(Yes, I'm actually updating this AT LAST. I shit you not. Speaking of shit, on with the chapter~!)


Shit Creek


Len's POV


The second I set foot into that damn sewer, I instantly regretted it; I hadn't exactly thought it a romantic getaway location, but this was ridiculous. Everything everywhere was wet and dripping; with water or something else, I don't know, but it made walking a hazard. The concrete walkways on the side were almost as trashes as the waterway flowing down the middle, covered in blood and grime and trash and Arceus-knows-what, and on top of that they didn't stretch around the corner; the reached the end of the tunnel, stopped, and left it to the other ones to guide whoever was supposed to be down here along. It was going to be more trouble than it was worth trying to jump from path to path, and it would take longer, too; I suspected that it would just be better to walk in the canal, as much as I detested the idea. Not only was it nasty, considering what was in that water, but the idea of having a pokemon grab me by my feet and yank me under wasn't an appealing thought, either. That was the first problem.

The second problem - the one that really worried me-was the construction of the sewer itself. There were no lights-if there were any down here before, they sure as hell weren't working-which meant that, apart from two flashlights that didn't seem to count for anything, we were completely blind. The reflection off the water made it difficult to distinguish shadows on the walls, which left us unable to see enemies unless they were directly in our line of vision, which would leave them directly on top of us. The sound of flowing water echoing off the walls made it hard to hear anything, plus the fact that the enemy could be anywhere around us at any given time-above, below, behind, to the side, right in front of us, beneath the water, around the corner...every last shadow was an ambush lying in wait. This whole place was a tactical nightmare.

Therefore, I wasn't very happy to be going forward. But what choice did we have?

Ash let out a disgusted noise as he touched down on the ground, Dawn instantly taking up position beside him. "Smells like a Muk and a Vileplume in heat!"

I had to agree with him on that one, but I shushed him regardless. "Keep your damn voice down," I hissed, even the slightest noises echoing eerily off the sewer walls. "Just shut up, put your gun where you mouth is, and stay behind me."

Ash narrowed his eyes but said nothing, keeping pace behind me as Dawn clung to his arm like a life line. To her, he probably was; I didn't have to point the light at her to know her eyes were as wide as salad bowls.

I kept to the left, hugging the wall with my guns outright, one serving as a navigation tool as it painted the darkness ahead of us. I wanted to stay on dry land as long as we could, but eventually the walkway ended, and we were left with the task of having to climb down into the water to continue down the tunnel that lead to the left, which had no walkway. Damn it. I just got these shoes, too...

I stepped down into the water, shivering at the lukewarm warmth that seeped into my socks. I didn't even want to think about what I was stepping into up to my ankles.

Ash now gave another disgusted noise, despite my order to stay quiet. "Dude, that's nasty!"

"Shut the fuck up!" I hissed sternly to him, pointing the light directly into his eyes. "Either get in here, or sit around and wait for something to come keep you company. Or go upstairs and find another Kecleon."

Ash winced, shielding his eyes with his hand, and sighed surrenderingly. There was no arguing with me, nor was there a choice. He moved forward, but Dawn tugged his arm. "Ash," she said quietly. "Your ankle..."

I blinked. I nearly forgot about the fact that he was hurt; you could barely tell, apart from the dried red and black medical tape wrapped around his ankle. The pain killers were working beautifully, but he still had that bite to worry about. That was a problem; if sewage water got into the wound, he'd have every disease and infection under the sun tearing through his veins. This wouldn't do. Had to find another way.

Ash waved it off, showing much less concern about it than me about it. Before I could stop him, he reached over the edge and slid into the water, splashing slightly, much to my disgust. He paused a moment, letting the water do its thing, before he shook his head. "It's fine."

Oh. Well, that was always a plus; at least the medical tape was holding firm. That took one more thing off our list of things of stuff to worry about. Assuming the tape held, he'd be fine. "Alright. Let's go." I turned and starting trudging through the muck, doing my very best to distance myself from the sickly fluid that flowed about my feet. This was just a whole new kind of nasty.

Ash started off after me, but Dawn stopped him again. "Wait," she said, then softly, more bashfully, "Um...c-can I ride on your back?"

Ash and I both faltered, stopping for him to consider. He paused, thinking briefly before shrugging and stepping up closer to her, back to her. "Sure. Just hang on tight, alright?"

Dawn nodded and muttered something confirmatory, kneeling down and climbing onto his shoulders, legs around his waist. She put her arms around his neck tightly, now visibly blushing as he got ahold of her legs to hold her steady a bit. "U-u-um...ready."

Though a bit annoyed that we had to wait, I couldn't help but smile at the sight of the two; they were pretty cute together. Briefly I thought about what a good couple they'd make if they weren't already in a relationship before snapping back around, bringing down the cold mask of officialness over my emotions. Things like that didn't matter: we had to keep moving. "Alright, follow me," I ordered, again starting off down the tunnel.

Ash and Dawn were both quiet as he carried her along behind me. I would occasionally glance back to check on them, hiding the grin I got when I saw her head nuzzled under his chin with the darkness all around us. There was business to be taken care of, sure, but they were pretty cute. It's good to have something to feel warm and have fuzzy feelings about in the times we found ourselves in. They weren't anywhere near as disciplined as me, so they needed extra support to get through this thing. It was a good thing they were so close, or we might have a problem on our hands. We couldn't afford any mental breakdowns at a time like this. I was amazed that we'd all kept it together this long, but I guessed it wasn't a good idea to question good fortune (yeah, some fortune), so I dismissed it to pay more attention to some of the more important things; such as where the hell we were going.

We sloshed our way down the tunnel a bit slowly, everyone eying every shadow that we came across, which were pretty much everywhere all around us. Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to see in a damp, smelly sewer with two flashlights in the middle of the night? Yeah, it's not easy; there were two slivers of existence in a realm of absolute darkness, complete oblivion marred only by smelly shit-filled water, cold stone walls, and Arceus-only-knows-what was ahead. Sound like fun? I hope not, because it wasn't. In fact, it was as creepy and disgusting as fuck. Some pieces of metal and pipe were edging around the tunnel now, a metal bracket creating a square opening for us to crawl through. I didn't know exactly what it was for, but wasn't particularly interested, moving ahead of Ash and Dawn to climb past it, light pointed through the opening-

A sharp hissing made me gasp and shrink back, guns pointed up at the source. Above my head, a pipe with the word "CAUTION" written across it in a yellow and black bracket had suddenly burst at one of the joints, a small stream of white steam hissing out of the crack. I waited a moment to assure that nothing else was going to happen, then swallowed the lump in my throat and continued, Dawn's light still probing said pipe warily from over Ash's shoulder. Geez...damn place is making me jumpy. I gotta focus more. I can't be letting these little noises get to me.

Probing the entrance with my flashlight still, I stepped up over the bracket and passed to the other side, light painting the darkness that seemed to be seeping into the corners of my mind. Would it kill them to install a fucking light system in this place? The tunnel turned to the left, the water continuing to flow idly down the ever-so-slight incline like a small river...filled with shit, of course. I waded up as Ash stepped up over the bracket, splashing slightly as he stepped down with the combined weight of him and Dawn, who still clung to his back like a baby Mankey clinging to its mother. There was another "CAUTION" pipe overhead, but nothing happened when we passed beneath it, allowing us to focus on other things. Briefly I wondered what could be in a pipe in a place like this that would need something someone had to pay heed to warnings about before we came to a fork in the road. I wearily peeked around the corner, painting the light to the left, then quickly to the right to make sure I wouldn't get flanked. The left was a dead end, while the right continued to stretch on into seemingly oblivion.

The red emergency light illuminated the left corridor, dimly showing a body sprawled out across the canal, arms and legs bent at awkward angles. Waste water poured down from a large nozzle overhead, painting its overalls and tan work shirt a sickly brown and red. The head was what caught my eye and made me pause as Ash came up from behind me; there was a blue-green mass of what looked like a Medusa's Ekans-hair, no longer connected to the body's neck. That was weird; what the hell was with the person's hair? I pointed the flashlight at it as I muttered "What the," to myself, curiosity coming over me. I wearily approached, crouching down slightly as I turned my head, narrowing my eyes to make out the details. It just didn't seem to fit with the body at all. It was like it belonged to something else.

Turns out, it did; the severed head suddenly leaped up with a splash, shrieking a whiny scream that made me jump back in alarm as Ash and Dawn yelped in surprise. Before I could bring my guns back up, a blue-green tentacle slick with waste water lanced out of the darkness and snapped around my neck, pinching my windpipe shut. I gagged in surprise, hands reaching up to yank on the tentacle, which I couldn't get a good grip on, because of the slimy muck coating the already smooth, leathery exterior. My fingers wheedled between it and my neck as I tried to pull it off and breathe in the air that refused to come, but no matter how hard I yanked, the tentacle held firm, its origin hissing a scream from the dim red spotlight it stood in. I could see a pair of shriveled amber eyes glaring at me, punching through my head with its hate alone, glowing as if illuminated by their own light. I pulled and tried to get free, but the more I yanked, the more its appendage tightened on my neck. I could already feel my windpipe and spine squeezing together, threatening to break my neck and pinch my head off like I was made of silly putty...

I don't know what took those two so freaking long, but after the initial panic, a shotgun went off, causing the creature to shriek in pain, both echoing violently off the walls of the sewers like the screams of a banshee, hurting my ears. Another shotgun blasted through my conscience before the tentacle gripping me shot back as if struck, dangling at a grotesque angle as the entire other half of it held on only by a thread, flopping uselessly about as blood leaked out and dribbled into the sewage, tinting the water red.

Now free and gasping for breath, I stumbled back, firing one gun blindly as Dawn joined Ash and I in our attack, pumping round after round into the living ball of blue spaghetti. The screaming mass shuddered and staggered back, tripping over the headless body behind it before vanishing into the murky water, bobbing up a moment later, unmoving. Red stained the water as if flowed past.

Still gasping, I rubbed my neck where the Tangela had grabbed me, thinking how good it felt to have the repugnant fumes of the sewer flowing in and out of my chest. After a while, I considered screaming at the two to figure out what the hell had taken them so damn long, but decided against it as soon as I saw their wide, panicked eyes; they really didn't need someone going off on the right now. So, biting my tongue, I let in several more rounds of sour-smelling air before muttering "let's go," continuing on down the tunnel past them. Neither of them said anything, heads pressing together as they followed, Dawn pointing her flashlight past Ash's cheek. They both held their weapons a bit more closely, ready to shoot if anything so much as blinked in their line of fire. We needed to keep moving; no doubt all the noise had let whatever was here know that it had company.

I pointed my flashlight up at a work station of some kind built up at our left, suspended over the water a little bit. The emergency door clearly read "Locked" in big red luminescent letters, hence why I didn't climb up to investigate; the control panels built into either side of it looked pretty foreign to me. They can afford all this high-tech door controls, but that can't light up their own sewers? Curious what logic inspired that, I wonder... I nearly jumped out of my skin when something suddenly fell down from the open pipe overhead, splashing down in front of me and summoning a startled gasp from Dawn. Flashlights locked on where it had disappeared, ready to shoot whatever moved. Surprisingly, nothing came; I felt around with my foot, trying to find it, but whatever it had either vanished or sunk into the muck. Shrugging it off, I led us forward, stepping around the spot of interest just to be sure.

Up ahead was another work station up to our right, again with the word "Locked" reading above the doorway between two heavily damaged control panels that sparked quite frequently, showing that something really didn't appreciate getting locked out of wherever lay beyond. Can't say I appreciated it myself, but what were we going to do? Beat our heads against it? Further down was a short wall, the water flowing down through a little grating near the bottom, a hole formed to...I don't know, let people that got trapped down here crawl through? Briefly I hoped that there would be dry land on the other side, but we would have no such luck; the area was flooded, the atrium beyond filled with ankle-high waste water. A corridor stretched around it on either side, separated only by a thin metal grating with maintenance lights dimly illuminating the area, water dripping down from countless places overhead.

I climbed up through the opening to shine my light through, searching for contacts. Nothing either way, and it looked like the area behind the grating was clear too, although I knew better than to let my guard down; there were any number of places that pokemon could be lurking, at the very least was beneath our feet in the water. We had to move carefully; everything was a possible ambush lying in wait.

Ash poked his head through along with me, Dawn glancing around and, justly so, scowled. "Which way?" she asked.

Ash looked to me as well, his expression all but audibly declaring, "Well?"

Natural, I suppose; I'd proven to be the leader thus far, so of course they'd look to me for direction. Damned if it didn't make me feel like I was being put on the spot, though. "Well, uh..." I glanced either way, considering the possibilities for a moment. Our destination was on the other side of the chamber behind the grating, so I guess it didn't really matter which way we went, so long as we got to the other side in one piece. I motioned to the right, reaching my leg up to step up over the edge. "That way, since it's lighter. I want to see what's up ahead. Ash, gimme a boost."

Ash nodded in compliance, helping to lift me up over the edge. As I started lowering, though, he got this smart-ass look on his face just before he gave me a nudge forward; not particularly hard, but enough to move me a bit.

Having not been ready to step down quite yet, I abruptly had to bring my other foot down to catch myself, barely avoiding falling into the murky water. I stumbled forward a bit, using the grating to steady myself, then shot Ash a glare sharp enough to decapitate the bastard right then and there. The son of a bitch almost sent me swimming! In a sewer! "Asshole!" I spat, hands tightening on each of my guns.

Ash just snickered, flashing a goofy grin I wasn't sure I wanted to hug him or deck him for. "Love you too, Len."

I gave him a sour look, briefly taking note of Dawn's distasteful expression as he crawled through himself. I got even by kicking some water up onto his pants, smirking as I brushed past him, his annoyed remarks about how they were his "favorite pants!" making me smile wider. Serves him right.

Up ahead I glanced around the corner, probing with the light on my gun. Nothing...in plain sight, anyway. The lack of pokemon was making me nervous; after all that racket with that game, I would have expected almost all of the things down here - it was obvious that they'd be down here; I wasn't foolish enough to think all the pokemon in Pewter City were on the surface - would have come running to score a kill. The "rush recklessly" strategy might have worked upstairs, but what about down here, where they didn't have the benefit of being in the swarm? Hopefully everything wouldn't be as ingenuitive as the Tangela, or we might have come down into a whole heap of trouble-

Speak of the devil, a smashing noise and a plume of dust erupting from one of the vents to my right ahead signaled that, indeed, we had just found trouble. A Raticate stuck its head out of the vent, its sunken, beady eyes rolling around in its head briefly before locking on me, where its already leering face contorted in rage and it screamed a hiss at me, massive teeth sticking out of its head discolored red from Arceus-only-knows how many kills. As if on cue, a pair of splashes of muck and water signaled where two pokemon had suddenly jumped up from their submerged hiding spots, hissing a challenge. Judging by the rounded shape from beneath the grime caking their bodies, I'd have to say Quagsire.

I swore and fired off a pair of rounds from each pistol, all four shots slamming into the Raticate and nearly completely removing its head, its matted furry body tumbling out of the vent and splashing into the water. The already ungainly Quagsire stumbled when the body collapsed in front of them and splattered them with red, both letting out moaning whines just before a flurry of bullets and a wave of buckshot peppered their bodies and colored them red with their own blood, adding their corpses to the mix; turns out, even a thick-skulled pokemon like a Quagsire can't take a bullet to the head.

No time to celebrate; I could hear bumping and rattling coming from inside the wall to our right, indicating that a few more pokemon had been waiting for us and were tearing through the vents to greet us. Rather than holding our ground and fighting in such a confined space, I ducked to the left to take up positions in the atrium where we could see them coming, glad Dawn had the intelligence to slip off Ash's back and slosh after us; no place for dead weight where agility might be needed. We twisted around and promptly waited for them to come to us.

Out of the vent in question came a duo of rather ravenous-looking Rattata, both of which were put down swiftly, one taking a slug to the head in mid-air and losing its cranium as a result, dead before it ever hit the water. A Machop dropped down from above within the vent, two Grimer emerging from the corridor we were heading down. I fired, striking one of the purple sludge mounds, causing a geyser of liquid as the force of the bullet exploded a considerable portion of the Grimer's body.

I focused on the Machop that had climbed out of the vent and started charging, barely having time to put it down before I snapped around to face the sound of a splash behind us. Pokemon were coming from the other side as well, another Tangela dropping from the pipework over our heads as another Raticate, a Magnemite, and a Grimer sprinted, floated, and oozed out from the corridor across from us. Seeing as it was the fastest, I stepped out behind of Ash and Dawn so they could watch my back and unloaded into the Raticate, the big brown rat stumbling back as bullets riddled its filthy, matted body. I did the same with the Tangela before I paused to pop the magazine out of the chamber of one of my pistols, moving to reload. Rather than go straight down and vanish into the murky water like a normal magazine would have, both cartridges eased to a stop in mid-air before rocketing over towards the Magnemite, both latching eagerly to its magnet arms like suckling kits would their mother as its massive central eye glared me down, cracks visible in its cornea from the sheer amount that it had shoved back into its body. It hovered forward eagerly as I finished reloading, pointed my guns at it-keeping a firm grip on both handles to keep the metal devices from yanking out of my hand-and fired into its "face." Its eye shattered like a busted headlight as a trio of bullets smashed through its metallic hide, giving a screeching metal-on-metal sound as its magnets and screws suddenly flew off its body, all three components ricocheting harshly off surrounding pipes and grating before splashing into the water below, vanishing into the muck.

The Grimer that had been slowly but steadily creeping forward gave a wailing noise at me, waving its arms threateningly, a split second before it exploded like a water balloon and simply ceased to exist.

Our backs secured, I turned around to check on Dawn and Ash's progress, eyes skimming over the bodies of the two Raticate, Nidorino, and Gastrodon bodies that had added up while I was looking away, a third Raticate flopping down as I watched. I had to say that, by this point, I was pretty impressed. They weren't trained soldiers, but they could really hold their own in a pinch.

One last Quagsire flopped into the water before the pokemon stopped coming, an eerie silence marred only by the persistent sound of dripping and running water. I snapped around to examine our backs, making sure nothing was sneaking up on us. When nothing came, I sighed, lowering my weapons, though making sure not to relax; we were still in hostile territory. No contacts didn't equal safety.

"Keep moving," I ordered tersely, moving up ahead to the path on the right-the one not clogged with bodies-and popped the magazines out of my pistols to reload before anyone had a chance to try to celebrate. We couldn't stop to let off some steam or cheer; the pokemon down here knew where we were, and we were anything but safe down here.

Dawn nodded as I sloshed up ahead, reaching over to put her hands on Ash's arm. Ash just smiled at her and put his hand over one of hers before starting after me, leading Dawn along.

Leading the way to the passage we worked so hard to get to, I shone my gun's light forward, feeling a slight smile tug at my lips when Ash murmured something assuring to Dawn to soothe her.

Who knew? Maybe something good was going to come out of this nightmare yet.


Ash's POV


The way ahead was just as dark as the rest of the sewer; too bad...I was really starting to enjoy that maintenance light shining the way for us. It was good to see what was coming at us before it was close enough to reach out and touch. Oh well...I guess we couldn't get spoiled on it.

Yeah, right. Spoiled.

We went around doing the same old thing for a while: Len leading the way up the night-black tunnel, one or two sewer pokemon occasionally making itself known before a volley of bullets blew them apart, waving us along further up the tunnel, which either seemed to continue on indefinitely or split and turned either left or right, one of which was usually a dead end. The lack of pokemon was equally unnerving as it was a relief; I was expecting tons more pokemon to be skulking around down here. The fact that they weren't either meant that we were right before when we said they weren't expecting us, or that they were expecting us, and we were walking head-first into a trap. Either way, we didn't have any other choice but the keep going forward and pray we could kill whatever was ahead faster than they could kill us.

We rounded the umpteenth corridor to see a familiar scene: a long corridor with some work station up above the water to the right, a maintenance light painting the immediate area a glaring red-orange. Up on the platform, a Golduck's eyes glowed a burning blue as it pumped Psychic into the control panel, the device appearing to crumble and bend out of shape as if by magic, the internal electrical components sparking violently as they were crushed by an unseen hand like a tin can. Once it was satisfied the control panel had been taught a lesson, the pokemon's eyes returned to their normal sunken state as it turned, squawked in fury, and began unleashing a hellish barrage of Fury Swipes into the door, unaware that the only damage being inflicted was on itself as it's claws became bloodied and broken on the unbreakable metal surface. It was like it was too consumed in it's rage to notice it's reddening webbed hands were blistering with pain.

Unfortunately for it, that anger also went to absorb it's awareness of our presence, allowing Len to get up onto the platform, come up from behind it, and bury her combat knife into the back of it's neck. The Duck Pokemon froze in mid-swipe, burning eyes bulging open as it's muscles spontaneously solidified, completely paralyzed from the blade burrowed into it's spinal column, beak sluggishly twitching as it tried to let out a cry of pain. It began twitching uncontrollably as red flowed down it's back, and I thought it was going to break out into a full-fledged seizure before Len abruptly ripped her knife out to the side, severing it's spine and snapping it's brain stem in half while simultaneously slitting the back of it's windpipe. Blood sprayed out and stained the Jenny's blue uniform red as the pokemon twitched violently before slumping into the wall and sliding limply to the grating beneath it. It was dead before it even touched the ground.

Len calmly wiped her knife of the red that stained the glimmering steel on her uniform, returning it to it's holster before glancing at the ruined control panel, frowning in disapproval, now focusing on the door itself, trying to find an alternate way to open it. I stood by and watched the blood from the Golduck run down through the grating beneath it, watching the red fluid trickle down the support columns down into the murky water, where it tinted the water a brownish-red before flowing away out of sight, fusing with the unspeakable contents within...the red reminded me of the cheeks of a certain yellow companion of mine...not to mention the similar red I'd caused to pool out beneath his cold, unmoving form, sunken bloodshot eyes staring out blankly.

Pikachu...

Intellectually, I knew I hadn't had a choice; now more than ever was I aware of the fact that every single pokemon in Kanto - if not the world - seemed to have gone mad, and that if we didn't defend ourselves, they wouldn't hesitate to kill us. However, a small part of me couldn't help but make me feel like I'd murdered my best friend out of cold blood, and that I ought to be put to justice for the crime I'd committed. I'm so sorry, Pikachu...I didn't have a choice. I had to protect both Dawn and me...I'm sorry, buddy. I really am. Our friendship meant so much to me...would you understand? If you knew what was happening, would you understand why I did what I did? Would you have been able to forgive me?

I sure hope so...cuz I know I'll never forgive myself.

"Ash."

Dawn's voice snapped me from my daze, not having realized she had come up beside me. Quickly I wiped away the moisture that had been gathering by my eyes, trying to keep as steady a tone as possible when I replied, "What?"

Dawn didn't seem to notice my wavering front, focusing mainly on the Golduck body I'd been so fascinated with. She pointed at it, her expression one of curiosity and nervousness. "They're changing," she said. "Its eyes..."

I wasn't sure what she meant by "changing," about to remind her that all the pokemon we'd seen thus far had sunken eyes when I followed her gaze, stopping in mid-word. The Golduck's eyes, like the rest of the pokemon we'd seen, were burrowed deeply back into its head, enough so that I was wondering whether or not they were actually digging into the Duck Pokemon's brain. Unlike the others, however, I noted a distinct feature about them that seemed to set it apart from the others: rather than remaining their same general structure, albeit reddened and bloodshot like it had taken a pinch of salt to them, the Golduck's eyes were shriveled and crumpled-looking, burning an angry amber color that seemed to generate its own light, glowing like angry coals even after the pokemon had died. I could still feel the intensity of the kappa-like creature's hate through its lifeless gaze...the sight of its transformation made me shudder, a chill running up my spine. These weren't the eyes of a maddened pokemon that had once been sane; they were the eyes of a bloodthirsty, unnatural killing machine that knew only rage, hate, and killing. I couldn't see the "humanity" that I saw in all the eyes of the pokemon I'd seen; crazy or not, all pokemon had a little glimmer of familiarity in the back of them somewhere, reminding me that these weren't heartless monsters, but the very same pokemon that I had seen countless times before. The ones I'd spent my childhood growing up alongside. Now that I saw the shriveled, blazing eyes of the creature in front of me, however, I was having second thoughts. I wouldn't know this was a pokemon if I hadn't seen a Golduck before. Hell, I still wasn't sure about it. I'd never seen this sort of thing in anything before; not even the most evil humans and pokemon I'd ever seen were anything like this.

What was happening to these things? Were they slowly turning into the murderous demons that they were depicting themselves as? Were they undergoing a whole new kind of evolution process, this one completely dedicated the annihilation of the humans they'd lived beside and grown close with all this time?

Were the pokemon really turning into monsters?

Len let out an annoyed scoff, giving the illuminated "Locked" signal above the door a wry look. "All the exits are locked down," she said to no one in particular. "Must have triggered when the city went to hell. Looks like we've got to find another way to the surface again."

I pried my eyes away from the evil pits in the Golduck's head to look at Len, who seemed to note my unnerved state. The pokemon were becoming...I don't even know what was going on with those things. We were trapped down here in a sewer full of them, completely on our own, and I had no idea where the fuck we were. I'd lost my orientation with the Pokemon Center's position a while ago; at this point, just making it to the surface at all would be a good idea. I didn't want to stay here a moment longer than we absolutely had to.

Dawn seemed to think the very same thing, though she was a bit less contained about it than me. "I don't like it down here," she muttered, voice rising with panic just beneath the surface. "I-it's cold, and dark, and...smelly..." She gave a disgusted look down to the water flowing past her feet. "I wanna get out of here. We have to get out of here. We're gonna die down here. We have to leave...have to get out..!"

"Easy," I cooed, putting an arm around her shoulder in a comforting gesture, feeling my heart pang at how she was shivering. "Just stay calm for me. We'll get out of here, just you watch. Alright?"

Dawn's eyes drifted shut for the briefest of moments, leaning into my touch. My being there for her really seemed to put her at ease, though I could tell she was no less eager to get the hell out of this sewer. I didn't blame her, either. "A-alright..."

Len nodded approvingly at me, glancing down the way we were headed. She tilted her head for a moment, as if listening for something. "You hear that..?"

Dawn and I both paused, listening for whatever it was she heard. I couldn't hear much, bar my own breathing, the sound of the water flowing past us, and...splashing? Up ahead, ever so faintly...like water splashing onto water. "A waterfall?" I ventured, trying to place the familiarity of the noise.

Len nodded. "I think so, too. We must be getting close to the water treatment facility. We can get to the surface from there." She jumped down into the water, causing Dawn and I to back up to avoid the splash she made with disgusted looks. "This way." She waved us on with the same air of authority as a commanding officer, though I could tell she was faintly amused by our expressions. I scoffed, but other than that, we didn't say anything and followed in relative silence.

It sounded pretty distant, but the source of the noise up ahead was right around the corner. The river of sewage ended in a wall, which had a ladder on it that led to a platform wrapping around a large pool constantly being fed by a pipe spewing water down from the ceiling. It didn't smell much better, but it was up above the water. Len nodded, Dawn sighing in relief along with me; the opportunity to get out of this mucky water was a welcome one. Who in Arceus's name built the sewers like this? If they weren't already dead, I was going to put a bullet between their eyes.

Being the leader (though she'd never declared it), Len went ahead and holstered her pistols, stepping up to scale the barrier. I came up behind her, using the hand clenched around my shotgun to climb up, Dawn waiting at the bottom for us to go up, clutching her pistol to her chest while casting looks over her shoulder nervously. Len reached the top and stuck her head up over to look around, pausing a moment on the ladder as she did so. I was going to nudge her forward when she blurted out "Hey!" and scrambled up on top. I hurried after her and quickly found out why she made the exclamation: over around on the platform, a man was struggling with a pair of pokemon, a Machoke and a Gastrodon, who were both attacking him in a frenzied blood rage, appearing to have put some serious hurt on him already.

Len whipped a pistol out to fire when a stream of water slammed into her, shoving her backwards off the wall and back down into the water by Dawn. I took up her place, glancing over the edge to find the source of the Water Gun. Down in the pool, a brown-stained Seel glared up at me, bobbing slightly as it tried to keep afloat over the current formed by the water pounding down just a few meters behind it. I took aim at the pair of amber sparks in its head, fired, and got a satisfying feeling when the creature vanished before bobbing back up to the surface, leaking red from a dozen spots on its body.

At the sound of the gunshot, the Gastrodon and Machoke abruptly snapped around to face me, amber eyes blazing from deep within their heads. The Machoke's roared a challenge as the Gastrodon let out a moaning gurgle, slithering across the platform as the Machoke made a beeline for me, arms flailing as it threw itself forward with frenzied abandon.

I barely had time to bring my gun to bear before the Machoke was on top of me; the barrel of the shotgun was practically touching it when I pulled the trigger. The pokemon spurted blood out of its mouth in unison with the ensuring bang, took a drunken staggering step backwards, and flopped onto its back, splashing slightly in the puddle of blood and liquefied guts that had been spilled out of the foot-wide hole in its belly. I took aim at the Gastrodon only to take the better part of a Brine attack to the face, the salty water burning my eyes and knocking me back a few steps. I howled in pain, frantically wiping at my eyes in an effort to clear them, but to no avail.

Apparently the seal wasn't done, firing off a Water Pulse as well. The trio of watery rings slammed into me full-force and actually knocked me off my feet this time, shoving me backwards and knocking me onto my back, since I wasn't in the most orientated state. The salt in my eyes was washed away almost instantly, but now I had a new problem: I couldn't see. Actually, I could technically see, but I'm fairly certain the world wasn't comprised of spinning, blurry colors all around me, the noises echoing eerily off the inside of my head and effectively scrambling my brains something good. I lost track of which way was up and down, and I started feeling queasy, as well as being unable to function my limbs. It felt like my arms were where my legs should be. Damn it...I'm Confused? No wonder pokemon end up hurting themselves in battle when they're like this...

Eventually I managed to return to the real world, the colors and sloshing images eventually solidifying into the sights before me. I saw Dawn crouched down next to me, a concerned look on her face, while Len was busy pumping a few rounds into a rather displeased-looking Gastrodon, its slippery pink and brown hide stained red from the holes materializing all over it. "Are you okay?" Dawn asked, her voice sounding slightly slurred. I'm guessing that it wasn't her that was slurred, but me.

I nodded, wearily accepting the hand she offered me to help me stand. I almost stumbled, but caught myself, regaining my balance. "A little dizzy, but...yeah."

Dawn nodded, a relieved look on her face, and I noted that she didn't let go of my hand afterward. She'd really started to become a little clingy as of late...not that it bothered me. She always took comfort in my being there, and we all needed to cope with things somehow, so I guess I shouldn't complain. My touch must have made her feel more secure.

After Len finished emptying her guns into the now quite dead Gastrodon, the shoved past the lifeless Sea Slug Pokemon and hurried over to the man that had been getting beaten on earlier, barely pausing to reload before she was down beside him. "Hey! Hey, are you okay? Can you hear me? Hey!"

Dawn and I hurried over as well, anxious to see his condition. It didn't look too good; there were countless scratches and abrasions all over him, as well as a generous coating of blood all over his skin and clothing...he looked terrible. It was a miracle this man was still alive...assuming he was, of course. I didn't see any chest movement to indicate life. He must have been, though, because he was slowly turning his head, amber eyes glaring at me-

Wait a minute...amber? Blazing, burning, shriveled and ground deep into his skull...his wounds were starting to ooze a pink substance I highly doubted was blood...

Shit. I jumped back and pushed Dawn away, raising up my shotgun to bear. "Len, get out of the way!"

Len snapped a look at me that all but demanded "What the fuck?" before she, too, noticed the pink sludge beginning to ooze out of the man's torso, as well as the eyes that burned with familiar hostility and animosity, suddenly realizing his silhouette was blurring as his details became less defined...

Len stood and reached for her pistols on her hip, but she wasn't fast enough. In the time it took Len's fingers to wrap around the gun's handle, the Ditto had liquefied, turned its usual pink, and thrown itself at her. She let out a muffled noise of surprise as the cotton candy-colored putty splashed over her face, forcing itself into her nose and mouth, intent on gagging her with it's own body. She clawed at it with her nails, the only remaining glove having been sucked off by it's vacuum-seal on her, ripping pink chunks of it's taffy-like flesh out of it's body.

Of course, Dawn and I were right along with her in an instant, sticking our hands into the gooey mass, trying to find something to use to pull it off with. I reached my hand beneath the creature between it and Len's neck, lifting to pry it off...only to have it morph and slap onto my arm, snaking up to my bicep towards my own head. Needless to say, I wasn't too pleased at the concept, hence why I slammed my arm against the wall and splattered it across the metal surface, giving me a moment to aim my gun at it. The Ditto quickly recovered, instinctively leaping off the wall to morph around the barrel of the weapon, stretching up to get to me again.

Bad move. It must have realized it, hence it's high-pitched scream as it's body contorted in a last-ditch effort to Transform into something to save it's skin instant before I pulled the trigger.

The result was spectacular; the Ditto's body shuddered at the moment the trigger was pulled, it's body plugging the barrel and reducing the bang to a muffled thump.There was a brief instant of stillness before the pokemon's body shuddered again, swelling up in the back where the barrel of the weapon, blowing up like a big pink balloon to an impossible size - almost as big as the man it had turned into previously - before, like a massive wad of pink bubblegum, the pokemon exploded, splattering thick pink sludge all across the wall, gumming up my clothes and forcing me to take a step back from the force of it, not to mention surprise. As awesome as that was, now I was covered in Ditto shit. Wonderful.

Len spat a glob of pink onto the grating at her feet with a disgusted air, wiping her nose, eying the pink substance that oozed down the wall warily before determining the creature was dead. "Little fucker..."

I nodded in agreement, looking over to Dawn to assure she was safe, albeit pink-splattered. You know, as much as I hated to admit it, that was actually kind of clever - pretending to be human, staging an ambush for when we rushed up to see if it was alright. Messing with a dude with a gun bigger than it was wasn't particularly bright, but you had to give it an "A" for effort. It was a little discouraging in itself, though, not just that the pokemon were getting smarter. It seemed like, wherever we went, the only living humans that we encountered were us - Len, Dawn, and me. Same ol' same ol'. No survivors. All of Pewter was dead...and Arceus only knew how many other cities had befallen a similar fate. The poor people here didn't stand a chance.

No time to dwell on that; Len had already collected herself, and while she had a peculiar aroma from having been knocked into the sewage water a few minutes before, she kept her chin up and led the way guns-first, ready to blow a hole out of Hell to get us to safety. You couldn't help but admire a woman like that...if not be terrified at the same time. Either worked, but no matter how you sliced it, I was content with just following her along and keeping my mouth shut for once. There wasn't anything to say, and even I had better sense than to joke around; she hardly seemed to be in the mood. Plummeting into sewer water tended to do that to people, apparently.

Have I ever mentioned I was sick and damn tired of walking around in the sewers? No? Well, I'll tell you: I was sick and fucking tired of walking around in the fucking sewers. Our luck at finding somewhere above the water didn't hold: the platform led to - surprise surprise - another locked door, which meant that we had to climb back down into the water again to continue on. Fan-freaking-tastic. I didn't protest, though, for fear of Len emptying a clip into my head, as I grudgingly came down into the ankle-deep gray water at the base of a ladder near the end of the walkway. The water pouring down into the massive pool seemed to be slightly cleaner than the rest of the crap, hence why it didn't smell quite as bad and why the texture at the bottom was much less unpleasant. It was still unpleasant; just not as much. Not that it could get any worse than wading through waste water. No wait, I take that back: could you imagine how fucked I would be if the bandages around my ankle from the Houndoom bite hadn't held up? Now that would be miserable. I'd probably end up dead from the infections I'd have picked up from it.

Lucky me; I got to avoid dying just so I could end up dying somewhere else later on. Yippee.

The following tunnel led us up past another locked workstation, where a Raticate leaped off the platform and was consequently put down via a flurry of gunshots. The noise attracted a small battalion of Wooper that skipped up to us from further up the tunnel, smiling that goofy grin of theirs despite the fact that their eyes were burning with malice that clearly showed they intended on tearing us apart. A few gunshots silenced the chorus of "Woopaaah, woopaaah," and was replaced by the sound of bodies splashing into the muck. I hated doing things like that...it felt so…wrong. It was like killing a pet, or a small child; is there anything worse than killing a creature that couldn't seem more innocent? Like an ever-chipper Wooper, or a peacefully sleeping Skitty? Or a Pikachu that you'd known all your life and couldn't be closer to-

I shook the thought from my head, forcing the image of a yellow body amongst a pool of red out of my mind. It would be back, of course - you could only shut something like that out for so long. Murdering my best friend was definitely starting to eat away at me, even though the efforts we were putting in to survive were keeping me a little distracted…I was going to have to come to terms with it eventually, I supposed, but I'd much rather have it be later rather than sooner. I just didn't want to have to deal with something like that. Not just that, but I had a Dawn to protect - she was all I had left. She was my best friend, and she needed me. I had to be there for her.

Pikachu would want me to protect her. She was his friend, too…it's what he would have wanted.

I was so consumed in sobering thoughts that I barely even noticed that we'd come up to a ledge extending up and stretching on, the gray water sloshing past it. There wasn't any other way up, so we would have to climb through it…great. The one time I didn't have a pokemon that knew Waterfall or Surf…well, if I did, we'd have to kill it anyway, so it was probably best that I didn't have Squirtle or Totodile with me. The last thing I needed was another friend's blood on my hands.

As the one in charge and in the lead, Len had to make the decision first so we could follow suit, and frankly, she looked about as eager as we were. It was either this or turn back, so there wasn't a choice in the matter: we had to keep going. Therefore, we had to get through this thing…no matter how much we didn't want to.

We had to get out of here, and we had to survive. Because, if we didn't...who would?


Len's POV


Has anyone ever wondered about how very fun it is to go traversing around in a sewer network? No? Well, let me go ahead and tell you the joys of it: it was dirty, dark, wet, dirty, and fucking disgusting. It stank like shit, looked like shit, felt like shit...god, everything about that underwater waterway was just shit. A regular "shit creek" if I've ever seen one. Oh, and of course, our luck had to be reduced to shit, too: every other tunnel seemed to host more pokemon than the last, and we seemed to be spending just as much back-tracking and stumbling over bodies as we did going forward, eying the shadows - as if there was anything else in this place - as we subconsciously checked how much ammo we had left in our pockets. Ash commented that he was running out of shells; if I remembered correctly, combat shotguns could hold ten shells max, and he had about eight left, which would leave him to empty it one more time before he wound up on his last clip. I wasn't particularly inclined to part with any weapon of mine, but I had enough sense to tell him to sling his weapon and take one of my pistols; we needed to save the heavy stuff for the ones that we would need it for. The bruisers; stuff like another Rhy-evolution, or another form of large, armored pokemon capable of bringing the roof down on our heads.

Distantly I wondered about the Rhyperior we'd encountered earlier, briefly wondering if the debris that buried it was really enough to kill it. After the chilling possibility that it wasn't, I decided that it was best not to think about it; we were long-gone from that area anyway, and besides, worrying about what we did or didn't kill wouldn't help anything. Although it would certainly be a plus to have one more thing weighing on my mind off my conscience; I was going to have a hard enough time living with knowing I'd killed so many pokemon for any reason at all.

Anyway, we didn't really have a lot of time to think, unless it was figuring out how to get the hell out of this fucking sewer. Yeah, I'll admit it - I had officially decided that it didn't even matter where we got out at, so long as we got out period. It felt like hours that we'd been down there, wandering around blindly in the darkness, and wouldn't you know it that we had lost our sense of direction along the way? Fighting off hordes of swampy sewage-pokemon tended to do that to you, it seems. Oh well...at least we were getting along well enough.

"You meat-headed moron!"

...or not.

Letting an exasperated, clearly irritated noise akin to a sigh pass through my lips, I shot the boy in question a sharp look, as if hoping I could draw blood from the very gesture. "What the hell do you mean we're lost!"

"I mean," Ash said in mock-patience, holding his arms out to indicate the dark, dank tunnels around us; Dawn fell back a step, shoulders coming up as she shied away from the obviously bursting tensions. "We're lost. I have no freaking idea where we are, no idea where we're going, everything that moves is trying to kill us, and- oh, did I mention we're being led around by a cop that couldn't navigate a city if we glued a map to the back of her hand?"

"Don't start with me, Ketchum!" I snapped, stabbing a finger in his direction as I marched forward, fully intent on jabbing him in the chest with it. Yes, I'll admit, all this squabbling was going to get us nowhere fast, but after going on in this sewer for what felt like hours, not to mention the fatigue of being awake and on the move for what felt like days, the frustration, the confusion, the fear...we really should have worked to keep a better hold on ourselves, but I couldn't help it. Every word that passed through the guy's mouth seemed to tilt the dial to my blood up a few degrees, and I couldn't take it anymore. "I'm posted in Viridian, dumbass, not Pewter! Besides, I distinctly remember someone telling me that they knew exactly where we were going, mister 'I-have-no-sense-of-direction!'"

"I never said that; I said that I think I knew where the Pokemon Center was - not 'follow me cuz I know exactly where I'm going,' or 'Hey, I've traveled tons of sewers in my days as a pokemon master,' I said that I thought I knew. Well, now I think I don't."

"And I think you're an idiot!"

"Hey, you're the one with the badge! Where'd you get that thing - the girl scouts? Clearly must not have earned your explorer's badge."

It took every ounce of willpower I had to direct my hand away from the pistol at my side and up towards my badge, yanking it off and jabbing it in the direction of his face. "I earned this, you jackass! I spent more blood, sweat, and tears on this piece of metal than you probably spent in your entire life! Unless we're talking about blood, with all the socks to the jaw you've probably taken for leading people off in the wrong direction!"

"Oh really?" Ash challenged, narrowing his glare at me. In the darkness, his eyes looked like pits of coal, not enough light present to illuminate the navy blue of his irises.

Undeterred, I marched right up to him, my chin nearly touching his as I glared right up into his face, and promptly returned his stare. I really ought have put a little more control over my actions, but so infuriated and genuinely pissed, I couldn't even care less that we were acting like kids. At this point, any blow would do - any: even a low one would do, so long as I could increase my chances of winning this little exchange. "Yeah, trainer, really! What's it like devoting all your time to hanging out with happy little pokemon, huh? Nothing like meandering about like the rules don't even matter, mingling around with the fucking things that betrayed humanity, you dumbass! You freaking fell in love with our enemy!" I attempted to give him a shove backwards, only managing to force him back a step. "It's idiots like you that made it so we didn't see this coming!"

Of course, I didn't really mean what I said, even though at the time I was sure that I had. It wasn't often that I got so pissed that I lost track of what I meant and what I didn't. If I had an ounce of awareness of what I was saying, it would have taken me all the effort it took me to keep glaring at Ash to keep me from slamming my hand against the wall. At the moment, however, all I could focus on was how...frightening Ash suddenly looked. His eyes were hard to read exactly, because of the darkness, but I didn't have to see to know that his expression was positively murderous, teeth bearing in a scowl that, if I could see it, probably would have forced me a step back. His eyes...normally I would have found it intriguing, the way they seemed to be absorbing all of the light that went into them, but knowing how enraged he must have been, they seemed to be pits that extended straight down into oblivion. It was like staring into infinity...or maybe nothing at all. Maybe his eyes were portals to another dimension. Maybe it was the embodiment of evil in the eyes of a good boy at heart.

It doesn't really matter what it was...but the look in Ash's eyes scared the piss out of me. For a second, I thought for sure that he was going to hit me, or maybe just haul off and shoot me.

Fortunately, Dawn had apparently gathered the courage necessary to prevent that from happening, lightly placing a hand on his chest as she came to his side; it was hardly enough to hold him back, should he take a swing at me, but it seemed to have an effect of its own on him. "Ash," she said quietly - not in warning or begging, just a general statement like she was placing a name to him for the first time.

I didn't expect the gesture to work, but to my slight amazement, the intensity of Ash's glare decreased to a low simmer, shoulders slouching slightly as he relaxed. He stood there a moment, just looking at me, as if trying to gauge my real disposition. I kept the same cold expression on as before, but...I don't know. It just felt like, somehow, he was staring right through my defenses like they weren't even there.

After a little while, Ash decided he either did or didn't see what he wanted and turned away in a huff, muttering "Whatever" under his breath as he marched irritably away, going on ahead of us. You could all but hear the light screeching sound of steam venting out of his ears like a tea kettle.

Unsure whether to feel relieved, satisfied, or frightened, I went to move ahead myself, only to have Dawn stopped me with an equally light touch, though her expression was a slap in itself. "Just so you know," she hissed, eyes sparking like an open arc in a circuit, "when all of this started, Ash had to kill the best friend he'd ever had since he was ten. Think about that the next time you go pointing fingers about whose fault this is."

I opened my mouth to say something - anything - in my defense, scarcely able to stutter "I-I..." before she too turned away, hurrying ahead to catch up to a still fuming Ash.

I stood there a while, staring after them, mouth hanging open in preparation for the words that weren't coming any time soon, suddenly aware of how very stupid I was feeling. That was totally unlike me. I mean, sure, tensions were high, but I was an effing cop, for Mew's sake! Wasn't I the one that was supposed to keep a cool head when times were tough? Instead, here we were hitting a regular snag in our already makeshift and haphazard plan, and I was going off and making a complete ass of myself when I ought to be the one keeping my composure.

Finally noting how far I was from the group, I huffed a "Well, fuck," and moved to hurry up to the others; I felt like an ass, but I couldn't just let them walk off.

You know, the more we went up shit creek, the more I could attest to the notable lack of paddles. Hell, I don't even think we had a boat.


Fortunately, we could only do so much wandering around blindly before Arceus finally had mercy on us and showed us the light...specifically from the ceiling, illuminating a big orange ladder.

"'Alehluya!" Ash proclaimed, sloshing forward just a little bit faster. "Go into zeh light, my children!"

"Knock it off," I snapped, yanking him back by the arm. "Honestly, Ketchum...you think the pokemon aren't up there somewhere? That's the surface, idiot. You know, where we went to escape? Besides, if they know we're down here, they probably have every manhole for miles baited. They could be right up there waiting for us."

To this, Ash just shrugged. "That's why we've got guns."

"Also why they'd be up there waiting for us!"

Glancing up at the enticing spot of light raining down like...well, light from the heavens, Dawn looked wearily over to us. "Um...can we just get the hell out of here, please? I don't like being a sewer Raticate."

Couldn't argue with that - getting out of here sounded like a very, very good idea. But that wasn't to say that we were going to be careless about it. "Stick behind me," I informed them, gripping the ladder in preparation to ascend. "Stay right here until I say so, and when you do, get up as fast as you can: the less time we spend between levels, the better." That would be a perfect time to pick one of us off: when we were going up to the surface again. Then they could just nab the last person up and make it that much more likely that they could make a quick getaway. Some of those Mankeys had Primape with them...kidnappings weren't entirely out of the question, at this point.

After reading them the Riot Act, neither of them protested, leaving me to begin my climb, though with one hand occupied by a gun. Damned if I was going up there without it.

There was no manhole covering the manhole, leaving the white light from the street lamp free to shine down on the gun that popped straight up out of the hole, immediately followed by my head, scanning all around. It was dark, leaving it difficult to see, and the street light was playing hell with my night-vision, but for the most part it seemed pretty secure. I hissed down that the coast was clear, then quickly put some solid ground beneath my feet with noted enthusiasm. Finally...hard, dry land. I was almost ready to bow down and kiss the pavement. Almost; I wasn't really interested in kissing dried blood, though, so I restrained myself.

Dawn and Ash came up quickly behind me, both making landfall with audible sighs of relief, although it was less than it could have been; it beat being in the sewers, but being back in the city streets posed its own problems. Thankfully, however, we didn't have to be there for long - what little luck we had obtained had added up, as the manhole we had come out of were located not even a full block down from the Pokemon Center...or at least, what was left of it. That blood and glass littering the street like a carpet didn't just materialize out of nothing.

"Guess you didn't get us totally lost after all," I mused to no one in particular, though the comment was directed mostly at Ash. I caught him rolling his eyes out of the corner of my own, at which I cracked a grin, though only for a moment - after that, walls of steel came slamming back down, and after checking that my pistol was primed and ready, my Arceus-knows-what-drenched shoes provided a crisp crackling noise from the glass that had made up the front windows to the structure we had emerged in front of. "Come on. Let's check into the hospital."

I guess our doctor's appointment came early. All any of us could hope was that one of the things assigned to us wasn't a toe tag and a special spot in the morgue saved for our corpses.

I could live with a speckled bill of health, so long as I had a bill of health at all.


AN:

Helloooooooo~, loyal readers. Guess which story's back from hiatus~?

Hehe. Yeah, I know I promised a good boss battle way back when, but...well, I kinda got stuck. School started and my procrastination actually had an excuse to work with. God forbid laziness with justification, eh? xD

Well, I figured I ought to be able to put something into that empty spot everyone's been waiting for, so here it is. Thanks for your patience, guys, it's been one helluva summer, and the school year hasn't been much better so far. I think I'm going to be posting less and less as things go on, seeing as my free time's doing an equal downward spiral, but rest assured I will post updates eventually. You've done a good job with waiting so far, guys; I just hope you can excuse the wait. Life's a bitch. (so's your mother. OOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH~ -shot-)

Not the best ending in the world, but I'll make up for it in the next scene, ironically named "Intensive Care." Lols, hospital pun. -shot-

Happy pokemon apocalypse, everyone~!