Chapter One

The rapidash quivered expectantly, muscles tense and ready to spring into action. Diamond Death was a new racer, a freshly evolved pokemon that wanted to test out her new strength all day every day. A cool human hand landed on her neck, and she tried to shy away, but realised she had no room. Frustrasted, she sought out human feet with her hooves, but missed, and settled with kicking the back wall of her stable. Satisfied, she eyed the human, daring her to try again.

"You want to run, don't you?" A soft voice reached her ears. "You want to fly through the air and feel the ground rush past your hooves." The black rapidash pawed at the ground, trying to ignore the voice and what she could grasp of the meaning. "You want to be free, yes?"

Diamond neighed, tossing her head in agitation. Yes. She wanted to be free of the stable. She wanted to run, to race. It was in her blood.

"Then stand still and let me touch you." The voice was a little harsher, but the hand landed on her neck again, except this time it stroked her, and she found the touch soothing. A brush followed the hand, and she liked that even more. Her flames cooled, and soon she even stopped fidgeting, allowing the human to walk around her, checking her shoes and her hooves and her legs, grooming her body and making sure she was fit. Diamond Death barely noticed as the blanket and training sadle were placed on the back, or when the bridle and bit were fitted on her head and in her mouth. She was entranced by the promises of excersise, the constant chatter that her lass kept on.

All touch left her, and she watched as the human approached the door to her stable. She flicked her ears and nickered, ready to burst free of the too small area she would be sleeping and eating in for the next few weeks.

The door opened.


Amity watched as the rapidash galloped out of the stable, smiling at the pure joy that the pokemon projected. It would be short-lived though; as soon as her initial excitement started to fade, the trainer would tether her and start working on her control. She turned and started to walk away, not wanting to see Diamond's dissapointment at being caught again.

Realising that she had more to do that day, she pulled a small notepad out of the right pocket of her overalls. Check-in with the Head Lad, Marshall. She replaced the notepad and looked around, trying to figure out where to go. She had never been here before... So much to learn.

"Are you Amity?"

She whipped around to see the speaker, her green eyes widening slightly as she realised the lack of distance between her and the short man. Short compared to other men, anyway. Just barely taller than her. Amity took a step back, then smiled a nice neutral smile. "Yes, I'm Amity."

"I'm Phillip Wilder, Diamond Death's jockey." He offered her a hand to shake, and she took it. Her grip was gentle, questioning; his was firm, and he pulled her a little closer, placing his other hand on her waist to steady her. "You must be one of the newly trained lasses. Most would have slapped me by now."

She looked into his eyes, and she was caught. They were dark and brown, like his hair, except that was darker, or his skin, except that was much lighter. Having few other places to look, she settled on staring between his eyes. "Could you please let me go?"

He smiled and dropped his hands to his side, allowing her to take two steps away before he took one step toward her. "They've really squashed the fight out of you."

"There was no fight in me to begin with. I wanted to work with the Rapidash. I did what I had to in order to get this chance. I'm not reckless enough to be a jockey or forceful enough to be a trainer. I can't afford or catch a Rapidash so it was this or be the mother of a jockey." She stuck her hands in her pockets, running the coins and keys through her fingers.

"I make you nervous." He sounded pleased.

She stopped playing with the contents of her pockets. "You're too wild, even for a jockey. How'd you make it this far?"

He grinned, and she almost expected to see cat-fangs. "I made it because I wanted to." He sat down on the edge of an empty water trough and looked up at her. He seemed so small that way, with his short, lithe body. His hair was braided into little cornrolls, and something about his posture at that moment almost made Amity want to hug him. "You seemed like you were going somewhere when I stopped you."

Her eyebrows shot up, and she grimaced slightly, starting to leave but remembering something else. "Do you always talk like that?"

"Like what?"

"You speak in statements that aren't really statements. They're questions of a sort."

"Some people think it's sexy."

Amity raised an eyebrow, then smiled. "Liar."

"They think it's irritating, but endearing." He stretched his arms, his grey shirt raising just enough to show a line of dark skin.

She had to smile, unwillingly amused by the jockey.

"Run little lass. Scurry to your next task." His tone was slightly bitter, mocking, yet not directed toward her. She stared at him for a little while, then continued on her way.


Philip watched the lass find her way around the stables. It was cute, in a way, how she was so conscious of everything she did except for her nervous habits. What bugged him was how... artificial she almost seemed. Just another lass like all the other lads and lasses. No need for individuality in the stable hands, right?

He hated racing heirachy.

The jockey stood up, clasping his hands behind his back. There was little for him to do that day. Jesse McIntire, Diamond's new trainer, refused to let him ride her until she had done some preliminary training. New rapidash were dangerous and fickle. Jockeys had been permenantly injured and killed by overenthusiastic rapidash that bucked, burned, and trampled.

A nice clean fall. A broken neck. The end of a racing career. Philip's prayer every night.

"Hey Philip." The trainer walked toward the jockey. "You ready for lunch?"

The shorter man resisted the urge to laugh in scorn. Lunch? Vitamins and water, then a little something to fill his stomach. Could not gain weight, but had to stay fit. "Yeah, I'm ready."

"You okay?" Jesse placed a hand on Philip's shoulder, but it was shrugged away. "Philip, you can't ride a rapidash with pent-up emotions. She'll sense it and go wild."

He looked up with his brown eyes, both hands on his waist. "The hell do you think I do for a living? Herd mereep?"

Jesse started to reach out again, but stopped. Out of the little time he had spent with the jockey, strategising for the upcoming race, he had learnt that when Philip was brooding, he hated to be touched unless he initiated contact. "Have you met Diamond yet?"


"You'll like her. She's very spunky. Lots of energy. I think you'll be a good match."

Philip looked up at the trainer, all traces of anger gone and a thoughtful expression on his face. "I think you're right."


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