It was almost dark when Li, Petra, and Aldern arrived at the Pokemon Center to find Officer Jenny waiting for them. “You three,” she said stopping them at the door. “You all were part of the events the night of the festival. If you have time, I would like to take an official statement from you at the station.” Petra waved a pokeball at her as if to say ’we’re busy’ and officer Jenny stepped aside so they could get to Nurse Joy, “Oh, by all means, heal your pokemon.”
Once the pokemon had been restored, the three of them followed Officer Jenny to the police station. Inside they found a fair number of people already gathered in the waiting room — the town’s resident pokemon palentologist, Professor Yew, her assistant, Cherri, Mayor Deverin, and a lady in the uniform of the Pokemon Rangers. Jenny invited the three friends to have a seat, and turned to those already present.
“These are the ones I told you about,” she said. “Li here helped stop the fires the night of the festival with his quick thinking, though the damage to the water tower will take quite some time to repair, and Petra is the one who spotted the man releasing the wild pokemon into the town.” She motioned to Li first, and asked each of them to explain everything they saw that night, nodding and mm-hmming along, and jotting down details in a notebook.
When Petra had finished, Professor Yew stood up. “Office Jenny, I took the liberty of examining the fallen archway in the graveyard that you mentioned spotting when you were chasing that man. It appears that the key-stone had been deliberately removed. Cherri did some follow-up and it appears that there is no mention of that arch’s construction in the town’s records…”
“Odd,” Jenny remarked, making a note in her book.
“Yeah,” Cherri quipped, “it’s definitely an odd keystone.”
“While I cannot say if it is truly related,” the Ranger broke in, “your description of the pokemon attack on the town is similar to what I’ve been seeing elsewhere in the area. Only a day ago, a farm south of Mosswood was burnt to the ground by a group of Fletchinders, and I’ve witnessed large outbreaks of pokemon elsewhere as well: swarms of Totodile near the limestone caves along the western edge of the Devil’s Platter, Croagunks infesting the Brinestump Marsh, Snubbull in Shank’s Wood, the largest outbreak of Turtwigs I’ve ever seen in the Mosswood, and an unusually large numbers of Cacnea at Thistletop and the other islands off the Nettlewood coast. All of these species are uncommon for the area and all of them have been unusually aggressive, attacking travelers and settlements en-masse.”
“Like the joltik that attacked us today!” Petra exclaimed.
“Oh?” Jenny raised an eyebrow.
Petra, Li, and Aldern quickly explained their encounter with the swarm of joltiks earlier that same day. “Could this keystone be letting the bad guys control wild pokemon somehow?” Petra finished.
As the gathered parties sat speculating, a girl came into the station clutching a note in her hand and looking quite shaken. Li recognized her as ‘Bethany’, their waiter at the restaurant the night before. “Oh, you’re busy I should come back later…”
Jenny put an arm around the girl and guided her to a seat. “What seems to be the trouble?”
Bethany explained that her boss, Ameiko, had not shown up for work that morning, and had not said anything to the staff about being out. When she did not show up for the dinner shift, the head chef called but received no answer, so they sent Bethany to check if she was home sick. When she got to Ameiko’s house, she found the back door ajar, and this note sitting on the kitchen table…
“May I see the letter?” Jenny asked. When Bethany handed it over, Jenny skimmed it her eyes wide, then read it aloud.
I hope this letter finds you well, and with some free time on your hands, because we’ve got something of a problem. It’s to do with father. Seems that he might have had something to do with Sandpoint’s recent wild pokémon troubles, and I didn’t want to bring the matter to the authorities because we both know he’d just weasel his way out of it. You’ve got some pull here in town, though. If you can meet me at the Gym at midnight tonight, maybe we can figure out how to make sure he faces the punishment he deserves. Knock twice and then three times more and then once more at the delivery entrance and I’ll let you in.
I don’t have to impress upon you the delicate nature of this request. If news got out, you know these local rubes would assume that you and I were in on the whole thing too, don’t you? They’ve got no honor at all around these parts. I still don’t understand how you can stand to stay here.
Anyway, don’t tell anyone about this. There are other complications as well, ones I’d rather talk to you in person about tonight. Don’t be late.
“Tsuto?” Li exclaimed, “I battled him yesterday. His sandshrew is SUPER strong!”
“I’m going to check it out,” Jenny said. “Thank you all for coming and for your testimonies. Prefessor, Mayor, I’ll let you know as soon as I’ve learned anything more…”
“I’m coming to,” Li said, matter-of-factly.
“Me too!” Petra agreed.
Jenny paused for a minute, then shrugged. “Alright, meet me out front in 2 minutes,” she said, then raced to the back of the station.
The three of them raced to the Glassworks, Li and Petra on their ponytas and Jenny on her motorcycle. They arrived to see light coming from Tsuto’s office window on the second floor.
“I’m going to look,” Li said. Before Jenny or Petra could object he sprinted ahead and began climbing the brick edifice to the window. He just managed to peek in to see three people talking before losing his grip and falling to the ground with a loud thud. There was a rush of activity and a silhouette could be seen looking out the window.
Petra, skirting along the wall, grabbed Li and pulled him into the shadows. “You’ve blown it. We have to get inside, now!” Jenny whispered. She pulled out a pokeball and a large swanna flew out. “Get on,” she said to the two kids, then “Swanna Fly!”
They swooped up to one of the upper windows of the factory floor, which, as usual, were left open for ventilation. “Now go let us in,” Jenny whispered. Li looped a rope over the protruding bit of wrought-iron window-casement, shimmied through the narrow window opening, and rappelled down to the factory floor. As his feet hit the ground, he spotted two people in dark suits with large red “R’s” on the chests sprinting out of Tsuto’s office.
“Now!” Jenny shouted. Li lifted the latch on the front door and Jenny and Petra burst in. He pointed at the running rockets but then Tsuto came out of his office, vaulted over the railing, and landed between them and the fleeing criminals. He pulled a large lever and one of the still-glowing vats of molten glass began to tip over, pouring out, not glass, but a mass of wild Slugmas.
“I’ll take care of Tsuto,” Jenny said to Li and Petra, “get the other two!” She pulled out another pokeball, “Gastly, Mean Look!”
Li and Petra didn’t need any more convincing, they took off running after the Rockets who were heading for a door at the far end of the factory floor. They dodged around tables and tools, leaped over slugmas, and reached the door only a few strides behind the two Team Rocket members.
Behind the door were a flight of stairs leading down, which the longer-legged criminals were racing down, leaping three-to-four steps at a stride. “Woh,” Petra said, slowing and grabbing Li’s shirt from behind, “you could break your neck running on stairs like that.” The two children proceeded more cautiously than the criminals they were chasing, but lost sight of them because of it.
“Ponyta!” Li said, tossing a pokeball, catch them. Ponyta raced ahead of them through the door at the bottom of the stairs, but was suddenly thrown backwards and knocked out. Petra flicked on her flashlight and saw a short, bipedal pokemon with a tall red crest on its head and what-looked like baggy pants around its legs.
“Is it wild?” Petra asked.
Li shrugged, “Sandygast go!” Sandygast exploded out of its pokeball only to be hit instantly with a feint attack from the scrafty, nearly knocking it out. “Sandygast return!” Li said in a panic. He pulled out a knife, ready to take the pokemon on himself, but was blown backwards and nearly broke a rib from the first headbutt. “Go, Joltik! Crosspoison!” The scrafty was quick, and tough, but its feint attack was not nearly so effective on the bug as it had been on the ghost, and a second hit from joltik’s powerful cross poison killed it outright.
Li and Petra stepped through the door into what looked like a mine to feed the factory above, with walls of rough-dug sandstone and loose piles of slag ans silicate scattered about. The tunnel was long and dark, but only ran one way. They flipped on their flashlights and picked up speed, til they came to a fork.
“Ummm, right?” Li asked.
Petra nodded, “I’m following you…”
The took the right branch until they found a wooden door, ajar, in the right-hand wall. Beyond that was a proper hallway, smooth-worked walls and right angles, and old looking. Li and Petra moved cautiously. The hallway forked again, and again they went right into a wider corridor, until they eventually came to a set of large double doors. One door hung open, and beyond they could see a huge, long room.
“Like a gym…” Li said.
A large pool was in the middle of the room, wide and deep enough for swimming, apparently fed by a spring bubbling out of a large, square piece of porous black rock. They saw movement in their light and leaped in to see the Rocket grunt, a woman, about to escape through a far door.
“Hey!” Petra yelled.
“Kids?” The Rocket spun and tossed out a pokeball. “Go home kids. Croagunk,” a froglike pokemon appeared from the ball, “show them the way out…”
“Go Poochyena! Double Kick!”
“Go Joltik! Absorb!”
Neither attack was particularly effective, though neither was Croagunk’s counter. “Two on one?” the Rocket quipped, “hardly fair. Scraggy go!” A fourth pokemon joined the fray, leering at both kids pokemon. The kids’ pokemon attacked again, but Croagunk and Scraggy were too fast, beating both to a stand-still.
“Petra, flying types are strong against fighting,” Li said, and the two kids sent out Wingull and Taillow. Taillow lead with a tailwind and wingull followed up with icy wind, evening the speed differential. The birds dodged the first counter-offensive from the Rocket’s fighting pokemon, then beat them back with another double-blast of icy wind and gust.
Then Croagunk landed a poison sting on wingull and Scraggy tagged taillow with a powerful low kick. Taillow, on its last legs after only one hit, dive-bombed scraggy with endeavor knocking it to only 1 hit point before being downed by a second low kick. Petra’s pidove then joined the fray and finished off both croagunk and scraggy with another gust plus icy wind combo.
“Give up,” Li said.
“No. My partner has already gotten away by now. You kids are tough, if you join Team Rocket, I might be inclined to let you live. Salandit go! Dragon Rage!” Her third pokemon appeared with a flash and dropped wingull with one hit.
“Tepig, Fire Pledge!” Li yelled, as Petra’s pidove attempted another gust attack. The salandit was clearly hurt, and quickly gobbled a berry, then belched, knocking pidove out with its foul breath. Petra responded by sending out Joltik, who webbed the saladit, sticking it to the wall, while Tepig hit it with tackle.
The salandit burned itself free of the webs with ember, but while it was so occupied, Petra’s joltik webbed the Rocket, and Li’s Tepig blasted her with fire pledge. The webs were burned off, but the rocket screamed in agony as most of her hair was as well. “Salandit, kill them!”
Salandit’s dragon rage took out Tepig. But then both salandit and it’s trainer were webbed, as Li sent out his Joltik as well. Both Joltik’s rushed the webbed Salandit and, despite being minimally effective, knocked it out with a combo of absorb and poison sting.
“Hey kids,” the Rocket said from where she was webbed to the wall, “let me go and I’ll trade you one of my pokemon…”
Li looked excited, “Can I have your Salandit?”
Li quickly cut her down. “Thanks kid,” she said, and started running.
“What?!” Li looked honestly shocked.
“Nope! You’re going to jail!” Petra said as her joltik hit the Rocket with another web. Petra had joltik wrap her up tight, then turned to Li. “Help me drag her back to Officer Jenny…”
They dragged the Rocket girl back to the stairs where they met Officer Jenny coming down. Jenny looked quite upset. “Tsuto got away,” she said. “But I’m glad you two had better luck. Good work. Let’s get this one back to the station for questioning.” She called her swanna to fly the prisoner out.