Ben vs Faye
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I hit the glass wall and kept going, wind rushing past me until I hit the ground and started tumbling and sliding on the grass. It wasn’t graceful, but the experience was more terrifying than painful. Even if I’d landed on my head, nothing felt broken and none of the glass had cut my skin up. The +3 to Toughness I had might not be the most exciting Ability, but I was grateful to have it.

I stood up, dusted myself off, and looked over towards the broken glass wall I’d defenestrated through. This late at night, there wasn’t anyone else around in the dirt sparring arenas. “I don’t want to fight, Faye. Just let me see Yang and—”

Faye must have run to the kitchen, because she answered me with cutlery. Everything from the paring knife to the cleaver flew towards me like they were fired out of a cannon. I brought my arms up to protect my face and grimaced as the attack landed. One knife cut me across the arm and didn’t penetrate deeply, but stung like the worst of all paper cuts. The others tried to stab through me, bouncing off my hardened skin.

It took a few seconds to sink in. Without my Toughness, I’d be skewered. Bleeding out and dying.

Faye wasn’t just angry. She was trying to kill me.

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic.” Faye jumped out the window to join me on the ground. Her hand stretched out and pulled the knives back towards herself, letting them orbit her in two perpendicular rings. “I just need you to surrender.”

Faye outstretched her hand, and the knives went flying. Again, I raised my arms up to block—my skin was tough, but I didn’t want to consider what might happen if a blade went right through my eye socket—and again the knives bounced off. But mixed in with the blades was something else. Something round and light, and as soon as it bounced off, I felt myself covered in a red light for an instant before being swallowed up and teleported

“The hell?”

I was floating in the air. Or was this space? An empty void. No… this must be a pokeball.

Pokeballs could be used on trainers!? I felt like someone should have mentioned that to me. No, I should have been asking the questions. Pokeballs were a magic sealing technique combined with technology. I had no idea how they worked, and I really should have.

More importantly, how was I supposed to get out? Lina hopped out of hers all the time. And if you weren’t registered, then it should be even easier. Did I need to focus? Or…?

Go to sleep.

I didn’t recognize the voice, but I felt a wave of lethargy pass through me nonetheless.

Relax. Surrender.

I let out a yawn. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt so… comfortable. I could stay here forever. If it weren’t for all the myriad of reasons that was an absolutely awful, terrible idea.

“Let me out!” I tried screaming, and I felt the void twist and shift. Made it feel… smaller than it was.

“I won’t let you keep me in here!” This time, I poured my psychic will into the scream and let my fire engulf me. Immediately, the void started to crack. I started falling, and ended up back on the grass.

“You’re making this harder than it needs to be.” Faye said with a flippant smile on her face as telekinetically retrieved the pokeball from the ground, joining the orbit with her knives.

“Flannary stopped me and Terri from having a brawl in class. You think it’s okay to try and… murder/capture me?” I shot back.

“It’ll be fine, just as long as you aren’t a tattletale.” Faye pulled a pokeball from her belt and tossed it out. When the red light cleared, Terri was standing there, pink light shining in his eyes. She snarled and attacked without hesitating, hitting me with a leaping tackle.

…and not budging me an inch. Terry might have water ships that could cut through stone, but it seemed she wasn’t strong and martially skilled like Yang. And whatever berserker mode Faye was using on her wasn’t nearly as effective.

“I don’t want to fight you, and I sure as hell don’t want to hurt Terri while she isn’t even in her right mind.” I said as I pushed Terri away, one hand on her forehead while her arms futilely flailed to strike me. I looked at the transformed pokegirl, growling at me like a wild beast. How could Faye do this to people?

Pink fire in the eyes. Sabrina had taught me how to protect myself and how to shake off any control, but nothing about doing it for others. But now…

I let go of Terri’s forehead and let her come at me, wrapping an arm around her as she did to pull her even closer. Forehead to forehead, eye to eye. I barely considered the soft, squishy chest pushed up against me—it’d be impossible not to at least notice—and focused on her eyes. Quenching that fire. Pulling away the energy. Filling it with my own.

“Uh… Ben, what… I’m not into… uh…” Terri blushed as I let her go, then looked around. Looked at Faye, then at me. “Dude, are you bleeding?”

Before I could answer, Faye was sucking Terri back into her pokeball. “You know, it’s super unfair how good you are. I’ve trained with my abilities for five years to get as far as I did, but you? It all comes so easy for the legendary Krimson!” Faye’s voice was as light and jovial as ever, but the facade was cracking.

“I’m not going to feel guilty about that when you’re acting like this!”

“No, of course not. Survival of the fittest. Might makes right and all that jazz.” Faye tossed out another pokeball, and this time, Yuna popped out. “Ice arrow, aim for the heart!”

I jumped backwards, putting distance between us. If she was calling in Yuna for an attack like that, it had to be an order of magnitude more powerful than her telekinesis. If it was ice, maybe I could melt it with fire before it was close enough? No, that’d never work. But, I could read Yuna’s mind, predict when she’d fire and dodge.

<Faye…>

It was a single thought, and as soon as I heard it, my eyes started stinging with tears that weren’t my own.

“I told you, Ice Arrow! Now! What are you waiting for?!”

I remembered that first morning after Yuna’s transformation. How giddy Faye had been in showing her off. How effortlessly she had commanded Yuna through their shared Bond. Love and trust meant that a pokegirl would give up control to their trainer. And it looked like that Bond was in shambles now. No, I could feel it. The reason Yuna had been in the pokeball from the start was because the two had been arguing over the plan, Yuna had wanted to go to one of her Professors… and Faye had stopped her.

“This is crazy. You’ve got to stop this now, before you make things even worse for yourself!” Yuna hugged herself tight as she spoke. She hated being the bad guy for Faye.

“Look, we’re so close. We just need to work together and take him down. Then things can calm down, and we can… it’s not like that! I’m fine! That's not the real problem here!” Faye’s composure finally broke, psychic pink fire bursting out of her eyes like a firecracker as she looked at Yuna’s hurt face and read her accusatory thoughts. “No… no!”

“I am nothing like my father!”

As Faye said it, the wind whipped around Yuna for a fraction of a second before she was tossed through the air the same way Faye had started this fight. Unlike me, Yuna wasn’t durable enough to walk away after being hit by a truck.

I didn’t think. I chased after Yuna. I wasn’t fast enough to catch her, but I put that thought aside and pumped my legs faster and faster. I could feel the shock and terror radiating off of Yuna as she reached her peak in the air and started plummeting back down. I wasn’t going to make it in time, but I still jumped.

…and my body rushed up towards her.

We collided in midair, and somehow I maneuvered her into the princess carry position. Yuna looked as flabbergasted as I felt. “You can fly?”

“Looks like it?” I answered, hearing the roar of flames underneath us like a rocket engine strapped to my feet. “It’s called, uh… Bursting Flame Style.”

Yuna had to cover her mouth when she snorted. “That’s so lame…”

“I didn’t pick the name!” I insisted as we started descending, whatever propulsion that was pushing me up not enough to keep the two of us aloft. Though if I hadn’t picked the name, then who had? Probably my subconscious.

“...thank you.” Yuna whispered. “And… sorry.”

I touched down on the blackened grass and put Yuna back on her feet. “I don’t think it’s your fault. And… what happened to you? That’s my fault. I’m the one who should be sorry.”

Yuna shook her head. “No, it was going to happen, eventually.” She glanced over towards Faye. “She’s going to hurt someone, maybe herself.”

“No no no…” Faye’s voice was strained like I’d never heard it before. The mask was gone, and she fell to her knees. “I’m not going to… I don’t want to hurt anyone. I didn’t mean to hurt you! Krimson is the one who… who…”

Yuna rushed towards Faye’s side, going down to her own knees to hug the other girl. “I know. You were doing this for me, right? It’s okay. I’ll be okay.”

I didn’t see Yuna grab the empty pokeball, but I heard her think about it. Faye must have heard it too.

“It’ll be okay.” Yuna promised.

“No, it won’t…” Faye replied, but she didn’t make any move to resist as Yuna touched the pokeball against her. The trainer vanished in the red light and the ball dropped to the ground, along with Yuna’s open ball and the two closed ones holding Terri and Yang. All four were completely still.

“Hoo…” The tension sagged out of my shoulders, and as the adrenaline wore off, I could feel the sharp stinging from the cuts she’d given me. A trainer and three pokegirls. On paper, Faye and her team should have crushed me. Instead, it’d backfired. Without a Bond to connect them, all of those pokegirls were liabilities to her.

Yuna wiped at her eyes with one hand, then cradled the pokeball in her hand.

“I think… I think she’s already a pokegirl. Tomorrow I’ll take her to the Infirmary to check.” She shifted her gaze to the other three pokeballs on the ground. “Take them with you. Just in case she breaks out.”

“Yuna…” I started. But what was I going to do?

 

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