29th September 2012, 08:26 AM #1
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
This is the first of five stories that will follow a character named Selestine Fallon. The stories are all set in the Holon region, a region from the TCG, and the latter four of them will feature Delta Pokémon. The first of these stories, 'Mirage Forest', will follow the beginning of Holon.
§1: Mirage Forest
§2: Project Holon
§3: The West
§4: When the Sky is Gone
§5: Detracted Declaration
§6: The Disturbance Begins
§7: The Vines
Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 4th April 2013 at 12:44 PM.
29th September 2012, 08:27 AM #2
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
§1: Mirage Forest
The dull beeping noise of the radar filled the forest, only reflecting the dot that represented Selestine. She held the round object tightly, and walked on. With each cycle, the radar would beep as it crossed the small green dot right under the centre. With such a limited reading distance, and a beeping noise that surely wouldn’t attract any Pokémon, Selestine Fallon was beginning to lose hope.
When she had accepted the job of searching for Mew and started it a week ago, she was sure it would be an easy job. Even though it was an unfrequented forest, even though it was uncared for, it was surprisingly calm. Selestine could see the ground beneath her feet, and the light of the sun shone brightly through the large gaps in the treetops, all bearing various kinds of berries.
Whoever these scientists working for Mr. McLean are, they should have been smarter than to make a radar that emits a noise that a Pokémon, especially one that has earned a reputation for being an elusive Pokémon, wouldn’t be attracted to.
The beeping had suddenly doubled. Selestine threw her eyes on the radar, and noticed a new dot right behind her. She quickly turned her body, hoping for a mere glimpse of Mew, some proof that the Pokémon lived in Mirage Forest, but all she met was a Wurmple that looked back dully.
The small red Pokémon was nibbling on a leaf that it held in its small stubs of arms, looking at Selestine with a complete lack of expression. It must have been resting on the very edge of the radar’s edge, as the dot that represented it was almost hidden under the metal frame.
Even so, the Wurmple was so close to Selestine; only two strides and she would have reached it. Selestine pushed the button on her transceiver, and began talking into it.
‘I just spotted a Wurmple,’ she said dully. ‘And it was reflected on the radar.’
‘So it works on Pokémon! Excellent!’ A female voice responded.
‘Yeah, but this is too short,’ said Selestine, looking at her radar. ‘When you told me that the range on this thing was limited, I didn’t know you meant this! I can blow on this Wurmple and it would die! My eyes have a better chance of spotting Mew than this radar!’
‘Alright, alright,’ the female said. ‘I’m sensing this is it for today! Get back to the main camp, Purplehair!’
The beeping filled the forest again, interrupted only when the Wurmple rustled to another leaf. With a sigh, Selestine walked back the way she came from, passing the Wurmple with utter contempt.
Selestine had just graduated with top marks, and a job offer from McLean & Partners, the most esteemed company when it comes to field research, was an opportunity that many would kill for. When Selestine had accepted that offer, she was paired with Eli Parmenia, someone who had taken part in making the radar she was holding.
Eli insisted on referring to Selestine by Purplehair, when her hair was more a darker shade of blue than purple. It was tied behind the back of her head, where it split into four thick strands that resembled an X. Her eyes were a light shade of brown that contrasted with her hair. Selestine wore the fieldworker outfit of McLean & Partners; a yellow shirt topped with a green vest that was marked with the company’s logo. A backpack hung from her back, as green as the vest, the hat, and the pants that she wore. A transceiver was attached to her left ear.
That outfit was particularly good for camouflage, which would be necessary to spot Mew, but as Selestine firmly believed, the outfit was meaningless when the constant beeping of the radar was taken into account.
When she had finally left the forest, she switched off the radar, and a sight of a jumping woman greeted her. As excitable as ever, Eli was shouting to everyone who would listen that the radar worked on Pokémon, and jumping with joy. Of course, this was only an exiting revelation for her and her fellow scientists.
The radar had been tested against other Pokémon and had worked, but for some reason, the scientists hung on to the idea that it might not work on Pokémon that lived in Mirage Forest for a long time, as it was a possibility that they had absorbed some of the magnetism into their own bodies.
‘I told you it was impossible,’ said Selestine as she approached Eli. ‘Pokémon can’t absorb magnetism.’
‘Well, we still don’t know much about Pokémon,’ said Eli, grabbing the radar that Selestine held, and connecting it to a small box with a screen using a thick grey wire. ‘There are still theories that they might come from space! How ridiculous!’
Eli was as young as Selestine, but apparently, she was proficient enough to get a job offer from McLean & Partners before she had graduated, and she spent the next year developing the radar that should work in Mirage Forest.
Eli tied her brown hair into a bun, and had bright blue eyes that were always sheltered behind her glasses. She wore a green dress topped with a pink research coat. But despite how professional she looked, it seemed the only thing she could do all day was jump in joy at minor revelations.
‘There! There it is! Your radar’s record shows the Wurmple!’
‘Yes, that is what I told you,’ said Selestine. ‘Even since I started working with you.’
‘It’s only slightly different than your signal,’ said Eli. ‘But it is almost the same as the Pokémon outside of Mirage Forest.’
‘So I was right,’ said Selestine. ‘And practically everyone who said the radar would work was right.’
The pair walked through the open field, and onto a pavement, the trees were replaced by houses, and a single tower stood in the middle of the simple city. A grander home than the ones they had passed stood in front of the tower, with a sign that declared ‘McLean’ stationed at the front.
‘I’m going to tell Bosspants that the radar worked,’ said Eli. ‘We can finally launch The Grand Rod!’
And with a jolt, Eli ran into Mr. McLean’s house, hugging the small box close to her chest, and holding the radar tightly. Selestine gave a sigh of relief, and turned to face the tall tower. It was completely white, with a single grey disc at the top. Three generators surrounded it, each emitting a slight whirring noise.
She had only worked for McLean & Partners for a week, but this project, whatever it was, had clearly been going on for much longer than that. Once a deserted field in the middle of Mirage Forest, the area had been turned into a thriving civilization. Selestine was given one of the small houses that resided close to the edge, like all the other fieldworkers.
The scientists and the researchers, with Eli amongst them, held the houses closest to the tower, and the ones in between were occupied by various other employees of McLean & Partners, from doctors to farmers.
The largest house, almost a mansion compared to the other houses, was occupied by McLean. Selestine had never met him; her superior was Eli, and it was her that Selestine reported to, and in turn, Eli was the one to report to McLean.
The sound of hurried footsteps came ever closer, and Selestine turned around to face the approaching Eli.
‘Sorry, Purplehair! This is the only time I can’t tell you anything about the next step!’
‘Well, that’s disappointing,’ said Selestine. ‘Then I walked with you all the way over here for nothing.’
‘Don’t worry,’ said Eli, finally coming to a halt in front of Selestine. ‘We can’t tell any fieldworker anything. The fact that the radar works is a major breakthrough, and being the one who found that out, you should be very proud.’
‘Except all the fieldworkers have already guessed it,’ said Selestine, growing tired of the revelation that the radar worked. ‘Can’t you give me just a hint of what’s next?’
‘I can actually,’ said Eli. ‘Let’s just say that Project Holon has started!’
Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 3rd October 2012 at 05:17 PM.
29th September 2012, 09:41 PM #3
I feel so much spring...
Re: Mirage Forest
Great work, as always. I've always been a big fan of your fic's.
The first of five stories? Wow. There are too many things you could do with that. Is this going to be a journey fic in a sense?
30th September 2012, 03:25 AM #4
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
Re: Mirage Forest
Glad to see that you like it!
Originally Posted by Cabaret
From a certain point of view, it can be one. There will be some travelling around Holon with a specific goal to achieve, but then again, Holon isn't that big of a region, and it will be various journeys rather than just one.
Originally Posted by Cabaret
Thank you for reading and commenting!
30th September 2012, 09:29 PM #5
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
§2: Project Holon
Selestine woke up earlier than usual the next day. It seemed that the fact that the radar worked was much more important to this mysterious Project Holon than she or any of her fellow fieldworkers thought. She took a quick shower and got ready for work, wearing the uniform that was predominantly green. She grabbed her radar and her transceiver off of their respective pods, and put them in her backpack, before marching to the meeting room.
‘A meeting so early; brings back memories, doesn’t it?’
‘Yes, it does,’ said Selestine without turning around to face the speaker, who was slowly catching up to her. ‘It must be killing you, Larry.’
‘I thought I was done with waking up early ever since I graduated,’ said Lawrence. ‘But only a week, and I’m already back to this boring routine.’
Lawrence Lax had caught up to Selestine, and was walking alongside her. Having graduated from the same university as Selestine did, the pair felt friendlier with each other than with any other person, even though they had rarely interacted during the three years they spent together at the university.
Lawrence sported shaggy blonde hair, which he rarely brushed, and a pair of very lazy looking green eyes. He was slightly shorter than Selestine, only because he had a constant slouch to his walk that became his signature amongst the rest of the fieldworkers.
‘You didn’t even button your vest,’ said Selestine. ‘We’re supposed to be representing Pewter City; the least you can do is try.’
‘Nah,’ Lawrence waved his hand, dismissing the idea as if it was an annoying bug. ‘It’s too early for me to care.’
‘Anyway, what do you think this meeting’s about?’
‘Now that the radar works, what a shock, we’re probably going to be told what to do next. It’s all your fault for actually reporting it to that role-playing idiot friend of yours.’
‘What? I should’ve ignored my instructions?’
‘Yes, you should have, Sel,’ said Lawrence through a yawn. ‘I met Pokémon all the time, and I never reported it.’
‘You’re lying,’ said Selestine. ‘Dominic must have transferred the data from your radar to that box machine of his.’
‘Luckily, my partner’s as lazy as I am,’ said Lawrence. ‘That, or he had too many other things to worry about. These coat-wearing people do tend to be on the edge of everything, as you know. Besides, I turned my radar off whenever I spotted a Pokémon approaching.’
‘So we fieldworkers spent a week walking through the forest because you were too lazy. Seems more your fault than mine; had you reported it all along, and not turned off your radar, we might have already finished all future jobs that could be assigned to us.’
‘You don’t know that,’ said Lawrence. ‘Besides, my last name is Lax, and you expect me not to be lazy?’
‘I expected you to be lax, not lazy; they’re two different things.’
Lawrence waved his hand around again, dismissing what Selestine thought of as a valid point. The pair spent a few more seconds walking before they came to face the white doors stationed at the bottom of the tower. Knowing full well that Lawrence wouldn’t bother being a gentleman, Selestine opened the door herself, and allowed her lazy friend to go in first. She went inside after him, and the door closed behind them with a slight thud.
The room they were in was completely white, and chairs were lined close to the door, all marked with the names of fieldworkers that should sit on them. Selestine sat on the chair marked with her last name, while Lawrence sat only one chair away, between them was a chair marked ‘Hayes’, where Cliona would sit.
A screen hung at the far end of the room, opposite the door, and a flight of stairs lay on the screen’s right. Selestine and Lawrence were the first ones there. She turned her head to try and tell him that he might finally be becoming responsible, but she was greeted with the sight of a sleeping boy, his head resting on his backpack, and his arms hanging to the ground.
A clipboard was hanging behind his back, and, as Selestine quickly registered, from all the other chairs as well. She took off her backpack and placed it on the floor next to her, before turning around and grabbing the clipboard positioned behind her.
One piece of paper was titled ‘West’, and it showed Eli’s photo at the top, with her name and job title right next to it. The information was in a black frame, and the white space next to it had a ‘Leader’ stamped onto it.
Below Eli’s picture were Selestine’s and Lawrence’s, in a blue and green frame respectively. Selestine was marked ‘Assistant’, while Lawrence was marked ‘Fieldworker’.
Selestine gasped loudly before covering her mouth. Had she been promoted? Was it because she discovered that the radar worked? Strangely, she was more excited at the prospect that she could be Lawrence’s boss.
‘I can finally do what no one else did,’ she whispered to herself, looking at Lawrence. ‘I can be the one who would finally set you straight.’
The door behind her opened again, and two of her fellow fieldworkers walked in. The pair of girls was talking relentlessly, and Selestine recognised the brown-haired one with the extremely light skin as Cliona Hayes. She was only slightly older than Selestine, and the pair met as soon as they both started the job.
Cliona said her temporary farewells to her friend, and sat next to Selestine, resting her backpack on the floor next to her as well.
‘Oh, what’s this?’ she said, pointing at the clipboard Selestine was holding.
‘I just found it,’ said Selestine. ‘You have one too.’
Selestine tapped the backrest of Cliona’s chair, and the brown-haired female turned and grabbed the clipboard. Cliona’s friend went to the far end of the row of chair, noticed her clipboard, and sat back reading it.
‘That’s my partner stamped ‘Leader’,’ said Cliona. ‘And I’m an ‘Assistant’; what do you think this is?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Selestine. ‘Who are you with? Who’s the fieldworker?’
‘Clair Berton,’ said Cliona. ‘He’s the one on your other side, right?’
‘Yeah, but he’s not the one right next to me,’ said Selestine, he’s at the start of the chairs; I’m next to an ‘Eward’. Do you know who that is?’
‘Yeah, that’s Erric,’ said Cliona. ‘You know him. Black hair. He has blue eyes, like mine.’
‘Oh, him,’ said Selestine, grabbing his clipboard. ‘I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.’
Erric Eward was marked as an ‘Assistant’. Below him was a female almost the complete opposite of Cliona; she had bright blonde hair, deep black eyes and extremely dark skin.
‘That’s your friend,’ said Selestine. ‘The one you walked in with. Apparently, Holda Wistar is still a ‘Fieldworker.’
‘You should probably return that,’ said Cliona. ‘Reading other people’s belongings without permission isn’t the nicest thing.’
‘Sure, yeah,’ said Selestine, attaching the clipboard back onto Erric’s chair. ‘So I’m with Larry, you’re with Clair, and Erric’s with Holda.’
‘That leaves Chetwin and Castor,’ said Cliona. ‘The last two fieldworkers; one of them must be an ‘Assistant’, whatever that mean.’
‘What do you think it is? A promotion?’
‘I don’t think so,’ said Cliona. ‘We’re not really qualified to be assistants to scientists and researchers and do that brainy stuff.’
‘A salary rise would be nice,’ said Selestine, ignoring Cliona’s observation. ‘And maybe a house upgrade.’
‘We’re paid more than enough for minimal to no experience,’ said Cliona. ‘And our houses are more than sufficient.’
The door opened once more, and the boy with the black hair walked in. Selestine recognised him as Erric Eward, the boy who was partnered with Holda Wistar. He sat on the chair to Selestine’s left and began reading from his clipboard, his backpack resting on his lap as if it was a table.
Selestine wanted to talk to him; he was the oldest of the fieldworkers, and even though he worked for McLean & Partners for only a week, as long as all the other fieldworkers, Selestine couldn’t help but feel that he might know something, but just seconds after Erric had come into the room, the three other boys followed.
They were laughing and talking loudly, and with an eye rubbing, Lawrence woke up looking annoyed.
‘Well, well, well,’ said Lawrence, turning to face Selestine. ‘The Three Seas are here.’
‘You make fun of Eli for giving nicknames to anything,’ said Selestine. ‘And now you’re mimicking her.’
‘Don’t you get it?’ said Lawrence lazily. ‘Clair, Chetwin, and Castor; all their names begin with a C.’
‘My name begins with a C as well,’ said Cliona. ‘And just like them, it’s pronounced as a K.’
‘But you’re a woman,’ said Lawrence. ‘It wouldn’t work like that.’
‘Women can’t be friends with men then?’ said Selestine. ‘How stupid can you be?’
‘It would just ruin the pattern,’ said Lawrence. ‘Anyway, what’s that?’
‘A clipboard, obviously,’ said Selestine as Lawrence waved at her hands, as well as Cliona’s. ‘It’s behind your back. I’m your new boss.’
As Lawrence picked up his clipboard, Chetwin and Castor noticed the ones attached to their chairs. Clair rushed to his chair, grabbed the paper alone, and waltzed back towards his friends.
‘I’m with you, Castor,’ said Chetwin. ‘We’re ‘North’, whatever that means.’
‘The stamp next to my photo says ‘Assistant’,’ said Castor, his voice was significantly deeper and gruffer than his friends. ‘What’re you, Clair?’
‘I’m ‘East’,’ said Clair. ‘And still a fieldworker. That’s what my paper says at least.’
‘And who’re you with?’ said Chetwin. ‘Who’s the ‘Leader’, and who’s the ‘Assistant’?’
‘Melvin Chang,’ said Clair, before pausing as his eyes travelled down the paper, then shot up at Cliona. ‘And Cliona’s with me.’
Castor elbowed Clair quite violently before sitting on the chair marked ‘Nestor’, while Chetwin remained standing, scanning the clipboard in his hands, trying to extract every bit of information from it.
‘Looks like we’ll be working together, Cliona,’ said Clair, standing in front of Cliona and holding his hand out. ‘Let make it a formal introduction. Hi, I’m Clair Berton.’
‘Nice to meet you, Clair Berton,’ said Cliona, sticking her hand out for Clair to kiss. ‘I’m Cliona Hayes.’
‘Ugh, this is disgusting,’ said Lawrence as Clair kissed Cliona’s hand. ‘We’ve moved on past this ‘gentleman’ behaviour.’
Before Clair could respond, a line of people dressed in lab coats descended the stairs, and both Clair and Chetwin rushed back to their seat. Amongst them was Eli, waving at Selestine as she walked past. Dominic, Lawrence’s partner, and Melvin, Cliona’s partner, were amongst them as well.
The line was headed by a tall man with orange hair. Shiny glasses covered his eyes, and a slender, fitting lab coat sheltered his green shirt. Selestine recognised him as Mercury Rhodes, a man that she had met when she got the job.
‘That’s Mr. Rhodes,’ Cliona whispered. ‘The one in front of everyone else…’
‘Yeah, I know him,’ said Selestine. ‘He was the one who conducted my job interview.’
‘So did I,’ said Cliona. ‘Quite the intimidating man. It should be McLean & Rhodes, not McLean & Partners.’
Mercury took his place at the front of the screen, the people that were behind him were lined along the wall to the fieldworkers’ right, all the men were dressed in the same lab coat that covered the green shirt and the blue pants, while the women wore the green dress with the pink lab coat.
‘Good morning to everyone,’ Mercury started. ‘I apologise for such an early meeting, but we have to get started. By now, I expect all of you to have seen your clipboards, and those will be explained later. For now, I’d like to introduce Project Holon to you all.
‘Project Holon isn’t like anything else McLean & Partners ever did. You have all been picked specifically as the best of the best to take a major part in what will be the best qualification of your entire career. The very tower we’re in is officially named Holon Research Tower. This city that we have created is named Holon. And most importantly, the region that we hope to create will be named Holon.
‘This isn’t mere research. Everything McLean & Partners does has a final goal. A region has never been created artificially before, and we hope to be the first ones to do it. Of course, when I say region, I don’t mean a spiraling web of cities. This will be an uninhabitable region; no more cities will be built. When I say region, what Project Holon hopes to achieve, is record every bit of information of this land, and use it to further advance this city.
‘This will be the ultimate city. The name Holon will be the entire region. It will be this city. That is Project Holon. This city will be a beacon of civilisation, and will be proof that modern society can coexist with the Pokémon of this area.
‘Now, you have been put into four expedition teams. North will be led by Garvery Reno, with Castor Nestor as the assistant, and Chetwin Swithin as the fieldworker. East will be led by Melvin Chang, the assistant will be Cliona Hayes, and the fieldworker is Clair Berton.
‘Dominic Speed will lead South with Erric Eward as the assistant, and Holda Wistar as the fieldworker. And finally, Eli Parmenia will lead West, Selestine Fallon and Lawrence Lax will be her assistant and her fieldworker.
‘Now let me explain what those terms mean. Your team will be exploring Mirage Forest, gathering information and reporting it to your leader. The name of your team is the direction you are assigned to take. The leaders, Garvery, Melvin, Dominic, and Eli, will be in charge of processing that information and giving you orders. The assistant will be the second in charge, and although their duties are the same as they were as a fieldworker, your performance throughout the past week indicates that you are more responsible than your fellow fieldworkers, and as such, you are to oversee the activities of the fieldworker in your group.
‘And as you’ve probably expected, the fieldworker is a fieldworker; your duties are the same, with no extra powers granted to you. Now, the pattern here is that the leader and assistant of a group used to be partners; this is to make co-operation easy, and allow the mission to run smoothly. This applies to all teams but West.
‘Following recent events, Dominic Speed became the partner of both Lawrence Lax and Holda Wistar, however, I am unable to go on this expedition, even though I am Erric Eward’s partner, and as such, I personally picked Dominic Speed to replace me as the leader of West, which is why Erric is the assistant, and Holda is the fieldworker.
‘That is all,’ said Mercury. ‘You start immediately. Good luck.’
With a final nod, Mercury and his fellow scientists left the room through the stairs, leaving behind the four leaders. Holda was the first to get up, walking to Dominic and protesting to him after she had dragged him from the rest of the leaders.
Dominic was significantly taller than Holda. He had jet-black hair and black eyes, and his lab coat had many traces of extensive repairs; one of his sleeves had been evidently completely ripped off of his coat, and sewn back on, while one of his pockets was missing altogether.
His neck had a scar running along the left side of it; it was too big, big enough for Selestine to determine that it was a life-threatening situation he was in. Erric got up and walked over to Dominic and Holda, bringing their unheard argument to an end as they saw him approaching.
‘Well, we better go to Melvin,’ said Cliona, getting up, and picking her backpack off of the floor. ‘Let’s go, Clair.’
‘See you whenever you get back,’ said Selestine. ‘Take care, Cliona.’
‘Don’t worry,’ said Clair, placing his hand on Selestine’s shoulder. ‘I’ll make sure she stays safe.’
It was only when his face was so close to her own that Selestine noticed a similar, though smaller scar right below his right eye. Had it not been for that scar, he would have looked very similar to Lawrence; he had the same blonde hair, only his was combed, and his eyes were almost the same shade of green. Clair’s skin was slightly tanned, which Selestine guessed was a side effect of actually leaving the house, as opposed to Lawrence, who only left it if he had to.
‘I’ll hold you to that promise,’ said Selestine. ‘See you both when we all get back.’
‘Bye, Selestine!’ Cliona threw her arms around Selestine as she got up.
When their embrace had ended, Cliona and Clair walked off to Melvin’s side. Subsequently, Chetwin and Castor walked off to their leader Garvery. When Eli was the only leader left, and her face began turning red, she hurriedly gestured for Selestine and Lawrence to come towards her.
‘Come on,’ said Selestine to Lawrence. ‘We have to go.’
‘Yeah, ok,’ said Lawrence. ‘Just don’t rush me.’
Selestine walked off towards her partner, but knowing Eli, the assistant job was going to be very demanding. The excitable young woman was not much of a leader, much less to someone like Lawrence, who resisted all forms of order; after all, he had just confessed to her that he had been lying to his partner for the whole week he had worked for McLean & Partners.
Her backpack hanging from her right hand, and her clipboard in her left, Selestine knew that she had to be the leader, assistant, and fieldworker of the group. Eli certainly wasn’t qualified for fieldwork, and Lawrence would be incompetent regardless.
She had to handle the West all on her own.
Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 3rd October 2012 at 05:17 PM.
2nd October 2012, 02:09 PM #6
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
§3: The West
When they left the Holon Research Tower, the sky outside was brighter, and various other employees were leaving their houses. Selestine and Lawrence followed Eli into their corner of the Holon, where they were supposed to start mapping out the entire region west of the city.
Eli was as excited as usual, while Lawrence was the complete opposite; he would always slack off in his walk, and the pair of women had to pause frequently to allow him to catch up.
‘It’s just that this is actual work,’ said Lawrence. ‘You can’t expect me to be excited about spending such a long time away from the comfort of my own bed.’
‘Come on, this will be exciting!’ said Eli. ‘Like a camping trip! Those can’t get boring.’
‘Then you’ve never been camping,’ Lawrence grunted, waving his hand at Eli. ‘I would quit if I didn’t need the money.’
‘Well, you fieldworkers are paid generously,’ said Eli. ‘Had you worked for other companies, you would have been paid a lot less, and had to do so much more work.’
‘I still don’t understand why you’re working for McLean & Partners,’ said Selestine. ‘It’s not like you had particularly great scores when you graduated; they were adequate, at the most.’
‘Maybe that’s why I’m a fieldworker,’ said Lawrence. ‘I did excel in the field tests, though. I beat you in that one competition where we had to find a Fluffy Berry.’
‘Stop arguing like a couple, you two!’ said Eli. ‘Let’s start this team on a happy note!’
‘We’re not a couple,’ said Selestine. ‘And we’ll never be.’
‘She never said we were a couple, idiot,’ said Lawrence. ‘She just said that we were arguing like one.’
‘You two, calm down!’ said Eli. ‘We’ve reached Mirage Forest. Now let me explain everything to you two.’
‘Rhodes already said everything that needs to be said,’ said Selestine. ‘Are those our supplies?’
Selestine pointed at two backpacks that rested against a tree, one of them was green, while the other was blue. Beside them was another bag, although smaller than the ones next to it, and with a waist strap.
‘Yes, those are our supplies,’ said Eli. ‘Clever, you are. Yep, very clever. Anyway, the blue bag has food in it; it will last us a week, and then we will get a new patch of food. The small bag, the one I’ll carry, has a microchip attached to it; that is how the food people will know where we are, and where to drop food off for us!’
‘How will they do it?’ said Lawrence. ‘Drop the food via a helicopter?’
‘Then why not just fly over the forest and see the Pokémon that live there,’ said Lawrence. ‘Why do we have to do all the work? It’s not like the trees are too thick to see through, it will be quicker, and probably more efficient.’
‘Because then they would only see the treetops, duh!’ said Eli. ‘We will record all the Pokémon that live in the forest, the plants that grow there, and with the use of another nifty device I helped invent, we will see where the highest concentration of electromagnetic energy is, and possibly what caused it.’
‘So the blue bag has the food, and the small one has your science stuff, what’s in the green one?’
‘Tents,’ said Eli. ‘Three of them, one for each of us; because we are three people. Please remember how they go into the bag, because we will need to pack each morning.’
‘Let’s just start,’ said Selestine. ‘I’m sure Rhodes told us everything we need to know.’
‘Alright!’ said Eli. ‘But if any of you have any question, you just come to me! Remember, I am the leader! I get to be Bosspants for now!’
‘Speaking of pants, you don’t expect us to be dressed in this uniform for the entire time we’re in the forest, do you?’ said Lawrence. ‘There must be some extra clothes in one of the bags.’
‘There is only an extra set for me in the small bag,’ said Eli. ‘You brought your own, didn’t you? As a fieldworker, you are always expected to bring an extra uniform and carry it in your backpack.’
‘You better run to your house and bring some clothes, Larry,’ said Selestine. ‘I’m ready to bet that you don’t have any in your backpack.’
‘I just said that I didn’t,’ said Lawrence, walking away from the group. ‘I won’t be long, you two wait for me right here.’
‘Let’s open the green bag, and we’ll each carry a tent,’ said Selestine. ‘I don’t want to risk them getting lost, and I intend to carry the food.’
Still convinced that she was the one who had to carry all the responsibilities, Selestine picked up the green bag, and stuffed one of the tents into her own before tying the backpack with the food to the bottom of her own bag. She thrust one of the tents at Eli, despite the protest and arguments that everything should be kept the way it is, and kept the last one in her hand.
As soon as Lawrence had returned, reluctant as he was in his walk, and came close to the pair, Selestine threw his tent at him. The small bag was tied to Eli’s waist, so the chances of it getting lost was minimal, and ever then, Selestine was confident enough in her abilities of scourging for food to disregard the tracking chip completely.
Feeling safe with her tent in her backpack, and food that will last them a week tied to it, Selestine walked into the forest, gesturing for the others to follow. Eli had quickly forgotten about her role as the leader, and was gushing about being in Mirage Forest for the first time.
To Selestine, it seemed that her suspicions were, unfortunately, true. Neither Eli nor Lawrence was going to be much help, and although she was convinced that this mission was going to end in failure, her duties was to report everything she discovers to Eli, and she planned on doing just that. Any failure to process that information was going to be Eli’s fault.
Ten minutes passed while Eli registered many things into her notepad, noting everything with a pondering sound. Soon, several trees stood between them and Holon, and the city’s only visible landmark was the Holon Research Tower. As they group marched on further and further away from the closest industrialised area to them, the trees got closer and closer together; Selestine had never been this far into Mirage Forest before, and knowing Lawrence, he probably didn’t either.
Slowly, the once welcoming and clam forest began turning into the kind of dark and haunting woods that were only in old bedtime stories. The bushes around were constantly rustling in the light breeze, and the sunlight was almost completely blocked off by the treetops. Eli had stopped scratching observations into her notepad, and was instead looking nervously around.
‘This must be why they call it Mirage Forest,’ said Lawrence, his voice sounded strangely choked. ‘It certainly appears peaceful at first, but it appears to be anything but that.’
‘What time is it?’ Selestine ignored Lawrence, and turned to face Eli.
‘It’s been fifteen minutes since we entered the Forest,’ said Eli. ‘It’s early in the morning, but we would never know if we decide to use the sun’s position in the sky, since we can’t see it.’
‘Yes, that much was obvious, Eli,’ Selestine remarked, taking off her backpack, and settling on the grass. ‘We should eat breakfast; have something that will keep us going for a few hours; I haven’t eaten much since I woke up.’
‘That’s probably a good idea,’ said Eli with an expression that further reinstated the idea of full responsibility in Selestine. ‘Breakfast should be marked clearly in the bag.’
Selestine unzipped the blue bag, and produced three small containers marked with ‘Breakfast, Day 1’ from it, handing one to Eli, and another to Lawrence, who was still standing, looking around nervously. Eli settled on the grass beside Selestine, and began eating using the plastic utensils included in the box.
‘I don’t trust this place,’ said Lawrence, sitting opposite Selestine. ‘Something just doesn’t fit with me.’
‘I’m on my nerves as well,’ said Selestine. ‘But we’re probably like this because this is our first time doing an actual job since graduation. Before now, we never had to wander that far away, and there was always the safety of our houses to return to at the end.’
‘You’re probably right,’ said Lawrence. ‘But still, I get the feeling that we’re being watched.’
‘Look, Larry,’ said Selestine, letting a grin slip past her exterior. ‘As your superior, I order you to calm down.’
‘I wasn’t freaking out,’ said Lawrence, removing the lid from the container. ‘Besides, don’t push it too far; you’re still a fieldworker.’
A deafening scream exploded from Eli, who stumbled backwards, sending some of her food flying to the grass around her. Selestine directed her attention to Lawrence, who was looking at Eli as if she was a hideous creation.
‘That… It’s a Wurmple,’ said Selestine, spotting what prompted Eli to scream. ‘It probably wants food.’
The Wurmple rested a few paces behind Lawrence, who turned around and gave a muffled laugh.
‘That’s a fat Wurmple,’ he said. ‘I would give it food, but it probably had enough for the day.’
‘Ugh, it must be the same Wurmple from yesterday,’ said Selestine, registering the Wurmple’s dull expression. ‘Just give it the food that fell on the ground.’
‘Hmm, this actually reminds me,’ said Lawrence, turning to Eli, who was just getting up off of the ground. ‘What does everything we do have to do with Mew?’
‘Do I have grass in my hair? Food?’
‘No, Eli, your hair is fine,’ said Lawrence. ‘Now answer me.’
‘Why is finding Mew so important?’
‘Oh, that,’ said Eli, slightly wary of the approaching Wurmple. ‘It’s just a theory. Mew is said to be the ancestor of all Pokémon, so studying it is probably going to reveal a significant amount of information about the Pokémon of this land. But now it’s only a secondary goal.’
‘It does seem that Mew is on high demand,’ said Lawrence. ‘Many have tried, and hiring some new graduates isn’t going to increase your chances of finding it.’
‘Disregard that,’ said Selestine. ‘Our mission is to map out this area of Mirage Forest, and we should focus on that.’
‘Yeah, at least then we can finish this expedition quickly,’ said Lawrence, eyeing the Wurmple as it chewed on the bits of berry cake that fell out of Eli’s container. ‘So, what are we going to do next?’
‘Our mission isn’t to map out this area, we already have a map!’ said Eli. ‘It’s to study Mirage Forest.’
‘Oh, well that’s one responsibility we can scratch off the list,’ said Selestine. ‘You should probably note that Wurmple live in this forest.’
‘I already noted it when you told me that the radar works,’ said Eli. ‘But I should note that they can live deep in the forest.’
‘Maybe that’s why there aren’t much Pokémon where we searched,’ said Lawrence, giving Selestine a mischievous look. ‘Maybe they all live deeper in the forest. How did you map it anyway?’
‘We used the Holon Research Tower,’ said Eli. ‘It’s very useful. Oh! We can still see it! Only barely, though; these trees are blocking almost all of the sky.’
‘Why didn’t you just use it to check whether the radar’s technology worked?’ said Lawrence. ‘Surely that would have been easier on us.’
‘We don’t have enough energy yet,’ said Eli. ‘Those radars have such a short, limited range because the technology is too advanced for them. We don’t have the energy to power the tower yet, but we will soon, hopefully.’
‘Maybe then it’ll be easier on us,’ said Lawrence. ‘Just start the tower, and everything will be great from then on.’
Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 3rd October 2012 at 05:17 PM.
4th October 2012, 08:16 PM #7
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
§4: When the Sky is Gone
‘Why don’t we just leave the fat one behind?’ said Lawrence. ‘It isn’t like the thing will benefit us.’
‘On the contrary,’ said Eli. ‘The Wurmple can be a great research opportunity; how it reacts to humans can indicate how all Pokémon in Mirage Forest will react to humans.’
It was only a few hours ago that Selestine had allowed the Wurmple to eat with the group, and ever since then, it seemed that the small Pokémon had become undeniably attached to Selestine. She had originally planned on leaving the Wurmple behind, but Eli insisted that if it wanted to join them, then Selestine should allow it to, especially since the Wurmple seemed to not trust anyone but her.
The Wurmple was sitting on Selestine’s shoulder, nibbling on her ear every few minutes, much to her anger. Despite how annoying it was, keeping the Wurmple was easier; much better than the alternative of having Eli try to drag the Wurmple with them.
The group had progressed deeper into the forest, and the sky was no longer visible. The trees grew too large, their leaves broadened, their twigs intertwined with each other, and the grass sprouted from the ground in all directions, reaching up to Eli’s ankles, and growing longer as they went deeper into the forest.
The Wurmple was the only Pokémon that the group had encountered at that point, and Selestine was suspicious that they would barely encounter some more.
‘Team! Wait!’ said Eli, stopping suddenly to study the ground. ‘It’s mud, and on the grass.’
‘Considering how tall that grass is, it couldn’t have come from underneath it,’ said Lawrence. ‘Something must have come here with muddy feet.’
The boy swooped down to observe the patch of grass, while Eli started writing notes down in her pad. Selestine walked back to the pair, standing over Lawrence, and occasionally glancing at Eli; only a few hours had passed, but she was already sick of the pair’s company.
‘Of course the dirt didn’t come from underneath the grass; it’s most likely a Pokémon,’ said Selestine. ‘And looking at it intently won’t help you guess, Larry. This isn’t a class, and this isn’t a perfect footprint.’
‘Assuming it is a footprint,’ said Lawrence. ‘It certainly doesn’t seem like one.’
‘I’ll take a photo,’ said Eli, producing a small digital camera with ‘Holon’ printed on the back of it from her bag. ‘Maybe we will eventually figure it out. This is a major discovery!’
‘Sure, it is,’ said Selestine, beginning her walk again. ‘Let’s go, there’s nothing remarkable here.’
Wurmple was quivering on Selestine’s shoulder, and as much as she wanted to throw it off, Selestine was once again attacked by the thoughts of Eli trying to forcefully take the Wurmple with them. The Pokémon didn’t trust the excitable woman, and throwing it off would surely destroy whatever trust it already had in Selestine; keeping it was much easier, and Selestine had to remind herself of that whenever she felt the urge to get rid of, which came all too often.
‘Do you think it’s fatty on your shoulder that left that mark?’ said Lawrence. ‘You did say that you first saw it at the edge of the forest, so I doubt that it carried itself all the way over here; but still, it could be it.’
‘Whatever it was that left that mark, we will either meet it soon, or someone else will,’ said Selestine. ‘Just forget about it.’
Selestine tried to keep her interactions with the pair to a minimum from then on, while they kept on talking behind her, chatting and remarking trivial aspects of the forest. Maybe Lawrence was right, maybe she shouldn’t have reported seeing the Wurmple to Eli; maybe then she wouldn’t be stuck in this situation.
The grass grew shorter beneath them, but kept on growing to their sides, until they were walking on a dirt path framed by tall trees and various bushes. Eli began taking notes again, observing the ground as if it was the most fascinating thing she had ever seen.
‘Hey, guys! This is the same dirt as the one we just saw!’ said Eli. ‘Do you think it was something that came from here?’
‘It’s not impossible,’ said Lawrence. ‘But I wouldn’t hope for anything; whatever it is you want to see, we probably skipped it.’
The quivering on Selestine’s shoulder was getting more intense as the Wurmple seemed to get scared. Fear overcame the small Pokémon’s face, and it was wrapping itself around Selestine, trying to sneak into anything it would fit into.
‘Stop squirming,’ said Selestine, pulling the Wurmple that would not let go of her vest. ‘Guys, something is wrong with this thing!’
‘Give it to me!’ said Eli, approaching the Wurmple. ‘Come here, little one!’
To Selestine’s surprise, the Wurmple jumped into Eli’s open arms, and started clutching onto her pink coat.
‘Keep it with you,’ said Selestine. ‘I never want to carry it ever again.’
‘I bet you wouldn’t,’ said Lawrence, a slight grin overtaking his face. ‘Something that fat must be heavy.’
‘Just leave it!’ shouted Eli. ‘You’ve been making fun of his weight ever since we met him! Just drop it!’
‘Okay, okay,’ said Lawrence. ‘I’ll drop it, leader. How do you know it’s a ‘him’ anyway?’
‘I’m a scientists, duh!’ said Eli. ‘I would know. It’s just that I’ve never been this close to it before.’
‘It’s still squirming though,’ said Selestine, clearly disgusted by the Wurmple. ‘Just throw it. If it wants to get away so badly, then let it be.’
‘No! He could be vital to the team!’ said Eli, holding the Wurmple close to her chest, and as far from Selestine as possible. ‘And he can be a great opportunity for research!’
That was exactly what Selestine had feared, but thankfully, the Wurmple was fine with being held by Eli; it was still squirming, but it didn’t seem to be trying to get away from the human as much as stay as close to her as possible.
‘Whatever,’ said Selestine. ‘You keep- just carry it around for now.’
‘I would appreciate it if you two started referring to him as a ‘he’,’ said Eli. ‘No ‘it’ anymore, please!’
‘And no fat jokes, Sel,’ said Lawrence, his face still in a grin. ‘Eli doesn’t appreciate those.’
‘They weren’t funny to begin with!’ Eli protested, and the pair started exchanging snide comments again.
‘Who’s the couple now?’ Selestine whispered under her breath before starting her march again.
It seemed that the deeper the group had gotten into the forest, the darker it got. The sky had been blocked for a long time, but Selestine guessed that the treetops were getting thicker, and less and less sunlight was getting through.
‘Oh my god!’ Eli exclaimed. ‘It’s nighttime already!’
‘What?!’ said Selestine, almost tripping on nothing. ‘Nighttime?! So soon?!’
‘We must have lost track of time,’ said Eli, who was looking at her watch. ‘We were walking for a pretty long time.’
‘But that’s just it! We were just walking!’ said Selestine. ‘Time can’t flow that fast if we’re just walking!’
‘Maybe it’s the electromagnetism,’ said Lawrence. ‘Your watch is digital. It could have been ruined.’
‘Crap! We have to go back!’ said Eli. ‘If we passed a spot with high concentration of electromagnetic energy, then we need to study it!’
‘No,’ said Selestine. ‘That’s exactly what I was worried about. It’s your duty to record everything in that little pad of yours. I’m not going back.’
‘Excuse me, I’m the leader!’ said Eli, much to Selestine’s surprise. ‘And you will follow my orders! If I say that we need to go back, then we go back!’
‘Fine, leader,’ Selestine said bitterly. ‘Let’s go back then.’
Selestine marched ahead, bumping her shoulder on Eli’s as she passed her, and the group started walking back the way they came. She was furious, at herself and at Eli. She had known all along that Eli would be incompetent, and she should have been more focused of making sure the leader of the group actually does what she was supposed to do.
It seemed that everything was making her angry. The sound of her feet stomping on grass, the trees that blocked the sun, the assignment she had to do; why was she stuck with these people?
And as if Eli was reading her thoughts, she started.
‘The assistants are chosen because their partners recommend them,’ she said. ‘I reported that you were fantastic on the field, and as a result, you were the assistant of this mission. I’m the leader because, as Mercury mentioned, the leader and the assistant are always partners.’
‘So it’s your fault I’m here,’ said Selestine. ‘Thank you so much, leader.’
‘I just…’ stuttered Eli. ‘I thought that… I thought telling you that you were competent was going to cheer you up…’
‘No, now she just has someone to blame,’ said Lawrence. ‘But basically, while trying to cheer her up, you just told me that Dominic thinks I’m incompetent.’
‘Oh, no, no, no, that’s not what I meant!’ Eli said desperately. ‘Dominic was… probably too busy to lead two groups… And… And…’
Conveniently enough for Eli, her watch started speeding up, and she suddenly froze in her place, took a few steps back, then placed her bag on the grass.
‘If we keep that chip on electromagnetic energy for too long then it will be ruined,’ said Eli, bringing herself down to rummage through the bag. ‘Anyway, if I can just find the thing… Aha! Here it is!’
She shot up, producing a small grey box with a screen, not too dissimilar to the one that she had used to read the data on Selestine’s radar. She pushed the single button that rested on the bottom left corner, and the screen lit up, showing X and Y coordinates.
‘There,’ she said. ‘Now I’ll just try trace the electromagnetic energy with this. It should withstand the energy long enough. Come with me, fieldworker!’
‘I’m guessing Selestine can stay back then,’ said Lawrence, letting out a heavy sigh. ‘Sure… I’ll accompany you.’
But it was at that moment that Wurmple jumped out of Eli’s arms, and started running away from the group. Eli shouted after it and started running, only the box and the notepad in her hands.
‘Grab her bag!’ said Lawrence, running after Eli. ‘We don’t want to lose that!’
Had the situation not seemed urgent, Selestine would have refused to take orders from Lawrence of all people, but on command, she grabbed the small bag, and started running after the pair. It was only then that she noticed how heavy of a load she was carrying. Her back ached every time her own bag hit it, and she almost fell whenever the food bag hit her legs. She was slowly falling behind. Lawrence gestured and shouted for her to hurry up, but she couldn’t, as much as she tried and hoped, Selestine couldn’t run any faster.
The grass was getting taller again, and the area darker. Eli and the Wurmple had disappeared from Selestine’s vision, and Lawrence was slowly following their lead. A flash of shadow suddenly appeared next to her, and it passed, approaching Lawrence. It wasn’t human. Neither the thing’s silhouette seemed like one, nor was the way with which it traveled.
It seemed to be using the trees to travel around, jumping from one bark to the other, leaving scratch marks for Selestine to see as she slowly ran past. She looked back ahead, but everyone was gone. The Wurmple couldn’t have been running too fast for Lawrence and Eli to catch up, especially since the latter was still wearing her dress.
The grass turned into dirt, and Selestine was back on the strange road with the trees framing it. A shriek pierced the air, and Selestine could hear echoes of Lawrence’s shouts. She kept on running, the bags slowing her down as if they had a mind of their own each time she tried to speed up. At that rate, she was sure that whenever she reached the group, she would too exhausted to do anything to help.
And then they came into sight. Lawrence seemed to be standing with a long stick between his fists, a crumpled up figure behind him, and as Selestine came closer, she saw that it was Eli and the Wurmple, whimpering together in a heap on the dirt. She dropped all the bags she had been carrying, and rushed to Lawrence’s side, panting as she did so.
Before them was a large brown Pokémon. It had two horns jutting out of the top of its head, and various small thorns from them. It stood on two legs, and its arms were long and skinny. The Pokémon’s mouth was lined with teeth from the side.
‘It’s a Pinsir!’ Eli said desperately. ‘It wants to eat the Wurmple!’
‘So give it the Wurmple!’ said Selestine, astonished at the ludicrous situation in which they were.
‘He won’t be enough!’ said Lawrence as the Pinsir clutched its horns at the air. ‘The Wurmple won’t be enough, and then it’ll attack us! These things eat anything!’
‘Then we’ll give it the food!’ said Selestine, throwing herself at Eli and trying to pry the Wurmple away.
‘What are you doing?!’ Eli shouted. ‘You can’t give it the Wurmple! It trusts us!’
‘No! Go away! Stop it!’
‘Give me the Wurmple!
Eli’s leg shot towards Selestine, throwing her towards the trees. Her head connected and for a moment, everything was clear, before it all turned to darkness. Selestine felt her body crash to the group, her head throbbing in pain, and her hands clutching wildly at the dirt.
Lawrence’s muffled shouts came through, followed by a thud. Eli shrieked, and there was another thud.
‘Get up,’ Selestine heard Lawrence’s voice. ‘Get up and run!’
There was a scuttling, and then the sound of rustling grass. Selestine heard her name being repeated, and Lawrence’s telling her to run away as well, but as much as she tried, her body didn’t respond. And as quickly as if she was falling asleep, Selestine lost all sense of the world around her.
7th October 2012, 05:14 AM #8
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
§5: Detracted Declaration
The muffled sounds were back again. Selestine heard them all too often and frequently, but it was different. They didn’t go away like they had done many times before; they lingered, growing louder and louder. Selestine’s consciousness was slowly being rejuvenated, and all at one, she remembered the events that had come to pass.
She remembered Eli telling them that they had to go back, the Wurmple running away, a Pinsir chasing it, and her own insistence on giving the Pinsir what it wanted.
But a reason that not even she knew, Selestine remained where she was. The ground felt soft, and there was a soft crackling that mixed with the ongoing conversation. She slowly opened her eyes.
The sky above her was visible. It was dotted with glittering dots, scattering away from each other with varying distances. The edges of her vision hosted a few trees, their leaves stretching towards each other, but never connecting.
She turned her head, and was met with the sight of Eli and Lawrence standing before a fire, the Wurmple was by their side, now completely calm, and snuggling close to Lawrence. Eli, who was usually very neat, looked like a mess; her hair was undone, and it stood up at various angles, smudges of dirt and mud integrated into it. Her once cheerful pink lab coat had a missing sleeve, and had become almost completely brown.
Her legs were scratched, and there was a bandage on her right cheek. The only thing that seemed unscathed was the pair of glasses she wore, and Selestine guessed that it was because Eli had wiped them extensively. Lawrence, on the other hand, as messy as he was before the Pinsir attack, didn’t seem that much different; the only noticeable change was his pair of wrapped hands.
Next to Eli, Selestine could see the two bags she had carrying; her own, and the one that held all the food. It was only at the sight of those that Selestine realised her tent was just within arm’s reach of her, yet she was wrapped and safely on the ground outside it.
She redirected her attention again, this time on the soft surface she had been laying on. It was a sort of thin, but firm mattress, and Selestine quickly noticed that it would fit in the tent. Just momentarily, she was astonished at how a small roll of a tent can expand to reveal itself and quite a comfortable mattress.
‘Oh, you’re up,’ she heard Lawrence say. ‘How are you feeling?’
Selestine turned her head to Lawrence, whose facial expressions were quite uncharacteristic of him. His walk as he approached her still had the same lazy slouch, but his face was overcome with a look of disappointment. Behind him, both Eli and Wurmple, who had fled into her arms, sported looks of concern.
‘I’m fine,’ Selestine lied; a throbbing headache was suddenly growing in her head.
‘Well, we thought you might need some fresh air; you had been in the tent for hours,’ said Lawrence. ‘I can carry your mattress back inside for you if you want.’
‘No, it’s fine,’ said Selestine. ‘For how long have I been out?’
‘Well, since that Pinsir attack, obviously,’ said Lawrence. ‘There is a slight bump on the back of your head, but Eli couldn’t get you to sleep on you side.’
‘What happened after I passed out?’
‘Well, I managed to fight off the Pinsir with a stick,’ said Lawrence, an obvious pride filling his voice and overcoming his expressions. ‘Now that is saying something, because apparently, the horns on that thing can split a human in two.’
‘The last thing I remember hearing was a shout,’ said Selestine.
‘Yes, that was Eli,’ said Lawrence. ‘She screamed when I hit the Pinsir so hard, the tip of the stick broke and flew towards her.’
‘And the Pokémon didn’t come after you?’
‘You would think that, but eventually, Eli threw some stones at it, and it backed away.’
‘That’s nothing to be proud of,’ said Selestine firmly. ‘That Pinsir had more than enough to kill you two; you shouldn’t have risked all of our lives.’
‘I saved all of our lives,’ said Lawrence, his teeth grinding. ‘It was you who tried to feed the Wurmple to that thing!’
‘Now you, of all people, appreciate that thing? You were the one who said that we should have left him behind!’
‘Yes, but when that Wurmple trusted us enough to jump into Eli’s arms, it became one of our team, and we don’t betray anyone from our team.’
‘This isn’t a team! This is a mission, and we are not required to bring anything along with us!
‘Would you have done the same if it was human? If the Pinsir was after Eli, would you have given her up?’
Behind him, Eli turned her head from the conversation, and started patting the Wurmple. She sat in silence, looking at the fire as Lawrence got up and left, going back to join the pair.
She couldn’t help but feel that everything had changed, and in just one day. She had tried to lead the group throughout this expedition, but Selestine doubted that any of her team, as Lawrence had put it, would listen to her again. Her head was still throbbing in pain, and her body was starting to ache. She lay down on her mattress, looking up at the sky.
She was lost in her thoughts, and all track of time slipped away from her until Lawrence came back and offered to take her mattress into her tent again. He seemed rather disappointed with her, and even though Eli had helped her stand and provided support for her as Lawrence dragged the soft surface to the tent, she seemed disappointed as well.
What was her right? She was the one who had kicked Selestine into a tree, and the situation she was in was Eli’s fault; she had no right to be disappointed. Feeling her anger come back to her, she threw away Eli’s arms, and marched into her tent, shutting it without a word to either of them.
She was furious, and her anger only rose as she lay on the mattress, looking up at the green tent that formed a ceiling above her and blocked all sky from her view. Eli came back towards the tent, and thrust a small jar into the tent.
‘Here,’ she said, her voice slightly muffled. ‘This will help your headache, if you have one.’
Selestine grabbed the pills in silence as Eli’s arm retracted through the door of the tent. She threw one of them into her mouth, and lay back on the bed, still silent. The minutes flew by, and slowly, but gradually, her headache, and with it, her anger, receded.
For a few fleeting moments, Selestine’s head was clear, and as the sky got darker, she drifted into a dreamless sleep.
The next day had went by in silence, as uneventful as can be compared to the events that had come to pass in the day before it. Selestine had only been spoken to when she was needed, which wasn’t as often as she would have liked; it seemed that even though she held an assistant position in the group, she was more of a reviewer to their progress, following in silent, and never participating.
They had gone back to the first spot of electromagnetic energy, where Eli was finally able to scan it without a hindrance, despite Lepi’s, as Eli had taken to calling the Wurmple, cowering. They had passed through the dirt road, and past the spot where they had encountered the Pinsir, marked by a damaged stick, and several large disturbances in the ground.
Selestine still followed in silence, taking a pill whenever her headache returned with force, until the night set again, as a small opening in the treetops indicated. The group had progressed further when both Eli and Lawrence were splitting the responsibility of leadership than when Selestine had kept it all to herself.
They settled on the grass to the right of the dirt road, which seemed to extend endlessly, and set their camp there. Eli’s watch was useless aside from the fact that she used it to detect electromagnetic energy, as opposed to using another small device in her bag that she kept forgetting to check. And as such, they had insisted on ending the day early due to only being able to find one spot in the dirt road where the sky was visible.
Lawrence placed the food bag, which he had been carrying, next to Eli, and went to set up the camp for the day. He began pumping air into all three of the mattresses, and placed them in their respective green tents. Selestine had neglected to notice how he had dismantled them during the morning, but the mystery had finally been solved, and it was the most exciting thing to have happened to her all day.
‘Did you finish setting up the wood?’ Lawrence addressed Eli, who was holding a match over a peculiar looking arrangement.
‘Yes!’ she said in her usual excited voice. ‘Now get ready for this!’
And she dropped the match onto the arrangement. The area lit up, revealing a grand circle of dirt and rocks that sat beneath, and surrounded the fire, which was shaped like a circle with a line going through it, interjecting with another circle.
‘It’s a Poké Ball!’ exclaimed Eli. ‘It’s wonderful, isn’t it?!’
‘How much powder did you use for that?’
‘More than recommended, admittedly, but it was worth it!’ said Eli. ‘Come and sit!’
Lawrence sat opposite Selestine, while Eli on a third log, Lepi leaving her arms, slowly approaching the fire and spreading itself across the ground. Lawrence and Eli started talking to each other, both dressed in brand new fieldworker outfits, as Selestine sat staring at the fire, holding the bottle of pills in her hand.
It would have been a perfect opportunity to apologise, but Selestine still believed that her decisions were the right ones, even though her beliefs were slowly dissolving. She thought the group would be doomed if she didn’t lead them, yet she was proven wrong. She thought Lawrence would never risk his life to save someone else, and would run away, but she was also wrong. She thought Eli would never be responsible enough to carry this mission along, but looking at the container of food next to her, and the pills in her hand; she once again realised that she had been wrong.
‘Hey, Selestine,’ said Eli. ‘How are you feeling?’
‘I’m better now,’ said Selestine. ‘Thank you for the pills.’
‘I’m sorry for throwing you against that tree yesterday,’ said Eli. ‘I was just… I don’t know what I was thinking.’
‘It’s fine,’ said Selestine.
She should have admitted to being the one in the wrong, but Selestine was too proud to do so.
‘Anyway, how much time do you think we have to spend at this forest?’ said Selestine.
‘Probably just a week,’ said Eli. ‘If everything goes as smoothly as it went today.’
‘And hopefully, we don’t meet any more Pokémon, or at least, no more vicious ones’ said Lawrence. ‘Anyway, Eli, I’ve been curious; why wasn’t Mercury able to go to the expedition with… what was his name again?’
‘Erric,’ said Eli. ‘And he was too needed to go on an expedition.’
‘Actually, while we’re on the subject,’ said Selestine. ‘Why is Dominic both Lawrence’s and Holda’s partner?’
‘Oh that, well,’ said Eli. ‘It’s a bit of a confidential matter.’
‘It can’t be that serious,’ said Selestine.
‘Give it up, Sel,’ said Lawrence. ‘I asked her what happened to Holda’s old partner yesterday, but she never told me. For someone so hyperactive, you would think everything would just fly out of her mouth.’
‘Actually, I should’ve told you, Larry,’ started Eli, worry overcoming her expression. ‘Especially since we were attacked yesterday. Ok, here we go…’
She let out a deep breath, shooting a look at both Selestine and Lawrence.
‘Holda’s old partner was called Gaston Sedgley. I worked with him for a year; ever since I myself worked here, and he was a wonderful guy. He was a bit shut out at times, keeping everything to himself, but he was very kind, and really helped me when I was starting.
‘And then, a little more than a week ago he was assigned to Holda as her partner. On the second day of your work, Clair Berton discovered that the radar worked, but he and his partner were told to keep it a secret. Apparently, everyone but me knew; because they thought I would tell the fieldworkers; which is what I’m doing right now, but let’s get back on topic.
‘Project Holon was going to start, as Dominic told me, but it was halted when Gaston disappeared, late on the second day. All leaders should tell their group, because this is really important, and I should’ve told you sooner. All we know is that Gaston went into the Mirage Forest, and never came back.’
A moment of silence lingered around the fire, interrupted occasionally by the crackling flames. Lepi looked around the group, and then stared at Eli in puzzlement, much like Selestine and Lawrence.
‘I know, I know… I should’ve told you sooner,’ said Eli. ‘I really should’ve told you when you asked me, Larry. Especially after being attacked; I mean, we could’ve disappeared as well. That was why every team was assigned a researcher; we were given the instructions to look for any trace of Gaston without telling the fieldworkers.
‘It was supposed to be just two of you. In this team, Selestine would’ve been the leader, and Lawrence would’ve been the assistant, but then they made me join. And really, McLean & Partners cannot afford to give up four of us, but they also can’t afford to compensate Gaston’s family, especially since our contracts promise that there is no threat to anyone’s safety during Project Holon.’
‘And if we knew that, all of us fieldworkers would have quit,’ said Lawrence, seeming deeper in thought than Selestine had ever seen him. ‘We would have refused to go into Mirage Forest. So McLean delayed this expedition just to sort this Gaston business out?’
‘Yes,’ said Eli. ‘They got their emergency team to try and find Gaston, but no luck. Currently, the company is saying that Gaston ran away to his family, but I don’t think they can hold out for much longer before they get sued.’
‘I didn’t even know McLean & Partners had an emergency team,’ said Selestine. ‘Did something like this happen before? Is that why they created an emergency team?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Eli. ‘And I swear that I’m not hiding anything else from you.’
They sat around the fire in silence, staring at the flames as Eli clutched her knees nervously, rocking back and forth on her log.
‘Guys, please say something,’ Eli pleaded. ‘I feel really bad for not telling you this before.’
‘It’s not your fault, Eli,’ said Lawrence. ‘We just have to be more careful when treading the forest.’
‘I saw Holda yelling at Dominic,’ said Selestine. ‘Do you think it had anything to do with it?’
‘Apparently, since Dominic was partnered with Holda as a replacement, she had been insisting on him to tell her what happened to Gaston,’ said Eli. ‘But he kept telling her it was confidential.’
‘Let’s just call it a night,’ said Lawrence. ‘We should wake up early tomorrow, and hopefully, get out of the forest before a week is up.’
‘I’m really sorry, guys,’ said Eli. ‘I should’ve told you sooner.’
‘Again, Eli, it’s not your fault,’ said Lawrence, giving a fake smile before going into his tent.
‘Good night, Selestine,’ said Eli. ‘I’ll put a jar with new pills in your tent; use it when you finish the one you have.’
And with that, she got up and walked away, followed closely by Lepi. Selestine sat staring at the flames, her dinner next to her in the container. She pried the lid open, and quickly ate the meal. She put out the fire, and went to her tent, where a new bottle of pills had been waiting on the mattress.
Selestine shoved it into her bag, and lay down once more on the soft surface. Even though Lawrence said it wasn’t Eli’s fault, Selestine was once again blaming the leader of the group. She didn’t know how, but had Eli told them of what happened to Gaston before they started this expedition, they might have avoided the Pinsir attack, they might have been more careful.
She couldn’t believe that, even if only for a moment, she had thought of apologising to Eli when it was her fault all of this had happened. Selestine’s anger returned to her, and that night, her dreams were violent.
Last edited by Kyuuketsuki; 1st April 2013 at 03:06 AM.
9th March 2013, 02:00 PM #9
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
§6: The Disturbance Begins
The dirt road ended abruptly after an hour’s walk, and the group was once again in an open area. The trees stood apart, and the sky was visible, shinning a bright light onto the ground. Lepi was cradled within Eli’s arms as the researcher took the lead, scanning the area with her machine for electromagnetic energy.
She was the first to get up, and she took the opportunity to set her watch, using the sunrise as a clue; she could’ve been a few minutes off, but her timing was roughly correct. Lawrence walked right behind her, still slouching, and observing the area around him. He had barely exchanged words with Eli, much less with Selestine, who was the last in the line.
‘Is it time for lunch?’ asked Lawrence.
‘No, not yet,’ said Eli after a quick glance at her watch. ‘Just ten more minutes, and then we’ll rest!’
And silence fell over the group once more. Whatever semblance of connection the pair had had the day before seemed to be broken. As Selestine walked behind them, her mind once again raced with the thoughts of last night; that revelation only served to make her want to be the leader of the group, once again believing that they would only survive if they follow her lead.
She had once thought that she was wrong and incompetent, but after last night, she firmly believed that it was Eli’s fault for not telling them about the dangers of Mirage Forest. She had stopped taking her pills; her headache had lessened significantly since the day before, but it wasn’t gone. Two bottles, one full and one almost empty, rested in her bag. She had offered to carry the food, but Lawrence had insisted that she shouldn’t wear herself out.
‘Lunch?’ Lawrence asked once more, and Eli told him to wait again.
As they progressed, the area was starting to seem more and more like the entrance of Mirage Forest. Complete calm lingered around the forest, but no one in the group felt safe; if anything, the revelation had made them more intense. She would have offered to take the lead, but Selestine knew that the group wouldn’t listen to her yet; Lawrence still held the sense of team, while Eli was clutching Lepi to herself as close as she could.
She threw a glance at her watch, and announced that it was time for lunch, and Lawrence immediately dropped to the ground, producing three food containers from the blue bag. He was the first to start eating, and all the while Eli was watching him nervously.
‘I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,’ said Eli after they had all finished their food. ‘I should’ve told you sooner, I know. But I was under orders not to tell you! Please forgive me, you two!’
‘I have no qualms with you, it’s Larry that you should talk to,’ lied Selestine, casting a victorious glance at Lawrence.
He looked at her before directing his attention back to Eli.
‘I just think that it would have been informative, if you will,’ said Lawrence. ‘Maybe knowing that someone came into this forest, and disappeared, would have made us a little more careful.’
Selestine shifted slightly, pleased that Lawrence shared her thoughts. Eli let out a deep sigh, putting the half-finished food container on the floor for Lepi to eat.
‘Well, you know now,’ said Eli. ‘Which is more than what I’m supposed to tell you.’
‘Oh, yeah, the fact that our lives are in danger!’
‘That’s why I told you!’ shouted Eli. ‘Why can’t you just focus on the fact that I told you! It’s not like I was allowed to tell you but chose not to!’
‘Well, we’re a team,’ said Lawrence. ‘And you should’ve told us from the start!’
‘Again with that bullshit!’ Selestine almost exploded with rage. ‘We’re coworkers! This isn’t a team, Larry! It never will be a team! When will you understand that?!’
‘Oh, shut up, Sel!’ said Lawrence, standing up. ‘That’s exactly your problem! Do you even realise that this is real? We’re not in a university. You’re not on your own anymore, and you can’t hide your exam paper from us! There isn’t any benefit for being the one on top. If one of us fails, we all fail! We either get through this together or we don’t. Stop thinking you’re better than everyone else.’
Selestine wanted to respond, but no words came to her. She felt her face turning red, and her nails digging into her hand as she clenched them into fists. She got up, slung her backpack over her shoulder, and marched off.
‘Selestine, wait!’ Eli shouted after her, and soon, her hands were wrapped around Selestine’s arm. ‘You can’t go marching off to nowhere!’
Lawrence was still at the spot where they ate their food, looking intently at Selestine. She hated to think it, but there was some truth to his words. She let out a deep sigh and relaxed her body; only then did Eli feel sure enough that she let go of Selestine’s arm.
‘You won’t walk away, will you?’ said Eli in quite an uncharacteristic tone; she sounded firm.
Selestine let out another sigh. At that point, she realised that Lawrence should’ve been the assistant, and she should’ve been the fieldworker. Eli had trusted her enough to give a sterling recommendation, and Lawrence gave no objection as she ran the first day of this mission, yet she was convinced, without any evidence, that she would do a better job at this than either of them.
‘I won’t walk away,’ said Selestine, walking back towards Lawrence, Eli following her closely. ‘Okay, Larry, you’re right. I admit it, I was wrong.’
‘Does that mean we can finally work together as one?’ said Lawrence in quite a hopeful tone, obviously avoiding the word ‘Team’.
As soon as Selestine gave her one word reply, Eli threw her arms around the pair, and pulled them into a hug, squealing with delight.
‘Finally! This will be the best! We will be Team Mighty West!’ said Eli, and both Selestine and Lawrence gave a wince, followed by a forced smile. ‘It’s all water under the bridge, guys! It doesn’t matter because we have a bridge! And that’s what truly connects us!’
Eli gave a final squeeze before letting go of the pair. Lawrence rubbed his neck awkwardly, while Selestine gave a faint smile.
‘Shall we move on, then?’ said Lawrence. ‘The less time we spend in this forest, the quicker we can get out.’
‘Yeah, just grab Lepi,’ said Selestine, quite pleased with the fact that she was once again giving some orders. ‘Where do we go from here?’
‘We’re just going to keep walking, and Eli will keep doing what it is that she does,’ said Lawrence. ‘Then we’ll stop for dinner and sleep.’
Eli returned to their side after a few moments of absence with Lepi between her arms. The Pokémon had been listening to the group, and it seemed that the conversation revived his trust in Selestine, as he happily jumped onto her shoulder.
As before, silence fell over the group as they marched on through the forest, Eli tapping at her machinery, and Lawrence and Selestine following behind her. But unlike before, there was finally a sense of comfort and trust between them. Selestine flashed back to Lawrence’s words, and they were true. This wasn’t a simulation. This wasn’t an exam. From being the most confident member of the team, Selestine suddenly felt the weakest, and the most vulnerable; a sentiment that was echoed in a distant wailing.
‘What is that?’ said Eli, taking a few steps back.
‘I don’t know,’ said Selestine, having at first believed the sound to be only in her head. ‘But Lepi here is terrified.’
‘We should go investigate,’ said Lawrence. ‘You two stay right here, and I’ll check the area.’
The wailing continued; it was faint, but slowly growing.
‘It doesn’t sound human,’ said Selestine. ‘It must be another Pokémon in the forest.’
‘I don’t imagine anything being this terrified,’ said Lawrence. ‘Do you think something crossed that Pinsir’s path?’
‘Not the Pinsir again,’ said Eli. ‘For some reason, I don’t imagine he’ll run away this time…’
‘Whatever it is, it’s approaching us,’ said Lawrence. ‘Get behind me.’
‘We should’ve brought Pokémon with us…’ said Eli.
Lawrence picked up a stick off of the ground as the sound grew louder, approaching them from everywhere at first, then closing onto one direction. As it got closer, it turned from a wailing to a faint scream, and then a loud one.
‘It doesn’t sound like we’re being attacked,’ said Selestine. ‘Whatever that thing is, it’s running from something.’
The grass broke apart to reveal a small Pokémon that ran into Eli. He stumbled onto the ground, and panicking, was not able to get back up. The Pokémon was completely covered in blue vines, and the only thing beside his red feet that could be seen was the pair of frightened eyes that darted around the group. Lawrence calmed down at the sight of the Pokémon.
‘It’s just a Tangela,’ he said. ‘Nothing to be frightened of.’
‘Well, it was running from something,’ said Selestine. ‘Maybe we need to be afraid.’
Eli got down on her knees and tried comforting the Tangela, but the Pokémon appeared too frightened. It squirmed and tried to get away in vain.
‘It must be a baby,’ said Lawrence. ‘He’s so small.’
‘We’re not going to hurt you,’ said Eli. ‘Calm down and tell us what’s wrong?’
Selestine and Lawrence shared a look; did Eli honestly think that the Tangela would tell them what was wrong?
‘Here, here,’ said Eli, placing her hands around the small Pokémon and lifting him up to his feet. ‘What are you running from?’
One vine extended to grab Eli around the waist, and the other pointed the direction from which the Pokémon came. He gave a frightened squeal, and started pulling the young woman. Selestine and Lawrence wanted to protest, but Eli was too far ahead to care.
She followed the Tangela, almost running with the Pokémon had his feet not been too tiny for his run to be anything more than a fast walk. Lepi was starting to feel nervous, and Selestine could feel his shivering through her entire body. The group walked for a few minutes, led by the Tangela, before they came across a tree.
It seemed like the tallest tree in the forest, as well as the bulkiest. Its branches extended and almost looked like they were pulling the other trees into a hug. Below it was a dead body much like the Tangela, who was crying hysterically.
‘Oh no, I’m so sorry,’ said Eli, bending to hug the sobbing Tangela. ‘I’m so sorry.’
Once again, Selestine and Lawrence shared a look. It was sadness that time, as opposed to skepticism. The dead Tangela was larger in size. Her eyes were wide open, and the grass around her was red.
‘What do you think killed it?’ Selestine asked.
‘I have no idea,’ said Lawrence. ‘That Pinsir wouldn’t have left her in one piece. It must have been something else.’
‘There’s nothing we can do, anyway,’ said Selestine. ‘Let’s just go back.’
Eli shot a look towards Selestine, before going back to comfort the baby Tangela. Lawrence was studying the tree, circling the trunk, and slowly disappearing behind it.
‘I found something,’ he said. ‘Come over here.’
Upon command, Selestine circled the tree as well, and gazed upon the hole that rested in the trunk of the tree. It was at the base, and was shaped like a half circle. Some dead grass was inside, arranged into piles.
‘It must have been their home,’ said Lawrence, covering his forehead with his hand. ‘This is horrible.’
‘Yeah, it is, but we don’t have time to waste,’ said Selestine, careful to speak in whispers so that Eli won’t hear her. ‘We have to finish our section of the forest, and go back to Holon.’
‘It won’t be that simple,’ said Lawrence. ‘That Pinsir, what Eli told us, and now this? It’s not going to be easy; there are things in this forest that want to kill us.’
‘So you want us to help the Tangela?’ said Selestine. ‘It’s not going to do us any good!’
‘Sel, this isn’t a normal forest,’ said Lawrence. ‘Just look at this tree! Why would it be so expansive and large if it wasn’t because of some unnatural cause?’
‘Like the electromagnetism?’
‘I doubt that’s even possible,’ said Lawrence before thinking about it again. ‘Is it possible?’
‘Ask Eli; she’s the scientist.’
When the pair went back around the tree, they saw that Tangela had fallen asleep in Eli’s arms. Selestine tried to avert her eyes and avoid glancing at the dead body.
‘Can you check if there is any electromagnetism here?’ said Lawrence. ‘We have reason to believe there might be.’
At his words, Eli produced her machine and started tapping away at it. After a few minutes she gave a nod.
‘There is,’ said Eli. ‘How did you guess?’
‘The tree was unusually large,’ said Lawrence. ‘Electromagnetism probably caused it.’
‘That can’t be,’ said Eli. ‘Electromagnetism stunts growth in plants. That tree shouldn’t even be standing.’
‘I see,’ Selestine let out an exasperated gasp. ‘Then it would be safe to assume that the electromagnetic properties of Holon only started recently.’
‘That would be the safest bet,’ said Eli. ‘But still, it shouldn’t be this intense, this fast.’
‘Unless it’s manmade,’ said Lawrence, glancing at the Tangela. ‘After all, all electromagnetism is in some way a result of humans.’
‘That’s why Holon is researching this area,’ said Eli. ‘They want to figure out what caused the electromagnetism. But what are you two suggesting?’
‘This is just a thought,’ said Selestine. ‘But maybe Holon is responsible for this.’
17th March 2013, 06:53 PM #10
Slashing through to you
Re: Mirage Forest
Well I'm honestly interested in this fic now, quite a lot actually.
First of all I like the flow and pace that your story takes, it isn't rushed and it doesn't move too slow plus it knows just when to change the mood without it seeming force. The plot is still kind of a mystery right now, but I trust that it will all come to be soon enough as there are already some hints popping up here and there regarding the mystery of Holon itself.
I'm not very familiar with the card game, but I did search for Delta Pokemon and in reading how they came to be I can see that you really are focusing on both the backstory of the reason as well as those Pokemon, specially now that you introduced the increase amount of electromagnetic waves.
I really like your characters, especially Eli xD I don't know I guess I have a thing for quirky and eager characters but it works since she's a real contrast compared to Lawrence and Selestine.
Selestine is interesting for her personality as well, it's interesting to see such a flawed character, but then again you are famous for making intriguing characters that are more than meets the eye as I have experienced at least. I'm also interested in the supporting characters you introduced in the second chapter as well as what the company's really planning on doing with Holon.
18th March 2013, 01:58 AM #11
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
Re: Mirage Forest
I'm glad you liked it! *trying to contain excitement*
Originally Posted by Flaze
Thank you! I struggled a bit with how fast the story would go, and I'm glad to see that it worked! The plot should become clearer with time, as it's just questions for now.
Originally Posted by Flaze
This story will be mainly about Delta Species, because I'm quite sentimental towards them. :P
Originally Posted by Flaze
I'm glad to see you like her! I honestly thought that she would be too annoying to any potential reader.
Originally Posted by Flaze
Thank you! I feel I've been saying that too much, but the fact that you find my characters even remotely good is a great compliment to me! I've always considered them my weakest point.
Originally Posted by Flaze
Thank you for reading and reviewing! It means a lot to me!
18th March 2013, 01:44 PM #12
Slashing through to you
Re: Mirage Forest
You're welcome xD just remember to keep up with this story cause I think it's really good, and you have one reader right here.
18th March 2013, 01:50 PM #13
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
Re: Mirage Forest
I do have a tendency to drop stories and take long, long breaks... But I plan on finishing this one; I do have high hopes for it. Again, thank you for reading.
Originally Posted by Flaze
4th April 2013, 12:26 PM #14
◓Gypsy Vanner Horse
§7: The Vines
Eli was sitting on the ground, gently caressing the sleeping Tangela. She looked up at Selestine in disbelief; was she accusing Holon of causing the electromagnetism, or was she accusing Eli of keeping secrets?
‘Is there a way for you to pinpoint when this started?’ Lawrence asked.
‘No, of course not,’ said Eli. ‘I already told you that Holon is researching that. I really don’t know anything more than you two.’
‘That’s fine,’ said Lawrence. ‘The sooner we’re done with this mission, the better. I don’t plan on spending more time working for Holon.’
‘Now you’re just being paranoid,’ said Selestine. ‘It’s just a theory, and a very farfetched one, at that.’
‘Better paranoid than sorry,’ said Lawrence. ‘Besides, can you honestly say that this doesn’t seem a little suspicious? We get free housing, free food, and a salary that is much more than we had ever expected as fieldworkers.’
‘That’s how McLean & Partners do everything, though,’ said Eli. ‘It’s not a first for them to be really generous.’
‘But it is weird,’ said Lawrence. ‘Good thing I never unpacked. I’ll explore the area around here, and see what might have killed that Tangela’s mother.’
‘Be careful,’ said Eli before turning to Selestine. ‘I’m not keeping anything from you, I swear.’
‘I never accused you of that,’ said Selestine. ‘What do you plan on doing with the Tangela?’
‘I’ll take him with us,’ said Eli. ‘He’s so young, and he just lost his mother; I can’t leave him alone. He’ll come with us like Lepi, and I’ll make sure to protect him.’
‘You’re not being very realistic,’ said Selestine. ‘If you want to save everything you come across, then you’ll just end up saving nothing. We’re in a forest, Eli, not a lab. It’s survival of the fittest out here.’
‘We can’t leave him here to die,’ said Eli. ‘We have to save him, like Lepi.’
Selestine threw a glance towards Lepi. They had saved the Wurmple, but it didn’t seem to be of any help to them. All he did was cower and shake in fear whenever he sensed trouble; she didn’t doubt that Tangela would do the same, and be more of a hindrance to them than even mere emotional support. But of course, she couldn’t say that to Eli, or even in front of Lepi.
Selestine lowered herself to the ground, and leaned against a tree with her eyes closed. She hadn’t realised how tired she was until that moment; it seemed that everything that had happened in Mirage Forest fell heavy on her at once. Eli kept on caressing the Tangela, his body giving sudden jolts as she tried to comfort him.
‘Hey, Selestine,’ started Eli. ‘Would you mind if I ask you a personal question?’
Selestine slowly opened her eyes; Eli seemed particularly sad, and after seeing her being hopeful and excited for almost a week, it was like all the joy had been robbed of her.
‘Is this your first time seeing death?’ Selestine asked, to which Eli nodded.
‘It’s awful,’ said Eli. ‘I can’t even put it to words. It’s awful, and it doesn’t make sense. I didn’t even see the mother when she was alive.’
‘And yet you feel like it is somehow your fault,’ said Selestine. ‘What did you want to ask me?’
‘It’s fine if you don’t answer,’ said Eli. ‘But did you ever have any experiences with… this?’
‘I’ve seen people die twice,’ said Selestine. ‘The first one was when my grandmother died, and the second was when I learned to cope with what can’t be changed.’
‘But it can be made better,’ said Eli. ‘Or at least easier. We can’t just leave the Tangela on his own.’
‘I got that,’ said Selestine. ‘But there is nothing you can do for him. No matter what you say to him, and how you try to comfort him, he will never get over that death. When my grandma died, I was quite young, and she had been in the hospital for about a month before that. Nothing my parents did ever made it better for me, and nothing made it easier.’
‘Loss isn’t something that we should hide from,’ said Eli. ‘I’ve never seen someone die, but my father did walk out on us. I blamed myself, and cried a lot, but I accepted it eventually. You say that you learned to cope with what can’t be changed, but did you ever apply that?’
‘Of course I did,’ said Selestine. ‘I’m not denying that what you went through isn’t hard, but death is not the same as abandonment. I knew that my grandma was a good person, and she didn’t deserve to die.’
‘My dad was a good person,’ said Eli. ‘And it’s just as horrible trying to make sense of why someone would leave his entire family as it is to lose someone.’
‘Those are mutually exclusive experiences for us,’ said Selestine. ‘Let’s just end this conversation.’
Selestine leaned her head against the tree behind her, and shut her eyes once more. She didn’t fall asleep, but she lost herself in a void free of time. Even though Lepi had started moving and squirming around on her shoulder, she could feel nothing, and her mind flashed to nothing. Her peace wasn’t broken until Lawrence returned, and he started talking to Eli, slowly drawing her out of her half-slumber.
‘We should probably move,’ said Lawrence. ‘It feels like all we’ve been doing is saying that we should move.’
‘Let’s move then,’ said Selestine. ‘Did you find anything?’
‘I did,’ said Lawrence. ‘I found a colony of Victreebel, but they didn’t see me.’
‘They say that no one ever saw a colony of them and lived to tell the tale,’ said Selestine. ‘Are you worried you’ll die now?’
‘They’re obviously wrong,’ said Lawrence. ‘Because I just told the tale to you two.’
‘Let’s just leave,’ said Eli. ‘I don’t want us to get involved in any trouble.’
She took up the Tangela and wrapped him in her lab coat. He was small, and every time Eli looked at him she felt the sadness again. Maybe she wasn’t fit for this, maybe a lab would be the best place for her, shielded from the world outside. It was one thing to interact with tamed Pokémon, but this was their natural habitat.
They had started their walk again, but Eli was starting to have the doubts that plagues Selestine and Lawrence. She never should have volunteered for the job. She can’t blame the Pinsir for attacking them; it was probably just defending his territory.
‘So, what are you going to name the Tangela?’ Selestine asked.
‘I didn’t think about it,’ said Eli, absently considering her decisions. ‘I just don’t know what to do when he wakes up.’
It would have been easier for Eli to throw the Tangela away, abandon him, and never have to explain to him that his mother is dead, and that he is now with the humans who invaded his home without warning. Once again, he started shivering in sleep, and Eli quickly dismissed the idea. His shivering continued, and spores started covering his body; spores so light they were almost invisible.
‘Do you guys smell that?’ said Eli. ‘This is how Tangela protects itself from prey. It’s more of an escaping Pokémon than one that stays and fight, and the vines make it easy for them to camouflage themselves. If they feel that they need to hide even more, then they emit a smell just like the forest. This one is just young, so he can’t do it as well as the other Pokémon.’
‘And that was random Tangela trivia by Eli,’ said Lawrence. ‘Back to you, Sel.’
‘This isn’t a joking matter,’ said Eli. ‘It means that, right now, the Tangela feels the need to hide. He’s probably having a nightmare or something. I should wake him up.’
‘I don’t think that would be a good decision,’ said Lawrence. ‘For all we know, he needs to have that nightmare; maybe then it’ll be easier to deal with the reality.’
‘The smell stand out,’ said Eli. ‘And it’s a good smell, don’t you think so?’
‘Sure, it’s great,’ said Selestine. ‘But it is more distinct than camouflage.’
‘You’re right,’ said Lawrence. ‘That can’t be good. He’ll draw attention to us.’
‘Well, we can’t abandon him!’ Eli protested.
‘We won’t abandon him, but we have to do something about that smell,’ said Lawrence. ‘And it’s probably stuck to your clothes as well.’
Almost as if on cue, the forest filled with rustling. The trees on either side started shaking as the sound of swishing liquid drew closer. A sweet scent filled the air, and the sounds all ceased at once. From the bushes, a single brown vine ending in a leaf started lightly whipping around, going in circles and lines and undetermined patterns.
‘That’s Victreebel,’ said Lawrence in a hushed voice, fear clearly dawning on his face. ‘That’s how they hunt their prey. Don’t touch that vine.’
‘Yeah, thanks, Lawrence,’ said Selestine. ‘It’s not like we’re used to everything in this forest trying to kill us.’
Another vine shot up. It was smaller than the one before it, but moved even more vigourously. The silence was deafening, and the sweet scent in the air intensified. It became impossible to believe that anything could fall for such a situation and grab that vine.
Whatever they wanted, they wouldn’t settle for the Tangela. His smell attracted them, and coated Eli’s clothes. Getting the Tangela would just redirect their attention to Eli, and if they like her taste, the rest of the humans.
Eli let out a scream as another vine shot from behind her and almost grabbed her leg. The three retreated to the middle of the path as another vine shot up; there were two of each side now.
‘At least four of them,’ said Selestine. ‘This is great; one for each of us, and one for the Pokémon. Larry, talk to me.’
‘I can’t think of anything this time, believe me,’ said Lawrence. ‘We certainly can’t fight them off like we did to that Pinsir; we’ll be lucky to even approach them without dying.’
And again, as if they were waiting for Lawrence to make the observation, a glob of acid shot towards the group, and it would have hit Eli had Lawrence not pulled her away. It fizzled against the ground, and the smell filled the newly formed hole. It was only then that Selestine noted that something was missing.
‘Of no,’ said Eli. ‘He’s not here!’
She flung her head between Lawrence and Selestine, frantically looking for the Wurmple as another glob shot towards them. Once again, they narrowly avoided it, and another dent formed in the ground.
‘I’ll go back,’ said Selestine. ‘I have to find Lepi.’
‘Then I guess we have to go in the other direction,’ said Lawrence. ‘How will we meet up again?’
‘We’re not separating!’ Eli protested. ‘Not in this forest!’
‘We’re fieldworkers,’ said Selestine. ‘We can navigate this forest. Stay close to Larry.’
‘It’s too dangerous!’
‘I’ll manage,’ said Selestine. ‘I’ll see you both later.’
‘Be careful, Sel,’ said Lawrence as she started running back the way she came. ‘We have to run away as well. Those Pokémon won’t just stay there and wave their vines at us forever.’
‘How could you let her go? It’s not safe for her!’
‘It was either that or leave Lepi,’ said Lawrence. ‘Stay close to me.’
With a firm grasp over Eli’s hand, Lawrence dashed in the opposite direction. The vines behind them shot up to the trees, and the Victreebel started following them, spitting acid whenever a chance to kill either of them presented itself. They were a sickening shade of yellow, the same yellow that came before the leaves died and fell to the ground. Their bodies were shaped like bells, containing an acid that would melt anything upon contact and fizzle it to a deformed version of what it used to be.
Eli felt the Tangela stirring, and it wasn’t long before his vines wrapped around her. She stumbled over branches and rocks, but Lawrence kept dragging her forward, running at a speed that she could never match. She knew that she couldn’t shriek or scream; the Tangela knew they were running, but not what they were running from. His vision was covered, and any sighting of the Victreebel, or any sign of panic from Eli, could send the baby into an unpredictable frenzy.
Eli tightened her hand over Lawrence’s. She had to survive, and at least be there for the Tangela. He felt like her responsibility before, but now he was her responsibility. Ever since Eli took him in her arm, and away from his home, she had made an unspoken vow to protect him.
‘We should separate,’ said Eli through pants. ‘You keep the Tangela with you, and they’ll come after me!’
‘What makes you so sure that they’ll come after you?!’
‘I’m the larger prey, and Tangela’s scent is all over me! They’ll target me!’
‘And then what do you plan on doing? Running until you lose them? Their eyes are not covered by the bushes anymore; they won’t settle for just you!’
‘It’s our best chance!’
‘No, it’s not,’ said Lawrence. ‘Our best chance is to stick together!’
Another chunk of acid shot towards them. Lawrence pulled Eli to the side, almost snapping her arm in the process. They dived into the forest, and continued running, towards the deeper, darker parts of the forest.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Your protection for Tangela gave me an idea,’ said Lawrence. ‘If it’s survival of the strongest in here, we’ll be stronger than their kids. Parental extinct is the same everywhere, and we can threaten to harm their children; maybe then they’ll step away.’
‘You’re going to their colony?!’
‘We could die! Why would you think that won’t respond to us threatening their kids with violence?! What do their children have to do with it in the first place?!’
‘Nothing. I don’t like this either, but it’s our only chance of surviving!’
9th April 2013, 09:59 AM #15
Slashing through to you
Re: Mirage Forest
The chapter was pretty entertaigning, it was nice to learn a little bit more about Eli's past and why she feels like she has to help every Pokemon they meet. The group seems to be in trouble yet again, and now they'll need a lot of luck if they want to escape alive. I don't have much to comment on this chapter except that I liked how you channelled the emotion through it xD I could feel what the other characters were feeling pretty easily. I also like the way you handle the serious moment and it gives off a real feeling of dread and unpredictability.