"What more do you want from me?" Harter cried. "I've done what you asked. I knocked out this poor kid with Groudon and delivered him to you."
"I want an assurance that you're not going to be spreading this story around town," said Penelope. "And I want Groudon back."
"Of- of course," said Harter, giving Groudon's pokeball to Penelope.
"You're not going to hurt him, are you?" asked Harter fearfully.
"What do you think, Harter?" asked Penelope. "I'm leaving Runan in charge of this facility, so don't try breaking in here to free the kid. You know what Runan can do."
Harter gulped. "Ah... yes. Right. Whatever you say, madame."
He fled as quickly as possible.
"Where am I?" spluttered Cynn.
"You're at a Legendary Facility," said Penelope, still smiling. "You will be here for a very long time."
"What- why? What's a Legendary Facility and why am I being kept here?" Cynn asked.
"A Legendary Facility is where we handle the dirty work involving the most powerful pokemon in the world: Dialga, Giratina, Zapdos... this particular facility is where we keep Celebi," Penelope said.
"Yes, but why am I here?" Cynn asked. "Where are James and Quill?"
"You're here because you're special, Cynn. Don't you feel good about yourself?" called Penelope over here shoulder as she nonchalantly walked away, down the long, dark hallway.
Celebi could sense three new souls in the facility: one was a human, full of rage and cynicism. The other two were pokemon. One of the pokemon seemed to be tense, shutting off his mind, as though preparing to withstand torture. The other was just kind of confused. It was this last that Celebi felt a connection to.
She attempted to communicate with this pokemon. Celebi couldn't use telepathy, exactly, but she could project emotions and images.
Celebi sent the kindred soul an image of herself.
The pokemon responded with an image of a male cyndaquil in a cell.
So he's a cyndaquil, thought Celebi. Interesting.
Celebi was startled. The other pokemon, the one who thought he was going to be tortured, was trying to make contact with her mind.
She sent an image of herself to the pokemon, in way of greeting.
The pokemon responded with an image of himself. He was a zangoose, and a tough one at that.
Celebi sent back an image of Runan, trying to warn the zangoose that he was dangerous.
The zangoose sent back an image that made Celebi gape: Three kids, fifteen at the oldest, facing down Runan outside of the zangoose’s cell. There were two boys and one girl. The girl had a gengar perched on her shoulder. One of the boys was petting an absol. The one in the lead was followed by another zangoose.
They’re just kids! They don’t stand a chance against Runan, Celebi thought. But for the first time in many years, she felt a little bit of hope.
TWO HOURS PREVIOUSLY...
Harter didn't know what to do.
He'd heard what the Elite Four did to people who turned against them. There were nasty rumors about what exactly happened to traitors, but whatever it was that precisely occurred, no traitor had ever lived to tell the tale.
But on the other hand, could he really live with himself if he let the kid die in that Legendary Facility?
He stood up.
Screw the Elite Four, he thought.
ONE HOUR PREVIOUSLY...
William, Jennifer, and Torren sat around a circular table. Hovering in the center of the table was an abra.
I am afraid I cannot contact James, the abra announced telepathically.
“What? Why not?” asked Jennifer. “He’s our only way to keep an eye on Cynn!”
I believe that he- as well as Cynn and Quill- has been captured by the Elite Four. Their Legendary Facilities have psychic barriers around them to prevent my kind from communicating with those captured inside, correct? the abra asked.
“Well, yeah,” said Torren. “Ah, man… how did this happen? Cynn hadn’t even gotten his first badge! He was no threat to them at this point. How did they even know what he was?”
“Nathaniel probably told them,” said William grimly. “He can shape-shift, after all- who knows how many times he’s eavesdropped on us? Besides, he loathes me. He wants some way to get back at me for blackmailing him.”
“Not to mention that Cynn could be very useful to Nathaniel. Maybe he’s the one who told the other members of the Elite Four about Cynn’s true identity so that they would capture him. Then he’ll kill the other members of the Elite Four and manipulate Cynn into joining him,” Torren speculated.
“Nah, I doubt it,” said Jennifer. “He’s not smart enough.”
“You’re underestimating him,” said William. “Nathaniel’s a lot more intelligent than he seems.”
“So I suppose there’s nothing to do but rescue Cynn?” asked Torren.
“We might as well. We’ve been planning on freeing Celebi from that place, why not help Cynn escape too?” said Jennifer.
I wish you all the best of luck, the abra said.
“Thank you,” William shook the abra’s small, yellow hand. “We appreciate all that you’ve done to help us.”
The pleasure is mine, said the abra. He promptly teleported away.
“We’ve got some work to do,” said William, standing up.
“I’ll get Gen ready to go,” said Jennifer. “By the way, Torren, it was a surprise to see that you’re part of the resistance too.”
“You mean ‘Team Zangoose?’” chuckled Torren. “I’m still mad that the Elite Four decided to name us after William’s pokemon, and not mine.”
Jennifer shook her head.
THIRTY MINUTES PREVIOUSLY…
Jennifer, Torren, and William marched down the Maroon City road, heading toward the Legendary Facility. The official story was that it was a laboratory.
“This place looks about the same as it did the last time I was here,” commented William. “At least, from the outside.”
“They’ve probably put up better security since then,” said Torren. “Are you sure that your plan’s going to work?
“Of course I do,” said William irritably. “You thought I was going to march in here without making sure my plan would work? It’s very easy, really.”
“Getting a gym leader to smuggle in a bunch of voltorb to distract the Elite Four’s goons isn’t particularly easy,” said Jennifer doubtfully.
“Harter wanted to save Cynn. Why not help him?” William asked rhetorically.
“All right…” said Jennifer. “If you say so…”
IN THE PRESENT …
Nathaniel stalked down the hallway toward Cynn’s cell. He wasn’t really supposed to be here, but he didn’t care. He was following his own agenda now. Not the Elite Four’s, not William’s.
He was done being pushed around. His only loyalty was to the dittos, and that was how it would stay from now on.
Nathaniel had been surprised to hear that the ditto council wanted him to abandon his guise as a member of the Elite Four and take on a completely different form. But it came as good news: this would be his chance to get revenge on William. He’d considered doing something like this earlier, so the fact that he had been ordered by his fellow dittos to do so simply made it easier- he wouldn’t have to disobey them.
Even better, the Elite Four’s goons were distracted, and would be to busy trying fight off the army of voltorb that had apparently been let in by some gym leader to care where he was.
When he reached Cynn’s cell, Nathaniel changed into his natural ditto form and slipped through the bars of the cell.
Cynn leapt to his feet and started to say something. Nathaniel didn’t give him time. Instead, he adopted a vaguely humanoid form, changed his fist into a hammer, and struck Cynn on the head with it.
The kid went down like a stone. Nathaniel laughed gleefully, and began changing his form once again. It had been forever since he’d shapeshifted into someone that young, but he had a feeling that he’d make a very good Cynn.
To be continued!