Last time...

-Dominic joined Cipher, as opposed to being killed.

A/N Thanks for all the OC's! I may not fit them all in, but I'll do my best.

Snattle led Dominic through the Cipher base, detailing all the rooms within the underground congregation. Snattle showed him the Grunt's Quarters, where he would be staying; the armory, where Pokemon were stored; the gym, for training Pokemon; the factory, where Shadow Pokemon were made (Snattle didn't elaborate on that for fear that Dominic would realize it was wrong); and finally, the hangar, where vehicles were stored. Snattle stated that Dominic wouldn't be using it for a while, until he was fully trusted. Finally, he led him to his bunk, where he was going to spend the night before training tomorrow.

As Dominic climbed up to his bed, his bunkmate spoke.

"They call me Dare. Who're you?"

"I'm Dominic, nice to meet you."

"Why'd you join?"

"My dad told me to."

"Must've had a damn good reason."

"Probably. They whispered some stuff to him, but I couldn't exactly hear it."

Dare put the pieces together pretty easily. He clearly didn't know the true nature of this organization, but he was in because they had some confrontation with his father, and gave him some terms or the like. After a bit, he spoke.

"When I was young, my parents dropped me off at an orphanage, with nothing but my name. After a while, I was elated to be adopted, but the family who took me was...not the most functional. After a divorce, my father won custody and took care of me, and he wasn't the best parent. He hit me a lot, and it hurt, so I ran away. I went to a different orphanage, not willing to stand against all my friends after running away, even if the family had fallen apart. I kept getting adopted, but none of the families made me feel...right. After a while, I just ran away, fending for myself. Eating scraps on the street for a month or so. Finally, a grunt encountered me and gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. And here I am."

Dominic nodded. "That's sad."

Dare looked at the wall, his hands on his knees. "How old are you kid?"

"7."

"I'm 15. They found me a year ago. They must've had a good reason for drafting a kid. You got anything special about you?"

"Not that I know."

Just then, a grunt walked in, telling them it was time to turn the lights off and at least be quiet. The two wished the other goodnight, and Dominic fell asleep quite rapidly after the eventful day.

In the morning, Dominic walked with Dare to the cafeteria, where they had biscuits and gravy. While the biscuits were very tasteless and somewhat stale, the gravy was decent and added some texture and flavor. After eating two of them, they did a role call, and Eldes came over to fetch Dominic so he could train. As he followed Eldes into the training room, he noticed Snattle talking with two other men in suits in a glass box attached to one of the walls. Eldes tossed him a Pokeball, while throwing one on the ground in front of him. Dom repeated the action, revealing that he had some kind of 'martial arts squirrel' while the opponent had some kind of 'fighting humanoid with long legs and T-Rex arms'.

Eldes gestured to his Pokemon. "This is Hitmonlee, an aggressive Fighting Type Pokemon. Your is also the Fighting Type, but it's a Mienshao. It's more defensive, and based off reading your opponent's movements. Your goal is to beat me without using a single attacking move. You will have multiple days to win, so it might be a good idea to spend your time thinking of ways to win. If you succeed, we'll move to the next challenge, and so on. Are you ready?"

Dominic nodded.

"Then let's begin! Hitmonlee, use Mach Punch!"

"Uhhh, block it!"

Mienshao crossed his arms, bracing for impact. The Hitmonlee, moving at an unbelievable pace, got a jab in where the 'X' in Mienshao's arms didn't cover. The Mienshao slid back, and after shaking off the pain, resumed to its normal spot.

"Hitmonlee, use High Jump Kick!"

Before Dom could react, Hitmonlee brought its leg down on Mienshao, fainting it.

"Good game, care to try again?"

Dom shrugged. "I got all day, apparently."

"That's the spirit."


Inside the glass box, Snattle was talking with two business representatives. The box was soundproof, so no one outside could hear.

"So why a kid?" One of the men wearing a tuxedo asked.

"Well, you see, as children develop, their minds are easily influenced. We have found a young man who is young enough for his mind to yet be sculpted, but old enough to battle successfully and carry out missions. Should this experiment succeed, we can duplicate it multiple times with different cases. Soon, we will create a generation of soulless monsters without even a tinge of remorse to back it up. These will be the 'Perfect Cipher Grunts' I've been working on. As they influence their Shadow Pokemon, they will be harder to purify, unlike what Wes did 5 years ago."

The other man spoke. "It's a Farfetch'd idea, but it could potentially work. Send us reports as your experiment progresses, and we'll soon consider whether or not to invest in your trade."

After Snattle escorted the two men out, Dominic and Eldes left the room, since Dominic was tired out after getting beaten so many times. An hour or two later, dinner was called, and Dominic met with Dare again. As Dom slowly ate his food, Dare noticed how visibly tired Dom was.

"Man, what did they make you do? Run a marathon?"

Dominic sighed. "They gave me a really tough battle, and I'm stumped on what to do..."

"What is it? Maybe I could help."

"Well I have a Mienshao, and I gotta beat a Hitmonlee without using attacking moves. Any suggestions?"

"This could be a long shot, but I'm pretty sure Mienshaos would know Detect and Counter. Detect is like protect, and Counter deals damage back to the opponent after being hit."

Just then, everything clicked in Dominic's mind. "Thanks a lot, I think I got it now."

After the two retired to their rooms, they talked a little bit about their pasts, and then fell asleep before curfew.


Dominic was woken up from his slumber when he heard a scream from downstairs. He climbed downwards, and was face to face with a man in with armor.

"Hey little guy! We're gonna take care of you now, okay?"

Just then, a dart was planted into his arm. Suddenly, he felt tired, even though he just slept. Consciously slipped away from him, and the last thing he saw before falling into the man's arms was his mother sleeping on the table, a pool of red liquid sitting placidly around her. His eyes shut, temporarily removing him from reality. The man in armor sent the sleeping figure back to his colleagues, who hauled it into the back of their truck. They then stormed the house until they found Dominic's dad in his office, with the door locked.

"Sir, open up."

After no response, they decided to threaten him.

"Sir, we have your son. Please comply or this will be his last day of sunlight."

Then, the door opened, and the man in a white lab coat threw his hands up. They forcefully tugged him into the truck, putting duct tape over his mouth so he couldn't scream. Then, the truck started, and they were off.


The next morning, right after breakfast, Dominic followed Eldes back to the training room. Snattle sat in his chair, watching as the battle unfolded. As soon as Hitmonlee used Mach Punch, Dominic had Mienshao use Counter. The Mach Punch struck, but Mienfoo hit back harder. Hitmonlee was slightly dazed, but shook it off as it was commanded to use High Jump Kick.

"Detect!"

Time seemed to slow down as Mienshao used Detect. It evaluated its surroundings, sensing for threats. As it felt the Hitmonlee charging at him, it readied itself to spring. As soon as the Hitmonlee came near, Mienshao leaped out of the way, leaving Hitmonlee to dig its heel into dust, the impact temporarily crippling it. It moaned in pain before it fainted.

"Excellent job. We may now progress your training." Eldes stated, a hint of happiness in his voice.