He had no idea how long he'd closed his eyes.
Leo groaned and looked around. His first sight was an open window, overlooking a city. A breeze drifted in, ruffling his hair. The scent of the sea greeted him with its passing.
The sea? How'd he get to the sea?
Nothing seemed familiar to him. His neck, arm, and shoulder hurt the worst, giving him a painful reminder that he was injured. Leo sat up, nearly collapsing when he overused his injured arm. His mind felt foggy, and it was hard to think. Leo looked around the room again, trying to figure out where he had wound up. He was laying on a cot in a room with white walls. he noticed several machines against the wall. Some of them were connected to him, screens alight with numbers and graphs he didn't understand. Was this a hospital?
A barking by the foot of his bed got his attention, and he looked its way. A Growlithe had its paws up by the left side of his feet. The Pokémon panted happily and leaped on the bed, trotting into his lap in a few strides. Leo was bewildered. Whose Pokémon was that and why was it coming at him like that? He was surprised when the energetic pup yipped and licked him on the nose. It yelped again, wagging its fluffy tail and rubbing its soft head on his uninjured right shoulder. He stared at the puppy. Why did this Pokémon seem so...familiar?
The last thing he could remember was running from...something...What was he running from?
The more he tried to think, the more confused he became.
How had he been hurt like this?
How did he get here?
What was that Pokémon doing here?
How long had it been?
What day was it?
He was starting to get frustrated with himself. He looked at the Growlithe again. It seemed to have picked up on his anger and stood quietly, staring at him with big, black eyes and a lowered tail. He held a hand out carefully, letting the Pokémon sniff him. Leo was surprised when the friendly dog licked his hand and rubbed its chin on his arm. That made him smile, and he stroked its fluffy ears. The Pokémon seemed to know him. Leo didn't know this one though. That was when a cold reality hit him.
He couldn't remember anything. Why the hell couldn't he remember?!
The sound of the door opening made him look. A red-haired girl stood in the doorway, an Axew at her side. She looked at him warmly and approached.
"Leo! You're awake! I'm so glad!" She hugged him gently, avoiding his injured shoulder.
Leo pushed her off. “Who the hell are you?!” He blurted, more upset than he'd meant to show. He didn't appreciate this stranger's affections at all. The trainer looked at him, her happy expression quickly changing to concern.
“It's me. I'm Amber, remember?”
Amber? The name meant nothing to him. This “Amber” seemed to know him somehow though. “How do you know my name?” He asked, more calmly this time.
Amber frowned at him. “You...are you kidding me? That's not funny, Leo.”
Leo was starting to get angry again. “Look, I don't know who you are, where I am, what happened: I don't know anything, dammit!” Amber took a step away, clearly taken aback by his outburst. Leo shook his head a little. Snapping didn't make him feel better at all; it just made him feel rotten. Especially with that rather pitiful look Amber was giving him. “Sorry. I'm kinda mad now. My head's all screwed up.”
Amber looked down at him. She pulled a chair up next to Leo's bed and sat down beside him. “You seriously don't remember me?” Leo just looked at her. Was she for real? He just said as much!
Amber sighed and continued. “I...I was hoping the doctor was wrong. All that stuff about memory loss and...” She sniffled a little.
Memory loss? "What do you mean? What happened?"
Amber blinked and paused for a moment. “You don't remember that attack either?” Leo shook his head. “The Houndour? The Houndoom? Anything?” Leo shook his head again. He was beginning to get the sense that Amber was pretty dense. “We got attacked on Route 19. If it weren't for you and Flare, we would've been killed.”
"Who's Flare?" Leo asked.
Amber seemed even more shocked, her big eyes getting larger with astonishment. “Even Flare? Your Pokémon?! She's your best friend!”
Leo thought for a moment. Was she talking about the Growlithe? He looked back at the Pokémon, who was still sitting on his bed by his side. The Growlithe tipped its head at him and barked, lunging forward and licking him again.
Amber snatched up the dog. “Flare! Be careful! You'll hurt him.” Flare's ears dropped down and she whined, tail wagging slowly. Something about that Growlithe felt kind and familiar to him. He decided he liked the little pup.
“It's fine. Put it down. Flare can stay.” Leo said.
“Hear that, girl?” Amber said to Flare, setting the dog down beside Leo, “Just be careful, okay?” Flare nodded and licked Amber's nose.
Leo tried to think for a moment. All he knew was that this stranger seemed to know what happened to him. She seemed to know him, but how? Leo decided to trust her for now. Amber might know more.
“Amber?” Leo asked, “What the hell happened to me? Why am I bandaged up in a hospital bed?”
Amber looked at Leo. “It's...” She looked away and sighed, “It's my fault. I'm sorry. If I only kept going... I'm the reason you're hurt. That Houndoom tried to kill you, and I couldn't stop it. If I had a Pokémon, if I were stronger...then I...” Amber was starting to cry.
Leo got the idea. Somehow, he and Amber were on Route 19 when some wild Pokémon attacked them. Amber just had a bad case of guilt because she wasn't hurt. At least, he thought so. His head was pounding and Leo was beginning to feel tired. He lowered himself back down on the bed.
“I think I get the picture,” he said, if only to keep Amber from bawling, “I'm tired. My head feels like a Donphan sat on it.”
Amber nodded and got up. “Yeah. I better let you rest, huh? You just woke up and everything.”
“How long has it been?”
Amber turned back around. “Well, its been five days since you came here.”
Five days?! Leo blinked in surprise. “I was out for five days...?”
Amber nodded. “Yeah. Don't overdo it, okay? Fang and I will just practice battles or something.” She cast a forlorn glance over a shoulder at him, and Leo looked at the two as they left.
What was that about?
He was very sleepy all of a sudden. He decided to try to figure more out later. Sleep came quickly to the two, and human and Pokémon quickly fell asleep.
Amber sighed and slumped down against the wall. She was numb. Leo really didn't remember anything! It was just like that doctor said! Total amnesia. She hugged her knees and looked down at the floor. She had been looking forward to talking with Leo about what happened earlier with Gloria and those Silicon people. He hardly even seemed like the same guy. Amber shook her head. Maybe he was just tired. That's it, tired. He just woke up after all.
She felt a tug on her braid and looked up. Fang was pulling on her hair, looking right into Amber's eyes. She couldn't help feeling like he understood, like he was telling her, “It's gonna be okay.”
She smiled a bit and hugged the Pokémon. He squeaked, but seemed to tolerate the embrace. “Oh Fang,” Amber said, “you're worried, huh?” She stood up, putting the little Axew down. “I...I'll be okay.” She sighed again. She said that more to convince herself than to Fang. She just couldn't shake her guilt.
Amber remembered Gloria was waiting in the lobby. She walked back down the hall and into the waiting room. Strangely, she wasn't there. Amber wondered where she went. She thought Gloria had told her to wait at the hospital. Just as she left the lobby to look for her, Amber was distracted by a wriggling in her backpack.
The egg! Was it finally hatching?!
Amber couldn't hide her excitement. Right there in front of the hospital doors, she sat down and removed her bag. She excitedly dug out the egg, holding the emerging baby in her hands. A crack appeared. First, slowly, then more rapidly, a long black blade slipped out of the side of the egg.
Amber's eyes went wide and she nearly dropped the egg in surprise. What the heck kind of Pokémon had something like that!? Her wonder was answered when the black blade sliced down the eggshell, and a small, white Pokémon tumbled out. The tiny Pokémon landed square in her lap, opening a pair of red eyes.
Amber blinked in surprise. Another unfamiliar Pokémon! This one was just as unusual to her as Fang was when she first met him. It was a four-legged type with a decidedly cat-like build. One large, black, blade-like horn swept out from the right side of its head. That must be what she saw cut through the egg earlier. It sported a black, oval patch on its forehead. A triangle-shaped patch on its face was also ebony, made more striking by its sharp, red eyes. A tuft of fur on its chest and the left side of its head was longer than its body fur. Three tiny black claws adorned its feet and it twitched a black, wing-like tail. Looking up at her, Amber saw the Pokémon blink and look at her for several moments.
“M...mama?” It said, tilting its horned head.
Amber's mouth fell open. Did that Pokémon just say...mama?!
“Mama! Mama-mama!” it cried, leaping up and hugging Amber with its forelegs. Amber was still in shock. The Pokémon did say mama! It talks!
She looked down at the little Pokémon again. It was quite cute, the way it looked back at its “mama” with those red eyes. She smiled and stroked its soft fur, and the baby cooed, leaning its head into her arm, already mindful of its sharp blade.
So cute! Amber decided she really liked the baby. It needed a good name. She looked carefully at the little Pokémon. It reminded her of a Purrloin, sort of. A cat-like name might suit the baby. More scrutiny led her to believe the Pokémon was male. A male, cat's name it was then. She grinned, suddenly inspired by the night. Shadow: that would be its name.
“I'll call you Shadow!” Amber said aloud, petting his head.
“Shaa...dohh!” Shadow repeated, “Sha-doh! Shadow!”
Amber chuckled. Little Shadow was one fast learner! He was already trying to learn his name! She glanced over at Fang, who was looking at Shadow with his classic glare.
“Look, Fang!” Amber beamed, putting one hand on the Axew's back, “You're a brother now!” Fang leaned over and sniffed Shadow.
“F...fuh...fuhg!” Shadow blurted, looking right at Fang.
Amber laughed out loud. “No, Shadow. Say Fang.”
“Faaang!” Shadow tried, “Fang!”
Amber smiled again. “Good boy, Shadow! That's it!” She stood up, still carrying the Pokémon in her arms. Shadow wriggled out of her arms and jumped nimbly down, claws clicking on the concrete.
“Gub bhoy!” Shadow mimed. He looked up at Amber expectantly. Amber burst out laughing. What a silly little handful! She smiled and looked up, her good mood back. The egg had this adorable little...Pokémon inside along!
She decided to wait for Gloria to come back. Maybe she knew what he was. Gloria had told her to wait for her at the hospital anyway. She seemed concerned about those Silicon Movement weirdos.
Why worry, Amber figured. They wanted the egg, right? Amber didn't have an egg anymore; she had Shadow now. They didn't have any reason to bug her any more! Amber leaned back against the wall, grinning at nobody in particular.
Dark shadows moving at the edge of the streetlights caught her attention. She looked their way and took a few steps forward.
“Mama!” Said Shadow. He suddenly jumped in front of Amber and shook his head at her.
“Huh?” Amber looked at him confused. “What's gotten into you?” Her question remained unanswered; Shadow was looking at something coming their way. Amber's attention was now on a woman who had approached her. She was a strange-looking person; she was wearing a long, black trench coat and a fedora that obscured most of her features, but that wasn't the weird part.
The left side of her face was under a mask of some kind. It was a metalwork, steel mask that contained few resemblances to a human-like face, save for a gleaming, blue light where an “eye” should be. The woman's right side seemed human enough though. A lock of jet-black hair trailed out of the fedora and blew across her face as the woman's one dark eye met Amber's own eyes.
“You're the one,” The woman said firmly. She extended her hand to Amber, “You may call me Solstice. Come closer to me so we can talk.” The hand was not a human's hand. It was a metal appendage with three finger-like claws where fingers should be.
Amber's eyes got big and she stepped back. This “Solstice” woman reminded her of the creeps from earlier. Except the men weren't robots!
Solstice lowered her “hand.” “I see,” she said, slipping her it into her pocket, “so that's how it is. You fear my strange looks, yes?” The words were those of curiosity, but her face showed no expression.
“I don't know you,” Amber replied, backing towards the doors, “Stay away! You're weird.”
Solstice shook her head. “Don't do that.”
Amber yelped in surprise as she ran into a person instead of the door. An arm lunged forward and grabbed her by the wrists. He was surprisingly strong; he held Amber still almost effortlessly. Her attempts to pull her hands loose were nothing to his vice-grip. She pulled forward, but stopped when she felt something cold press on her temple.
“Stop squirming, or I'll make you stop,” A man's voice growled behind her. Amber recognized the voice: Argent. Argent waved the object in her face. It was a small handgun, black steel glinting in the night. Amber fell quiet, terrified.
“Good girl.” Argent moved his arm around Amber's shoulders, keeping a tight hold on her wrists.
“Good work, Argent,” Solstice said, her expressionless face showing so signs of appreciation.
“Lemme go!” Blurted Amber as she tried to pull away again, “I don't like this!”
“You've left us no choice.” Growled Argent, “You could have just been a good girl, but you had to get Team Night involved. Now both you and the Absol come with us.”
“You're hurting me!” Amber cried out loud. She was trying to make noise so maybe someone could hear her.
Argent stuck his gun under her chin. “Don't make me kill you. It's messy.” Amber froze, more scared than ever now.
“W...what's going on?!” She muttered, staring at Solstice.
Solstice coldly shook her head. “You have something that belongs to me. Return it to me and I'll let you live.”
“Prepare for trouble!” A voice from nearby suddenly declared. Amber barely had time to be confused before a pair of people stepped into the light: a boy and a girl, both about Amber's age. They were dressed in dark blue uniforms, each adorned with a symbol on the chest. The symbol was a pale blue V with a gold crescent moon on the left, turning the V into a stylized N. Amber was perplexed further as they continued their odd phrases.
“Make it double!” The boy declared, rolling a Pokéball down his arms and catching it deftly.
“To protect the world from cruel predation!” The girl responded as a Vulpix jumped off her shoulder.
“To unite the people in every nation!” The boy chimed in. Amber was getting more and more confused as the pair continued their weird ditty.
“To defend the beauties of truth and love!”
“To make our peace with the stars above”
“Team Night! We'll blast S outta sight!”
“Give up now or you'll lose to our light!”
Amber was baffled. What the heck was that about? Solstice seemed confused, but she had her back to Amber. She couldn't tell.
Argent clearly wasn't amused and jabbed Amber in the throat with his gun. “Shut it you clowns! One more move and I'll blow her head off!”
The blue-haired girl, Sarah, she'd called herself, glared. “You cowards!”
Argent was backing along the side of the building, dragging Amber with him. She was beginning to panic. She was sure he was going to kill her!
Fang suddenly lunged up and bit Argent in the arm. He shouted and flailed his arm, one shot going wild as he flung the angry dragon off. Amber tried to tear away, but he still had her hands in his grip. She didn't stop and tried to twist away only to come face-to-face with Argent. He was glaring harshly at her. Dark green hair fell in front of harsh blue eyes and the light gleamed off of scarred, tan skin. He spun her back around and locked his open arm around Amber's front, squeezing her breasts awkwardly. Furious, Amber tried to kick the pervert in the nuts, but her foot got caught in his trench coat. He caught her as she stumbled, lifting her into the air and hitting her with the butt of his gun. Amber shrieked and thrashed, desperately trying to break free. Argent was like a Pokémon! So strong! Or maybe she was weak.
Argent spun around and shot again into the dark. A growl of some kind was the only response. Amber saw a small shape emerge into the light. It was a small, brown fox: the Vulpix that Sarah had earlier. Its lips were pulled back and it was snarling at Argent, or maybe her? Amber couldn't tell and she was too scared to make sense of it.
“Get that thing away from us!” Barked Argent, “I'll kill her if your pet comes closer!”
Fang scrambled in front, glaring daggers at the gangster. His fierce eyes were beginning to glow, almost as if his anger was showing from within. He pulled back his head and blew a plume of blue fire directly at Argent. Amber barely managed to dodge Fang's furious flame. Argent fired his gun again, but Amber didn't see if it hit anything.
Amber screamed in terror and twisted aside with all her strength. This time, Argent lost his balance and fell to the ground, taking Amber with him. She scrambled away as fast as her legs would take her, even as Solstice shouted for her to stop.
Amber ran away, shrieking and waving her arms. She didn't even see where she was going: she just ran. She hoped somebody could hear her, see her, maybe help her. She weaved through the alleyways, darting left and right randomly. She desperately hoped she was going to lose the grunts.
Amber only stopped when somebody grabbed her and pulled her aside, covering her mouth with their hand. She tried to fight again, but a familiar voice calmed her down.
“Ssh! You're gonna be okay. Calm down, calm down.” It was Gloria's voice! Amber turned her head and saw it was her.
“Gloria?!” Amber blurted, still panicking, “Help! I'm being chased! They're gonna kill me! They ambushed me! They're going crazy back there! I-”
Gloria shook Amber by the shoulders. “Get a grip! You're freaking out!”
Amber couldn't concentrate. Her body was shaking and she couldn't stop crying. “G-Gloria...help me...I'm so scared...”
“Amber. I am helping you. Helping you hide,” Gloria said. She loosened her grip and put a hand on Amber's head. “You're safe here with me, okay? Just calm down and try to breathe. You're okay. I'm here.”
Her words were reassuring, but Amber was still in shock. They really came after her! Amber never thought she'd be caught up in something like this. The Silicon Movement was much more dangerous than she could have thought. Amber used to think they were just thieves, but they really just tried to kidnap and kill her. Amber managed to calm down enough to finally look where she was pulled off to. Gloria had pulled her into a narrow alley, somewhere behind the Gym maybe? Amber could faintly hear the rumble of loud bass instruments and neon lights flashed from somewhere behind where she was.
Something nudged her in the leg. Amber looked down, startled, but was relieved when she saw it was just Fang. She slumped down against a wall and without even thinking, she scooped up the lizard. “Fang...” She said, crying into the Axew's shoulder, “I was so scared...Thank you. Thanks for helping me.”
“Shu?” Fang chirped, tilting his head at her.
“You really love your Pokémon don't you?” Gloria said. Amber looked over Fang's back and saw Gloria sitting down next to her. “Don't look so surprised. Bulbasaur and I are like that too.”
Amber sniffled. She gently let go of Fang and sighed. “Gloria, they wanted Shadow.”
“Who's Shadow?” Gloria asked, “Is this Shadow?” Gloria moved a cardboard box aside. Under the box was a terrified Shadow. “I grabbed this scared little Absol when I saw that little scene back there. Lucky they were too focused on Sarah and Shawn to notice me.”
Shadow's little red eyes lit up when he saw Amber and he jumped into her chest, knocking Fang out of her arms. “Mama!!!” he shouted, licking Amber's face, “Mama!! Mama! Mama!”
“Shuuuu!!” Fang protested, obviously upset at being pushed.
Amber grinned, completely taken by Shadow's affections. “I missed you too.”
“Mishd yu!” Shadow said back.
“He talks!” Gloria said, clearly surprised.
“Yeah,” Amber set Shadow down by her side. “I swear he can say stuff like 'mama'! Isn't he the cutest?! I think he thinks I'm his mom!”
Gloria looked at Amber with an expression something between confusion and amusement. “Cute's one way to put it. I've never seen a talking Pokémon before!”
“Yeah, me neither.”
Gloria put a hand on her shoulder. “I'm sorry for what happened.” Amber looked back up at her. “I think I have some explaining to do here...” She took a deep breath and continued, “Amber. Where did you say Shadow came from? When you came across his egg I mean.”
“I found his egg back home.”
Gloria paused for a moment, apparently gathering her thoughts. “Amber, I'm sorry about this. It looks like those Silicon Movement goons wanted Shadow. Maybe they want to get you too now.” Gloria brushed her hair out of her face. “Listen. I'll help protect you and your Pokémon. I'm with Team Night, remember? We're dedicated to opposing nasty goons like this.”
Amber had no idea what to say to that. She wanted to just run back home and pretend none of this was real. She wanted to hide away and forget about everything. She knew that wouldn't help, but she wanted it anyway.
Gloria continued. “Come on, let's get up. We'll go get some rest. I bet you're tired. Let's figure out what to do tomorrow.” She stood up, Bulbasaur waddling between her legs and approaching Amber. She sighed and stared at the ground, still shaking.
Arceus! How did this happen?! She wanted to forget it all. It was almost too much for her frazzled mind. She sighed and stood up. Maybe a good night's rest would clear her head. Amber recalled Fang and followed Gloria, Shadow trotting alongside her.
What a night.
What a freaking crazy night!