» Comics - A Mountain of Trouble Part 8 - March 23rd, 2014, 4:58 pm

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FireyShaymin, March 23rd, 2014, 4:58 pm( Reply )

- Credits:
Written by: SIX: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/brn.quil/ (warning, there are NSFW stories on his accounts)
Illustration by :devvexxblack:
Story by: :devspacesmilodon: :devvexxblack:, Arcane-Reno ( https://arcane-reno.sofurry.com/ http://www.furaffinity.net/user/arcanereno ) and SIX ( http://www.furaffinity.net/user/brn.quil/ )

This chapter is a little longer than usual. Enjoy~


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Stuart awoke - and immediately regretted it.

The feeling of numbness that surged and rippled through his body was marked with stabbing pain -- the icy, deep-reaching ache of being far too cold. Nothing made sense in the darkness; he found himself blinking, concentrating, struggling to retrieve memories. A journey on a cart, an argument with a friend; fear, relief, success…

Ow. Stuart winced, as his bruises started to complain.

As the leafeon lay on his side, he could start to pick out more shapes in the darkness. Frozen, crystalline beauty sparkled around him, interspersed with hewn stone and crumbling bricks. Feeling was returning to him aswell; the warm heat of a furred and hefty weight was pushed tightly against his back. Barrels of old wood perfumed the air with age and the enriching scent of far-away forests...

Something was wrapped around his wrists, he dimly realised. Something, moving and rubbing, was wrapped tight against his soft, painful wrists.

The headache wouldn’t stop pounding. Pains throughout his body clamoured to be recognised; his jaw hesitated to let him draw breath, like a reluctant and rusted tool.

Stuart remembered now, blinking. Sense was returning to his dancing mind; he knew that he had fought - no, he hadn’t just fought, he had lost. No, worse - they had lost. He had been with Thomas and they had lost-

Where was Thomas-?

“Thomas! ”

The noise was deafening, bouncing around the glimmering room in a furious chorus. Stuart tensed up, his ears slipping to fold back tightly against his head; whatever had been shifting at his wrists stopped suddenly, as the cry yelled back in a dozen voices, splitting to a thousand, a million… the melodious peal too-slowly drifting into silence, like a wave receding.

Silence, at last, emerged from shattered sound. The leafeon unfurled his ears once more.

“Oh. You’re awake,” drawled a familiar voice, as the furry weight behind him shifted. “You could’ve just said so. No need to shout.”

Advertisement, October 24th, 2017, 4:38 am( Reply )

-

FireyShaymin, March 23rd, 2014, 5:20 pm( Reply )

- “Well, of course you’re cold. We’ve been lying on ice.”

“All I can see is ice, Thomas; I know. It’s just that I’m a little more sensitive to the cold than you.”

“Quit whining. What’s your plan to get out of here?”

“Relying on me for the plan, hm?”

“Shut up.”

“Don’t worry. I’m thinking,” chuckled Stuart, weakly. “What can you see?”

The two Moonlighters were lying back to back, bound together by a single long, rough rope tied roughly at their forepaws. Between them, they spoke of what they could see and remember; old barrels and hewn stones, bricks poking from carved ice -- lying on the floor, like them, were many ravaged food packages, and tough cotton sacks of hay and kindling, spilled open or torn. Sunlight sparkled through the cave, and the rare snowflake fluttered down to join the verglas that shimmered over strewn rubble and petrified fruit.

“... and, lastly, there’s what looks like the first few steps of a ladder in the corner,” Thomas said, as if ticking off the last of a checklist. “It’s busted if there ever was one, though; it goes no higher than those first few steps. It’s where the sunlight is coming from for certain, though.”

Stuart felt Thomas shift, nodding in the direction he was trying to point out. Logic threaded together in his tired mind as he visualised the shape of the room from their shared descriptions; the hole in the corner that sunlight streamed through, the sunlight above…

It was the dawn of next day, then, or perhaps even later. Stuart swallowed.

They had to get home.

“Okay,” mumbled Stuart, thinking fast. “Step one, Thomas, is to get rid of this rope.”

“No kidding, most exemplary leader. I’ve been trying to loosen it for hours.”

“Yeah, and chafed my wrists to bone at the same time…” mumbled the leafeon. “Don’t you know the best part of being in a team, Tom? Tug away from me, as hard as you can.”

The pair of them pushed against the ice as hard as they could, the thick rope clawing and squeezing painfully against their limbs -- until, at last, Stuart felt Thomas’ back draw away from his, a gap forming between them. He craned his head, drawing the leaf on his head backwards, poking between them--

“That’s a good job! Hold it there for a moment longer-”

“Whatever-! Just do what you need to do, this rope hurts--!”

Stuart’s Leaf Blade slammed down into the ice floor, slicing the thick binds. It lashed backwards as the two of them suddenly burst apart, the released pressure skidding the leafeon across the floor; he slid into a rope netting, the rotten strands catching his hinds and slowing him to a quick stop as they cracked and split. On the other side of the room, he heard the crash of splintering wood; something rumbled across the floor.

Stuart caught his balance, rising to his feet. He wiggled his forearms furiously, untangling himself from the released but still-tight bonds, wincing as feeling returned to his tortured paws -- and looked up, searching for the persian.

“Thomas?”

Dazed, upside-down, and half-way inside a broken barrel of still-fresh Orans, Thomas stared back, a few dozen feet away.

“Good job, dear Leader.”

“Not bad,” Stuart said, stifling a laugh. He quickly padded over, offering a paw to help. “But with better aim, you could’ve hit the Tamato berries.”

Thomas sighed. Before long, the two of them had untangled themselves from the mess of wood, netting and berry juice; they shared a few of the Oran berries to quell an unspoken but shared hunger. Strength began to return to them, as the rejuvenating berries healed bruises, lessened wounds...

“Alright,” said Stuart, as Thomas licked stray Oran juice from the side of his maw. “Step two is to get out of here.”

“Bit vague, boss.” Thomas licked a paw. “Want to tell me how you plan to fly up the ladder that no longer exists?”

Stuart tilted his head, his large ears falling slightly sideways.

The leafeon padded over to the circular carving where the staircase had once been, stepping over the hewn stone steps that made up the last remaining proof of its ancient existence. The enclave that had housed it was a few feet across - two Pokemon standing in line would not have fit. He grinned over at the bemused feline.

“Remember what I just asked you; the best part of being in a team?”

“You didn’t share the answer.”

Thomas sighed, licking his paw. He stepped over the staircase steps, squeezing in to the circular hole alongside Stuart.

“This is all very cosy, but-”

“Thomas, there are some things that only others can achieve. I’m never going to be half the fighter that you are.”

“Right. Err... thanks, but we both knew that already.”

Stuart grinned up at the persian.

“And you were never going to cut that rope in two either, no matter how much fur you ground off our wrists.”

“H-hey-”

“It’s okay,” Stuart laughed. “Working in a team allows you to share skills like that. But it’s also not all about what each of you can achieve. Look up -”

The pair of them looked up the hole, seeing the sky above. The hole was lined with stone and brickwork, shimmering with just a thin veneer of ice; it was a few Pokemon high.

“Neither of us are going to be able to jump up this, or climb up it. The ladder that was here is busted, and we sliced the rope that held us together, so I doubt we can make a tool of some sort…”

Thomas sighed, flicking his tail impatiently behind him. “Why do I get the feeling you’ve got an idea I won’t like?”

“You have to trust me, Thomas, because - well, working in a team doesn’t just mean you can share skills. It also means we can work together to achieve more than either one of us can do alone.”

“You don’t mean…”

Stuart turned back around to face the persian, smiling.

“Well, we’ve already been back-to-back for the last few hours. Willing to work together a bit more, bud?”

FireyShaymin, March 23rd, 2014, 5:21 pm( Reply )

- The pair were nearly at the top. The biggest thing that meant to Thomas was that there was now a long way to fall.

Pushing themselves firmly against each other in the middle of the hole, hanging above empty space, the two Moonlighters took one more step upwards - climbing together up the brickwork of the hole. With limbs stretched taut to hold onto the rough handholds afforded by the crumbling brickwork, and with their furred backs threatening to slip against each other, the muddy lip of the well was achingly close.

The Persian licked his lips, focusing once more, waiting for the command to come. He'd grimaced a little when Stuart had so brightly and happily taken control of the rhythm of their climb -- but even if he didn't like it, the little Leafeon was right. They needed to work together to climb out of here.

The dawn was young, sparkling above them. Anxiety crawled through his mind.

Thomas was used to counting. He counted a lot - coins at the town's bank, chances missed by Stuart, the friends and enemies around him in a scrap... and counting the hours they'd been gone from Kenogami, it had already been far too many. Their simple mission had blossomed into a mountain of trouble.

"Hup-!"

Thomas' tail twitched in the empty air below them, bumping uncomfortably against Stuart's. He groaned, aching limbs complaining as his forepaw stretched upwards, cutting yet again into the distance they had yet to go.

His claws stretched out above him at the sky above, grasping at the lip of the final bricks. They stretched upwards together, rising closer to the sky. One more push, and they could make it..!

They relaxed once more, bodies resting against each other. As they panted for breath, Thomas heard a whisper cut into their pause; Stuart's voice rumbled quietly, the leader’s voice calm and smooth beneath the bubbling laughter and conversation they could faintly hear above them.

The persian grimaced. That laughter - he knew - was the gang members’ laughter.

"One more step, Thomas; we're almost there."

"I know," he grumbled. "I can see."

Stuart panted for a while longer, before - "Those bandits are there, too."

"I know," Thomas said. "I can hear."

"You ready for a fight?"

"Itching for it."

"Heh," Stuart's body shook against his in a quiet chuckle. "Alright. Hup-!"

Their muscles strained as their paws gripped at the lip of the hole; heaving upwards, the crumbled ruins of the burnt building that surrounded the dark hole came into view, its dusty bricks rising in a square around them. One corner had fallen, crumbled; it revealed the glimmering emerald leaves of ancient trees as they swayed in the light breeze, welcoming them back above ground. As they pulled themselves upwards above the lip of the hole, finally drawing out of the icy cellar beneath, the mud and dirt of the rubble-strewn floor proved solid, supporting their exhausted bodies.

Panting for breath, Thomas tasted the spring in the breeze.

The burning exhaustion began to fade from them as they collapsed quietly into the dirt under the clear sky. Laughter rumbled through the quiet air as the revelry of their captors continued, unfettered; the old brickwork of the abandoned monastery building kept the two of them out of sight.

Thomas blinked slowly, panting quietly. In the distance, the peak of the Abomasnow’s mountain speared into the sky.

How far had they been brought? His ears twitched as he gazed up at the welcoming sun, analysing…

We’ve come south. Not far, but at least it’s the right way home.

Their captors had stolen an entire night from their quest, but had also dragged them both to whatever forsaken hideout lay here at the foot of the mountain. A grimace spread across his cream maw; unforgivably, the mightyena and his crew had interrupted him and Stuart, getting in the way of their goal.

Laughter rippled through the air once more. It burned to hear.

The moment he and Stuart were back on their feet, the persian resolved, he wouldn't let a single one of them keep laughing. And if - if - it was already too late for Dusty...

"Thomas?"

He’d come right back after them.

--

Stuart stepped back from the lichen-furred walls of the ruined structure, swallowing, before quickly twisting around to Thomas as the persian began to rise back onto his paws.

The cat grimaced and nodded, as if pulling himself out of a trance. “Yeah? What?”

“There’s a crack in the wall right here,” Stuart nodded towards the third wall of the structure surrounding them, his leaf twisting to point out a crack in the bricks. “You can see all five of them. There’s bad news, too.” Before he’d even finished speaking, Thomas was pacing silently past him to the hole - the leafeon turned with him, still speaking. “It should be… well, pretty obvious.”

Thomas peered into the crack for a moment, the feline’s slender snout nudging the brickwork as he sought a sight of the enemies beyond. A second or so passed, before he drew backwards, jawline pulled back over his canines.

“Oh, no…”

“Yeah… that mightyena’s got our flower,” Stuart sighed.

On the other side of the wall was a mud-stained plain of ruined grazing land, where every one of the five bandits could be seen. The slender breloom, giggling and singing, bounced from step to step, focusing on nothing in particular. The hulking ursaring lay quietly, grooming the ragged fur of his belly-ring with sharp claws. The makuhita, large and imposing, swatted again and again at the glittering butterfree, training his strikes as the Bug-type dodged blow after blow, nimbly shifting around the fearsome, heavier creature. And between them all, watching with a satisfied grin, sat the mightyena himself - sedate, lithe, and self-assured.

Most importantly, flicking behind the mightyena with each other breath was his fluffy black tail, the tip of which was curled tightly around the Abomasnow’s fragile flower.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” breathed Thomas, unsheathing his claws. “That monster took the flower as well as us?”

“Strictly speaking, it’s better for us than leaving it up there on the mountain,” said Stuart, earning himself a dirty look from the persian. He bit his lip sheepishly. “But…”

“But we need it back. We’ve got to get home soon,” Thomas shook his head, before turning back to peek into the hole in the wall once more. “Or Angie’s going to be heartbroken.”

“Well,” Stuart began, before cutting himself off as Thomas’ grimace deepened.

“Hold on,” said Thomas, an edged note in his tone. “The mightyena’s… I think we made too much noise. He’s looking right at us.”

“Huh?” Stuart bounced forwards, trying to peek through.

“Yeah, he’s… talking to the butterfree,” the persian murmured. “Pretty sure he’s about to send the bug our way.”

“Augh…”
--

The air here was unique.

Not many places had this climate. Frigid air rolled off the mountain slopes, shuttling over forest groves to collect and disperse strange and varying amounts of moisture.

The sea was quite far away, and the sun was high and bright. It warmed up the flat and dried ground; convection currents made the air rise and fall in pillars. The shimmering air was only faintly visible to normal creatures, but the combination of the butterfree’s compound eyes and her sensitive antennae made finding these spots easy.

The oaf of a makuhita often asked her how she was so nimble. Well, duh!

That fatso couldn’t see the world for the flubber around his ankles. To her, the very around her was a stream of fast and slow currents that rose and fell, twisted and turned; she barely had to flap her silken wings once or twice before she was fifteen footsteps away from the big lout.

Dodging his blows was so easy that she’d quickly been losing patience. And yet her sole break in the last hour was this lone task, given to her by the Boss - - to go check on the prisoners.

Dear diary; no use for my talents, she mentally noted. Just like every other day.

She sighed quietly, wondering whether the mightyena would hear her. The brick structure of the monastery approached quickly as she floated on an air-stream; a single flap brought her closer and higher, drifting into a slower current. Once, this brick building had been their hideout - but the mad Breloom had burned it down. A passionate marriage of hay and gasoline, disturbed by the loss of a Vulpix’s ‘innocence’ while no other member of their group had been around to keep that stupid, giggling fighter on a leash.

Whatever. The life of a highway-mon was always bound to be ‘interesting’, even if it was interesting in rather... interesting ways.

She chuckled. If only mom could see her now, right?

Her antennae flickered, tasting the familiar scent of persian. She grinned; it had been fun to throw that cat down into the hole; they had taken bets to see if he’d land the right-way-up even while unconscious. Unfortunately, flying any pokemon up out of that icy crater was hard work, and the bitterness that came with capturing prisoners to sell was that she was always the one condemned to pick them back up out of the cellar.

Now that she was closer to the ruins, she could hear a quiet song, like a breeze slipping through waving reeds. It was relaxing; her wings fluttered, pushing her into a cross stream that carried her around the building’s corner, drifting lazily. Her compound eyes focused in on the hole in the floor of the structure, then flickered away.

The cellar hole was totally normal.

What wasn’t normal was the cream-coloured feline snout staring up at her, or the leafeon behind the persian, whistling through his leaf.

This was... unusual. They were supposed to be in the hole.

“Oh,” the butterfree squeaked.

The persian nodded up at her; the leafeon’s large leaf shifted across his maw.

Huh. So… that was where the strange melody was ringing out from.
The butterfree shuddered. That noise was very strange.

The world was suddenly disappearing. Shouldn’t she call for help?

What a nice voice.

Hello, ground.

FireyShaymin, March 23rd, 2014, 5:21 pm( Reply )

- Stuart pulled his leaf away from his muzzle, taking a deep breath as the butterfree’s wings ceased to flutter. The crystal rubies of her eyes seemed to fade as her body fell, tumbling in the dusty dirt.

Thomas grumbled in front of him. “You know, I could’ve dealt with her.”

“It saved you the effort. You’re welcome!”

“Hrm... ‘thanks for singing away our position, dearest leader’. What was that, anyway?”

Stuart’s leaf waved nonchalantly above his head as he smiled. “It was Grasswhistle. Takes a while to learn the music, but...”

The feline sniffed dismissively, turning around. “Pansy move.”

Stuart chuckled. “No need to be jealous. It just takes practice.”

“Jealous? I’m the spirit of envy itself.” snorted Thomas as he stepped by, his tail sliding lightly over the leafeon’s body, before his snout poked at the wall again, searching for the crack in the brickwork. “Unlike you, I have other ways of getting females to bed.”

It didn’t take long for him to step back, shaking his head. “Yep. Those bandits are gone. Probably coming right here.”

Stuart grinned. “Well - we needed that flower back anyway. Asking for it might not have worked.”

“I’d hoped for some easier way, really...”

Footfalls thundered as the four gangsters crashed past the side of the crumbled building. Dust filtered down from the side-walls as the heaviest footsteps fell.

Stuart flinched and stepped away from the walls, edging around the cellar hole that sat like a cavity in the centre of the ruined room, joining Thomas in the corner opposite the ruined walls.

“You ready?”, the Leafeon grimaced.

“Never felt better, leafy.”

Suddenly, the mightyena leapt around the ruined corner of the building, his ears pinned to the back of his head. The wolf’s hackles were up, and a single forepaw sat forward ahead of him, bracing his pose.

His body rocked forwards and backwards; a growl ripped out of his muzzle.

“What the fuck,” he roared, “did you two lovers do to my girl?!”

Thomas’ back arched up; Stuart braced, leaning his body against the larger feline.

Behind the furious mightyena, the ursaring, makuhita and breloom suddenly appeared. Standing beside and behind the dark-type canine, the four blocked all but a tiny breeze from stirring through the room.

Dust spiralled around the cellar-hole, before filtering in.

The Abomasnow’s flower shone in the sunlight, bright and shiny in the mightyena’s ragged tail. His voice rumbled through his throat, low and serious.

“You could’ve had a good life, sold off in servitude to some kind and careful owner. You might have netted us a few pretty coins and a few nights of decent meals. But there’s a reason I lead this merry gang, and that’s because I look after ‘em. I don’t let fucks like you toy with my group! Grimm! Joel! Tear them to shreds!”

Acting quickly, the makuhita lumbered around the right side of the mightyena, as the breloom leapt over the canine’s body, landing nimbly on the left. The breloom’s tail swirled and flicked behind him as his tongue did the same, a quiet giggle bubbling from his maw. The makuhita’s giant hand stretched out in front, his expressionless face somehow radiating anger.

“Wait!”, called Stuart. Thomas looked down at him. “Give us our flower and let us go free.”

The mightyena growled. “Why?”

“Because,” began Stuart. “Our freedom is good enough reason. There isn’t a Pokemon under the sun who has the right to do what you’re doing! If you don’t let us go, many others will suffer. We’re a rescue team on business. We are the Moonlighters! Let us go free!”

“Well… we’re half of them, anyway,” mumbled Thomas.

“Cute. You have ideals!” scoffed the canine. “If we let you go, Jenna - our sweet butterfree - won’t forgive us, and we lose the chance to sell you off to the dirtiest scamp willing to spit at you.”

The breloom giggled even louder as the makuhita braced backwards, settling his weight.

“So! Sit down and play nice, while we teach you a lesson about the real world!”

“Stuart, get away from me!” yelled Thomas, the red jewel on his forehead beginning to glow. The leafeon leapt aside as energy began to burst out from Thomas; the feline’s Pay Day flickered metal shards at the gang of four.

The coins struck each one of them in random and shattering strikes as Thomas turned to face Stuart, yelling.

“What’s with you? You think you can sweet-talk Pokemon like these?!”

“Nobody’s a truly bad Pokemon, Thomas!”

“These guys beg to differ - and watch out!”

The breloom was the first to recover, swiping away the flying coins with a nonchalant sweep of his wide, protective helmet - returning fire with a swath of Bullet Seed that pelted Thomas in the chest. The persian stumbled and fell to his side, quickly scrambling back to his feet.

As the flood of coins petered out, the makuhita recovered next, stepping towards the two Moonlighters with a furious, hard-set face. His fist glowed with a bright aura…

Stuart blanched, eyes flicking from the Bullet Seeds striking Thomas to the blow that the makuhita was charging. “Thomas! Focus Punch, incoming!”

“Ah, dammit!”

Thomas leapt aside, blocking the breloom’s field of view with the makuhita’s own bulk as the giant Fighting-type lumbered around the side of the cellar-hole. Thomas’ jewel began to glow with a curious purple aura-

“Stuart! Together!”, he called to the leafeon.

“Right!”

Stuart whipped his leaf, focusing on his own energies - summoning forth his focused power to create a Leaf Blade. As Thomas fired a Shadow Ball towards the makuhita, Stuart leaped forwards -- the ethereal blade slicing across as he closed his eyes, whipping his head-leaf horizontally.

With a sixth sense of ethereal touch, he felt his Blade slice through the makuhita’s defenses. Charging the Focus Punch left the bulky Pokemon unable to defend himself from the dual strikes, and the Shadow Ball connected with the side of his head, the twin strikes bursting together.

The makuhita fell to his side, shaking the ground beneath their feet, and lay unmoving.

The mightyena was the first to recover from the shaking ground as the makuhita fell, roaring a furious sound. The sound was charged with anger; something crackled, and suddenly a Dark Pulse flung out from the mightyena’s body, flinging the breloom, Thomas, and Stuart into the brick walls of the ruined structure.

“You absolute bitches-”, cursed the mightyena. “Crash, get after them!”

The ursaring dashed over the stray bricks that lined the ruined corner of the room, quickly leaping towards Stuart. His paw glowed silver behind him, and the giant bear roared.

Thomas picked himself up, calling out as the bear boar down on his team-mate.

“Stuart! Look out!”

“Gah!”

Still on his back in the dirt, Stuart let his instincts go to work as the ursaring’s Hammer Arm slammed down towards him. Energy surged from inside him; a mystic barrier burst out around his body as the bear’s steeled paw slammed down, the Protect barrier shielding him from the blow.

The ursaring’s paw bounced off the shielding aura, before the furious bear fell onto the spherical shield, clawing and swiping at the Protect. Stuart shivered as he looked up at the monstrous bear, slavering jaws craving a chance to rip into him-

There was a flash of beige and purple as Thomas suddenly leapt into the side of the ursaring, the persian’s Foul Play knocking the bear right over onto his side away from Stuart. The leafeon let down his barrier, clambering up onto all fours.

There was a giggle of laughter.

Suddenly, the breloom’s fist swung into the side of his head, a glowing white aura bursting out from the grass-type fighter as the Mach Punch almost knocked Stuart back into the dirt.

Oh no, you don’t! , thought Stuart. Focusing on himself, the world through his eyes began to glow a dim red.

A crimson aura grew around the leafeon’s neck as his two remaining Trump Cards shimmered into existence around his neck. With red-glowing eyes glittering with power, Stuart homed in on the breloom.

Trump Card Four! A red sliver of sheer power fired out from him and connected with with the Breloom’s chest, slamming the wind of out of the breloom’s lungs as he flew backwards. His head connected with a sickening crunch against the brick walls of the building; slumping down, the grass-type fighter lay, unmoving.

Thomas lay on top of the ursaring’s belly, almost face-to-face - bracing himself against the feral roars of the angered bear. As his slender form lay crouched just underneath the swiping paws of the furious, flailing bear, the persian summoned a strong, ghostly energy; Shadow Ball erupted from his red jewel, slamming into the ursaring’s head.

The bear’s paws fell limp, no longer swinging at the persian.

“Got him!”

“Look out!”, Stuart called, as the Mightyena leapt forwards into the room. Another blast of dark energy made the walls of the brick structure tremble; Stuart and Thomas were flung into the air once more by the torrent of energy, slamming into the walls of the room.

“You fuckers! ” The mightyena’s voice was pained and furious, flooded with anger.

Stuart recovered just in time to see the mightyena leap towards him, fangs and claws bared - Protecting just in time to fling the mightyena away from his body, dodging the attempted Take Down, before Stuart clambered back onto all fours. On the other side of the room, Thomas got back to his feet slowly.

“Hey, wolfy!”, called Thomas.

The red aura of Stuart’s final Trump Card floated around his neck.

Thomas’ paws danced in a deft pattern, the persian’s Swagger making the mightyena turn around and snarl furiously.

“You… you two!”, the Mightyena yelled, looking from side to side at each of Thomas and Stuart. “My team! My group! They are my pack! What have you done to them?!”

The Swagger took effect; the Mightyena turned to face Thomas.

“Stuart, now!”, called Thomas; his forehead jewel bursting with a steel aura.

Seconds passed in slow motion as the metallic energy of one more Pay Day burst out from Thomas’ head. Stuart eyed the Abomasnow’s flower, tied in the mightyena’s tail; his Leaf Blade swung down as Trump Card Five burst out of the red aura-ring surrounding his neck.

Confused, trapped in a metal storm of Pay Day, and struck by Stuart’s Leaf Blade, the mightyena felt the tip of his tail seperate from him, flying upwards into the air -- before Stuart’s Trump Card slammed right into his neck.

The Mightyena flew through the air, launched by the final Trump Card.

Stuart and Thomas watched as the Mightyena disappeared silently into the cellar-hole, already unconscious. The tip of the dark-type’s tail - complete with miraculously unharmed flower - fell gracefully through the air, touching down on the Breloom’s helmet.

The wolf’s body crashed in the icy pit below.

Around the two exhausted Moonlighters, the unconscious bodies of the ursaring, makuhita, and breloom lay. Silence reigned between the burnt and crumbling brick walls; a breeze rose, rustling the canopies of distant trees, and the leafeon and persian finally relaxed, panting for breath.

The butterfree stirred, mewling squeals quietly rising from her weakened body.

Stuart looked at Thomas. Covered in red stains and bruised, the two of them grinned at each other.

“You wanna ask her how to get to Kenogami, Thomas,” Stuart asked, “or shall I?”

“Heh. You go get the flower. She’s mine.”

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