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    Registered User ScribbblingSwede's Avatar
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    Default The Human Species

    Humanity has finally gotten fed up with their fragile position in the world of Pokémon.
    Gathering the best of trainers, they have decided to subdue or dispose of every powerful Pokémon in existence.

    The strong will expire as a large conflict between Pokémon and humans arises…
    But which side of the conflict will you end up on when you are neither Pokémon nor human…?




    - - - - -
    Chapter 1

    Lonesome Wanderer Lucario
    - - - - -



    A hateful blizzard rages over the northern region of Sinnoh. Braving the evil storm while dragging a limp body behind him, a Lucario stumbles through the snow. His body was thin and muscular, but his meager fur and shorts appeared to do little to protect him from the strong winds. Seeing nothing but whirling snow and walls of rock around him, he searched in hopes of finding a cave to take shelter in.

    He was cold and weary, but eventually managed to locate a big gaping hole in the side of the mountain. He tackled through the opening violently enough to be ramming through a brick wall as he threw the body he was carrying into a corner of the dank cave. Immediately he closed his eyes, as they burned in pain after having been ravaged by the storm. Collapsing on the ground he lay there panting for a while, not knowing whether to recover his exhaustion or start flailing about in order to regain his body heat.

    Deciding that both options sounded like too much of a hassle, he instead sat up and crossed his legs in an attempt to enter a meditative state. That way, he could at least find the inner peace he craved so badly for a while.

    He had barely gotten started before sensing the aura of someone appearing behind him, at the mouth of the cave. The heavy snow has already begun covering up the tracks leading to it, as well as the marks left from the fierce battle that had recently taken place outside. Someone must have seen him enter it…

    ”Pretty gutsy of you to come alone…” the Lucario suddenly said out loud with a dark tone in his voice as his eyes remained closed, ”Who sent you? Some human organization… Or are you a dog of the legendaries?” He clenched his fists a little as no one answered, and he sensed the foreign aura rapidly moving closer to him.

    “No, I guess it doesn’t matter…” the Lucario continued with a sigh, “Since you’ve followed me all the way here, there can only be one course of action…!” Cracking his neck and opening his eyes, the Lucario stood up and quickly turned around to face the approaching threat.

    “OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD” an extremely high-pitched voice echoed in his ears, as a smooth ball of blue hair flew at him. The Lucario narrowly dodged it with a sidestep and saw that it was a fairly short creature with some kind of beak sticking out of it.

    “I-It really is you!” the strange thing continued as her glee increased with every new pounce at him, “I’m your biggest fan! I love you! I’ve watched every episode over and over and o-”

    “Wait!” the Lucario exclaimed terrified while dodging her grasps and fighting hard not to counterattack, “Y-You’re not here to kill me!?”

    “Ki… I-I…” the short bird responded, mishearing him and beginning to blush a little, “… I’d LOVE to kiss you!”

    “Simmer down!” Lucario shouted as he made a small leap back to avoid the thing’s constant approach. As his vision grew less distorted, he saw that it looked like a blue baby penguin with a big head and… White nipples!?

    “I’ve never even seen you before, you crazy thing!” the Lucario yelled angrily as the Piplup before him finally ceased her attacks.

    “But… You’re ‘Lonesome Wanderer Lucario’, right?” she asked, looking at him confused with her beady eyes.

    “I…” the Lucario mumbled, remembering that he had referred to as ‘Lucario’ before and was indeed wandering alone, ”… Yeah, I guess you could call me that…”

    “I KNEW IT!” the Piplup squealed loudly before again jumping up to try to steal his lips.

    “Gah!” Lucario yelled in disgust as he grabbed a hold of her head in midair, “You’ve got rabies or something!?” He had expected a strong reaction from this, but instead the Piplup was just holding her hands in front of her with a brown, rectangular object in them.

    “Can I have your pawprint?” the Piplup asked sincerely with a big smile on her face.

    “W-What the hell…?” Lucario stammered as he searched the small penguin for some kind of storage space, “Where’d you get that from!?”

    “Home!” the Piplup giggled, “I’ve always dreamed of meeting you like this, alone in a cave somewhere, no one to interrupt the romantic mood…”

    “…” Lucario stood in silence, not really caring about anything this wild beast had to say, ”You wanted my… My… What did you want?”

    “Pawprint!” the Piplup exclaimed happily, reaching out even more with the brown object, “I want to show it to all my friends to prove that I really did meet you!”

    ”Paw… Print? Oh, it’s…” Lucario mumbled, examining the small thing which reminded him to a miniature vat of wet cement, “… Like an autograph?”

    ”… A what?” the Piplup wondered, trying to lean her head to the side but instead moving her body diagonally since Lucario still had a tight hold of her.

    ”Never mind…” Lucario sighed while letting go of the tiny creature, making her fall to the ground and landing on her butt, “I’ll give it to you, but then you’ve got to leave.”

    “Leave!?” the Piplup exclaimed instead of ‘Ow’ as she hit the ground, “But… All my life I’ve been waiting for you! I’m your biggest fan! You’re the best hero ever!”

    “I have no idea what you’re talking about…” Lucario said exhausted, tired of all the nonsense.

    ”Take…” the Piplup whispered as she remember all those practices she had in front of the mirror. She put on her best face as she gathered up all her courage and shouted, ”… Take me with you!”

    ”Not a chance” Lucario responded bluntly, ”I travel alone, and I don’t need a pet.”

    “A-A pet?” the Piplup stuttered surprised, “No, as a partner! I… I can fight! I’ve traveled before! We’ll-“

    “I said ‘not a chance’, not ‘maybe’!” Lucario interrupted harshly, the word ‘partner’ leaving a bad aftertaste in his mind, “I’m a ‘lone wanderer’, remember?”

    “Yes! But together, we can-“ the Piplup tried to continue, but was interrupted once again.

    “THIS is why I travel alone, if you’re wondering!” Lucario said with annoyance, “So that I don’t have to put up with all this... This… What’s that sound called that penguins make? Chirping?”

    “… Pegu-nins?” the Piplup tried to repeat with a confused stare.

    “I don’t have any fish, if that’s what you’re looking for!” Lucario said loudly before pointing directly behind him, “And don’t even think you’re getting a piece of this one!”

    They both looked at the large Pokémon that Lucario had dragged into the cave. Another bird-like Pokémon, it was larger and had a fiery tone of colors to its feathers. While Lucario remained oblivious, the Piplup could easily tell that it was a Combusken.

    “Oooooh!” the Piplup exclaimed with admiration, “Did you hit her with your Aura Sphere? Or maybe your Aura Storm!?”

    “… My what?” Lucario asked, before ignoring the thought, “Well… It definitively got familiar with my fists, if that’s what you’re referring to!”

    “Wow! You didn’t even have use your special attacks!?” the Piplup shouted happily as she bounced up and down, “That’s soooo cool!”

    “Cool?” Lucario said while making a short laugh to himself, “No, I just punched it in the face until it went down… Oh well, at least I won’t be going hungry tonight!”

    “Yeah! Hungry…” the Piplup continued bouncing before she realized what she had just said and became a bit startled, “… Uh, hungry?”

    ”Not hungry enough to bite into this slab of disease, of course! I’ve got to cook it first!” Lucario said as he scanned the area for fitting material to ignite, “Listen, if you help me with starting the fire, I guess you can have half a leg or something.”

    The awkward situation was broken as a pitiful groan was suddenly heard from the Combusken. Its senses were barely functional and its mind foggy beyond any recognition as it didn’t know where or what it was. Running completely on instincts, it struggled to move.

    “Whoa, still breathing?” Lucario muttered surprised while approaching it, “I guess I’ll have to take care of that, first…”

    ”WAIT! STOP!” the Piplup yelled while running ahead of him, ”What are you doing!?”

    “Well, I can’t eat it if it’s still alive!” Lucario responded as he moved even closer to the Combusken that had started flailing its right leg wildly, ”Now shut up, you’re ruining my appetite…”

    ”Y-You can’t eat her!” the Piplup shouted in horror as the Combusken moaned frightfully, ”She’s a sentient being! An intelligent creature!”

    ”Not intelligent enough to avoid fighting me…” Lucario muttered as his stomach growled loudly, “Besides, I haven’t had anything to eat but berries for five days. I’m starving for meat!”

    ”No… No way…” the Piplup stammered as she fell back, gazing up on her fallen idol, ”Y-You’re really a cannibal!? Y-You’re kidding, right!?”

    ”Pfft, cannibal…” Lucario scoffed to himself before suddenly realizing something that made is mouth drop, ”… Wait, what? You mean, Pokémon don’t usually… Rather, Pokémon can’t…” Something clicked in him at the sound of the word ‘Cannibal’, and he began to get worried that maybe there was a reason why this act was considered unnatural even between two different species of Pokémon…

    ”… Yeah, I was… I mean, of course I was joking around!” Lucario said slowly before picking up the pace, ”I just wanted to scare Big Bird here a little bit. Now, scram.”

    “Oh…” the Piplup whispered, somewhat relieved. She knew her hero would never try something like that for real!

    “Get with the scraming, already!” Lucario shouted, hoping the message would stick this time.

    “Come on!” the Piplup continued her earlier hassling, “Let me be your sidekick!”

    “No!” Lucario responded sharply and bluntly.

    “I promise I won’t get in your way!” the Piplup continued, not taking ‘no’ for an answer, “I’ll even hide myself if I have to! And I’ve got lots of items that’ll be useful-“

    “You know, I’m not a lone wanderer because I want to be!” Lucario interrupted, so very tired of this whole conversation, “Just that those that follow me have a bad tendency to end up dead!”

    “I…” the Piplup whispered as she closed her eyes before shouting in determination, “I’m not afraid of death!”

    A few moments of silence passed between them, as Lucario stared at the little thing in front of him. He didn’t know whether to be impressed with it or angrier at it. Looking outside the cave for an escape, he noticed that the snow had stopped altogether.

    “What’s with this climate…?” Lucario mumbled as he looked back at his lost meal with a starving stare. He realized that he no longer had any reason to stay, and began heading for the exit.

    “Listen, come with me and you’ll find nothing but death” Lucario tried to explain as calmly as possible while walking, ”Give up on becoming my partner and go back to your home on the north po… I mean, south pole.”

    “I’ll follow you wherever you go!” the Piplup replied cheerfully.

    “Damn it! Do you ever stop!?” Lucario turned around and growled irritated, as his stomach did the same.

    “Oh wait… You’re hungry?” the Piplup asked, her face lighting up, “That’s perfect! I’ve got berries with me!” Before Lucario could blink the Piplup was holding several large berries in her hands, once again dazzling him as to where she had kept them stored until now.

    “… Ugh” was all Lucario managed to say as he felt very disappointed, “… Really? Nothing else? I really hate berries…”

    “Huh? But that’s…” the Piplup said, looking over the brightly colored berries with a hint of hunger, “… I’ve never heard of a Pokémon that didn’t like berries!”

    ”Oh, I’m not a Pokémon…” Lucario said lightly as he once again turned around and finally left the cave.

    “I’m human.”



    - - - - -
    Chapter 2

    Serene Chaser Suicune
    - - - - -



    "Hey! Wait up!" the Piplup shouted, her cries going unnoticed as Lucario had long since blocked her out completely, entering a state harmonic silence. With the mountain range far behind them and a bright sun far above them, they were currently walking through a large field of grass and small flowers. Lucario treaded carefully, worried that a seemingly harmless dandelion would turn out to be some kind of grass-type Pokémon lying in ambush.

    What unnerved him even more was the fact that the grass beneath his feet was fairly dry. There been a mighty blizzard just a few hours ago, and looking back he was still able to see the cave they had rested in. Either the storm had been extremely local, or the sun had dried up the grass faster than what could be considered normal.

    "Hey… You" Lucario finally said, making the Piplup raise her head in excitement, "Why isn't there any snow here?"

    "Oh!" she exclaimed with a trace of confidence before completely trailing off, "That's because… Um… Well…" Lucario rapidly wished he hadn't left his happy bubble.

    "I have no idea!" she finally answered with a big smile.

    "Ugh…" Lucario groaned, amazed at how useless this penguin would be as a permanent traveling companion, "… How old are you, anyway?"

    "Four!" the Piplup quickly replied.

    "Figures…" Lucario sighed, having guessed it was a little older as a thought suddenly hit him, "… Is that in human years or penguin years?"

    "Pegu-nin…?" the Piplup asked, still not being able to pronounce the foreign word correctly. Actually, ever since meeting her idol for the first time there had been a lot of things that had gone quite far above her head, yet somehow gotten stuck in there. One question in her felt particularly pressing…

    "Hey, hey! About that thing you said before…" she said with a lively voice as Lucario looked back at her for a moment, "Uh… What do you mean, you're human?"

    "Well… I'm human" Lucario responded with a short laugh, "Heh… I mean, I'm in the body of a Pokémon, but I'm still human."

    "Hmm…" the Piplup mumbled as she didn't understand, "I've never heard of anything like that before!"

    "That makes two of us" Lucario hastily replied, holding his paws in front of him and looking down at what used to be his hands.

    "How did it happen?" the Piplup continued asking, simply glad that Lucario wasn't ignoring her anymore.

    "Who knows?" Lucario said, getting tired of talking and regretting having given the Piplup any attention, "There I was, being human and all… And then I was some kind of blue jackal."

    "Hmm…" the Piplup mumbled as she once again didn't understand, "I don't get it!"

    "Please stop talking…" Lucario muttered, making one last attempt to make some use out of his annoying stowaway, "Hey, none of these flowers are Pokémon, right?"

    "Hahaha! Of course not!" the Piplup laughed, before looking at his serious face and getting a concerned look on hers, "… You can't tell?"

    "How can anyone?" Lucario sighed with a shrug, "There're like a hundred different kinds, how the hell should I know what they all look like…?"

    "You know, even for a human you seem to know very little about Pokémon!" the Piplup said, as the Lucario jumped a little.

    "Uh… Yeah" he answered nervously, "I… Grew up in a village where there were no Pokémon. At all."

    "No Pokémon!" the Piplup said out loud, "A place like that really exists!"

    "… I guess" Lucario said, before suddenly jumping even higher than before and immediately stopped walking.

    "What's wrong?" the Piplup asked, as Lucario looked behind them with a troubled face.

    "You know how I warned you about eight times that you'd die if you followed me around like this?" Lucario muttered menacingly while gritting his teeth, "… Well, now you get to find out why." Looking back the way they had come, the Piplup saw a large figure forming at the horizon, rapidly increasing in size. Something was approaching them very quickly!

    "These two again…" Lucario mumbled to himself, "I was hoping they'd given up by now…"

    "W-What's that!" the Piplup asked with a startled voice.

    "Heaps of trouble. Here's a last minute tip: The big one manipulates water and can freeze it solid at any time" Lucario said loudly as he spread his legs to gain better footing, "… Survive this, and I'll be more than proud to call you my partner."

    "R-Really!" the Piplup yelled in excitement, "You really mean that!"

    "Pfft, don't get any ideas…" Lucario said bitterly as the figure got nearer, "Dodge everything, and if you against all odds manage to find an opening… RUN LIKE HELL!"

    The large creature hastily closed in on them with giant leaps across the grassy field. The Piplup ran to the side as the beast stopped itself about twenty feet away from where Lucario was standing. The new arrival appeared to be a teal lion with a purple mane flowing from its head, and two tails that curved around and looked like white bandages floating by its sides. In the miniature sea of purple fur sat a trainer, riding on its back. The trainer was an adult with spiky white hair, a green bandana and a look of insanity on his face that one rarely finds outside a mental hospital.

    "Eya ha ha! I told you fleeing was useless!" the white-haired trainer cackled madly, "You'll never escape me as long as I have Suicune!"

    "You're nothing but an ugly boil attached to the back of a pansy horse!" Lucario shouted, fully aware that the trainer couldn't understand anything he said. He did see Suicune twitch a little at his remark, though.

    "I am Champion Brendan!" the trainer continued gleefully, "Remember the name of your master as you become part of my collection!"

    "The only thing you'll be collecting once I'm done with you is your teeth!" Lucario yelled, letting his rage get the better of him as he dashed towards the intimidating duo. The last time he had tried to keep his distance, which turned out to be a big mistake… And he simply could not wait to knock the boastful bastard off his high horse.

    "Diamond Dust, now!" Brendan laughed as Suicune crouched down a bit.

    "This time, you're mine!" Lucario screamed as he jumped towards the shining creature, getting ready to deliver a strong kick to its head. Suicune suddenly hopped back, as a puddle below where it had previously stood exploded into a mass of droplets.

    "Solidify!" Brendan shouted as all the tiny bodies of water froze into tiny shrapnel of ice. Still in midair, Lucario did as best he could to defend himself from the explosion. Covering himself, he didn't notice that Suicune came running at him, ramming him hard and sending him flying back.

    "Impale!" Brendan yelled, as Suicune spat out of a long trail of water towards Lucario. Predicting the pattern of the attack, he punched the stream of water right before it hit him, knocking away the icicle spear that quickly formed from it.

    "Gah!" Lucario coughed as a crashed to the ground, quickly flipping himself upright to get ready for another attack.

    "Piercing Rain!" Brendan yelled, making Suicune shoot a large wave of water diagonally into the air towards Lucario. As the wave broke off into smaller pieces at the top, they froze and became sharp javelins instead. Lucario saw them falling down from the sky, and in a daring move decided to attack Suicune once again.

    "You left yourself open!" Lucario shouted as the ice crashed down behind him and he ran up to Suicune, keeping himself on the ground this time. When he was hardly three feet away from it, Suicune spat out a beam of water at his head, which he just barely managed to dodge. Taking his first swing at Suicune, it formed a passage of ice on the ground and slid on it to swiftly glide away from him. Having his stubbornness fueled by rage, Lucario ignored this and kept chasing after the legendary dog. This proved to be a mistake however, as the slippery ground made him lose his footing and a large block of ice collided with him, pushing him back through the air.

    "Splitting Crush!" Brendan yelled as Suicune shot out yet another boulder of ice, hitting the previous one and making it break in half, sending powerful shockwaves into Lucario and stunning him as he hit the ground.

    The Piplup was beyond amazed at this display. It was exactly like the show she had grown to love so much, only far more realistic. Even though Lucario's adversary seemed to have the upper hand this time, she knew that he would soon get serious and trash the large, blue Pokémon and his strange rider.

    "You can do it!" she cheered with admiration as Lucario struggled to get up, "I believe in you!"

    "Idiot, keep quiet!" Lucario responded angrily when Brendan quickly turned his head towards the previously unnoticed Pokémon.

    "Oh, hey! Will you look at this?" Brendan said to himself as a broad smile formed on his face, "That's a… A Piplup!" The Piplup realized her mistake and made an audible gulp.

    "That's a rare one! Oooh, I always wanted one of you…" he continued in a dreamy voice, "That punk Lucas started with one of you, I think… I'm kind of jealous, because I started with a Torchic, myself… Only to find out Hoenn was nothing but water everywhere… Man, water types are the only way to go, really…" Lucario and the Piplup stared at the strange person as he continued his monologue while scratching his chin frenetically as if it had a rash or something.

    "Heh, Lucario AND a Piplup! Must be my lucky day!" Brendan cackled as he suddenly pulled a purple Pokeball from his belt, "You're mine!" The Piplup stumbled back in horror at the sight of the fearsome machine, and felt terrified at the thought of being captured by this maniacal trainer. But in the corner in her eye, she saw her hero not far away.

    "T-Try anything and y-you'll be sorry!" she stammered as her courage was regained, "L-Lucario, s-show them what happens when someone messes with you!" Lucario looked at her, and then quickly looked back at Brendan.

    "Brace yourself!" Brendan yelled as Suicune suddenly rushed towards the Piplup, who fell on her backside in fear.

    "H-Help me, Lucario!" she cried as she covered her eyes, shaking frightfully.

    The Suicune had barely taken a step towards the scared Piplup before Lucario focused all his power into his legs and started running… In the opposite direction. As he fled, he heard Brendan laughing madly as the Piplup screamed desperately behind him.

    "Like I'd risk my life for a stinkin' animal…" Lucario mumbled to himself, still feeling a twinge of guilt in his heart. The guilt didn't last long as it was replaced by joy when he remembered that he would no longer have to put up with her incessant chattering.

    Even so, he knew that running away would only be a temporary solution, and that he would have to face the fearsome duo again soon. He was no stranger to battle, but had no idea on how he would even go about fighting a giant dog that keeps shooting ice and water at him. The dog had turned out to be surprisingly nimble, and the guy riding it never seemed to run out of new tricks and ways of attacking him. He realized that unless he comes up with a good plan very fast, he would eventually run out of luck and finally be captured… Or killed.

  2. #2
    Registered User ScribbblingSwede's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Human Species

    - - - - -
    Chapter 3

    Eccentric Champion Brendan
    - - - - -




    Having fled the scene and with no trace of anyone following him, Lucario finally slowed down to a jog so that he wouldn’t burn through all his stamina at once. Hardly ten minutes had passed since his encounter with Suicune before he suddenly was hit in the face by the first snowflake of the evening.

    “No bloody way…” Lucario groaned in disbelief, wondering how any sort of ecosystem could function with such a rapidly changing weather. It started snowing harder and harder, making it go from a minor annoyance in the form of a fine powder covering the ground to a thick sludge hindering his every step. He trudged through the white sea, the cold creeping between his unprotected toes and splashing up his legs. In his misery he noticed another mountain range in the distance in front of him. His hope was regained as he thought about reaching it where he could hide himself.

    It was then that Lucario once again sensed the aura of Suicune, not very far away. Lucario did not have time to ponder on how it could track him so accurately, as he noticed that it was moving a lot faster than he was. Seems it wasn’t hindered by the snow even the slightest.

    “Damn it…” Lucario cursed to himself, knowing that he would not be able to outrun it anymore, and he was definitively not ready to fight it. Realizing that he would be forced to anyway, he stopped running so that he could catch his breath before the encounter. Desperately trying to come up with a battle plan, the best thing he could think of was digging a pit and covering it with snow as a clever trap… But even he knew that would not work.

    “My final battle…” Lucario chortled to himself, stretching his arms and legs, “Yeah, right… Who needs a plan? I’ll just beat the crap out of ‘em…” He remembered that he had been in unfavorable situations many times before and come out standing with nothing but his guts and limitless battle spirit to thank for it.

    Suicune came running very fast, moving on top of the bed of snow and not leaving a single footprint behind it. Even as it instantly stopped itself the snow around it lay still, completely unaffected by its velocity.

    “Impressive…” Lucario couldn’t help but whisper as an annoying cackle once more filled his ears. Brendan was laughing heartily as he scanned the area around them.

    “What? You don’t have any more Piplup for me?” he asked jokingly while looking at Lucario, who did not even know that the penguin from earlier had been a Piplup.

    “One’s plenty, I guess… Wouldn’t it be delightful if I had the two of you fight each other right now?” Brendan smiled as he held the purple Pokeball from earlier into the air, “… But I had to soften it up a little, so I don’t think it’s ready to fight quite yet…”

    “Hey! Blue one!” Lucario shouted as Brendan was busy with another one of his monologues, “I know that guy on top of you can’t understand me, but I think you can!” Suicune looked at him, remaining silent.

    “Why are you chasing me? Why are you listening to his orders!?” Lucario continued, in a last ditch effort of disrupting the duo’s teamwork. However, Suicune remained as quiet as ever, understanding what Lucario had just said but obviously not caring.

    “Have it your way, then…” Lucario continued, knocking his fists together as he braced himself for the long, difficult fight ahead of him.

    “Now, Suicune!” Brendan shouted as he pointed down to the ground, “Chilling Grip!” Lucario instinctively dodged to the side, only to notice that something held on to his feet. This made him lose his balance, but as something had a very tight grip on his feet he somehow remained standing. He couldn’t move his feet even the slightest!

    “Your best chance of winning was fighting against us in the sun…” Brendan said in a disappointed way as Lucario stared down at his legs with a confused look on his face, “Not even Suicune can directly freeze the water covering you, because of your body heat…” His feet were covered in snow, so Lucario could not see what had happened, but started getting a bad feeling.

    “With all this snow around, that’s no longer a problem!” Brendan continued as he started sounding a bit more cheerful, “Your body melts the snow, and Suicune here freezes the water! While resisting us was a foolish idea right from the start, fighting us in the snow is downright retarded!”

    “... No!” Lucario exclaimed as he bended over to smash the ice covering his feet. It was tough, but cracked after a few blows from both his fists.

    “Hah!” Lucario chortled successfully, before he ran towards Suicune and suddenly tripped as something grabbed a hold of his right foot.

    “EYA HA HA HA! The snow is our jurisdiction!” Brendan cackled madly as Lucario lay face down in the snow, “And it’s all around you! So our jurisdiction is also all around you! Let me show you what I mean… Suicune, use Chilling Makeup!” Lucario tried to scream out in horror as he felt the snow harden around his face, creating a gripping mask of ice. Not being able to breathe or say anything, he braced himself as he smashed his face down on the ground, shattering the mask.

    “No… No way…” he mumbled weakly as he rubbed his sore head, “Damn, that’s unfair…”

    “Can you fight us without ever touching the snow?” Brendan asked, almost immediately answering his own question, “No. No you can’t. So, YOU LOOOOOSE!”

    Lucario growled angrily as he tried to free himself without using his hands. He realized that he was barely a match for this thing in a normal environment; if he could not even touch the ground without getting caught he truly had no chance of winning. This was it. After all he’s been through; he wouldn’t even get to go down fighting in a blaze of glory… Even so, he remained steadfast and stared viciously at the insane trainer.

    “Or, rather…” Brendan suddenly said in an unusually calm voice as Suicune moved closer to Lucario, “All is not yet lost…”

    “You’ve got that right…” Lucario replied hastily, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over!”

    “See, my orders are to either kill you, or catch you!” Brendan snickered in a sugar coated voice, almost giggling with the last few words, “That way, you can be my Pokémon! You teach me and I’ll teach you as we travel across the land!”

    “Shut up!” Lucario shouted back, realizing that is he was able to reach the madman in front of him, he would never stop punching him.

    “… But honestly?” Brendan sighed out loud as he looked up into the sky, “I don’t think I can control a wilder like you… And I have a new method of execution that I have just been DYING to try out… So, let’s do it like this - Either you bow in submission, and you will serve as my Pokémon and my Pokémon only… Or you die, right here.”

    Normally Lucario would at least consider his options, but somewhere between being chased down like a dog, being treated like a weak fool and being forced to listen to yet another one of Brendan’s monologues he had lost all sense of reason.

    “CURSE YOU!“ Lucario bellowed defiantly, not lowering his eyes even for a second.

    “Hmpf…” Brendan muttered disappointedly as the Lucario stood tall, “Did you mishear me? I said ‘bow’, not ‘bark’…”

    “You and that azure guttersnipe can rot in hell!” Lucario continued, unable to comprehend the fact that his death was at hand, “I’ll be there waiting for you, and I’ll kick your butts every day!”

    “I hope you don’t mind that I take that as a ‘no’” Brendan said, not understanding a single thing Lucario had just said, “Just so you know, this suits me just fine!” He patted Suicne’s head, making it jump back to create some distance between them and Lucario.

    “Ice Totem!” Brendan yelled as Suicune shot water at Lucario’s feet, causing a thick pillar of ice to protrude under him and push him upwards. Lucario struggled to get free as he rose higher and higher into the sky.

    “Ice Crescent!” Brendan shouted, causing the Ice Totem to stop rising in height and instead form a half moon on the top, covering Lucario’s sides.

    “Once more!” Brendan kept shouting, another crescent forming to cover Lucario’s front and back. Surrounded by bended ice in every direction, he had a strong feeling that he was already screwed. He stopped trying to free himself and instead closed his eyes, preparing himself for the worst.

    “DO IT!” Brendan bellowed, “Icicle Maiden Bloody Fountain Piercing Stab of Death!”

    Silence. Lucario opened his eyes slowly and looked around him, as if time itself had stopped. Had the attack already passed, or…

    “… Deltoid” Brendan suddenly whispered with a big smile on his face. Immediately a sharp spike formed in the crescent to his right and cut into Lucario’s right shoulder, making him yell out in pain.

    “… Trapezius” Brendan continued, another spike appearing as Lucario heard a crashing sound beneath him. Suddenly, needles shot out from everywhere to pierce him, but as the pillar he was standing on crumbled he fell down to the ground instead.

    “NOOOOOOOO!” Brendan howled in both anger and anguish, “Who dares!?”

    A strange figure in a brown cloak was standing in the snow between Suicune and Lucario. The cloak was covering its entire body from head to toe, and Lucario could not even tell if it was human or not. As the cloak tugged in the wind, he saw that it at the very least had a humanoid form. The only thing that could be seen apart from the cloak were several blades sticking out from where its arms appeared to be, slightly frosted from all the snow.

    “Are you alright?” a surprisingly feminine voice sounded as the creature turned around, Lucario seeing nothing but darkness below the hood.

    “Not really, but I’ll take any help I can get!” Lucario responded, tightly clutching his right shoulder as warm blood poured down his arm.

    “The legendary Suicune, in my own backyard…” the mysterious figure spoke loudly as it seemed to finally notice Brendan, “… With a human rider, getting ready to execute someone? What is going on here?”

    “You…!” Brendan growled angrily, grabbing a tight hold of Suicune’s mane, “You’ll pay for ruining my triumphant moment!”

    “Huh? No!” the cloaked being burst out in shock, “I just want to know what’s happening!”

    “… Apparently, you’re gonna pay for ruining his triumphant moment…” Lucario said sarcastically as the open wound nipped in the cold, “Thanks for that, by the way.”

    “No, I just…” the feminine creature said, before sighing and raising her voice, “Hey! Suicune! I mean you no harm! I just want to know-”

    “Chilling Grip!” Brendan interrupted, as Lucario gasped and the new arrival stopped herself. They all stood quiet for a few moments before Suicune gave off a strange whine that was unintelligible to both human and Pokémon.

    “Oh?” Brendan exclaimed, leaning forward and staring at the creature in the cloak, “Quite interesting…” Lucario looked at her too, wondering what all the fuzz was about. He tried to see if her feet had been frozen, but couldn’t see anything since the cloak reached all the way down to the snow. He did notice that there were no footprints of her anywhere…

    “Quite interesting, indeed!” Brendan finally burst out, “Fine, I’ve had it with being the nice guy here! Time to erase you! If you survive this maybe I’ll catch you, if not then it’s still a job well done! Yeah, let’s do this the old fashioned way! Blizzard!” Suicune leaned its head back for a moment before spitting out a vertical twister at the two of them.

    “Look out!” Lucario shouted as he threw himself to the side, landing in the freezing snow. A loud cracking noise was heard behind him as he looked back and saw a massive formation of ice where he had just been standing.

    “Yes! Perfect!” Brendan howled as Suicune ran up to the large formation, “Now, you die! Tidal Wave!” The huge chunk of ice began to soften as Suicune twisted itself in a whipping motion, hitting it and sending the whole mountain up into the air.

    “Surf! Ride it, baby!” Brendan laughed, making Suicune jump up into the newly formed mass of water, turning it into two giant waves splitting off in two directions, aimed at Lucario and the cloaked being.

    “Oh, crap!” Lucario exclaimed as the massive wave loomed over him. It was so large that he knew he would be crushed like a bug if hit by it. Sadly, he also realized that he had no chance of dodging it. Again his only plan amounting to digging a hole to somehow escape, he defended himself and awaited the mighty tsunami.

    But instead of washing him away like a sick plankton, the tsunami turned into ice. Lucario was certain that this was just another stage of Suicune’s viscous attack, but changed his mind when he heard Brendan cursing loudly on top of the frozen waves.

    “Stop that!” he yelled while flailing his arms around, “I’m warning you!” Lucario finally saw what had happened - A strange white cloud was coming out of the creature in the cloak, presumably extremely cold wind freezing the waves in midair. Lucario felt relieved, but remembered Suicune’s ability to easily make it all water again. A nasty thought hit him as he decided to run around the waves, over to the cloaked creature.

    “Alright, you bloody asked for it!” Brendan howled madly as he reached down his belt and pulled out two Pokeballs. Throwing them into the air, they opened up and shot out two beams of red light to his sides, creating very intimidating creatures on top of the wave.

    Meanwhile, the being in the cloak was busy exhaling freezing air as she stared at the rapidly approaching Lucario, not sure what to think. She knew that if she stopped blowing wind the waves would unfreeze and they would both be dead, and had no choice but to stand her ground and continue.

    “Keep at it!” Lucario yelled as he ran around her to avoid getting hit by the blizzard and then grabbed a hold of her waist, almost making her choke on her own ice. Then, he started running as fast as he could in the opposite direction, as the waves were still being kept in check.

    “I figured you couldn’t move while doing that” Lucario said while running and holding her behind him, “So, I’ll be your legs!”

    “Idiot! Let go!” the thing in the cloak yelled as the giant blocks of ice slowly lost their consistency, “I’m too far away now, I can’t keep them frozen!”

    “You…” Lucario stammered before hearing a loud crashing noise behind him, “… You what?”

    “Ahh! Here it comes!” the cloaked being screamed, “Run like you mean it!” A deep sloshing sound raged behind them as the water flowed in their direction. While not a lethal threat anymore, Lucario knew all too well what would happen if his feet were covered in water… Suddenly he began wondering why the Suicune hadn’t just locked him into the snow again.

    “Alright, alright, you can stop…” the cloaked being said in an annoyed tone as Lucario stopped and instantly dropped her. He looked back and saw that the waves were gone, and that some of his blood had smudged itself on her cloak.

    “Listen, this thing has been chasing me for days, and I have no idea why…” Lucario said with exhaustion in his voice, “I can’t move around at all in this snow… Can you beat it on your own?”

    “… That’s a legendary, you know” she replied depressingly, “Honestly? I don’t think we stand a chance.”

    “Damn…” Lucario muttered, “… I’m sorry I got you into this.” The being in the cloak wanted to respond, but was interrupted as Suicune came running at them, carrying a furious trainer on its back.

    “INFIDELS!” Brendan roared in rage, “You just made me knock out two of my favorite Pokémon!” Lucario stifled a laugh, imagining the two intimidating creatures from earlier almost drowning in the tidal wave.

    “I want to take my time torturing both of you! Don’t you DARE self-destruct on me!” Brendan cackled madly. At the sound of this, the creature in the brown cloak seemed to enter her own world for a moment as she lowered her head.

    “I see…” she whispered to herself before looking over at Lucario, “That’s it. I’m out of here. Do you need a rescue?”

    “Pfft! Me? Rescue!?” Lucario scoffed, as every fiber of his being fought against him as he felt like hurling at what he was about to say.

    “… Yes” he whimpered shamefully, feeling like a little girl.

    “Alright, grab on!” she shouted, as she suddenly dashed towards Lucario who threw his hands up in surprise. The next thing he knew, he was being spun around in a flurry of snow. Disoriented and dazzled, he felt something in front of him, and grabbed on to it as instructed. It was soft, but very cold and gave him an odd sensation. The moment his arms found their target, he felt himself being pulled forward by a strange force. As his eyes got used to the whirl of snow around him he looked down and expected something really cool to be happening, such as him riding on the wind or something. He was very disappointed when and saw that the cloaked creature was just carrying him on her back and running away.

    “You’re lighter than you look!” she snickered, moving gracefully on top of the snow.

    “W-What’s going on!?” Lucario stammered as a path of blood from his wounded shoulder trickled behind them.

    “I’m using my ultimate attack, the Stormy Wind of a Thousand Breezes!” she responded, trying to sound serious.

    “R-Really!?” Lucario asked in a rather childish manner.

    “No, we’re running away like little cowards” the creature in the cloak laughed, “But it sure beats dying, doesn’t it?”

    Lucario held on to her in shameful silence. He noticed that the strange sensation came from the cloak he was holding on to, which appeared to be made out of a different material than leather. However, the cold he felt actually seemed to be emanating from underneath it… He was now rather curious as to what was hiding underneath the cloak.

    “Like, thanks and all…” Lucario mumbled in his best attempt to sound grateful, “… But what’s your name?”

    “Me?” the being under the cloak asked before giving off a short laugh, “Call me Zerobi!”

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    "I refuse."

    "What?"

    "I will not do it. Find someone else."

    "… You'd abandon humanity in its time of need?"

    "Hmpf… Don't bother. I know the situation. Your kind will not be satisfied until the corpse of every strong Pokémon lay strewn across the globe."

    "You could always just catch them all, of course… A term you should be more than familiar with…"

    "…"

    "See, after the cataclysm of Deoxys, people have been asking themselves… 'Where was Master Red?' 'Where was the eternal champion?' 'Where was the one trainer that we could always count on to protect us?'"

    "… I am… Too old. I can no longer battle like I used to. You must put your hopes in the new generation…"

    "You know that no trainer alive matches your expertise! The world is facing a crisis like never before!"

    "…"

    "Please! I am begging you… No, all life on this planet is begging you… Only you can prevent this catastrophe!"

    "… What would you have me do? Chase down Mewtwo again?"

    "No, not a legendary… Only one specific target that you have to el- I mean, subdue."

    "… Is that so? What kind of Pokémon is it?"

    "... A Lucario..."

    - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    (Zerobi is a character from an earlier story of mine, entitled "Occult Magazine: Evolution's Gate". That story is rather brutal and much too mature to be posted here, but you should be able to enjoy The Human Species even without having read it. Just know that BAD things went down in her past.

    If you wish to delve into Evo's Gate, PM me and I'll send it to you! It's really good, but brutal!)





    - - - - -
    Chapter 4

    Remorseful Vampire Zerobi
    - - - - -




    “Welcome to my home!” Zerobi said triumphantly as she and Lucario entered a fairly small room. She had carried him all the way to the mountains he had seen in the distance earlier, where he dismounted her and promptly gave up on any plans to act macho. She had then led him into a cave and where they went through a very long and complex system of paths within, making the room they had just come across almost impossibly difficult to find. Looking over the room, Lucario could hardly see anything because there was only a very small source of light. With what little he could see, he was able to make out a bed in the corner and what appeared to be magazines thrown all over the place.

    “Hehe…” Lucario snickered sarcastically, “Must be hard keeping the place clean with the constant stream of visitors you’re getting.”
    “It’s a cave, there’s really not much you can do about it…” Zerobi sighed as she at long last shed the cloak she was wearing. Lucario stared eagerly, having been curious about the creature that lay hidden underneath it ever since he first saw her.

    Lucario had never seen anything like it before - She was standing on two legs and had two arms, but the similarities to a human being ended there. Very fine black fur covered her entire body, so thin it could easily be mistaken for skin. Her figure was both slender and elegant, but Lucario didn’t even notice that as he was busy staring at a set of strange red feathers sticking out of her head, neck and tail. She also seemed to be holding on to a couple of very sharp-looking blades with her hands, but at closer inspection Lucario noticed that they actually WERE her hands!
    “Ah… Huh?” Lucario couldn’t help but say as he tried to take it all in, “What the… Are those…!?”
    “… I’m not that weird!” Zerobi yelled in embarrassment as Lucario gasped, just having noticed a yellow crystal between her eyes.
    “Whoa!” he exclaimed while pointing at it, “Right between the eyes, what a scary place to get an implant!”
    “I-Implant!?” Zerobi stammered and was taken aback by his confusion, “I got this when I evolved into a Weavile! It grew out of me!”
    “… Yikes, it’s organic!?” Lucario yelled in disbelief as he reached out to touch it, “No way!”
    “Whoa, whoa! Don’t touch me!” Zerobi shouted as she took a step back from the approaching paw, noticing some dried up blood on it. Lucario halted himself and let his sight slowly shift down the body of the Pokémon in front of him. Taking in her form and noticing the lack of certain features, his eyes suddenly saw something that made them widen in shock.
    “Y-You’re a girl!?” Lucario gasped while visibly flinching.
    “Just where the hell are you looking!?” Zerobi shouted as she was getting really mad at him, “You couldn’t tell from my voice!?”
    “Well…” Lucario mumbled to himself, not having thought about it sooner since simply getting used to hearing animals talk had been strange enough.
    “You oaf! You ungrateful jerk!” Zerobi kept going, slowly remembering why she rarely had guests over in the first place, “Is this how you treat your savior!?”
    “Sorry! Sorry!” Lucario apologized, deciding to keep his curiosities to himself before they get him into more trouble.
    “Hmpf…” Zerobi exclaimed before tossing her cloak behind her, making it land gracefully on the bed.

    “You know, I’m appreciative and all, but…” Lucario said in an embarrassed way as he looked her in the eyes, “… Why did you save me?”
    “H-Huh?” Zerobi stuttered as she was taken off guard and quickly came up with a lie, “… Surely you don’t need a reason to save someone’s life?”
    “Hmm?” Lucario said, so surprised by her answer that he bought it without a second thought, “You’re surprisingly reasonable for a Pokémon.”
    “… What do you mean?” Zerobi asked before mentally telling herself not to press her own lie.
    “Nothing…” Lucario sighed in disappointment, for some reason thinking back to the little penguin that he had left behind, “I was just hoping that you’d be a bit more… Human.”
    “Human…?” Zerobi mumbled, still mad from earlier, “Alright then, let’s go back, you seemed to be getting along just fine with that trainer…”
    “No, I don’t mean it like that!” Lucario replied quickly, not thinking of what to say next, “I just… Well…” Gathering his thoughts, he remembered that so far the only human he had encountered had been a sadistic maniac, while Zerobi and that penguin had actually been helpful and nice. Suddenly, he realized that in his desperation he had not only fled like a coward three times in a row, but abandoned someone to a fate neither animal nor man deserves and still had to get himself rescued to even survive.

    In the heat of the chase and battle that followed he had not really thought about it. Now, the remembrance hit him like a stack of bricks as shame welled up in his stomach and he began to feel sick, his head spinning as if he was going to faint. He kept himself from collapsing on the ground in defeat, but it was more difficult than he had imagined it to be as he for the first time in his life truly felt like a pathetic loser.
    “Damn it… What have I been playing at…!?” he whispered as he slapped himself across the face. He barely felt it, the wound on his right shoulder already far more painful, but somehow it made him feel a bit better. Like he still had a chance to turn things around if he just put some effort into it.

    “Um… You need any help with that?” Zerobi asked awkwardly, not having noticed his inner fight as she had been too busy staring hungrily at the blood seeping out of the wound the icy spike had left on him.
    “With what?” he snapped back while looking at her sharp claws, “Making it wider?”
    “… Smart” Zerobi mumbled, trying her best to quench her thirst. Five long years had passed since she was even in the same room as blood, and she had promised herself to resist any urge that might pop up.
    “Listen, you should probably know something about me…” Zerobi suddenly said while looking down at her own body in disgust, “Don’t ever let any blood get on me. I can assure you that bad things will happen.”
    “Like, the blood types will mix?” Lucario responded, for once trying to jump to his own conclusions instead of being oblivious to everything, “Yeah, that’d be bad.”
    “Huh?” Zerobi exclaimed, realizing that Lucario had just somehow lied to himself in her place, “No… I mean…”
    “Don’t worry!” Lucario told her with a new resolve, “From now on, thing will be different! I’ll fight seriously this time around!”

    “… By the way…” Zerobi muttered while slowly falling back on the bed, “Why was a weakling like you being chased by a legendary like Suicune?”
    “W-Weakling!?” Lucario gasped, scoffed and spluttered at the same time, “Man, you’re SO wrong! I’ll have you know I’ve been fighting and training all my life!”
    “Sure didn’t seem like it, out there…” Zerobi said, leaning back and enjoying the soft feeling against her back, “Why didn’t you use some of those fancy fighting-type moves?” Lucario chuckled sarcastically at this, thinking back to how hard it was for him to simply walk with his new body at first.
    “How the hell am I supposed to suplex a six foot tall canine!?” he shouted, making Zerobi sit up in surprise, ”I mean, apart from punching or kicking it, there’s really not much else I can do.”
    “Wow, are you really that inexperienced?” Zerobi asked, thinking back to what she had read about fighting-types back in school, “What about the Aura Sphere, or the Aura Stor-“
    “Damn it, why does everyone keep saying ‘Aura’!?” Lucario interrupted her while throwing his arms up into the air, remembering the Piplup from earlier. The wound on his shoulder hurt a bit, but not as much as before.
    “Well… You ARE an Aura Pokémon, right?” Zerobi asked even though she already knew the answer.
    “Am I?” Lucario responded.
    “… You’re kidding me, right?” Zerobi said, staring at the wolf-like creature in front of her in disbelief. Lucario suddenly stopped himself. For some reason, telling Zerobi that he was actually human did not seem like such a good idea. So far he had told everyone he had met about it, and everyone seemed so surprised by it… It must be as unnatural as he first feared. Earlier he did not care what animals thought of him, but Zerobi was different. She was… Cool. She also seemed to have some kind of grudge against humans, what if she started hating him all of a sudden? For the time being, he decided to dodge the subject.

    “The last time I checked, I was a blue wolf on two legs” Lucario said confidently, “What do you expect me to be able to do, anyway?”
    “Like, shoot blue spheres of energy and stuff…” Zerobi replied as her chest and back started itching a lot, “… I’ve had bad personal experiences with it, myself…”
    “Blue spheres…” Lucario snickered to himself, but then realized that in a world of monsters and magic, he might not be all that different. Thinking back to the Combusken he fought, right before knocking it out it had produced some sort of strange light that melted the snow and burned through the ground.
    “Oh, cool!” he suddenly exclaimed, “You mean I’m able to do all sorts of awesome stuff, too?”
    “You would be less of a dead weight in battle, that’s for sure…” Zerobi mumbled, lying donw on the bed again. She was really quite tired from running so much.
    “Wait…” Lucario said and quickly looked over himself, “How? How do I do it?”
    “How should I know?” Zerobi shrugged, which felt weird as she was in a vertical position, “I’m an Ice and Dark-type Pokémon. Try finding the aura first, and then shoot it out of your hands.”
    “Find the aura…” Lucario said as he crossed his arms and thought hard, “… Ha! I get it!”
    “… Y-You do?” Zerobi stammered, surprised that her aimless advice had any effect.
    “Yeah! That thing that makes me sense creatures around me…” Lucario exclaimed happily and tried finding the strange sensation that had been lingering in him ever since he switched bodies, “Hmm… I must have that in me, too… Now, to focus it…”

    Staring intently at his right arm, Lucario had no idea on how to go about it and simply tried to push every inch of his being into his hand. This proved to be as a mistake, as his hand suddenly exploded in a ball of blue flames, making both Lucario and Zerobi gasp.
    “GRAAAAAAAHHHH!” Lucario screamed, his right hand feeling like it had been blown off and set on fire at the same time. Falling to his side, he went from convulsing in pain to wiggling pathetically on the ground as the blue flames slowly died off by themselves. Zerobi sat up quickly and ran up to him to see what was going on. The flames had dissipated by the time she made it there, as Lucario was clutching his badly burned left hand and groaning.

    “Hah…” Lucario coughed, his voice hoarse from screaming so loudly. Turning around so that he was on his back, he held his left arm up into the air. Zerobi saw that his left hand still had all its fur on it, but the involuntary twitching told her it was actually very damaged.
    “Hahaha! HAHAHA!” Lucario laughed as he was lying down, “I did it! HAH! TAKE THAT!”
    “That wasn’t exactly a sphere” Zerobi said with an impressed tone in her voice, “But it sure looked like aura!”
    “Heh! I’ll get it right this time!” Lucario said as he quickly leaped up on his feet and held out his left arm, “Or should I say, left!” Zerobi took a step back to see what would happen, worried that the whole Pokémon might explode into a sea of blue flames this time. Instead, Lucario was just standing completely still while gritting his teeth.
    “Huh?” he said after a while, “Why’s nothing happening…?”
    “You’re gonna strain your arm if you-“ Zerobi started, but was interrupted as a torrent of blue flames shot out of Lucario’s left elbow.
    “AAARRGHHHH!” he bellowed as he once again fell down, this time stopping his descent on his knees. His elbow was burning brightly as he tried covering it with his right hand, but only succeeding in burning it even further. This time, Zerobi was prepared and started freezing his left elbow in hopes of dousing the fire.
    “AAAAHHHHH STOOOOOP!” Lucario wailed as his arm became frozen, but the blue flames still burned within the ice, “GRAAAHH MAKE IT STOP DAMN IT!”
    “I… I don’t know how!” Zerobi stuttered helplessly as the ice melted and the flames once again died off. Lucario collapsed forward as she thought about saving him, but remembered the dangerous blood on his shoulder and let him land on his face instead.

    “C-Cruse you…!” Lucario growled accusingly as he entered a coughing fit.
    “Hey, it’s not my fault!” Zerobi said, getting a bit worried as Lucario was struggling with getting up this time.
    “Not you…” he mumbled, not being able to decide which wound to clutch anymore, “Damn… I’m never doing that again…”
    “Huh?” Zerobi exclaimed surprised, “Wait, what happened with your determination?”
    “You have NO idea how much that hurt” Lucario said as he finally rose to his feet and shook his head violently, “… It’s like my insides were set on corrosive fire.”
    “That bad?” Zerobi asked, not sure if he was being serious or not, “That’d make it a pretty good weapon should you learn how to use it.”
    “Yeah… I think I’m gonna lie down for a while” Lucario said weakly as he wobbled towards the bed as a strange sensation suddenly hit him, “… By the way, are you expecting any visitors?”
    “No” Zerobi replied as she thought about where she would sleep if the bed was occupied, “You’re the first one in five years. Why?”
    “Just that I can sense the aura of something right outside the cave…” Lucario kept going with exhaustion in his voice, “Something pretty big…”
    “Hah! Don’t worry!” Zerobi laughed while crossing her arms, “You know what a labyrinth this place is! They’ll never find it, I’ve been hiding here for-“

    Zerobi was interrupted as the two of them heard a loud crash somewhere above them. They both stared up into the ceiling as another crash was heard.
    “... It’s coming right for us!” Lucario suddenly yelled, “It’s punching through the walls!”
    “What!?” Zerobi shouted, as the room they were in exploded in a cloud of dust as something dropped down from above, smashing so hard against the ground that they could feel it shake. Lucario tried hard to stay on his feet and wiped some of the filth off his eyes as the cloud settled, revealing a large beast carrying a trainer on its back between himself and Zerobi. The airborne grime dissipated from the top, and made it so that the first thing they both noticed was a certain color emanating from the trainer on top…

    Red

  3. #3
    Registered User ScribbblingSwede's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Human Species

    - - - - -
    Chapter 5

    Aged Master Red
    - - - - -




    “… So close, yet so far away…” Lucario muttered to himself as he looked unhappily at the inviting bed next to him, before erasing every thought of taking a quick nap. He faced the giant monster, preparing himself for battle.
    The beast was similar to Suicune in form, but had a yellow tone to its skin as well as black stripes. Its tail was twisted with hairy spikes stretching out in every direction, its face adorned with what appear to be a small iron helmet as well as a sky blue beard with two large fangs sticking out of it. Lucario immediately labeled it as a saber toothed tiger, having trouble taking all the extra details. The greatest similarity to Suicune was the long, purple mane that flowed behind its back like it had never experienced the sharp coldness of a scissor.
    The trainer on top looked like a very old man, with a beard almost greater than that of the furred creature he was sitting on. He was wearing a red cap on his head, which Lucario thought was quite unfitting for someone his age. While the aged man failed to strike him as half as intimidating as the cackling madman known as Brendan, he knew better than to understate the monster underneath.

    “R-Raikou!?” Lucario could hear Zerobi stammer from behind the big tiger, “Have all the legendary dogs been captured!?”
    “Grr…” Lucario growled while gritting his teeth, “There are more?”
    “… Lucario” Red finally said, his voice both dignified and grave as he crossed his arms and looked down.
    “Tch…” Lucario exclaimed in annoyance, “Why does everyone know my name?”
    “No spikes. There is no doubt about it...” Red said as he uncrossed his arms, “I am afraid I must capture you.”
    “Yeah, figured as much” Lucario replied with a nod, looking the old man in the eye.
    “… You seem quite intelligent” Red said as he reached out a hand in a friendly gesture, “Will you come quietly?”
    “Hah! As if!” Lucario shouted, striking a battle pose, “I’m through with running away! It’s time I man up! Just take it easy, and don’t get a heart attack when I start getting serious!”
    “Hey!” Zerobi yelled accusingly as both Red and his steed seemed oblivious of her, “Are you crazy!? That’s a legendary Pokémon! You couldn’t even HIT Suicune!”
    “Don’t worry!” Lucario yelled back as his confidence overtook his fatigue, “The problem with fighting Suicune was that it had too much room to run around, this thing won’t escape me! Not to mention that this trainer’s already halfway down the grave!”
    “Oh, for crying out…” Zerobi groaned while seeing that Red and Raikou had for an unknown reason not begun fighting, instead remaining completely still for some reason, “Well, if you’re gonna attack, better do it before they can react!”
    “Of course! I’m not taking any risks this time!” Lucario said before he quickly dashed toward the motionless legendary, quickly trying to figure out if he should attack it like usual or try a new aura-based strike right off the bat.

    He had not taken a single step towards the enemy before Raikou leaned back on its hind legs and Red crouched beneath the purple mane on its back. A massive electrical current instantly filled the entire room, making the bed and magazines on the ground crumple up and catch on fire. Neither Lucario nor Zerobi had even the tiniest chance of dodging as both their brains shut down and their legs folded on themselves.
    When the paralyzation subsided, it was replaced by a searing pain coursing through both of them as they twisted and turned in agony on the ground. Zerobi screamed out loud, but Lucario’s voice was already spent and he instead gave off a tormented wheeze. Yellow bolts of lightning shot out of them and struck the walls as well as Raikou, who seemed to be completely unaffected by them.
    As quickly as the thunder had struck, it was gone. Raikou stood tall above the two shaking cripples and saw the small papers around them turn into ash.

    “Far too easy…” Red sighed to himself as he emerged from the purple mane, “Not even a battle anymore, just a single attack and it is over…”
    “… UGH!” Lucario cried as he held his stomach and felt like barfing. He was on his back, staring up at the open sky through the broken ceiling.
    “Good work, Raikou” Red said in a kind way while scratching Raikou who made an odd purr-like sound in return, “Pikachu would have been proud of you.”
    “Y-You…” Lucario stammered weakly, struggling to get up. The powerful shock had stunned his body, but more than that it had made him realize just how exhausted he really was. His legs cried out in pain after having been running for so long, and the previous experiments with aura had crippled his arms with a lingering burning sensation that even the electricity could not compare with. The way he was, there was nothing he could do… Except…

    “My…” a sorrowful voice sounded from the other side of the room, “My occult magazines… All gone…”
    “Z-Zerobi… Run…!” Lucario shouted with the last of his strength, “He wants me!”
    “I can’t…!” Lucario heard Zerobi respond from behind Raikou.
    “No, I got you into this…” Lucario kept going, thinking that at the very least he would not have her life on his conscience, “You must leave me behind, an-“
    “I said, I can’t!” Zerobi yelled back with an angry tone, “I’m paralyzed!” While they were talking, Red had turned around and finally noticed the wounded Weavile behind him.
    “Oh…” Red said sadly as he stroked his beard, “… You were there all this time? Forgive me for involving you in this… We will be on our now shortly.” As he finished apologizing, he pulled a Pokéball from his belt at a speed comparable to Raikou’s lightning, turned around and threw it at Lucario. Barely mobile, Lucario saw it coming and somehow managed to roll to the side in order to escape it. The Pokéball hit the ground, before instantly flying back. He thought it might be a boomerang-like attack and kept his head down, but instead it simply returned to Red’s outstretched hand.

    “This will be a lot easier if you just let yourself get caught…” Red sighed again, putting the Pokéball back in his belt.
    “I will n-never be caught!” Lucario wheezed defiantly, even though he himself was having a hard time finding another way out of this.
    “Listen closely” Red continued as he leaned forward and spoke as clearly as possible, “Either I catch you right now, or I will just have to use that electric attack again until you are completely immobile… And that is something neither of us want, right?”
    “D-Don’t think you can…” Lucario kept going, trying to sit up but failing and falling on his back again.
    “Do not be afraid…” Red said calmly, “As my Pokémon, you can be assured that I will let never let any harm come to you.”
    “Screw you! I’m…” Lucario growled as he finally managed to sit up and tried standing up before falling on his knees in exhaustion, “… I belong to no one!” Before he could react, Red pulled out another Pokéball and threw it at him from his hip. Half of Lucario’s brain told him that such an absurd throw would never hit, while the other one was registering the fact that the green and white ball was slowly filling up his vision…

    Lucario flinched as the contraption hit him right between the eyes, not really feeling it between the gaping wound on his shoulder, the burning sensation lingering in his arms and heavy damage everywhere else from the electricity. The ball fell down to the ground and started rolling away into a corner of the cave. Lucario tripped forward in shock expecting to turn into a red light, but noticed that his body remained solid and stopped himself with his arms halfway down.

    “This is…” Red said with a pause as he stared at the collapsed wolf, “… Most unusual.” Time seemed to stand still for the three of them as Red thought about his next move, Zerobi and Lucario too stunned to think or act. After a long while, Red sighed deeply as he reached down to the backside of his belt and drew yet another Pokeball, one that was purple and white with large pink spots on it as surrounding an insignia of the letter ‘M’.

    “The Master Ball - Quite a rarity” Red said to himself while adoring the machine in his hands for bit, “Even someone like me has trouble getting hands on one. It is precious, and really should not be used in a situation like this…” Zerobi knew all too well what he was talking about and begun scrambling away in terror, but Lucario was still wondering how he had managed not to get caught earlier.
    “You… You gonna bludgeon me to death, or what?” Lucario said slowly, getting up on his knees again.
    “Hmpf… It is not like I can take it with me once I am dead” Red continued as he clutched the master ball in his hand and turned his cap backwards in a determined manner, “Currently, my duty to capture you to ensure the safety of the future generations... And I will do everything I can to do so!”

    The master ball escaped Red’s hand with a powerful throw and was sent spinning at Lucario with precise aim and amazing speed. For a moment Lucario thought about letting it hit him between the eyes again, but instead held out his hands in an attempt to stop it. He managed to catch it between his paws in midair, completely stopping it.

    “The Master Ball… Failed…?” Red gasped in disbelief, “This… This cannot be!”
    “Looks like… The one to catch something…” Lucario said with a smile feeding off his opponent’s surprise, “… Was me.”
    “The only way that you cannot be caught by a master ball …” Red continued in an attempt to gather his thoughts, “… Is if you are not a Pokémon.”
    “Heh…” Lucario chortled as he held the master ball in one hand, imitating Red from earlier, “Lucky me, then.”
    “I never thought it would come to this…” Red kept going, having completely lost his cool as impossibility stared him in the face, “I cannot capture you, does that mean that I have to…” He suddenly became quiet and hunched over, seemingly in a battle of morals with himself.
    “… No” he finally said out loud, sitting upright again, “Absolutely not. With the description I was given… But there are two of them… And this Lucario is…” He looked at the Weavile behind him, before looking at the Lucario in front of him, and finally lowered his head in a hopeless gesture.

    “… You win” Red finally said as he scratched his beard, “If I cannot capture you, I am unable to become victorious.”
    “I…” Lucario said as his vision grew foggy.
    “Listen closely. I could end your life right here and now, but I will not. I only ask you for one thing in return…” Red said in a deep, serious voice as he stared at Lucario with gentle eyes, “… Please, do not make me regret it.”

    Giving off a faint smile behind the beard, Red held on as Raikou howled and jumped through the hole above them, leaping on the walls to get outside.
    “Take… That… You… Dull… Old…” Lucario stammered cockily, before exhaling and collapsing on the floor. The two Pokémon lay pained and immobile, and within seconds the cave was silent once more.


    - - - - -
    Chapter 6

    Downtime
    (Epilogue of Episode I)

    - - - - -


    The atmosphere was cool as the two Pokemon lay on the ground of the cave, staring up through the hole in the ceiling. Neither of them felt like talking, instead preferring to lie still and recover as best they could. The only one with a question positively burning in her mind was Zerobi.

    “Why?” Zerobi groaned after a few minutes, breaking the silence, “Why didn’t the Pokéball work?”
    “… He said so himself, didn’t he?” Lucario groaned back since he was already sick of not being able to give a straight answer, “I’m not a Pokémon.”
    “… What…?” Zerobi whispered as if she had heard him wrong.
    “I’m human” Lucario continued while trying to ignore a sudden sharp pain in his shoulder, “Grr… I was human up until just recently, when I suddenly woke up in this strange body.”
    “… Huh…?” Zerobi mumbled in a confused way.
    “I don’t remember how it happened, but I was a blue wolf being chased by the police dog squad” Lucario tried to chuckle, but simply could not through all the pain, “Then I met you.”
    “Wait, you’re serious?” Zerobi asked, before giving off several rapid coughs. It sounded very painful and Lucario became worried, but was too weak to even bend up to see how much damage she had taken.
    “… So?” Lucario said, “Have you heard anything like it before?”
    “No” Zerobi replied with her dazedness apparent, “I mean, there’s a classic movie series dealing with it, but I’ve never heard about it actually happening.”
    “Pokémon watch movies?” Lucario asked as he noticed the heavy scent of ash in the air, “Hmm… Well, seems you read magazines, too…”
    “... My magazines…” Zerobi said sadly, before they both went quiet for a while. Fresh air entering from outside had already begun to replace the smoke as well as the dankness that had filled the cave for so many centuries. Dreading the next rainfall, she wondered if there was any way to fix it.

    “… We can’t stay here” Zerobi said after many moments of silence and coming up short of ideas, “It’s not much of a hiding place with a direct pipeline leading outside above us.”
    “It wasn’t much of a hiding place to begin with!” Lucario said loudly, “They found us, didn’t they?”
    “And that’s not even the strangest thing that happened today…” Zerobi sighed as she noticed her paralyzation diminishing and finally sat upright, “So, what are you going to do now?”
    “… Do?” Lucario replied, for the first time in his life feeling envious of not being able to sit up.
    “Yeah” Zerobi kept going as she added a hint of sarcasm to her voice, “Mr. Human-Pokémon-That-Cannot-Be-Caught?”
    “… Stick with Lucario” Lucario mumbled quietly, “Well, I’m probably still being chased by Suicune and a bunch of other jerkoffs, so I guess I’ve got to get on the run again.”
    “Where?” Zerobi asked bluntly.
    “… Away?” Lucario responded, trying to out-blunt her.
    “Ugh…“ Zerobi kept going, as she fell on her back again in exhaustion, “Do you have any supplies?”
    “I don’t have anything but the clothes I’m wearing…” Lucario said depressingly before wanting to lighten up the mood a little, “… You know, my pants. Guess that’s more than you.”

    For the next couple of minutes, they were both quiet. Zerobi was lying immobile on the ground, which Lucario thought was peculiar seeing how she was obviously able to sit up now. At first he did not question it as he felt relieved that he would get a chance to rest undisturbed, but as time passed he started to get worried. She had also been hit by the immense attack from Raikou earlier, and if she was not as resilient as he was…

    “Hey… Are you still alive?” Lucario asked, trying to pick up any sign of life from his vertical position.
    “… Fine” Zerobi suddenly said out loud.
    “… Fine, what?” Lucario asked.
    “I’ll come with you” Zerobi said, sitting up again.
    “Uh…” Lucario exclaimed in surprise, “No, ‘alive’ means ‘not dead’ in human language.”
    “Hmpf, I know what I said…” Zerobi muttered, “Either that or I stay here, in this broken hiding place that soon will probably be swarming with nasty trainers trying to bring you to justice.”
    “… You miss Suicune or something?” Lucario asked as he tried to figure out a way to dissuade her, “This isn’t a pleasure cruise, everyone I meet is going to want me dead.”
    “Don’t worry, I’m not exactly wanted by the law as it is” Zerobi snickered to herself, “We’ll have a better chance of survival if we stick together.”
    “No, just…” Lucario continued, not knowing what to say or do, “You’re cool and all, but I always work alone. I don’t need a partner.”
    “Obviously you do, since you don’t seem to know anything about Pokémon” Zerobi responded quickly and confidently, “In exchange, you can… No, you’d better tell me what it’s like being human.”
    “… Being human, eh?” Lucario whispered to himself. Finally being able to move his arms a little, he felt something next to his right hand. Looked down, he saw the master ball Red had used earlier on the ground, discarded like an useless tool. He was still a bit curious after all the buildup the aged trainer had given, and managed to pick it up in his right hand.

    “Oh hey, that’s…” Zerobi mumbled as she saw the thing in his hand which suddenly made her stammer, “… A-A master ball!?”
    “Huh… I don’t get it” Lucario said before holding up the ball above him in order to study it in the light coming from outside, “How can such a small thing contain a Pokémon?”
    “It’s quite complicated science…” Zerobi sighed, relived that the scary contraption was not in the hands of their enemy, “All I know is that if it gets you, you’re a slave for the rest of your life.”
    “Hmm… I kind of want to try it out…” Lucario said slowly, eyeing the room for Zerobi’s location.
    “K-Keep that thing away from me…!” Zerobi stuttered frightfully as fear welled up in her and she took a step back from him.
    “You wanted to be with me, right?” Lucario said with a smile, “How about I catch you right now and make you my Pokémon?”
    “W-What!?” Zerobi exclaimed, taken off guard by this unexpected turn of events. Lucario held the master ball high up into the air before throwing it away. It hit the bed in the corner of the room, and settled down quietly.

    “Nah, just kidding” Lucario said, making Zerobi exhale deeply. He gave up on trying to moving as the mere action of throwing away the ball had used up the very last of his strength.
    “Man, do you even know how scary it is, worrying about being captured by something like that!?” Zerobi shouted angrily at him, “Don’t abuse your privileges, and don’t joke around about it!”
    “Y-You’ve got to have a sense of humor… If you’re going to follow me…” Lucario said weakly, the world spinning around him as he felt like he was fainting.
    “What? Now you’ll let me come?” Zerobi responded, failing to disguise the eagerness in her voice.
    “… Just… Let me sleep on it…” Lucario mumbled as he turned around and closed his eyes. Zerobi’s silence signified that he would finally gain the well deserved rest he had been craving so long. All the anguish and confusion softly faded away as he fell into a deep slumber.


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    And so ends the first episode of this story, entitled 'Hunted Like A Dog, By A Dog'. Here is a preview of what you can expect on the next episode of The Human Species...

    ---
    “Apparently, you’re still as crazy as ever… If you think there’s any hope for redemption after what you’ve done.”
    ---


    The return of Snivy, the smuggest leaf of the law! But suddenly, a mysterious creature appears! Hmm, although slightly deformed, she looks a lot like our main character, doesn't she...?

    ---
    "Lucario, you... You don't even recognize your own wife...?"
    ---


    Conflicts are inevitable! Legendaries fall before hardships as heroes rise to the challenge, and even the most unlikely of beings are given a shot at having a great destiny...

    This, and much, much more lies in the future of the story known as THE HUMAN SPECIES!

    Same forum!
    Same thread!

  4. #4
    Registered User ScribbblingSwede's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Human Species

    - - - - -
    Chapter 7

    Smug Cheif Snivy
    - - - - -




    Zerobi sighed in relief as both she and Lucario exited the store. Snowpoint City was fairly rural and by no means a large town, located within the harsh climates north of Sinnoh. Most shopkeepers would refuse to serve Pokémon, but as long as they have a good demeanor and most importantly money there will always be a place or two that wouldn’t turn them down.
    She knew they had been lucky to find such a store so quickly, and couldn’t help but feel that her cloak and Lucario’s pants had something to do with it. Perhaps it was the fact that he had bought a human backpack to store all their newly bought items in? She sighed once more as they began walking down the street, unhindered by the snow on the ground as it had already been trampled solid by waves and waves of various creatures.

    “I’m never going shopping with you again” Zerobi mumbled with disdain.
    “Oh, excuse me for prioritizing provisions and transportation in front of some stupid magazine!” Lucario snapped back, adjusting the large blue backpack so that it would sit more comfortably on his shoulders.
    “It’s not stupid!” Zerobi shouted while giving him an angry glare, “For all we know, it might have contained the answer to your transformation!”
    “You can always read this one once I’m done with it!” Lucario laughed, pointing to the charred and blood soaked remains of her favorite paper which had been tied around his upper arm to cover up his wound.
    “… I don’t want it…” Zerobi wheezed in a disgusted way. Seeing the minute amount of money she had saved for the past years being used up to buy travel supplies made her realize that the peaceful and carefree times she had gotten used to were finally over.

    “My entire collection… Gone. My home… Destroyed” she mumbled depressingly to herself, “My cloak is all ruined, too…”
    “Uh… Don’t you think you should do something about that last one?” Lucario mumbled, not being able to help himself and casting a quick glance at her body, “… It’s pretty dirty, you know?”
    “Yeah…” Zerobi sighed, thinking he was referring to the cloak as she took a gander at him in return, “You know, I’ve always wondered… Where’d you get those pants from?”
    “Huh?” Lucario exclaimed surprised, “They were on me when I woke up.”
    “… Can you take them off?” Zerobi continued, too curious to care about the implications of what she had just said.
    “Of course!” Lucario responded confidently before a thought suddenly hit him, “… Hmm, they’re not the pants I had as a human, though… Maybe I should be wondering who put them there in the first place…?”
    “… You have to ask?” Zerobi asked snidely.
    “Hey! Wearing clothes is natural!” Lucario said loudly, realizing that since he was a Pokémon now the question was not that out of place, “To me, anyway… Waking up naked? That would’ve been a shock!”
    “… I don’t get it” Zerobi muttered, and was about to ask a follow-up question when they were both interrupted.

    “Lucario!” a high pitched voice sounded directly behind them. Halting himself, Lucario was not sure if he should even bother to turn around and see who it was or just spin and strike it down with a roundhouse kick right away.
    “Are you Lucario!?” the voice sounded again, this time at a lower elevation than before. Lucario slowly turned around to face whoever it was, only to see nothing in front of him. A crowd of strange Pokémon were standing a few feet away, staring at him intently.
    “Huh…?” he mumbled before feeling a tugging on his pants. He looked down and saw a few large blades of grass sticking up at him. Looking closer, he noticed that they were growing out of some kind of purple ball with huge glittering eyes. For some reason it was looking back and forth at his hands and staring at his chest, before a happy mouth suddenly appeared beneath the eyes.

    “… It IS you!” the plant exclaimed in pure joy, “Lucario! I watch your show every day!” Lucario was instantly reminded of the penguin he had met back when he took shelter from the mighty blizzard, but couldn’t help but stare at the strange thing. He saw a set of feet sticking out of the purple ball, but with no legs or arms to be seen anywhere.
    “Can I see the aura sphere? Are you two a couple? Say ‘Watch the power of aura!’” the grassy being continued endlessly while bouncing up and down in joy.
    “Hey… You know this Oddish?” Zerobi leaned closer and whispered to him.
    “…Eh? Uh…” Lucario mumbled, completely entranced by the bizarre creature, “No… But yeah, it’s pretty… Odd-ish…”
    “I apologize for this” a Vileplume giggled delightfully as she moved over to the Oddish, “My son simply can’t stop talking about that Wholesome Wanderer Lucario!”
    “No, mom! It’s ‘Lonesome Wanderer Lucario!’” the Oddish corrected with a horrified expression, “Look! No spikes!”
    “Hmm?” the Vileplume exclaimed as she too began staring at Lucario’s hands and chest, “Why, you’re right! People must have the two of you confused all the time!”
    “D… Seems that way…” Lucario said in a strange way, not paying any attention as his brain was busy wondering how on earth a creature without legs could hop around so easily.
    “Again, I apologize” the Vileplume said while turning around to leave, “Come now, if you don’t get home in time you’ll miss the show!”
    “B-But…” the Oddish stammered before running after her mother, “Mom! It was really him!” The two of them become more and more distanced as Zerobi suddenly jabbed Lucario’s side.
    “Didn’t know you were famous” she said with a sinister smile.
    “I’m not” Lucario muttered, “Yet everyone seems to think they know me, for some reason…” He could not stop thinking about how he had been moments away from making a big mistake. At the very least he knew that a roundhouse kick would not have hit such a short target, but even so the shame was something even he could not dodge.

    “Well, you do look a bit unique…” Zerobi said while quietly looking him over, “… What happened to your spikes?”
    “My spikes?” Lucario asked as an image of his teeth popped up in his head, “Covered by my mouth, like usual.”
    “No, I mean the ones on your hands and chest” Zerobi continued, pointing at his chest. Looking down at it, Lucario only saw a patch of long yellow chest hair that currently had a sharp claw hovering dangerously close.
    “… My fur?” Lucario asked again, not really sure what was going on and getting a chill at the thought of the claw piercing him.
    “No!” Zerobi shouted with a hint of anger in her voice, “Lucario usually have big spikes sticking out of them! Where are yours?”
    “Must’ve forgotten to put them on this morning” Lucario snickered, much to Zerobi’s annoyance. She was about to keep going with the verbal rant, but noticed that a few Pokémon had stopped as well and were now staring at them.
    “Oh yeah…” Lucario whispered as he too noticed the scene they were making, “Is it really OK for us to be walking around in public like this?”
    “Nope” Zerobi responded before lowering her arm. They both stood quiet for a while before they started walking again.

    Finally alone with himself, many odd thoughts and theories filled Lucario when he walked through the city. There were bizarre monsters everywhere he looked, the second more bewildering than the first. He had no idea how so fundamentally different species could even comprehend co-existing, especially not when he himself had spent so little time in this place and already been hunted and almost killed twice. He once again tried to chalk it up to the humans of this place being evil, but was able to gain faint remembrance of the very first encounter he had when he woke up in his new body…
    A sharp defensive mechanism suddenly pushed away the thought from his mind as he once again began staring at the Pokémon passing by. He found it strange that neither Zerobi nor the other Pokémon seemed to pay much notice to each other, like a rhinoceros made out of rock or an animate tree was something they saw every day.

    “… Made me use Pay Day over and over again! For cash!” he heard a cat on two legs shout a few feet away, talking to what appeared to be a gathering of animate eggs. He saw that the cat had a large coin lodged in its head, and wondered if it was natural or just a freak accident.

    “… Needed a Sun Stone, but he kept insisting that I’d evolve if I just stayed in the sunlight…” a small thing that seemed to be made out of wood with a puffy bush sticking out of its head said to a black horse with white spiky mane. Apart from the color, the mane of the horse reminded Lucario quite a bit of Raikou, and he silently made a promise to himself not to rush into battle the next time as they walked past them.

    “… And so I told him that he was twice as annoying as a rash-inducing tickle and only half as worthy of laughter…” a slender yet unusually short reptile carrying a bag said to an equally short cat with brown fur. had a sudden urge to hug nuzzle his face into the fluffy being, but repressed it. Seeing how these were far more intelligent than your average pet it might not purr in response, but instead consider it sexual harassment or something.

    The instant the reptile and cat passed them by, a powerful chill ran through the air. Zerobi muffled a startled sound and looked like she had just swallowed dung. The reptile received a similar effect that moment, barely casting a glance at them as he kept on walking.
    Lucario was lost in his thoughts and did not notice that Zerobi was slowing down. Behind them, the reptile suddenly stopped, making the cat stop as well.

    “Impossible…” the reptile whispered to himself in anguish, as his partner looked at him with confused eyes. Then she noticed the black creature that they had just passed by. She made a soft whimper and began hyperventilating.
    “Z-Zerobi…!” she stammered with panic, feeling like her heart would stop at that moment or at the very least be crushed by the pressure building up in her chest.
    “No…” the reptile said in disbelief before turning around with a furious look on his face, “… Umk, that blundering fool! I knew he couldn’t be trusted with anything!”
    “You must have me mistaken with someone else…“ Zerobi said in a far more depressing voice than any of them had ever heard before. It sounded like the sorrowful wails from beyond the grave of a coldhearted killer, completely unlike her usual demeanor.
    “I have seen your face in my nightmares for the past seven years…” the reptile muttered before shaking his head in an attempt to comprehend the situation, “Don’t tell me… During all this time…”
    “… No! You can’t still be alive!” the cat shouted in terror, making Zerobi flinch. The words pierced her heart and her head begun spinning as she was once more reminded of that horrible time of her life when the blood of others were flowing through her.
    “… Eve…” she whispered sadly as she looked at the cat, revisiting their time as friends a short time before seeing her defeated form cringing in terror before her blades.
    “… And Snivy…” she continued before looking over at the reptile, and once again she was in the storm of sharp leaves cutting at her from every direction while her mind was fogged by a red cloud of warm blood and insanity. For a moment her entire body began itching as from an acidic substance before being replaced by the wonderful feeling of life rushing through her, unwittingly fueling her existence, looking for an escape, pleading for a death that would not come-

    Fulfillment collided with suffering. Pleasure with disgust. Acceptance with loathing. Her mind shattered and her world collapsed as she fell to her knees, crying.
    “I…” she stuttered while tears from in her eyes, “I’m… I’m so… So… Sorry!”
    “You freak…!” Snivy spat reviled, “You think you can-“
    “It wasn’t me!” Zerobi kept going, the tears now flowing down her face as she looked at two Pokémon in front of her, “I… The blood made me insane! I’m normal again!”
    “Hmpf…” Snivy huffed while crossing his arms, “Apparently, you’re still as crazy as ever… If you think there’s any hope for redemption after what you’ve done.”
    “I-It was the blood, it…” Zerobi continued futily, searching for forgiveness but already knowing that she would find none, “… It controlled me! I became addicted to it!”
    “… All the more reason to end you right now!” Snivy shouted as he gave up on keeping things cool and threw the bag he was carrying to the side, “Eve! Run! Get backup!” Eve instantly turned around and ran as Zerobi helplessly reached out a hand to try and stop her. Meanwhile, the leaf at the end of Snivy’s tail was growing larger, as he suddenly did a backflip causing the giant leaf to detach from him and fly spinning vertically at Zerobi. It roared like a buzz saw as she noticed the attack coming, but seeing Eve fleeing in fear and the angry Snivy ready for the kill in front of her she simply could not bring herself to avoid it. Instead, she lowered her head and closed her eyes, prepared to face her long overdue judgment.

    While she had expected to be cut by the leaf, she was instead hit by a blunt strike. Opening her eyes momentarily she saw an elbow leaving her face, knocking her back on her behind. Standing in front of her was Lucario, gripping the sides of the large whirling leaf between his hands.
    “Yeah. That’s not going to happen” he said confidently as the leaf stopped spinning and Snivy’s mouth dropped in shock.
    “Y-You protected her!?” he yelled in utter disbelief, “Who the hell are you!?”
    “I don’t know what went on in the past between you two…” Lucario said calmly while seeing the brown cat disappear around the corner of a house far away, “… Or three… But if you think I’m going to just stand by and watch you execute a crying girl…”
    “Girl!? That word has never been less fitting!” Snivy shouted before pointing at the stunned Weavile, “She’s a complete monster!”
    “Hah! Coming from someone like you, that’s an insult!” Lucario scoffed, “Then again, I’d expect nothing less from a slimy reptile!”
    “MOVE!” Snivy bellowed and took a step forward, “I don’t have time for this! She must not be allowed to live!”
    “Like I already said, that’s not going to happen…” Lucario snickered before realizing what he had just said, “I mean, that’s going to happen. She’s going to live. I owe her my life, after all…”
    “N-No, Lucario…” Zerobi whispered, feeling suicidal at this point, “You don’t understand…”
    “Just stay there” Lucario said triumphantly with his back facing her, “It’s time for me to repay the favor.”

    Lucario’s highly clichéd behavior took Zerobi by complete surprise and hit her like a truck, momentarily bringing her out of her shell of self-hatred. She had been willing to die just a few seconds ago, but after being struck by his ridiculous behavior she couldn’t help but give off the faintest of smiles. Meanwhile, Lucario was feeling very cool and prepared himself for battle as suddenly a very loud noise echoed through the sky.

    “CITIZENS OF SNOWPOINT! A POWERFUL POKÉMON HAS BEEN DETECTED WITHIN THE CITY BORDERS!” a strangely metallic voice said in a calm yet decisive manner, “PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR HOMES AND AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS!”

    “Oh…” Snivy said as a faint smile began developing on his face as well, “Looks like they’ll be the ones to beat you up. This is going to be fun to watch…”
    “What the hell was that!?” Lucario shouted angrily while covering his big ears, “Argh! Damn that was loud!”
    “… No!” Zerobi said as she suddenly stood up in panic, “The detectors! But how!?”
    “Hey! Are you OK?” Lucario said as he turned around to meet her face and noticing that signs of tears were still present on it.
    “No time!” Zerobi yelled while searching for an escape route, “Crap, we’re in big trouble… We have to run before they get here!”

    - - - - -
    Chapter 8

    Fearsome Four Mienfoo
    - - - - -




    With Zerobi still recovering from her mental breakdown and Lucario’s brain having been scrambled from the loud noise, Snivy finally felt that he had gained control of the situation.

    “Don’t bother running, there’s no escape…” Snivy snickered as he raised one of his extremely small arms menacingly, “Give up now, you’ve made a lot of friends on the police force that want to meet you personally! And when they’re done, you might run into a few more in the afterlife!”
    “Damn it! We just got to run!” Zerobi shouted in a panicky voice before she suddenly dashed off while shooting Lucario a quick glance, “Come on!” Lucario didn’t have time to think, instinctually following her.
    “Stay a little longer!” Snivy yelled as he tossed himself forward, shooting out two vines from his hands that hit Lucario’s back. Lucario kept running, but the vines quickly crawled around his back and wrapped around his torso.
    “How’d you know I needed a belt!?” Lucario laughed before he felt a jerk in his abdomen as the vines threatened to halt his movement. Instead, Lucario ran harder, causing Snivy's light body to be yanked with him. Lucario looked back and saw the slippery lizard dragging on the ground behind him, still keeping a strong hold.
    “Let go, you slimy… Scaly…” Lucario yelled as he noticed the vines were crawling down his body.
    “No! Don’t let them constrict you!” Zerobi shouted, but it was too late as Lucario suddenly felt his legs tighten up. He tripped and crashed on the ground as Snivy swiftly slithered up to him. As fresh vines flailed out of his hands, he suddenly sensed danger and made a leap backwards to avoid the fast punch that whisked by him.

    “A fist?” Snivy asked with a snide smile, “What’s wrong? I thought you liked my blood!”
    “I liked it a lot more when you were keeping your mouth shut during battle…” Zerobi mumbled before hunching over and quickly severing the vines around Lucario’s legs.
    “Hmpf!” Snivy scoffed loudly as he leaped towards the two of them, holding two vines in each hand and getting ready to seal them both. However, his plans were interrupted as Lucario stood whirling, extending his right leg in a spinning motion and hitting Snivy square in the head with a roundhouse kick. He was sent flying and was about to hit some kind of pole sticking out of the ground as he suddenly twisted around it and grabbed a hold with his snake-like body.
    “Y-You…“ he stammered as several leaves spread from his body, making Zerobi flinch while Lucario remained unaware and unaffected. However, Snivy’s vision began to darken as he passed out from the powerful blow to his head, and fell down to the ground.

    “Huh…” Zerobi said as she looked at Snivy and remembered how much trouble he had given her seven years ago, “He must be getting old…” She blinked twice in rapid succession before they started running again.
    “About time one of these things went down!” Lucario shouted triumphantly while they ran past a few startled onlookers, “Roundhouse kicks to the head are super effective! I should write this down…” Zerobi didn’t even smile as they kept running in silence, Lucario noticing that her eyes were a bit more emptier than usual, as if her earlier tears had cleaned them out. He had been too busy in his own thoughts to hear the conversation she and the lizard had earlier, but thought that things would be fine as long as he beat it up. Seeing her like this made him realize that something had left a deep lasting impact on her.
    “Hey, you don’t look so good…” Lucario started before suddenly noticing a strange sensation all around them, “Speaking of not-so-good, I sense a couple of strong beings approaching us.”

    “… What?” Zerobi asked in a worried voice as she snapped out of her inner cocoon, “A couple? Four of them!? WHERE!?”
    “Uh…” Lucario mumbled while trying to make sense out of the weird feeling he had, “Not really sure. Here, there… Everywhere?”
    “We don’t stand a chance if they find us!” Zerobi shouted as she took a sharp turn past a large house, “Come on! Let’s run faster!”
    “Warn me about the turns!” Lucario responded as he stumbled in the wrong direction, struggling to keep up. He suddenly felt the odd sensations converge somehow, and saw that Zerobi had stopped a few feet in front of him. He ran up to her before stopping as well, seeing that something ahead of them that was blocking their way.

    “Fearless! Fit! Formidable! Flawless!” one of them yelled. It had the appearance of a humanoid ferret with fine fur in soft yellow and wine red colors.
    “Fearsome! Ferocious! Frantic! Forceful!” another one continued. It appeared that they were all the same kind of Pokémon, perhaps even twins due to their many similarities.
    “Feisty! Festive! Fuzzy! Friendly!” the third one kept going. Their voices went from strong and masculine to meek yet full of determination, so Lucario quickly gave up on determining their genders.
    “… Uh, forgetful…?” the fourth one whispered in a low tone, making the other three stare angrily at him.
    “The Fierce Fighting Force has assembled!” they all shouted in unison, each striking an individual pose.

    “… As you can see, they’re insanely silly, but-” Zerobi groaned with a bright blush appearing on her face, resisting the urge of slapping her forehead despite her dangerous claws.
    “Don’t worry, I can tell” Lucario interrupted as just being near them made him tingle all over, “They’re damn powerful.”
    “The four Mienfoo…” Zerobi said quietly as they eyed her intently, “I saw them take down a Dragonite and Flygon in a heartbeat once…”
    “Uh… You don’t have some long-lost ally that’s going to jump in and bail us out of this?” Lucario asked jokingly, ”You know, just to save me the surprise?
    “Heh… I guess this is it…” Zerobi chortled as her sanity started decreasing, “First Kojondo, and now I’ll be taken down by four fighting-types… What a way to go!”
    “Fighting… Types…?” Lucario mumbled questioningly, “They’re unlike all those others things we fought… How?”
    “Come on!” Zerobi shouted as her impending doom whittled away her patience, “You’re a fighting-type!”
    “I sure am!” Lucairo responded cheerfully, “Not only that - I’m a winning-type, too!”
    “I assume that you are not willing to come with us quietly!” one of the Mienfoo said loudly, the four of them still remaining immobile.
    “You assume correctly!” Lucario shouted back as he struck a battle pose of his own, “Now, let’s get started!”
    “Uh…” Zerobi said as she took a step away from the eager Lucario, “This Lucario does not represent me… I’ll go quietly.”
    “Affirmative! Take out the brute!” another Mienfoo yelled as it suddenly dashed towards the Lucario who was busy staring at his partner in disbelief.

    The Mienfoo delivered a punch as fast a lightning directly at Lucario’s face. Quickly yet lightly pushing its arm to the side, Lucario made the punch miss him completely as he hit the Mienfoo’s leg with a short kick, making it stumble a bit. Suddenly Lucario began pounding away, attacking with a flurry of hooks to its head and ending with an uppercut that made it soar up into the air. Not wasting a moment, Lucario jumped up and kicked the Mienfoo straight forward, sending it flying past it's stunned friends and crash into the wall of a nearby house.

    “B-Bro! You’ll regret that!” the second Mienfoo yelled as it ran towards Lucario. Also preparing to simply punch him in the face, Lucario ducked and spun around to deliver a leg sweep. The Mienfoo lost balance as both its legs flew up in the air and it fell on the ground. Instantly, Lucario raised his own leg high above his own head before dropping it on the head of the Mienfoo in front of him, burrowing it into the dirt.

    “W-What the…” Zerobi stammered at this unexpected turn of events.
    “Hah! What kind of fighting style was that? Dumbass-fu?” Lucario laughed as the Mienfoo clutched the back of his head in pain and the others simply stood and stared at them.
    “Far stronger than the detectors said! Surround him!” the third Mienfoo shouted as the two remaining split off in different directions and was in front of Lucario as well as to his side.
    “Pathetic! You’re gonna surround me with only two people?” Lucario chuckled as the two of them began approaching him. The one to his side suddenly made a small leap towards him, preparing a jump kick.
    Lucario took a step toward the Mienfoo in front of him, making the jumping one miss. The Mienfoo tried to ram him with his entire body while Lucario struck a powerful blow at the side of his head. The Mienfoo bumped into Lucario, but soon collapsed from the trauma to his head as Lucario saw the other one jumping at him again.

    “You like staying airborne, huh?” he said, crouching down as far as possible. Waiting until the Mienfoo was directly above him, he sprung up and grabbed it from beneath, pushing it up into the air. He quickly realized his mistake as he didn’t manage to get a grip of the Mienfoo’s right leg, and it came down and struck him across the chest. Lucario became temporarily stunned as the Mienfoo used him as a foothold and jumped away. Lucario was thrown down to the ground, but quickly regained his footing as the Mienfoo once again jumped towards him.
    “Using the same attack three times in a row!? Seems that you have mastered dumbass-fu!” Lucario yelled defiantly before jumping slightly higher than the Mienfoo. The moment he was directly above it he struck down with a mighty stomp. The Mienfoo tried its best to remain conscious, but combining the hit from the Lucario’s feet with the hard ground proved to be too much for its head.

    Lucario did not have time to celebrate as he sensed a large amount of aura rushing at him. Sidestepping instinctively, he saw a large orange sphere of some kind fly past him from behind, hitting the side of a building further away and causing a great explosion. Knowing how close it was for him to be at the center of it, he spun around and saw the Mienfoo he had sweeped still lying on the ground, but holding out his arm in Lucario’s direction.

    “You… Shall… Not…” the Mienfoo stammered with a furious stare.
    “Hahaha…” Lucario snickered with an agitated tone, “… You call that an Aura Sphere? No… THIS IS AN AURA SPHERE!” Lucario thrust his right hand forward as an explosion of blue fire engulfed it. The Mienfoo kept staring as Lucario crouched down, screaming in agony.
    “Oh, for the love of…” Zerobi groaned while the Mienfoo slowly rose to its feet.
    “AAARGHHHH!” Lucario wailed, knowing that he would not be able to keep fighting like this, “STOP HIM! CUT HIM! GRAAAHHH!”
    “I can’t!” Zerobi shouted with a panicked tone, “I’ll get blood on me!”
    “SUCK IT UP!” Lucario screamed as he saw the Mienfoo charge up another attack, “DO SOMETHING!”
    “I-I don’t want to become your accomplice…” Zerobi kept going, shaking in terror as she saw the attack that had once burned through her back and chest in action.
    “IDIOT, I’M YOUR ACCOMPLICE!” Lucario bellowed. Something finally gave way within Zerobi, and she quickly ran up to the Mienfoo. It gave her a silent glance before being completely frozen by the cold wind she exhaled.

    “Geez, finally…” Lucario growled as the most excruciating pain in his hand subsided.
    “I’m sorry…” Zerobi said softly as she approached Lucario, “After seeing Eve and Snivy I guess I’m still a bit… Shattered…”
    “… So?” Lucario asked as he stood up like nothing had happened, “Are we going to keep running, or what?” Zerobi responded by gulping loudly before the two of them began running once more, leaving four failed fighters behind them.

    “I don’t get it!” Zerobi shouted as they ran through a long alley, “Those four are famous around these parts for being extremely powerful! You even said so yourself!”
    “Sure, they were strong…” Lucario shouted back, “But I’m stronger! Not to mention they fought like drunken sailors…”
    “… Where the hell did that strength come from!?” Zerobi asked in anger spawned from confusion, “Why didn’t you use that against Suicune!?”
    “I told you, I never even had a clue on how to fight something like that!” Lucario replied, “When it comes to blocking punches and countering kicks, you’ll never find anyone better!”
    “You… I don’t know what to sa-” Zerobi stared before interrupting herself, “HEADS UP!” An odd figure was standing in front of them at the end of the alley. Lucario dismissed it as another humanoid creature, but slowly began to notice something odd about it as they got nearer. Apart from having brightly yellow fur in contrast to his deep blue, as well as a chest noticeable due to three large things sticking out of it… It looked just like him!

    “W-What’s going…” the creature stammered with a very soft and silky voice.
    “You’re… Me!?” Lucario blurted out as he stopped himself, Zerobi following his lead.
    “We have no time for this, the police will be back any moment!” Zerobi yelled desperately, pushing the frozen Lucario forward, “Snap out of it, it’s just another Lucario!”
    “Are you being chased by the police!?” the other Lucario asked in a startled way.
    “Yeah! Sorry we can’t stay and chat, but-“ Zerobi continued before being interrupted by the new Lucario grabbing a hold of her arm as well as Lucario’s.
    “Quick! In here!” it said, dragging the two of them to a nearby house where the door stood open. They entered it quickly as the Lucario slammed the door behind them, shutting them off from the rest of the world and closing them in pitch black darkness.

  5. #5
    Registered User ScribbblingSwede's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Human Species

    - - - - -
    Chapter 9

    Hopeless Romantic Rukario
    - - - - -




    "I'm dumping this thing..." Zerobi muttered as she tore her cloak off and threw it away, "Stupid thing did nothing but hinder me the entire time..." For an instant Lucario felt like doing the same to his backpack, but his thoughts were interrupted as the other Lucario began moving towards him. He was frozen in place and could do nothing but stare at their savior while Zerobi slumped down next to a wall. He could tell that they were the same from head to toe, with one or two minor differences that just barely separating them. It was like he was staring at a twisted reflection. The form of a Pokèmon was not something he had gotten used to, but that did little to lessen the surreal sight of a slightly alternate version of oneself.

    Firstly, he determined that the other Lucario had to be female, if her voice and protruding chest was anything to go by. Secondly, the word 'protruding' stuck in his mind as his eyes fixated on a giant spike sticking out of her torso, before shifting over and seeing two similar spikes stuck on the back of her hands. Even their clothing was similar, although her shorts seemed to be slightly more detailed and in better condition than his. It also seemed like the color of her fur had been inverted somehow, meaning that her chest was blue while her arms and legs were yellow, but it was hard to tell. Long strings of light seeping in through cracks in the walls and ceiling was the only thing keep the room from complete darkness.

    Those few holes came at the cost of warmth, as everyone except for Zerobi felt uncomfortably chilled. Even so Lucario barely paid any notice to it as he was still heated up from the earlier battle, and the female Lucario seemed to be far too occupied with eyeing him intently to notice something like that. He was starting to get uncomfortable, and felt that he should probably be doing something.

    "... Thanks...?" Lucario said, to which the other Lucario's ears twitched. Suddenly, she gave off a beaming smile that made her face noticeably brighten up, even in the darkness.

    "I knew it! I knew it was your aura I sensed!" she burst out happily, "Oh, Cyon... I-I was so worried!" The yellow Lucario cried tears of joy as she ran up to Lucario in the hopes of embracing him. However, Lucario noticed the giant spike sticking out of her chest, and sidestepped her instead. Zerobi couldn't help but look at the whole situation with amusement, as she felt quite at home in both the darkness and the cold.

    "Y-Your words don't match your actions!" Lucario stammered with a startled voice as the female Lucario turned around to face him. Her eyes were dimmed from tears as she was looking at him with confusion.

    "Cyon...? What are you..." she said slowly as her voice became more and more worried, "... Why are you looking at me like that...?"

    "... Like what? I've never even seen you before!" Lucario replied. The moment the other Lucario heard this she inhaled deeply in shock, her face instantly contorting into a mixture of surprise and sorrow.

    "B-But..." she stammered as she took a step closer so he would see her better, "It's me! Rukario! I'm your wife!"

    "My... WHAT!?" Lucario blurted out as he took a step backward in dazzlement. Now his face was also one of confusion as he looked around, his eyes suddenly locking with Zerobi's.

    "Uh, you don't have to pretend for my sake..." she mumbled, waving her hand in the air.

    "What? NO!" Lucario replied, struggling for an explanation, "I just got here, how on earth could I have a wife!?"

    "Cyon..." Rukario whispered softly as she moved closer, "Why are you doing this? Please stop...!"

    "Stop calling me Cyon! My name's..." Lucario shouted in annoyance before suddenly trailing off for a few moments, "... Lucario." He looked at Zerobi for a moment before looking back at Rukario, not really sure who he least wanted to try and explain everything to.

    "Cyon..." Rukario repeated sadly and moved even closer, the spike on her chest almost touching him at this point, "... What happened to you? I-I... I was so worried when you didn't come home..."

    "Listen..." Lucario said as he decided to man up and not back off anymore. He looked straight at her and tried his best to ignore the tears forming in the corner of her eyes.

    "You've got the wrong Pokèmon, lady" he said bluntly, not even blinking.

    "Don't be silly! I'd recognize your face and voice anywhere!" she replied hopefully as she squeezed her hands to her chest in a praying motion, "Not to mention your... Lack of spikes..."

    "I think you're confused - I'm just another Lucario without spikes" Lucario continued while shaking his head, "This is stupid. Zerobi, tell her!"

    "Hmm... She seems to know you a little too well to be a complete stranger, though..." Zerobi muttered with a hint of doubt in her voice, "You sure you didn't just hit your head and forget about her or something?"

    "Grr... Not you too!" Lucario growled as he felt betrayed, "I told you! I'm a human! You don't just get memories from amnesia!"

    "... Is... Is that what this is about?" Rukario asked quietly while lowering her head, "... The human thing?"

    "Yeah!" Lucario responded quickly as he felt the situation turning in his favor, "No offense, but I could never get married to something like you!"

    "You always said that you wondered what it felt like to be human..." Rukario whispered before looking up at him again with tears seeping out of her, "Oh, my poor Cyon... What happened to you?"

    "Ugh, won't listen to reason..." Lucario mumbled as he shrugged to himself, "I guess being a typical woman goes beyond being human..."

    "Listen to me!" Rukario shouted straight in his face as she had a sudden stroke of determination, "You are not human! You are my husband! I am your wife! I have been searching for you all this ti-"

    "You found the wrong person, then!" Lucario interrupted while suddenly remembering the situation they were in, "Thanks for showing us this place - Now quiet down, or they'll find us."

    "Good idea" Zerobi suddenly chimed in, "Otherwise you can ask the police to find your missing husband while the two of us are being shipped off to some disciplinary camp..."

    "Wait... That's all that happens if we're caught?" Lucario asked as he turned around to see the Weavile sitting down in a corner of the room.

    "For you? Sure" Zerobi snickered darkly, "Me? They'll probably reinstate public executions..."

    "Considering how I've been treated by the humans so far, I'm pretty boned as well" Lucario chuckled while turning around to ignore the yellow Lucario, "Maybe they'll make it a double-feature?"

    "Please! Just... Just look at this picture!" Rukario pleaded as she reached into a pocket in the front of her pants and pulled out a small card with an image on it. Zerobi sighed, rose and walked over to them as they carefully bended over to look at it, Lucario feeling a little jealous that his pants had no storage facilities and thus were inferior to hers.

    The picture displayed two Pokèmon with their arms around each other, on a large field of flowers with some kind of mountain behind them. It was of high quality, so the faces of two Pokèmon were visible and easily identified as Lucario's and Rukario's. They were both smiling delightfully, Rukario looking as if she had just been told a good joke. While her face was recognizable, but it seemed as if it had become somewhat bleaker and lost some weight in comparison to the time this picture had been taken.

    "It is..." Zerobi stammered in disbelief, "It is really you. There is no doubt about it."

    "... It can't be!" Lucario said out loud while shaking his head, "It's like you said, just another Lucario!" A dreadful feeling came upon him when he started to realize that he faintly remembered what the environment in the picture looked like, from beyond the frames and from a completely different angle.

    "You fought too hard... You must have lost your memory somehow..." Rukario whispered as she looked up from the picture, a sorrowful and haunting smile across her face.

    "N-No!" Lucario stuttered as a lingering pain began forming in his head, "I... I haven't lost anything!"

    "Please... Just... I don't know what made you like this, but I promise..." Rukario continued while wiping one of the tears from her face, "... I promise that I will do whatever it takes to make you normal again!"

    "Shut up! I am normal!" Lucario shouted, keeping himself from clutching his throbbing head since it would make him look very suspicious. Looking at Zerobi, he was met with a face of both betrayal and anger.

    "Come here..." Rukario whispered as she walked up to the agitated Lucario, "I know something that might help you remember me..." She carefully took a hold of one of Lucario's reluctant hands, and then placed it on her left breast.

    "You always said our hearts are intertwined... Can't you feel it?" she continued as she lifted her head to the ceiling and closed her eyes, "My heart... Crying out for you...?"

    "Cut the bullcrap!" Lucario said as he quickly pulled his hand away from her and started getting mad, "My heart's my own, and I'd never... At least not with someone I've never even seen before!"

    "No, that picture is irrefutable..." Zerobi said with a furious tone in her voice before turning around and facing him, "... Lucario, did you lie to me?"

    "You want me to lie to you!? FINE!" Lucario shouted as he clenched his fists, thoroughly fed up with being treated in this manner, "I'm a goddamn wolf on two legs that is being chased by everyone for no good reason, and I like constantly getting into trouble over not knowing anything about anything!"

    "I-I didn't mean..." Zerobi said out loud as she was taken aback by his rage.

    "You saw the master ball! You saw it!" he bellowed while pointing accusingly at her, "I'll recite the periodic table right here right now if you want me to! I'M A MAN, DAMN IT!"

    As if on cue, the door to the house flew open with a bang. Lucario became blinded by the light as several strange entities stormed in, and at the head of them was the lizard he remembered kicking in the head not long before.

    "Correction - You're a loud idiot" Snivy said with an almost disappointed tone. Behind him was a slightly greener humanoid Pokèmon with flat hands colored in blue and red, as well as one of the Mienfoo from earlier.

    "Snivy!" Zerobi exclaimed in surprise before sighing, "Aw, great..."

    "Yeah, great!" Lucario shouted as he took a furious step towards the new arrivals, "I'm bloody livid, and I'm gonna beat the ever living crap out of everyone here! Zerobi, you with me or what!?"

    "I-I'm with you!" Zerobi quickly responded as she took a step towards him, "The master ball not working was-"

    "NOW!" Snivy interrupted with a shout as he suddenly threw several vines at them. Zerobi swiftly leapt forward and cut them in midair as Lucario ran past them, kicking at Snivy who jumped back through the entrance of the house and made the attack miss. The Mienfoo came up and took a swing at his head from the side, but Lucario didn't even bother dodging it as the aim was slightly off.

    "Damn, you suck! Have a taste of my Aura..." Lucario yelled as a chill ran through his aching hands, recalling his previous attempts at manipulating the aura, "... My Aura Punch!" Lucario backhanded the hairy creature across the face. The moment his fist connected, it blew up into a ball of blue fire. The Mienfoo stumbled around and fell on his back while Lucario crouched over due to the pain emanating from his burning right hand.

    "MY FACE! MY FAAAACEEE!" the Mienfoo screamed in agony while writhing on the ground.

    "Watch the Roserade!" Zerobi suddenly yelled, Lucario looking up and seeing the green humanoid creature from earlier right in front of him. Its oddly shaped hands made it look like it was holding a pair of bouquets. It moved towards the weakened Lucario and slapped him across the face with one of its strange hands, making him yell out in pain as he felt his face being prickled by tiny spikes.

    "Duck!" Zerobi shouted before exhaling a great cloud of chilling wind. Lucario hunched over even more as the Roserade was hit by it, and Lucario felt a chill run over his back as the walking flower fell over.

    "She's poisoned you!" Zerobi yelled as Lucario began picking off thorns that had somehow gotten stuck on his face, even though they were nothing compared to the aching of his right hand that was still present.

    "Like I care!" Lucario yelled back in rage before sensing an aura approaching him from behind.

    "Cyon, I can't let you do this! I-" Rukario shouted, but couldn't finish as Lucario suddenly spun around and struck her across the face with the back of his left hand. She was struck even harder by the shock that followed as she fell to the ground in a devastating motion.

    "Unless that Cyon was a wifebeater, this should make you understand!" Lucario bellowed in anger, "You mean NOTHING to me! Piss off, or DIE!"

    "Hey... Don't you think you're being too rough?" Zerobi asked as she looked down at the crying Rukario.

    "Hypocrite!" Snivy yelled as he jumped through the entrance once more and landed on his stomach, quickly slithering around the room in a random pattern while leaving a trail of leaves behind him.

    "T-The leaf storm..." Zerobi stammered as she felt a prickling sensation all over her body and she started shouting, "Lucario! We've got to get out of here!"

    "You daft!?" Lucario shouted back as he tried stomping the slippery snake but kept missing, "We're finally winning, and I'm sick of running!"

    "Trust me on this!" Zerobi kept going while she ran towards the exit, "In eight seconds, this room is going to be a portal to hell!" Lucario hesitated for a heartbeat as he thought of how much trouble it had gotten him into so far, but decided to follow Zerobi anyway. She jumped over the collapsed Roserade and writing Mienfoo, but when Lucario did the same he felt the same pricking sensation from earlier striking the underside of his body as well as his back. It didn't hinder his movement in any way, so he ignored it and kept running.

    "Man, I'm getting hungry..." Lucario said as he began calming down a bit while they were running past building after building, "How about a quick stop at a restaurant?"

    "Look!" Zerobi shouted, signaling him to look forward where he saw that the houses were thinning out, "We're almost outta here!"

    "Then what? We keep running?" Lucario continued, running ahead of Zerobi to get a better view of their destination.

    "Pretty much, but not for..." she replied, but trailed off when she suddenly saw several purple spines sticking out of his back, "... WHOA! When did you get those!?"

    "Get what?" Lucario asked before remembering the pricking sensation, "Oh... Right now, I guess. That flower-sales thing must've hit me on the way out."

    "It's poison!" Zerobi continued with a disgusted look on her face, "Man, you're going to get SO sick from that!"

    "Yeah, whatever..." Lucario responded since he was too concerned with their current situation to worry about the future, "By the way, since I trusted you this time, you owe me your trust in return!"

    "What? Because you followed me?" Zerobi muttered as they ran past a few Pokèmon hiding in an alleyway, "Like I care! Hey, you could've stayed in there if you wanted to be chopped into little pieces that much..."

    Zerobi suddenly stopped herself from speaking and slowed down her running. Lucario looked ahead expecting a comeback from another one of the Mienfoo, but instead saw a tiny creature right at the edge of the city. He recognized it as the brown cat that had been walking next to Snivy, before everything came down upon them.

    "What do we do?" Lucario asked Zerobi who just slowed down even more, until she was simply walking towards the small being. She didn't give an answer, her gaze transfixed upon her old friend.

    "Z-Zerobi..." the brown cat stammered quietly.

    "Eve..." Zerobi whispered in return with a saddened voice.

    "... I can't..." Eve mumbled before shaking her head and shouting out loud, "I can't let you g-get away!"

    "Please, Eve..." Zerobi continued while feeling as is something had caught a tight grip of her heart, "I know it's hard to believe, but I always treasured our friendship-"

    "Shut up!" Eve shouted angrily in return, "You... You're the most evil thing in this world! I regret ever meeting you!"

    "I..." Zerobi said, the painful feeling in her chest increasing, "... I understand why you would think so... But it's been seven years, and we are both much older and wiser. Forgive... And forget...?"

    "N-No words..." Eve mumbled to herself before suddenly lowering her head and starting to rush towards Zerobi, preparing to tackle her. Eve had barely taken five step forward before Lucario leaped forward, kicking her upwards in the chin so hard that she was thrown up into the air for a few seconds.

    "Hah! What a lame way of attacking!" Lucario laughed while getting ready to hit her on the way down as well. Instead, Zerobi jumped up behind him and banged him hard on the head with her closed fist.

    "OW! Wrong target, damn it!" Lucario growled in pain, clutching his head as the lifeless body of Eve crashed down on the ground in front of them.

    "HEY!" Zerobi screamed with fury, "That's my best friend! Don't you DARE hurt her like that!"

    "She wants you dead!" Lucario shouted back, "If that's your best frien-"

    "Never mind, we don't have time for this" Zerobi interrupted and huffed angrily, "Snivy'll be here any second."

    "Alright..." Lucario sighed in defeat as he approached Eve's body, "So, what do we do? Do we bring her, or-"

    "Leave her!" Zerobi interrupted again as she began fleeing, "Just run!"

    "... Never see it coming..." Lucario mumbled to himself before following Zerobi once more. A few seconds later they had passed the last building of Snowpoint City, and began their escape through the never ending sea of snow...

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    "Heheh… You’re as fast as always…"

    "… Brendan? What do you want?"

    "That Lucario… It must be mine! I’ll fight you for it!"

    "I have no interest in settling such an old score, Brendan."

    "… Then I’ll trade you for it! That Tauros you always wanted…"

    "… While that is quite tempting, I am afraid that I cannot hold up my end of the bargain. I was unable to catch the Lucario."

    "… What!? Even you? Quit playing with me!"

    "By ‘unable’ I meant ‘physically unable’. I used the Master Ball, and it did nothing."

    "Have you finally gone senile!? Not only did you use a Master Ball, but it DIDN’T WORK!?"

    "Not senile to the point that I know that is impossible."

    "Even the Master Ball could not catch him… Have you told them about it?"

    "No."

    "… WHAT!? Why!?"

    "You know what our orders were. Catch or kill. I will not let an innocent Pokémon die for their cause."

    "… You’re still far too soft! I always told you it’d be your downfall, now it seems it’s become the downfall of us all!"

    "…"

    "You know what is at stake here, and you LET IT LIVE!?"

    "… How do we know that killing it is the only way? There might be another solution…"

    "Withered old fool… Tell me, are you willing to risk it?"

    "…"

    "… Fine! It’s about time that you fail where I succeed! I’ll crush that impudent bug, and I’ll be revered as a hero!"

    "Listen to yourself, Brendan. You sound… Insane."

    "… Yes. You’re right… As always. Even so… It seems that the task ahead is too much for you, old man."

    "…"

    "Go work on your requiem, pray I succeed and give you enough time to finish it."

    "…"

    "… Nothing? No witty retort? No ‘you’re wrong and I’m right, now here’s why?’ You really are bygone."

    "… Fine."

    "…?"

    "I will not kill it… But I will find a way to stop it."

    "Hah! Go ahead and try! Just don’t think you’re going to beat me to it!"

    "… A challenge?"

    "You bet! But I’m not getting any younger, either… Let’s make it our last… And best!"


    - - - - -
    Chapter 10

    Travels
    (Epilogue of Episode II)

    - - - - -



    After only a few hours of wandering, the snow had completely disappeared beneath their feet. It had been replaced by grassy plains in the wide open and sandy soil whenever there was a mountain nearby. It was as if they had walked directly into spring, leaving winter behind them.

    "This damn climate, it..." Lucario said to himself as he looked around, "It boggles the mind!"

    "Ahh, I'm going to miss the refreshing northern cold" Zerobi said with a longing sigh, "It's much too hot everywhere else..."

    "Hey, you're the one who decided on going south!" Lucario pointed out, "We don't even have a real destination, we can go north if you want to!"

    "... Don't you think we've overstayed our welcome when it comes to those parts?" Zerobi replied, looking behind them and noticing that Snowpoint City was no longer within visible range.

    "Dunno" Lucario mumbled as his stomach growled, "Sure could've gone for a bite somewhere. We could always just, you know, go past it. See what lies further up."

    "That would be a bad idea" Zerobi said, "Mostly because there's nothing up north."

    "... Nothing?" Lucario asked as he looked up with a bewildered face, "How could there possibly be nothing? Isn't the world round?"

    "Alright, correction" Zerobi rectified with another sigh, "There's water, and lots of it. Feel like starving to death on a raft?"

    "Starving to death on the sea, starving to death on land..." Lucario muttered as his stomach growled again, "All the same to me."

    "Just eat a couple of berries, already!" Zerobi suddenly shouted, pointing to the backpack he had been carrying around all this time.

    "... I bloody hate those things" Lucario kept muttering and ended with a shudder, "I'd kill to get some real food before I die... And I just might!"

    "If you stop eating, there's no doubt about it" Zerobi snapped back while telling herself to be more reasonable, "You just need to find a taste that you like. Have you tried dry berries before?"

    "Dry is not a taste, damn it!" Lucario yelled much louder than necessary, "Surely Pokèmon can eat rice, curry or something you actually cook!"

    "Yeah, I've heard of those before" Zerobi continued in her normal voice, "Do they grow on bushes?"

    "... Uh..." Lucario whispered, thinking it was a trick question, "Even when compared to everything else in this world, I think that would be a bit farfetched..."

    "So is Farfe-" Zerobi said as a reflex before intentionally stopping herself, "I mean, that means you're not getting any. Unless you can find it in nature, you're going to come up empty."

    The two of them became quiet for a while, as Lucario ended up in a foul mood and started walking faster. As soon as Lucario passed Zerobi, she noticed the stingers from their last battle remained on his back.

    "... And do something about that poison!" Zerobi shouted while pointing at the thorns covering his back, "Man, why do I have to be your caretaker all of a sudden!?"

    "Simple - You're a worrywart" Lucario replied while shrugging, "I'm OK so far. Why would I need any help?"

    "Are you sure?" Zerobi asked as her eyes fixed on his backpack again, "We bought an antidote for just this occasion, after all..."

    "I'm telling you, I feel fine!" Lucario said with a big, forced smile.

    "You're fine now, but you're going to be in big trouble later!" Zerobi pointed out, "At least let me pull the stingers out of your back!"

    "... With those?" Lucario asked while looking at her sharp claws, "No thanks. I don't need more holes in me..."

    "I promise I'll be careful..." Zerobi said quietly while looking down at her body, "Guess what you'll be if I don't pull them out? Dead weight... Followed quickly by simply 'dead'."

    "... Hmm..." Lucario muttered as he looked more carefully at the lethal hands of his partner before shuddering, "Still, I think I'd rather take my chances with the poison."

    "It's not like it's not risky for me either!" Zerobi yelled angrily, "One slip and there'll be blood spraying all over the place!"

    "... OK, let me rephrase that" Lucario said sternly as his face turned white in horror, "You are NEVER, EVER allowed to do any form of medical work on me."

    "Come on! It's the only way I'll ever learn!" Zerobi shouted as she moved closer to him.

    "No! Stay away!" Lucario yelled while shooing her away. As he did so, he couldn't help but feel a bit bad. She was just trying to help him, it's not like it was her fault she had giant knives for hands.

    "Hey, I'm sorry" Lucario said while putting a hand on Zerobi's shoulder, making her twitch.

    "About what?" she replied, eyeing his arm carefully to make sure there wasn't any blood on it.

    "I mean, it can't be easy, having claws like that..." he said with a sympathetic voice, looking down at the long and slender blades sticking out of her limbs.

    "You kidding?" she responded as she tried to put the whole thing in a positive light, "Do you know how many times they've saved me in battle? Sure beats just having normal hands, like you..."

    "... You're right!" Lucario blurted out, suddenly feeling a pang of jealousy when he imagined how easy his battles up until now would have been if he claws like that, "But I guess I could just use a couple of swords or something."

    "Sworn'd?" Zerobi asked in a confused tone, "Wait... You have a few allies, after all?"

    "Huh? No, I said 'sword'" Lucario tried to correct her, "You know... A long weapon..."

    "Oh. Well, you can't expect me to know the name of every move, can you?" Zerobi snickered while waving her hand around, "Which kind of Pokèmon uses it?"

    "Actually, it's a weapon for humans" Lucario said, still dreaming about how he'd be cutting off limbs left and right if his nails had been a bit sharper.

    "A weapon... For humans?" Zerobi asked questioningly, "Why would humans need weapons?"

    "... Eh!?" Lucario exclaimed in surprise as a thought suddenly hit him, "That reminds me, why didn't the police just grab a couple of guns and shoot us if they wanted us both dead?"

    "Gun..." Zerobi whispered to herself while crossing her arms, "... Projectiles? I think that Kojofu used one of those, but you dodged it."

    "Wait, wait, wait..." Lucario said slowly and held out his arms in a stopping motion, "You mean to tell me there are no weapons in this world? You know, that humans use?"

    "... Why would they need that? They can catch and train Pokèmon just fine!" Zerobi explained while desperately trying to understand what her partner was talking about, "Sure, some fight and stuff... But I've never heard of a human actually defeating a Pokèmon."

    "... Hmm... Yeah, I see your point" Lucario mumbled before scratching his head, "In a world of monsters, I doubt bullets would be good against anything weaker than a bear."

    As the wandered, they came across a small waterhole in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere. Lucario remembered something about water in nature sometimes being poisonous, to which Zerobi pointed out that he was already poisoned and started drinking. After making sure that she hadn't gone blind after a few moments, Lucario started drinking as well.

    "Those two back there really hated you" Lucario said as he wiped some of the water away from the sides of his mouth, "What happened to make them want you dead?"

    "I... Really don't want to talk about it..." Zerobi said, Lucario noticing the emptiness from earlier making itself apparent in her eyes and voice, "What's done is done."

    "That's... Surprisingly content" Lucario said, not wanting to make her depressed yet still not willing to drop the subject, "I saw you have a complete breakdown not that long ago."

    "I've already spent several years worrying that someone deceived me and feeling sorrowful over past sins" Zerobi sighed deeply, "Living a life like that... I think I'd rather be dead."

    The two of them finished up by the waterhole and decided to keep moving. Zerobi looked at the digital map they had bought, checking the built in compass to make sure that they were on the right track.

    "By the way, how did they even find us?" Lucario asked as Zerobi opened up the backpack he was carrying and put the map back, "You said something about 'detectors'..."

    "Oh yeah..." Zerobi responded in an attempt to shake away her depression, "They somehow sense the presence of strong Pokèmon."

    "... What? That's kind of like what I can do with the aura!" Lucario said, recalling his newfound ability to sense creatures near him, "Wait... That means we were the only powerful Pokèmon in town?"

    "Uh, I guess..." Zerobi said quickly before lowering her pace slightly, "I'm a Dark-type, so psychic types can't sense me. I don't think the detectors can either. Must've been you."

    "Well, I AM pretty strong..." Lucario smiled, unintentionally flexing the muscles on his upper body.

    "That's what got us into this mess..." Zerobi muttered, "I thought you were weak, so I never expected those things to notice us."

    "... Took 'em a while though, didn't it?" Lucario chimed in, remembering how much time he spent in the store persuading Zerobi to buy actual food instead of a bunch of occult magazines.

    "They're honestly not that reliable" Zerobi continued explaining, "They malfunction all the time, and take forever to lock on a target."

    "Good news for us, then" Lucario laughed before noticing that true to her words, he had been unable to sense her presence with the aura up until, "I mean, me. Just me. Anyway, what are they? Machines?"

    "I have no idea" Zerobi answered while shaking her head a little, "Every city got one after that whole thing with Deoxys..."

    "... Dexo-sys?" Lucario asked, the word feeling very unfamiliar to him, "Some kind of viral outbreak?"

    "... Wait, you don't know about that either!?" Zerobi suddenly shouted in surprise, "I've literally been living in a cave for the past seven years, and even I know about it!"

    "Bah, that's nothing!" Lucario replied with an annoyed tone, "You just got surprised over me not knowing anything! What is this, the eighteenth time that's happened?"

    "Still, to now know anything about that..." Zerobi mumbled in disbelief before crossing her arms, "I mean, I don't know too many details myself, but supposedly the entire world was coming to an end." Lucario looked at her strangely, getting somewhat tired of having to take in so much new information all the time.

    "A creature called 'Deoxys' appeared out of nowhere and ran around, killing everything in its path" Zerobi explained bluntly without batting an eye, "Calling it 'strong' would be the understatement of the century. From what I heard, the combined forces of entire cities could not even touch it."

    "... From what you heard?" Lucairo asked, "Sounds like a massive exaggeration to me."

    "Well, information about Deoxys was not so strangely limited, seeing how everything within a mile's radius of it died" Zerobi answered as she continued explaining, "The occasional camera was all that 'survived'. At any rate, it was unstoppable. Cities from every continent were reduced to rubble as it wandered the earth, and every challenger was instantly killed. Everyone lived each day in fear of dying... It was pretty much judgment day."

    "... Man! I sure am glad I wasn't around here for that!" Lucario blurted out in a worried tone, "Wait... What happened? How'd it stop?"

    "Hmm... Uh, I'm not sure" Zerobi said with a shrug, "I think someone killed it. A legendary, probably."

    "S-Someone killed it!?" Lucario stammered as he almost tripped after stepping in a small hole in the ground, "Someone killed a creature so powerful that it was bringing about the apocalypse!?"

    "It's always like that" Zerobi said slowly as she peeked up in the sky with a dreamy look, "A single hero stands up to the evil monster and defeats it..."

    "... Impossible!" Lucario suddenly exclaimed, "More like the army sends eighty guys with machineguns and blows it to bits! I mean, there aren't any weapons here... But still..."

    "There are like fifteen articles about it in every Occult Magazine released after the incident..." Zerobi muttered in annoyance, "... In other words, your answers lie in that bandage."

    Lucario looked at her with a confused face. Zerobi then pointed to his right shoulder, where he had tied up the remains of one of the magazines charred by Raikou to cover up a wound created by Suicune. He lightly tapped it a little in hopes that it could still be read, but gave up within seconds.

    "Ugh... It's all torn up... Burnt... And drenched in dried up blood!" Lucario mumbled with a disgusted voice.

    "Not to mention MY magazine... You filth!" Zerobi growled angrily, "Maybe that'll teach you not to ruin my possessions!"

    "... Like that's my fault!" Lucario snapped back, "Still quite absorbing for a magazine... I mean, absorbent!"

    They continued talking, bickering and laughing until nightfall, during which Lucario pulled out two sleeping bags from the backpack. They had been searching for a cave to rest in, but the plains they were in the middle of seemed to go on forever, and in the end they had to settle for an open sky and grassy floor.

    "Hey, maybe we should have tried these out before buying them?" Lucario mentioned as he sat down next to the fairly bland and unimaginative bed.

    "... It's a sleeping bag" Zerobi responded bluntly, "They'd have to actually be trying to screw it up."

    "Only one way to find out..." Lucario told himself while carefully opening it up and moving inside of it. He made it all the way in and felt the soft insides caressing his body, making him sigh in relief as he slowly leaned back.

    "YIKES AND GAZOOT!" Lucario screamed as he flew out of his bag, making Zerobi look at him with a curious face.

    "Damn it, my back...!" he whined and turned around, making her catch a glimpse of the poison thorns from earlier, still stuck in him.

    "Told ya" she said smugly as she got up and walked over to him, "You ready for an extraction?"

    "... Don't kid around, It's much too dark for that!" he groaned while futilely trying to locate and pull out the stingers himself, "I'd like to spend the night in a sleeping bag, not a body bag..."

    "I can see fine in the darkness" Zerobi said quietly.

    "I said no! This is insane!" Lucario responded loudly, "Gouging them out is not going to help at all!"

    "Actually, I was planning on using my claws as pincers..." Zerobi said as she held up her claws in front of her.

    "Pincers..." Lucario whispered to himself as a faint memory resurfaced. He was looking at his finger, doing his best to claw out the painful splinter lodged within. Suddenly, a pair of sharp objects appear above the wound. He tries to twist his hand away, but something is preventing him! In an instant, the pain flares up before vanishing altogether, a tiny object caught between the two...

    "... Alright" Lucario muttered as he laid down on the sleeping bag on his stomach, "I'm placing my back in your hands... Literally."

    "About time!" Zerobi replied cheerfully, leaping up and crashing down on Lucario's pants, making him jump slightly in terror.

    "Are you crazy!? Don't just sit down on them!" Lucario yelled, trying to look at the creature both above and behind him.

    "They're on your back, not backside..." Zerobi muttered before quickly looking at her current seat and shuddering a bit, "... I hope..."

    Looking down at his back, she noticed that several spikes were sticking out among the large hairs growing out of his torso. Zerobi used her hands to lightly brush aside some of the hair on the back, just to make sure where the fur stopped and hair began. Instead she was met by a sight far more horrifying than she had expected.

    "... Scars... " Zerobi whispered as she stared at the misshapen body beneath her. Even though no hair was growing out of these parts, the large gashes across his back had been all but invisible until now, hidden under the yellow fur.

    "... What!?" Lucario shouted, oblivious to what she was referring to, "Those thorns were lodged in that deep!?" The scars were closed now, but she was certain that no one could just forget wounds that massive. Simply looking at them brought her back some unpleasant memories from her time in Cerulean City.

    "No, I mean... I'm not a doctor, but these look old" Zerobi mumbled as she winced, "... Man, they look painful, too...!"

    "You mean to tell me you're NOT a doctor?" Lucario chipped sarcastically, "You... At least you've done something like this before, right?"

    "As if! One little slip and blood'll..." she said before stopping herself, "... I mean, just don't move around too much."

    "Uh, you know, maybe I could just sleep on my stomach..." Lucario whispered frightfully, "... Actually, that's a great idea! Let's do that!"

    "Are you sure about that?" Zerobi asked with an unusually calm tone, "I've already extracted six of them."

    "... Really?" Lucario replied hopefully as relief washed over him, "Whoa! I didn't feel a thing! You're good at this!"

    "Yeah, I know..." Zerobi snickered, "I'm lying." Instantly she grabbed the first of the thorns and pulled it out, making Lucario yelp in surprise.

    "ARGH!" Lucario shouted as he once again tried to turn around and look at her, "Damn you! That's SO not cool!"

    "What?" Zerobi asked with a sinister smile, "Is it too much for the little crybaby?"

    "... Just get it over with" Lucario mumbled. The pain of having it pulled out had been bad, but nothing compared to his battles against Suicune, Raikou or the aura that lay dormant within him.

    As he lay there, he realized that so far trying to use the aura had ended up in a catastrophe each time. He knew that if he wanted to learn how to use it, he would have to try something different. The female Lucario from earlier popped into his mind and he thought about asking her for pointers, though a more pressing matter suddenly came upon him...

    "... You still believe me, right?" Lucario asked after a while, "That I'm human and that Rukario wasn't my wife?"

    "Well, the way you treat women I doubt you could ever land a sh..." Zerobi started before suddenly converting her snide remark into an explanation, "... That was a shiny Lucario back there, you know."

    "Oh... Uh..." Lucario mumbled as while closing his eyes, "If you compared her to what she looked like in that picture, she was actually a bit meager."

    "Shiny is a term used to describe Pokèmon with different colors than what's usual" Zerobi explained, mentally telling herself to do that right away the next time so that she wouldn't have to listen to his nonsensical replies.

    "Oh..." Lucario mumbled again, "So it's like racism?"

    "Ra... Huh?" Zerobi asked with a confused tone, before remembering her earlier plans, "Anyway, they're extremely rare and constantly sought after by trainers. The fact that she even showed herself... Well, let's just say she's going to be heckled unless she quickly hides again."

    "... So IT IS like racism!" Lucario continued as a particularly painful thorn was pulled out in the middle of the sentence, "She and that Cyon were some kind of inter-racial couple, then?"

    "Now I don't have a clue what you're talking about" Zerobi groaned, "Just... Forget about it. Also, I'm done."

    "... Oh?" Lucario mumbled for a third time, "... Why aren't you getting off me, then?"

    "... Alright, you got me" Zerobi said with a mischievous smile as she pulled out the final prick, making Lucario twitch, "NOW it's done!"

    "DAMN YOU!" Lucario shouted in fury, "Why you gotta do that!?"

    "Because you were so stubborn, and wouldn't let me help you unless I practically begged" Zerobi said with annoyance as she lectured him, "Don't be such a hardass, or there'll be hell to pay in the future."

    "Fine... I don't know what you're expecting, but you've made your point" Lucario replied as he wiggled around a bit while trying to get up, "Speaking of ass, would you mind separating yours from mine?"

    "I don't know, I kind of like it here" Zerobi snickered as she leaned back and tried getting comfortable, "You wanna sleep together?"

    "... Great, I get the spikes replaced with a Siamese twin..." Lucario muttered to himself before slowly rising up, making Zerobi fall off him. She landed on her back as Lucario walked over to his sleeping bag and picked it up.

    "... But really, you seemed reluctant back there" Zerobi said as she got up and walked back to her own sleeping bag, "She was so kind! What kind of girl do you like, anyway?"

    "Human" Lucario said bluntly as he uncurled the sleeping bag, and in a quick, fluent motion slipped into it. He sighed of relief as his back hit the soft underside of it. Even though it still hurt, it was nothing compared to earlier.

    "Hmm... Figures" Zerobi replied as she also decided to lie down, lying down on top of her own sleeping bag.

    "You aren't going to crawl into it?" Lucario asked while turning his head in her direction, "It feels damn good, you know!"

    "That will be much too hot for someone like me" "I tried telling you this, but you just HAD to buy two sleeping bags..."

    "Weirdo..." Lucario mumbled as he leaned his head back on the pillow and looked up at the heavens. It was fairly cloudy, but nothing that could completely cover up the infinite blackness of the sky that peered at them.

    "... Pokèmon don't get married, you know" Zerobi suddenly whispered.

    "... Huh? Where'd that come from?" Lucario asked in a whispering tone as well.

    "She said she was your wife" Zerobi said, "I've never heard a Pokèmon call themselves that. It's strictly a human thing."

    "And me knowing this is going to save our lives in the near future... How?" Lucario asked while sitting up and looking over at Zerobi, who was busy staring up into the sky.

    "Hey, I'm trying to solve the mystery here!" Zerobi replied with a short snicker, "Help out a little, will ya?"

    "There's no mystery" Lucario sighed as he lay down on his back again, "Listen, the last thing I want is psychotherapy that'll convince me that I'm a stinkin' Pokèmon. Show me a way to turn back, or forget about it."

    "Even so..." Zerobi said slowly, "You've yet to tell me anything of what it's like being human..."

    "We've been kind of buys not dying, remember?" Lucario chuckled, "I'll tell you now. What do you want to know?"

    "Well..." Zerobi mumbled as she thought, "Anything, I guess. You're the only creature that has been both human and Pokèmon, what's different?"

    "I eat berries for sustenance" Lucario responded bluntly, "And I'm talking to something not human."

    "... That's it?" Zerobi asked with disappointment in her voice.

    "I'm still human within, so mentally I was never a Pokèmon" Lucario said.

    "Come on!" Zerobi exclaimed loudly, "You've met with Pokèmon and talked to them! There must be something!"

    "There is, but... How do I explain..." Lucario sighed as he thought very hard of a way to explain what was on his mind, "... Like... What do you see when you look up at the sky right now?"

    "... Clouds..." Zerobi mumbled an answer, "The moon... Stars..."

    "Heh..." Lucario smiled, "All I see are gigantic rocks and balls of fire, swirling around in a great big void."

    "... Huh?" Zerobi exclaimed, not understanding him at all.

    "See it like this - We are both less than a dot on a speck of a planet in a tiny little solar system in the edges of a galaxy, that there are millions of" Lucario explained in a depressing tone before lightening up, "But we're not worthless! Every time we close our eyes in a blink, we give birth to new life in the form of cells, only to kill them off the moment our eyes open."

    "... Whoa..." Zerobi whispered to herself, "Deep."

    "That means that depending on our perspective, we are both an almighty god..." Lucario continued, "... And barely even nothingness."

    "So that's how a human thinks, eh?" Zerobi said quietly, somewhat disappointed in his answer, "Alright, something less... Existential... What did you look like as a human?"

    "This is going to sound weird coming from a canine" Lucario chuckled, "But I was actually pretty ugly."

    "That's... An unexpected answer" Zerobi replied, again feeling disappointed, "Feel free to lie, it's not like I can prove you wrong."

    "Nah, that's just the way things were" Lucario kept going, "Constant fighting does that to you."

    "Huh... Funny to think that someone so handsome was once..." Zerobi started but suddenly trailed off after realizing what she had just said, "... Uh, human!"

    "Handsome?" Lucario said with an uninterested tone, "I can't tell... And I really don't care, either."

    "You don't care?" Zerobi asked with surprise in her voice, "... Really? Not even a little?"

    "I'm a freak, either way" Lucario mumbled and wished he could shrug more naturally when lying down, "To any human, at least... I don't think I'd be real popular as the dog-man with no job, money or viable future."

    "Alright..." Zerobi mumbled as she was getting tired of all the boring answers, "I'm done. Goodnight."

    "Aw, come on! Ask me something more!" Lucario said excitedly.

    "... We'll have plenty of time tomorrow..." Zerobi yawned while closing her eyes.

    "Talking like this is fun!" Lucario exclaimed, "What, you're immune to fun?"

    "Go ahead. Talk to yourself" Zerobi muttered as she turned around, facing him with her back.

    "... Fine" Lucario said as he closed his eyes as well, "Just know that out of all the odd things I've met since I got here... You're the best."

    Zerobi felt a bit insulted at being called an 'odd thing', but nevertheless fell asleep not long after that. Lucario's head was still spinning with all the new information it had taken in, and his blood was rushing from the battles earlier in the day. All of it finally collided in him, as exhaustion kicked in and he was instantly overtaken by sleep...

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    … Hmm? Oh look, it’s… It’s a Lucario! Wait a minute… Proper colors… No spikes… Am I seeing myself in third person? How is that even possible!?

    “…”

    Did you say something? Speak up!

    “… R…”

    Wait, am I the one talking? What am I, anyway? I’m over there, yet I’m seeing myself from over h… I… I’m human? YES! I’M HUMAN AGAIN!

    “… Ru-u-uuu… K-k-k-K-k…”

    Alright, you can quiet down now… It’s starting to hurt my head.

    “ … RuUUuu… KaAAaa… RiIIIiii…”


    I said, SHUT UP! Stop it!

    “ RUUUUU…”

    ARGH! C’mon, stop it! You’re… You’re tearing me apart!

    “KAAAAAAAAAA…”


    AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!




    - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



    “… Zerobi?”

    Give it a rest, already… It’s been seven years.

    “Zerobi…”
    “Zerobi!”
    “Z-Zerobi…!”


    I haven’t had a drop of blood in almost a decade. You don’t scare me.

    “Monster!”
    "Ins-Insufferable hick!"
    "PLEASE DON'T KILL ME!"
    “WHY!?”
    ”Zerobi, everyone already knows you're special, don't do this!"


    Listen, I really need to sleep. You know I can’t appease you, so just why not just leave me in peace?

    “Not over until you’re dead…”
    "Y-You killed them all!"
    “I’ll haunt you!”
    ”You're… Evil!"
    ”May you rest in peace, wayward soul!"
    ”… Zerobi's supposed to be dead, right?”
    “You’ll never get away with this!”


    Damn, you’re loud tonight. Is it because I met those two? I didn’t even hurt them! You should be rewarding me, not torturing me!

    “Oh, such a shame that you no longer have any blood!”

    …!

    "What, this scares you? Are you scared of me now?"


    … Shut up…

    “Once I've killed him, I can use his essence to make you a Grass Eeveelution just like your mom! And then BURN YOU UP!”

    Shut up! Shut up! SHUT THE HELL UP!

    “Don't kid yourself. That new guy… You've been eyeing that blood ever since you first saw him. You want to feel it, don't you? There is no way you won't as long as he sticks around like this…"

    It… It's not like that…

    "Besides, who's to say things will go bad if you just have a little taste? You've matured, you can control it! The slippery slope doesn't exist anymore!"

    No! I'm not like that! Leave me alone!

    "He keeps acting so weird, like he's a character or something… What would his reaction be if you cut the tendrils in his legs and left him out in the snow, where he would catch cold and die? If you plunge your claws into his mouth, would he ever be able to smile again?"

    … I see. You… You're just trying to get a reaction out of me. Typical. I won't listen anymore. Leave me alone with my sleep…

    "… Leave you alone? Hehehe… Oh, but Zerobi…"

    "I'm you"


    - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    "Latias! Latios!”

    "… Azelf!?"

    "What a pleasant surprise!"

    "Oh, I wish it was… Wait 'til you hear about this…"

    "Is it about the gathering, by any chance?"

    "… Huh? Y-You knew!?"

    "Mew passed by a few days ago and told us all about it."

    "… Really?"

    "Yep! We're heading over there now, as a matter of fact…"

    "… Already!? But I'm not even halfway done! It won't be for a long time!"

    "To be honest, it seems to be the only safe place left in this world. We've fought three trainers these past weeks…"

    “B-Brother! You are going to make him think that we were responsible for that!”

    "No, I… They've been hot on my trail, too… Lake Valor will never be the same after what they did…"

    "It's really bad, that's for sure. We haven't had a meeting since Darkrai and Cresselia… Well, back then we were too young to do anything. Now, it is our responsibility to take care of things like this."

    "That's right! That's why I'm alerting everyone!"


    "Ah… So that's what you're doing?"

    "Yes! Mew told me to tell Celebi, Jirachi and Mespirit, but…"

    "Didn't she know about that thing with Jirachi?"

    "No! I mean, yes! I mean, it's not that, but…"

    "But what?"

    "Celebi wasn't home... A-And all her plants… Were wilted…"

    "… Wilted!? But that means… Are you certain!?"

    "Celebi told me that she'd rather die than let that place wilt… Maybe they got to her, and-"

    "Aw, come on! You're overthinking things! Celebi is one of the strongest Pokémon alive, there's no possibility she would lose!"

    "…"

    "Celebi… The three of us together would probably not be able to defeat her. Everyone makes mistakes, she must have just forgotten to… Water them, or something."

    "… Yeah! You're right! I'll keep looking!"

    "You could try to find that Pikachu, he might know where she is."

    "I will! Thanks! I really gotta go, so take care, you two!"


    "… Going… Going… Gone. Pretty eager, huh?"

    "The enthusiasm is natural, but he sure is clever for his age…"

    "Maybe that's what happens when you grow up without any parents? Just look at Mew and Celebi…"

    "Please, don't start with that again! You know as well as I do that mom and dad took care of them like they were their own!"

    "… We weren't even born yet! How could we know anything from back then?"

    "Haahhh.... You sure get on my nerves, sometimes…"

    "…"

    "…"

    "… Hey, sis… Do you think someone will ever look at us like that?"

    "Like what?"

    "You know, like someone's uncles… In your case, 'uncless'…"

    "It's called 'aunt', and I still don't understand…"

    "Like, Mew's or Celebi's child. Will we be the ones to take care of them?"

    "… Hmm… You mean how they die after they give birth? You're not thinking-"

    "No, what I mean is that we're still practically kids! We're too young to be raising a child!"

    "… I don't think those two will be having children any time soon."

    "… That woman's intuition thing again? Can't fool me with that, we're twins! I know there's no such thing!"

    "More like… You wouldn't want to die, would you? Their species die in childbirth, so why would they ever want go through with it?"

    "That's true… But mom says that's what always happens in the end, anyway."

    "Not for a long while, I hope."

    "Yeah… We're still too young, after all…"

    "I meant so that they can live long, healthy lives!"

    "Oh… Oh! Yeah! Definitively!"

    "…"

    "…"

    "… Brother?"

    "Yes?"

    "Will we be together forever?"

    "What's this, all of a sudden? Of course we will! We're family!"

    "… Even if I… Get caught…?"

    "First of all, I'll protect you, so no one's ever going to catch you in the first place! And even if, I'll be there to rescue you right away!"


    "… Why?"

    "WHY!? Because I'm your brother, of course! Seriously, where did all this come from!?"


    "Well… I'll talk to you about that later."

    "What? No fair! You get me all stoked up and then leave me hanging? We're twins! Tell me!"

    "…"

    "Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me!"

    "…"

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