We did indeed sneak in one more session this year, and I will now relate it to you.
After the strange nidoking left, the party decided they should waste no time in heading back east, for the "mountain of steel" the creature mentioned was surely the headquarters of the Silph Corporation in Saffron City, the closest thing the post-pokemon world has to a skyscraper. However, when they attempted to cross the Viridian/Pewter route on their way to the mountains, they found it heavily patrolled by Indigo trainers, including at least one scout circling on a fearow.
A few plans were concocted and discarded over the course of several minutes. The best idea they could come up with was to create a distraction by throwing a rock. Cliched, yes, but Violet could throw it with TELEKINESIS, which would surely give them an edge.
Before embarking on this foolish endeavour, Katherine noticed that they had apparently picked up a fifth wheel. A large, hairy man was crouching in the bushes behind them, listening to their whispered conversation. They asked him who he was and he said his name was Hiker. After a very awkward conversation (the man was out of practice) he invited them back to his cabin for soup. They were too hungry to argue. Plus they figured they could always sic their pokemon on him. Strangely enough, though, Hiker (or Scruffy as Dale took to calling him) didn't seem at all unnerved by the half dozen pokemon walking around with them.
At the cabin, Hiker turned out to be an illegal pokemon owner himself. He had a vulpix named Janice which he apparently trusted enough to wander about on her own. He'd looted some pokeballs from a dead trainer some time ago, then caught Janice after beating her up with his bare hands. Hiker had been living on his own in the woods for longer than most of the party had been alive, and he didn't care much for the League, though he didn't explain why.
The party decided to trust him and explained their situation, and their need to get past the trainer patrols. Hiker pointed out that pokemon had dug a tunnel under the mountains some time ago, and that the entrance was nearby. The exit was on the far side of Vermilion, which was just about perfect for their needs. The League didn't seem to know about it, which was even better. It was decided; they'd take the tunnel. Hiker would go with them, as he didn't like the idea of a bunch of kids on the run from the League by themselves.
At first all was quiet. As Hiker had promised, the tunnel seemed to have been abandoned by the local pokemon. At least, until they got a couple of miles through it, at which point they saw a light up ahead and heard something charging down the tunnel towards them. A rhyhorn, badly injured and on fire, ran past and collapsed unconscious. Two magmars emerged from the darkness ahead. The party prepared for a fight/retreat, but rather than attacking the magmars simply stepped aside and let them past. Nobody knew what to make of this, but they weren't about to question their continued good luck. They hurried past (though Chaos stayed behind and "talked" to the magmars briefly), and by midnight they had reached the other end of the tunnel.
The party set up a watch while they rested before heading north to Saffron. During the second shift, however, Violet found hersolf dozing off.
Come morning, Dale gave Violet hell for falling asleep on watch. Violet tried to defend herself by saying that nothing bad had happened (except that a wild bulbasaur had chewed on the tail of the party's new baby slowpoke, which recently hatched; Hiker ended up getting it since he, too, was ridiculously slow due to a knee injury). The party soon noticed, however, that Katherine was missing.
Dale has his meowth follow her scent, which led east. They found her discarded pokeballs, but after some time the meowth refused to go any further. In fact, all of their pokemon were clearly afraid of something. The meowth even went so far as to try and overload its pokeball and escape, though the attempt failed. In fact, only Tessie the magnemite (being totally obedient to its trainer) and their first pokemon (which had been around them long enough to develop a lot of trust) were willing to go on. The group was worried, but Katherine had saved most of them with her medical knowledge at least once. There was nothing for it but to keep going. They returned most of their pokemon to their balls and left Chaos waiting under at tree.
(This was where the first session ended. It looks like a lot when typed out, but it was really only a short session interupted by way too much screwing around.)
After heading east for some time along an overgrown former route, the party reached the abandoned Lavender Town. Many years ago, early in the days of the Indigo League, a massive radio tower had been built there in an attempt to counter the strange failure of all long-range radio signals which coincided with the arrival of pokemon on Earth. However, after only about a day of broadcasting, all communications with the town were lost. The official League explanation was that the tower's energy needs were too high, and so it and the entire town were abandoned.
The party had seen way too much to believe that for a second, of course.
The entire town was obscured by dark fog, and a sheet of black clouds blotted out the sun. No plants were growing in the area, which meant that most of the buildings were intact rather than town apart by trees. There also seemed to be no pokemon or animals about. All was silent and still except for the occasional breeze blowing the dust about.
Hiker's vulpix was able to follow Katherine's trail, which deep into the centre of the town. On their way, the party noticed a pokemon centre. These buildings are the League's connection the public. They offer medical services and temporary shelter to victims of pokemon attacks in addition to services and supplies for trainers. Reasoning that there might still be some pokeballs or other useful things inside, the party decided to check it out quickly.
The building was largely whole except for a few cracks in the ceiling and a thick layer of dust and cobwebs. They quickly scooped up any medication they could find that wasn't expired and that they knew wouldn't kill them, as well as some bandages and clothing. The centre had clearly been abandoned in haste.
After a few minutes, Frank noticed a faint, ominpresent static hiss inside the building. Occasionally he thought he could hear snatches of words or music. Thinking it might be the PA system, they started fiddling about with the computers at the front desk. They weren't receiving power, however. Violet had her pikachu try to power them up, but they got the wiring wrong and the attempt failed. They decided not to try it again lest they break the machines and tire out their pokemon.
They also found a portable radio whose batteries seemed to still have a charge. Turning it on, however, they couldn't seem to pick up a proper signal, and all they got was a loud mix of various broadcasts, Bizarrely, they all seemed to be for sporting events; there had been no organized sports broadcasts in made in over fifty years.
Seconds after turning the radio on, the building seemed to quiver and dust rained down from the ceiling. They quickly turned the machine off.
In the back, they found several useful items after ripping open some drawers with Frodo's vines. They found some pokeballs, some antidote (which only worked on pokemon, unfortunately), and some "potions"; small portable batteries which could be plugged into a pokeball to restore energy to the pokemon inside. All seemed to be in working order, but unfortunately the centre's main pokemon restoration device was out of power. They left the building.
They continued to follow Katherine's trail, but they noticed that the static hiss could now be heard outside as well. Before they could even being to guess what that meant, they saw Katherine up ahead, sitting on a park bench. She was staring blankly ahead and stroking her hair. She seemed to be singing, but the sound she made included instrumental accompaniment...
Katherine didn't respond to Dale and Frank asking her what she was doing here. When Violet tried to help her to her feet, the music stopped and she fell limply to the ground. Before they could pick her up, she shot off across the ground as if being dragged. Dale gave chase, but despite being the fastest runner in the party, he couldn't keep up. They'd lost her, and what's worse, the static noise around them was now louder and more erratic.
While wandering the streets and trying to come up with a plan, they noticed something strange. A small house nearby had been covered entirely in copper plating, even the door and windows. As this seemed a recent addition, they decided to check it out. After nobody answered their knocking, Hiker shouldered the door open. They were immediately greeted by the blinding glare of two industrial flashlights and a raspy voice shrieking at them; "Close the door!" They did so, and the ominpresent static ceased.
A disheveled, white-haired man was pointing a revolver and a blowtorch at them from behind a desk. After closing the door, they made repeated attempts to calm him down, but only seemed able to escalate the situation. Eventually the man released a voltorb from a pokeball and threatened to blow them all to pieces (including himself). Hiker, being intimately familiar with going crazy from isolation, was finally able to confuse and distract the man enough to render him less of an immediate threat.
They gathered that the man wasn't with the League; in fact, he was very much against them, and initiatlly suspicious that the party themselves might be League officials come looking for them. Rather than push that topic, the party tried to get information on just what was going on in Lavender. The man revealed that in building the "Tower of Babel", the League had brought down God's wrath. Instead of leading to heaven, the tower now served as a gateway to hell. He that he and some accomplices had attempted to take the tower back, but were stopped by "the devil" himself, a terrible skull-faced monstrosity. The man claimed to be the only survivor.
As the man was clearly more than a little insane, they waited until he apparently forgot they were there while banging away on an old typewriter. They snuck out the door, but not before snatching up his flashlights (he had a third which bore the Silph logo, oddly enough) and blowtorch, which they thought might come in handy. They reasoned that he wouldn't try to get them back, as he didn't seem to have left his little shack in years.
After some more wandering, they finally came across the old radio tower. The building was in good condition, except that the tower was bent to one side (due to a heavy impact, they guessed). It was also surrounded by corpses, . All showed signs of severe blunt trauma, and most were armed with pokeballs (broken, but salvageable). Those farthest from the door also had guns, but none of the weapons still worked (or had ammo). The men seemed to have died while trying to get through the broadcasting station's front door. Or perhaps while trying to escape. None of them wore League uniforms.
Hiker noticed movement inside. A small pokemon was peering out of the doorway; a cubone. They puzzled over the description their pokedexes gave them; an orphan pokemon first created when another pokemon species lost its mother at an early age. It used the mother's bones for both armour and weapons. Hiker decided that he wanted to catch it, so the party went inside. Once again, the static hiss stopped.
There were more corpses (and parts of corpses) inside. Violet turned on her flashlight to get a better look at things, but the Silph-labeled light emitted a dark purple beam rather than a bright white one. It also revealed glowing splatters across the walls and floors. They didn't know what the strange light's purpose was, but they could see by it and so didn't bother to turn it off.
The cubone fled up to the roof, and the party followed. Violet stepped forward to get a better look at the pokemon as it huddled behind one of the tower's legs, but the beam of her Silph flashlight reveal something alarming. Surrounding the tower were... faces. Angry faces, which could only be seen when the black light shone on them. Realizing they could be seen, the faces would emit a high-pitched tone and fly away, but the party was able to identify them as gastly, a ghost pokemon.
They quickly fled back inside, as the gastly appeared unwilling to enter the building. Looking for a reason why, the party headed downstairs, where they found the recording and broadcasting studio. There were bodies down here, but they were older, and had seemingly died instantly rather than by violence. There were no splatters except for in the far corner. They stepped forward to get a closer look.
Huddled in the corner was a partial pokemon skeleton, a squat humanoid creature. It was missing a femur and its skull, with only its jaw still resting nearby. Many of its bones were broken, and some still had embedded bullets. The ground beneath the skeleton was absolutely littered with them. The creature had apparently killed dozens of armed men while under heavy fire, then only died hours later after dragging itself here.
Suddenly they heard a wail from the stairwell. The cubone had followed them, and was shrieking at the top of its lungs. The room grew darker, and the static returned. Somehow, it sounded angry. Violet's flashlight revealed a massive semitransparent marowak rising out of the floor.
In a panic the party attacked. If the thing had a visible form, it could be damaged, they reasoned. Apparently their pokemon agreed, as they were now willing to fight again after hours of slinking along uselessly behind them. The marowak for some reason gave them the chance to strike first, but it wasn't nearly enough to take the powerful spectre down. In its first attack it shattered Tessie to pieces, and the party was only able to win by slowly wearing it down with a constant barrage of energy attacks. Finally, the creature collapsed. But it didn't disappear as they hoped it would; it just lay there. The cubone sobbed in the corner.
Hiker decided this was his chance. He had his vulpix attack the creature, then caught it once it was weakened. This proved to be a bad idea.
The marowak turned its eyeless gaze on Hiker, and uttered a low rumbling noise from its distended mouth. The party fled before it could do anything other than scare the hell out of them.
Outside, they found the static greatly subdued. Janice was able to keep her head and follow Katherine's trail again. They soon found her, floating slowly along with her feet dragging. Violet and Hiker grabbed her and Frank shone the Silph light on her, which sure enough revealed a gastly engulfing her. The light chased it out of her body, causing her to instantly go limp. The party steeled themselves for another battle...
...but Dale threw a pokeball and caught it instantly.
Katherine immediately regained consciousness and began sobbing the name "Evan" over and over and over.
The group hurried away from Lavender, heading northwest towards Saffron, as they'd already lost a lot of time. Only as night fell did they remember they'd left Chaos behind on the abandoned route. They hoped he would still be waiting for them come morning.
THIS IS WHAT POKEMON HAS BECOME IN MY HANDS. WEEP FOR YOUR DESPOILED CHILDHOOD.