All 11 chapters in a single article (Patreon patrons only)
The turbine shaft descended far below ground level, by Jessie’s calculations. At the bottom, the shaft entered a cavern, where large vents in the shaft allowed the rocks taken inside of it to fall out and, presumably, get carried elsewhere. The Pokémon laborers who would have done that carrying, or aided the Magnemites’ efforts to turn the drill via the long rods sticking out into the cave, were long gone, but evidence of their violent departure lay scattered about. Even the Magnezone was gone, apparently still healthy enough to flee once whatever force compelled its aggression let it go. Jane, Jessie, and a minute later Flannery reached the bottom and waved goodbye to their steel assistants as they climbed into the cavern to take in the drill.
“This has to be where the earthquakes happen,” Jane mused aloud. “A giant drill exactly where you figured something would be doesn’t sound like a coincidence. Especially the way these people talk about it.”
Jessie released Hippowdon with the instruction, “See if you can’t figure out how deep that goes.” Burying itself in the rock as if it were soil, the desert behemoth roared into the ground, listened, and grunted an answer. “It goes down farther than Hippowdon can sense.”
A sudden gurgling sound got the three humans’ attention, and a blast of high-pressure water burst out from between some of the rocky debris and struck Hippowdon between his eyes hard enough to flip the weighty beast onto his back. Flannery, Jane, and Jessie released Sylveon, Chandelure, and Seviper as Hippowdon struggled to his feet. Hippowdon didn’t make it all the way upright before a second Hydro Pump mired him in mud, unconscious.
Jane, Jessie, and Flannery circled carefully, staying together and trying to get to the other side of the rocks concealing their assailant. Their Pokémon stayed nearby, vigilant.
A reptilian beast burst from the ground directly beneath Seviper, knocking the armored serpent into the glass wall and sending her tumbling down. The black-striped brown crocodile adjusted its pointed sunglasses with a self-satisfied smirk and promptly received a pink-and-white barrage of moonlight from Sylveon’s feelers, knocking it out of its hole. From behind the rocks, the Golduck responsible for the Hydro Pumps clambered out and fixed its eyes on Seviper, twisting and wrenching the snake’s mind until she bashed her own head into the glass wall, ceasing to move. Behind them all, Chandelure broke off from the group and rushed around the glass pillar, exploding into fiery action as another Pokémon yelped in surprise and injury.
Sylveon shook her body and sauntered over to the still-prone Krookodile. Her face a devious mask, she raised her feelers, their ends glowing purple, and jabbed them into the beast’s flank as it finally rolled to its feet. Waves of purple energy washed over the Krookodile, and its movements slowed. From above Sylveon, a giant spider descended on a thin line of silk, fangs slavering. Suddenly, Sylveon leapt atop the poisoned Krookodile and waved her feelers. In front of them, a globe of coruscating energy formed, growing larger than Sylveon’s head before she released it as a Hyper Beam. The beam crashed into the Ariados and blasted it into the cavern wall, twitching but still conscious. Sylveon breathed heavily, and Krookodile looked up with a sinister smile.
Jessie recalled their defeated Seviper and Hippowdon and released Gyarados. The beast bore down on the Golduck, which stepped back in fear. From behind Golduck, a deep growl vibrated through the room, followed by the crack of a whip. Golduck shivered, went stiff, and leapt at Gyarados. Gyarados struck it with the full weight of a Dragon Tail attack, knocking it into the heap of boulders next to the drill shaft. The pile of rocks began to vibrate, and then exploded open to reveal a spiky metal snake the size of a bus. Golduck hid in the rubble, disappearing from view as another whip crack drew Flannery’s, Jane’s, and Jessie’s eyes to the far corner once more. A burly male figure stepped into view, holding a whip in one hand and a Pokéball in the other. He wore an elbow-length metal gauntlet on his right arm and a similar leather glove on his left, neither of which did much to conceal his dense muscle.
“Do you see the folly before you?” he demanded, his voice enough to still all the Pokémon. “Even now I could crush you, but Ortolan is ever forgiving and ever kind to those who would share in his beautiful new world. Surrender now, and you can join him in washing away the old and bringing forth a better, shinier age.”
Jessie rested their face in one of their hands, sighing in irritation. “That’s your dramatic speech? Really?”
Jane continued, “What do you think we’re here to do, exactly?”
Flannery finished, “If we wanted this new world, we wouldn’t be here saving the old one!”
The burly man raised his head and smiled, answering, “As you wish,” with a crack of his whip. Immediately, his Pokémon returned to action. On the other side of the glass pillar, a black-furred lion Jessie recognized as a Luxray leapt back and launched a Charge Beam at Chandelure, landing but only momentarily fazing the glowing apparition. Chandelure set Luxray ablaze with a Will-O-Wisp, jerked back to dodge a Thunder Fang attack, and struck Luxray with the purple haze of a Hex. The leonine creature staggered back to its feet with a roar of defiance, its body still on fire.
Gyarados plowed into Steelix with a tail sheathed in crashing waves of water, knocking the metal leviathan into the glass pillar. Shattering its wall, Steelix raised some of the nearby boulders with elemental power and flung them at Gyarados. The dragon-fish dodged most of the Rock Slide attack, but the piece that hit dropped her to the ground. Steelix bore down on the immobilized Gyarados, pulling up the full weight of its Iron Tail to finish the fight, but Gyarados sped out of her confinement and thrashed Steelix into the ground, dragging the steel serpent along and scraping its metal shell against scouring earth. Golduck lunged at the grounded Gyarados, but Gyarados flung it across the cavern once more with Dragon Tail.
Krookodile flipped over suddenly and caught the recovering Sylveon in a vicious bite. After yelping in surprise, Sylveon clasped Krookodile’s snout in her feelers and delivered a gentle kiss that thrummed with pink power. In this way sapping what was left of Krookodile’s energy, Sylveon restored herself to fighting shape as the sand crocodile collapsed. Ariados had already skittered into hiding, and Sylveon remained vigilant, knowing that the venomous beast could still turn this challenge around.
Luxray flung a spark at Chandelure, but the ghostly chandelier Hexed the beast once more. The lightning lion collapsed, and Chandelure wafted to the ceiling spot where Ariados was preparing to leap on Sylveon and exploded into Flame Burst. The charred spider fell to the ground with a squelch, and Sylveon then launched a Moonblast at Golduck, finally taking the wily kappa out of the fight as well. As Chandelure, Gyarados, and Sylveon all turned their attention to Steelix, Flannery, Jane, and Jessie turned their attention to their begloved attacker.
“This isn’t over!” he barked, releasing his final Pokémon. He cracked his whip as the tiny-limbed green reptile coalesced at his feet. “Servine, Leaf Tornado!”
The creature shivered and whimpered, eyes squinted shut, and released a cloud of leaves that breezed helplessly into Flannery and fluttered to the ground. It ran behind its owner and clung to his boot, terrified, as he cracked his whip again. Behind them, Steelix whirled into a bladed vortex of steel, striking Gyarados and Sylveon hard. Sylveon staggered to her feet, the touch of iron burning her fey flesh, and Gyarados too rose once more, equally shaky.
The man kicked Servine, cursing, “Worthless snake.” Jane, Jessie, and Flannery all cracked their fists.
Suddenly, a gout of scalding water issued from one of the caverns, striking Steelix in the head. The exhausted serpent crashed through the turbine shaft and lay still. The humans and Pokémon in the room turned around to see three additional humans and a Milotic standing in the entrance, and their jaws dropped.
Jane, Lucy, and Milotic immediately rushed for each other, meeting in a tight embrace. Milotic swirled delightedly around them as they kissed, sparing a moment to knock their human attacker on his back and hold him down with her tail when he recalled his Pokémon and tried to run past. Elena walked up to the man with Lizabeth and glared at him, intoning, “That’s far enough, Minamoto.”
He growled, “Elvis, you little—”
“It’s not Elvis anymore,” Elvis growled back, “and it’s never going to be Elvis again.”
Servine approached the group, wary and nervous. Lucy noticed it, gave Jane a peck on the cheek, and approached, dropping to her knees when she got close. “You don’t have to trust any of us, little one. We just met, after all. But we can get you out of here, if you want to leave.”
Servine looked up at Lucy, hope welling in her eyes.
“And if you stay with me, you’ll get strong, stronger than you ever thought you could be, stronger than this monster could ever help you become.”
Servine scampered into Lucy’s lap, and she petted her head.
“Now, go get your Pokéball while I deal with this asshole.”
Flannery, Lizabeth, Jessie, Elena, and Jane watched as Lucy walked up to Minamoto, still trapped under Milotic’s tail. She kicked him in the side hard enough for him to cough. “That’s for what you did to Elena.” She stepped on his leather-clad hand. “That’s for being part of this evil operation on purpose. And this,” she continued as Milotic tangled him in coils and followed Lucy to one of the giant handles at the bottom of the drill, “is for having slaves instead of friends.” She tied his feet together with his whip, suspended him upside-down via the knot, and tied his hands together with his shirt. Finally, she kicked him in the gut hard enough for him to thwack against the rocks behind. He offered no further resistance as Lucy took his Pokéballs and put them in her bag. Servine pelted him with harmless leaves before reentering hers. As Lucy rejoined the group, Jane drew a finger up her arm.
“Remind me never to piss you off,” she started, shaking, “until bedtime.”
“Well, darling,” Lucy continued, tracing a similar path along Jane’s cheek, ending on her lips, “you know my safe word.”
The six humans, Pokémon retrieved, walked down the hall, catching up with one another.
“So you all stopped mid-battle to see what was causing the earthquakes?” Lizabeth confirmed.
“It was the right thing to do,” Flannery insisted, visibly embarrassed without being sure why.
“I should have guessed you’d come, with the Battle Pike right there,” Jane admitted, a sly smile crossing her face as she held Lucy’s hand. “How’s Milotic enjoying the place?”
“She prefers contests to battles, but she’s getting very good at both,” Lucy answered. “I’ll let her tell you all about it herself once we’re out of here.”
“You’re all invited to the lodge in Pacifidlog Town afterward,” Lizabeth added. “It’ll be nice to spend time together when the fate of the world isn’t at stake. And you can see the show I’m in.”
“That’s where you’re from? Lucky,” Jessie half-complained. “Where are you from, Elena?”
“That’s…complicated,” Elena admitted, visibly uncomfortable. “I left a long time ago. I don’t think about it much.”
“Understood,” Jane answered. Lizabeth looked quizzical, like she had just noticed something important. The group came up on an imposing central door. Elena remembered this door, and shivered in anticipation.
“This is it,” she intoned. After this, it’s Ortolan.”
“Chimecho healed as many of us as she could,” Jane answered. “It’s now or never.”
Jessie held out a hand to stop their group from approaching the door. She announced, “Now, now, if we’re doing this, we’re doing this right.” Meowth rubbed his hands together in glee.