“ANY word from the sentries yet?”
“It seems the human is nowhere to be found, my Lord, but the other is trying to grab the Time Gears.”
“He MUST be stopped. The past must NOT be altered!”
“I will head in once enough information is gathered, my Lord.”
The next morning, John and Rei had forgotten Chatot’s warning to wake up early, and, combined with the fact that they had woken up early the previous day, it made sense that they would attempt to sleep in.
The key word here was “attempt”.
“UP AND AT ‘EM! IT’S MORNING!”
Loudred’s sudden morning call rang in their ears and their heads, forcing them awake.
“Urgh… good morning, John,” Rei said shakily.
“Ow… yeah,” John responded.
“Get out here NOW! You’re late for the morning roll-call!” Loudred demanded.
This prompted both newbies to jump out of bed and run out of the room, into the morning roll-call that conveniently took place outside their room. This made John question how they didn’t hear the roll-call; he assumed they were just too tired to pay attention to what was happening outside their room.
“...Alright, now that the rookies are present, let’s recite our usual morning chant,” Chatot said, who was directing the roll-call. As everyone else recited the all-familiar chant, John and Rei tried their best to follow along. John identified the chant to be the first three lines of the rules he read the previous day, so he was a bit better off than Rei.
A ONE, A TWO, A ONE-TWO-THREE!
ONE! DON’T SHIRK WORK!
TWO! RUN AWAY AND PAY!
THREE! SMILES GO FOR MILES!
“Okay, time to get to work!” Chatot finished. Everyone cheered before tending to their guild work. “Ah, yes, you two,” Chatot said to the new recruits, who perked up almost immediately. “Look at the job and outlaw boards and fulfill requests there. That will do for today.”
“Okay, Mister Chatot! You can count on us!” Rei said excitedly. “C’mon, John, let’s go!” John just nodded in response, and the duo went up to the next floor to look at what was in store for them.
The Job Board was filled with a wide variety of jobs. Some Pokémon were lost in Mystery Dungeons and needed to be rescued. Other jobs involved fetching an item. The Outlaw Board had just what the name implied: some Pokémon had committed crimes, and bounties are placed on their heads for this reason. This could range from petty thieves to blatant criminals. Each board is managed by Dugtrio, who occasionally flips them over to add new listings and bounties.
But having so many choices makes choosing what to do all the more difficult.
“There’s so much here!” Rei pointed out. “Which jobs do we choose?”
John thought for a bit. “Well, we could be in these Mystery Dungeons for the whole day; we should probably make the most out of each trip and pick a bunch of jobs from one Dungeon.”
“Good idea! Though we should start out with the easier ones first, just to get the hang of things,” Rei decided. John agreed with this; having more jobs at once would complicate things further, and having these jobs be really hard would be outright terrible. They would have to get stronger to take on those jobs.
They eventually decided to take a lot of the easier jobs from an easier Dungeon: Drenched Bluff. Rei had assumed that a lot of Water-types would appear there, and considered the fact that John would likely be at a type disadvantage as a result, but he took the responsibility of covering him.
They took a total of four jobs for the Dungeon. Most teams tend to take one or two from what they’d seen, so they decided to go above and beyond to get noticed by the higher-ups.
By the time they had joined the guild, other exploration teams had documented which Pokémon resided in which Dungeons and let the public use the documentation as a resource for planning. John and Rei took advantage of this, checking the documentation for the Drenched Bluff and noticing that only a few Water-types resided in the area, which was certainly a surprise. They took out the Wonder Map, which marked the location of the Dungeon. They set off to the Dungeon, barely managing to complete their tasks successfully.
This eventually became everyday life for John and Rei. Every day, they got up, recited the chant, took four or five jobs from the boards, and fulfilled those requests. After a while, they got used to the sleeping routine and didn’t need to be awakened by Loudred, which they were grateful for. More importantly, though, they started to grow stronger with each day, learning new techniques and different tactics. They were happy with their routine, too, even after learning that they only get 10% of their rewards. It didn’t bother them in the slightest; they enjoyed what they did, and that’s all they cared about.
A few weeks after John and Rei joined the guild, during the morning roll-call, the two were in for a shock when they saw Zubat and Koffing, of all people, stroll in the room. Their jaws about fell to the floor; how did they get in? The entire town knew their antics to the point of despising them altogether.
They weren’t alone, though. Right in front of them was a Skuntank, who seemed to be their leader. They had mentioned a leader when John and Rei kicked them into obscurity, so John wasn’t very surprised that they brought their own backup in an attempt to stop them in their tracks for surpassing them. Being embarrassed was not what they had in mind, let alone wanted.
“Apprentices, meet Team Skull,” Chatot announced. “They will be staying with us for the next week. I expect you to treat them like guests. Understand?”
“But Chatot–” Bidoof, the newbie before John and Rei, started.
“No, no ‘buts’! Treat them with the respect and such they deserve!” Chatot walked off after that, preventing any more complaints. While the other apprentices complained, they failed to notice that Team Skull was headed right toward John and Rei. The two did notice this, and instinctively readied their combat stance, but then remembered what Chatot had just said to them, dropping their stances.
“Whoa-ho-ho! Long time no see, wimps,” Koffing retorted.
Rei just chuckled at this. “Wimps? You must not remember how we beat you after you stole my treasure.”
“Oh no, no, that was a fluke, you see,” Zubat countered. “We didn’t have this fellow with us. Our leader, Skuntank! Heh-heh-heh…”
In response to his being mentioned, Skuntank walked up and examined John and Rei. “Hm. You were beaten by these two?”
“Yes, they were stronger than we thought they were,” Koffing answered. “We didn’t even stand a chance!”
“...You two lost against these wimps,” Skuntank said. “Unacceptable. I’d like to see their strength for myself.”
Koffing’s eyes widened. “You don’t mean…”
“Oh, I do. I want to fight them myself.” Skuntank looked around. “But obviously not here. That would be… unfitting.” Skuntank then looked at John and Rei. “You two. Follow me.”
“How do we know whether or not we should trust you?” Rei questioned. “Besides, your grunts DID steal something that belongs to me.”
“Hungh, I should have known,” Skuntank said disappointingly. “Koffing. Go time.”
Koffing floated next to Skuntank, and they both readied… something. John was confused; what in the world were they doing?
“Noxious…” Koffing and Skuntank began. Gases began to swirl around the two. John started to feel nauseous for some reason; if the gases were that bad, any more intensity would probably cause him to faint.
“Gas…” The gases began to intensify, both in quantity and stench.
Just then, John couldn’t see what was happening. In fact, he couldn’t see anything; everything went dark. Just as he thought he had fainted, he saw a bright flash of light, and then he saw the brute force of what was the Noxious Gas Combo. He saw a large quantity of gas make contact with both John and Rei. The bright flash of light appeared, drowning out the rest, and then he snapped back to reality. He didn’t have time to question what that was, but he knew he had to lessen the blow that would be dealt. But how?
“COMBO!” Before John could react, the gases blasted in the direction of the two apprentices, causing a dark green cloud to cover the two, and a revolting smell to fill the entire room. The rest of the apprentices obviously took note of this, complaining and plugging their noses where they could, doing anything to deter the stench that filled the room.
Skuntank looked satisfied with what he accomplished, grunting and letting out a small grin. That grin shrank a bit as the gas cleared, though; John had tackled Rei out of the way at the last second, leaving the Charmander to feel the full force of the stench. “Well, well,” Skuntank said amusingly. “It seems you saw what I was doing. Remarkable, whatever you did.” He turned around. “But I’ve done what I came here to do. Get revenge for what you did to my comrades here. Heh, I’ll see you later, wimps.” He walked away from the two, with Koffing and Zubat close behind.
Once they left, Chatot burst into the room. “What in the WORLD happened here!?” he shouted in a fit of rage. As one of the guild members filled him in, he calmed down a little bit. “So, I suppose I’ll have to figure out what to do with that Team Skull group.” He flew to John. “What did they do to you?”
“Team Skull just walked up to us and challenged us to a battle, and did what they called the Noxious Gas Combo,” Rei recounted. “John pushed me out of the way and, well…”
“I see. John, come with me so we can get you cleaned up. Rei, take care of today’s duties for your team.”
Rei perked up. “Yes, sir!” he said before running to and climbing up the ladder.
He only took two jobs since he was alone that day. As he went through the dungeon, he began to question what had happened. How did John know what was happening? By the end of the day, John was cleaned up and given the day off, Rei finished his work, and Team Skull was permanently removed from the guild roster. The news traveled quickly around the guild, and everyone knew what happened by the time Rei was finished. Fortunately, nobody mentioned it since it was a personal issue.
That night, they stayed up a little bit before going to sleep. They do this every night, discuss what they did that day and what they plan on doing the next day. Tonight was a little different, though, because of what Team Skull had done to them that day. As Rei walked in the room, John perked up a bit. “Hey,” he said. “How was it?”
“Eh, it was okay,” Rei answered while propping the Treasure Bag against the wall. “Took two jobs since I was by myself.”
“Makes sense.” They didn’t talk for a little bit until Rei began to remember the events from earlier.
“You know, I was wondering,” Rei began. “How did you know to shove me out of the way?”
John hesitated for a bit. How could he explain this? “Well, I guess I had a vision…”
“A vision?” Rei echoed. “What did you see?”
“Well, when they were about to fire their gases,” John began, “I was getting a little dizzy, like I was about to faint. Then time around me seemed to freeze and everything went dark. Then I saw a bright flash of light, and I could suddenly see what I’m guessing was the future from before I knocked you out of the way, which was both of us getting sprayed by that attack.”
“Wait, wait, wait. You can see the future?”
“I guess so, but I don’t think it’s something I can control yet, from what I can see. It hasn’t happened until then.”
“Once you learn how to control it, then…” Rei picked up his Relic Fragment. “...maybe we can find out what we could use my Relic Fragment for.”
John nodded in agreement. They could finally find a use for the Fragment if he could learn how to control it.
Eventually, the two settled down for the night. Rei dreamed about Team Skull and their antics, while John had much more unsettling dreams involving some tall structure collapsing, followed by a roar that seemed to upset time itself…