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 Solitary Setbacks

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PostSubject: Solitary Setbacks   Sun Feb 19, 2017 6:16 pm

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Cattail Marsh was not a pretty scene. It was hardly a tourist attraction and it was most assuredly not a popular hotspot. The air was muggy, humid and uncomfortable, the flatlands were mushy and heavy, and the waters that flooded the flatlands were rife with muck and grime, to say nothing of the many bug, poison, and water Pokemon that made their homes there. The dungeon itself was merely a passageway to the infinitely more deadly Misty Mire, harsher swamplands that were home to much more dangerous Pokemon. Cattail Marsh was the sort of dungeon you went to only if you had to go there for something.

Goro the Croagunk called it home. Croagunk themselves were not an uncommon sight in the swamplands, but ones that weren't feral certainly were. Goro himself made his home in the Marsh not because the conditions were particularly favorable, but because how little traffick the area saw. If anything could be said about Goro the Croagunk, then it would be that he valued his privacy. A mercenary by occupation and a hermit by nature, the Marsh was a natural sanctuary for him. After setting off on his own, he'd stumbled into the Marsh on his way to Rainfront Town, and had instantly fell in love with the desolate population and unpleasant environment.

Only one or two ferals been pokin' 'round here today. Good 'ta see they're learnin' their place. Goro liked to spend his time in the Marsh patrolling his territory, a stretch of swamp deep within the dungeon that he claimed for himself. There wasn't anything particularly special about his flatlands, other than an abandoned run-down shack perched up on a gloomy embankment of water. It was dour and damaged, with heavy cracks in the aged wood, empty windows and a missing door-- he loved it. Goro counted himself very fortunate to have found it, and immediately set about beating back any and all feral Pokemon in the area, establishing the area very firmly as his.

Which is what he was doing now. The Croagunk prowled through the swamplands back to his hovel with a satisfied air about him, having discovered only a few Pokemon still lingering in the area. They were learning quickly not to come anywhere near his residence, lest they find themselves on the wrong end of a harsh beating.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:39 pm

The Croagunk grew closer and closer, standing his ground, no different from the first time the Skitty had tried this trick.  For a moment, as she lowered herself close to the ground and sprung forward with one last pounce, it seemed like it would work again, that her body would crash into his legs just like before--

But he was ready for her this time.  Darcy's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open with surprise as the Croagunk quickly, skillfully spun around on one heel and out of the way, her pounce taking her straight through thin air and crashing down into the mud, emptyhanded.

"Ptpth..." she mumbled as she shook her head and spat dirt out of her mouth.  She was sprawled prone on a little mound of earth right at the edge of the clearing.  She rubbed her head with a paw for a moment, dizzy and confused...  Goro was so fast when he tried to be!  He was so big and tough that she hadn't imagined him capable of such well-honed reflexes.  Maybe he had lots of practice.

...He really loved play-battles like this, didn't he.  Another small piece of Goro started to make sense in her mind.  It made her feel a little good, happy that he had found some Pokemon to play with, even sprawled out on the ground as she was.  He probably didn't get the chance very often, living out here like he did.  ...She still wished that Alki hadn't volunteered, but--

A flash of glinting metal caught her eye and not even a moment later was a fist digging into her stomach like it had been shot from a cannon.  Surprise flooded her body even more than pain as Goro's follow through sent her lurching weightlessly into the air before she landed heavily on her side with a loud grunt.  He...  He really was fast.  Her vision spun along with her mind, shocked senseless...

Until finally the dull, throbbing pain in her side melted its way through her muddled thoughts and took hold of her body like poison, seeping further and deeper from the bruise on her side with each passing moment.  "O-oww.  Owwww..." she mumbled as she cringed and curled her legs against her body.  She could feel her face grow hot, tears begin to rise.  It hurt, even worse than the first time, so badly she wanted to cry.  Her whole body shuddered as she took a few gasping breaths...

B-but...  She couldn't just crumple up into a ball, couldn't just give up...  They weren't done yet.  If he was finished with her, then he would move on to Alki, and...

Darcy squeezed her eyes shut forced herself to roll over, shakily standing to her feet in spite of the lingering, burrowing pain courtesy of Goro's fist.  Her breath was shaky and she hoped her eyes didn't look too wet as she glanced up at her opponent--

Just in time to see Alki approach, a flaming blanket in tow.  The Skitty squeaked and scrabbled back a few steps until her paws sank into the shallow water just beyond the yard's edge.  Panting heavily, she stepped behind a slender tree, leaning against it with a paw and almost collapsing again as she watched the scene unfold in front of her.  She wanted to step forward, to make sure Goro was alright, or to at least keep him away from Alki, but...  The throbbing pain from his punch only seemed to grow deeper as the moments went by, like it was oozing further into her body, worming its way into places it shouldn't be.  The Skitty panted and clawed at the bark of the tree for a moment before sliding down into a prone position, water and mud up to her chest.  She...  She had to catch her breath.  Her tail twitched, her whole body wishing she could do something to pry those two apart, but exhaustion made it seem almost impossible.  She prayed Alki would bounce away after her little stunt, give the Skitty a chance to recover and come help again...

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Wed Jan 10, 2018 2:24 pm

As Goro spun to the side, rotating quickly so as to put himself out of harm's way, he felt his spirits rise a tad. The notion that Darcy wasn't having fun in this little mock-battle was starting to really take root in his mind. Spinning in a full circle, he came back around and was treated to the sight of his opponent falling face-first into the mud, hitting absolutely nothing as she passed through the space that he was a moment ago. Normally, he'd feel that same spark of pride course through him whenever he outmaneuvered someone or a rush of dark satisfaction that preluded a beat down, but what came instead was an inkling of worry. What came next was his counterattack, his left fist already hardening and shining to form his signature bullet punch attack, and that meant he was going to have to really give it to the skitty here. He'd already pulled one punch against her, and while he wasn't exactly out to hurt either one of these girls, it would be a disservice to take it easy on them constantly - especially when they were so eager to give him everything he had. The sharp, biting heat and crispness of his skin paid testament to that; it was his duty to hit this girl and hit her hard. She'd set up Alki to do the same, so she deserved the same from him! Even if he was starting to feel lukewarm about it, even if he was starting to suspect that she wasn't as willing a combatant as she pretended to be, this was necessary.

So he turned, he rotated his shoulders and his hips, and his bullet-like fist tore a vicious path for the normal type's flank. The attack run true, and his hardened hand crashed into the same fur that he was stroking so affectionately not five minutes ago with all the force he could put into it in this situation. Accordingly, the kitten Pokémon was bodily lifted and sent flying through the air before she landed on her side with a dull thud. As far as punches went, that was one of the best he'd ever pulled off. Darcy had thought to attack him, running up on him and pulling off several feints before jumping in to tackle him, and he sniffed out her approach, dodged her attack, and pulled off a perfect counter. By all means, he should have felt good about the situation, but as he came to a stop and stared down the grounded, trembling skitty on the ground, he felt a little bit guilty about it. A sour expression adorned his face, the croagunk relaxing from his battle stance to stand awkwardly in the middle of the clearing while Darcy curled up in the mud. Maybe... maybe he should have pulled his punch a little bit. The normally chipper and friendly pink kitten painted quite the sorry picture. Goro cringed slightly as Darcy finally rolled over, pushing herself up to her feet. The skitty's movements were very shaky and unstable, and he resolved to be much less rough with her from then on. Alki wanted him to fight her with everything he had, but that didn't mean he had to go all-out against Darcy. She was just here to even the odds in the midget's favor.

His eyes glued to the normal type, the croagunk took notice when her head rose and she squeaked in fear before scrambling backward into the shallow waters. Confusion and panic ran through Goro as he realized that he'd taken his eyes off of Alki for quite some time now; immediately, the poisonous fighter turned on his heel, fists flying up to his chest-level as if to shield him from her flames. Except he turned just in time to catch a flaming mass of something to the chest, the blazing object catching his shoulder and wrapping around him, trapping one hand underneath it. Whatever the fuck it was, it burned. When the flames licked his crisp skin once more, he couldn't hold in the very pained, loud grunt that escaped from his gullet, but he didn't stand idle. As his eyes caught the sight of Alki scrambling away from him on the ground, his right hand clutched at the mass of flames, digging into what felt like fabric before wrenching it off of his torso and throwing it to the ground hatefully. Doing his best to ignore the sharp bite of leftover embers blazing on his person, he quickly stepped forward and lashed out with a vengeful foot, swinging his foot in a motion not unlike a sweep-kick. In his panic and pain, he didn't realize that perhaps a bullet punch would serve him better in this situation, being fast enough to catch Alki and deal super effective damage - he only wanted to pay her back dearly for the burning sensations she had inflicted on him, and his go-to option was a swift punt.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Wed Jan 10, 2018 6:26 pm

The Igglybuff was usually cautious when it came to situations like this. She was quiet, and while she was certainly emotional, she never acted on these emotions. She never had, anyways, but this fight was certainly kindling something inside the little balloon, and while the thought that maybe there were more efficient ways to distract the croagunk did occur to Alki as she bounced across the muddy, slightly hot ground, she did not think to slow down at all. It wasn’t about the fight. As her eyes narrowed, she felt hot, wet water in eyes. She was crying. She hadn’t been hit yet, though, so why was she crying?

The girl pushed off the ground, the flaming blanket in tow, as well as her newfound tears. As her gaze fell on Darcy, she got the answer to her question. The skitty lay on her side, struggling to force herself up, her whole body shuddering in the aftermath of Goro’s move. “Alki, you’re gonna stay behind me and use Heal Pulse, and Flamethrower...” Those words returned to Alki’s mind, and while the girl knew that her sister didn’t quite mean it like that, the Igglybuff drew a completely different meaning from those words. “Alki, you’re gonna stay behind me. You can’t do this, you’ll just get hurt. So leave it to me...” A few centimeters from the blanket reaching Goro, and Alki’s face tensed into a solid frown, more tears leaking from her eyes as she turned back to face her handiwork. Maybe it wasn’t the wisest thing in the world, to attack like this. It certainly made Alki feel a lot better about herself, much more so than using Flamethrower again would. As an added bonus, it also distracted Goro from Darcy! Her hand began to feel a bit burnt as well, so Alki was more than relieved as she felt the blanket wrap around the Croagunk. She let go as soon as she felt it was secure, and could only hope the attack would work well, but on the other hand...

Whether this worked or not, it didn’t really matter, did it? Either way, it would send a message. A message to them both. She was an explorer, and even if she wasn’t a great one, she wasn’t a weakling either. That was her before. Maybe without help, she could get hurt. She probably would get hurt. After all, it wasn’t like Darcy was in a great state to help right then. Alki would do her best. She’d do her best, and then maybe, just maybe, Darcy could see that she wasn’t the same coward she’d first met.

Alki’s fighting spirit settled into her as she fell, but that wasn’t the only feeling that settled into her. Maybe she would’ve been able to get away if she could’ve pulled off a more graceful landing. A misplaced foot ensured that she wouldn’t be avoiding anything at all. As the girl began to stumble backwards, she could do little more than brace herself for the oncoming attack. But as her eyes widened in shock, fear, and more than a little anger, she realized that the attack was not coming from overhead, but instead, a kick delivered at her lower body sent her bouncing away. A kick. She felt the air go out of her lungs as she bounced away, and the sudden pain she felt was quite unlike any other pain she’d felt. Maybe it was true that words hurt more than things like kicks and punches, but as a newly inaugurated victim of both, she could confidently say that they both hurt a lot in very different ways.

At least the girl could take some satisfaction in the fact that her blanket attack had worked out at least somewhat well. As she rolled herself back onto her feet, she did her best to shoot a stream of fire back at Goro. What she felt in her small body as she used that move was no longer fatigue, now it was just pain . But an explorer was supposed to fight through pain like that, no? Alki stopped her flames, hoping they’d be enough to dissuade him from attacking recklessly. If he decided to, then there wasn’t much Alki would be able to do. She didn’t exactly have the air in her lungs to sing well right then anyways. The Igglybuff forced a grimace that at least somewhat resemble anger onto her face, and blew out a few short flames from her mouth, even if it hurt. She couldn’t actually keep him at bay, but with any luck, fear would. That’s about all she could hope for, wasn’t it?


~~~


Darcy was doing her best to get up. She really was, even if it didn’t seem like it. It wasn’t her fault that the Croagunk’s punch seemed to knock all the will to fight, to move, out of her muscles. Half submerged in the disgusting marsh water, her whole body was shaking, and even as she tried to force it to stop, force it to get up and help her sister in this fight, force it to move, to do anything, it didn’t seem to respond. The disgusting muck that seemed to cling to her fur, that stuck to it like glue was secondary, she just needed to move!

Her memory floated back to her promise before the fight. She was supposed to take care of this. Supposed to be able to protect Alki. That’s what she was supposed to do! She was the Igglybuff’s sister, now, and from what Darcy had pieced together from what she knew of the Igglybuff, the closest thing to a proper mother, too. Someone like that was supposed to be able to protect someone like Alki. Instead, she was [i] still on her side, even as the Igglybuff tried to protect her, even as the Croagunk kicked the Igglybuff away. Even if she couldn’t get the best view of him, he seemed dreadfully angry, and Darcy was helpless to do anything, anything at all, and now he was going to walk forward and kick her more and more and--


“No, c’mon...” She mumbled, renewing her efforts to pick herself up, get back into the fight, do anything to help. “C’mon, Darce...” The kitten Pokemon’s paws shook as she forced herself up, hind paws trembling violently as she planted them upright, her face creased in concentration as she pulled her front paws up along with them. The Skitty took no time to stabilize herself, to check for serious injuries. Maybe it was just a play fight, and it was just swell that he was having fun. He could hit her all he wanted,  but…

“Don’t hurt Alki!” She cried out, taking a trembling step towards Goro. She couldn’t exactly fight well anymore, or at least, not how she had been fighting. She was sure she couldn’t run, and that meant her whole strategy might as well have gone down the drain.
Darcy began to sing. What else was left? Fake out and Tackle was a no go, Disarming Voice was something she’d used earlier on him. It took too long, and she couldn’t take another hit like that… so all that left was Sing. Her voice trembled at first, but as the first few words came out, it became easier and easier. Singing wasn’t fighting. It wasn’t like Tackle, or Fake Out, or punches, or kicks. Now, singing just had a curious, sleep-inducing twist. Singing was something Darcy could do. The Skitty felt relief wash over her as she saw the Igglybuff bring her hands up to cover the sound. If the Croagunk would do something like that was another question altogether...

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:20 pm

His half-panicked sweep kick managed to hit the mark, and Goro felt both relief and satisfaction at the sight of Alki tumbling across the ground from the force of his blow. He usually preferred to beat on his opponents with his fists, but there was some kind of humiliation factor that came with kicking your opponent around like trash that he appreciated. It was a bit hard to find pleasure in that sort of thing when his opponent was Alki, of all people, but he wasn't averse to punting her around as long as she made it easy for him. The purpose of this little mock fight was to teach her how to better fight, to expose her weaknesses and make clear what she needed to work on. From what he had seen so far, close quarters combat was one of those things, but with a teammate like Darcy she might need to address that. In an optimal scenario, Alki would be surrounded by a team, as she was part of a rescue team and employed by the guild. She worked with other Pokémon, not by herself. If there came a situation where getting up close and personal was required for a job, then another explorer would be there to handle it, leaving Alki to focus on things that she was better at. Like vomiting fire.

Goro scrunched up his nose and he bore witness to Alki spewing forth another round of flames in his general direction. Unlike before, though, these ones seemed noticeably weaker - had he knocked the breath out of her? Was that something she needed in order to use her flamethrower technique? Questions for later, no doubt. They were still large and potent enough to dissuade him from recklessly approaching, though. Perhaps the lingering sting and pain radiating in his skin had something to do with that; he did not want to find himself bearing the brunt of that attack again. More than anything else, it hurt. It did damage, to be sure, but it was mostly surface-level; even if those burns got more severe, there was nothing stopping him from pushing through the pain. But pain was still a potent tool, so when Alki let loose a weak stream of flames in his direction, he backed off, taking several steps back.

Darcy's voice rung out through the clearing, prompting Goro to steal a glance in her direction. The skitty was still trembling and just now moving from where she'd landed after his punch, though, so he could afford to ignore her until after he dealt with the igglybuff in front of her. But as he focused on the hybrid normal fairy type, it occurred to him that she was... covering her ears. Darcy's voice was still echoing around the clearing, having transformed from a warning shout into a melodious tune, and he felt his eyes flutter. Exhaustion began to wear at him, but it was the sight of Alki warding off the move that prompted him to follow her lead. But he didn't have ears. Instead, he'd had to resort to other means - if he couldn't protect himself from her little trick, he'd have to stop her in her tracks entirely. "I thought I said enough of that!

"What's the matter, kitten? Can't either of you fight without tricks?!" Just like before, Goro's voice took on a hauntingly dark tone, an undercurrent of command and challenge mingling together to form an unmistakable taunt. Still, he was rapidly falling prey to her tune, strength leaving his limbs fast enough to cause him worry - if she didn't take the bait, he was... gonna drop. And soon.

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PostSubject: Re: Solitary Setbacks   Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:07 pm

Alki’s bluff had worked out about as well as she could have hoped. The fire that shot forth from her mind, the measly little stream that seemed, somehow more painful than the larger Flames she’d shot earlier. Whatever the case, the flames did their job, much to the relief of Alki. The croagunk began to back off, and Alki watched with barely unrestrained glee as he backed off. Now, at least, she could be sure that he wouldn’t be kicking her around like a beach ball anymore. Sure, she was shaped like one, but that didn’t mean he had to go and treat her like one!

The igglybuff did her best to collect herself, her wet, dirty frame trembling for breath. Whether her particular flamethrower was powerful or not, it didn’t matter. It still took a lot out of her, even if the kick from the Croagunk hadn’t hurt so much. Now, though, it felt as if her lungs weren’t functioning, and every breath was one tenth as nourishing as her breaths before. This was something new, and as fascinating as it was, it was just as terrifying. This feeling would go away, right?

Alki forced herself to take deep breaths, trying to get in as much air as she possibly could, all the while watching Darcy. The Skitty seemed to be in an even worse state than Alki, and while she was giving it her best effort, the igglybuff felt as if she wouldn’t exactly be able to hold her own, trembling so violently like that. It seemed as if Darcy realized that too, as her soft, melodious voice rang out across the clearing. Alki brought her hands up to the sides of her head, trying to block the sound as best she could.

The girl considered her options, and while an attack while the Croagunk was distracted would be preferable to anything else, she didn’t exactly have full access to her moves. The igglybuff attempted to join her teammate in her song, but even attempting to force out the move seemed an impossibility, her voice almost silent as the amount of oxygen in her lungs came up short. No, as unfortunate as it was, she’d just have to cut her losses and force herself to breathe normally again, one deep breath at a time. All her moves required air, and after the humiliation she’d suffered, not to mention the pain, she didn’t want to get close to the croagunk again. She’d just have to hope that, as she’d said earlier, Darcy had this.

~~

Relief washed over the singing Skitty as she saw her teammate shield herself from her move. Thankfully she’d reacted in time. Darcy’s appreciation for the little girl who’d joined her team re-surfaced. Even if it had been their first time in a fight, they’d held their own decently, but Alki especially so.

As the Croagunk turned to address her, she had a sudden feeling that, if not both of theirs, at least her beginner’s luck was soon to run out. Her voice faltered as she took a couple steps backwards, still smarting from the powerful attack he had used on her earlier. His words cut off her singing entirely, her voice fading into a whisper, and then into nothing.

“I mean… I g-got a couple of hits in earlier. D-Don’t make me do that again!” She said. Even to her own ears, that threat sounded hollow, and her nervousness was unmistakable, even if she wished she could be fearless, just like Goro. The facts were simple: she only had one trick in her bag, and Goro knew about it. The self-doubt his taunt had planted in her seemed to work, as she cast a sideways glance to her own tail. No, Flash wasn’t working. Maybe she could’ve bluffed with the light, but that was a last resort, and one that wasn’t even available to her.

“Hey, look...” She mumbled, backing up as his words began to take effect on her. “I’m sorry about singing, I swear...” She turned away from the powerful Croagunk, to her teammate, who seemed to be busying herself with deep breaths, even as she watched the exchange between the two. “I won’t sing again!” She turned back to the Croagunk, stepping back into the shallow water around the clearing. Darcy made sure to put a subtle emphasis on the word I , hoping that Alki would understand what she was saying. So long as her friend wasn’t too badly hurt, maybe an underhanded tactic like that could work… if it did, they’d win! And if it didn’t… well, the way things were looking, Darcy would not be able to contribute much longer anyways. Darcy began to tremble, without quite wanting to, as she observed the Croagunk, hoping she’d be able to do something if he went for another attack, even if she didn’t feel very confident about her chances.

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