Chapter 41: Sleep Kiss

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Chapter 41: Desperate Measures

The lab the trio was in was suddenly plunged into darkness as a sudden feeling of panic swept through the room.
Epel stood up, (Y/N) barely able to make him out in the dark. "Wh-what's happening? The power suddenly went out."
The trainer grabbed the nearby device, trying to get it to turn on, but to no avail.
"The tablets are dead too."
"The communication devices are out of commission as well." Rook informed them. "The doors are not opening anytime soon.
"Does that mean we're stuck here?" Epel asked, only for his Vice Dorm Leader to silence him.
"Shh, I hear commotion outside." He placed his ear to the door as Swampert let out a low growl. "From what I can gather, even the employees were taken by surprise. The staff stationed here are all headed for Headquarters."
"Then I think we can assume this is way more serious than a blackout." (Y/N) determined, trying to calm her partner.
"What should we do? Should we stay and wait until Ortho-kun comes and gets us?"
Rook didn't answer Epel right away. "Hm... Could you give me a moment?" He moved towards the map of the facility on the nearby table. "Come, show yourself to me. I See You."
Spheres of light suddenly overlayed the map, moving along the marked halls.
Rook, now illuminated by the spheres, turned back to them. "Vil and the others managed to escape, and are currently walking around the facility."
"Huh? I thought you needed to see him before you can use your unique magic on him?" Epel asked.
Rook had briefly explained his Unique Magic on the way. He was initially going to use that to track everyone, but (Y/N)'s way was much more precise.
"I actually cast my magic in one of the bottles I had them give to Vil."
Epel's eyes widened. "What!? You can use yer magic on things, too!?"
Rook chuckled. "But of course. Humans aren't the only prey. I had a feeling that they would scan the contents, but it seems to have flown past their radar. I See You's markers are neither toxic nor aggressive. To most, it seems like a very trivial charm. Imbuing cosmetics with a good luck charm is a common practice, after all. Aestheticians have opened specialty shops for cosmetics and nail polish imbued with magic as well. I believe that Idia-kun and little Ortho saw my magic as a non-threatening charm.
"Amazing!" Epel leaned towards (Y/N) to whispers. .But it is a little scary. Most people wouldn't even notice that they've been marked..."
She rubbed her head as Swampert grunted in agreement. "Starting to get why Kitty's afraid of him."
"The Island of Woe is technologically advanced, and yet there's an unexpected power outage." The blonde pointed out. "Vil and the others were supposed to be released tomorrow, but they are currently investigating. My theory is that there is some kind of trouble occurring at Headquarters. (Y/N), could your monster have caused this?"
"He could, but I doubt Rotom would. He's a mischievous little ghost, but he knows better than to goof off during a mission. I just hope Grim's all right. I have a very bad feeling."
"Please don't say that." Epel pleaded. "Bad things always happen when you say that."
"Little Ortho mentioned that this area is a training ground for S.T.Y.X. employees. Now, let me see..." Rook began to fiddle with the door, much to Epel's confusion.
"Why are you fiddling with the door, Rook-san?"
"I'm searching for the emergency valve."
(Y/N) cleared her throat, motioning Rook to stand aside as Metagross appeared from his Pokeball. "Allow us. Metagross?"
In one fluid motion, the pseudo-legendary sent the door flying into the hall.
Rook looked impressed. "Crude, but efficient."
"Thanks, big guy." (Y/N) said as she called the steel type back to his ball. Come on, let's go find the others!"
The group ran through the halls for quite some time, the size of the facility becoming more apparent with each step.
Epel gritted his teeth. "Oh, shoot. It's a helluva lot bigger than I thought..."
Rook nodded. "We've managed to make it this far without running into anyone else, but I wonder what the situation is inside."
A scream suddenly filled the air. "SOMEONE!! HELP ME, PLEASE!"
(Y/N) instinctively ran towards the voice, Swampert at her heels. Rounding the corner, the found a scientist being cornered by a squad of the ferrymen. Judging by the dangerous sparking of the weapons, (Y/N) had a feeling they weren't in subduing mode.
"Swampert! Go!"
The water type rushed them, barreling into them and putting himself between the attackers and the scientist. Rook and Epel then managed to catch up.
"Aren't they on the same side?!" Epel pointed out. "Why are they attacking each other?!"
Rook in contrast took out his magical pen and moved to Swampert's side. "I do not know, but we need to help!"
"Be careful!" (Y/N) yelled. "Something's off! Swampert, Earthquake!"
The Pomefiore boys leapt onto the starters back as his attack shook the room. Two of the ferrymen were taken out by falling debris, but the others remained undeterred. Swampert provided ample coverage with Waterfalls while Epel and Rook fired from a safe distance, but (Y/N) began to notice the excessive force the ferrymen were using, even compared to their fight at the school.
"A: Maximum output adjusted." One spoke. "Activating Termination Mode."
A different one began to ramble. "Eliminate target. Eliminate target. ELIMINATE TARGET!"
"What is happening!?" Rook yelled. "They are very different from what we encountered yesterday!"
Just then, Swampert struck the lead one with an Ice Punch. Thanks to the previous damage, part of the suit fell away. (Y/N)'s eyes widened at what she saw, or rather, what she didn't see.
"Guys, no one's piloting those suits!"
"Epel-kun, (Y/N), we must retreat!" Rook declared, running to the scientist who was curled up during all this. "Monsieur, can you stand?.
"I will lead the way! Epel-kun, please help monsieur up! (Y/N), provide cover!"
"Roger! You heard him, Swampert! Cover our rears!"
The starter launched another Earthquake as the Pomefiore students carried off the scientist as fast as they could. (Y/N) and Swampert ran to catch up with others, only to get cut off by a new squad of guards.
Epel turned, seeing Swampert trying to fight his way through, (Y/N) on his back. "Oh, no...! There's six, no, seven of them now! There's even more behind us!"
"Keep running!" (Y/N) insisted. "We'll be okay!"
A ferryman took aim. "Magic Beam is operational. Target locked on."
"Get out of there, (Y/N)!" Rook insisted as the ferryman counted down.
"T-minus 3, 2, 1..."
Epel stared helplessly. "Useless! What did I come all the way here for!? I can't stand being the same weak and helpless Epel anymore!"
Rook glanced at the first year in surprise. "Epel-kun's magical energy is rapidly increasing... Could it be...!?"
(Y/N) and Swampert growled at the guard in defiance. "Bring it on, ya bucket of bolts!"
Epel screamed. "IN YOUR DREAMS–!!!"
For a moment, the world turned dark. (Y/N) thought the end had come, but she was greeted instead by seemingly another vision. At the very, it probably meant she was alive. The King of Underworld stood in a coliseum with an untrustworthy smirk upon his face, talking to a tall and well built man.
"Hello, I'm Hades, God of the Underworld. Will you listen to my itty-bitty request, and take a break from being a glorious hero for just one day? I'm sure you're thinking, 'What's in it for me?'," A woman, bound in shadow, suddenly appeared before them. "Fine, let's make a deal! Let me do my thing for 24 hours, and then I'll set Meg free. You have three seconds to answer. Three, two..."
The male nodded, shaking his hand. "I understand."
"It's a deal. Isn't this nice? You get to be like the other humans. It's been your dream, hasn't it?"
(Y/N) pondered as the dream faded. "It was his dream to be... just like the others?"
A voice called to her from somewhere distant.
"... (Y/N)... (Y/N)!!"
The trainer opened her eyes to see Rook and Epel kneeling over her, relieved more than anything.
"Thank goodness, you're all right." Rook said as she sat up.
"Mostly. Swampert!" She turned to her partner, who was luckily unharmed. "Thank Arceus you're okay." She put her forehead to his. "Sorry I put you through that, bud."
"Pert." The water type grunted, licking her to show there were no hard feelings.
(Y/N) then turned back to her friends. "What happened? Did we faint?"
Rook motioned over his shoulder. "Take a look."
The girl nearly did a double take as she saw what he was motioning at. The ferrymen that had been chasing them were now deactivated and encased in floating, see-through coffins.
"A glass coffin...!?"
Rook smirked. "You seem surprised, (Y/N). You see, this is all thanks to Epel-kun!"
The small male seemed bashful. "Y-you were all in danger, so I sort of went wild..."
Epel explained what had happened in the interval and the trainer smiled.
"Wait, does that mean?"
Epel nodded, smiling. "Ehehe~! Yes, it's my unique magic!"
Rook clapped like a proud father. "Bravo, my dearest Crab Apple! Please accept my embrace of praise and gratitude!"
Epel immediately began choking as he was scooped up by the hunter. "...!! I– can't breathe– Rook-san–!!"
Swampert yanked the third year off the first year, giving him a hard look.
"Pardon me. My emotions seem to have gotten the best of me."
Epel still chuckled. "Thank you very much! I can't say I've fully mastered it yet, but it seems like I can trap enemies inside and stop their movements for a given amount of time. I wonder if it's because I just stood by when Ace-kun and Deuce-kun were being attacked, I simply wanted to protect everyone at the moment... Hehe."
"It can act as a protective shield as well as a restrictive cage." Rook deduced. "This barrier is a testament to your own strong will, Epel-kun. It is stronger and more beautiful than any jewel. No one can ever tear you down without your consent now. What a truly beautiful sight! I am honored to have been witness to the birth of your unique magic. I can just imagine how excited Vil would be when he hears word of this!"
The younger male rubbed his head. "But, I don't have the feel for it quite yet... It took a lot of energy to keep them locked up, too..."
Rook started laughing. "All skills take time to master, but I am confident that you will perfect it in no time."
"Think of it as muscle." (Y/N) explained. "You need to exercise it if you want it to get stronger."
The employee, who had fainted, groaned, slowly waking up.
Rook glanced at him. "It seems like our friend has come to as well. How are you feeling, monsieur?"
He looked at them suspiciously. "Did you boys save me? I'm very grateful. It seems like they are running on auto-pilot."
"So (Y/N) was right, no one's wearing the armor." Epel affirmed.
"Yes, although I've never heard of powered armor attacking humans before. It might be because the Cerberus System is down right now. It might be more dangerous inside than it is here..."
"Goodness!" Rook exclaimed.
"Come with me. I'll escort you to the outer walls so we can send you back using the emergency terminals. Though, I cannot guarantee that the terminals will be working, still, you'll be much safer in the outer districts.
"We can't leave!" (Y/N) stated. "Our friends are still here!"
Rook nodded in agreement. "After hearing your story, we are now more determined to go inside and check on the situation."
The employee looked at them in shock. "You mustn't! It's dangerous!"
"We are well aware. However, as the lady said, our beloved schoolmates are still inside. My conscience will not allow leaving them behind to save myself. Rest assured. We've gone through emergency preparedness training back in Night Raven College."
"Have you now...? Very well. Please, take this with you."
He handed (Y/N) a card key.
"Is this your ID?" She asked.
"Yes, the regular ID cards won't grant you access to the central area that houses the Control Room. You can use my card to get there. Though, I cannot say for sure how helpful it will be in this chaos. I'm sure it will be more helpful in the hands of mages like you."
Epel tilted his head. "Won't you need it in order to get to safety, Mister?"
The employee waved him off. "I will be fine, thank you. I was born and raised on this island, so I'll make do."
Rook nodded. "Thank you very much for your help."
"I owe you three my life. Please be careful."
"Let us be off!" The blonde ushered. "Our Queen awaits!"
"All the hallways look the same." Vil said, keeping a firm grip on the sling. "I can't really tell which one leads to the Control Room."
"We've placed markers on areas we've already passed, so we're probably heading in the right direction... I think..."
Leona wasn't exactly encouraged by Jamil's tone. "There are way too many restricted areas, too. If these walls weren't magic-proof, I'd have turned them into sand already."
Riddle nodded in agreement. "The thought has crossed my mind, yes. However, Idia-senpai mentioned that each room functions like a shelter as well. It will not be easy to break."
"I could use my unique magic to force our way in, but it will take some time and a lot of magical energy." Vil offered.
Azul sighed. "If only we could run into an employee soon. We can force our– Pardon, we can explain ourselves and ask for their cooperation."
A crash was heard in the distance, causing everyone to freeze.
"What was that!?" Vil yelled.
A shriek rang out. "HELP ME!!
Turning the corner, the boys found a group of ferrymen training their weapons on a cornered employee.
"Magic Beam is operational. Target locked on."
Azul's eyes widened. "Oh, dear. The ferrymen are attacking an employee!"
Leona smirked. "Perfect, we can use this to our advantage."
"Good grief." Vil scoffed, side eyeing the lion beastman. "What an unprincely thing to say. But, I agree. Let us help him."
The boys all jumped in, magic pens at the ready. There was a noticeable difference with these ferrymen in comparison to the ones that attacked them. It didn't take long for them to pick them off.
"They don't pose much of a problem once you get used to them." Riddle analyzed.
Vil nodded. "Yes, they're a lot more predictable compared to the ones who attacked us in school."
The employee looked up in shock. "Y-you're from the test subjects...!"
"Subjects?" Leona growled. "That how you greet the people who saved you? Take us to your Acting Director now."
"S-stay away from me, you monster!"
Riddle's temper began to flair. "I beg your pardon?"
"How absolutely rude of him to say that when we're genuinely trying to help." Azul said as Leona began to manhandle the employee.
"You've got that right. We're just trynna find our way out, too. Hurry up and take us to the Control Room, damn it."
Vil rolled his eyes. "Really, using violence to ask for help in this age?"
The employee held firm. "I-I refuse! I don't want to go anywhere near Tartarus...! The Cerberus System has been overtaken. This island's done for as soon as the Phantoms break free!"
That got everyone's attention,
"What do you mean by overtaken?" Vil demanded.
"Shut up! I don't have time to explain! Move! I'm going to the emergency terminals!
"Oh, well... You've forced my hand." Jamil looked at him. "Calm down, sir. You must feel uneasy walking back there on your own. Please let us escort you to your destination.
Jamil smirked. "You looked me in the eye. The person reflected in your eyes shall be your master. You shall answer when you are asked, and obey when you are ordered. Snake Whisper."
The employee immediately fell under the hypnosis. "... Understood."
"You have your ID with you, yes? Open the door for us."
"...Yes, Master."
Azul nodded, impressed. "Jamil-san is quick to adapt as always."
The blonde of the group was more focused on the concerning matter. "He mentioned that the Cerberus System has been overtaken, didn't he? Can you ask him what he meant by that?"
Jamil shook his head. "Snake Whisper is only capable of controlling a person's actions by holding on to their consciousness. Unlike Jade's magic, it will be much more difficult for me to probe for a specific purpose. Depending on how it's done, I may be able to achieve a similar effect though."
"Oh-ho!" Leona teased. "I didn't know Octavinelle's Vice-Prefect could perform such scary magic."
Jamil bit his tongue. "Oops, pardon me. I've said too much. He wishes to keep it a secret, so please forget what I've just said."
"Rest assured, Leona-san, Jade's unique magic doesn't work on strong mages such as yourself." Azul assured before whispering a hiss to Jamil. "Tch... I've been keeping it a secret for future negotiations, too! You did that deliberately, didn't you?"
Jamil gave him a side smirk "I'm sure I don't know what you mean."
"We aren't children on a field trip, gentlemen. Enough chit-chat." Vil scolded. "In any case, we'll be able to reach the Control Room with his help now."
"Yes, getting there should give us a scope of the whole situation." Riddle then glanced at the sling. "At the very least, we need to get Rotom help as soon as possible."
Vil nodded. "Let's proceed."
(Control Room)
Since Idia had up and vanished, the scientists were running about like headless chickens.
"All Charon powered armors are deployed on auto-pilot. The supervising authority is... ORTHO!"
"There are reports of staff and civilians being attacked and injured as well!"
"Technical Development, give me a status update on the weapons and hangars."
"None of the built-in magical circuits are operational!"
"It can't be! Force them awake if you have to!"
"No one from the outer walls is responding to our emergency signals! We've lost contact with the staff who evacuated to the emergency terminals!"
"Start decomposition on Lethe River's data and stored energy!"
"The Brute Force Attack Program is running, but the startup code is being rewritten faster than we can keep up!"
"Cryo levels are steadily decreasing in Tartarus. We have 6 hours and 16 minutes until a full meltdown takes place! The upper layers are melting at an accelerated rate. We have roughly 3 hours before melting reaches the 4th level."
"Melting has begun in Tower 1's 12th level."
"The 12th level!? The Phantoms of Antiquity rest there...It's only a matter of time before the Titans break free!
"Blot levels inside HQ are steadily rising! Sound the contamination alerts!"
"ORTHO... His computing power has evolved way beyond what we can contain. What else are we supposed to do...?
Just then, Vil burst in. "I will not have you giving up on me that easily."
The operators all looked at him as the other students filed in, completely baffled.
"Y-you boys are the test subjects brought in from Night Raven College...!"
"How did you manage to break out of isolation!?"
Rather than answer them, Jamil nodded to the hypnotized employee. "Thanks for the help. You're free to go now."
"Yes......" He then shook himself awake. "What am I doing here!? I was supposed to evacuate...!"
One operator glared at the boys. "He used his unique magic to control him!?"
Leona waved him off. "Yeah, yeah, shocker, I know. Where's your Acting Director?"
"Master Idia is..."
"Brother is right here with me." A voice came from the computer.
Riddle blinked. "Is that Ortho-san...!?"
"I'd expect nothing less from our team of SSRs!" Ortho said cheerfully. "The isolation rooms don't have emergency valves though."
"Ah, yes." Vil said. "I figured they would be heavily reinforced, but they weren't invincible, per se. Firstly, we'd like to know what exactly is happening. Where are you two right now?"
"I'm really sorry. Brother is occupied at the moment, so I'll explain in his stead. We are in the Underworld, the depths of Tartarus. We're about to set all our friends from the Underworld free."
"Your friends from the Underworld?" Vil repeated.
"You mentioned earlier that nothing will happen if we don't even think of trying, didn't you, Vil Schoenheit? I'm doing what I can to make some progress, too. I've taken action to make sure that we get the future that we want!"
"And... what would that be...?"
"As long as Tartarus and the Underworld exist, we will never be free from this place. But, if we destroy the existing world so we can co-exist with Phantoms, then maybe we'll be able to go anywhere we want! Isn't that right?
"What...!?" They all shrieked.
Just then, the sling shuddered as Rotom popped out, beeping angrily.
"Oh, so this is where you ran off to." Ortho's voice was now cold and taunting.
Riddle's eyes widened in realization before gritting his teeth. "Did you do this to him!?"
Ortho huffed. "It's not my fault he insisted on fighting."
Leona growled. "I see, so the little guy tried to stop you."
"I'll say! My circuits were half fried by the time he ran away! Still, I couldn't give up. Thank you for giving us a more positive outlook, Vil Schoenheit!"
Vil seethed. "Hold on a minute... Do you mean to say that you'll release all of these Phantoms so they can wreak havoc in our world!?"
"This world has experienced too much karma. We need to reset so we can start a new game. We need to start from scratch. Opening Tartarus and the Underworld gates will be our big first step!
"Unbelievable. You two plan on creating the world anew? How absurd..." Vil then began to laugh. "Ahahahaha! Well, isn't that grand! I'm convinced."
Finally, Ortho was caught off guard. "What...?"
"I would prefer this over you two muttering and sulking about being hopeless. I will support you in your endeavors."
Riddle swung his head at the third year. "What are you saying, Vil-senpai!?"
"You will!?" Ortho said, excited. "Does this mean you're on our side, Vil-san?"
"No, I am not."
"I have dreams that I am not willing to give up. I still aim to be the fairest in all the world, you see? And unfortunately, I still have a long way to go. It will be bothersome if you destroy the world now. Now, becoming the fairest in your new world after I've triumphed in this world sounds tempting. Do you understand me? I will make sure that your little plan doesn't come into fruition."
He's right.
Leona nodded. "I agree that this world has gone to the dogs, but I don't think I'll be able to stomach this 'new world' you plan to make. I'll choose the lesser of two evils."
"I understand the frustrations of being bound to familial duty." Jamil answered honestly. "I detest being controlled by those in authority."
"The economy will greatly suffer if the Phantoms are set free." Azul said. "I will not sit by and watch my assets disappear just like that!"
Riddle also held firm. "Rules are not created for a dictatorial purpose. You must be reprimanded for your actions!"
"This means that you've made enemies of us all." Vil affirmed for the group.
"I see..." Ortho sounded genuinely disappointed. "That's unfortunate. I really hoped we could've played together again. Goodbye..."
As the communications shut off, a swarm of ferrymen came barreling toward the room.
"They're coming for us again!" Jamil yelled.
Riddle's eyes widened. "There's too many of them!"
"Target located. Activating Termination Mode."
Azul tsked. "Idia-san plans on obliterating us."
Vil quickly forced Rotom back into the sling. "Well, he's free to try if he thinks he can succeed."
"Get ready!" Leona yelled as the attack began.
It became apparent this fight would be much more tedious than the last.
"Tch, there's no end to them!" The lion beastman yelled, swatting one away.
"Twenty more powered armors are on their way!" An operator warned.
Azul sighed. "Hmm... Maybe we should have accepted Ortho-san's deal and opened a Blue Ocean in the new world instead."
Riddle almost smacked him. "Don't be ridiculous! Their ideal world is thick with Blot and riddled with Phantoms. It will take a long time before it is deemed livable!
"I will now exercise my authority as Pomefiore's Prefect." Vil declared. "I agree that technique and beauty acquired through effort and diligence are admirable. Reducing all of that effort to nothing is close to unforgivable."
"100 meters until the powered armors reach the control room! Th-they're coming!" The operator warned again.
Jamil glared at him. "Are none of you combat-ready?"
"Most researchers working in S.T.Y.X. are normal civilians. We were chosen because we have little to no magical energy that can produce Blot...!"
Leona sighed, annoyed that there was little fault in the logic. "Oh, yeah. That makes perfect sense."
"All of the magical weapons are under Ortho's control right now. We can't even touch them. 30 more meters until the powered armors arrive! ......!? Wh-what is this...?"
"What's wrong!?" Another asked.
"Three of the powered armors are frozen in their tracks. There are five... No, seven now... They're all in a deadlock!"
"Target located. Eliminate."
Vil turned, seeing a unit in the door. "They're here. On your guard!"
"Close your eyes, quiet your breathing... Sleep Kiss!" A voice commanded.
The unit suddenly deactivated and became encased in a see-through coffin. They all stared as their savior cheered.
": I did it! That went just as I planned!"
Vil's eyes widened. "My, that dialect... It can't be..."
Epel suddenly appeared in the door. "We finally found you, Vil-san!!"
The blonde smiled. "Epel!"
"Oh, how I've missed you, our dearest Roi Du Poison!" Rook said, barreling in.
(Y/N) and Swampert followed, a severed unit arm hanging from the water type's mouth. The girl smiled at them.
"I'm so glad to see you're all safe."
Vil looked at the newcomers. "Rook! And (Y/N), too! You seem well."
Leona gave them looks. "Rook, Epel, and (Y/N)? What are you all doing here?"
"Oh just seeing the sights." The girl snarked before giving him a look. "What do you think, Kitty? We're here to save you."
"HQ should have been under complex management. How did you make it this far?" Jamil asked.
Before they could answer, another swarm of ferrymen flew in.
"We will explain later." Rook promised.
Epel flinched a bit. "I'm running out of energy. Please get ready!"
The first one that came through was immediately knocked out by Swampert who threw the arm he was carrying at its head. Still, more came through.
(Y/N) then pulled out another Pokeball. "I'm gonna need you boys to go wild here!"

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