need it. We won't stop until your pokemon are stable."

Absently nodding, Lee turns and walks over to a couch along the wall where Brendan and Zinnia sit. He rubs his chest, feeling yet another phantom throb of pain.

Behind him, Corviknight follows dutifully, and people part around them, warded away by the gigantic corvid.

Sitting down on the left side of the couch, next to Brendan, Lee sighs and leans back, exhausted.

Neither Brendan nor Zinnia have much to say either, that is until Zinnia finally breaks the silence.

"That sucked…" the Dragon tamer mumbles.

The two simple words are such an understatement that Lee struggles to withhold an exasperated laugh. "No fuckin' joke…" Lee shakes his head. "No. Fuckin'. Joke." He leans back, and after looking around for eavesdroppers, he continues. "We messed up. We messed up big time."

Zinnia frowns, but before she can say anything, Lee continues. "We went in there all confident that we can handle everything, and that was a huge fucking mistake. These aren't some uppity punks on a battlefield in the middle of town or at some public tournament, these are actual criminals and they were a hundred percent on board with killing us all, human and pokemon alike." He looks over to Zinnia, who shuts her mouth with an audible click from her teeth. "I don't care what sort of decorum criminals are supposed to follow, Magma is obviously okay with murder."

The Dragon tamer looks away, stricken. "I didn't know…"

Taking a deep breath, Lee does his best to calm himself. "I'm not pointing fingers, but it's something we have to keep in mind now. We went up without telling anyone, and we had no backup when things went south. I wanted to alert literally everyone, but I assume that you would have objected, right?" he asks, looking at Zinnia.

She sets her mouth into a thin line and doesn't answer, but her silence says everything. "When we get to the Draconid stronghold in Fallarbor…" she begins, pausing for a moment. "...I'll explain everything. I promise."

Lee looks up at Corviknight, who is standing protectively at his side. The massive raven stares back and shuffles a little closer, silently offering his support. "You aren't the only one with things to explain, Zinnia…" Lee sighs for what feels like the millionth time today. "I've got a few things you and Brendan should know as well."

Zinnia simply nods. "Say the word, and we'll listen."

Throughout the conversation, Brendan remains silent, staring at his hands. Part of Lee wants to probe the boy on what's wrong, but between how tired he is and how everybody is still processing the ordeal they just endured, Lee thinks better of it and decides to ask tomorrow if Brendan says nothing first. 'Shit would have been way smoother if Ash had shown up. I thought for sure that he would have.'

It's at that moment a terrible realization strikes Lee, and the next words in his mouth die on his tongue.

Ash and his friends never showed up during the volcano incident.

Ash, the supposed Chosen One, didn't show up where he was needed the most.

This is real life, not a game or cartoon, and magical saviors don't exist.

'We can't just wash our hands of everything. Maxie knows who we are, and will be gunning for us. The only thing stopping him is ourselves.' The thought makes Lee pause.

At first, fear grips him. Ninetales is being prepped for surgery for injuries so grievous that a human or animal would have long since died. Grovyle, poor Grovyle, is a mess of debilitating burns. Octillery was turned into a pincushion, and only fortune saved him from injuries comparable to Ninetales'. Shinx is just a baby, and would never survive anything the others just took. Hell, Corvi, despite his fateful evolution, is lucky to have escaped with nothing more serious than a few burns and warped armor.

Lee looks up at the raven's broad chest, inspecting the spots where lava twisted and discolored the dark steel.

Magma would kill all of them if given the chance.

Under that terrible, clawing fear, though, is something else.

Indignation. Indignation backed by a fury yet unseen in this world.

How dare they? How dare Magma strike at his pokemon, to hurt them in such ways? How dare they do this to other people's pokemon? How many teams and families have been destroyed by them? How many will be destroyed by them if allowed to continue?

Unbidden, Lee thinks back to his time under the wing of Aasir, his first and greatest mentor, and the man who instilled within him a passion for life itself.

The friendship started after Aasir showed up to Lee's high school on behalf of the zoo as a guest speaker. The man's booming voice and bombastic enthusiasm for the animal kingdom enthralled every set of ears in the room, and Lee remembers even his teacher, Miss Vahn, leaning forward in interest, as Aasir turned a lecture about genetics into something unforgettable. Lee would approach him after class with more questions, about the whys and hows of animal behavior and how encoded it is in their genes, all of which the Kenyan man answered with a smile. The exchange ended with a trade of email addresses, and for the next two years, the pair would be pen-pals.

Back and forth, back and forth, they would trade emails, and Aasir was a never-ending well of knowledge and philosophy. The adoration of nature and all things with teeth and claws was woven so deeply in Aasir's words that Lee himself fell in love by proxy. It was a shallow enthusiasm at first, but it was there nonetheless. He was like every other directionless teen before, but now the world suddenly opened up to him, and he knew what he wanted to do. The joking 'Pokemon Trainer' on his list of careers was crossed out.

When Lee, in the beginning of his senior year of high school, told Aasir he wanted to pursue a career in zoology, the man was ecstatic and encouraged him every step of the way, even offering up a tantalizing prize.

Aasir told Lee he had plans to return to Kenya for a few years, back to the African nature reserves where he spent his 20s and 30s. "If you can show me how dedicated you are by getting a degree, I'll take you with me," he said.

Without a second thought, Lee put his nose to the grindstone, saved every penny he earned, and threw himself into college as soon as he graduated high school. Every bit of free time was sacrificed at the altar of college credits, and in a little over two years, Lee left college as the proud holder of a bachelor's degree in zoology at the age of twenty.

Aasir, true to his word, took Lee to the harsh, untamed African bush, away from civilization and the dominion of man.

To see animals from behind a wall of glass is one thing. Stepping into their domain, to play by their rules, is another thing entirely. He felt small, weak, and only by learning the unspoken edicts laid down by the rulers of this natural kingdom could he be safe. Never did that diminish his enthusiasm, though. No, it only magnified his desire to learn, seeing things from this new perspective, to understand just how large the world is. The more he knew of the creatures around him, the more he admired them, and the more he admired them, the more he wanted to know, and it all ran away from there.

"At last, you understand the cycle-" Aasir said with a grin, gesturing to the other smiling men in the small savannah waystation as Lee voiced those thoughts. "-Just as we do. Never lose that love, okay? Look upon the life around you with wonder, and there will be beauty and purpose wherever you go."

As Aasir said that, Lee's eyes were drawn to the corner of the room, where a number of FAL rifles sat against the wall. In the wood stock of one of the rifles, 'Aasir' was carved into the side. Below the name, there were four notches, one each for a poacher felled by that gun. Those notches are ominous reminders.

There are people out there, ones who through recklessness, apathy, or greed, do not respect the lives of others, be they human or animal.

And sometimes, you yourself are the only one who might stand in the way of such people.

As the train of memories comes to an end, an epiphany hits the zoologist, and it's a sobering one.

So long as Magma and Aqua are allowed to exist, then his dreams of a peaceful life as a trainer here in Hoenn can't come true. He, his friends, and his pokemon will always be in danger.

'Fine then.' Lee clinches the denim of his worn, dirty jeans in his hands and stares a pair of holes into the floor. 'I've had it. I'm sick of being afraid. My team—my family—they're strong, talented, and determined. I'll dedicate my whole being into raising them high, turning them into juggernauts so strong it would be insanity to fight them.

His hand rises to his chest, pressing against the spot where Ninetales was maimed.

Even with the multitude of walls between them, and Ninetales' mind floating in blissful unconsciousness, Lee can feel the Pokemon Center's best working their magic on her. The precious life force draining away from her is stymied, and with the most immediate danger passed, tension slowly begins to drop away from his shoulders.

But she would never be in such a condition if it wasn't for one particular man.

Maxie's face flashes before his eyes, and Lee growls to himself.

'I'll make them strong enough that nothing can ever hurt them, to make anyone who tries regret it.'

Lee recalls all of the research he's done so far, and how people think he's making waves with what he and his pokemon have done. His eyes narrow.

'You call those waves? I'll break every known rule of the world if it means we get to live in peace afterward.'

Below are the names of some patrons who got to view this chapter early and felt like signing it. A huge thanks to them and everyone else who supports this story and everything else I write.

Planetace, Tyric Gaias, puppy0cam, King Eevee, ShaRose, GreenPhoenix, Appl, TheGreatPapyroo, Drew6, Vixen, Spice_King, Arcaryx, Iota,*Superbuchi*, WiseKitsune, Latscry, Green0Photon, Maestro, drykeon, ncskeeter56, Ash The Kitsune, Dropkick_Actual, demonmonkey89, OmegaEntertainment, Mithre, Peter D, Snow_JadeStar, Fabhar, Moxie, Aegi(it's lit!), Jason Rider, MrPerson0, Kurt, Kastor, Cat, Moonnikill, Derpydude9001, Rakkis157, CattMarp, Sulphurcat, Remi C, Strongraider101, Berusella, Drakage, TheTankiestTrain, Grey, JustALurker, Moo, xydra22, Javidom, speedyzman13, Omakehell, BrokenOlive, Vinohr, KingDeDeDe11, IAmYourKingAndMaster, Spasminos, Dankmuffen, Dusks_Lantern, TitaniumPhoenix, Ranger, Dicloniuslord, Dingus, Hazel Kings, kcx1, Dead Bloodchief, Chris N, AMeek, HGC, CMDR Dantae, Suddler, Kammight, Cynicals, Gavinfoxx, Gabriel M. NurseBold, Nexusblade152, Himmel, DNGDutchie, MidnightJayguar, artisticVulpes, GNPhoenix, Emilowish, RaptorusMaximus
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Well, at least seeing what Maxie is willing to do to his own partner, given that Mega Evolution requires a very strong bond, should make people VERY leery of what he might be doing to the various Mooks.

I mean, if he's willing to do that to a partner close enough to Mega Evolve, just imagine the fuckery he's willing to do to regular people.
Nice chapter. Finally a chink in that damn insane Camerupt was found. Horrific stuff, basically lobotomizing a pokemon and having another control it.

I do have to wonder how that Claydol got so strong to both control Camerupt, barrier the whole Mountain and keep Camerupt's injuries sealed while still protecting it. Must be an ancient Claydol for sure, because Maxie seems like the kind of asshole who can't train a good team with how he had to force Camerupt into a situation like this and still lose.

Where's a gun to shoot his ass when you need one, guy deserves only the most painful of deaths for putting a pokemon into such suffering.
Claydoll using some psychic bullshitery to keep Camerupt going was genius! I mean its was obvious from the start that it was the only reason the Mega evolution was even possible but i did not expect it was keeping the damn thing from going down. I thought it was just the sheer power Mega evolution gave to its users though it obviously had a part in it. Wonder what all hes gonna tell them? Cause there are some things he still shouldn't tell people.
Ninetales, his greatest friend across two worlds, wouldn't be in her pokeball, desperately clinging to life, life nearly stolen from her.
Oooof damn just damn, This has definitely given Lee a true kick in the pants right here seeing his closest confidant on the brink of death and realizing that he might have to experience death second time made him get his shit in gear.
Another thing it has given him is a drive and Righteous Anger which are gonna push him into a much more proactive approach going forward.
Worst of all, the deep wound from Marshtomp's waterjet attack suddenly reopens, and steaming hot blood begins to pour down Camerupt's flank, pooling at his legs at an alarming rate.
Ah so the fight was double unfair with Claydol both controlling him and holding him together which honestly make things even more horrifying.
This is real life, not a game or cartoon, and magical saviors don't exist.
Yup the ass pull and fate shit is at a minimum in this world, there will probably be a couple protagonist moments if he meets up with ash on occasion but expecting Ash to save your bacon is not a good idea.
'You call those waves? I'll break every known rule of the world if it means we get to live in peace afterward.'
Well guess Lee is going on a Crusade, Good thing he has a knight bird now to compliment that.
Well, at least seeing what Maxie is willing to do to his own partner, given that Mega Evolution requires a very strong bond, should make people VERY leery of what he might be doing to the various Mooks.

I mean, if he's willing to do that to a partner close enough to Mega Evolve, just imagine the fuckery he's willing to do to regular people.
Nah Maxie is probably doing it wrong. I remember in one of the Pokemon movies there was a bad guy with tons of mega evolved Pokemon but they were all in pain because the artifact he was using circumvented the bond and forced the mega evolution or something. Maxie is probably doing something similar. It's been a long time since I watched that movie though. I know mega evolving is supposed to be stressful to outright painful, but having a strong bond is supposed to mitigate at least some of the consequences.

Edit: https://m.bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Alva it was Alva. Reading wiki page to remember now.
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God DAYUM that was a good chapter! And Maxie is also WAY more deranged than previously though. And that Camerupt, the sheer hate they must feel. Also, fuck that Claydol in particular.

Can't wait for the next one.

EDIT: oh boy, Brendan must be feeling like a MOUNTAIN of shit, he DID actually betray them, it was only that he returned to the light side very quickly, but he fully intended to go with Magma for a while there and now he doesn't know what to do with himself. Someone please give that boy some therapy.
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Nah Maxie is probably doing it wrong.
Yup, this Maxie is a psycho and I don't see him ever bonding with Camerupt or any other pokemon so he's forcing the Mega evolution, which is a thing IIRC. Also makes sense that he needs Claydol there to control him because otherwise Camerupt goes Berserk. If he ever bonded with him he wouldn't need to use such a method, maybe only have Claydol around to seal wounds and protect him.
Hm... too bad that the Camerupt was so hurt. We know from the anime that Pokemon can leave their balls or even free themselves from being a trainers Pokemon entirely if they want to, so that murderous camel would have just broken back out if he'd been in better shape.

Good that Lee figured it all out though. Wonder what Pokemon he'll get that will be Mega capable? Feels like he'll need one eventually, and Mega Sceptile just... doesn't seem to fit how Grovyle fights. It's far too bulky.
Great! Lee finally has the motivation to go over the limits now and go full Plus Ultra.

By the time the league happens. Lee will be rocking a team ready to take on mythical Pokemon.
This is real life, not a game or cartoon, and magical saviors don't exist.

Hey, Lee, Buddy. I've got good news and bad news about this.
The good news is that magical saviors totally exist in this world!

The bad news, well...

Boy and pokemon remain so for several minutes as Ash's free hand clenches tighter and tighter. Finally, Ash looks up, eyes blazing with an intensity that would make a grown Dragon-type pause. "Fine then! Challenge accepted! We'll just have to train harder and give it our all! No more second fiddle for us! I'll become a Pokemon Master no matter what!" He yells, voice echoing in the empty street.

Lee looks up from the campfire in the middle of their clearing as something jolts him to the core, his eyes jumping to Vulpix's instantly. "Love? Did you just feel fate breathe down your neck? Because I did, and I don't fuckin' care for it."

The bad news is that the honored role of Protagonist tends to shift to whomever is categorically 'the best'. And you made Ash Ketchum of all people have to rethink his skill level.
So I'm pretty sure Ash got demoted to 'Rival' thanks to you, making you the magical savior of the day.

Or did you think it was a normal human reaction to have your beloved partner nearly put into the ground in front of you and suddenly have clearer understanding of the battlefield, including a laser focus on the exact moves you need to make to emerge victorious?
Local man sweeps entire team through sheer rage alone. (In the future at least.)

But yeah, Lee's team were practically beginning to somewhat approach the upper echelons, but now that they have an actual drive to do so? Might not be quick, but they're gonna be absurd by the end of it.
Local man sweeps entire team through sheer rage alone. (In the future at least.)

But yeah, Lee's team were practically beginning to somewhat approach the upper echelons, but now that they have an actual drive to do so? Might not be quick, but they're gonna be absurd by the end of it.
He should also get his last team member and train up Shinx, because numbers are gonna matter a lot in a fight against two different criminal teams. Ninetales, Grovyle, Octillery, Corviknight, Shinx. With the way his team is looking getting a Psychic would probably be his best bet, followed by a Ground or Steel type.
He should also get his last team member and train up Shinx, because numbers are gonna matter a lot in a fight against two different criminal teams. Ninetales, Grovyle, Octillery, Corviknight, Shinx. With the way his team is looking getting a Psychic would probably be his best bet, followed by a Ground or Steel type.

Well, he's got Steel covered by Corvi, so it'd would probably be better to get a Psychic or Ground type. Now if only Gible were native to Hoenn.

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