As refreshing as it was to not have to listen to Destiny's shrill voice, there were times Aurelia wished her Pokémon form had the ability to communicate. It was obvious that the insect had been trying to tell her something specific, but the Arceus hybrid hadn't a clue what to make of her garbled speech and abrupt gestures. All she could tell was that Destiny didn't want to return to the abandoned building, which she thought was a moronic idea. One of the first things she had learned about the blond girl was that she struggled to cope with stressful situations, and Aurelia turned her nose up at the behavior. She needs to conquer her fears and move on. What I think she doesn't realize is that when a bad experience is over, it's over. There's no need to cling to the memories and continue wallowing in dread.
While it was true that Aurelia was more conditioned to tragedy than some, her assertions hardly expressed what she was really going through. She often boasted that she relished freedom and the ability to move from place to place, but a part of her yearned for the warmth and comfort of her now broken family. She longed to listen to her mother's pompous accounts of her life and past romances, and she even missed the constant background noise of her brother's favorite science fiction movies. She craved the impossible dream of reliving her childhood; a time when she hadn't yet been exposed to the harsh realities of the world. With no way to regain her innocence, the cold hybrid had forgotten how to respect the bliss of those who had not yet been touched by the cruel hands of fate.
Why did Aurelia insist on following the girl she clearly deemed inferior? Did she take pleasure in seeing herself proven right as the world crumbled down around Destiny? Did she hope the positive attitude Destiny initially presented would rub off on her in the same way the insect was beginning to pick up her pessimism? Or did she simply want to appease fate by sticking with the person it had led her to? Perhaps there was something reassuring about knowing that she wasn't the only shapeshifting freak in the world, or maybe it had something to do with her deep-seated desire for company. Even Aurelia didn't know for certain why she had chosen not to abandon the other hybrid.
Those jets of hers certainly compensate for her walking speed. She's gotta be going at least fifty miles per hour. Good thing she usually doesn't make it very far, Aurelia thought sourly as she raced to catch up to the runaway insect. She was thankful for the noisy roar of her jets, which gave her a pretty good idea of which direction Destiny was going. The idiot's heading straight for the city. Didn't she learn her lesson the first time? That's not even stubbornness—it's plain stupidity. Among all her other reasons to follow Destiny was Aurelia's urgency to stop the girl before she ran into the gun-wielding man again. It was a miracle that he had decided to let them go; surely he would change his mind if one of the hybrids broke their promise. Not only that, but perhaps he would feel the need to bring his senseless massacre to the forest—meaning that Aurelia would be at risk as well.
The Arceus hybrid grinned when the sound was abruptly cut off. Good. That means she stopped. I just hope she didn't make it to the city. Concerned, the weary girl sprinted faster. She had been unable to catch even a glimpse of sleep after the commotion of the hectic day, and she prayed she'd be able to strike an agreement with the insect so they could both return to the shelter of the building. I wonder what time it is. If I only had my C-Gear, I'd be able to check. Aurelia contemplated that there may have been another advantage to having a device that could tell time: it could be used to determine whether or not their transformations lasted for a set amount of time. That knowledge could be used strategically: while the maniac with the gun had seen Aurelia's true form, he only knew Destiny by her vile insect shape. Therefore, the blond-haired girl could sneak into Mistralton and look for help.
How long has she been that bug for this time? The sooner she changes back, the better. It'll be so much easier to work with her when she can talk and can't fly away with those stupid jets. Aurelia had already been in her Pokémon form for a while the first time Destiny had reverted to her human shape, which gave her reason to believe the frequency and duration of their transformations were random. Aurelia hadn't been there to witness Destiny's first transformation, but she couldn't imagine it had occurred long before her own.
If the changes didn't occur at even intervals, then what could possibly be triggering them? Was it a response to environmental factors in the way that some Pokémon evolved when exposed to certain stimuli? If Aurelia could isolate a cause, then perhaps there would be a way for her to stop the transformations altogether. Now that I think of it, this hybrid stuff is a lot like evolution… except when Pokémon evolve, they don't return to their original shapes. I should be thankful it doesn't work that way with us hybrids. As a seasoned Pokémon trainer, Aurelia had watched the Pokémon on her team undergo evolution several times. Evolved Pokémon were much more powerful than their lesser forms, so she had pressured them to change as soon as possible. It makes me wonder if they really wanted to evolve… I certainly never want to "evolve" into Arceus again. There really aren't any downsides to when normal Pokémon evolve, though. A Gigalith, a Darmanitan, and a Haxorus could walk into a city without being shot at.
When Aurelia could make out a faint outline of the purple creature, she angrily shouted, "Des!" in a hushed voice. Destiny, who was standing unstably on two legs, flashed the other hybrid an indignant look before doggedly turning away and taking a step forward. "Get the hell back here!" Aurelia growled. "Don't make me—" She cut herself off, not wanting to let Destiny know what she had found out about her drive. It was indeed a useful discovery; the only problem was that the insect's metal body was most likely much too heavy for Aurelia to carry. It will come in handy once we get back to the building… but that's the entire problem.
Destiny resumed glaring at her suspiciously, questioningly tilting her head. Aurelia had a feeling that she suspected her of causing her "deaths", but she figured she couldn't have done anything to prevent that. The Arceus hybrid tried to imagine what the insect experienced when her drive was removed: did she feel any pain? Was she actually dead, or had she merely entered a state in which it seemed that way? If the latter were the case, was she aware of what was going on around her? It was hard for Aurelia to form any guesses, simply because the event was so bizarre and otherworldly. You can't ask a toy what it goes through when you take out its batteries because it isn't alive, and therefore it wouldn't actually be able to die in a literal sense. A living thing, on the other hand… this just shouldn't be possible. Why in the name of Arceus would anyone think it'd be a good idea to drag something out of a crappy sci-fi movie and into the real world?
Aurelia irritably gritted her teeth. I just don't know what to do. Des won't be able to tell me what she wants until she's back to normal, and I think she's already made it clear that I'm not going to have any luck trying to reason with a robot bug. It's too late for this. I need sleep. She almost considered yanking out Destiny's battery then and there and hitting the hay right where she was standing, which led her to wonder what would happen if Destiny returned to her human shape while her drive was missing.
"Come on," Aurelia sighed despairingly, softening her tone. She spoke down to the hybrid, as if she were dealing with an unruly Pokémon rather than a human being. "You can't tell me you aren't tired. You know, I bet that's why you're so cranky. Maybe if you got some rest, you'd realize that you're making a big fuss over nothing. Can we please just go back to the building? I'm begging you."
Destiny seemed perplexed by Aurelia's sudden change in demeanor, but it didn't make her any more willing to fulfill her wishes. She resentfully treaded another step forward, but then froze in her tracks when a roaring noise split the air. The insect turned her head to the heavens eagerly, shifting her face so her eyes followed a dark object across the sky—an airplane. "Wrraaarrgghoorrr!" Destiny shouted excitedly, feverishly flailing her arms.
The brunette took a moment to absorb what had happened, and, just as quickly as it had occurred, everything made sense. The insect's gesticulations had been in mimicry of an airplane taking off, and she even attempted to impersonate one herself by launching her body into the air. Well, it was a valiant effort. For all I knew, she could've been suggesting that we scale Twist Mountain. But is that really what's driving her to act like a stubborn little brat? What good would hitching a ride on a plane do us? Or rather, how in the world does she expect us to go about doing that? Heck, I think we'd have better luck going through Twist Mountain. At least there wouldn't be any psychos with guns down that route.
Aurelia couldn't grasp why Destiny thought it would be a good idea to leave the forest entirely when everything they needed was already available there. The abandoned building provided them with shelter, and it was stocked with enough rations to keep them well-fed for a long period of time. The only thing they were lacking was security—their encounter with Lynn proved that the forest was by no means safe. While the particular grunt's bark was far worse than her bite, running into more skillful, experienced members of Team Plasma was a looming possibility. Colby had insisted that the area was under investigation, which was what compelled Aurelia to return to the mysterious building in the first place. As she never did find what she had been searching for, she and Destiny were left unarmed and defenseless to the dangers that may have been lurking in the woods.
While it was true that leaving the area would eliminate the threat of Team Plasma, doing so wouldn't be possible unless the hybrids risked putting themselves in jeopardy. Aurelia didn't know if Mistralton City was included in the area Team Plasma was investigating—no matter, the intent of the gun-wielding man had been enough evidence to support her theory that entering civilization would be a dangerous endeavor. When people meet someone strange or different, they never look past the surface. Humans are visual creatures, and that holds true in the way they perceive others: it all comes down to the way people look and act, whereas what's inside—what truly makes a person who they are—is merely an afterthought. They see things in terms of "what" rather than "who" and jump to conclusions without paying heed to anything but their own prejudiced notions. Yeah, maybe we hybrids really are a menace to humanity, but is anybody going to listen to what we have to say? That's how society always has and will operate as a whole, and that ignorant lunatic proves my point. Destiny must understand that if she thinks we should go somewhere else, but she's not putting two and two together. We can't just go strolling into Mistralton, even if we're only going to be there for a few seconds. We'll be met with that same degree of intolerance—intolerance strong enough that it might just be fatal.
Even Aurelia was susceptible to the behavior she appeared to detest so strongly. Of course, she had no way of knowing the passive purple insect was fitted with a human brain until she revealed her true form. If Destiny truly were a Pokémon, would it have been any less wrong to make those assumptions about her? Was that state of mind justified when applied to anything other than a human? This impetuous instinct most likely served as a reminder of mankind's archaic past: throughout prehistory, "strange" was synonymous with "dangerous" and thus anything that deviated from the norm was viewed as a threat. This allowed man to fear hostile Pokémon in an era prior to when domestication was conceived, but was this intuition still necessary among the advancements and developments of modern times? Why did humans continue to judge Pokémon simply by what they saw on the outside? Was there more beyond their outer layers? Aurelia had been convinced that Destiny was a non-sapient creature purely because she did not look human and could not speak her language, which were traits carried by most Pokémon of the world—what did this say about what divided people and Pokémon?
Despite Aurelia's objections to the idea, the prospect of leaving all her troubles behind her and starting anew—something she had so heavily relied on throughout her life—was especially tempting. If she survived the trip through the city and made it onto a plane, she'd never have to worry about Team Plasma and the vengeful father again. It didn't necessarily mean she would be able to escape prejudice, but it'd at least allow her to slip under the radar of the two groups specifically hunting her down. Let's suppose we do make it out alive. What are we supposed to do for food and shelter? Something tells me that there's not going to be anything like that building wherever we end up, and even if there is, the supplies won't last forever. Of course, that's also a problem where we are now. Well, the airport is run by Skyla, isn't it? Just thinking about the magenta-haired girl was enough to make Aurelia grimace. As pushy as she is, she's still a Gym Leader, and Gym Leaders are figures of authority. If anything, that whole spiel about seeing Pokémon for their true selves should mean that she'd be more willing to accept us. If we can reason with her, we might be able to arrange something: a designated safe place, or some sort of special protection. Anything would be nice.
Another thing stood out in Aurelia's mind: the arrival of the airplane itself. Who travels by plane at this hour? What a coincidence! I mean, I would've never made the connection between Destiny's movements and an airplane if the thing hadn't shown up overhead. Being a highly superstitious person, Aurelia was inclined to believe the aircraft's chance appearance was more than just a coincidence. Could fate be pointing her in the right direction for once, or was it merely leading her into a trap? It's a sign. It's gotta be a sign. I don't know if it's a good omen or a bad one, but there's no other explanation for this. I guess there's only one way to find out what it means.
"The airport," the Arceus hybrid finally remarked, looking into Destiny's hopeful eyes. "That's what you've been trying to tell me—you want to go to the airport."
The insect let out a noise that Aurelia could only describe as a cheer, bobbing her broad head vigorously. She then came to an abrupt halt, as if she detected a hint of apprehension in the other hybrid's tone. Destiny clicked her metal claws together and raised them to her face, and Aurelia wasn't sure if she was pleading with her or praying.
Figuring it would be a waste of time to explain herself, Aurelia smirked at the sight and turned her back to the insect. "Well, what are you waiting for? Let's get moving."
Destiny was taken aback. She absently lowered her arms to her sides, unsure what to make of her uncannily compliant companion.
When Aurelia noticed she wasn't being followed, she spun on her heel and shot the hybrid a quizzical look. "Make up your mind, will you? You went through all that trouble to tell me where you wanted to go, and now you're just going to stand there and stare at me like I'm an idiot?"
Caught off guard, Destiny cringed at the girl's harsh retort. Once she had recovered, she questioningly moved forward a step, afraid that Aurelia would snap at her again.
"Come on, hurry up!" the Arceus hybrid urged. She paused, mulling over what she had said. "Well, don't use your jets. If we want to make it through the city without being caught, we'll need to be as discreet as possible. I won't hesitate to drag you along again if that's what it comes to." Aside from that, what else could Aurelia do to better their odds of survival? It would help if I knew exactly where the airport is. I've been to Mistralton before, but I never thought it'd be important to memorize the layout of the city. Des seemed to know where she was going. Thinking back, she asked, "Hey, didn't you say you're from Mistralton?"
The insect confirmed the girl's suspicion with a dip of her head.
"Great," mumbled the other hybrid approvingly. Pointing in the direction Destiny had been travelling, Aurelia said, "I take it the airport's that way?"Destiny nodded again. It would've been much more helpful if she could've provided more elaborate details about the airport's location, but Aurelia settled for the information she had been given. She hoped Destiny would step in and deter her if she tried to go the wrong way. There are times where she seems so oblivious to what's going on around her, like when I was making fun of her. I don't think she picked up a thing. I wonder if it's some kind of defense mechanism.
Aurelia hung close to the edge of the forest, keeping an eye out for anything that resembled a runway. From what I remember, that airport takes up a good portion of the city. It shouldn't be too hard to miss. As it housed only a couple of planes, Unova's sole airport was relatively small compared to those used by commercial airlines in other regions. In spite of this, the girl had thought the sprawling runway was an impressive sight to see.
Aurelia's progress was impeded by her maddening paranoia. She couldn't shake the feeling that deciding to follow through with Destiny's plan was a bad idea. The hybrid constantly had to remind herself that the plodding footsteps behind her belonged to Destiny, and she still found herself glancing over her shoulder with every few steps. She made sure to tread lightly, even though her attempt to keep a low profile was made pointless by the insect's lumbering movements. She'd flinch every time one of them snapped a twig or rustled tall grass, and she nearly toppled over when Destiny suddenly screeched at the top of her lungs.
"Great Arceus, what the hell was that for? You've already done enough to tell that madman where we are! Be quiet!" Aurelia scolded sharply, her voice reduced to a whisper. The purple creature, whose legs were shaking violently, limply pointed at a small shape by her feet. Aurelia held her breath as she studied the lifeless figure.
The child—Aurelia couldn't tell if it was a boy or girl—looked to be around Colby's age. Though it was human in shape, several of its features looked odd and unnatural. Its body was abnormally petite, and it was covered with a fine layer of pale pink hair. Positioned high on the sides of its head were a pair of pointed ears, and its large, baby blue eyes stared vacantly. A slender tail poked from the small of its back. The most disturbing detail was the tiny bullet hole carved into the side of its skull.
Fate just doesn't want to let anyone grow up, Aurelia observed, biting her lip. I guess this means the hunter's already covered this area, but that doesn't mean he won't be coming back. It's astonishing that he was able to kill a hybrid while they were changing—the process only takes two minutes at most. I suppose a half-transformed hybrid makes for an easy target, since it's not like they can get up and run away. She gazed out into the city, taking notice of her proximity to a neighborhood. If that weirdo fired a gun this close to where people live, surely someone must have called the police. Well, unless they see him as a hero and think he's doing the right thing. The thought made Aurelia feel ill.
Destiny let out a series of whimpers as she hid her face behind her pillar-like arms. Aurelia groaned in annoyance. Wonderful, another thing for her to freak out about. We don't need to go through this again. She sternly grabbed one of the insect's arms and shoved it away from her head. "Knock it off," the girl hissed. "What's in the past is in the past, and there's nothing we can do about it. Unless you want to end up like that kid, you better get walking." Destiny squealed softly as Aurelia tugged her forward, nearly causing her to trip over the child's corpse.
Relief filled Aurelia's mind when she made out a long, flat clearing in the distance—the runway. Much to her vexation, she saw that there was a chain link fence protectively wrapped around the stretch of land. Not daring to leave the shelter of the trees to get a closer look, she carefully scouted the barrier for a gap or break. When her search turned out fruitless, she shook her head disdainfully. I guess we'll have to climb it. I can manage, but I'm worried about Des. She can barely even walk as that dumb thing.
Aurelia glanced both ways before darting toward the fence. Catching her breath, she clenched her teeth and thrust herself up. The fence rattled noisily as she climbed, causing fear to spike in her heart. Motivated by the thought of the man shooting her from behind, she furiously clambered to the top. The hybrid swung her legs over the fence and let herself drop to the other side, hitting the ground hard on her knees. She gripped the fence and pulled herself to her feet, peering out into the forest. Destiny was staring back at her, her head cocked in its usual pitifully clueless way. Knitting her brows, Aurelia beckoned her forward in frustration.
Destiny skeptically pressed forward, her gaze locked on the Arceus hybrid. Too concerned with making sure she didn't fall down, the insect didn't bother to double-check her surroundings. Destiny's painfully slow movements kept Aurelia on edge; she was just waiting to hear a gunshot and watch the purple creature keel over. The girl wondered how much, if any, protection her metal exoskeleton offered. I think it helped with her fall earlier. She probably would've ended up as a pancake otherwise. Aurelia didn't know if that meant she was bulletproof, but she found it amusing that a Pokémon that was pathetically ineffectual in every other attribute was so incredibly durable. I guess it's necessary. I can't imagine she'd live very long if her armor was as useless as the rest of her. Aurelia laughed to herself at the thought of the creature tripping and shattering like glass.
When Destiny finally reached the fence, she tipped her head back, intimidated by the height. She then began to stare at Aurelia again, as if she were awaiting instruction. "Go for it," the Arceus hybrid muttered coolly, not sure of what else to tell her. If they weren't risking their lives, Aurelia would've thought it'd be entertaining to watch Destiny try to scale the fence, but as this clearly was not the case, she didn't look forward to seeing her struggle. The insect had only one inflexible digit per hand, meaning that she wouldn't be able to hold onto anything. Additionally, the weight of her cannon would most likely result in her tipping over and falling backwards.
Destiny kept still, pondering the same possibilities. For several heartbeats, they both stood in silence, puzzled. Growing impatient, Aurelia finally blurted, "Use the jets." She regretted her words as soon as they came out of her mouth—the sight of the insect blasting herself into the sky so close to the city would undoubtedly act as a signal fire to the gun-wielding man. That appeared to be the only option, though—surely they couldn't turn around after making it this far.
Destiny appeared to share her apprehension, as she replied by rapidly shaking her head. "Just do it," Aurelia begged, fighting off her uneasiness. "You just need to make it over the fence. After that, it won't matter if anyone saw you. We'll run for it. Once we find Skyla, we'll be safe. No one would think of firing on a Gym Leader's property." At least, that's what I hope. Aurelia swallowed hard, still worried that the residents of Mistralton City were as enthusiastic about slaying the hybrids as Team Plasma was.
The insect whined, cowardly taking a step back and continuing to shake her head. "Do it," Aurelia repeated angrily, tightening her grip on the chains. "There's no other choice. If you want to live, use your jets." When Destiny didn't do anything, Aurelia shook the fence and screamed, "Are you listening to me? You need to use the jets! Please, use the jets!" She took a moment to calm herself, and then stammered, “Every person in my life has abandoned me, and the same thing is going to happen with you! But you—you’re different. You have a chance to prevent it. You can tell fate to go screw itself! All you need to do is get over the fence. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Please, I’m sick of watching everyone around me die! Use the jets!”
Stunned by the desperation in Aurelia's pleading voice, the trembling Destiny let out a choking sob. Dropping her gaze to the ground, she sullenly approached the fence and poked her claws through the chains. Aurelia backed away hurriedly as flames ignited in the soles of the creature's feet, forcing her body into the air. Destiny scrambled to keep her hands on the fence, which did little to slow her propulsion. The insect shrieked as she shot past the top of the fence, momentarily forgetting how to deactivate her jets. When she came to her senses, she leaned to the side before extinguishing both jets simultaneously and plummeting feet-first. Tucking in her legs, Destiny twisted her body and landed on her side. Dazed but uninjured, the hybrid flipped onto her belly and made a timid croaking noise.
"That wasn't so bad, was it? I knew you could do it." Aurelia marched up to the hybrid once she had landed, and, in spite of her amiable words, fiercely yanked her upright. "We're almost there. We just need to start running." When Destiny was on her feet, Aurelia raced down the runway with all her might, dragging the stumbling insect along behind her.
It then became evident that Aurelia had not yet fully conquered the cruelty of fate.