Anybody who's read the past two stories shouldn't need any introduction here. But those who haven't, I highly recommend you read For the Mission and The Future of Little Hope first.
On with the story!
Chapter 1: Making the Grade!
Martha woke up with the rising sun once again, systematically moving towards the wall of her room to pick up her Treasure Bag and put the strap over her back.
Six months had passed since she bid her partner farewell. The Eevee led the rest of Team Rapid without him as she promised, none of them or the other guild apprentices any wiser to his brief visit.
Martha had wanted to tell her friends about Nate remaining alive after stopping the planet's paralysis, but decided against it. She felt that her teammates would ask why she didn't convince him to stay, and she wasn't really sure herself.
Meanwhile, the guild members knew that the human-turned-Pokémon had the best of intentions and noblest of missions, but he was still talked about in hushed tones by the residents of Treasure Town. After all, he'd completely abandoned the guild. The members there probably wouldn't want to be reminded that he'd seen them as a waste of time to work with.
Everybody knew the story that they had helped capture Grovyle, Nate's partner from the future, and would've done the same to him if he hadn't shown them definitive proof of their folly. Even if they didn't know the whole story at the time, Wigglytuff's Guild had lost a lot of face from nearly dooming the world to eternal darkness.
With a sigh, Martha turned to walk towards the morning address. She happened to catch a glimpse of the Explorer Badge on her necklace. The purple gem now matched the crystal set into her necklace. Under her leadership, Team Rapid had advanced from Super Rank to Ultra Rank over the past months, and had achieved Hyper Rank just yesterday. It hadn't been easy, especially since Martha had put missions on hold for the most part during that time to practice team attacks.
Three times a week, Martha would take the whole team outside of Treasure Town and group them in teams of three or four to spar. Two teams would spar with each other while the third would debate about how they could combine their fighting styles and moves. Which ones did which would rotate each time. They would spend one week with one set-up and then shuffle around into different squads for the next week. She kept this up until she was satisfied with their ability to work together, including herself. Now, each member of their exploration team could work with any other member like a well-oiled machine. Although she still had practice sessions once a week from then on to keep them in shape and practice with new attacks.
In addition, on those training days, Martha would spend the time from dismissing her team until dinner to meditate and try to perfect her Substitute. Every time since they could talk, she quizzed her clones on various scenarios, but she never felt satisfied with their ability to pose as her. The imbalance of their psyches always gave it away, so for now, she kept them emotionless when she wanted to use them, even as she boosted their intelligence and memories.
Still, she had figured out how to override their standard mindset and set commands into their make-up and to reduce and increase the energy she put in them, like Nate had hinted at in Brine Cave. Martha could make her clones act as an early warning system, alerting her when enemies tried to sneak up on her, send them to attack others from multiple angles, or command them to send a message to someone, even if it was delivered in emotionless monotone.
During all of their missions, several clients requested to join Team Rapid. Martha turned most away, as they already had sufficient combat strength. One, however, did make the cut, but not necessarily for his combat ability alone.
"I don't see how this is supposed to prove your point," Martha said.
The Magby client in front of her smiled as he swapped items from his personal storage to the Recycle Shop and got a Gold Ticket, redeeming it immediately.
He picked the yellow tab at the end of the ticket, seemingly on a whim and replied, "Just watch."
"Okay, Yellow then," Wynaut cheerfully nodded.
Martha did so and Wynaut handed the tab to Wobbuffet, who turned around to check it. Wynaut asked, "Is it a win? Is it not?"
Wobbuffet shook her head.
"So is it a win or not?"
Wobbuffet shook her head again.
"Huh… wait. Don't tell me…" the runner of the booth said in disbelief. "Is it a big win…?"
Wobbuffet abruptly turned around, "That's right!"
The back wall between the two booths abruptly burst inward, surprising everybody except Felix. A Ludicolo led four Bellossom inside with a hearty, "Oh, yeaaaaah!"
They broke into celebratory dance for a few moments to festive music while Martha looked from the dancers to the Magby. He looked like he'd seen this very celebration several times. The celebrating Pokémon disappeared in a flash of light, even repairing the wall.
Wynaut bowed to the Magby, "I must congratulate you again, Felix. Why not? Here is your big prize!"
Felix nodded and received a TM for False Swipe. He held it up to Martha with a raised eyebrow and she said, "That proves nothing except that you got lucky."
"Would you like to get another prize ticket, Felix?" Wynaut asked.
The same process repeated itself. The Magby even had the audacity to pick the same colored tab. The dancing Pokémon broke down the wall for the second time in half an hour and disappeared again. This time, Felix received a Protect TM.
"It's very complicated, and even my parents don't know why me in particular, but my father, an Infernape, was born from his mother who was mated to an Arbok that was the son of blah, blah, blah…" Felix trailed off apathetically as he redeemed another ticket, picking the yellow tab again. "Point is, my great-great-grandfather was a Honchkrow, and I got his devil luck. Not even the standard Super Luck, just plain old luck in chance. As you'll see…"
"Is that so? Wonderful! Here's your prize!" Wynaut announced handing over an orb and a TM to Felix. Still a win, but not a big win. (1)
"It does have a limit. But luck like mine could come in handy in the field, right?"
Felix had made a very convincing case and Team Rapid didn't have a Fire-type since they'd never needed one before with all of the types covered. But she couldn't deny that his extreme luck, even if limited in usage, would be useful. However, the first order of business for him was training to work with the rest of Team Rapid.
During that time, they learned that he had practically weaponized his luck to integrate it into combat. Anybody that fought him would have to watch out for sudden bouts of tripping, for his ability meant bad luck for his opponents and good luck for him and his allies. One time when Maribel tried rushing him, he didn't even have to move before a stray boulder from Terrence a short distance away slammed into her from behind. It didn't cause her any great harm, but it gave him time to counter.
He didn't wholly rely on it, though. If he did, he'd run out too fast. Depending on the magnitude of luck used, inversely proportional to how much of his own effort he put into hitting and dodging when using it, it could last from all day to a few minutes. Relying on pure chance like the aforementioned examples drained about a quarter of his "luck energy" as the Fire-type referred to it, even more if it had hit Maribel's head and knocked her out. But if he only relied on luck to get small openings such as slip-ups, instead of relying on it for getting vulnerable spots or making especially devastating hits, he could reliably use it for an entire exploration. However, using it too long without recharging caused Felix's own luck to turn bad.
Martha reached the area in front of Wigglytuff's chamber for the morning address, unknowing of the announcement to come.
"I beg your pardon?" Martha asked in surprise. "Graduation?"
Chatot nodded, "Correct. Graduation from the guild! If you graduate, you can leave the guild and become an independent team with all privileges. You'll be rid of the harsh daily training program, too. Of course, that all depends on your passing the graduation exam."
"Hey, hey, hey! Chatot!" Corphish called. When he turned to face the Water-type, he said, "Hey, hey! We've been around a lot longer than Martha. Hey, hey! Why does she get to take the graduation exam before we do?"
"She's already proven herself to be worthy many times over," Chatot answered. "Besides, her team is merely one rank away from Master Rank. Keeping her here seems to be moot, so she should at least get the chance to graduate."
He turned back to Martha, who kept silent during the discussion, "So that's how it is, Martha. I expect you to be prepared for the graduation exam!"
Martha nodded as Sunflora pointed out, "Loudred took the graduation exam last year."
"And promptly failed! Hey, hey!" Corphish added.
"G-g-get LOST!" Loudred grumbled in reply.
"So," Martha ventured, "what am I supposed to do for this exam?"
Wigglytuff addressed her, "I want you to explore the depths of a wood named Mystifying Forest. You should find a place called Luminous Spring there."
"Luminous Spring? The place where Pokémon used to evolve?" the Eevee asked in confirmation.
"Yup~!" he answered cheerfully. Chatot continued for him, "We want you to travel to Luminous Spring and return with its treasure. If you can bring that treasure back to the guild, you pass the exam. You will then be recognized as a fully trained exploration team and graduate from the guild with full honors!"
'Hm, that sounds simple enough,' Martha thought to herself. 'Maybe the challenge is getting through Mystifying Forest itself. But I'm fairly certain that I can do it with my team's help.'
Wigglytuff spoke up, interrupting her thoughts, "But… you have to watch out for one thing. There you'll find… a frighteningly strong enemy."
She turned her full attention to him, expression serious as the Guildmaster continued, "The Grandmaster of All Things Bad lives there."
Martha said nothing, waiting for Wigglytuff to elaborate.
"The Grandmaster is terribly wicked," he explained. "They're a horrifying presence that no one would ever want to meet… So… Good luck with that~!"
Team Rapid's leader sweated a bit at Wigglytuff's abrupt shift in attitude. 'If there's this wicked Pokémon on the loose, and he knows about it, shouldn't he report it to Magnezone, or mobilize the guild to take them down?'
Chatot addressed all of the apprentices, "That will do for the morning briefing! All right, everyone! Let's get down to work!"
Martha didn't cheer and looked around at everyone's strange behavior. They seemed remarkably unconcerned that she was going into a mystery dungeon where a reportedly wicked Pokémon made their base. Their attitudes and the information she got clashed too much for this to be any ordinary exam.
'If there's anything that's most valuable in a mission,' she recalled, 'it's good information. I refuse to do this mission without at least trying to get a clearer idea.'
The Eevee turned and walked towards the sentry post, keeping her voice casual, "Excuse me. Loudred?" He turned with a questioning grunt and Martha continued, "You took the graduation exam already, right? Can you give me any tips on dealing with it? Perhaps some information on the Grandmaster of All Things Bad?"
"Ugh," Loudred groaned, "I'm sorry, but I'm NOT allowed to talk about it. It's the guild rule. I CAN'T talk about it. But… I will tell you this. You're in for… a dreadful, terrifying time."
He shuddered, "What I went through… Even now, when I let myself remember it… WAAAAH!" Loudred ran off screaming.
Martha's expression fell into a bit of a pout as she thought, 'Well that told me absolutely nothing, except that I should pack lots of items for this test… Maybe I should try asking around outside the guild.'
"'The Grandmaster of All Things Bad'?" Wattson asked with a raised eyebrow. He let out a chuckle, "Sounds like the villain from a game of Explorers and Outlaws. (2) Plus, no self-respecting crook with any bit of common sense would pick an alias like that. It sticks out too much. Anyway, I never heard of the guy while I was working for my boss."
Meanwhile, Maribel tilted her head, "I've never heard of such a villain personally, but I'll fly over to my grandma's and ask her. She still keeps an info network. If this 'Grandmaster' is at large in Mystifying Forest, she'll know about it."
Martha nodded, "Thank you." Once the Starling Pokémon took off, she told the others, "I'm going to go pick up items for an exploration to Mystifying Forest. I have no idea what kind of Pokémon will be there, so we should have a versatile team."
"'We'?" Psymon asked curiously. "Isn't this one of those guild-exclusive things where you can't bring recruits?"
The leader smirked slightly, "They never said I couldn't." (3)
Terrence let out a boisterous laugh, "A-ha-ha! Well then, that 'Grandmaster' will be in for a surprise!"
"We'll figure out a few squad options," Yrja offered. "You go on and get your items."
"Thanks," Martha said with a smile before turning around to leave.
As she made her way to Treasure Town, she happened to see Teddiursa and Ursaring on their way to the crossroads.
"Oh, Martha! Hi!" Teddiursa called.
Martha nodded in greeting, "Good morning, Teddiursa, Ursaring. Heading out somewhere?"
"Yup," the Little Bear Pokémon answered. "We're going off to Mystifying Forest now."
"Oh?" she asked, masking her interest. "Is it safe to go there?"
The two bears looked at each other before Teddiursa answered in a puzzled tone, "Why wouldn't it be? Sure, the Pokémon there are strong, but nothing we can't handle. We play often at that forest and Luminous Spring."
"You see, I heard something about somebody that calls themself the 'Grandmaster of All Things Bad'," Martha explained. "They say that he makes his hideout in Mystifying Forest."
"The Grandmaster of All Things Bad?" Ursaring repeated in a puzzled tone. "I've never heard of anything like that. If somebody like that lived there, we'd notice for sure. Sounds like you heard a bad rumor."
"Perhaps," the Eevee answered. Then she smiled, "Well, you two have fun!"
They nodded and waved goodbye while Martha stepped aside to let them pass. Her smile fell into a thoughtful expression after they left. She walked towards Kangaskhan Storage while musing on what she knew.
'Something's fishy about this exam. Nobody outside the guild seems to have seen or heard about this Grandmaster. Yet Wigglytuff hasn't taken down or reported them, despite emphasizing how dangerous this Pokémon is.'
She let out a sharp breath through her nose as she walked past Kecleon Market. 'But Loudred genuinely feared something. Somebody hired by the guild, perhaps?'
Martha decided to just prepare and deal with it as it came.
"Good morning, Martha!" Kangaskhan greeted.
She smiled, "Good morning, Kangaskhan. I'm just here to drop off and pick up some items."
Martha organized her bag, packing four Reviver Seeds as well as some Heal Seeds, Stun Seeds and Totter Seeds in addition to the usual berries, food and orbs. She didn't need any equip items, since all of the members of Team Rapid already had exclusive items to assist them. The Eevee had spent quite a lot of time at the Swap Shop to get all of the right ones, but it was worth it in her opinion.
Soon after she finished, she turned to go back across Treasure Town when Regina came forward to meet her. What struck Martha as odd, though, was the surprisingly solemn expression on all three of her faces.
Blinking in slight surprise, Martha greeted her, "Regina, hi. Did you need something?"
"We merely came to deliver Maribel's report," the Tiny Bee Pokémon replied. "She has asked her grandmother, and the retired explorer has heard nothing of this alleged Grandmaster from any of her contacts."
Martha nodded and said, "Very well. Let's just keep our eyes open until we get past Mystifying Forest."
"Actually…" Regina hesitantly interrupted. "Forgive our falsehood. Something does require addressing. Pray we might speak in private?"
Team Rapid's leader paused for a moment, recalling the last time that somebody had asked her to speak in private. Regardless, she nodded and led her to Sharpedo Bluff.
"I'm telling you, Grandmaster implies that he at least has some minions," Wattson argued. "Trying to go for the three strongest of us might end with you all overwhelmed by numbers. We'll need some area-of-effect attacks."
"Wattson raises a good point," Ferra added. "Either him or Yrja are a must to prevent getting cornered."
Maribel thought about it and said, "Yrja. She's got Powder Snow, which'll help against the numerous Grass-types that populate Mystifying Forest. As for the other two… Terrence. You'll be able to provide some crowd control as well with your size and heavy hitting."
"Gladly!" the Fossil Pokémon agreed.
Tempest sighed, "Guess I'll stick around. I'm more of an infighter like this. If only I could evolve!"
"Quit whining," Augustus ordered. "Nobody can evolve right now."
Felix gave it some thought before adding, "My 'luck sense' is telling me that I'd be very hard-pressed to get through that forest unharmed. Probably because of Ground-types, if it's a forest. It must be full of traps, too—stupid things draining my luck just by me not stepping on them."
"Really?" Psymon asked.
"A small drain, but still a drain," the Magby answered. "Now imagine if it was that small drain for the entire dungeon, plus whatever I used in fights."
"Moving on," Maribel said with a raised voice to get their attention. "We have muscle, and area-of-effect. Now we just need one more member."
"Regina," Martha's voice cut in.
Everybody turned and saw her coming in with the Pokémon in question. She continued, "Her and Yrja can use Fragrant Flurry to sedate the Grandmaster, and their possible minions, while damaging them. Not too many types resist ice, so it'll be a good opening move. They'll probably shrug off the effects after a while, but it'll slow them down."
Yrja nodded, "Very true."
"Welp, looks like we got our team," Tisha commented. "Good luck, y'all."
Martha nodded, "Thanks. Let's go."
She led her three teammates out of the café, and then tossed the Treasure Bag to Terrence, "Looks like you're in charge of items, since you're the one with hands."
Terrence nodded and adjusted the strap to put his wing through it. He had to fold his wings to reach items with his hands, but he had plenty of moves and even a separate fighting style for fighting on the ground, too.
Martha knew that Yrja and Regina had their Sleet and Nectar Bow, respectively, and the Eevee never took off her Virid Collar, in case she got into a fight.
As the squad took off, Martha idly noted that Sunflora and Corphish had disappeared from the crossroad. With that on top of everything else odd about this morning, it only looked more suspicious to her.
After following the bend of the gulf and going northeast of Waterfall Cave, Team Rapid arrived at the entrance of Mystifying Forest. The sun shining through the deep green leaves of all the trees certainly gave it a surreal quality and the four Pokémon allowed themselves a brief moment to appreciate the atmosphere.
"All right," Martha said. "Our mission is to get to Luminous Spring at the end of this forest and retrieve its treasure, Grandmaster or not. You all ready?"
"Yea, verily," Regina nodded.
Terrence laughed, "Let's show this Grandmaster we mean business! Ah-ha-ha-ha!"
"Careful, they might hear you," Yrja giggled.
It was meant as a joke, but the Aerodactyl's eyes widened in nearly comic realization and he put his "intimidate the enemy" face on. His Old Brooch, a brown gem set in tarnished silver fixed to his chest, glimmered and the air about him seemed to grow tenser. (4)
The Spheal shivered slightly, 'I don't think I'll ever get used to Terrence's serious face…' She knew that he was pretty much harmless to his team, but he could be scary when he wanted to.
With all of them ready, Martha nodded and turned forward to lead them inside Mystifying Forest. The entrance disappeared behind them and the trees formed into walls, making rooms and corridors. Picking a direction, Team Rapid began their trek.
Unfortunately, they didn't even get past the second floor before running into a monster house. Worse, the stairs were in the same room, so they couldn't even just run away.
Martha rolled her eyes and signaled, "Yrja."
She jumped into the air for Terrence to catch her in his hand and allow the Clap Pokémon to roll forward and let out a Blizzard, immediately knocking out all of the Grass-types and a Flygon that was also in the room. The Raticates also passed out, by virtue of them not being strong enough to endure the attack. As the four of them looked around, a layer of snow covered the room and the unconscious Pokémon along with the others who wisely decided to flee, leaving behind their money and items.
"Huh," Yrja commented. "You think I might've overdone it?"
Terrence put Martha down and picked up a treasure box, dusting some snow off it before putting it in the bag, the Poké Pocket automatically picking up the money he passed by, "Nah. Ooh, a Sky Gummi! I'll save this for Maribel."
They proceeded to the next floor and Regina fell to the ground as a sudden fog made her wings too wet to fly. She struggled to get up, but Terrence picked her up and perched her on his back.
"There ya go, princess," he chuckled.
She sighed, "We thank thee…"
"Stay close," Martha warned. "We don't want to get separated in this weather."
Luckily, the rest of the dungeon passed without much incident, aside from a Roselia surprising Terrence with Petal Dance before he batted them away with his massive wing. An Oran Berry had him fixed right up. Regina also needed one more ride through another foggy floor, but aside from that, everything went well.
'Man, imagine if I was stupid enough to come here alone out of some silly notion of pride,' Martha idly mused as they reached the stairs on the thirteenth floor. 'Or worse, if I forgot that I had nearly a dozen teammates perfectly ready and willing to help. (5)'
With that staircase climbed, Team Rapid arrived at a clearing that narrowed up ahead to another path. As she walked, she noted to her team, "We've come a long way through Mystifying Forest; this area looks different from the rest of the dungeon. Luminous Spring must be just up… ahead…"
Martha trailed off as she noticed that a circle of the grass up ahead looked different from the rest. In fact, it looked more like leaves than actual grass. Lifting the corner up confirmed that it was a pitfall trap—a poorly concealed one, at that.
"Is this somebody's idea of a clever trap…?" the Eevee asked in a disbelieving tone.
"Oh! Martha!" a familiar voice called.
The recruits stepped aside, allowing Teddiursa and Ursaring to greet their leader. Martha greeted them, "Hello, again. I see that you're also on your way to Luminous Spring."
"We often come here, as we've said," Ursaring agreed. "So, how's it going? Did you see your Grandmaster of All Things Bad?"
Martha looked at the pitfall cover behind her, "Something like that. You two go on ahead, I've got to check something first."
Teddiursa shrugged, "All right."
The two of them left, going around Martha and avoiding the trap. She turned to her team, "Well, if they're not going to put some effort into it, might as well go around."
Before any of the other teammates could reply, something grabbed Martha's back leg and pulled her under the cover as she yelped in surprise.
Martha fell into darkness and couldn't orient herself without seeing which way the floor was, so she fell on her side when whatever held her let go. She immediately rolled to her feet and could sense that she wasn't alone.
The ceiling immediately blasted apart, bathing the underground chamber in light as the rubble formed walls around the edges of the pit. Terrence flew in, eyes glowing purple with Yrja on his back and Regina beside him.
Terrence landed behind Martha, hunching protectively over her while Yrja and Regina guarded his back. The Fossil Pokémon growled with his eyes still glowing and his Pressure ability fully active, charging the air around the group in an effort to intimidate them.
But Team Rapid, as a whole, blinked in surprise when they saw just who they were facing.
Martha looked incredulously at Wigglytuff while her recruits looked at the other members of the guild.
"Wait…" Bidoof said. "Was this part of the plan?"
Chatot was merely struck speechless with his beak wide open at the sight of an Aerodactyl coming to Martha's rescue. The only recruits he had met personally were Maribel and Psymon. Worst of all, he couldn't call out the Eevee on her using recruits, as that would acknowledge the guild's involvement in the graduation exam.
"Well, I must admit, this has caught me by surprise," Martha said with raised eyebrows. She had this figured out now. The graduation exam required the apprentice to best the rest of the guild in combat. No wonder Loudred had bad memories about it.
She continued, "To think that Guildmaster Wigglytuff… had a doppelganger!"
Hey, if she had to go along with this charade, she may as well have fun with it.
Pointing dramatically with her front leg, Martha called, "You must be the horrendous Grandmaster of All Things Bad! And these are your minions!"
"Muah-hahahaha!" Wigglytuff laughed. "Yes! It is I! Coming to our lair is the last mistake you will ever make. You're not walking out of here."
Getting into the swing of things, Terrence sneered confidently, "We'll never give in! Bring it, puffball!"
"Prepare to face the terror that is the Grandmaster of All Things Bad!" Wigglytuff grinned. "YOOM… TAH!"
Blue rings of sound energy raced towards Team Rapid and Terrence immediately took flight while grabbing Martha and Yrja with his feet. Regina followed, using her own wings to fly. The Hyper Voice attack blasted the ground where they had stood, causing a dust cloud to rise up.
At Yrja's signal, Terrence dropped her, letting her use Defense Curl to brace for impact. Regina followed her. Chatot took flight and got in her way for a moment, but he was suddenly switched out for Martha, her dropping towards the ground and him now in Terrence's grasp, much to the Music Note Pokémon's shock.
Once Yrja landed, she let Regina settle on her head, the two of them spinning around as Regina released concentrated Sweet Scent around them.
"Fragrant Flurry!" Yrja shouted as she released Powder Snow. The ice attack picked up the Sweet Scent and a pink tint as it flew about the room. They had tried the same with Blizzard for more power, but the fierce winds that came with that attack always dispersed the Sweet Scent.
Diglett and Dugtrio immediately burrowed underground while the rest were chilled and their movements grew sluggish both from the cold and the scent's relaxing effect. Sunflora couldn't take it and passed out. Regina moved on to engage Croagunk while Yrja rolled over to one of the holes dug by the two Ground-types. Putting her face in it, she simply blew a Blizzard right into it, forcing both of them to pop up to provide some relief. Once they were exposed, she knocked them out with an Aurora Beam. With them down, she moved onto Loudred, who used a Howl to reinvigorate himself.
"OOOOORAAA!" he shouted as he fought the sedative and charged Yrja.
Terrence threw Chatot to the ground before hitting him with Ancient Power to knock him out. The bird had already been weakened by the combination move. He faced Wigglytuff and his hands gained a light blue glow before his fingertips sharpened with Dragon Claw.
Regina used more Sweet Scent to further sedate Croagunk before sending him into the wall with Gust. While she only had three moves, she had made them quite powerful. Yrja spared a quick Ice Beam to freeze the wall around Croagunk and bind him there before dropping a Rock Slide on Loudred.
Martha hadn't been stationary either. She knew that Chimecho was the medic of the team and immediately went after her with Quick Attack. The Wind Chime Pokémon tried catching her with Psychic, but Martha skid to a stop, kicking sand in her face at the same time to disrupt her attack.
"Ah!" Chimecho cried in surprise and discomfort.
Martha heard somebody scuttling behind her and looked to see Corphish with his pincer open and glowing black. Right as he attacked, his eyes widened when his attack connected with Chimecho instead of his original target, knocking the medic out. Then he cried out "Hey, hey!" as he tried shaking off Regina, who'd latched onto his back with Bug Bite.
Martha had already moved onto Bidoof. He looked nervous, but curled up to use Rollout. Martha used Take Down to send him crashing into the wall before he could get any momentum going and then threw three rounds of Trump Cards, each set more powerful than the last. She moved back to Corphish and helped Regina to knock him out. Only then did Martha double check to see Bidoof indeed unconscious in a small pile of rubble.
Yrja finished up Loudred with an Ice Ball attack to the head and regrouped with Terrence. He had gotten some good hits in, but was hard-pressed to defend against Wigglytuff with his Steel Wing and Iron Tail while still counterattacking. She shot an Aurora Beam at the "Grandmaster", in hopes of weakening him further, but it just turned his attention to her. He charged Yrja with Double-Edge, but she was switched out for Martha.
Unhindered, Wigglytuff plowed into her, only for him to overbalance when the rather weak Substitute popped.
"Now!" the real Martha called.
She shot her last two sets of Trump Cards, her most powerful attack besides Last Resort, which was unavailable to her now. Yrja added an Ice Beam, so as to not throw off her allies' aim with the gale, while Terrence shot sharp rocks with Stone Edge. Regina, unable to contribute any worthwhile moves, made sure that the unconscious Pokémon stayed under by relaxing them with Sweet Scent.
When the dust cleared, Wigglytuff was still standing, albeit with his side frozen and his front and back bruised. He panted, hunched over a bit while Team Rapid remained ready to move, but did not attack.
Acting aside, they didn't want to seriously hurt Wigglytuff.
"Th-they got me…" he muttered, whether to himself or his "minions". "Everyone, run away!"
Terrence courteously lowered the wall bordering the hole to allow their escape.
Fighting the Sweet Scent, the members of the guild began fleeing the chamber. Chimecho picked up Bidoof, Corphish and Sunflora with Psychic and floated with them in tow. Meanwhile, Loudred broke Croagunk out of his ice and hefted the shivering frog over his shoulder before climbing up. Diglett and Dugtrio burrowed away, Chatot took flight and Wigglytuff puffed up with a deep breath to make a lofty jump out of the pit.
Team Rapid let out a collective breath of relief. Even though the fight wasn't overly difficult, they were just glad that they had managed to win against the superior numbers with teamwork.
Since this story has been such a long time coming, I decided to make the first chapter a bit longer than normal. Plus, I couldn't find a good stopping point without one or both chapters being too short.
Also, for those who might be wondering "How was that fight so easy?" bear in mind a few things. One, four whole fighters can make a large difference compared to only two, as is the norm. Two, Martha emphasizes teamwork which means that each member understands each other's strengths and weaknesses, when they might need help, etc. And three, because Martha emphasized teamwork and had all of them training at once until they reached the amount of synergy demonstrated in reason two (including starting it back up again, training all of them when Felix had to be inducted) the repeated training had them grow much stronger during the six month time skip.
1. This seriously happened. Granted, I picked different tabs each time, and it was slightly before I recruited Felix, but still.
2. Explorers and Outlaws is pretty much the PMD equivalent of Cops and Robbers, a children's game.
3. Literally the only reason that the two main Pokémon have to go alone to Mystifying Forest is because your partner says "It's our test, so we should do it ourselves, just the two of us." The first time I played that part in Explorers of Darkness (Munchlax and… Charmander, I think), I can't even tell you how frustrated I was that I couldn't bring my recruits with group-targeting moves.
4. The Old Brooch is Terrence's exclusive item and it boosts the effect of Pressure even further.
5. That's sort of a shot at myself for not having Meowth think to bring recruits when Chatot didn't expressly forbid it. It seems like the kind of thing he'd do. Then again, Rio might've done the whole "It's our test" argument.
See you when I see you.