Black smoke billowed from the ground below. The massive pillar of ash and embers that was stretching across the sky could be seen for miles.
Down on the floor of the Fungal Forest, wild Shroomish and Paras scurried about. They moved erratically, not caring where they were going as long as it took them away from the inferno behind them.
Further towards the heart of the forest fire, the sound of dozens of running hooves thundered across a dirt trail. A caravan of wagons sped past the burning biota and the thick smoke surrounding it. The caravanners themselves, consisting mostly of spirited and able bodied youths, tried their best to ward off the approaching flames and any hostile Pokemon.
At the head of the caravan, a single Growlithe ran as fast as his legs could carry him and his wagon. His Flash Fire ability allowed him to forge through and absorb the flames before him. His eyes darted back and forth, looking for any sinister figures hiding among the tall fungi.
"I know you're out there..."
His head snapped to his left as he heard movement, but it was only another fungus collapsing due to the flames. Though it presented no danger, each noise he heard was making him more and more paranoid.
"...so why can't you just show yourselves already!?" He turned back to his right...
...and was met with the sight of a leaping feline figure, jaws opened and claws extended.
Further back, a Lopunny with brown and pink fur stood on top of one of the wagons. From her vantage point, she could keep tabs on all of the members of the caravan and relay orders easily.
"Water types, keep those flames under control! Rock types, keep that debris off the trail! Flying types, get any wounded into the wagons! The rest of you, KEEP MOVING!"
She ceased her commands as she noticed a commotion at the front of the caravan. The wagons ahead were stopping abruptly, veering to the sides and nearly crashing into each other.
"WAGONS, HALT!" she shouted.
Hooves dragged on the ground as the rest of the wagons managed to stop before they could collide with the others. Recruits from several different guilds looked up to the Lopunny, confused at the sudden change of orders.
A gust of air flowed from behind her as the sound of heavy wing beats met her ears.
A boisterous voice called out, "Hey! Didn't you guys hear the lady!? We need to keep moving!"
"Dante must have run into trouble." The Lopunny mused.
She shouted out, "Ezekiel, help the other members keep those flames back! I'll go ahead and deal with whatever's happening at the front!"
The dragon nodded, "You can count on me, Kacey!" She turned around to make for the lead wagon. But before she could even take a single step, another voice called from above.
"Oi! Leaving so soon lass?!"
On top of a particularly tall biota there stood a menacing Mightyena staring the caravanners down from his perch. He bore his signature green scarf and hat, but his most intimidating feature was the black patch over his right eye.
Ezekiel growled and clenched his fists. Kacey turned to face the newcomer, her expression unchanged.
"Black Banneret." she called out.
"Banneret" tipped his hat and grinned at the present company.
"Good evenin'! How are we all?"
He descended to the ground floor with a few short leaps. Several guild members took a step back as he landed.
"Say, that looks like an awful lot o' luggage you folks are carryin' around. Maybe ya wouldn't mind allowing me and my gang to relieve you and yer company of a few of yer burdens?" He chuckled to himself, "Particularly any valuable ones?"
His eyes turned away from the leaders to some of the guild members gathered around. Some were frozen in place, while others bore looks of defiance.
"Ooh, I see there's some new faces here! How precious! Has someone been digging up new recruits?"
Ezekiel swooped down in between him and the caravan, standing tall as he flared out his wings.
"You're horribly outnumbered as it stands, Black Banneret! That, or your so called "gang" is too cowardly to show their own faces!"
Charcoal put on a look of mock hurt and waved one of his paws in a "tsk tsk" motion, "Well now, that's not very nice now isn't it? You haven't even seen the lads and lasses yet!"
His look turned to a conniving smirk as he lowered to a battle stance. "And trust me, they're all DYIN' ta meet ya!"
Ezekiel brought back his right fist. It began to glow orange as energy began to gather within it. "Let's see how much they want to meet me after I knock your teeth out!" He charged the Mightyena with a roar.
Kacey's eyes widened, "Ezekiel, wait!"
As the massive Flygon bore down on him, Black Banneret raised his head before giving a mighty shout that echoed through the area.
"EVERYONE! GET IN HERE!"
A cacophony of shouts and battle cries seemed to come from every direction as the members of the caravan found themselves under attack from all sides. Pokemon of all shapes and sizes descended upon them: they swooped out of the sky, they sprung out from behind bushes, jumped down from the tops of the surrounding biota, a few even sprung out of the ground from makeshift tunnels.
Ezekiel was brought to a halt as several bodies flung themselves upon him. He shook violently to throw them off.
"You cowards finally decided to show your faces, huh!? WELL COME GET SOME!"
He drove a few back with his Dragon Breath attack, but found himself pinned as more and more Raiders threw themselves at him and began beating him with their own techniques.
Black Banneret merely laughed out loud, "HEH HEH, THAT'S THE WAY! PILE ON!"
He turned to see more of his Raiders engaging the other Guilds, "That's it boys and girls! Let's give these ninnies a good bruising!"
"Well, it's about time!"
Nonna emerged from her hiding spot and charged towards the nearest wagon. She bobbed and weaved through the brawling guild members, avoiding bodies being thrown about and the projectile attacks that were flying in every direction.
She had nearly reached her target when a single Buizel blocked her.
"Stop right there, you dirty thief!"
She nearly raised an eyebrow in amusement as she kept running, "Yeah, nope. Not stopping!"
She raised her hands in an attempt to knock him over, but the Buizel brought both of his hands up and grasped her own. He began to slide as he strained to hold the taller Pokemon back.
He growled out, "Yes... you... ARE!" He then firmly planted his feet on the ground.
The Buizel pushed back as hard as he could, and eventually the two came to a stalemate. The Buizel smiled in triumph."Gotcha now!"
Nonna growled as she felt her arms strain. She thought to herself, "Oh COME. ON! He's like a foot shorter than me! Why is he so strong!?"
"Nonna! Why did we stop?"
The Buizel looked around in confusion, not knowing where the voice was coming from. He noticed the Audino roll her eyes.
"Yeah, we've hit a bit of a roadblock Eddy." The Buizel narrowed his eyes at her. The mysterious voice continued in a reprimanding tone.
"I told you not to call me that!"
Nonna groaned. She would have brought a palm to her face were they not already occupied. "UGH! Look, can you just give me a hand here? Please, Edgar?"
The Buizel shook his head, "Who are you talking to?!"
The voice chimed in, "Very well."
The Buizel's eyes widened he saw a large stinger rising from behind his opponent's head. This was followed by a round orange head, and a face that bore an expression that brought shivers down his back.
Edgar, who had been riding on his partner's back, huffed at the sight of the Buizel. "For your sake, I hope you have an antidote at the ready." He slowly began lifting his tail stinger.
The Buizel looked at the Weedle defiantly, "Oh yeah?! What makes you say-"
The Buizel was cut off as pain shot through his shoulder. Slowly looking to his left, he saw the Weedle's tail digging into him stinger first. He then looked back to his opponents, both of them now smirking. The Weedle responded, "Oh, because I have a feeling you could use one right about now."
Edgar withdrew his stinger, forcing the Buizel to take a step back to clutch at his shoulder. This gave Nonna the opening she needed to smack him in the stomach with a Power-Up Punch. Once he doubled over and fell to the ground, she continued on her path to the wagons.
Edgar peeked out from under the wagon cover, checking for nearby caravan defenders. Seeing none, he dove back inside. "Everything's all clear Nonna, let's move!"
Jumping out from the wagon, Edgar scurried along the ground. Nonna followed closely behind, bearing a large rucksack full of stolen gear. Behind them the sounds of the nearby brawl still echoed through the clearing, rivaled only by the roar of the forest fire raging all around them. Edgar noticed several Raiders escaping through a gap in the flames with their plunder.
He called out, "Follow me, Nonna! That path should get us to the rendezvous point!"
They two jumped through the gap, coughing as the stench of smoke immediately hit them. So intense was the heat that the two could barely keep their eyes open. Even though the raid had begun in the middle of the day, the combination of shade provided by the giant fungi and the billowing smoke made it seem like they were fighting in near darkness.
Nonna covered her face with a free arm as another piece of burning fungus fell to the ground nearby. "Be careful Edgar! This whole place is going down!"
Edgar shouted in alarm, "Watch out!"
Nonna turned to see a particularly tall biota falling to the ground. She then felt a silk string attach itself to her and pull, causing her to stumble out of the path of the burning debris.
Edgar scurried up to her, "Are you alright!?"
Nonna nodded, patting her partner on the head, "I'm fine. Nice save, little guy!"
The two were interrupted by a shriek coming from beyond the clearing.
A raptorlike figure burst through the flames. Flames engulfed several parts of its body as it rolled on the ground in an attempt to extinguish them. When it finally stood again, Nonna and Edgar could see the burns covering it's body. Some parts of the plant type still smoldered with red hot embers, looking as if they would catch fire again in moments.
The pair froze when the figure fixed its gaze on them.
Its pupils dilated, it bared its fangs, and then it let loose a mighty roar.
A high pitched voice bellowed from him, "TRESPASSERS! DESTROYERS! LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO MY HOME!"
Two rose into fighting stances, though the looks of fear remained on their faces.
"Pick on someone your own size, you walking weed!" Nonna shouted. Glaring at her target, she let her rucksack fall to the ground and ran to her partner's aid, preparing a Power-Up Punch.
However, the Breloom merely turned around and wrapped his tail around her neck. He then spun in place before releasing his grip and sending the Audino flying. Turning his attention back forward, he noticed that the small bug Pokemon had evaded him.
"WHERE HAVE YOU RUN TO, COWARD!?"
Hiding on top of a sturdy biota, Edgar analyzed his opponent. "He's fast, strong, and worst of all, he's immune to my Poison Sting..."
He closed his eyes in deep concentration, "...but then again, maybe I can still get him with my String Shot or an Electro Web? If I can immobilize him, Nonna can easily connect with her Power-Up Punches... and if she can connect with enough of those, she'll certainly be able to overpower him!"
Edgar spoke out loud, "It's our only chance..."
He shot out a String Shot at the Breloom, who was currently facing the other way. But as if he had a sixth sense, he jumped to the side. Turning around, he let out a snarl.
"THERE YOU ARE!"
The Breloom's left fist glowed blue with power as he crouched down into a jumping position. Before Edgar could even blink, the Breloom shot from the ground like a compressed spring and shattered his vantage point with a devastating Sky Uppercut.
Edgar was sent somersaulting as he was thrown into the air. His world spun around him before he finally landed in a soft, strong embrace.
"Gotcha!" Edgar opened his eyes to see that Nonna had caught him.
On the other side of the clearing, the Breloom landed on his feet before turning to face his opponents once more.
Nonna panted, "Edgar, what do we do now?"
"I need to pin him, then you can finish him off. How's that for a plan?"
She shrugged, "...Yeah that works."
Power gathered in both of the Breloom's fists as he bolted forward. "BEGONE!"
Edgar threw out an Electro Web, but the Breloom veered to the right before it could connect. He then continued his dash towards the two Raiders.
"Move it, Edgar!" Nonna exclaimed before shoving him out of the way. Unfortunately, this meant that she took the full force of the Mach Punch, driving her into a nearby biota. But the attack did not end there, the Breloom then delivered a Sky Uppercut into her stomach that lifted her above his head before slamming her into the ground.
Edgar looked on in shock, "NONNA!"
The Breloom loomed over her, preparing a finishing blow, "IT ENDS HERE, DEFILERS!"
Edgar's blood boiled, "I couldn't agree more, you monster!" He fired an Electro Web that finally hit its mark and pinned the Breloom to the tall biota. He shrieked in pain as volts of electricity coursed through him, causing his limbs to spasm and the smoldering embers on his body to ignite into small flames. The electricity then faded, yet the silk held.
Still on the ground, Nonna opened a single eye before laying her hands flat on the ground. A pink aura enveloped her as the Wish technique performed its duty. She felt her strength returning, and slowly rose to her feet. Glaring at the Breloom still pinned to the tree, she said nothing as she gathered power in her fists. Her first punch connected with the Breloom's jaw, causing him to squawk in pain. The second hit him in the stomach, causing him to gasp. For the third and final punch, Nonna jumped into the air. She brought her fists down on top of her foe's head, bringing him to the ground.
Exhausted, Nonna made her way back to Edgar and fell to one knee. She panted out, "*Haa*... I guess... *Haa*... we finally did it."
Edgar rubbed his temples with a forelimb, "Let's just get out of here before anything else happens..."
Before they could rise back to their feet, they heard a growling noise coming from the Breloom's direction. Nonna and Edgar merely stared at each other with looks of horror before slowing looking to their fallen opponent, who was already rising to his feet. He was stumbling, but still managed to stand tall.
Which was more than what Nonna and Edgar could do at the moment.
"You... think you have won?" The Breloom glared at them before screeching and charging forward once more, intent on finishing what it had started. The pair lay frozen in fear and exhaustion... unable to lift a finger.
Suddenly, a black and blue figure crashed into him from the side, its entire body coursing with lighting. The Breloom's charge was halted as he was sent tumbling from the impact. He rolled around in pain for a few moments before finally disappearing into the forest.
Nonna and Edgar looked up to see their savior: a Luxio bearing a wide brimmed red hat. War paint adorned her face and her coat still shimmered with sparks of electricity.
She turned to the two on the ground and smiled, "Looks like you two have been busy. I had to come back this way after hearing a few other Raiders got lost on the way to the rendezvous point."
She helped the two to their feet before bringing them their rucksack full of loot. "Now come on, let's get out of here and meet up with the others!"