X nuzlocke, episode 14: Eye on the Ball

Read from the beginning.

Pokéball Factory

Spruce: I think that’s her there, hiding behind those bushes… hey!  Umbriel!
Umbriel: AHHHHHH!  Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!  I’ll never talk!  Not even under torture!  Well, probably under torture!  I mean, maybe before torture now that you’re probably going to torture me anyway.  I mean- oh.  Wait.  It’s you.  Um.  Hi.
Spruce: Uh… hi.  So, uh-
Umbriel: AHHHHHH!  It’s her again!  Oh, please don’t set me on fire; I swear I’m going to do everything I can to-
Ruby: Oh please shut up, you glorified can of escargot, or I really will set you on fire.
Umbriel: Um.  O-o-okay.
Spruce: You’re… a little jumpy, aren’t you?
Umbriel: A… little bit, yes.  I can’t help it; you see I grew up in Lumiose City and it is not the safest place for a little Bug Pokémon; you know, if it’s not careless passers-by stepping on you it’s city officials trying to get your shell repurposed as traffic light housing, and-
Daku: If they ever do threaten her with torture we’re all doomed.
Spruce: Umbriel, focus.  What’s happening here?  What do Team Flare want and can we stop it?
Umbriel: Oh.  Right.  Those things that I was supposed to find out.  Well, a little while ago a bunch of Team Flare marched in, took over this factory and haven’t been letting anyone in or out.  There’s a Manectric and a Liepard who are in charge of everything, I think.  There are human guards posted on all the doors, and more humans with their Pokémon have been arriving from time to time ever since, but I haven’t seen them take anything away… I don’t understand what they’re doing here.
Daku: This is a Pokéball factory, is it not?  Surely these ruffians mean to steal as many of its products as they are able before they abscond.
Umbriel: But that’s exactly what I don’t get!  Pokéballs are cheaper than Professor Sycamore on a first date!  If Team Flare are as loaded as they seem to be, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just buy a tonne of them and spend their time stealing something worthwhile, like… well, I mean, I don’t know.  Gold.  Trading cards.  Cheese.
Spruce: Cheese?
Umbriel: Have you tried eating out in Lumiose City?  The restaurants are the real criminals in this region, trust me.  Uh, anyway, though, this place is locked down pretty tight and I don’t know if I can take out one of the guards on my own… also even if I could I don’t have a cover story for this op, and… well, they might still be looking for me.  Which would be bad.  I can’t afford to screw this up; Lavoisier’s counting on me here!
Ruby: [ahem]
Umbriel: On us!  He’s counting on us!  Obviously.  Which is why it’s so great you’re finally here!  You and your human can help me infiltrate, and maybe even stop whatever is happening!
Ruby: Right… and what is your plan, exactly?
Umbriel: Just get me to a terminal where I can hack their server, and I’ll take it from there!  I’m, like, almost a Steel-type, when you think about it, because of this metal armour.  Only not really, ‘cause, like, I don’t have any of the resistances or anything.  But I can totally use a computer as well as any human, or Lavoisier, or even ol’ Larry down at the Lumiose Gym!
Ruby: What?  You don’t have any arms, how-?
Umbriel: Oh, wow.  That is some serious ableist bull$#!t right there.  I will be just fine, you wait and see.  Um.  Ma’am.
Ruby: Oooookay.  Whatever, just do your job and don’t get yourself killed; if you manage that you’ll be doing just as well as any of these idiots ever have.  Now, let’s see… we should avoid the main gate; it’s heavily guarded… but one of those service entrances…
Fisher: Uh, my lady, if I might divert your attention for one moment… the human appears to be departing.
Chris: [muttering] Just have to find… what were their names…?  Brianna and Celeste?  Brittany and Cecilia?  Oh, no, I’m totally gonna screw this up too; I know it!  I hope Mr. Lysandre doesn’t get mad at me…
Ruby: What th- where the hell is he even going?
Umbriel: I- I’m sure he’ll be fine.  I mean, humans are really good at taking care of themselves, right?  I’ve, ah… never heard of a human getting into any trouble that they couldn’t get themselves out of!
Ruby: You’ve never met this one… ugh; we’re going to have to split up.  Spruce, take your… boyfriend or whatever he is, find the leaders of the operation and disable, capture, or destroy them, quietly if you can; priest, you go with the spy and make sure she stays out of trouble; lizard… [sigh] I… suppose you’re with me.  We’ll follow the human.
Daku: Your assessment of the tactical situation is… acceptable.  Though just barely.
Ruby: [rolls eyes] Of course it is.
Spruce: Okay!  Go team!  Let’s bust this place wide open!
Ruby: Quietly.
Spruce: Oh.  Right. [stage whispering] Let’s bust this place wide open!
Ruby: We’re all going to die.

Ruby: Why did they let him in, though?  I was sure we’d have a fight on our hands.
Daku: Perhaps he is more competent than you give him credit for.
Ruby: [stifles a laugh] You haven’t known him as long as I have.  Where the hell do humans fit in your… “tiers” or whatever you call them, anyway?
Daku: Hmph.  All your studies and magic and somehow you still know nothing, witch.  Humans are beyond the Hierarchy of Tiers, neither above nor below the rest of us; instead their place is to guide all Pokémon, great or meek, to their proper station.
Ruby: Uh-huh.  But you can see that there are smart humans and dumb humans, right?  Well, relatively speaking, anyway…
Daku: It… is true that not all humans are equal in merit, and the greatest normally focus on shepherding Pokémon of a single tier, however high or low it might be, rather than assembling a… rabble such as yours.  But Master Amaldos apparently had some degree of faith in your human, and it is not my place to question his judgment.
Ruby: Right, so now you trust the judgment of a dead insane blind Lucario.
Daku: I trust in the principles of a greater order.  Not that I would expect low-born scum like you to understand that.
Ruby: Grrrr… wait, who…?
Chris: Um… Miss Celosia?  Miss Bryony?
Ruby: We can finish this conversation later; it sounds like these two humans are the ones he’s here to see…
Daku: They wear red uniforms like the other humans, but those strange visors… are they members of Team Flare?
Ruby: I don’t know… most of the guards at the main gate weren’t in uniform, but they could be factory workers…
Celosia: Hmm…?  Who is this?
Bryony: I don’t know… but clearly he got past the guards, and with that Gabite and Delphox with him, he must be a young Pokémon trainer… logically, he must be an intruder.
Celosia: That probability does seem high.  Well, child?  Are you here to cause mischief?
Chris: [gulp] No, no, no, I’m supposed to be here!  I am, really!  Mr. Lysandre sent me to deliver something to you!
Celosia: [relaxing] Well, why didn’t you say that from the beginning?  Sweetie, did Lysandre say anything about a delivery?
Bryony: Hmm.  Come to think of it, he did mention something about a new recruit bringing the last few files for Project Mastery on a flash drive. [whispering] And don’t call me “sweetie” in front of Lysandre’s little twerps!
Celosia: Ah, perfect.  In that case, I’m certain you’ll want to hand it over right away, won’t you? [whispering to Bryony] And why shouldn’t I call you that in front of anyone I like?  It’s a matter of principle!
Chris: Oh.  Um.  Yes.  Of course.  Sorry! [looks between Celosia and Bryony] Um… sorry, which of you…?
Bryony: [holds out hand] Oh, give it here. [whispering to Celosia] It’s not about visibility or pride; it’s just damn unprofessional!
Celosia: Come on, that first batch is practically finished; it’s most efficient if we just upload the program now. [whispering] Lysandre doesn’t care if we’re unprofessional; he knows we’re a couple of huge nerds.
Chris: Um… I can, uh… I can hear you.  I’m sort of standing right here.
Celosia and Bryony: [look at each other, laugh]
Celosia: I like you, kid.  Come over here and watch this. [logs onto a terminal]
Chris: So, uh… if you don’t mind my asking, um… what exactly are those files for?  And why couldn’t Mr. Lysandre just… like… e-mail them to you or something?
Bryony: [laughs] Oh, these are much too sensitive to be sent over the internet!  The algorithms on this drive are critical parts of a project we have been developing for years, with the help of the workers of this magnificent factory.
Celosia: The finishing touches on a masterpiece of design…
Bryony: …the perfect Pokéball, one that can capture any Pokémon, without fail!
Chris: Oh, wow!  That sounds amazing! [thinking] But wait, um… what about Pokémon that don’t want to be caught?
Bryony: Oh, silly child, of course Pokémon want to be caught.  Why else would they spring out of the tall grass to challenge trainers?
Chris: Um… I… guess so, but, um… what about Pokémon that don’t do that?
Bryony: Well, have you ever seen one?
Chris: Not… exactly?
Bryony: There you have it, then.
Ruby: [whispering to Daku] Is that bad?  Do we even care?
Daku: [whispering to Ruby] Don’t be ridiculous.  Humans only exist to make Pokémon stronger; this helps them to do that.
Celosia: …and the new algorithms are uploaded!  Running diagnostics on the finished ‘balls… [typing] all parameters within expected limits, and… perfection! [winks at Bryony] Not that I would expect anything less.
Bryony: [leaning over Celosia’s shoulder] Let me see… [typing] We should be able to start mass-producing them soon.  For now, the ones we have… [to Chris] Did Lysandre give you another assignment for when you were done here, child?
Chris: N-no.  I don’t… think so anyway.
Bryony: [to Celosia] Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
Celosia: I suppose I would prefer that we not have to deal with Mable ourselves… Kid, do you think you could do us a favour?
Chris: Um.  S-sure, I guess…?

Umbriel: [whispering] Okay, on three, we bust open the door and attack… one… two… [crash] Mega Drain!
Fisher: Disable!
Scraggy: EEEEEeeeeerk! [thud]
Umbriel: Do you think anyone heard that?
Fisher: [looks up and down the hallway] I believe we are yet undetected.
Umbriel: Okay; this shouldn’t take long.  Relatively speaking.  I think.  You stand watch while I crack this thing open…
Fisher: [shocked] Is… is that a- a- a-
Umbriel: It’s… um… it’s just a PC.  What’s wrong?
Fisher: AHHHH!  Dark device!  Mechanism of the unholy one!
Umbriel: Uh… so you’re more of a Mac guy, or…?
Fisher: Stand behind me, child; the fell contraption shall not take us this day!  ZEN HEADB-
Umbriel: Wait, stop!  I need it!
Fisher: …what?
Umbriel: I need a working computer with a physical connection to the factory’s server so I can figure out what’s going on here and what they’re planning.
Fisher: But- but- but-
Umbriel: What’s wrong?  You look like you’ve seen a ghost!  Or like a ghost saw you.  I dunno, I think it’d be pretty cool to see a ghost.  But that’s, um… not the point.
Fisher: The PC is a portal to the empty realm of its creator, the great enemy Bill!  Since ancient times, followers of the Helix and the Dome alike have been swallowed up by its insatiable maw, never to return to the earthly plane!  Both it and its master seek only to purge the world of all divinity, light and dark alike, and usher in a new age of destruction and death!
Umbriel: [blinks] And… and that’s this PC, specifically, is it?
Fisher: Well… no, it’s… it’s all PCs… but-
Umbriel: I use these all the time and I’ve never been swallowed up by any insatiable maws.
Fisher: Such were the words of Zexy the Torchic, who thought the PC safe and contained!
Umbriel: I- ah- I- I don’t actually know who that is.  Um.  Look, why don’t you, ah… watch me use it?  And use your, um… like, your good priest mojo to protect me?  I promise I’ll stop the moment you see anything like an insatiable maw.
Fisher: …this is essential to our success?
Umbriel: Well… yeah.  I can’t really hack anything without it.
Fisher: [scowling] Very well.  But we must be prepared to flee at the first sign of any danger.
Umbriel: [typing] Okay, let’s get to work… try some common passwords… [more typing] oh, come on, who the hell uses “pokeball1” as the admin password at a Pokéball factory!?  What is wrong with these people!?
Fisher: It could be a trap.  Easy is the path into the PC, but long and treacherous is the way out…
Umbriel: It’ll be fine… [muttering] religious luddites and their superstitions; they’re just fine until they see an upside down picture of a bicycle, or a man wearing a prime number of hats…
Fisher: What was that?
Umbriel: Um, nothing!  I’m just looking through records of system activity in the last few days, since all of this started…
Fisher: What are you hoping to find?
Umbriel: I won’t know that until I find it… but… Ah-hah!  I knew this couldn’t be just a simple heist!  Look at this. [typing] These are blueprints for the standard Pokéball design this factory is producing.  This place can pump out over five hundred of these babies every day.
Fisher: Marvellous…
Umbriel: Yeah, yeah, but now look at this. [several clicks] These are the backup copies of the exact same plans from a routine memory dump two weeks ago.  Notice anything different?
Fisher: The Blessed Helix does not reveal all mysteries for His followers.  Er… that is to say… not really, no.
Umbriel: Well, yeah, exactly; it’s subtle.  That’s why it’s so brilliant!  I mean.  And diabolical.  But definitely brilliant!
Fisher: What… exactly are we looking at?
Umbriel: See, this circuitry controls the bio-regulation sprockets, and this is the primary matter-energy conversion manifold, and this is the transmission array that keeps the Pokéball in contact with the Pokémon League regional and national servers.
Fisher: I… see.
Umbriel: And in the design from two weeks ago those are all connected through the central processor, just like they should be.  But in this design, [typing, clicking] see these extra circuits?  Those are connecting the different subsystems without passing through the central processor, and I don’t have to tell you what that could mean!
Fisher: Er… of course.  But purely for the sake of argument… what, ah… would you say if you did?
Umbriel: Well, it means that if you were familiar with the ball’s programming, you could bypass the processor and send commands to its subsystems remotely.  Normally a Pokéball is almost impossible to hack wirelessly because it can only follow a very specific set of commands that the processor recognises, most of which require multiple layers of authentication from the server, but this design would be wide open, and no one at League IT would even notice.  Only… I don’t understand why they didn’t bother to compromise the teleportation matrix in the same way… if they were planning to kidnap Pokémon, wouldn’t that be the easiest…?
Fisher: So… this plan would allow Team Flare to control Pokéballs all around Kalos?
Umbriel: Well, your Pokéballs would be safe, and so would all the other ones produced and sold up until a few days ago.  But any new Pokéballs made in this factory from now on will have the vulnerability… and it’s possible no one would even notice until weeks after Team Flare had left.
Fisher: Can you not simply switch the plans back?
Umbriel: Not from here, I don’t think; changes can only be authorised from a couple of specific machines… [typing] and anyway, as long as Team Flare stays in control of the factory they’d notice and just change it again.  We’ll have to hope the others are having as much luck with their tasks…

Manectric: You will never stop Team Flare’s glorious plan!  SPARK!
Spruce: Whoah!  Too slow!  And… well… your face will never stop Team Flare’s glorious plan!  TWISTER!
Manectric: That doesn’t make any s-aaaaaAAAAAUUUUGH! [crash]
Martial: Enough of this!  Double Kick!
Liepard: OOOF!  OOOF!  Arrrrghll…
Martial: There – their leaders are subdued.  If we can restrain and imprison them, this operation will surely crumble, and with any good fortune we will also be able to extract hard evidence of their organisation’s duplicity.
Spruce: Wait, someone’s coming!  I don’t think we’re done fighting yet!
Delcatty: …hmm?  What’s going on here?  Oh… is it that time already?
Liepard: You!  Delcatty!  These intruders are trying to sabotage the operation; stop them!
Delcatty: I don’t work for you, and I wasn’t talking to you. [to Spruce] Now, come on… where is dear Ruby?  I hear she’s grown up so much in our few weeks apart.
Spruce: …Luna!?
Martial: YOU!
Luna: Mmm… me.  I’m sorry, have we met?  You didn’t join their curious little group until well after I’d parted ways with them; I’m quite sure of that.
Martial: Have we met!?  You are-
Luna: And please don’t just say I killed your sister or your nephew or your cousin’s human’s dentist or something; give me something I can work with.
Martial: You are reason for my mission, the traitor to my order that I was sent to hunt!  You murdered your own mentor, the Pokémon you had been assigned to protect, and their human!
Luna: Hmm…?  Oh, that.  That was over a year ago; don’t tell me you’re all still upset about that one.
Spruce: Luna, what are you doing here?
Luna: Team Flare has taken me on as something of a… murder consultant, if you will.  The pay is… satisfactory, I suppose, but the work is exhilarating.
Liepard: Shut your chattering mouth and stop them already!
Luna: I’ve told you already; I take orders from the one holding the purse strings, Liepard – and that isn’t you.
Martial: A petty mercenary, then?  I suppose you don’t even know anything about Team Flare’s plans.  Why should you care about the consequences of your actions, as long as you’re paid?
Luna: Ohoho!  Not a bad little gambit there, Nidoking, trying to get me to… let the cat out of the bag, so to speak.  Well, I’d love to give you the classic villainous exposition speech, I really would, but I’m afraid my new employers get so uppity about that sort of thing.  It’s bad enough they’re only paying me to kill Ruby…
Spruce: Hahaha!  You really don’t know anything, do you?
Luna: Hmph.  Coming from you, little bird, I’m not sure whether you really are trying to trick me, or you sincerely believe what you’re saying.  If you want my honest opinion, Team Flare is chasing a pipe dream – eternal life for all Kalos, or some such nonsense.  I don’t know precisely how they mean to achieve that, and I don’t care!  I’m just eager to see the moment they realise they’re causing more death than new life, no matter what their sanctimonious priestess has to say about it.
Liepard: You are perilously close to divulging our sacred mysteries, murderer!  Be silent and do your job!
Luna: Grrr… It’s just such a shame that I didn’t get here sooner – that I wasn’t able to stop you from inflicting mortal injuries on these two devoted servants of the cause of Life.
Liepard: What are you-!?
Manectric: We’re, uh… we’re probably going to be fine, actually…
Luna: I don’t think you heard me clearly. [schhhhhhick]
Manectric and Liepard: ACK-gllllrk! [thud]
Luna: As I was saying.  Such a terrible shame.
Martial: All this time, and still so utterly without remorse!? [to Spruce] My saviour… this battle is mine, but if you are willing I would be honoured to have you fight by my side.
Spruce: No argument from me!  You’re going down, Luna!
Luna: Oh… but I was so enjoying our little catch-up.  But if you insist… Assist – Hone Claws!
Spruce: …that’s new.
Luna: Assist – SPARK! [crackle-BANG]
Spruce: OW OW OW OW OW!  How is she so strong!?  TWISTER!  Featherd-
Luna: Assist – Taunt, you overgrown tit!
Spruce: -blerk!  Feath- um- that is-
Luna: DOUBLE EDGE!
Martial: Urgh!  Curse you, traitor!  Poison JAB!
Luna: Whoops; too slow!  Ha-hah!  Are we having fun yet?  DOUBLE EDGE!
Martial: Aaagh!
Luna: What have you been doing all this time?  Haven’t you murdered anyone at all since we last saw each other, Spruce!?  Assist – SLASH!
Spruce: Erk!  Martial, we need to get out of here before more of them turn up!  Use a Thunderbolt on the ceiling!
Martial: What?
Spruce: Just do it!
Martial: Very well… THUNDERBOLT! [BZZZZZZZZAP-CRASH]
Luna: Hmm…?  Wha- oh! [dodging rubble] Desperate now, aren’t you?
Spruce: Okay; ready!  Hold onto your lunch!
Martial: …Spruce, what are you-?
Spruce: [grabbing Martial] FLY!
Martial: What are you-!?  AaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!
Luna: Oh, don’t be ridiculous!  Get back down here this instant and let me eviscerate you!
Spruce: See ya, Luna!
Luna: [sigh] Typical.

Luna: [looking around] And I suppose the repairs are coming out of my pay, too!?

Spruce: Look, I think that’s Ruby and our human down there!  We should meet up with them!
Martial: Indeed.  But if I may ask… how are you even able to carry me?
Spruce: What do you mean?
Martial: I do not mean to insinuate any weakness on your part!  But surely the weight of my body must exceed yours by at least half.
Spruce: Oh.  I dunno.  Something the human taught me, I guess.  He says even a Pidgey can carry a fully grown human and his bicycle across a whole region, if you just… um… well, you see, you just have to…
Martial: Go on…
Spruce: …with… physics and stuff!  And… huh.  It… well, it made sense at the time!
Martial: I… see.

Martial: …please do not drop me.

The Team:

Ruby the Fennexis (Delphox)
Female, Bold nature, level 44, Großbrand (Blaze)
Lichtschild (Light Screen), Psychoschock (Psyshock), Strauchler (Grass Knot), Flammenwurf (Flamethrower)

Spruce the Tauboss (Pidgeot)
Male, Rash nature, level 43, Adlerauge (Keen Eye)
Windhose (Twister), Daunenreigen (Featherdance), Fliegen (Fly), Fassade (Façade)

Fisher the Entoron (Golduck)
Male, Brave nature, level 43, Wolke Sieben (Cloud Nine)
Aussetzer (Disable), Dunkelklaue (Shadow Claw), Zen-Kopfstoß (Zen Headbutt), Surfer (Surf)

Martial the Nidoking
Male, Brave nature, level 43, Giftdorn (Poison Point)
Donnerblitz (Thunderbolt), Erdkräfte (Earth Power), Gifthieb (Poison Jab), Stärker (Strength)

Daku the Knarksel (Gabite)
Male, Sassy nature, level 43, Sandschleier (Sand Veil)
Klauenwetzer (Hone Claws), Drachenklaue (Dragon Claw), Schaufler (Dig), Schlitzer (Slash)

Umbriel the Schnuthelm (Shelmet)
Female, Hardy nature, level 43, Panzerhaut (Shell Armour)
Käfertrutz (Struggle Bug), Gigasauger (Giga Drain), Toxin (…take a wild guess), Giftschock (Venoshock)

Graveyard:

Melissa the Bibor (Beedrill)
Female, Jolly nature, level 16, Hexaplaga (Swarm)
Giftstachel (Poison Sting), Duonadel (Twineedle), Energiefokus (Focus Energy), Furienschlag (Fury Attack)

Boreas the Amarino (Amaura)
Male, Mild nature, level 29, Frostschicht (Refrigerate)
Natur-Kraft (Nature Power), Bodycheck (Take Down), Felsgrab (Rock Tomb), Aurorastrahl (Aurora Beam)

Amaldos the Lucario
Male, Hasty nature, level 39, Felsenfest (Steadfast)
Steigerungshieb (Power-Up Punch), Schwerttanz (Swords Dance), Egotrip (Me First), Knochenhatz (Bone Rush)

Next episode.

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