43.
Zephir seemed quite curious about the Ditto that was wearing his face. With effortless grace, he leaped astride the same vine as the one Ditto clung to. It looked like the start of a beautiful friendship… right up until Zephir bopped Ditto on the face and rushed into the thicket of vines. His tail curled mirthfully as he bounded through the living maze. Ditto looked dazed for a moment, but it caught onto this new game quickly and disappeared only a few steps behind Zephir.

“For sure,” Margo said. “Roswell should be able to keep tabs on the two of them. Unless the wormhole’s interfering…?” Roswell, in answer to this, rolled their eyes and began levitating once again, floating forward and guiding the humans, plus Iris, through the tangle.

Roswell, already anticipating the chase, lifted their legs up and began to levitate effortlessly over the earth. At first, Margo was worried that they wouldn’t be able to fit through the vines, but they were actually pretty malleable for a psychic as powerful as Roswell. The Metagross, whenever they encountered a thicket of plants too thick for them to pass through normally, simply bent the green boughs away to make room. This wasn’t just good for Roswell - it meant that Rick, Margo, and Iris were able to pass through without trampling anything or having to fight their way through knotted vines.

For Zephir and Ditto, things were a little bit more adventurous. While the two of them were able to fit through small spaces quite easily, they weren’t moving with any special purpose, unless one counted pure fun as a purpose. Their chase was unfocused, exuberant. One moment, Zephir would be following on Ditto’s heels, batting at it with playful paws; the next, Ditto would be chasing Zephir down, nipping at him with borrowed teeth before Zephir turned, gave Ditto another smack, and bolted off again. They followed the vines as easily as the ground - while they were out of sight most of the time, Margo could clearly see Ditto climb one of the vines a full yard before turning around and dropping on Zephir with a pounce - and neither of them showed any sign of slowing, until…

Once again, Roswell hummed. One maglev claw turned to indicate something just ahead. Margo followed in Roswell’s trail, though she wasn’t sure what they saw. The vines were just as thick as ever -

The glade began without warning. There was nothing to indicate that this spot was more special than any other. The riotous flowers were neither brighter nor duller here; the vines neither larger nor smaller; the grass neither more nor less vibrant. The only unusual aspects of the clearing were its existence in comparison to the dense flora from before, and the seven-foot high glowing disc, a window clearly showing the Ranger outpost back home, rimmed with white light that floated silently and simply above the earth.

Ditto had been gazing intently at the portal from a high perch, but as the humans, Rapidash, and Metagross entered the clearing, it turned toward them. Through beady eyes, it gave all of them a mournful look. It seemed to know that it was time for the newcomers to go, and while it didn’t want to be alone - it jumped down, landing with a gentle rustle in the grass, and transformed back into its natural state - it wasn’t going to keep the interdimensional travellers waiting any longer. Moving far too solemnly for an unnatural grin continually plastered onto its face, Ditto nodded to each of the travelers in turn. Then it waved to the group as a whole and, without a sound, slithered into the vines, its gelatinous body squeezing through the cracks with ease.

Margo was quiet for a moment. “That was… certainly something,” she said. “Good on them for leading us here, though,” she added. She turned to Rick. “Looks like we've overstayed our welcome, but I can't say I'm surprised. Most of the Rangers have reported they did about five jumps before getting thrown out, and this was our fifth.” Margo recalled Roswell so that there was one less Pokemon to worry about bringing home safely. Then, she gestured to the portal. “Ready when you are.”

Ditto/G/??? Ability/??? Nature/83% HP. Fled.

Trainer Stats
Spoiler:
Name: Rick.
Location: A clearing in a leafy labyrinth. A portal ahead shows a clear view of Earth.
Items: Park Ball (x2), Super Ball (x2), Hyper Ball (x2), Energy Powder (x2), Revival Herb (x1).
Encounters Remaining: 0/5
Pokemon Encountered:
Meowstic/Male/??? Nature
Meditite/Male/??? Nature
Archeops/???/??? Nature
Scizor/Male/Serious Nature
Ditto/G/???/??? Nature.
Pokemon Captured: Scizor/Male/Serious Nature.
Character Count: 15,396/25,000


Pokemon Stats
Spoiler:
Iris/Rapidash/F/Flame Body/Hardy/56%
Moves: Ally Switch, Attract, Baton Pass, Bide, Body Slam, Captivate, Charm, Confide, Curse, Double Kick, Double-Edge, Double Team, Drill Run, Echoed Voice, Endure, Façade, Flamethrower, Giga Impact, Heat Wave, Hidden Power Electric, High Horsepower, Horn Drill, Hyper Beam, Hypnosis, Incinerate, Iron Tail, Low Kick, Mimic, Morning Sun, Natural Gift, Overheat, Pay Day, Protect, Rage, Reflect, Rest, Return, Round, Secret Power, Skull Bash, Sleep Talk, Smart Strike, Snore, Solar Beam, Strength, Substitute, Sunny Day, Swagger, Swift, Thrash, Throat Chop, Toxic, Wild Charge, Will-O-Wisp.

Zephir/Leafeon/M/Leaf Guard/Mild/57%
EMs: Attract, Bullet Seed, Captivate, Celebrate, Confide, Fake Tears, Grass Knot, Growth, Heal Bell, Iron Tail, Knock Off, Mimic, Natural Gift, Protect, Reflect, Rest, Roar, Secret Power, Strength, Substitute, Tickle, Wish, Worry Seed, X-Scissor, Yawn.