Chapter 86: Ice Cold Confrontation, Part 2: No Time to Chill

"Kadarba! ?" Exclaimed both Sky and Pearl in prefect, completely surprised unison. Sky hardly even flinched when Honchkrow dropped Spike's recently re-obtained cage from the Team Crimson Bros. beside him in the snow, with Spike still in it.

"OW—My tail!"

"Sorry..." Honchkrow perched on the cage, rubbing the back of its head.

Kadabra, staying put before the TC Bros. flaming and broken vehicle, looked on towards the storm clouds around the mountain before he raised a paw. It glowed blue and a heap of snow rose from the ground before landing on the Snowmaster555, putting it and the flames to rest.

Sky rushed forward through the snow besides the psychic type. "What are you doing here? ! I thought you'd still be back helping Meritina recover after that attack!"

With manners involving the TC Bros settled, Kadabra relaxed, but Sky saw the bags under the psychic's eyes, and the ragged look in his eyes. Sky wondered how long it had been since psychic set a date with a bed. "I wasn't needed there after Team Crimson defected from Meritina," He spoke both verbally and telepathically so everyone could hear him. "But that isn't important."

There was a click, and Spike's cage came undone. The gator hopped out immediately and took a deep, satisfying breath. "Thanks, sensei. At least someone remembered I was still trapped!" Seeing the glare Spike tossed him, Sky grinned helplessly and offered a 'whoops'.

Both Ben and Isabella looked confused. Ben tried, "So... that Kadabra is what I'm hearing talking into my head, right? Right?" He really didn't want to find out that he was crazy today.

Pearl put him at ease and nodded. "Yes, we met him back in Meritina. Kadabra's an ex-Team Crimson agent and likes talking telepathically."

"Oh, okay. Good, good... that's-WHAT? !"

Isabella stayed focused. "It seems something's the matter, though..."

Kadabra looked at them both with mild curiosity, and noticing the look, Sky quickly explained. "the guy's our new bud, Ben. He's a pretty sweet battler. And that's Isabella, the-"

"Town gym leader," Kadabra finished, apparently recognizing her. Seeing the two additional trainers, the haggard features of Kadabra's lightened. He looked up to Sky. "We can catch up in the Pokemon Center, but it needs to be fast. There's something bad going on here that requires our immediate attention."

Kadabra walked off briskly. Sky and Pearl exchanged a worried look and followed after him. Isabella and Ben shared a much more confused stare before they did the same.

Sky asked when he caught up, "Cold much?"

Kadabra sighed. "I'm sorry, Sky... there's just a lot of pressure at the moment. However..." A hint of warmth resonated in his telepathic voice and the psychic grinned. "It is good to see you all again."

Sky and Pearl smiled brightly in spite of the frigid winds that blew by.

"Kadabra-sensei!" It was only a second or so after that did Spike jump up next to Kadabra's side, laughing jovially, and tossed an arm roughly around the now annoyed psychic's shoulder. "I was wondering when we'd see you again! To what do we owe havin' our fave pain in the neck stop by?"

Kadabra, finding the contact disruptive to his brisk pace, raised his other arm, and Spike-going blank faced- was levitated and carried along side him in a blue aura.

"Yes, it's good to see you, too. Spike. And unfortunately, nothing good brings me here, if that wasn't made clear enough. But one thing may cheer me up..." He threw Spike a half-steely, half-concerned stare that was tinged with anxiety, "Your EX training... has it been going... or hasn't it?"

Spike really didn't expect all the seriousness. In fact, it killed his good mood over beating the TC Bros. So he took being levitated to the fullest and eased back with his arms crossed behind his head and gave a carefree, slightly dampened, grin. "Well, since you've turned this into so much fun and all..."

Kadabra gave a deadpan expression of pure annoyance. His left eye twitched once. "It hasn't. Damnit, Spike; take that ability seriously."

"Controlling ghost power is tough, man!"

Kadabra was trying to massage his head with his free arm. "...We'll have a crash course lesson, if we get the chance."

"Damn."

Sky felt partially guilty, looking away slightly as he walked. "...It's not just Spike's fault... I... don't really know how to go about teaching him to control it..."

Kadabra raised an eyebrow. "You were listening in on our conversation? But how? I was..." he recognized the communicator Sky was wearing and it all came back to him. "Right, I almost forgot."

Sky smirked. "Not like you told any of us what they were for."

Kadabra smiled back. "It was a surprise." He noticed Pearl was giving a very annoyed look and that she didn't have hers. He switched back to the telepathic voice. "I take it you've broken yours then, Pearl."

The blonde didn't look any less annoyed as she answered, "No, but Professor Torrance insisted on researching one to build copies, so I have to go without." her eyes went wide and sparkly and of a sudden. "Unless you have more?"

Kadabra turned thoughtful. "It would take a lot more resources than most people have available to replicate it's programming... annnd no, I don't. Sorry, Pearl."

Pearl's head hung low. "Of course you don't..."

xxxxxxx

Back inside, the Pokemon Center didn't feel as warm and comforting as it should have been with bad news looming overhead. They took the lobby, which was fortunately empty with the other trainers having left or staying in their rooms for the afternoon. Kadabra paced a lobby table.

"He's tense," Ben pointed out helpfully.

Pearl rolled her eyes. "Leave the obvious and dim-witted observations to Sky, it's something he's good at."

Sky glared. "Cute."

Kadabra ignored their banter and cut straight to the chase. He faced the trainers with a dead serious stare as he walked past. "This town and all its inhabitants are in serious danger, and there is very little time..."

Pearl tensed even more. "Team Crimson again?"

Sky's face contorted into a snarl. "No sweat, we'll kick their ass day in and day out if we have to!"

Kadabra shook his head, still pacing. "No. Team Crimson isn't here, at least not that I'm aware of. But they are responsible. An EX donner has recently escaped their labs and returned here... and she isn't happy."

It took a moment for Sky to remember what an EX doner was. "Wait... Are you serious? What Pokemon?"

Ben and Isabella looked lost. Kadabra noticed and explained. "An EX doner is a Pokemon who's core strength was divided to implant into another Pokemon, increasing the recepient Pokemon, an EXPokemon's, strength by dramatic amounts."

Ben looked blown away, but enlightenment passed over Isabella's features. "Ah, the EXPokemon Experiments... Team Crimson's proudest achievement..." she said with hints of disgust.

Kadabra nodded. "Sky, the doner had given power to the first EXPokemon you had ever faced."

Sky's eyes grew wide. He remembered the spine chilling howl, the icy winds and the sense of hoplessness that battle had brought. "The ExSuicune..."

Ben all but fell out his chair again.

Pearl put the pieces together. "Suicune's not normally an Ice-type, so it's EXdoner was one, right?"

Kadabra's face darkened. "Yes, and that Pokemon, that resides higher in the mountains outside of town, was an Articuno."

Ben did fall out his chair this time.

Sky grinned morbidly. "Explains why me, Mako and Kyle nearly all died. Fun times."

"She's returned to the mountains, but as it usually is with EX doners, they don't handle the effects very well mentally. She's convinced humans are evil and unsafe to be around, so... she's initiated plans to destroy this town in a massive blizzard.

Silence, sinking and cold pierced the room. Sky thought he had been warmer standing out in the snow. Isabella, clearly shaken, looked back towards the window. "So those storm clouds..."

Kadabra's eyes darkened. "Are Articuno's doing. She's been stockpiling her energy into them. She's beyond reason. I've tried assuring her that the human's here are of no threat to her or her subjects, but the effects of experimentation of that nature can drive anyone to madness."

Pearl still looked confused. "Wait... Kadabra? How did you find all of this out?"

Kadabra looked like he had just forgotten to take a cake out of the oven in the past hour. "I didn't mention it, did I? Speaking of madness... you and Sky should know Verrex has been following you."

Pearl froze in shock and Sky's shoulder's slumped. A very audible growl came from Spike. They had been expecting it, but the ghost had shown absolutely no sign of his presence since they left Meritina.

Kadabra went on, "I was tracking him when I stumbled upon this latest bit of insanity. He stays within your vicinity, but he hasn't gone anywhere within miles of you. It's odd... but I think he's simply staking your team out... knowing he wouldn't be successful with an outright attack yet. So you needn't worry... combined, you two should be able to fend him off. However, he's planning something... " Then Kadabra's eyes glinted. "I'd strongly advise sleeping in shifts. It would spell disaster for you if he were to attack in the middle of the night."

Sky had been thinking the same, and nodded solemnly in response. "We'll be ready."

Isabella decided while this Verrex was indeed a threat, she was eager to get back to more pressing issues. "And what about Articuno?"

Kadabra looked squarely at her. "That's why I'm here. Naturally, we won't sit by and be frozen alive under tons of snow. No, I've still got a few things left to do. I've come here to enlist your help in stopping Articuno through whatever means necessary."

Sky grinned. "Of course!"

"Leave it to us." Pearl saluted.

Before Kadabra could ask, Ben pipped up, "I'm in. I don't like being flash frozen."

Isabella simply stated, "It's my duty to protect this town in anyway I can."

Kadabra looked thoroughly relieved. "Good.. .and thank you. We haven't much time... so now, we make a plan... What Pokemon are readily available to each trainer?"

It didn't take long for them to gather their forces. Despite the injuries, Sky and Isabella's teams would be able to battle, and soon enough the lobby was filled with Pokemon and the plans were underway. Nurse Joy was very much confused and disturbed, but simply decided to clean the place around them instead. "We've a rather strong force... this may just work..." Kadabra mused hopefully.

Spike confidently voiced, "What do you mean 'may'?"

Sky nodded in agreement, wearing his communicator now. "Yeah, we're definitely going to stop Articuno!"

Kadabra nodded, and went to a piece of paper laid out on the table, heads of all shapes and sizes looked down at it. Twilight peeped up from the edge of the table with a mixture of confusion and excitement. Kadabra felt a smile coming on. Maybe this had a shot after all. "Now... let's get started, shall we? Firstly..."

xxxxxxx

Outside, the mountain forest was deathly quiet. The huge storm cloud loomed overhead, still growing, and the lack of snowfall made the area unnaturally still. There was a flicker of movement in the snow laden canopy, fast and swift, and skidding the ledge of a snowy branch with her talons, Sora came to a halt and pressed her back against the trunk. Her stop had pushed off some snow and she frowned. Can't be noticed... She was wearing a small, radio headset. Just as quickly, but without so much as a flake being thrown off, Isabella's Honchkrow landed on the tree opposing her. Sora glared in annoyance. Perfectionist...

Nevertheless, the gravity of their mission pulled her back to looking down at the section of forest below. All clear. Not so much as a Caterpie stirring. She tussled with her headset for a second or two with her wing until she heard a click. "Sky, can you hear me? It's all clear, you can move in."

No response.

"...Sky? Ugh, Damn this thing...!"

"...You're suppose to say over, Sora. Remember? Over."

Sora gave an aggravated sigh, "Now is not the time!"

"Fine, fine... over."

Sora sighed again and tumbled to turn the headset back off. She went over her and Honchkrow's role in the mission mentally, and the meeting just before they departed for the mountain played in her mind...

The Pokemon Center lobby was crammed full of Pokemon, all surrounding a table Kadabra had laid a diagram over, and the psychic was just announcing they needed a small group as he assigned roles.

"Wait, we should use scouts." Sky suddenly spoke up, remembering his role in their last enemy base invasion. "Sora and Honchkrow! Using the trees, they could scan ahead and give us info via walkie-talkie!"

Kadabra grinned. "One infiltration mission and you're already thinking like a fairly decent strategist. That's good. But I have some headsets we can use instead or walkie-talkies." said the psychic with mild amusement.

Sora came back to reality when Honchkrow took off again, heading deeper in the forest. Sora glanced behind her and saw Scruf and Noelle approaching. Sora double-checked her own route, and took off again, using the branches and evergreens as cover as she moved. Kadabra's words, 'Stay hidden. You two will be a strange sight in these parts of the mountains and your presence will only raise suspicion.' Echoed in her head as she narrowed her eyes in focus, and gently touched down on her next stop.

Below, Scruf took in deep breath, eyes closed, and concentrated. A plethora of scents, frosty musty, damp, frosty, fresh plants, the smell of fresh water... and more frost, they all assaulted the young Growlithe's nostrils. But focusing... he was able to single out Pokemon scents. More specifically, stale smelling ones.

"Which way from here?" Noelle the Absol asked.

"Sora and Honchkrow are heading the right way," The growlithe replied, still sniffing. Fresher Pokemon scents were coming in from the east. "Kadabra? We want to avoid heading east for now as we continue." Scruf was also wearing a headset, but unable to reach the button, his remained on.

"Roger." Was Kadabra's only response.

"To get to Articno's quarters undetected, we need to keep the group as small as possible while mobile," Kadabra had said during the meeting. "Firstly, as a tracker, Scruf will lead the group to finding Articuno. No easy task, especially since we don't have her scent to begin with. Our only clue is that she regularly holds meetings, so search for the area where the most Pokemon scent can be found. Varied scents and stale, not fresh."

Scruf nodded and barked, "Understood!"

"The Absol, Noelle, correct? You should aid Scruf. Though your sense of smell isn't adept, your other, keenly developed senses should lend a hand in avoiding detection and protecting the group." At those two being paired up, Flora stiffened.

Noelle solemnly nodded. "Yes."

"Stay sharp," Noelle advised as they moved and Scruf nearly stumbled on a snow covered root. "I'm almost certain I can hear movement ahead of us that aren't our eyes in the sky."

"R-Right..." Scruf said, somewhat embarrassed. Stay focused, Scruf...! "Do you sense anything we should be concerned about?"

Noelle grimaced, irritated, "Yes, because that sense hasn't been going off since late last night."

Scruf's cheeks flushed red. "Oh.. yeah, good point."

Lastly, not far off behind them was the largest group. It was composed of Sky, Pearl, Ben, Isabella-a few choice Pokemon nearby-and Kadabra walked only a few feet in front of them, constantly trying to pick up mental links in his radius while checking with the scout and tracking team. Flanking him were Flora and Dotts, both intently searching ahead for any sign of movement. Not far behind the trainers, we're Daisy and Kara, doing the same, but occasionally checking behind themselves.

"This sucks," Dotts commented. "I can't blast someone I can't see!"

"Yeah," Flora murmured, a little more than distracted as she glanced over at Scruf and Noelle a ways ahead of them. They were talking, she could see that much, but about what? Why did he have to get paired up with her? "I suppose..."

Dotts gave her a questioning look, then let out an aggravated sigh.

"Hey Flora!" The Chikorita turned around at the sound of Spike calling her. The Croconaw flashed a grin. "Don't hog up all the fun and let some of the chumps get through! I'm aching to smash some heads!"

"Yeah," Tank added with a grin. He, X, Gold, and Cacturne we're walking alongside their trainers.

"Spike, volume!" Kadabra mentally-rebuked sharply.

Spike flinched and lowered his voice, "Oops. Sorry, sensei..."

Spike knocked on his head in a punishing manner. "Stupid...! I gotta keep quiet...!" That was very difficult for him. Spike mentally replayed the meeting, specifically the part where Kadabra had just finished up the diagram that outlined their entire force. He had been drawing with a telepathically held pencil. "Isabella's Spirtomb should be able to preform reconnaissance admirably as well. Which brings us to defense. Mid-range fighters; Flora, Dotts, Daisy, and Kara, you'll take the back and further behind Scruf and Noelle out front, next to me as I'll also be filling a mid-range role. And as a last resort of defense..."

Kadabra looked over at a certain Croconaw. Spike and Tank fist-bumped at what they knew was next. "Spike, Tank, Cacturne, X, and Gold will fill the close combat roles around the trainers. Everyone else can lend assistance where needed." Kadabra said with finality. Sky and the others were astonished with Kadabra's memory capacity... he remembered each Pokemon's name after only being told it once.

And Kadabra, sensing disappointment coming off a certain Eevee, said simply, "Twilight, you'll lend assistance to the close-combat fighters."

Sora frowned, annoyed. Twilight cheered.

Spike glanced around. So far, so good. No one from the mid-range team had to launch a single attack. Gold and X, walking—or slithering- closer to Ben and Pearl were completely silent. So was Cacturne and Isabella. Sky kept trying to work in military terms with a growingly irritable Sora over the headset. Spike let his eyelids droop slightly. This would have been boring... if the threat that within another hour or so, Articuno would flash-freeze their butts along with the entire town wasn't hanging over their heads like a guillotine. "Hey, Tank...? If we're frozen... we should strike a cool pose before it happens. You know. Die awesomely and stuff."

"Yeah," Tank nodded with a smirk. Then it faded. "Hey! We ain't gonna die, thief!"

"I know, but I'm just saying..." And then, Spike felt something collide into his side and he was sent rolling with another figure on top of him. From some direction he heard Tank screech, and the trainers hastily ordering commands.

Was I just sneak attacked? Agh! Why me? Its always me! This isn't funny anymore, Arceus!

Feeling where his attacker was, Spike prepped himself to kick the sap off the moment he rolled on his back again. The mid-range fighter couldn't very well take out the assailant without blowing their gator to pieces, too. When Spike launched out his feet, the Pokemon, a bit shorter than himself, was sent off flying, wailing in the air, until it landed face first in the snow. It looked like a little snow covered Christmas tree.

"Real classy to attack when someone's back is turned." Spike commented as he dashed after the Pokemon.

The floored Pokemon, a Snover, got up got up with a groan, but then immediately started waving its arms at the charging Croconaw. "No, wait! You don't understand!"

"What I understand is-Eep!" Spike and Snover both flinched backwards as an explosion of snow from a launched Psybeam erupted in front of them. Turning around, they saw, Kadabra, Flora, Dotts, Daisy and Kara all were aimed directly on Snover. And to its sides, Tank, X and Gold stood ready.

Snover glanced around, and immediately felt his legs weaken. Spike whistled at the response his team gave. "Well damn."

"We're going to knock you unconscious now." Kadabra spoke clearly and calmly, and his eyes flashed light blue. "It's nothing personal..."

"W-Wait! I'm not here to fight!" Snover pleaded, just long enough to delay an array of moves. "You have to get out of here, now! Our Queen... she-she's planning to..."

"Planning to destroy the town and everything nearby that isn't ice-proof." Kadabra finished, his spoon still held upright and glowing. "We know that already. We're here to convince her not to go through with it or take her down, as well. Whichever comes first."

Snover looked utterly surprised at that statement, and even more surprisingly, a glimmer of hope flashed through his eyes. "Y-You are...? Th-then let me help! I know these mountains, and I don't want to see this place turned into a wasteland!"

Spike was stunned... and confused, as were the rest of the team. Kadabra turned thoughtful.

"You just attacked one of our friends," Gold, the shiny Arbok, hissed menacingly. "Give us one good reason we should let you help us!"

Snover looked confused. "I just did...? But I only attacked because when I saw all you blokes coming through, looking so tense, I figured you'd take me out on the spot if I tried talking directly, so I tried to get in close, and I wasn't wrong, was I?... But now, I... figure it wasn't the best of approaches then, was it?"

Sky was considering it as well. Judging by his tone, the Pokemon was sincere. Even if he did try to lead them into a trap, they had scouts, and they couldn't be lead in the wrong direction so long as Scruf and Noelle were keeping track of the Pokemon scents. "I think maybe we ought a let him help, Kadabra." Sky proposed. "Besides, can't you just read his mind and see if he means it or not?"

Kadabra's face was hard and calculating as he looked on at Snover. "No, I can't read minds."

"What? !" Spike exclaimed. "You read mine back in Mertina, you jerk!"

Kadabra shook his head, lowering his spoon. "I could sense and predict what you were thinking and feeling at the time and make educated assumptions based on it, that's all. I can sense out feelings rather well, but not specific thoughts. However... it makes sense not all of Articuno's subjects support her decision. Plus... I don't sense any malignancy from this one... your name?"

The Snover proudly smacked its chest. "Kio! I'm really glad you blokes came around! Articuno was always just a bit intimidating, but usually kind. Now, she's jut outright mad, she is."

Spike smiled at the Snover's accent. "Dude, your voice sounds awesome! You know, now that we don't have to rip you apart and stuff."

"Thanks, mate."

That was when Kadabra's headset clicked to life. "Hey, guys?" Scurf's voice. "What's going on back there? Is everyone all right?"

"It's fine, Scruf." Kadabra replied. "We just may have found some very unlikely help in navigating through this mountain."

"Sounds good to me!" There was a bump sound as Noelle nudged Scruf in the side. "Oh right! We need to travel North-east to get to that mass of stale Pokemon scent. It's mingling with fresh scent, too, though..." his voice lowered to an apprehensive level.

Kadabra looked ahead and saw he was talking about an incline in the path where the trees got thicker. "I see. Thank you, Scruf." he turned around. "Sky, let Sora's group know to double back here and scout to the northeast of here."

Sky nodded and clicked into Sora's channel. "Gotcha. Hey, Sora? We need you-"

"Sky! ? Oh thanks Arceus! I couldn't turn this thing back-" There was a crash and rush of wind. Sky's face grew tense.

"Sora? !"

"Sorry, had to dodge. Yeah, we're kind of under-attack over here and I couldn't turn this back on and fight at the same time. We're up against big, ugly iceballs with horns and there's a lot of them. So... some backup?"

"On our way, hang in there." Sky said briefly before turning to Kadabra. "Sora's group is under-attack. Big ugly Iceballs!"

"Ah, the Glalie," Kio said helpfully. "Yeah, bunch of brutes, those ones. They liked Articuno's 'kill all humans' plan well enough."

Spike practically knocked him over as he took off. "Good for them, but that isn't helping Sora and the other bird right now! Let's go-Tank, Twilight!" Spike shouted, knowing they would be too happy to break rank with him and follow his lead.

"My knuckles are ready!" Tank shouted and dashed off, too.

"Let's do this!" Twilight did likewise.

Before they could get very far though, Spike, Tank and Twilight were all lifted off the ground and held suspended in mid-air with a light blue aura encompassing them. "Hey, what gives! ?" Tank exclaimed.

Kadabra was holding a blue energy covered paw. His eyes were sharpened into a glare. Spike shouted, "Kadabra! Let's us go! We can deal with those guys!"

"Your impetuosity is going to blow this entire operation," Kadabra exasperated, "I'd prefer if we didn't divide our forces..." Kadabra tried, thinking hard. "...But I suppose we have no choice..."

Sky dashed forward, knowing what needed to be done. "All of us will scare them off and they might try to alert the others. So I'll go with them, and we can rally after we've kicked some butt."

"I wholeheartedly agree." Tank put in.

Pearl smiled, "I guess all those war video games pay off after a while, hm?"

"Hell yeah!" Sky smiled widely.

That sounds like the best option to take... Kadabra ran it over mentally. No time to get the number of enemy, so... Kadabra nodded, releasing Spike, Tank, and Twilight back onto solid, snowy ground. "Very well. I like this even less than adding an additional member," He glanced at nervous Kio, "but we haven't any other option... Don't attract any attention and make sure to KO each opponent, clear?"

Sky, Spike, Tank and Twilight we're already off. "You got it, Kadabra! We'll fill you in on the details. Be back in just a sec!"

Spike gritted his teeth hard and without noticing he pulled ahead of the rest of the newly formed rescue team members as they dashed to the scene. Sora... just hang on a little longer!


Well, that's chapter 86. Thanks one and all for reading, despite these huge gaps in update time. My sincere thanks to the reviewers, and I ask that you guys would continue making the awesomely supportive comments. ^^ Feel free to continue to point out any flaws, as well.

Again, thanks for reading, everyone, and Happy New Year! XD WolfEdge, out.