Leo's Team:

Santiago – Slowking

Diana – Pupitar

Zuko – Quilava

Spiritomb

Link – Bellossom

Members in Consideration:

Magnemite


Ok, ok. I hear you. Support pokémon doesn't seem like a commonly covered topic, so I'll lay it out a little for you here. Bear with me for the exposition, ro just move on, I don't mind. I just didn't want to have to cram this into the chapter or forget about doing it in the next few chapters.

HM Mules. Those are support pokémon. For those of you who've played Sinnoh, you can't tell me you haven't caught a Bidoof just to spam Cut, Rock Smash, or whatever other useless HMs on the stupid thing, only to toss it away when it becomes irrelevant. (Or Defog or Flash, too.)

This is the same idea, but a little more complex because I'm not making a game world. It's really not an issue for generalists because they tend to have a varied team, but type specialists in particular take advantage of Support pokémon because not all types are that varied. So they have support pokémon of different types to cover things that their main battling team can't, and they typically don't bond as well pokémon outside of their specified type. There's also a matter of training. Specialization can be very important, and training for specific jobs can take priority over battling. Not everyone is a battler, and not every pokémon wants to battle (strange concept, I know.) Anyway, hope that helps at least a little.

Really it would just let me introduce more pokémon without having to delve really deep into their characters either. Support pokémon can be rented, you know. It's like Lance having an Alakazam to teleport him around Kanto, or Blaine having a Blastoise to help him put out the fires his team causes. Or for diving because he lives on a freaking island, and fire types don't swim well. Can they battle? Sure. Are they as good as their main teams? Probably not. But who knows, Leo may not have a lot of support pokemon. It was just a bit of worldbuilding, too.


Leo examined the map he'd found at the abandoned site, frowning as he stood at the base of the plateau. It was actually astonishing, not only was it a detailed map of the local area, but it showed that there was a cave system that wound its way through the plateaus and mesas – there was a whole underground ecosystem just waiting to be explored. What really caught Leo's eye, however, was the handwritten notes on said map. There were big X's and circled areas, routes planned out and, written in bold letters at the edge of the map, were the words "Search for the Cave of Resolution."

Leo had no idea what that meant, but it sounded awesome. Maybe the person was searching for some cave of legend, like the moon stone beneath Mt. Moon? Or perhaps an archaeologist searching for a lost city or something – his imagination was running wild, and his wanderlust was telling him to go search for it too. The map had quite a few places marked off, so that narrowed down where he could start his search too.

"Right, so the entrance should be around here somewhere," he muttered, glancing around the dense jungle. Santiago hummed and looked around, stomping through the undergrowth as he lugged around the guitar case. "Oh, quit your bellyaching. I've been carrying that thing around for days now, you can carry it for a few hours," Leo told him. Santiago huffed, pushing aside a group of vines and looking up the tall cliff face to Leo's left. The entrance to the caverns should have been around here somewhere…

"Magnemite," Santiago said suddenly, and Leo looked up sharply, head swiveling as he looked for said steel type.

"Oh, crap. Where'd it go now?" Leo cursed, rolling up the map and shoving it back in its case, then putting the case awkwardly in his pack before standing. He'd been trying to get Magnemite acclimated to him, perhaps get a judge on its personality by letting it follow after them, but the past week and a half had been a trial.

It wandered away constantly, picked fights with strong pokémon, and just generally made itself a nuisance. Its attacks were always clinical, too. It always paralyzed its opponents and never went in for the KO, either; always keeping a healthy distance and shooting thundershocks or flash cannons to keep the pokémon corralled. He was beginning to suspect the 'mon had been trained before, and not as a battler based on its behaviors.

"Magnemite!" Leo barked, pulling out its pokeball and listening intently for the sounds of combat. All was silent in the jungle, and Leo looked back at Santiago. "Which way did it go? I swear to the gods, I'm never going to let it out of its ball again," he grumbled. Santiago shrugged and Leo cursed again, nearly missing the zapping sound further in the jungle. "For the love of – c'mon, Santi," Leo grumbled, taking off into the jungle after the rogue Magnemite.

It didn't take long to find it after that, the sounds of combat quickly picking up in the jungle. A metallic dong rang out like a bell, followed by Magnemite's drone of pain, and Leo cursed again, pulling Link's pokeball off his belt and hurling it through the trees.

"Link! Intervene and calm!" he shouted upon hearing the release trigger. Link shouted in confirmation, and the sounds of fighting intensified. Leo burst through the trees and was met by a horrifying sight – a freaking Lucario was engaged in combat with Link, meeting his leaf blade with a metal claw, while Magnemite weakly floated above the ground. Its lights flickered but stubbornly held on, slowly floating backwards as it focused on the fighting type. The Lucario grit its teeth as it dodged a small jolt of electricity, Magnemite's magnets flaring with light and sparking, readying its claws for a slash. Link darted in and met the Lucario's metal claw, shouting something at it as the two attacks collided.

"Return!" Leo barked, pulling out Magnemite's pokeball and recalling the nuisance. His first instinct was to shove the pokemon's pokeball in his backpack so he'd never have to see it again, but found himself a little distracted by the angry blue canid exchanging a flurry of blows with Link.

Santiago burst from the trees behind Leo, drawing the Lucario's attention for a split second, and Leo barked another order.

"Link, back," he said, forcing his tone to be calm. Link met Lucario's glowing silver claws with his blade once again, and used the momentum of the bigger pokemon's strike to allow himself to be flung backward, disengaging as he flipped through the air back toward Leo.

The canine pokémon growled, muzzle pulled into a snarl as it pointed its claws at Leo, who splayed his hands peacefully. The Lucario snarled once more, taking a threatening step forward, and Santiago growled, water bubbling in the back of his throat. Spiritomb hissed and snaked its way out of Leo's pocket, the darkness of the trees deepening as the ghost readied whatever method it had planned to protect Leo. For a brief few moments they all had a stare down, a stare down that was broken when a man dressed in cargo shorts, a tan loose-sleeved shirt, sporting a cowboy hat decorated with teeth, and wearing an eyepatch over one eye burst through the jungle.

"Lucario, what'd you find – " he said in a heavy Unovan accent, and cut himself off when he saw Leo. Lucario growled and tensed, looking ready to attack once again now that the man was here. "Hold!" he snapped, and Lucario froze in place. Spiritomb hissed again, this time in an even angrier tone as more shadowy tendrils flowed out of Leo's pocket. Its face appeared on one of the tendrils, glaring balefully at the new appearance.

"Spiritomb, enough," Leo said, his ghost hissing but reluctantly withdrawing, sucking itself back into his pocket.

"Slow," Santiago said, stepping up in front of Leo.

"Spiritomb?" the man said, surprise coloring his tone. "Ah, sorry, sorry, is everyone ok?" he asked, quickly recovering.

"Yes," Leo said, shaking his head. "Sorry, this is my fault. I caught a Magnemite a few days ago, and it's been nothing but trouble. Went after your Lucario, and caused this whole mess," he explained. The man frowned and scratched his stubbled chin, making a placating hand-gesture towards the Lucario as his eyes roved over Link and Santiago, then settled on Leo. Something about the look in his eyes was…unsettling.

"Magnemite you say? Where is it now? I lost a Magnemite a week and a few days ago – massive thunderstorm rolled in, and it followed after the lightning, the stupid thing," the man explained. That wasn't an uncommon occurrence, according to the pokedex. Before power plants became widespread large swarms of Magnemite could sometimes be found following after thunderstorms. Used to be a big problem for cities, because they brought down more lightning strikes and caught things on fire. Now it's a bit more regulated, but…

"Sure. Here it is," Leo said, letting Magnemite out of its pokeball, then frowning. Wait, if it was this man's pokémon, then how was he able to catch it? Magnemite appeared in a flash of red, blinked once, and immediately floated over to the cowboy-hat wearing man where it started to orbit him.

"Man, this is the one! Reggie's going to be so happy we found you," he said, laughing and poking the metal 'mon. Magnemite clearly knew the man, from the way it was acting. Orbiting people was one of Magnemite's way of showing recognition or affection. "Though it sucks that you caught it. We leave them uncaught, typically,"

"Uncaught?" Leo asked, furrowing his brows. That made little sense.

"Yeah, uncaught. Me and a few guys work as hunters – we hunt and catch rare pokémon and sell them – but it's hard for people in our profession to expand our carry limits for the number of supporting pokémon we need. So, typically we have a team for battling and support-type purposes – some of those pokémon we go after can get pretty nasty, tell you what – and rent the other support-type pokémon we need. Magnemite here is one of those; we leave it uncaught to bypass the carry limit," he explained, pulling a battery out of his pocket and holding it up to Magnemite. It leaned forward and touched the small, double-a type battery, droning happily as it drained the charge therein. "Though we do keep the pokeball it was originally caught in on hand, just for situations like this,"

"Huh. I'm guessing Magnemite is for paralyzing pokémon, make them easier to capture?" Leo asked, glancing at the Lucario. It was still glaring at him, and it was making him uncomfortable. Was there something wrong with his aura that made it not like him? That would be upsetting in all kinds of ways. Lucario were one of his favorite pokémon – but prohibitively rare.

"Yes, that's a bonus, but also no. Really we're more interested in its ability; magnet pull. But I can explain that later; how about you follow me back to our camp? It's not too far and I'd like to get Magnemite taken care of. Its internals are probably running low," the man said.

"Sure," Leo said slowly. "I do want to double check that this Magnemite is yours or you're renting it like you said, though. I'm not going to just go around giving away pokémon I caught," he said.

"Fair 'nough. Let's talk as we walk. Oi! With me," the man said, gesturing to the Lucario to follow. "Name's Boone, by the way. What's yours?"

"Leo," he answered, glancing at Santiago. He shook his head, and Leo frowned, accepting the guitar case from him. Link wandered over and promptly climbed up Leo's leg and torso to perch himself on his shoulder, keeping a vigilant eye out.

"Nice to meet you, Leo," he greeted, pushing through the jungle with Leo following close behind. "Though back on the topic of Magnemite, you really interested in how we use them?" he asked.

"Yes, actually," Leo said. "They're usually pest pokémon, and it's obviously trained with a specific purpose in mind. If I had to guess, it would be to corral and contain pokémon until the cavalry arrives – with their ability to levitate I imagine they're decent scouts," he scratched his chin curiously, watching Magnemite as it continued to orbit Boone and the Lucario.

"You've got a good eye. Yeah, that's part of what we use them for, but we've been also using them to help us catch steel types. Usually Magnemite latch onto each other with their magnets to keep themselves bound to the swarm, but we're using that ability in a different way," Boone said. "Magnet pull keeps steel types from escaping, and Alolan Diglett, Alolan Sandshrew, and Skarmory all are pretty hard to pin down. Diglett tend to be more of a novelty than anything, but Alolan Sandshrew and Skarmory are much more sought after for their rarity and fighting abilities,"

"Skarmory seems like quite the catch for a single Magnemite," Leo said, glancing at Link. He was watching the Lucario though, brows furrowed in concentration, and as such didn't give much help.

"It is! That's why we use four or more in tandem. Encircle the beast and tug on it with the magnets; that keeps 'em tied up enough that we don't have to worry too much about escape. Plus, having four Magnemite means that at least three of 'em will last long enough for me or one of my men to arrive and take the 'mon we're chasing down. Unless they're stupid strong, then we're outta luck and have to let them go, or get into a nasty fight," Boone explained happily. Leo raised his eyebrow and was about to ask why they used Magnemite instead of Magneton or Magnezone, but then realized he already had that answer. Magneton's magnets were too strong, and tended to interfere with one another when in close proximity. There were plenty of stories of Magneton locking onto each other, and being unable to separate.

And Magnezone were rare and hard to find. Very few people had a Magnezone, and few knew how to evolve them. Leo certainly didn't know, besides some information from the games about being in a specific spot with a lot of magnetic influence or something.

"Huh. So, Magneton are too strong then," Leo mused.

"Yep. And more pokémon will sense a Magneton coming than a few Magnemite. The smaller guys are much stealthier, despite being literal balls of steel. How 'bout you, kid? What you doing all the way out here? Watch your step, by the way," Boone asked, pointing towards a hidden hole in the dark soil. Leo carefully stepped over it, and shrugged.

"Training mostly. Came here from Johto after I got my third badge to train and grow, I guess. Too much political stuff going on there that I didn't want to get into," he said.

"Three badges, huh? And how long you been in Alola?" Boone asked, stepping beneath a particularly low-hanging branch. Magnemite banged against said branch as it passed it, a low dong echoing in the jungle.

"Oh, about three, three and a half months now. Maybe four. Been pretty caught up in a lot of stuff," Leo said noncommittally. "How far is your camp, by the way?"

"A few hours walk," Boone said. "We made camp just at the edge of the meadow. If we find a clearing I can fly us there if you want, though. My Mandibuzz can carry myself and a pipsqueak like you," Leo nodded, glancing back at Santiago. He flashed his gem and touched Leo's mind with his own, passing along feelings of distrust. Specifically about the Lucario – he couldn't feel the 'mon's mind. Like it was dark typed.

"I wouldn't be opposed to that," Leo said. Boone grinned at him and nodded, whistling to Lucario and sending it on ahead – probably to scout for a place clear enough for a Mandibuzz to take off and land. From there Leo and Boone just kind of chatted, following after the Lucario's trail and talking about stuff.

Like what Boone was hunting for, what kind of contracts he took and how much he got paid – depended on the contractor and the rarity of the pokémon being hunted, as well as market price of said pokémon – as well as some of the most popular pokémon. Wild Eevee, for example, sold for very little because they are a line that has been bred in captivity for generations. The human bred Eevee lines are far stronger than most wild caught Eevee due to selective breeding, as such, despite being a rare, expensive pokémon, they are not the most sought after for Boone's profession. On the other hand, pokémon like Luxray, Beartic, most first-evolution dragons, or setting specific pokémon like Alolan Marowak, went for premium prices because they were species that could not be "tamed" like Eevee could. Sure, they could be bred, but not in the same fashion.

It was a fascinating subject, and Leo ended up talking to Boone about it for a solid twenty minutes before the subject changed to something else. Namely, his eyepatch.

"Oh this?" Boone asked. "This is from when a Luxray tore my eye out. Got scars all up and down my left side from when it mauled me, electrical burns and claw scars both, and my Scoliopede and Krokorok eventually put the bastard down. Poisoned it to death, but it left me with quite the reminder. This patch here is actually made of that same Luxray's pelt," he said, pointing to the patch and turning to fully face Leo.

"Good lord," Leo said, raising his eyebrows.

"It's dangerous work I do, kid. Dragons don't like it when you try to capture their babies, and predators don't like it when you invade their territory. I don't blame 'em for trying to kill me, but work is work, and I'm good at what I do," he said with a shrug. "In fact, I tend to keep a little trophy of those ones that get a little too close to ending my career early. This hat is made outta Krookodile hide, the gator nearly got me when I was just starting out. The teeth are from various critters that either left a scar on me or my pokémon, and so on," he said.

"That's a little morbid," Leo said, tamping down on his suspicion. Yes, that was pretty messed up, especially considering most of the pokémon he named were going to all be sentient. There were domesticated, animal-like pokémon, sure, but Luxray didn't have any domesticated versions of themselves. They were all feral, all relatively sentient beings. So taking trophies was a little messed up even if, based on his story and league laws, what he'd done was technically legal.

"A bit, yeah! But like I said, it's a dangerous line of work. A buddy of mine just died a few weeks ago, trying to capture a Galarian Stunfisk for a professor that studies Galarian regional pokémon. It up and snapped him right in half, and by the time the medics got to him he was dead. I always told him to pick up a healing pokémon, but not even an Audino or Blissey can fix a wound like that. For Kyurem's sake, my boat got wrecked just a few days ago! One of the new guys decided to try and catch a Gyarados as it swam next to us and BAM! Down goes the boat. No one died, but I sure did want to kill that man," Boone rattled off, laughing about it despite the bitterness in his voice. "Didn't help that that freaking mist came through, driving everyone mad," he grumbled, low enough that Leo almost didn't hear it.

All kinds of alarm bells were ringing in Leo's head now. Maybe he was the different one, but in his experience the Pokemon world wasn't that hostile. So long as you were respectful to the pokémon and understood that they were alive and could think, then they treated you with respect as well. For the most part. Though then again, he hadn't been trying to capture them or their children. And he asked for permission from Tyrus before catching Diana…technically. It was probably much different for Boone, now that he thought about it. You're being paranoid, Leo. he thought to himself.

He imagined trying to capture Diana, and then run away from Tyrus. That would…well, that would have ended in his death, most likely. Buying a Larvitar would have been less dangerous, technically, but a) try finding a seller for a Larvitar was incredibly difficult and expensive and b) he wouldn't have bonded with Diana the same way if he had. So. There's that.

"Ah, here's a good clearing," Boone said, pushing through the jungle and revealing a relatively clear meadow. Lucario sat in the clearing, just standing there aggressively, and Boone recalled it the moment he saw it. Leo thought the Lucario's form flickered when the recall beam hit it, showing a different pokémon, but it could have been a trick of the light.

In the next moment Boone tossed out another pokeball, this time releasing a relatively large Mandibuzz. The vulture like pokémon didn't make a sound as it appeared, clacking its beak and looking around skeptically. Leo recalled everyone but Link in response, the Bellossom stepping off his shoulder, onto his pack, unzipping it, and slipping inside with his head poking out. For whatever reason, he didn't want to be recalled at the moment.

That was fine with Leo as he climbed up onto the back of the Mandibuzz, the dangerous looking bird giving him the stink eye in response, with Boone in front of him.

Something about Boone was giving him a bad feeling. He hoped it was just paranoia because he'd been friendly enough so far, but…just in case, Link being out helped ease his concerns.


The camp was not a few hours walk away, like Boone had said. It would've probably taken him the better part of two days to walk there, from the few hours of flying it took to reach the beach-side camp. And the camp itself was not quite what he had been expecting, either. Large metal cages, of both wired and prison-bar-like variety, empty for the most part, surrounded the camp itself, where six white tents stood in a circle around a firepit. That wasn't the confusing part, Leo had somewhat expected that. The real confusing part was the shipwreck off in the distance.

A metal boat of fairly large size lay on the beach maybe two hundred yards from the camp, its side torn open and deep slashes in the hull. The deck was all but shattered, bits of boat scattered across the white sands, and Leo could even see some pokémon moving about in the wreckage.

"Uh," Leo said eloquently.

"The Edmund Fitzgerald. Not the best boat I've ever had, but it was mine. Pisses me off that we lost it," Boone shouted over the wind. Mandibuzz squawked and tilted down, diving hard down into the camp and pulling up sharply at the last second, setting Leo's stomach to churning as it settled down outside of the camp proper. Boone immediately jumped off and let out Lucario again, the pokémon appearing in flash of red and running off into camp without a word. Leo groaned as he slid off the bird of prey, Boone patting it on the wing and making a hand gesture.

The Mandibuzz clacked its beak and launched itself into the sky once more.

"Follow me, we've got the equipment to transfer Magnemite in camp. Er, well, you can always just release it. But the info regarding Magnemite is in camp," he said, adjusting his hat. "Follow me,"

"So, what are all the cages for?" Leo asked as they passed the big metal containers by. Only a few were filled – he saw a Meinfoo, a Rufflet, a shiny Comfey, a Staravia, a few Pikachu, and a litter of five Rockruffs, plus a few on the other side of camp he was sure – while the rest were completely empty, with the doors swinging open and everything.

"Our captures. I don't have a ranch or nothing to send the captured 'mon to when they're caught in a pokeball, and keeping them in a pokeball at all times is bad for the beasties. We sometimes have to wait months before we get a chance to sell them, so the cage is a nice stopgap. 'Sides, pokeballs can be expensive, especially since they don't work all the time and we're not looking to keep the pokémon. If they won't break out, they get knocked out and tossed in a cage," he said, gesturing to the Meinfoo. The fighting type watched Leo and Boone closely, glaring at the two. "Those who will break out we keep in pokeballs. It's a very hands-off method, for sure. We don't want to bond with a buyer's new pokémon, you know?" he explained casually.

Leo nodded, somewhat understanding what he was saying, but mentally shook his head. He wasn't sure how to feel about all this. But, he supposed, especially with the advent of the global trade network it's become far easier for trainers to buy and sell their captures all across the world. If that didn't bother him, why would this? Boone was earning a living by catching and selling pokémon – a time-honored tradition, practically. Even Leo had done it with the few water types he'd caught. So, again, why was a larger operation like this not sitting well?

There was something Leo wasn't seeing, or he was being hypocritical. One or the other. Besides…pokeballs weren't that expensive, were they? He supposed they might be if you used a lot of them.

"Jackie! We've got company!" Boone shouted as he carefully stepped over the cords keeping one of the tents held up. Leo followed after him, stepping into the camp center. Three other people milled about in the camp, each dressed in the same "safari" getup as Boone, while said man's Lucario stood off to the side of one of the tents silently. "He caught one of our wayward Magnemite!"

"Oh, sweet. Harold and Kat caught two more to the west, so that brings us back up to eight," one of the men, who Leo assumed was Jackie, said, approaching. "Though Harold went back out with a few of them afterwards – said he thinks he found a good catch,"

"Eight is good. Not great, but manageable. We can probably start hunting a bit bigger game before they come to pick us up, then," Boone said, a hint of bitterness entering his tone, then turned to Leo to explain the situation. "We radioed for help, but they won't be able to start helping us clean this mess up and move our merchandise for another week or so. Something about a bad storm. We've got to try and mitigate our losses on this disaster at least a little,"

Leo nodded, wincing. "Yeah, fair enough. How much did you lose?" he asked.

"A lot. Not all from Alola either. Those Staravia are pretty much the last of our out-of-region stock, and we lost a bunch of pokeballs in the ocean. Been working on recovering what we can, but we don't have many water types and it's slow work," Boone grumbled, and Leo frowned. Wait, so did that mean there might be invasive species on Poni now? That…wasn't good.

"Have you contacted the Aether Foundation yet?" Leo asked. "They'd probably help you out. I mean, if there are foreign species now roaming the island and all…" he trailed off suggestively.

"Huh? Oh, Aether? Yeah, right, they could help," he said distractedly, waving his hand noncommittally and pointing to one of the open tents. "Here, let's head in there. We've got our equipment all set up there,"

Leo nodded and followed after him, Link remaining perfectly calm and still in his pack, and entered the tent. A lot of electrical equipment was inside, almost all still sitting in hard plastic, presumably waterproof containers. A few computers and what looked to be a cheap healing machine – like the ones in pokémon centers – were up and running however. Weren't those really hard to get ahold of? Or at least, took a lot of bureaucratic work to get ahold of?

From there, it was a pretty simple process of taking a look at the files Boone pulled up, and letting out Magnemite to confirm that the physical description, along with the marking along the underside of the steel-type that Leo had failed to notice until now. The evidence was pretty clear, and while Leo was a little hesitant, he still was pretty much convinced. There was just a little bit more paperwork to file or something before Leo released Magnemite and gave it back to Boone.

In the meantime Leo set the guitar case and pack down, and let Link wander a bit.

"So, Spiritomb," Boone said, in the middle of searching through some of the computer files. He had Magnemite's old pokeball next to him, the one it was previous caught in before Leo caught it, and was looking up the serial number for it. Leo looked up from where he was studying a map of Unova. "That's what you said that freaky ghost of yours was. What is it?"

"Oh, just a ghost," Leo said noncommittally. "Kind of a pain in the butt most the time," Boone hummed and nodded, then tapped the computer.

"Here it is. See? The pokeball's registered to this Magnemite, or at least it was until the 'mon was released," Boone said, pointing to the screen. Leo leaned over, read the description, and nodded. Well, that all checked out. It was a complete bill of sale, too – the Magnemite was officially owned by Reggie McEntire, but leased to Boone Enterprises for the purpose of hunting pokémon.

"Well, here you are then," Leo said, releasing the Magnemite. It was a relatively simple process; all he had to do was hold the capture button a certain way, twist it a few times, and update his pokedex, and the Magnemite was officially free of the pokeball. "One Magnemite, back in your possession,"

Boone nodded and opened his mouth, but a commotion outside caught his attention.

"Boss! Howard is back; he's got a bloody Scizor with him!" one of the men said, popping his head into the tent. Boone burst into motion, blowing past Leo and whistling for Magnemite, who followed with a beep as Boone burst from the tent and automatically started shouting orders. Leo hurried after, excited to see what was happening. Boone released another pokémon – a Krokorok which quickly burrowed underground as they hurried out of the camp.

He could barely see the ongoing fight through a gap in the cages surrounding the camp, but what he could see was amazing. A red Scizor, its carapace already beaten and dented from the struggle, swung helplessly at a Herdier that hounded it, nipping at its heels and barking. A Tranquill and a Whimsicott both floated in the air around it, shooting attacks and slowly whittling down its health. The real interesting part, however, were the four Magnemite that circled it. Small jolts of electricity sparked from them to the Scizor, slowing its movements, while their magnets practically glowed. Every time the bug type tried to make a big swing at the Herdier, or attack the Tranquill or Whimsicott, or turned to make an escape, the Magnemite held it back.

It was like watching a mime trying to escape invisible ropes in a way. The Magnemite had bound themselves to the Scizor with their magnets – every time it tried to move or make a big attack, the Magnemite would tighten their hold and pull back. They weren't always able to stop the attacks, but it did slow them and give the other 'mon enough time to get away, or get an attack of their own in.

"Hey! It's tired, but still fighting! Already took out the rest of my team – Whimsicott can't seem to powder it either!" A man shouted, invisible to Leo.

"Get that thing down! Get the Butterfree or Watchog out, put it to sleep or something! I don't want it to hurt our pokémon any more than necessary; we've still got a lot of hunting to do!" Boone shouted, a bit of excitement in his voice. Leo felt himself start to get excited, adrenaline pumping through his veins.

"Zoro, get in here!" Boone shouted. The Lucario snarled and darted away from the tent it had been guarding, vaulting over the cages and launching itself into the fray – almost immediately, it was struck by the Scizor and yelled at by Boone. Leo watched as its form faded, literally flickering as if a movie projector, revealing a Zoroark. The dark type snarled and slunk back from the fight, vanishing between the cages as its illusions were remade. Leo didn't get to see what it turned in to, especially because his attention was instead drawn to the tent itself.

Cautiously he walked over to it and pulled open the tent flap, silently beholding what was inside.

A Hakamo-o – one he recognized – lay dead on the floor of the tent. Its scales were halfway peeled off, and fangs lay in a tray to the left of it. This was the same Hakamo-o that had beaten Diana, and Leo closed his eyes. Hunting Pokemon wasn't illegal by any means, but certain species did require a hunting license to kill them – or at least, feasible evidence that it was in self defense. It wasn't unlike his old world, in some cases. But pokémon like Hakamo-o? Pseudo legendaries and super rare pokémon? Almost entirely off-limits to hunting. Catching them was one thing, but killing?

Link stepped past Leo, the grass type silently kneeling next to the deceased dragon.

There were far too many stories of an angry mama dragon burning a village down in response to their child being killed and skinned. They were too intelligent and too powerful to just…disrespect like that. There was a reason some pokémon were like animals – called domestics – and some were sapient – called ferals. Leo purposely sought out the domestic ones when he went hunting. Like Magikarp, Ratatta, Yungoos, Tentacool, Krabby…the typically "food" pokémon. It was pretty easy to tell the difference between what was "food" and what was "not food."

But as Leo's eyes roamed the interior of the tent, he spotted pelts and trophies of pokémon that were, typically, feral, sapient types. The pelt of a midday Lycanroc, the skull and fan of an Oranguru…plus a few others. They clearly hadn't been at it for long, and he doubted they had hunting licenses for these pokémon. Especially since most of them weren't legally huntable. Leo turned and left the tent, immediately pulling out his pokedex as he calmly walked to the opposite side of camp, away from the fighting. Link followed silently.

He had signal. Good.

"Leo? It's a bit early for your weekly update, what's wrong?" Lusamine's voice came through on the first ring, and Leo smiled to himself. For once, her obsessive nature came in handy.

"Lock onto my location now; I know you have it, and I've already activated the GPS beacon on my 'dex. I am currently in the center of a poacher camp on the beach of Poni. There's a shipwreck nearby. They've killed a Hakamo-o. I'm going to try to get out of here, but, well, it's pretty flat ground," he said bluntly.

"We know the camp. Got reports of a shipwreck only a few hours ago, only just started investigating it – a team will be there shortly. Be safe, Leo, and get out of there," Lusamine said. Leo nodded, but paused as he hung up the phone. The sounds of combat had stopped, and sitting on a cage in front of him was Boone's Mandibuzz, staring down at him hungrily.

He hadn't wanted to risk his pokémon in a life-and-death fight against Boone and his people – especially since he was outnumbered – but now there might not be a choice.

"Kid, what are you doing?" Boone asked, voice booming as he approached from behind. Leo turned to face him, face set into a stony expression, and observed the team arrayed before him. Five people total, Boone was flanked by Zoroark and Krokorok, the others with various mid-tier pokémon. Herdier, Purrloin, Swoobat…and the Magenmite, all orbiting the area. Link stepped forward and whipped a leaf blade out, standing at the ready with a low growl.

Boone glanced at Link, looked at Leo, pokedex still in hand, then glanced back at the butcher tent. He scowled.

"You didn't call anyone, did you?" he spat.

"Aether will be here shortly," Leo said. "You know I had to. Severe losses or not, it's illegal to hunt Hakamo-o like you did, let alone an intelligent psychic like Oranguru. Psychics are protected under –"

"I know the law, brat. Why'd you go and do that?" he spat. "I was going to just take your Spiritomb, it'd go a long way towards recouping our losses with the bounty out for it now, but now I'm going to have to take all your pokémon before we scram,"

Leo scowled and started plucking pokeballs from his belt, deliberately and slowly, ignoring the shuffling of the Mandibuzz behind him. "Bounty?" Leo asked, narrowing his eyes. Boone snorted and pulled a few more pokeballs from his belt, his companions doing the same.

"Someone wants a Spiritomb, and bad. Doesn't have to be yours, but…I doubt they care where it comes from, with the price tag attached. Give up now, kid, and your pokémon won't be hurt," Boone growled out, glancing up at Mandibuzz. "I don't want to hurt you more than I have to, but I will,"

"Let me go," Leo said firmly, not a trace of fear in his voice. "Everything you did was legitimate up until this point. It doesn't have to go like this," he said that, but even through the nerves that burned his system, he knew what was coming. There was no escaping this fight. It was either beat, or be beaten.

Boone did not respond, just tossing out the entirety of his team while his employees did the same, releasing quite the array of pokémon at the same time as Leo. His team, a Slowking, a Pupitar, a Bellossom, a Quilava, and a Spiritomb stood against a small army. Boone's pokémon were the biggest threat; he had Mandibuzz, Zoroark, Krokorok, a Scoliopede, a Herdier, and an Amoongus. The rest were not as big of threats to Leo's eyes, mostly mid-to-first tier evolutions like Woobat, Zubat, a Liepard, a few Herdier and other, more support-type pokémon. Like Cottonee, Butterfree…things like that. Individually, not a threat, but together? Much more dangerous. In fact, the most dangerous looking 'mon that wasn't Boone's was a Sawk.

Boone's eyes widened as he looked at Leo's team, and his eyes narrowed. Seeing the rarity of Leo's team hadn't helped the situation at all, he was sure.

There was no warning for when the battle started, and it wasn't Boone's side that launched the first attack. It was Link, the Bellossom flinging a sunny day into the air and launching himself forward with a savage war cry.

That prompted everyone to attack. As Link blurred through the enemy lines, his leaf blade cleaving through the weaker 'mons, the Mandibuzz gave a sharp cry and leapt from its perch, claws bared at Leo's back. Spiritomb intercepted it, shadow tendrils lashing out and wrapping themselves around the bird's wings, sending it crashing to the ground. More tendrils snaked out of Leo's pocket as the ghost began spitting shadow balls into the oncoming crowd, doing as much damage as it could while beating on Mandibuzz with its tendrils.

Santiago roared, blasting out a psychic and a water pulse at the Scoliopede and Liepard that leapt at him, respectively, and charging forward with all the grace of a berserker. Diana did what she did best – turned herself into a cannonball and plowed into the opposing ranks, dark pulses blasting out and spires of rock jutting randomly from the ground, sowing discord wherever she went.

Zuko was, perhaps, the most tactful of the bunch. Instead of charging into the fray to sow discord like the rest of Leo's team, he turned and helped Spiritomb take out the Mandibuzz, savaging the bird with fire and claw alike. The fewer threats on the field the better, especially to get rid of their air superiority. Even though the bird struggled and fought with all it had, it wouldn't last long.

"Don't just stand there, get the kid!" Boone shouted over the sound of battle, backing up a few steps. His companions didn't even hesitate, circling around the battle with their gaze locked on Leo. He glanced at them, then surveyed the immediate battle. There was some time until they reached him – they had to navigate the camp-turned-battlefield.

His team was holding their own – Zuko finally turned away from the Madibuzz, who was bodily picked up by Spiritomb and tossed over the cages, to enter the fray, firing a heat wave at the cluster of Magnemite raining electricity down on the battle – but they could use more backup. Santiago was being pretty damaged by all the dark types around, but he was successfully keeping the Scoliopede away with judicious use of psychic, even as the Liepard and a few Zubats bit and clawed at him. But he wasn't stupid, either, and had somehow managed to tear down a tent and toss the fabric over the feline pokémon and a few others that hounded him, giving him room to focus on other threats.

Diana was a tank as ever, plowing through the weaker pokémon even as she focused on Boone's Herdier and Krokorok, the crocodile diving beneath the ground even as a spire of rock slammed into its side. Link, on the other hand? Link leapt from opponent to opponent like a little green blur, leech seeds hitting everything and everyone as he danced about, pink petals falling through the air like individual swords, cutting deep. He was the best off, and had already KO'd some of their attackers, but he was only one pokémon.

"Spiritomb, it's time for you to intervene. I'm going to recall Santiago for a second, and I need you to take his place. See if you can't take out that Amoongus, too – I don't want it catching anyone with a spore attack," Leo said, spotting the mushroom pokémon as it sat just outside of the melee, watching for an opening. "I'll be fine. If we don't take some more of these guys out, it's going to be very, very bad,"

It must have understood what Leo was saying, because in a split second Spiritomb withdrew itself from his pocket, stone and all, and coalesced into its humanoid form. Then it focused in on Santiago, who had been hit by a supersonic from one of the Zubat and was now in danger of being struck by Scoliopede, who charged with horns lowered.

Leo recalled Santiago just before the bug hit, making it tumble and slam into the two Liepard behind him. One shimmered and shifted form, revealing Zoroark, though the dark type snarled and shimmered again swiftly after, taking the form of a Herdier and darting back into the fray. Leo scowled and let Santiago out as Spiritomb rushed in to take his place, knocking out the Swoobat and a few of the flying types with swift, fierce jabs of shadowy tendrils. He glanced at the advancing people. Just a few seconds left.

"Connect," Leo said forcefully, pointing to his head. Santiago, though disgruntled from the sudden change, connected to Leo's mind as he presented his plan. They needed more battlers. There were pokémon in cages all around them. Those were the obvious ones, and they didn't have time to search for the pokeballs of the "strong" captures. Santiago was the only one who could both release the pokémon and convince them to join the fight.

He nodded and turned, gem flashing as he blew away an approaching Tranquill with a psychic blast, and ran as fast as he could along the cages, blowing open the first one he found and releasing a Pikachu.

Leo watched the battle for a moment longer, keenly aware of the man trying to take advantage of his apparent inattention, dashing at him at full speed. Things had settled. The weaker 'mon had calmed and backed off, playing the long game while the main battlers duked it out with Leo's team. Sawk and Krokorok versus Diana, a Cottonnee blowing fairy winds at her while Amoongus snuck up from behind; Tranquill and Butterfree harassing Link, while he tried to take out a small pack of Herdier – they seemed to be trying to keep him contained, rather than take him out.

Leo took a sudden step back, dodging the man who charged him and letting him crash face-first into the nearby cages. He didn't have time to focus on these fools. His team was entirely caught up in the fight and had to each with their battles before helping the others –

A hate-filled caw echoed through the air, wings flapping as the Mandibuzz from before took to the skies, injured but apparently not out of the fight.

"Diana, up!" Leo ordered, the roar of Diana's jet engines filling the air, and glanced at the two men approaching him from either side. The one to his left had pulled himself out of his cages, and the other had a Purrloin by his side, the cat hissing with claws bared – but suddenly the dark cat was tackled by a flaming blur, Zuko snarling and planting his foot on the cat's head, burning it the whole time, while he spat a stream of embers at the four pokémon hounding him.

Chance. Leo whirled into motion, taking the sudden distraction to jump at the man to his left.

"Easy kid-" he started, but didn't finish. Leo struck with all his might, fist sinking into his gut, just below the ribs in the solar plexus, and stepped to the side as he involuntarily began to vomit. Leo didn't stop, however. And upwards elbow to the man's face jerked his head back, his eyes rolling back into his head as he collapsed, unconscious. That worked out better than planned. Leo thought, doing a quick survey of the battle.

A horrendous crack filled the air, followed by a squawk of pain, and suddenly Mandibuzz was falling, having been struck by Diana. Said rock behemoth controlled her fall, air vents flaring as she sped up, curved her fall, and plowed full speed into the Scoliopede battling Spiritomb, smashing the bug into the cages before extracting herself and charging back into the masses.

"Get that kid, dammit! Amoongus, what are you doing?! Put them to sleep!" Boone shouted, giving orders as even more pokémon joined the fight. The Pikachu from before countered the Magnemite, mostly, absorbing their electric shocks and shooting them right back. The five little Rockruff crashed into the melee Zuko was engaged in, the rocky hounds tackling a Watchog off him and freeing him to fire a heatwave at some of the aerial battlers. The shiny Comfey scattered healing energy on Link, and Santiago howled in pain and frustration as he battled Zoroark, on the other side of camp, who vanished into invisibility even as he blasted it with a water pulse. He was still trying to let out some of the caged 'mon.

"C'mere, kid!" strong arms wrapped around Leo and he mentally cursed himself for not paying attention.

"Santiago, hit the void in your senses! Dark means there will be nothing there!" Leo shouted, relaxing his body completely as he was lifted into the air. Link had managed to get into a fight with the Sawk, the Herdier he had been fighting now defeated, but that wasn't a priority target.

"Boss, got 'im!" the man shouted. Leo's eyes narrowed. Amoongus was now being attacked solely by Diana, having hit her with a rage powder, and was sucking her dry with giga drain as she charged the mushroom and fired stone edges at it.

"Got me my ass," he said, twisting his hands to grab one of the man's thumbs and pulling. It broke with a snap and he was dropped, but Leo didn't back off. Instead he whirled and laid into the man. Each punch was punctuated by another command to his team. "Spiritomb, finish off that stupid Scoliopede! Link, get that Amoongus off Diana; Zuko, Rockruff, crowd control!" Leo shouted, sinking his elbow into the man's gut, then snapping his fist up to bash his face, followed by a swift kick to his knee, and finished with a roundhouse to the side of the man's head as he fell to one knee, knocking him over.

Leo turned to face the last two people, having finally made their way over to him. A man and a woman. The woman frowned and took a step closer.

"Oh, you're approaching me? Instead of staying away, you're approaching?" Leo taunted, settling into another stance. The woman paused, then reached behind her back and pulled out a knife.

Instinctively he took a step back, his foot hitting something…metal. Leo glanced down, saw a metal tent pole that was maybe four to five feet long, bent, picked it up, and spun it a few times.

"Zuko, get those Tranquill off of Link – oh, nice!" Leo started to give the order, but paused when a Rufflet, Staravia, and Meinfoo joined the fray, the larger bird shrieking in a war cry and falling upon the Woobat and Tranquill above Link, who was, at least, distracting Amoongus from Diana.

Spiritomb was thrashing about wildly, having been caught by a spore by Amoongus, and lost its cohesive form. A Lampent Leo hadn't seen before burned Spiritomb with ghostly fire, while the Scoliopede spat sludge bombs at it from a distance, the two keeping the ghost contained, though the bug was clearly hurting. Leo glanced at the field. They were winning now. Spiritomb just had to fully awake, and things would be much, much better.

"Give up, kid, before we hurt you," the woman said.

"Come closer so I can beat your face in," was Leo's response, because at this point the adrenaline had gone to his head and he wasn't thinking clearly anymore. There was no flight left in the phrase "fight or flight."

The woman charged and thrust with the knife, and Leo reacted on pure instinct. Out of sheer luck he positioned the hollow metal tent pole in just such a way that the knife stuck in the end, the blade sliding up to the hilt in the pole. He immediately twisted, spinning the pole around and yanking the weapon out of her hand, the back end of his weapon slamming into her side and sending her stumbling. She groaned and he pressed – only to be forced back by the Sawk, the pokémon jumping in and catching the pole as he swung it.

"Get him!" the other man shouted. Leo cursed, let go of his weapon, and took a step back as the Sawk swung, its chop narrowly missing his face. It followed up with a sharp kick, though Leo lifted his leg, his bent knee catching the blow, and took two jabs to the face and ribs despite trying to block them. The fighting type hit hard, but Leo pushed through the pain even as his vision wavered, and punched the Sawk back. It clearly hadn't been expecting that because it gave him an opportunity, taking a sliding step back that let Leo take two sliding steps forward, slipping past the 'mon.

"Link, wake up Spiritomb and wrap things up!" Leo commanded, sprinting past the Sawk towards its trainer. He was, however, stopped with the ground beneath his feet burst open and Krokorok burst out, jaws open wide. Time slowed as Leo tried to stop himself – and he was saved by a flaming blur once again. Zuko slammed into Krokorok, driving it away, the heat of his flame charge nearly burning Leo's skin, and falling into a heap next to the crocodile. Flame met sand, and Leo didn't have time to focus on the fight.

"FOO!" A small form darted up to him and, using Leo as a spring board, leapt into the air to punch the Sawk as it tried to grab Leo.

"Thanks for the save!" he shouted at the Meinfoo, who unleashed a flurry of blows on the Sawk, and promptly turned his attention to the trainer.

The woman was behind him. The Sawk trainer was in front of him.

Battles all around.

Santiago wrapped Zoroark up in a tent and was repeatedly headbutting the squirming mass.

Link laid waste to the remaining ground forces.

Diana charged Scoliopede, who was somehow still up, while Amoongus lay in a smoking heap.

And Leo beat the ever-living tar out of the man in front of him. He sprinted forward in a flying mule-kick, both feet connecting with the man's chest. Both fell to the ground, but Leo was expecting it, kicking himself back up into a standing position and leaping onto the fallen man, punching him square in the face, then in the jaw, then in the face again before he was tossed off.

"You little -" he started, but Leo ignored him, jumping into the air and spinning, his heel connecting with the jaw of the woman, who was trying to get him from behind, and dropping her. The man didn't last much longer; Leo drove a knee into his face as he tried to stand, sending him to the ground as well.

The other two he beat looked like they were starting to stir, groaning and rolling on the ground, but the battle was almost over. Zuko roared with fury and fire, burning the Krokorok with a flamethrower as it tried to dig away – though it stopped moving with half its body still out of the ground. The Herdier were scattered and fallen, the Rockruff hounding a last Purrloin, and Santiago bodily tossed the Zoroark back into the middle of camp, where it fell and stayed. Link was breathing heavy, the Comfey healing him, while Diana hovered threateningly over the battlefield, the remaining Woobat defeated in a circle around her from a dark pulse, while spires of rock jutted out of the ground at the stragglers randomly. The only battles left were Spiritomb and the Lampent, Sawk and Meinfoo – though the latter was being helped by Rufflet and Link, who wasn't content to just watch – and Pikachu versus the Magnemite, though a pile of flying types surrounding the electric mouse suggested that it hadn't been idle.

"Give up, Boone," Leo said, rolling his shoulders and striding confidently across the battlefield. "It's over now,"

"It's over when I say it's over! I'll kill you, and your team, and take your Slowking's crown as a trophy!" Boone snarled, reaching behind his back and drawing a revolver. And Spiritomb chose that exact moment to fully wake.

Boone didn't even have time to point the pistol at anyone before a horrendous, soul-shaking shriek filled the air, darkness exploding towards him. He shouted in fear, whirling, but dark tendrils bound him before he could move.

The Lampent was sent flying from the biggest shadow ball Leo had ever seen as Spiritomb whirled on Boone, binding him and tying him to the ground with shadowy tendrils while the dark ghost snarled viciously in his face.

"Don't kill him, Spiritomb. Keep him bound, and help clean up," Leo said calmly. For a brief, terrifying moment, Leo didn't think it'd listen. But Spiritomb looked up at Leo, nodded, and lashed out at the stragglers with its dark tendrils.

The rest didn't last long under the combined assault of his team and the rescued 'mon, and from there it was only a matter of tying up the people – the two men Leo had first knocked out woke up, saw the state of the battle, and surrendered when Leo threatened them with Spiritomb – and recalling the fainted pokémon. For those that had no pokeballs he put in the cages just in case. For safety's sake.

That done, Leo surveyed the state of things. Spiritomb was slowly losing cohesion, probably poisoned from the Scoliopede; Link was sitting on the ground silently; Santiago was waving off the efforts of the Comfey to heal him, pointing to the other pokémon first; Zuko huffing and spitting fire, stalking back and forth in front of the tied up poachers with the five little Rockruff following him, daring them to do anything; and Diana was happily exploring the camp, none the worse for wear with not a scratch on her shell.

The others were licking their wounds, for the most part. Comfey was floating around, giving aid to those who needed it, and most of the camp was an absolute wreck. No tent was left standing, though miraculously Zuko hadn't set anything on fire with his attacks. Rock spires stood tall at random points and the wall of cages was wrecked in multiple places; he'd have to start looking through the tents to see if there was anything salvageable.

Speaking of, Leo looked down at the revolver in his hand, the pile of knives and other weaponry at his feet that he'd confiscated from the poachers, and the flask of whiskey that he'd found in Boone's pocket. Guns were…something, in this world. He actually didn't know the laws, but he was pretty sure they were illegal for civilian use. Which meant he wouldn't be keeping this, not that he wanted it anyway.

"Whatcha gonna do with that, kid?" Boone taunted from where he sat tied up. The thick rope he'd used to tie them all together, hands in their laps, had been found in one of the ruined tents.

"Toss it aside, never look at it again," Leo said with a shrug, setting the pistol down and unscrewing the cap of the flask. He sniffed the contents and wrinkled his nose in disgust, shooting Boone a judging look.

"What, a snot nosed brat like you doesn't like whiskey?" Boone taunted again, earning himself a growl from Zuko. The Rockruff followed suit soon after, growling almost…cutely at the tied up group. "Can it, scruffy," he snapped unflinchingly.

"I don't like rotgut whiskey. If you're going to drink, at least make it the good stuff," Leo said, taking a sip and baring his teeth as the liquid fire settled on his tongue and in the back of his throat. "Does have a nice burn though, even if the taste leaves much to be desired," he said, screwing the cap back on and tossing it to the side.

Boone laughed. "So what now then, brat?" he asked. "You going to guard us until Aether comes, huh? For what, killing a few pokémon?"

"I'm not going to get into a battle of philosophy with you. You tried to take my team, I alerted the authorities, and this is how things ended up. Was killing the Hakamo-o wrong? Yeah, I'd say so. They're not dumb animals, Boone," Leo said.

"Pokemon are tools to be used. You're naïve if you think a dragon will give you any quarter. Kommo-o, Dragonite, Hydreigon, they'll kill you dead in seconds. You ever met a legendary, kid? One of the 'Alolan Tapus,' like the one that wrecked my ship? Yeah, that's right, a Tapu, not a Gyarados destroyed my ship. Didn't bother to finish the job though. Tell you what, the day you meet one you'll learn that it's not just sunshine and roses in this world. It will just as soon kill you than look at you," Boone snarled. Leo raised an eyebrow and just shook his head.

Boone really didn't get it, did he? Leo had practically done all of that already, but he had nothing to prove to the man.

A tug on his pants leg drew Leo's attention to the Meinfoo, the little fighting type looking up at him and pointing towards a hole in the cages. Towards a procession of pokémon, marching to war.

Leo swallowed thickly and snapped his fingers, drawing Santiago's attention. Their eyes met and, wordlessly, Santiago stood and walked over to Leo, squaring his shoulders and raising his head. Leo hadn't noticed it before, but there were a few new chips in his crown – he'd obviously used it to block a few powerful attacks.

"Where you going?! I'm still talking!" Boone roared. Leo gave him a half glance and dismissed him, walking towards the hole in the cages.

"Shut up and stay there; do that, and we might just survive this," he said, and marched towards the incoming pokémon. Spiritomb joined him, slipping in his pocket, while Link leapt up on the cages, keeping an eye on that which was coming, and those in the camp.

The Kommo-o had arrived. And they'd brought friends.


Big thanks to UberGidorah for fleshing out Boone a lot.

First Bad Guy down. I have plenty to say about this chapter and some of the topics therein, and I hope I laid down enough groundwork that some of the topics that came up makes sense, but if you have questions feel free to PM me, or I'll answer your comment. Or don't. I have author's bias, I could be wrong.

First time in a while doing such a big combat scene too – where there's so much going on at once. Hope you enjoyed regardless. Lots happened here, again. Set up a few more plot points, that kind of thing.

Here's my joke for the day; what happens when you boil a funny bone? It becomes a laughing stock!