After being defeated by Lenora her first time, Luna did some careful planning and returned once more to defeat the Nacrene Gym Leader. After a fierce battle, Luna was able to succeed, polishing off Lenora's Watchog with Blaze. Finally she earned her Basic Badge! But after the battle, Zoe suggested the two of them part ways before Luna heads into Pinwheel Forest. Luna reluctantly agreed, but wasn't saddened, knowing that she and Zoe would certainly meet again soon in the future. Now, she prepares to enter the Forest...
Journal of Dominic Mond, Tenth Entry
After talking with Grey a few more times, I secretly followed him home to his house. He hadn't wanted me to he dashed off in hopes of losing me, but I just had Pidgeot follow him from the skies. I felt a little uncomfortable doing it (I hope you don't think of your old dad as a creepy stalker, Luna) but if a child is in potential danger, I feel that that doesn't matter.
I knocked on the door. Grey was the one who opened it, and he looked surprised and angry to see me. He tried to slam the door in my face, but I stuck my shoe in the doorway and prevented it from closing. (You'd be surprised how sturdy a good pair of Dockers are.)
I asked to speak to his father. Grey absolutely refused to let me in. As much as I wanted to, I didn't push the subject, so I left.
I didn't see him at the Casteliacone today. I guess that's the end of it.
The trees were huge. That was the first thing Luna noticed as she treaded her first steps into the outside area of Pinwheel Forest the enormity of everything there. Untouched by human hands, the forest had been left to grow freely, so that foliage sprouted in thick clumps all around the woods.
Chewy plodded eagerly at Luna's side, taking in the numerous scents and sights. Only he and Laddie would be able to train today according to the Pokemon Center nurse, Blaze and Xander were to take a day off from any physical exertion because of their tough battle with Lenora. This was fine by Luna, but she couldn't help but feel a bit nervous she knew that all sorts of Pokemon dwelled within the forest, and with only two Normal-type Pokemon to face them all, she wondered if they'd make it out okay.
Once she had passed through the outer area, the surroundings became dinner as the trees began blocking out the sun. Luna immediately noticed the drop in temperature once she was a few feet in; with every step it became a little cooler.
Relief suddenly washed over Luna as she noticed that the trail split into two paths; an off-path that went through the deeper parts of the woods, and a main path that posed very little danger.
Maybe I can make it through to Castelia before I go back to train. I don't need to run the risk of getting lost in this forest just yet.
However, her hopes were dashed after just a short few minutes. Up ahead, very distinct yellow road blocks were set up right in the middle of the path, and a bright construction sign read Closed for Repairs. Indeed, the road did need repairs; part of it looked as if it had been torn apart by a Pokemon battle of some kind.
"Oh no," Luna murmured quietly to herself. Chewy glanced up at her, but did nothing.
Luna sighed. I guess it's okay. I had been expecting to travel through the worst part of the woods anyway. But I guess I had hoped... Shrugging it off, she turned around and trekked back until she was at the start of the other path.
Well...here goes nothing.
The Teddiursa looked up guiltily from the Venipede he had just knocked out.
Luna let out a long breath and ran her fingers through her hair. "I'm glad you're getting stronger, Chewy, but if possible I'd like to catch another teammate before you knock them out!"
Chewy growled softly.
"Just try to go easy on them next time, okay?"
Luna sighed, but pride swelled deep in her chest. Her precious companions were gaining strength by the day, and it warmed her heart to see them working so hard for her. Especially because it was paying off at this rate, they would have no trouble getting through the forest. Luna's worries had been needless.
Gently Luna tiptoed around the Venipede and continued on her way, listening carefully for any signs of another wild Pokemon. Sure enough, it was only a few moments later when Luna caught a movement in the corner of her eye.
Chewy didn't need any orders. With a glance from his Trainer, the chubby little bear was in pursuit, teeth bared in anticipation of a fight. Luna raced after him, though it was hard to keep up; it seemed that she lost Chewy each time she caught up to him.
When Luna finally found him, a shocking sight awaited her. Chewy was caught in a vicious fight against a Sewaddle. Blood trickled from a cut near the Teddiura's eye and fur flew everywhere, yet despite the hits Chewy was still flailing furiously against the bug Pokemon.
"Chewy, Chewy, stop it!" Luna tentatively took a few steps forward, but then stopped, unsure of how she could break up the fight. Then she had an idea. Quickly she reached for Chewy's Pokeball and returned him in a flash of red light; the injured Sewaddle took the opportunity to flee.
Luna released Chewy and looked over him in concern. Aside from the cut and the various scrapes and scratches, he didn't appear to be too badly injured, but he was panting with exhaustion.
"That's it, then," Luna declared firmly. "No more battling for you today." She returned Chewy to his Pokeball again and released Laddie. The Lillipup glanced up at her with a calm gaze. "I guess that means it's your time to shine now, Laddie!"
It was then that Luna felt a small stirring in her chest, a slight pang of unease. She vaguely wondered if perhaps she should go back to Nacrene; with three out of four Pokemon out for battling, it surely wouldn't be a good idea to try the rest of the forest alone. The Pinwheel Forest Pokemon were a lot tougher than she had anticipated.
But then again, Luna reasoned, Blaze and Xander will be ready to battle tomorrow, and Laddie needs training anyway. It'll be dark soon anyhow, and as soon as I set up camp it'll be fine; Laddie can handle any of the Pokemon here anyway. Nothing bad will happen.
As it turned out, Luna was dead wrong.
A couple of hours later, Luna had set up a campfire and laid out her sleeping bag. Chewy, Blaze and Xander were still resting inside their Pokeballs, but Laddie was still out. Despite a long day of training, the Lillipup didn't appear to be too exhausted so Luna allowed him to stay out.
Luna doused the fire and crawled into her sleeping bag. As soon as her head hit the pillow she found that her eyelids were becoming heavy and sleep was already overtaking her. She noticed Laddie sitting up and alert a few feet away.
"Laddie," she mumbled, "C'mere. You don't have to sit all the way over there..." The Lillipup, however, ignored his trainer's words and continued to sit vigilantly alert. Then Luna understood.
"Oh, you're keeping watch?" Laddie's tail wagged ever so slightly. "Good boy, Laddie. Good boy..."
As the girl finally dozed off, Laddie continued to stay alert, his tail thumping ever so quietly on the moonlight ground.
Maybe it was the acrid burning smell that woke up Luna. Or perhaps it was Laddie's frantic yipping. Whichever it was, by the time she jolted awake, both were overloading her senses.
Luna sat up and immediately began coughing. Smoke was everywhere. Where was it coming from? She looked at her own fire; completely out. The source of the smoke was elsewhere.
Then she spotted an orange flicker above the trees in the distance, rapidly moving closer. Fire! There's a forest fire! We need to get out! She stumbled out of her sleeping bag and recklessly began shoving things into her pack in a disorganized manner, including her Pokeballs.
Pokeballs. Wait...Laddie! "Laddie! Laddie, where are you?" The urge to cough again rattled her lungs, but Luna did her best to stifle it. "Laddie, where are you?"
The Lillipup's barks were near. Luna stumbled around the clearing until she finally found the puppy Pokemon. "Laddie, Laddie, calm down, I'm awake now. Thank you for waking me up, we need to go now..."
But Laddie didn't relent in his barking. If anything, he seemed to be more urgent. His entire body was bouncing with the force of his yips. There was something beyond the smoke, something more important than the fire, that he wanted Luna to see...
Then she saw it. Oh God, no.
At first, Luna hadn't been able to see them because they blended so well with the leafy foliage. But even through the smoke, their eyes gleamed with a malevolent shine. It was a massive swarm of Sewaddle, all eerily still in the midst of the quiet crackle of the flames. Luna recalled the Sewaddle that Chewy had injured earlier, and then thought about the fire.
They must be extremely agitated...what should I do? What if they attack? Trying to remember what her father had taught her about wild Pokemon, Luna decided on her course of action.
"Alright, come here, Laddie...no sudden movements..." Slowly she scooped up the Lillipup and began backing away, not making any eye contact with the Sewaddle.
All was going well until a loud groaning noise reached Luna's ears. She glanced up just in time to see a flaming tree make its crashing descent onto the earth. Luna shrieked as it fell, the nearby ground shaking from the impact. She hadn't realized just how close the flames really were, but now bits of burning leaves and branches were raining down everywhere.
Luna wasn't concerned about being slow anymore. We have to get out NOW. She started to run, doing her best to weave her way around the plants and flames. She wasn't on the path anymore, and so she found herself constantly jumping over trunks and dodging around trees.
Behind her, she heard an ominous hum as the Sewaddle began to rapidly move in on her. Why are they acting so aggressively?! Remembering a little of what her father had taught her, Luna recalled that in a situation like this, most Pokemon would be fleeing the fire, but these Pokemon seemed to want nothing more than to attack Luna.
Something was dreadfully wrong.
Luna soon found herself gasping for air as she continued stumbling through the forest. The smoke grated on her lungs; that, compared with her panicked running and having to carry her bag and Laddie, wore her down quickly.
Luna had to slow down to get out a bout of coughing when, without warning, her foot caught on a stray root. She hit the ground hard. Laddie tumbled out of her arms and rolled on the ground. Luna scrambled to her feet just as the swarm of Sewaddle descended upon them.
"LaddieAAUGH!" The Sewaddle were everywhere. Luna swung her arms wildly, trying to bat them away. She blindly reached for her bag and desperately attempted to grab a Pokeball, but it was soon thrown from her hands, and she couldn't find it after that.
A burst of golden light suddenly shone in front of Luna's eyes. She had to cover her face for a moment; when she removed her arms, the Sewaddle had scattered. Laddie stood strong and defiant, larger than before; he was now a newly evolved Herdier.
Determined to protect his mistress, Laddie stood his ground in front of her as the previously startled Sewaddle began to regroup.
"Laddie," Luna said shakily, "Come here." Laddie ignored her orders.
"Laddie," Luna pleaded, "Please come here. We need to get away. Now!"
Laddie still made no move to leave from his spot. He stood unwavering among the bits of burning forest. As the Sewaddle came down to attack again, the last thing Luna saw was a glimpse of Laddie's hackles rising.
This time, the Sewaddle aimed all their focus on Laddie. Luna was left ignored as the swarm grouped around the Herdier. Luna desperately tried to get them away, but to no avail.
Tears of desperation sprung in Luna's eyes. "Stop it! Stop it! Get away! LADDIE!"
Luna's head whipped around. Of all the people to show up at that moment, the very last one she would have expected was Zoe. She was dressed in strange clothes; a red vest over a black-and-white shirt, and dark gray shorts underneath. Accompanied with red-and-white gloves and sneakers, Luna didn't know what to think. What is Zoe
"Luna, I'm here to help." Zoe's voice wasn't her usual easygoing smooth tone, but a sharp, commanding sound. "Get back!" Numbly Luna watched as Zoe took out a strange device that shot out a disc; a pale blue beam followed the disc as it shot towards the Sewaddle.
Several of the Pokemon scattered away when the disc shot towards them; the ones who stayed were surrounded in the ring of light and almost instantly calmed down as soon as the disc completed its circles. One by one Zoe calmed the swarm with her strange device.
"Luna," Zoe said again, "I'll take care of the Sewaddle. You need to get Laddie to a Pokemon Center. Now."
Too afraid to argue any further, Luna hurried to Laddie's side. She took in a sharp, shuddering breath when she saw him. The Sewaddle had injured him severely; to what extent, she didn't know, but the amount of blood was almost too much to bear.
Tears instantly began streaming from her eyes as Luna gently scooped Laddie into her arms and dashed away from the clearing. This couldn't be happening. This can't be real.
But it was. Each pounding footstep, each hiccupping breath, each inhalation of thick smoke screamed out this is really happening. But more than anything, anything in the world at that very moment, Luna wished it was just a nightmare.
Luna almost collapsed with relief when she felt Laddie stir in her arms. Slowly the newly evolved Herdier opened one eye and gazed up at his mess of a mistress eyes streaming, nose running pathetically, hiccupping and shaking from sobs.
More to comfort herself than Laddie, Luna began to murmur words under her breath. "It'll be okay, Laddie...you're a good boy...you're such a good boy...good dog, Laddie. Good dog. Good dog..."
The Herdier slowly closed his eyes as Luna continued to methodically chant her comforting words.
"I love you, Laddie. I love you, I love you, good boy, I love you..."
It was a quiet night in the Nacrene Pokemon Center. No one milled about in the waiting area; the only person in sight was a receptionist nurse who quietly shuffled papers behind the counter.
The slow evening, however, was soon disrupted. The automatic doors slid open and in burst a white-haired teenage girl, barefoot and dressed in pajamas, covered in blood, holding a bundle of fur in her arms.
"Please help me!" she practically screamed, her throat hoarse and hysterical. "He's hurt, I mean, Laddie, m-my Lillipup, I mean, I mean my Herdier, he's hurt really b-badly, s-some Sewaddle attacked, the fire..."
The nurse calmly hurried out from behind the counter and inspected the girl's Pokemon. The Herdier had been hurt badly; the cuts from the razor attacks of the Sewaddle caused him to lose a lot of blood. The girl, too, was a mess; her face was dirty from smoke, and streaked with tears. The nurse signaled for a Chansey and the large pink Pokemon quickly wheeled out a stretcher.
"What happened?" the nurse asked steadily.
The girl took in a few deep breaths to calm herself, but it wasn't enough to keep the remaining sobs from heaving in her voice. "I w-was camping in Pinwheel Forest when Laddie, my Lillipup, woke me up...there's a f-fire..." The nurse gently took the Herdier from the girl's arms, felt for a pulse, and laid him on the stretcher.
"...and then this swarm of Sewaddle attacked. We tried to run, b-but then I tripped and they caught up and then Laddie evolved and now he's hurt and "
"I see," the nurse interjected. The level of panic was rising in the girl's voice, and the last thing she needed was a hysterical Trainer. Gently she put her hand on the girl's shaking shoulders as the Chansey wheeled away the Herdier. "You need to go and clean yourself up. I promise that we'll do all we can to help your Herdier."
The nurse didn't have the heart to tell the girl that the Herdier was already dead.
To be continued...