The Path of the Aura: Intertwining Crossroads

Parallel Prologue (Part I (1)): The Mysterious Pokémon

The aura, it is the quintessence of all that exists and surrounds us. It exists in all life, all earth, all water, and all air. It is known to many, but practiced by few.

From a different universe with a different time, there exists a parallel Earth, where animals are imbued with uncanny powers and abilities, some having greater power than others. Hundreds of these "animals" exist on this parallel Earth, and are identifiable as "Pocket Monsters"—or "Pokémon" for short.

(You probably know this already.)

As for the humans that exist in that parallel Earth, some of them raise these Pokémon, earning them the title of "Pokémon Trainer". These trainers, most of them, have a common goal: to become a "Pokémon Master". To reach this greatness, they must obtain all eight badges of their home region through eight different "Pokémon Gyms" and then defeat the "Elite Four" and the "Champion".

(You probably know this as well.)

Estimated Location: Kanto Region (Forest)

Estimated Date: Very Late 20th Century

This is one of many forests in the Kanto region of this parallel Earth. The trees stretch high enough to screen those below from the sunlight, and are concentrated close enough to each other to have their foliage intertwine. Many different types of Pokémon reside in these forest areas, from the bird-like, insect-like, and lizard-like.

All of these unique organisms appear to live happily together, well content with their basic and stable lives.

Below on the forest floor, there exists a Pokémon egg between the gnarled and thick roots of one of the thousands of forest trees. This egg was about the size of a basketball, having a blue-colored shell with a yellow ring on the top and a black lower half.

How this egg came to be here is unknown, but what is known about this Pokémon egg is that it is close to hatching.

The egg was faintly flashing a heavenly white light, a light bright enough to illuminate the dark forest floor within a 50 feet radius. The light dimmed after about five seconds, and then the light resumed, with far more potency in its brilliant white glow. The light faded away after a full ten seconds, and as if by sorcery, a Pokémon has swapped places with the egg. The hatched Pokémon was lying there asleep, curled up to keep warm and huddled up to the roots for comfort.

This Pokémon resembles a jackal pup in many specific ways, but with significant differences in appearance. For starters it has blue fur on most areas of its body. It also has a yellow-colored collar, black-furred legs, a sable torso, and a shadowy "mask" on its face with one dreadlock-like appendage hanging off each side of its head. Besides that, it also has stout, dubious ears, as well as a bushy, short tail—both blue in color. It has pink-colored pads on its forepaws and hind paws, and a protruding layer of bone on the back of its wrists—normal for this breed of Pokémon. It is roughly two feet tall—bipedal—and weighs approximately forty pounds. Finally, it has sanguine red eyes—visually unnoticeable because it's still sound asleep, snoring lightly and cutely through its adorable, short snout.

So, who's that Pokémon? I'll give you a few more (obvious and possibly unnecessary) hints: Fighting-Type, Emanation Pokémon, and aura.

The identity—spoiler alert!—of the species of this Pokémon is Riolu.

This particular Riolu possesses a few unusual traits that set it apart from your average, everyday, seldom-seen Riolu. For starters, this Riolu's blue fur is significantly darker in color compared to any other Riolu. The blueness of its fur resides somewhere between indigo and midnight blue. However, dark blue is sufficient enough in describing the color of its fur.

The other traits that it has will become clear to it in time and with experience.

(National Pokédex entry #447: Riolu, the Emanation Pokémon. It is a Fighting-Type Pokémon that measures in at 2' 04" and weighs approximately 44.5 lbs. It has the peculiar power to be able to see emotions, such as joy and rage, in the form of waves. However, this Riolu is far too fresh to learn this.)

Eventually, this Riolu decided to wake up later in the morning. Once it did, it decided to venture off into the forest that it was born in, instinctively in search of something to eat. Along its voyage, it observed the vibrant native wildlife, so as to become accustomed to the home it was born in.

"Where can I find something to eat in this green place?" He spoke one of his first words—his new voice similar to that of a small toddler. His forepaws clutched his torso from hunger.

(To already develop a sense of identity—as well as perspective in this story—, it would be helpful to refer to it as "he" instead of "it".)

After a few more minutes of searching for suitable nourishment, he finally came across a tall and wide tree, one that stood out to him in terms of size. Hanging off of this gargantuan tree's branches and hidden within its leaves, a plump, yellow Sitrus Berry resides, swaying lazily and casually in the breeze.

Riolu's eyes twinkled with delight at the sight of the portly yellow Berry. His mouth began to salivate at the sight of this brilliant fruit. He set his mind to the task of obtaining that Berry as his first meal of his pristine life.

For his first attempt to obtain the Sitrus Berry, he tried to climb up the tree with the yellow Berry hanging off high up. After wrapping all but one of his hind limbs onto the tree's widespread trunk, he realized that there was one flaw with his first attempt: the tree's width was three times that of his arm span and leg span, and his nails haven't grown long enough yet—because he's only a few hours old—to be of considerable use. So without long enough nails at his disposal, he wouldn't be able to grip the bark on the tree and climb it.

"Well, this isn't going to work," he reluctantly removed his footing on the tree, accepting the fact that his first attempt has failed.

For Plan B, he optically scanned the area around him, trying to find another helpful asset to his Plan B.

His visual search didn't take him too long, for he already figured out another path to get to the Sitrus Berry prize from above. He found a tree nearby that he could easily climb and a vine sagging from its branch that he can utilize to swing from.

"Hmm… Good enough for me," he reviewed this action repeatedly within his mind and decided to take it into action.

He climbed up the tree slowly, albeit steadily. He synchronized the movements of his forepaws and hind paws, so as to prevent himself from falling due to poor grip. He eventually reached the base of the tree branch where the vine resided. He looked down and noticed that he was higher up than he originally thought, by at least thirty feet from his mental speculation.

"(*Gulp*)" He swallowed nervously at how high he was, his blood red eyes opened wide with uneasiness.

He precariously proceeded across the tree branch, taking his time with each step, listening to how the branch creaked under his weight. It became collectively more difficult to proceed further and further across the branch, because the branch was thinning out and bending from his weight. Thankfully, he was close enough to the vine to reach out to it now. He grabbed it with both of his paws and eyed the Sitrus Berries across the tree adjacent to the one he just climbed up on.

He jumped off of the tree branch and swung on the vine forward. Just as he was about to cross over to the next tree…


…he suddenly found himself falling from a dizzying height.

He screamed at the top of his tiny lungs as he fell. The damp soil below caught the Emanation Pokémon and cushioned his fall. The entire front half of his body buried into the earth, and the vine that he had previously gripped onto was a few feet away from him, useless. Fortunately, the body of a Riolu is lithe and powerful, so he survived the fall with seemingly minor injuries.

It would take far greater heights to fall from to prove life-threatening for any Emanation Pokémon.

"Ugh…my snout…" the soil muffled his groaning when he spoke without budging an inch from his self-made dirt crater.

With his body felling moderately sore from the massive fall that he endured, he slowly lifted his arms off of the earth and used them to lift his stunned body, then used his legs to slowly regain his normal bipedal posture, instinctively ensuring that if he sustained any injuries, he wouldn't further injure himself with a sudden tweak of his body. He simply took his time, making sure that he was feeling alright.

The soil that acted as a cushion for him clung on to his fur like Velcro, but it fell off and back onto the floor where it belongs with a few simple sweeps of his paws across his dark blue fur. He then felt a warm running sensation across one of the nasal passages of his snout. He put a paw up to his nose, thinking "(Am I bleeding?)" before taking his paw off from his snout, hoping that the only two colors that he sees on his paw is dark blue and pink—from his fur and paw pads.

To his surprise, he sees red staining his paw as well, meaning that he had sustained injury to his snout.

"(Yep, I'm bleeding,)" he could feel the blood dripping down from his snout.

To prevent anymore blood from staining his paws an immaterial sanguine color, he noticed one leaf nearby himself and picked it up with his paws. He rolled it up and then he inserted it halfway up his nostril, using it as a plug and a sponge to absorb and stop the excess blood, so that his paws don't have to be further stained red. He could taste the blood rolling to the back of his throat, all the more reason for him to find a Sitrus berry to consume.

Riolu traveled further across the forest, searching for trees thin enough for him to cling onto and climb, as well as tree branches on them that were full of fruit—Sitrus Berries. He didn't want to repeat the frightening experience that he just had.

To his relief, it only took him a couple of minutes to find a suitable tree. Better yet, the tree's branches were similar to that of a ladder, so he could simply hop across them to get his prize.

He did just as he envisioned and obtained the entire branch where a collection of ripe Sitrus Berries were growing from. He climbed back down with his prize in hand.

"Come to me, my precious," he spoke victoriously, having obtained his first meal of the day—of his life. He plucked the first Berry of his life off of the branch and brought it to his salivating mouth, biting off a piece of the fruit with his sharp, yet young and developing, canine-like fangs. His mouth was in a sudden euphoria of incredible flavor. Once he tasted the Berry's incredibly tangy and verbally-indescribable flavor for the first time, the pupils on his eyes widened with astonishment and he came very close to losing his grip on the Sitrus Berry, as well as the branch holding more of them.

"(Such…delicious…flavor...)" He pondered the rich taste of the Berry as he continued to chew. "(How's it possible to contain so much flavor into one small Berry?)" He swallowed the piece of the fruit that he bit off and mutilated another piece to eat, chewing it slowly so that he can fully admire the exotic flavor that was stored within the delicious Berry.

After a minute of satisfied consumption, he finally finished eating the exotic fruit, and easily enjoyed every bit of it. However, he felt like he still had enough of an appetite to devour a few more from his acquired tree branch, since Sitrus Berries were only two inches in diameter, and he had a healthy appetite.

He proceeded further within the forest, enjoying the fruit that he had collected. The nosebleed that he had on him eventually coagulated and healed, however he has yet to remember to remove the leaf from his nasal passage.

If only he was more aware of the enigmatic figure that was stalking him nearby from behind some thick foliage.

A short while later…

As Riolu ventured deeper into the forest, fueled solely by curiosity, he was finishing the last Berry he had in his possession, and just like with the other several that he already ate, he was enjoying every bit of it.

"The last bite of the first meal I've ever had…" He said solemnly while staring at the last remaining chunk of Sitrus Berry in his paw, then he stuffed it into his mouth, almost shedding a tear due to the fact that it was the last Berry he had on his branch. "(*Sigh*)."

Just as he was about to take another step, he heard rustling nearby. His instincts flared and the tips of his ears twitched as he was suddenly overcome with the sense that he was being followed. How he felt like he was sensing something hostile approaching him was completely unknown to him, but his stubby ears continued to twitch as he listened closely.

As a safety precaution, he scanned the area around him a full 360 degrees with slight trepidation. Once done, even though he didn't see anything hostile around his surroundings, he still felt an uneasy presence nearby, but he couldn't pinpoint it.

"How strange…"Riolu spoke to himself with mild confusion about his instincts that made him raise his guard. "Why do I feel the presence of something hostile?"

"Hostile?" An enigmatic ominous voice replied back from somewhere around Riolu, but where exactly was unknown. "Can you define 'Hostile'?" That same voice said once more in a rhetorical tone.

The confused Emanation Pokémon's eyes widened, his heart rate suddenly spiked, and his breathing increased at the sudden response he received, for now he realized that his instincts were right. He didn't care in the least what the voice was saying, only where it originated from.

With a fearfully swollen heart, he quickly did an about-face, only to find nothing behind him that he could quickly classify as hostile. Felling more fear and pressure within his ribcage, he scanned everywhere else carefully, swiftly and still noticed nothing. He grew more and more anxious that he believed he heard a nearby bush rustle softly.

In an act of desperation and fear, he instinctively targeted the bush and apprehensively launched the only weapon he had on his possession—the stick that once had Sitrus Berries on it—into the foliage. The stick twirled like a propeller in blurry fashion and struck the bush that Riolu fearfully ogled with respectable force. Sadly, the impact only made him realize that fear was causing him to hallucinate and that the ominous voice's location wasn't there.

The voice cackled evilly, appearing to be heard from all around Riolu's location.

"Who…" Riolu decided to correct himself, since he was more fear-struck as to where the voice came from. "W-where are you?" he shouted off at some random direction, hoping that he'll either get a response to help give away the enigmatic voice's identity, location or silence— more preferably—so that he can calm down and his stressed heart can abate itself to a comfortable rate.

"I'm right above you!" The enigmatic voice alerted.

Riolu's heart rate spiked once more, once he heard the voice's response to his stammered inquiry. He came close to whimpering when the location of the voice was revealed by the hostile target itself. Hoping not to see his brief life flash before his eyes—all he would recall is the hunt for sustenance anyway—, he rigidly tilted his head upward and found the source of the enigmatic and ominous voice.

From atop the trees and standing on one of its thick branches, was a quadruped snow white Pokémon with a thick, lion-like mane around its neck. It has three sharp, shadow-colored claws on each paw and another nail on its quadruped joints. Blood-red eyes added to its hostility, and a shadow-colored crescent-shaped tail was present on its hindquarters. However, its most distinct feature was the exotic taijitu—yin-yang—symbolism on its face, with a downward-pointing white clump of fur on its left side, a blade-like black appendage pointing upward on its right side, and a circular-shaped bit of black fur on its forehead.

Who's that Pokémon then? It's an Absol. And this one has a bloodlust for battle.

(National Pokédex entry #359: Absol, the Disaster Pokémon. It is a Dark-Type Pokémon that measures in at 3' 11" and weighs in at approximately 103.6 lbs. Rumored to sense disasters with its horn, it became a target, and it fled deep into the mountains. This Absol, however, never chose to do so.)

Eyeing the unfortunate Riolu maliciously, it jumped off the branch and attempted to fall atop of him, claws first and white, sharp, intimidating teeth exposed.

Without thinking and giving his next action a second thought, Riolu rolled forward and out of the way, hoping the battle-hungry Disaster Pokémon was an imbecile and injured itself upon impact with the ground.

When he got back up on his feet and chose to look behind his back, hoping what he would see next was an unconscious—and imbecilic—Absol, he saw the exact opposite of his desired outcome. He saw an Absol standing on all four paws, despite falling from a height similar to Riolu's episode with the Sitrus Berry earlier, completely unharmed and glaring at him menacingly with blood-red eyes.

"What's the matter? Are you scared of me?" It growled with an untrustworthy grin as it slowly approached the frightened Riolu, whom was stepping back in fear, not wanting to be nearby it at any cost to himself.

He shook his head side to side, but his body was rattling too much for this to be identified as a simple "No". He continued to step back, almost falling over himself due to the lack of rigidity that his legs now had, trying his hardest not to show fear. He couldn't step back any further once he felt the bark of a tree poke at his backside, and it was then that he knew that he had to think of something, anything, to help him escape from the hostile Disaster Pokémon.

Thankfully, he had a plan.

"L-look o-o-over t-there!" He stammered, pointing off in some random direction, hoping that the hostile Absol looked over there. "S-s-someone's c-calling o-out to y-y-you!"

This Absol didn't even look at the direction that the pathetically desperate Emanation Pokémon pointed to. All Absol did was continue to stare at him with its eyes half-open, thinking that his tactic was downright embarrassing. It didn't even choose to ponder how pathetic that "plan" was.

"…Uh…" Even Riolu, deep down, thought his "plan" was pathetic.

He swiveled his eyes to his left and right quickly, then darted off to his left in absol-ute fear.

The Disaster Pokémon just kept its eyes locked on to the fleeing Pokémon. It closed its eyes, shook its head and sighed briefly in pity, before engaging in hot pursuit.

One minute later…

Riolu hastily jumped over large roots, sidestepped across tree trunks, and swatted tree branches out of the way, not wanting anything to slow him down and begging for Arceus in high Heaven to not allow it to do so.

Once he felt like he ran far enough away to not be seen, he hid behind a nearby tree trunk, waiting for the hostile Absol to pass by, desperately hoping that the malicious Absol would continue running in the wrong direction and away from him, and allow him to catch his breath.

Once he saw the Absol pass by—just like he had hoped—, he turned to the opposite direction that it was running off to and ran away as if his life depended on it—which it does! However, just as he thought that he was in the clear, the very same Absol that he was running from jumped down right in front of him. This caused Riolu to suddenly plant his feet into the soil to stop himself abruptly in his tracks, all in all surprised at how quick the Absol was in finding him.

Immediately, the Absol aimed the right side of its face at Riolu and began to store up energy in the blade-like appendage on its head until it emanated a brilliant white light. "RAZOR WIND!" It shouted before swinging its head to the left, launching the blade-like appendages' stored energy into a crescent-shaped gale blade that flew toward Riolu at an extremely high speed.

Instinctively, Riolu brought up his arms as a shield to defend himself, using a Pokémon technique named ENDURE. He quickly received the RAZOR WIND attack with enough force to violently knock him back about fifty feet, then crash into a tree, back first—which literally knocked the wind right out of his lungs in the form of a sudden exhale—, and left him to fall on all fours, his mouth rapidly searching for air.

Absol was left confused by the technique that Riolu used to defend itself. "(Why did this pup choose to ENDURE instead of merely evading my RAZOR WIND attack…)" Absol thought to itself in a skeptical tone of voice. "(There's no benefit in doing so. And…how exactly did you re-learn ENDURE?)" It pondered further and wrinkled its forehead, trying to find a reason for Riolu's tactics.

"(What is this Pokémon's problem? Why is it picking a fight with me? What did I ever do to it?)" Riolu pondered in a rushed and apprehensive mental tone.

He eventually got back up on his two black feet once the soreness emanating from his back became bearable, still gasping for air but much more easily now.

Riolu had a change of tactics after feebly getting up onto his two black feet. "(What does it matter? If this hostile wants to get a battle from me, then I'll try my hardest to give it a war!)"

Taking in one final recuperative breath, he dashed right towards Absol using QUICK ATTACK, possessing a serious countenance and almost having all of his fear disappear in an instant. He had his right paw curled up into a fist. A fist determined to punch the living daylights out of this hostile Disaster Pokémon.

Absol noticed this and braced itself by lowering its head and forming a battle stance, knowing that the incoming Riolu was going to land a punch to its face. It braced itself and grinned discreetly at the incoming attack.

Once he got closer, Riolu quickly realized from the smug grin that Absol had on its face that it knew what he was intending to do. Riolu quickly adapted himself to a change of plan and planned on doing a technique that Absol wouldn't expect.

Once within touching distance, Riolu quickly uncurled his right paw at the last possible moment, planted it on its forehead—leaving Absol momentarily confused at the sudden change of actions—, catapulted himself over its back, grabbed its tail with both paws, and in one somersault, he actually managed to lift Absol over his head and, more surprisingly, sent it flying to a tree that was fifteen feet away. He unknowingly emphasized the "lithe, yet powerful" trait of his physical constitution.

Absol crashed into the tree back first, gasping automatically from the force of impact expelling some air from his lungs and pushing his diaphragm reluctantly, and then slid to the ground, mildly stunned at the strength that Riolu possesses.

However, Riolu was filled with more disbelief at what he just did right now. "What just happened…?" He ogled both of his paws and pondered in disbelief, confused at how much physical power he had at his disposal.

"Ugh…" Absol moaned while getting up, feeling a bit shaken from the unpredicted launch it was given. "(You're just as strong as always, pup.)"

Riolu looked back at Absol and curled up his paws into fists, preparing himself for further onslaught. "Have you had enough yet?" Riolu grinned and shouted.

Absol shook its head to remove the little vertigo that remained within it. "I hate to admit it, but I'm impressed…" It spat the words out of its mouth, not liking how they tasted. "…However, I've endured worse."

Riolu's grin disappeared. He knew this meant that this Absol was far more experienced than it—which was obvious.

"In fact…" It felt like this was the perfect time to simultaneously TAUNT and provoke Riolu's anger, causing him to drop his guard in the process. "I've had Magikarp strike at me harder than you!"

Just as Absol had planned, the TAUNT worked and caused Riolu's anger to spike. "That's it! It's go time!" He charged towards Absol with seething spite, using QUICK ATTACK in the process.

"(I can't believe that actually worked,)" Absol thought, then mimicked Riolu's action and used QUICK ATTACK as well.

They both charged towards each other at full blast, not having any intention of slowing down, let alone stopping because of fear of receiving serious damage.

Quickly, they both impacted each other head-first. The end result from both of their sudden impact was shocking. They were both at a standoff, with their heads connected by the forehead, both equally matched in power and neither one showing any signs of fatigue. They were both gritting their teeth, each wanting to overwhelm the other.

After a minute or so of this standoff, Absol was actually beginning to lose stamina and began to show it when Riolu ingrained his paws and pushed forward, causing the dirt to slide beneath Absol's feet.

Using whatever stamina it had left to give to this stand-off, Absol gave one final thrust forward to prevent a slip backwards, and then slashed at Riolu's torso with its right forepaw, loving the feeling of skin split open and slide off to each nail's side and the warm blood that followed—and with three claws in each of its paw, they formed three flesh wounds that dug surprisingly deep into Riolu's furry black torso.

Riolu unsurprisingly yelped loudly, feeling pain equivalent to someone branding a Miltank with hot iron. Completely ignoring his current predicament, he stepped backwards, clenched his teeth harder than before, and grasped the sliced area of his torso with the very same paw that used to test if he had a nosebleed, desperately trying to ignore the sharp sting that came from touching the wound and instinctively protecting it.

Knowing that this was the perfect time to attack, Absol didn't hold anything back. It easily catapulted the wounded Riolu with its head, sending him flying high into the sky, and then crashing back down to earth, forty feet away from it. The unfortunate Riolu lied there on the cool soil in an unconscious state, still holding onto his wound, not wanting the earth to contaminate it. However, the earth was being contaminated by his dripping blood.

The only thing that the Absol did was smile at its alleged victory. "Hmph. (This was far too easy. I actually expected more than from this pup than for him to get knocked out from a fall alone.)"

Absol then noticed the blood that was seeping out of Riolu's torso and how it was forming a wide pool that would draw concern from other Pokémon that might pass by the area, be they friendly or hungry.

"(Of course, the severe wound that I inflicted on this pup may have been enough to end any form of a counterattack, or even life for that matter.)"

All of a sudden, a thought came to it when it noticed the dark blue fur of Riolu.

"(Why am I left with this sense that I wasn't fighting the Riolu that I intended to fight?)" Absol continued to stare at the dark blue fur, never noticing the subtle change in color because of how dark the forest floor often is.

As the victor continued to stare at the bleeding loser, trying to identify this particular Pokémon, it noticed that Riolu's other paw curled up into a fist that showed signs of consciousness. Riolu ingrained its fist onto the earth, lifting himself up, a surefire sign that he wasn't ready to give up and let Absol win, or kill him.

Absol was just left wide-eyed with disbelief, "(Impossible! Its blood loss should've sealed its fate already!)"

Despite his feeble condition, Riolu slowly got to one knee, using the free paw that was failingly holding back blood for support. "If you…think…you're going…to win…against me…by killing…me…" He weakly said as he got back up on both feet, almost falling back due to the light-headed felling that he earned from the moderate amount of blood that he's already lost. "Then…you're a…more…pathetic fighter…than I…would've ever…thought…"

Riolu's vision was beginning to fail him, as well as his acute sense of hearing. He was beginning to see the colors of his surroundings blend and blur together, and the ambience of the forest's surroundings was beginning to warp to his ears. He somehow fought through it nevertheless, because if he didn't, he'd be dead.

"(Did that Riolu runt just call me 'pathetic'?)" It thought with sprouting rage. "(It tried a desperate attempt of escape earlier back, and it's hypocritically calling me pathetic?)"

Growling with rage, it shouted, "Do you want to know who the more pathetic fighter is?" It charged towards the wounded and allegedly defenseless Riolu. "Once Arceus lifts your soul, you'll see for yourself and know!"

Seeing the incoming white missile whose course is martially set on him, the unprecedented occurred to him, triggered by a survival instinct. Riolu's body became surrounded by his natural aura: a translucent blue color.

Partially ignoring Riolu's sudden increase in aura output, the Absol charged toward Riolu with even more speed, and more power put into it. It didn't want Riolu to get a chance at retaliation.

Instead of showing fear to Absol's aggression, Riolu simply smirked at its anger-fueled stupidity. For a change of events, it was the one defenseless, and not Riolu. "(If I'm going to die suddenly, I'll die fighting!)" Riolu fatalistically accepted death if his next attack were to fail him.

At the last possible split second of impact, a shock came to Absol. Right before it dealt the alleged finishing attack, Riolu somehow grasped Absol by the neck with his blood-soaked left paw, completely nullifying Absol's rage-fueled PURSUIT attack, leaving it more surprised than enraged now. Absol was now witnessing Riolu's smirk of confidence, as well as the blood-red eyes that seemed more intimidating with its current display of aura. Riolu's chokehold slowly cut Absol off of air, even though Riolu didn't want to try and kill Absol through suffocation.

With his free right paw, another impossible feat occurred to the Emanation Pokémon. The aura from his free paw condensed and swirled in a circular motion. Within seconds, a perfect sphere of swirling blue aura was born on the palm of his right paw.

Riolu was now using AURA SPHERE, a Pokémon technique that remains distant from its species, until they evolve.

"(What the hell?)" Absol thought in disbelief while simultaneously gasping and choking from an unintended lack of oxygen.

Molding his paw into a fist, with the AURA SPHERE not acting as a projectile, but as a boxing glove, Riolu leaned his paw back wanting to deliver as much power as physically possible with this final attack that he strongly suspects will be his last.

Giving it the entire excess aura emanating from his body, he punched Absol dead center in the jaw, unexpectedly creating a violent explosion that was overwhelming to both Pokémon.

They were both sent flying and collided onto the most common obstacle that a forest is able to provide: a tree. The collisions left Absol on his side and Riolu with his back on the tree's bark. The Disaster Pokémon had its jaw shattered in both joints, more than half of its teeth fractured, its tongue burned somewhat, and its face endured second-degree burns, burning off the layer of black fur on it.

Riolu was in a worse state of body than Absol, despite his final attack. He lost about a third of his blood from Absol's claw swipe. He was given moderate burns on his right paw from the explosion, and his right arm had fractured from the violent knockback, leaving the bone from his arm sticking out of his flesh. Add that to the wound on his torso—courtesy of Absol—, and to the nosebleed that he received earlier when retrieving a Sitrus Berry, and the Emanation Pokémon is in significantly worse shape than Absol.

But what they both had in common in terms of injury was they were both knocked unconscious by the brutal impact onto the tree. Unfortunately, Absol was the first Pokémon to get back up onto its feet, feebly, and receive the full pain dosage of its severe facial injuries. Holding back a near automatic urge to scream to the skies in pain, it gritted its teeth in pain, dubious as to how powerful Riolu was.

"(Son of a bitch…)" It cursed in its mind as it slowly limped closer to the knocked-out Riolu. "(It ruined my face with an AURA SPHERE? This Riolu is paws-down not the intended one I wanted to fight! It's far more enigmatic than my intended target anyway!)" Absol growled furiously at the accidental mix-up that cost him most of the nostalgic appearance on its face. "(I won't allow you to live, not after what you did to my face!)"

Halting in its tracks twenty feet away from the unconscious Riolu—because walking there was now physically difficult due to the bruises on its legs that it endured from the impact on the tree—, it began to gather and store pure power into the black blade-like appendage on its face, wanting to cut it in half with one final RAZOR WIND attack.

Suddenly, the same RAZOR WIND attack, only with twice as much power imbued into it, came from above the trees and impacted Absol without it knowing where it came from, sending it flying into a tree, yet again. The front of its face crashed into the tree, completely rendering Absol's RAZOR WIND attack null and void, once it fell unconscious again. The tree that it impacted actually snapped in half from the shock of the impact.

Soon after, the source of the surprise attack dropped off of its spot on a nearby tree and onto the soil below, perfectly between the two unconscious Pokémon. As for the identity of the Pokémon: it was actually another Riolu, coincidentally the one that was Absol's intended target. This one had enough experience imbued within it to utilize ME FIRST, a technique used to mimic the opponent's planned technique with much more power put into it, which only work if the user is faster than its opponent.

This Riolu fearlessly walked towards the unconscious Absol and noticed the severity of the injuries that it endured onto its face. "(Damn. I can hardly recognize you.)"

Doing a full about-face to examine the other Pokémon, its reaction was a bit more concerning.

"(Oh my Arceus…)" Its eyes were wide open with shock at how severe that Riolu's injuries were. "(What in the world happened to you?)" It pondered further, obviously expressing more concern to the injured Riolu than the facially-indistinguishable Absol. The fact that they belonged into the same species explained otherwise.

Running over to the wounded Riolu, it stopped once it was within touching distance of him. It noticed a warm, wet feeling on its foot pads. It thought at first that it was merely a puddle of water. However, it decided to take a look closer at the puddle. It immediately realized that that puddle wasn't water, rather it was blood. Remaining calm and collected in terms of emotion, it examined the injuries on the wounded pup.

It noticed that Riolu had its left paw placed onto its torso. It removed the paw from Riolu's torso and instantly grew wide-eyed at seeing the massive three-clawed gash on his torso, and even more at the blood staining its blue, furry torso. It also noticed the burnt right paw and broken right arm bone, protruding from the skin. But it was still more concerned at the terrifying slash across his chest, because the blood pouring out of the open wound was draining Riolu of his life.

The concerned Riolu put its paw onto his sternum, surprised to still detect a pulse, a healthy-beating heart. "(How does anyone survive with so much blood lost?)"

Knowing what had to be done, this selfless Riolu grabbed his left paw and easily hoisted him onto its back, reluctant about the warm, fresh blood that it was feeling run down its fur. Just as it was about to leave the area with him, it remembered the wounded Absol that it noticed first, and struck with ME FIRST.

Staring back to the wounded Absol, it felt as if it should be left for dead. However, its conscience was telling it to aid that Pokémon as well. It knew that it wasn't strong enough to carry both of them. So instead, this thoughtful Riolu called for reinforcements.

"Grovyle, I need your help! Wherever you are right now, come here, where I'm communicating to you!" It spoke using telepathy, knowing that Grovyle would be able to hear it.

Within seconds, a bipedal, grass green, medium-sized, gecko-like Pokémon—with yellow eyes and black pupils, a red underbelly, a green waistline on its belly, three leaves on its arms, and one long leaf on its head that's as long as itself and two leaves for a tail—emerged before the Riolu.

The species name of the Pokémon that arrived before it is Grovyle, a Grass-Type Wood Gecko Pokémon. It arrived to him via multiple acrobatic leaps across the branches of the trees, perfectly landing within feet from it.

(National Pokedex entry #253: Grovyle, the Wood Gecko Pokémon. It is a Grass-Type Pokémon that measures in at 2' 11" and weighs in at approximately 47.6 lbs. It lives in dense jungles, and while closing in on its prey, it leaps from branch to branch. This acrobatics is difficult to do for most in such a dense forest.)

"You called for something?" Grovyle said. The Wood Gecko Pokémon also noticed the wounded Riolu on the other Riolu's back, but didn't want to ask about that yet.

"Yes, I did," Riolu said, before it pointed over to the unconscious Absol right in front of it. "You see that Absol over there?"

Grovyle turned around and noticed the unconscious Absol, "Yes I do—wow!" The damage that that Absol endured, which was mostly concentrated to the face, caught up to Grovyle. "I can barely recognize it!"

"I know, right?"

"It almost lacks any familiarity to me," Grovyle placed one clawed hand on its chin, finding it difficult to compare this Absol to the one it remembers, the one where its face is intact.

"But it's still that same Absol," Riolu added. "It's the very same Absol that's always trying to hunt me down, trying to finish what it left behind."

"(I thought so…)" Grovyle thought. It then faced Riolu and the other Riolu on its back. "What's with the dark blue Riolu on your back?"

"We're short of time. I'll tell you later," Riolu said in a rushed manner, knowing that every second counts in terms of saving the wounded Riolu's life. "Right now, I need your help. Carry that Absol back with us."

Grovyle was left confused by the strange request given to it, not because it lacked the strength to lift it, but because that Absol has a history with this Riolu. "Why? Why do you want me to carry someone who's constantly seeking your death?"

"Because leaving it here in this condition just doesn't feel right to my conscience," Riolu spoke so fast that its words almost slurred. "Hurry up! This Riolu's losing blood fast! I can feel it dribbling off of me!" It jumped back up to the trees and leaped quickly across the branches back to its destination.

"Okay! Okay!" Grovyle quickly, albeit reluctantly, lifted the unconscious Absol and followed the two Riolu, not letting the weight of the facially-unrecognizable Disaster Pokémon slow its speed down.

Once Grovyle managed to catch up to the conscious Riolu, it began a conversation about that bleeding Riolu. "So what's the status quo with that Riolu?"

"It has three slash marks on its torso and its right arm bone is sticking out of its skin," Riolu said, multi-tasking talking to Grovyle and jumping from branch to branch. "I also stepped on a puddle of its own blood when I was approaching it. I'm surprised that its heart is still beating, despite its significant blood loss!"

"How do you thing it got those injuries?" Grovyle almost lost its balance on a branch when jumping onto it, but it was minor nevertheless.

"Call this Riolu crazy, but I think that it fought that Absol you're carrying."



"It is crazy." Grovyle added to its comment.

Riolu did the half-open eye look, not liking the fact that the Riolu it was carrying was mentally abnormal. "You know what I think?"


"I think you're wrong. This Riolu isn't crazy. It tried to fight that Absol…" Riolu quickly got a glimpse of the Absol, getting an adequate look at the damage dealt to its jaw area. "…and by the looks of how damaged its face is, I say this Riolu put up a lot of resistance." It tilted its eyes back briefly to the Riolu it was carrying and gave it a warm smile. A smile that was proof that it admired his potential, even if the Riolu that it was carrying doesn't know what the battle's outcome was.

Grovyle just uttered a dubious and monotone "Uh-huh," not believing the words directed to its lizard-like inner ears.

"No, I mean it! I'll bet you a week's worth of Lum berries that this Riolu actually fought that Absol." Riolu didn't give its bet a second thought, knowing that what it said was the truth.

Grovyle raised an eyebrow—or something close to an eyebrow, since it doesn't have any facial hair, only scales—, confused by the pseudo-biased bet that Riolu made. "You would bet a week's worth of Lum Berries over the slim possibility that this Riolu hatchling…" Grovyle briefly pointed to the Riolu it was talking about, pausing slightly, "…actually put up a fight to this experienced and malicious Absol?" it pointed to the Absol on its back, almost losing its grip on it in the process.

"Yes." Riolu kept his answer concise, not needing to say anymore because it felt like it didn't need to.

Grovyle simply said "Whatever…" at the unnecessary bet.

"(He he heh…)," Riolu laughed in the solitude of its mind, while keeping a normal countenance on the outside. "(Try not to be so biased, Grovyle. Try to be a bit less cynical when you realize that you're wrong. And after all, that bet isn't for my personal gain…)"

Estimated Time: Evening

Riolu's Estimated Age: 12 Hours

The wounded Riolu woke up hours later after his fight with the malicious Absol. He found himself on a bed, within a tree house. This tree house was considerably different than most other tree houses in existence. For starters, this tree house was built within a tree, a relatively massive tree. The tree utilized is tall enough to support two floors, with two bedrooms on the first floor and one more bedroom in the second floor.

Instead of getting up first, Riolu scanned his new surroundings, not exactly sure where he is—or whose house this belongs to. "(Where am I? How'd I get myself here?)" He thought and pondered his possible answers, which weren't many because his experience was, as of now, limited. What he's sure of for certain was the fact that he wasn't dead.

Deciding that this wasn't important at the moment, he just stared at the ceiling, pondering about the fight he had against that Absol. He remembered the ambush that it made, the RAZOR WIND attack it used, the QUICK ATTACK standoff they had, and the painful claw swipe to his torso.

However, what happened after that, he couldn't recall. He figured he fell unconscious afterwards, but what he did exactly before falling unconscious and after Absol's brutal claw swipe was temporarily mentally inaccessible.

Before he could put any more effort into trying to recall the finale of his battle, both Grovyle and the Riolu that carried him on its back noticed him awake and approached him.

"Well, look who's finally awake." The Riolu told him, getting his attention.

"It's about time. I was beginning to doubt your livelihood." Grovyle said to him with crossed arms.

Riolu leaned his head towards the two friendly Pokémon. "Who are you two?" He said with curiosity, and without sensing any hostility, a trait that he could rely on, especially since his instincts were correct when Absol was involved.

"Well you should already know what kind of Pokémon I am, considering that we're of the same species." The Riolu told him.

"(I suppose so…)" He thought and nodded in approval of the other Riolu his eyes observed.

"But you can just call me by my nickname."

"Okay…" He agreed, "…and your nickname is…"

"Tiny," the identified Riolu said concisely. "I figured my nickname would identify us individually, since our fur color isn't distinct enough in this atmosphere."

Riolu looked at the different shade of color of his blue fur upon hearing Tiny's words, noticing how much darker the blue areas of his fur were compared to Tiny's. Afterwards, Riolu looked back and forth at the two Pokémon for a few times, examining their height in the process. Riolu erected its left paw—with the arm that wasn't broken—and pointed it back and forth at both Pokémon.

"Your nickname… Is it because of how short you look compared to…?" He droned, not sure what the taller Pokémon was called, or if it had a nickname.

"Grovyle," It said. "My species name is Grovyle, and I don't have a nickname. What I do have is this tree house that we're all residing in."

"My nickname isn't because of height juxtaposition," Tiny said, proving him wrong. "It's because I was born smaller in stature than your average Riolu."

"…I see…" Riolu said while retracting his left arm, taking a brief moment to absorb their words. "So, Tiny… Why do you live in Grovyle's home?"

"Because I don't have a home of my own and Grovyle was okay with letting me live here." Tiny spoke the truth without hesitation.

"As long as it does its share of the chores, I'm more than willing to share my home," Grovyle interrupted.

"Okay," He said concisely. Then, he tried to lift himself upright, getting a nasty shock—and a reminder—of the wound on his torso and those on his right arm. It was also then that he realized that he had bandages on both areas.

The bandages are constructed out of a well woven plant-like matter that eerily resembled the nylon bandages used to wrap mummies in Egypt, only they were green in color, with traces of coagulated blood that seeped through them. There was also a well-made arm sling, made from the same material, keeping his right arm cast—wrapped in those same bandages with durable sticks to help realign the bones as they heal—in a comfortable position.

What he has yet to know is that Grovyle was forced to shave off the fur on those two areas, using LEAF BLADE to do so, to help those two areas heal without anything foreign causing interference.

Both Grovyle and Tiny received a shock at his sudden decision to get up. With widened blood-red—Tiny—and yellow—Grovyle—eyes, they quickly subdued him back onto the bed he was resting on, with each of them grabbing him by the arms.

"What do you think you're doing?"

"You're in no condition to be getting up so soon! You're still too injured to do so." Tiny shouted.

Riolu struggled somewhat, despising the idea of wasting time in bed, despite the fact that he was only about twelve hours old, and clearly absent about his current condition. He was also feeling a sharp sting of pain emanating from his right arm because Grovyle was gripping it forcefully. "I don't care! Let me go!" He shouted with naiveté.

"NO!" They shouted in unison.

"YES!" Riolu yelled back, still struggling against their grasp.





"NO!" They shouted harder, subduing him harder.

"YES!" Riolu yelled back even harder, struggling even more against them.

"WILL YOU TWO SHUT THE HELL UP?" A familiar antagonistic voice boomed from behind all three of them, causing them all to stop what they were doing.

Still frozen with their current action, they rigidly turned their heads behind them, looking at the source of the voice.

The Absol, the very same one that Riolu fought against earlier, stood behind them. However, there was something clearly different about it. Its face was wrapped in the same green bandages that Riolu had. The only areas of its face that didn't have bandages on them were its eyes, forehead, ears, blade-like appendage, and the black "badge" on its forehead. The lower half of its face on the other hand, was heavily wrapped with bandages, with a slit cut into the bandages, where Absol's mouth was visible, so that it could eat—or attempt to. Beneath the bandages, there were well-placed and durable sticks wedged on its jaw area to keep the bones in alignment so that they heal properly.

"How can anyone sleep with this much noise going on around here?" He spoke calmly now, and with a rigid jaw, because he was holding in the pain of his broken jaw bones grinding together.

Both of the blood-red eyes of the Disaster and the Emanation Pokémon widened at the sight of each other.

"You again!" They both shouted in rage, and then charged at each other, with Riolu easily slipping by Grovyle's and Tiny's grip, since they were temporarily rendered motionless.

Just as another fight between them was about to occur they were suddenly halted by both Tiny and Grovyle. Tiny was grasping Riolu by the tail and Grovyle was doing so as well with Absol. With astonishing strength, they were both holding them back, and the two injured Pokémon still wanted to mutilate each other's flesh apart, with teeth gritted—or in Absol's case, fragmented teeth.

"Why won't you just die already?" Absol spitefully shouted. "I ought to kill you for what you did to my jaw!"

"Oh, disgusting! What's that thing on your neck?" Riolu said with a disgusted façade, and then smirked. "Oh no, wait! That's just your face!"

Absol didn't like the comment. Not one bit. It struggled even harder to free itself from Grovyle's clawed grasp, snarling somewhat in the process.

Luckily for Riolu's sake, Absol tried but didn't succeed. He just stood there, having come so close to having his face peeled by Absol's menacingly long claws, but was far enough away to avoid harm. "I thought you said you were going to kill me?" He taunted. "Was it because I did that to your face?" Riolu only assumed, since the finale of his battle with the Disaster Pokémon was a blur.

Absol growled in rage, and then stopped, feeling that he won't succeed, mostly due to the Wood Gecko Pokémon restraining him by the tail.

"Are you two done already?" Grovyle had enough of this pointless fighting—and was also growing fatigued from holding Absol in place.

Absol fumed a bit with its breathing before stopping. "Yes… (For now, anyway…)."

"Likewise," Riolu sighed, feeling that another chance will come where they can settle this like combatants.

"So if we were to let you both go, will you two promise not to try to kill each other?" Tiny said.

"I promise…" Riolu said, not liking the words he said, but was being sincere howbeit.

"Are you sure, because we can easily put you both down if we sense any more hostility," Grovyle added.

"I promise…" Absol felt the words sting its mouth harder than the broken bones within.

After waiting a few seconds more, Grovyle and Tiny both watched closely at the silent white Pokémon, whom was just staring at the ground between its front paws. They turned their attention to Riolu, whom was rubbing his fractured arm. Both Pokémon restraints looked at each other and nodded.

Both Pokémon released their grip on Riolu's and Absol's tails, but they never dropped their guards. As Grovyle said, they were ready to subdue any attempt of possible carnage, and would likely succeed, with their combined experience.

However, to their surprise, both Pokémon were true to their word, despite their precarious vendetta. Riolu went back to his bed and sat down on it. Absol just lowered itself onto the ground which it stood on and rested there, having its forearms crossed and its blood-red eyes close.

"(I didn't think they'd be true to their word…)" Tiny thought, surprised at their choice in action.

"…I'll be right back," Grovyle said to Tiny, taking a few steps backwards, still dubious as to whether both Riolu and Absol would keep their word. "I'm going to go make some medicine for them both in the kitchen, Tiny. I'll be back here soon."

Tiny nodded in confirmation, allowing its decision to proceed.

"You sure you can keep them both in check by yourself?" It said in a concerned manner.

Tiny nodded once more. "Of course I can. But I don't need to. I don't sense any motives of hostility from their auras."

Riolu's ears twitched upon the hearing of the word "aura" and his mind was instantly filled with questions about it. He never heard of such a word before, and was curious as to what it meant.

Grovyle nodded back, and then walked off to his home's kitchen. "(You and your aura-related abilities…)" it thought, astounded by the natural aura capabilities of a Riolu.

Once Grovyle was out of sight, Riolu gave Tiny a question. "Hey Tiny, can I ask you a question?"

Tiny turned its head to face the curious Riolu. "Sure," it said without hesitating.

"What exactly is aura?" Riolu's question was concise and straightforward.

Tiny looked up at the ceiling, pondering and gathering the right words to use to describe aura. "Let's see now… Aura is the field of energy that everything in existence has, whether it's animate or not." It said with simultaneous detail and simplicity. "We Riolu and our evolved forms, Lucario, are capable of using aura as a weapon or a tool."

Once he heard what aura was, the last bit of his fight against Absol was brought back into him in a sudden jolt of recollection, leaving him wide-eyed without knowing, and leaving Tiny confused by his reaction.

(Riolu's Flashback)

Instead of showing fear to Absol's aggression, Riolu simply smirked at its anger-fueled stupidity. For a change of events, it was the one defenseless, and not Riolu. "(If I'm going to die suddenly, I'll die fighting!)" Riolu fatalistically accepted death if his next attack were to fail him.

At the last possible split second of impact, a shock came to Absol. Right before it dealt the alleged finishing attack, Riolu somehow grasped Absol by the neck with his blood-soaked left paw, completely nullifying Absol's rage-fueled PURSUIT attack, leaving it more surprised than enraged now. Absol was now witnessing Riolu's smirk of confidence, as well as the blood-red eyes that seemed more intimidating with its current display of aura. Riolu's chokehold slowly cut Absol off of air, even though Riolu didn't want to try and kill Absol through suffocation.

With his free right paw, another impossible feat occurred to the Emanation Pokémon. The aura from his free paw condensed and swirled in a circular motion. Within seconds, a perfect sphere of swirling blue aura was born on the palm of his right paw.

Riolu was now using AURA SPHERE, a Pokémon technique that remains distant from its species, until they evolve.

"(What the hell?)" Absol thought in disbelief while simultaneously gasping and choking from an unintended lack of oxygen.

Molding his paw into a fist, with the AURA SPHERE not acting as a projectile, but as a boxing glove, Riolu leaned his paw back wanting to deliver as much power as physically possible with this final attack that he strongly suspects will be his last.

Giving it the entire excess aura emanating from his body, he punched Absol dead center in the jaw, unexpectedly creating a violent explosion that was overwhelming to both Pokémon.

(End of Riolu's Flashback)

"Hey, are you okay?" Tiny said, snapping him out of his flashback.

"I'm fine…" Riolu blinked thrice, twitched slightly from the head, and then said with a normal countenance. "By the way, what kind of attacks can be used by us Riolu and by Lucario?"

Tiny recalled more words to concisely and accurately respond to Riolu's inquiry. "If I recall right, we Riolu are capable of using FORCE PALM, FORESIGHT, ME FIRST, and QUICK ATTACK. Lucario are capable of using more advanced techniques: BONE RUSH, DARK PULSE, DRAGON PULSE, EXTREMESPEED, METAL CLAW, and the most famous technique of them all, AURA SPHERE."

Once he heard the word "AURA SPHERE", his eyes widened to borderline popping out of their sockets. He now knew that his final offensive attack on Absol was in fact AURA SPHERE.

Tiny wondered why he was so surprised, then realized why with little mental comprehension. "You…you didn't." It said, not believing what Riolu did.

"I…think I…did," He said slowly. "I learned how to…and did use…AURA SPHERE."

"…Then… You must be a special Riolu, because it's absolutely impossible for any Riolu to be able to use such powerful aura-rooted attacks.

"My first AURA SPHERE…and I'm only a half a day old," He said in amazement. "(I wonder if I can still use that move….)" Riolu's thoughts drifted off.

Tiny whistled lightly at his power, then remembered the bet it made with Grovyle. "Hey, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, ask away." He said, and then he got off of his bed and formed a battle stance, holding out his pristine left arm and left paw, and attempted to recall and mimic the emotions he felt that led to his powerful attack.

"How did you meet that Absol?" Tiny inquired, briefly looking at the Disaster Pokémon, as it was sound asleep.

"Zzz…" Absol snored lightly and in a muffled manner because its mouth was concealed by its crossed forearms.

"It ambushed me after jumping off of the tall trees above. It wanted to kill me mercilessly. I could sense that just by looking at its blood-red eyes." Riolu said, not taking his eyes off of his left paw. He was making various paw gestures, imagining that he was feeling how round the condensed ball of aura was. "I felt so apprehensive at first, and ran like hell to escape a possible death." His paws were now flashing faintly at random areas above the palm because he was beginning to mimic the fear he felt earlier ago, and then began to gradually form a miniscule orb of aura that was no bigger than a seed. "I felt as if I was too young to die."

"Go on," Tiny said curiously.

"But it wouldn't let me flee without a fight," Riolu continued speaking. "It was then that I felt a courageous impulse and decided that—and I quote—, 'If I'm going to die suddenly, I'll die fighting!'" His miniscule seed-sized concentration of aura grew by double, to the size of a marble. The puny ball of aura was fueled by the courage that Riolu had felt earlier today. "We charged at each other using QUICK ATTACK."

Tiny was growing astonished by the fact that Riolu did fight Absol. And it was a fight that could've easily been to the death for him. "Go on, please." Tiny wanted Riolu to continue with his story and stared at the aura on his paws, being optically drawn to it like a Venomoth to a flame.

"We locked heads for a fair amount of time upon impact, temporarily equal in power and stamina. Then, Absol began to lose stamina during the standoff." After saying that, his face wrinkled up and his snout did as well. The orb he was wielding suddenly grew even more from anger, to the size of an apple. "It was then that it inflicted this slash wound on my torso, so that it wouldn't lose the standoff and force me to stagger back in agony!"

Tiny was somewhat surprised at how suddenly the orb of aura that Riolu was wielding grew in size.

"It then catapulted me into the air, causing me to fly forty feet away from it and land on the dirt, leaving me briefly unconscious and bleeding a profuse puddle of blood." He stabilized his anger, knowing that he needs to let it go because he's still alive and existent, despite Absol's intentions.

Tiny then noticed the stem of the leaf that he shoved into his snout, "Why is there a leaf in your snout?"

Riolu forgot all about that leaf's existence and was left distracted by the realization of it. "It was for a nosebleed that I received when trying to get some Sitrus Berries from a high-up branch. I…the vine that I attempted to swing from broke off and I fell to the ground, snout-first."

With his injured paw, he removed the leaf out of his nose, temporarily ignoring the terrible feeling of broken arm bones rubbing together. He looked at the leaf, noticing that it wasn't green anymore, but dark red due to coagulated blood. He placed it in the sphere he was conjuring up, seeing it dart away the instant it made contact with the sphere. The leaf shredded into bits under the gale that the aura inflicted onto it.

"(Hmm… It must've fallen onto damp soil, to sustain only a nosebleed from a fall,)" Tiny thought briefly.

"So then, I got back up, trying to ignore the pain I felt, when in reality I couldn't." He gave the aura orb pain for fuel, causing it to grow as large as a grapefruit, similar in size to the AURA SPHERE he created for the first time in his life. "Absol became so enraged when I got up that it recklessly charged towards me, not stopping for anything, not even when my aura became so intense that it was visually visible in the form of a cloak."

Tiny was all ears, loving how the story of his battle was going.

"And to its surprise, I stopped it easily in its tracks when it was close enough by grabbing its neck with a vice-like grip that caused it to choke and gag," He curled up his paw, causing the AURA SPHERE to coat his fist and act like a boxing glove. "Then I clobbered Absol in the face with an AURA SPHERE punch!"

He got too carried away and launched a punch, causing the AURA SPHERE to fly surprisingly fast through the air and explode on the wall that his bed was next to, leaving behind a somewhat round, two-feet-wide hole.

This attracted the attention of all four Pokémon.

"What the hell was that?" Absol and Grovyle said in surprise and in unison. Grovyle came running to the blast area, hoping that both Riolu were okay. Absol was awakened by that explosion of the AURA SPHERE, and eyed Riolu suspiciously.

He stared at his paw in disbelief of his newfound power. "That, both of you, was an AURA SPHERE."

Grovyle couldn't help show astonishment at how a Riolu could use a technique that can only be learned once they evolve.

Absol on the other hand, pondered this: "(This pup's potential is impressive. I may be looking forward to a fight to the death with this one once its power grows and when it eventually evolves,)" It hid a grin under its forearms that were also serving as pillows.

Grovyle then noticed the damage that Riolu's AURA SPHERE caused to its tree house wall. "My tree house! You blew a hole in the wall?"

"Look at the possibilities of this hole in the wall," He said with a grin and an upbeat tone. "You now have yourself a new window in your house."

Grovyle calmed down a little bit—a very little bit—, but was still boiling mad. "None of the windows I have on my house are this large!"

"Why's that?"

"It likes to keep this place warm and humid," Tiny told him basically.

"Well, maybe it's time for a change. Don't you think?" Riolu said, uncaring to Grovyle's frustration.

Reluctantly, the Wood Gecko Pokémon tilted his head down in defeat. "…Yes…You're right…" It said submissively and sighed with mild depression, reluctant of the thought of change in its home.

"(Finally, I can breathe much more easily here!)" Tiny pondered in private, breathing and exhaling once, already noticing a sudden change in the air's humidity. "(I was getting sick of the suffocating humidity in here.)"

"(What an imbecilic Pokémon. The air outside is just as warm and humid as the air inside.)" Absol thought insultingly, yet was still watching the events fold out in front of it.

"…Thank…you…" Grovyle muttered, defeated.

"You don't have to thank me. There's no need to," he said, making it tilt its head back up in confusion. "The hole in your wall was just an accident that I was too naïve to prevent."

"(It still lacks experience of its newly-found aura abilities,)" The Disaster Pokémon pondered once more.

"I see…" Grovyle then went back to the kitchen room of its tree house, working on the finishing touches of its medicine. "(That Riolu is a rarity, I just know it. There's just no way that it can know AURA SPHERE before evolving.)"

After about ten seconds of silence, Riolu spoke up. "Hey Tiny, do you have any experience with aura-based abilities?"

"I have enough experience to utilize every known aura technique that a Riolu can use, and I'm sure that you'll learn these skills easily when I teach them to you."

Riolu was surprised at Tiny's response, "Wow! I didn't even ask you yet if you can teach me!"

"But you were thinking it." Tiny smirked and Riolu's jaw dropped in awe. With its paw, it helped lift Riolu's jaw back in place and then told him this: "I'll be more than happy to teach you what I know."

"Thank you!" He said, happily jumping up and down with glee with the naiveté of a child.

"However, you have to do all that I command and not complain or disregard it…" Tiny said in a serious tone. "….even if it proves challenging for you to perfect."

"You'll have my word," He said, almost instinctively.

"We'll start tomorrow; there are some techniques that you can learn in your current condition."


They shook paws with a smile. Riolu used its left paw to shake paws with, wanting to avoid further discomfort.

Absol grinned once more under the shroud that was its forearms, "(Perfect… More experience means more of a worthwhile fight.)"

Grovyle came back with two wide and circular wooden plates on each clawed hand. On one wooden plate, there were two medium-sized wooden cups, each filled to the brim with medicine. On the other wooden plate, a surplus of Lum Berries resided, fastidiously stacked on top of each other in such a way that they will only fall off if tilted down enough.

Grovyle set both plates down on the bed that Riolu was using. "It's time for your medicine, the both of you." It wrapped each cup of medicine with each clawed hand and gave one to Riolu.

Riolu didn't hesitate to grasp it with his left paw. Curious of what the green liquid was, he sniffed it briefly, getting a sense of its odor. It wasn't a terrible odor, it smelled of over-ripened fruit. But as to what kind of fruit it was exactly, he wasn't sure.

Grovyle described the medicine to him, seeing that he was obviously curious of it. "I made this medicine out of the very same Lum Berries that are on the other plate," it picked up one of the Lum berries from its place, briefly showed it to the curious Emanation Pokémon, and then placed it back in its original spot. "These Berries are famously known to help heal anyone from their abnormalities in an instant. If you drink this medicine daily, you'll be fully recovered before you know it."

Riolu was astounded by the fruit's power, "How does it work?"

"I've no idea." Grovyle said, not knowing the science as to how a Berry works its magic on its consumer.

"(Hmph,)" Absol mocked it in its mind.

"However, I do know this," Grovyle continued, "Any Berries' aiding potential is increased when it has fermented somewhat."

Riolu gave his medicine one last look, and then swallowed it whole. He found the taste of the medicine to be surprisingly delicious—a rare feat for any medicine.

"What you just drank is fermented Lum Berry juice," Tiny said.

"It's delicious!" Riolu squealed happily at the medicine's delicious flavor. "(It's almost as delicious as Sitrus Berries!)"

"Delicious: yes. Helpful: also yes. However, there's only one side effect with fermented fruit." It said with a serious tone.

"And what would that be?" He curiously asked, being skeptical at how medicine can have a side effect if it's supposed to help heal the body.

"Fermentation ages the sugar and created alcohol. When a great enough quantity is ingested, you become…drunk."

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" He said, not sure what the word 'drunk' means.

"When you're drunk," Absol suddenly spoke, out of no particular reason, "your senses, personality, and skills are temporarily deteriorated."

"So it's a bad thing?" He said, not showing any signs as to why this Absol was talking to him.

"Only in large enough doses," It said, showing an unusual amount of advice given to a Pokémon that it wants dead.

Absol stood up, not seeing any more reason to rest. It then stretched all four of its limbs, dropping its upper back towards the ground, and twisted its head to the left and right, cracking the bones in its neck and shoulders in relief.

"…" Riolu just sat back down on his bed, having learned about alcohol.

"Thank you for the lesson, Absol," Grovyle said with half-open eyes, a false smile, and a sense of humor. "Now here's your reward." It held the other cup of medicine close to its face.

Absol looked at the medicine and gave it a spiteful scowl. "Get that juice away from my face. I despise Lum Berries. They always leave me a repulsive bitter aftertaste."

Riolu began to feel that mentioned taste invade his tongue. He smacks his lips a few times, and feels as though Absol is overreacting. "(It's not that bitter...)"

"You need to drink this to help accelerate your recovery!" Grovyle demanded, not accepting no for an answer. "If you don't drink this, you'll be on a liquid diet for weeks!"

"I don't care!" It argued. "I'll happily eat…drink anything else than that rotting piece of shit!" Absol corrected itself when it said "eat" when it didn't belong, because of its current constitution.

"(Arceus, I don't have time for this!) Drink it!" Grovyle was growing impatient at Absol's defiance.

"Hell no!"

They kept on repeating themselves for a minute, exchanging different opinions, without either one of them wanting to lose the verbal fight.

Riolu was becoming more and more irritated by each second of shouting going by. He felt that if he didn't so something about this, he'd be driven mad out of annoyance.

He got up off of his bed and swiped the medicine from Grovyle's grasp—somehow keeping the entire liquid in the cup as it violently swished opposite of the direction that it was swiped at—, then gave a swift, stalwart stomp onto Absol's right forepaw—the very same paw that gave him the repulsive wound on his torso—, hiding the fact that he struck the paw that slashed at his torso.

Immediately, Absol opened its mouth wide and shouted in pain, then shouted even louder when it felt the painful grinding bones of its broken jaw rub and slice at the flesh on its mouth.

Completely ignoring the scream that would make an Exploud envious, he poured the entire cup of fermented Lum Berry juice in its gaping mouth, gave the wooden cup back to Grovyle—whom just realized Riolu's snatching of the medicine cup—, slapped Absol in the back of its neck, forcing it to stop screaming and swallow, and then sat back down on his bed with a casual countenance, acting like he didn't do anything at all in the first place. This left both Grovyle and Tiny shocked at his choice of action, and a bit more at his solemn countenance.

Absol gagged and coughed at its revulsion of the medicine, especially because a bit of it went into its trachea. "What the (*cough*) (*cough*) hell was (*gasp*) that for? (*cough*) (*cough*) (*wheeze*)" Absol coughed up droplets of the Lum Berry medicine onto the wooden floor of Grovyle's tree house, as well as a fair amount of phlegm.

"You wouldn't obey such a simple action." He said, maintaining his serious façade, resisting the urge to smile and laugh out loud.

"Grr! (Why you little runt!)" It growled and thought in anger, then simmered down as quickly as it grew angry. Positioning itself in a more upright pose, it faced both Grovyle and Tiny in tandem. "Can both of you leave this room?" It said with surprising calmness. "I want to speak in private with this one," it stared at Riolu, leaving him somewhat puzzled at its motives.

Tiny discreetly used its aura abilities to access Absol's minds and invade its thoughts, "(I don't sense any hostility from it. Only the desire to negotiate…)" It then read Absol's reason, wondering why it wanted to make such an unusual decision, "(…Why go and do that?)," Tiny thought, but decided to keep that to itself for now. "Okay," Tiny said with unusual seriousness, then walked away from this room.

Before Grovyle could say anything, the decision that Tiny made was enough to stun Grovyle. It left the room as well, speechless and momentarily discombobulated.

Once they were gone from view, and the only two visible beings in this room were Absol and Riolu, their tête-à-tête began.

"I don't know what you want to tell me, but I have a strong sense that it's important," Riolu said, suspecting an important conversation.

All it did was nod, but not in a normal way. It nodded in a slower, more ominous manner, with a serious glare on its face, masked underneath a layer of bandages.

"(I thought so.)" He picked up one of the Lum Berries, not because he wanted to eat it, but because he just wanted to feel its texture, out of curiosity. Still having his eyes locked onto Absol's face—or to be more accurate, the bandages on its face—, he said while rubbing the Lum Berry in his paws, "So what is it that you wanted to tell me alone?"

"I wanted to say that your potential is incredible and your power is impressive," it said, enduring the bitter taste the words left in its mouth—alongside the bitter aftertaste of the Lum Berry medicine. "I'll admit that I respect that about you."

"Thanks, I guess…" He droned, confused at its behavior.

It then wrinkled its forehead into a more serious position, "That doesn't mean that I want you alive. I'll kill you, one of these days."

He sweated a little, silent at its desire to still want to kill him. With a bit of fear in his voice, he said "W-why?" in an abated tone, not wanting to show fear to it.

"My preferred combat style is to the death," It said with a perfectly serious tone in its somewhat muffled voice. "It has been like so and will always remain like so, until the day I die, likely in the middle of a battle. That's all that I care about in this world. I don't care about family or friends or memories. I only want to kill."

Riolu remained silent, fearing that he wouldn't control the tone of his voice, were he to speak against this.

"One of these days…in the future, because you're still too naïve, and you lack necessary control with your newfound aura abilities."

"…True…" Riolu spoke reluctantly, admitting to his naiveté.

"You're not even a day old yet. You're still a neophyte, inexperienced in your combat skills and with your aura. You need enough time to hone your skills, master your aura abilities," It said, and then smirked. "And speak with a competent tone of voice."

"Grr! (Why I ought to shut this guy up right now!)" He thought with gritted teeth and clenched fists, which easily crushed the Lum Berry he was holding, letting its juices spill all over his paws and onto his lap. "What the…?" He noticed the crushed Berry and rubbed off his soaked paws on the bed, pissed off even further.

"Your personality could use some work as well." Absol looked at Riolu's squalid lap, eyeing the Lum Berry juice that was just excreted by Riolu's grip. "Some self-development in character should come easy for you with age."

Riolu was drying himself off as he heard Absol speak. He nodded to it to make sure that it knew that he was paying attention.

"That's good to know," it nodded and spoke simultaneously. "Once your aura abilities mature, you evolve into a Lucario, and grow accustomed to your new body as if it were your old body, we'll have our mortal rematch, since our first match was left incomplete via interference from Tiny."

Riolu nodded with a serious countenance. "Enjoy your life until then." He spoke with a dark smile.

"As should you," Absol returned the favor, before doing an about-face and proceeding to walk outside of this room, only to stop midway in the entrance. "And don't think for one second that you're the only one who'll get stronger," it didn't look back at him when it said those words.

"I know."

It briefly smirked to itself before leaving the room. On its way across the hall, it noticed both dismissed Pokémon eavesdropping from behind the wall. They were too focused with their current action that once they noticed the Disaster Pokémon to their sides, they jumped up so high in surprise that they both hit their heads onto the ceiling.

"Ow…I think you gave me a concussion…" Tiny rubbed his head in pain.

"(I feel something dripping off of my head…)" Grovyle groaned, holding the impacted area of its head with one clawed hand. Briefly, it let go of its head and glanced at its paw, not shocked at the sight it foreshadowed. It saw blood, but fortunately, it wasn't a lot of it for the Wood Gecko Pokémon to show concern over.

Absol just gave them both blank glares. "You've both heard enough, haven't you?" It said with the sense of knowing that they would eavesdrop.

"You knew we were eavesdropping all along?" Tiny spoke up.

"I heard you both stop midway, then walk backwards in a few stifled steps." It began to drone in a boring, uncaring manner. "My species have very proficient senses of hearing, despite the fact that our ears are oddly formed." It gave two brief looks to its left and right ears, but mostly to its right ear—or to be more precise, its right "ear". "My left ear is concealed under my white fur and my right ear is this black crest-shaped appendage of mine."

"(You learn something new every day,)" Grovyle thought, having no idea.

"Now if you'll be intelligent enough to stay away from my path, I need to go get some rest." It walked past them both and reached its destination: its room, or at least one that it chose to claim as its own. The bed in there was quickly put to use and the Disaster Pokémon made itself comfortable on it.

"(At least you all know what I want now and appear to respect that decision. It will easily make it that much easier for you all to discuss and fathom it.)" Those were the last thoughts it created in its mind before closing its eyes and falling asleep. Its last action for the day was form a smile of satisfaction, a foreshadowing symbol of the battle it wants with Riolu.

Both Pokémon disregarded it for now and proceeded to Riolu's room.

A few minutes of discussion later…

Grovyle, Riolu, and Tiny finished their review discussion. They remained briefly in "The Thinker" poses, puzzled by Absol's desire.

"I guess there's little I can do about it, huh?" Riolu said, breaking his stance. "I'm going to have to fight it to the death."

"I guess so…" Tiny nodded.

"If that's what you wish…" Grovyle agreed.

"But not until my aura abilities mature and I evolve into a Lucario," he then fixed his pose and remained upright, since the arm he was using to hoist his chin up was his fractured right arm. "But how do I evolve?"

"From what I know, you need to have reached two requirements before evolution. You require a certain level of happiness, as well as the light of day to shine on your fur," Grovyle described.

"However," Tiny added to its description. "You can't evolve by simply pretending to be happy. You have to be felling true happiness, from the bottom of your heart, in order to evolve."

"Well, that shouldn't be too hard for me." Riolu got up and off his bed. He turned his attention to Tiny, "After all, thanks to you, my future is all set."

Tiny couldn't help but smile, "Your welcome."

Before Riolu forgets, he added one more thing "And thank you for the interference with the fight between Absol and I. I doubt that I would've survived if I was left alone to fight it."

"Don't mention it," Tiny said simply.

"If it's possible, I'll teach you what I know," Grovyle said, felling like a third wheel. "However, I have my doubts that you'll be compatible with my kind of move set. The techniques that I know are of a different class than the aura-based techniques that Tiny has at its disposal."

"Thank you, Grovyle. But I have this strong feeling that I'll not have any problems learning from you. You'll most likely be impressed with my unknown potential."

"…" Both Grovyle and Tiny were left discombobulated.

Riolu looked outside of the new window it made, noticing that the sun had hidden itself behind the horizon, with small waves of light escaping after it disappeared. It was the evening, and the ambience of the forest began to die down. "It's time to go to bed now, isn't it?"

"No, it's time for breakfast." Grovyle said sarcastically.

"Really?" Riolu said curiously.

Grovyle shook its head and grinned, resisting its urge to laugh at his gullibility.

Somehow, he realized that what Grovyle did was use sarcasm on him and was left a little confused. He covered himself completely with the bed's blanket, curled up into a ball and fell asleep rather quickly—despite the fact that he was already asleep earlier today—, snoring lightly in the process.

After a few seconds of making sure that Riolu was sound asleep, Grovyle remembered the plate of Lum Berries—unaware that one was crushed and discarded—and, like a chain of memories, that memory guided its mind to the memory of the bet it made involving the Berries. "Now, about our bet…"

"You lost," Tiny said concisely and bluntly.

"…I think that this Riolu lost—what?"

"You lost," It repeated.

"I lost?"

"It told me everything about its fight, especially the part where it punched and broke Absol's jaw with an AURA SPHERE."

Grovyle looked at the floor in defeat, "I lost, didn't I?" it said in a feeble voice.

Tiny simply nodded.

"…" Grovyle let a minute of silence go by before shrugging its shoulders and saying "Oh well…victory isn't always in my reach…" in an unusually happy tone.

"…Don't lie to me. I can still sense your despair…" Tiny read its mind.

"Damn it!" Its façade was easily overcome by Tiny.

"If it makes you feel any better, these Lum Berries aren't for me," It gave one look at the curled-up newborn. "I want them all to be for this Riolu, as a reward for its hard-fought battle."

Grovyle was a bit confused by Tiny's choice of what to do with the Lum Berries, but instantly grew to respect that decision. "Well, they're your Berries now, so what you choose to do with them is entirely up to you."

Tiny grabbed the wooden plate with the Berries resting on it and moved it over to the side. "I know."

Grovyle gave one nod and then looked outside of the window. "We should probably go get some sleep as well. Tomorrow is a big day for all of us."

"Including that hostile Absol?" Tiny said before getting up.

"Unfortunately, yes," It said reluctantly.

"I see."

With those final words, they both went to their own separate beds. Grovyle fell asleep immediately on its own bed. Tiny on the other hand, it was deep in thought on its own bed. It spent half the night staring at the wooden ceiling in its room.

"(Why did that Absol decide to fight that Riolu instead of me? More importantly, what did it see in that Riolu that caused it to disregard me instantly?)" Those were the last words it thought before falling asleep.

As it slept for the remainder of the night, its fists curled up tightly and its eyelids wrinkled soon after falling asleep. Something was troubling its thoughts as it was asleep. As to what however, was something personal, a connection that involved it and that Absol.

"The only difference between a warning and a threat is whether you're the person giving it or the person receiving it." —Orson Scott Card (459) ("Xenocide")
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