TEEN: The Origin of Storms

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  1. #1
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Default The Origin of Storms

    Hello everyone. What follows is the latest version of my very first piece of Pokémon fanfiction. The original version was written between the summers of '03 and '04.

    CONTENT ADVISORY, A.K.A. FAIR WARNING: This story is rated PG-13 for violence, brief mild language, and other things that are just not very cheerful.

    This story does not strictly or entirely adhere to any form of the established Pokémon canon.

    I choose to use a variant of the common noun method when it comes to capitalizing things such as the names of pokémon species.

    Discretion is advised.

    SEEMINGLY OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: This really goes without saying, but I do not own Pokémon. Opinions and statements expressed in this story do not necessarily reflect my own. Views expressed by one or more members of any given species within the context of this story are not intended to represent the views of all members of that species within the context of this story or any other context.

    Contents

    Chapter 1 – The Haven
    Chapter 2 – Just a Little Favor
    Chapter 3 – In Review
    Chapter 4 – The Messenger
    Chapter 5 – The Fire and the Air
    Chapter 6 – Hope
    Chapter 7 – One on One
    Chapter 8 – Phasing Forward, Looking Back
    Chapter 9 – Altered States
    Chapter 10 – Embracing the Predator
    Chapter 11 – The Vault
    Chapter 12 – Hunter of the Shadows
    Chapter 13 – X
    Chapter 14 – Chasing a Rumor
    Chapter 15 – The Swarm
    Chapter 16 – Balance
    Chapter 17 – Lifeforce


    _________________________

    Chapter 1 – The Haven



    He lay down upon a cold, wet patch of grass, though it may as well have been a bed fit for a queen. It was soft and enveloping, like the sudden drowse that was pleasantly consuming him. He yawned, covering his mouth with his hand—her hand, pale-skinned and branching out into five separate fingers.

    This was not his hand. This was not his point of view.

    Something sky-blue appeared over the pale hand—his own, much simpler, fused hand, surrounded by a soft, multicolored glow. He looked into her eyes, though he knew he didn’t have to do so. He knew that they were closed, that their owner slept. He felt a sense of being asleep, too, yet remained awake. After all, it was only
    her sleep, which he happened to be experiencing vicariously, not his own. A second-hand sensation.

    Her last.

    He recoiled from the sudden, stark vacuum where her lifeforce had been and from the pain around the edges of the part of him that had been erased with the entirety of her being. Disarray exploded in his mind—his cumbersome nervous system had not unsynched in time, and now he couldn’t tell for certain whether he was living or dead, whether he was himself or the lifeless figure lying before him. Overwhelmed by these sensations, he staggered backward until something caught under one of his pods and nearly tripped him.

    His perception, all of his many senses, abruptly froze. For a moment, reality returned. Then he saw the object on which he had just stepped—something round in shape, red and white in color—and the distinction between him and the one whom he’d just lost was at last entirely swallowed by chaos, for this pokéball was his—but also
    hers

    The pokéball rattled as it was lifted up in his shaking hands. The vestigial joints at his knuckles constricted around it, and with a final, caterwauling scream tearing its way through his throat, his psyche shattered as the pokéball he clutched did likewise…


    * * *


    The harsh sound of the pokéball’s implosion blasted him once again out of his brain’s unique perversion of the sleeping mind: two dreams, two perspectives, experienced at the same time.

    But now, as he reminded himself, they truly were only dreams, no matter how twisted, and nothing more. The pain was not really present, just a shadow of the feeling that was somewhere between remembered and imagined, and it was now confined to those dreams. It no longer besieged his conscious mind, no longer burned and frayed his nerves.

    Peace had been hard-won, however, through the efforts of many over years in the Haven. Lazily, still yet to fully awaken, his eyes opened and their inner membranes slid back to reveal a final view of his room there. It was a simple, small space, shut away from the outside world and its rude sun, perpetually shadowed in his preferred darkness. He flexed his spine and his limbs and detached his jaws in a massive yawn. There was a series of faint snaps as his joints relocated, followed by another sound: the trilling of the door alarm.

    As he got to his feet, he saw light blossom gradually in the space around him, a feature of the room for which he was quite grateful. It allowed eyes like his, accustomed to near-total darkness, to more gracefully adjust to the illumination on the other side of the door, which would not open until the light-adjustment process was finished.

    He would have personally preferred for the lights to not come on at all, and perhaps they wouldn’t have to save for the fact that the Haven’s staff were almost exclusively chansey. Their kind did not possess anything like the night-vision of his own and thus required light to be active and able to perform their sometimes critical work (though he’d often wondered why they didn’t just employ some nocturnal species to tend to the dark-sighted).

    At any rate, he was able to tolerate light to a degree, for he was used to it. Living with humans (and the hours that those humans kept) for part of his life had caused him to develop diurnal habits.

    He suspected that he’d probably end up half-blind before his first century and wholly so halfway through his second, but it would be worth it in his opinion. He had loved those years that he’d spent with humans, and outside of the occasional nightmare, he could now recall them with more joy than sorrow.

    The door slid open, and in stepped a chansey. A nametag clipped to her fur identified her as Teresa, at which Esaax smiled; she was his favorite among the staff at the Haven. She carried a form attached to a clipboard; beaming proudly, she turned it around so that the paper faced him.

    Wobbuffet, male, the paper read in unown-script. Designation: Esaax Evergray. He’d been denying that name and the history that came with it ever since his new life among the humans had begun, but now, in his “second new life”, he embraced it once more.

    After all, once one gets over a thing like a spontaneous extinction, a little adolescent heartbreak is nothing…

    He shook his head clear of such thoughts, determined to stay in the present, and returned his attention to the form. His eyes scanned its surface quickly, skimming over several more lines of personal data until he found he was looking for: 4/15/14…

    “Well, this is it!” Teresa said cheerfully, matching Esaax’s thoughts at the moment almost word-for-word. Today, he would leave. Today, at last, he could. “Are you ready for your final tests?” the chansey asked.

    “Yes, ma’am,” Esaax answered, careful as always to prevent the automatic door from closing on his tail as he followed the chansey out of the room.

    “Now, you do realize this means you’ll have to go see Adn just one last time.”

    “I’m not scared of Adn,” the wobbuffet said, and for the most part he wasn’t. Nonetheless, his tone did suggest some sort of dread.

    “Never said you were, but still, I know his method isn’t the most comfortable…”

    “…But it’s what it takes and you’re gonna do it anyway, so…” Esaax shrugged in mock surrender.

    “Right. Anyway,” Teresa said as she led Esaax down the hall, “we’ll be saving him for last, which is fine since we have other things to take care of anyway. We’ll just get you in when he’s finished; he’s with another patient at the moment.”

    “Is he, now.”

    “Yes, a relicanth.”

    “Ouch.”

    “Oh yes, he’s been at it for three days. But he is almost done with him; I made sure.”

    Another door opened to admit the two of them. Therein were all the necessary resources for a basic physical exam, including a living resource, a pokémon who served as Teresa’s assistant—or, more precisely, as her hands. Specifically, this was a mr. mime by the name of Madeline. Her large and agile hands were well-suited for tools and equipment made for the very similar hands of humans, the sort of things for which the tiny, nearly-featureless paws of a chansey tended to be inadequate.

    “Why, look at you!” Madeline said. “We don’t really need to look him over, do we, Terry? He’s the very incarnation of health right here, I’d say.”

    She came up to stand before him and studied him with an eyebrow raised and a finger resting on her lips in a way that one might gaze at a work of art. Then she smiled and said, “Still working out, I see. Bet we’ll fill this place twice over after you get out with all the women you’ll drive crazy, you handsome blue devil.”

    Flirting and teasing from Madeline—that wasn’t new. She hadn’t given him a break in that department even once since soon after she’d first met him. Esaax sincerely hoped that she was just joking around, but if she wasn’t… Esaax tried very, very hard not to think about that possibility.

    At any rate, her observation was correct—or the part about him working out was, anyway. Esaax had indeed been on a devout physical training regimen for quite some time now. Though Madeline liked to make him out to be some kind of beefcake, such was not the case at all. The effects of his training, though visible, were not dramatic. Esaax was no bodybuilder; the point of his training was simply to help him harness and become aware of strength that he already possessed.

    The idea to start him on such a program had originally arisen from the pokéball incident—that had actually happened, not just in his dreams. As was common among his kind, Esaax hadn’t known the full magnitude of his own physical strength on account of not really being able to bring it to bear against another living creature; as such, it had been suggested to Esaax that it might do him good to become conscious of his “idle power” lest anything else fall victim to it.

    He’d agreed to this instantly. All his life, he’d broken things by accident; the chance to learn how to leave his klutzy side in the past was irresistible to him. Soon after he’d begun this training, he’d discovered that the exercise also had the benefit of keeping his mind as well as his body busy and strong and had thus come to appreciate it all the more.

    While he no longer needed it in the therapeutic sense, he still enjoyed it as a hobby. He’d often wondered where he might train once he was released and had ultimately decided on the old human gym down the street, which fighting-types frequented.

    He imagined that if he did go there, some machamp or maybe a hitmon of some kind would likely pick a fight with him—he figured that they’d be unable to resist the allure of a psychic that they could whale on without fear of eating psybeam. One or another of them would just let loose with the mega punches and seismic tosses, only to have those attacks thrown right back in their face, doubled in power…

    The thought of such a thing was just too funny to Esaax. He might never have stopped laughing if his internal comedy weren’t interrupted then by something cold attaching itself to his chest. He looked at the stethoscope for a moment, and then his gaze traveled up to meet that of the mr. mime who’d put it there.

    “Aw, come on, Teresa. That’s just lazy,” Esaax said, though he did so lightheartedly. “You’ve never had to have her do this part before.”

    “She insisted,” said the chansey.

    Madeline just stood there with a smile that suggested that she had far more on her mind than anything Esaax’s heart was doing.

    “In fact,” Teresa went on, “Madeline asked if she could handle the entire examination herself. And I told her she could.”

    Esaax could do nothing but groan.

    * * *


    Minutes later, Esaax left the room alongside Teresa, who was failing miserably to stifle her laughter.

    “I’m sorry,” she said between giggles, half-breathless and on the verge of tears, “but you should have seen your face!”

    Esaax just scowled, his face flushed in the deep blue shade of his humiliation.

    “She just wanted to give you something to remember her by, that’s all,” Teresa said.

    “How very thoughtful of her.” Esaax’s voice hinted at a desire to vomit. “So now what?”

    “Well, you could have your retaliatory empathy test now, or would you rather have something to eat first?”

    “Heh. That is such a ridiculous question.”

    “I know,” Teresa said with a chuckle.

    The two stopped in their tracks as another chansey stepped into their path from around the corner. “He’s here,” the newcomer said.

    “Oh good,” Teresa responded. “Tell him to wait in the cafeteria, okay?” She turned to Esaax. “I forgot to tell you, Esaax. A friend of yours has come to pick you up. You can chat with him over breakfast.”

    “A friend? Who?” Esaax asked.

    “Go and find out for yourself! I’m going to check up on Adn again and see if he’s anywhere near ready. See you later!”

    Esaax watched Teresa waddle off, then made his way to the cafeteria, feeling awfully puzzled for someone who was supposed to have achieved clarity at last.

    _________________________

    Next time: Just who is this “friend” who’s come to pay Esaax a visit? Find out in the next chapter! See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 08:32 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  2. #2
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Sounds like an interesting beginning. And I like that you're using a Wobby in what looks to be a serious role--because of the one on the show, they keep being used for comic relief despite being OU and all that.

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    ^FEAR THE DITTO!!^ Morpher01's Avatar
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    O M G!

    SIKE?!

    WHAT THE FRAK?! XDDD

    Yeah...

    Anyway...

    Knowing you and Communication back on Serebii, I read this as a closet reader. Now, I will review.

    Let's see...Esaax the Wobbufett. I guess I should've expected it, eh? Knowing how much you like Wobbufett.

    Here's something weird: a part of me has a slight urge to know what Madeline did to Esaax. The sane part of me wants the other part to shut up and leave it alone. I'm more inclined to let myself listen to the sane eighteenth but at the same time think about what happened to make the first part (a nineteenth) happy.

    In short, I don't wanna know what happened there...even though I personally don't believe in the phrase "curiosity killed the cat"...or, as Pokemon would put it, "curiousity killed the Delcatty".

    The rest of the chapter was good, as expected from the writer I've seen.

    Please, keep going. Having seen the fic previously on Serebii, I'd like to re-read it.
    My first trainer fic (and first fic on Bulbagarden):
    Proving Grounds: Kanto

  4. #4
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Blackjack Palazzo:
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack Palazzo View Post
    Sounds like an interesting beginning. And I like that you're using a Wobby in what looks to be a serious role--because of the one on the show, they keep being used for comic relief despite being OU and all that.
    One thing that I've always been interested in is taking things and characters that are normally shown in comedic or lighthearted contexts and using them in a darker or more serious context. ^^

    That said, though, there is still a bit of humor here and there (largely involving characters who have yet to appear), but the overall tone of the story's pretty dark.

    Morpher01:
    Quote Originally Posted by Morpher01 View Post
    Here's something weird: a part of me has a slight urge to know what Madeline did to Esaax. The sane part of me wants the other part to shut up and leave it alone. I'm more inclined to let myself listen to the sane eighteenth but at the same time think about what happened to make the first part (a nineteenth) happy.

    In short, I don't wanna know what happened there...even though I personally don't believe in the phrase "curiosity killed the cat"...or, as Pokemon would put it, "curiousity killed the Delcatty".
    Heh heh... Well, what actually happened there is something I'll leave open to individual interpretation. Personally, I'd imagine that Madeline would find a way to make anything that may have happened an awkward and embarrassing experience for Esaax, though--at the very least, I'm sure she'd say things that he'd prefer she didn't. XP

    Thanks to both of you for your kind words, and thanks to everyone who's read the first chapter. ^^ Now, on with the second...

    _________________________

    Chapter 2 – Just a Little Favor



    With a large amount of food in tow, Esaax scanned the cafeteria for the mystery visitor but found no sign of him. So he opted to stop at a table, set his tray down, and let this “friend” come to him.

    It wasn’t long before his eyes picked out an arbok who was just making his entrance. The arbok spotted Esaax in the same instant and rushed to greet him without hesitation, failing to notice both the skiploom whom he ran over in the process and the sound of her cursing him out in her squeaky voice immediately afterward.

    “Syr? What in the world are you doing way out here?” Esaax rose and gave his old friend a massive hug as the arbok came to a stop beside the table. A bowl of oatmeal seemed to fall out of thin air, spilling all over Syr’s chest. Esaax had been balancing it on his head and had forgotten about it. “Oops…”

    “That’s okay,” Syr said through gritted teeth, shaking off the hot oatmeal (which thankfully didn’t land on anyone else).

    “Oh man, I haven’t seen you in years,” Esaax said before taking his seat once more and then devouring an entire watmel berry in one bite. “Thought I’d never see you again—what are you even doing all the way out here?” he asked again.

    “I live here now,” the arbok replied. “I found a pretty decent place. In fact, you can stay there for a while if you’d like. Would you?”

    “Don’t really have anywhere else to go, so yeah, sure. Hey, I’ll even move in with you. Wouldn’t want you to be all alone, after all…”

    “But I’m not alone. I adopted a son.”

    Esaax hadn’t seen that one coming. He nearly choked on a brownie. “Okay… so I’m gonna be sharing a house with a giant, venomous serpent and his bitey little snakeling?” he said jokingly, an eyebrow raised and a smirk on his face.

    Syr gave him an odd look. “He’s not a snakeling, he’s a snorunt. His name is Jeneth, but we just call him Jen. And yes, he knows bite, but he doesn’t just randomly use that on people.”

    “Snorunt? This is the wrong climate for those.”

    “Tell his kind that. Supposedly, a bunch of glalie decided to settle in these parts, though I can’t imagine why they would’ve wanted to, and most of the people I know say that they’ve seen at least one around. I still haven’t, and I hope I never do.” He shuddered. “Brrr. I get the creeps just thinking about them…”

    “Huh. So where is this Jen?”

    “Waiting in the car.”

    “You left a baby outside in a car?”

    “He’s not a baby, he’s a young man,” Syr said.

    “Whatever. You still shouldn’t have left an ice-type out there under the sun.”

    “He’s in the shade, Esaax. It’s his car; he drives it, and he gets to decide where to park it.”

    A snorunt driving a car. No, nothing weird about that image… Esaax decided to turn away from the topic of Jen and back to his gluttony.

    “You still haven’t explained how someone your size could possibly need to eat a third of his own weight every day,” Syr said teasingly.

    “You still haven’t explained how someone your size can only need to eat once a month,” Esaax retorted. “But who cares? What I really wanna know about is—” Esaax saw Teresa heading their way. “Whoops, looks like we’ll have to talk about it later.” He shoved the remainder of his breakfast down his throat at once and waved at the chansey.

    “What’s going on?” Syr asked.

    “Retaliatory empathy test. It’s just this exercise to make sure that some of my more… uh, complicated systems are working all right. It’s kind of neat—wanna watch?”

    “You can do more than just watch,” said a voice from beside Syr.

    Syr had not bothered to look and see whom Esaax had waved at; as such, Teresa’s unexpected voice nearly scared him right out of his skin. “Waaugh!” he shouted.

    “Daria could seriously use a break,” Teresa told Esaax, unfazed by the arbok’s outburst. “You could participate in her place,” she then added to Syr.

    Syr gained a somewhat worried expression, still unsure of just what the chansey and wobbuffet were talking about, let alone if it was anything of which he should want to have any part.

    “Please?” Esaax pleaded in his cheesiest mock-begging tone. “It’ll be fun, I promise. Please?”

    Syr sighed. “Well…”

    * * *


    Next thing Syr knew, they’d brought him into a very large and entirely empty room. It didn’t look at all equipped for any sort of medical testing. “I still don’t get it,” he admitted to Teresa. “What is it that we’re going to be doing here, exactly?”

    “We need to make sure his retaliatory abilities are in good shape. To do this, they must be triggered. That’s where you’ll come in,” the chansey said.

    Syr was now almost certain that he knew what was being asked of him and strongly hoped that he was wrong. Reluctantly, he reached for confirmation. “Esaax, what do I have to do to trigger these… abilities?”

    “Attack me.”

    Syr had dearly wished to be wrong about that… “Oh no, no, no, no, no. No. Come on, you honestly can’t expect me to… I mean, seriously…” The arbok began looking frantically about for an escape route. He nearly tied himself into a knot doing so. “Please, don’t make me do this. Please!”

    Snapping Syr out of it with a good pound to his head, Teresa lowered her voice to a very serious tone for his “ears” only. “It will smart, yes. But it’s crucial that we do this. It’s to make sure his tail’s all right. He’s sustained some kind of trauma to it before, and very serious complications can arise from a tail injury in his species—and has once before, in his case. We do not want him going into crisis again—do you know what that is?”

    Syr shook his head.

    “Autoempathic crisis is a vicious cycle caused by damage to a wobbuffet’s tail—or more specifically, to the pseudobrain in the tail, which is the source of their ability to use retaliatory attacks,” Teresa began to explain. “In crisis, the pseudobrain fails to distinguish pain with an internal cause from pain caused by an attacking enemy. It retaliates, involuntarily, by inflicting twice the pain on its source as usual—but with the source being the wobbuffet itself, it only creates a new, greater pain that it then must also counter. The cycle continues repeating, doubling the pain again and again, until the agony reaches a level that the wobbuffet’s body just can’t bear any longer.

    “I was there when he suffered his last crisis—it was awful. The convulsions, the screaming… God, how he screamed…” she whispered, sounding lost in the memory for a moment. “He was almost too far gone by the time we managed to stabilize him, and the dosage of painkillers it took to break the cycle nearly killed him in and of itself.”

    “My God…” Syr said almost voicelessly, both amazed and alarmed. “You know… just for the record, I think the ‘trauma’ to his tail you mentioned was someone stepping on it,” he said, not naming that someone out of respect for the dearly departed. “On more than one occasion, actually.”

    “Yikes,” Teresa said, grimacing. “Well, anyway… the damage to his retaliatory empathy centers can never be fully repaired. He’ll never be entirely out of the woods. We may be forced to… well, to remove his poor tail if it gets out of hand again. So hopefully you see why it’s important that we be made aware of any continuing problems he might have—we need to be able to take care of them before they get a chance to blow up in his face again. Will you help us?”

    “Of course,” Syr said. “Still, I don’t really want to hurt him…”

    “Just one acid and one bite,” Teresa said. “One special attack and one physical attack so that we can gauge both responses.”

    “You’re not testing his destiny bond?”

    “Luckily for you, no.”

    “Okay… okay, I can do that.” Syr turned toward Esaax and slithered somewhat closer to him, still nervous but knowing that he had to go through with this for Esaax’s sake. He called upon his acid technique, careful as he did so to keep the corrosive fluid relatively weak so as not to hurt his friend—and by extension, himself—more than was necessary. The acid swiftly filled his mouth, and he spat it in a forceful spray toward Esaax.

    Esaax was ready. His tail rose, its oculons collecting a vast spectrum of data about his opponent and any incoming attacks. Focusing hard, he opened the pathways to his retaliatory empathy centers. Doing this so consciously and deliberately was difficult for any wobbuffet, but years of practice had finally allowed him to master this ability. A bright pink aura flared around him as the acid hit its mark and seared the skin of his left arm, sending an amplified echo of the pain that the poison-type attack had caused back unto the arbok.

    Syr shouted in pain and recoiled as he suffered the effects of Esaax’s mirror coat, surprised by its force—it seemed that he hadn’t succeeded in weakening his acid attack quite as much as he’d intended. “Sorry…” he said, at which Esaax made a dismissive gesture despite the pain that was visible in his expression.

    “Very good,” Teresa said to Esaax. “Now this time, try to suppress it. Hit him a little harder, Syr,” she added, earning a rather uneasy look from the arbok.

    This time, Esaax braced himself. His efforts to develop his abilities had enhanced them to a point where it took very little to set them off. As he took Syr’s second acid attack in the other arm, he had to fight hard to suppress his body’s urge to retaliate. Luckily for Syr, Esaax succeeded.

    “Excellent! Syr, change attacks,” Teresa commanded.

    Syr lunged forward in a bite attack, his fangs taking on the violet-black glow of dark-type energy as they connected with Esaax’s side—he made a very conscious effort not to let his teeth sink in too deeply, however, still intent on causing both Esaax and himself as little pain as possible. An orange flash heralded what was nonetheless a very strong counter attack dealt in response, and the arbok was sent reeling back with a scream.

    “What the…” Syr’s voice faltered as he struggled somewhat to pick himself back up off of the ground, panting slightly. “What was that all about?” he demanded once he caught his breath, looking quite shaken.

    “You just hit a psychic pokémon with a dark attack. Figure it out,” Teresa replied. “Now bite him again.”

    Syr made a sound very much like that of a scared baby growlithe, with the puppy eyes to match.

    “He’ll hold that back this time. You ought to be fine,” Teresa assured him.

    Trembling, Syr approached the wobbuffet again, stopped in front of him, and gave one of his forearms a very weak little nibble, with a negligible amount of dark energy accompanying the attack.

    “You’ll have to do better than that,” Esaax said.

    Syr bit him harder—barely harder.

    “Come on, that one didn’t count, either!”

    “Do it, Syr,” Teresa said rather sternly.

    “I don’t want to!” Syr cried.

    Do it!” Teresa ordered.

    “Okay, okay!” In his haste, Syr’s jaws snapped shut on their target so hard that both the sound of the strike itself and the cry of pain that the bite attack elicited from Esaax echoed in the room for several seconds. The arbok quickly let go of Esaax and cringed, but there was no orange flash and no painful retaliation.

    There was, however, an irregular semicircle of deep punctures around Esaax’s chest and left shoulder. The wobbuffet panted as he stared, quite astonished, at the wounds. Syr stared at the damage as well, looking equally surprised and fairly apologetic.

    Teresa managed to smile proudly at Esaax. “Congratulations,” she said. “If your tail can resist that, it can probably resist anything.” A frown swiftly found its place on her face once more as she watched the rivulets of cobalt-colored blood now trickling from Esaax’s wounds. “Looks like the prize you’ve just won for passing your test is a healthy dose of hyper potion…”

    _________________________

    Next time: Before Esaax can step out into his future, he must first take a little trip back into his past, courtesy of a regression therapist with a most unusual method. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 08:37 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  5. #5
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Chapter 3 – In Review



    Esaax’s wounds were cleaned and repaired, leaving only a faint series of scars where the stronger of Syr’s bites had connected and nothing at all of his lesser injuries. Just as his healing was completed, he was given the message that Adn was ready for him. Esaax told Syr to find someplace comfortable to wait. Then, taking a deep, steadying breath, he stepped into Adn’s office of his own accord where once he would have had to be pushed.

    Behind that door stood a blue-haired gardevoir by the name of Adn, who was the Haven’s psychic regression therapist. His method was to make patients relive various moments in their pasts and gauge their present states of mind by their conscious and subconscious emotional reactions to their induced recollections. Despite the marathon session that he was reported to have just endured, he still looked as far from exhaustion as one could possibly be.

    As always, not a word was spoken and no signal was made as Adn and his patient took their places. The scene of the office blurred and warped, then was swiftly replaced by very different surroundings. Once again, Esaax found himself thrust into a perfectly vivid replica of a scene from his memory. Now standing in this bygone time and place like a tourist in his own past, his regression began…

    * * *


    Esaax was born fifty-four years ago to the Evergray clan of the caves south of Blackthorn. His childhood was quiet and uneventful; not much changed from night to night until Esaax reached his mid-thirties. It was there and then, at the dawn of his adult life, that one evening brought something new—something that would alter the course of his life forever.

    From faraway Hoenn, a nomadic branch of a clan called the Fade somehow journeyed across the sea and into Evergray territory. The foreigners were readily welcomed and allowed to stay as honorary members of the community while in the area.

    Among the visitors was a female by the name of Ntairow. She and Esaax began spending time together and soon bonded, first as friends and then on other, more intimate levels.

    Then, only a few months after arriving, the Fade moved on. Though Ntairow demanded to stay, and Esaax offered up his own pleas for her to remain with the Evergray clan, the elders of the Fade would not allow it. Ntairow was forced to depart with the rest of her clan, held and carried away in the arms of her people, leaving Esaax behind.

    Esaax refused to accept this. He left the caves and tried to follow the Fade through the mountains, but he failed to catch up with them. The nomads were relatively swift, hardy, and used to traveling, whereas Esaax was out of shape. Thus it was that he collapsed there on the mountain trail under his very first sunrise.

    He lay there for hours, breathless, heartsick, hungry, sunburned, and alone. Then some very strange creatures came up the mountain trail and discovered him. They were humans, and they had come in search of unusual and uncommon pokémon, which were to be given away as prizes at the Goldenrod Game Corner. Drained of life as he was, Esaax could do nothing to resist the red beam that pulled him into a very strange state of unbeing.

    Week after week went by as Esaax remained in the confining void of what the humans called a “pokéball”. He was let out only to be fed, and the portions given to him were furthermore much too small and too infrequent for his liking. As time passed, he lost all hope of ever finding Ntairow again. When he learned that being the first and only wobbuffet acquired thus far by the Game Corner meant that he had a price in game tokens that virtually no one would be able to afford, he also lost all hope of ever escaping the empty routine into which his life had fallen.

    Then one day, quite literally against the odds, he
    was afforded. Esaax’s acquisitor was a man from Palmpona, who brought the wobbuffet home as a birthday present for his son, Benny.

    Now in the hands of very different humans, Esaax lived a very different life. Benny liked his new pokémon a great deal, and a strong friendship between the two was quick in forming. Wherever the human boy went, Esaax was taken along with him, and Esaax was never made to go into the pokéball once he’d made it clear how much he disliked it.

    Esaax lived this way for three years, and he loved it. He found himself wanting things to remain just as they were forever. But in Palmpona, it was inevitable for every pokémon to ultimately become fodder for the town’s trading obsession. Though Esaax didn’t understand Benny’s desire to trade him, he agreed to respect the young human’s wishes and allow himself to be put up for trade out of gratitude for the kindness that Benny had shown him.

    As it so happened, the year in which Esaax was involved in the trade expo was the first year in its history in which things would go awry. Thus it was that he accidentally became a member of Team Rocket. His partners consisted of two humans and four pokémon, one of the latter of which was able to speak the humans’ language. Though the Team Rocket way of existence seemed to be a cursed one, Esaax also sometimes found it quite amusing in a strange way—fun, even.

    Esaax’s new owner, Jessie, didn’t really understand much of anything about him, though—not his language, his needs, or his proper use in battle. She also failed to understand his feelings about being kept in a pokéball, but by that time, Esaax had learned how to break out of a pokéball, much to her vexation.

    It was while Esaax was in her possession that the problems with his tail first began to rear their heads. One day found him going into autoempathic crisis and very nearly dying from it. Nearly losing him had the effect of awakening a much greater appreciation for him in Jessie, and she soon became the best human friend that he’d ever had.

    Unfortunately, not long after they had finally connected, the world changed for pokémon—and ended for humans. A plague of fatal sleep mysteriously struck the entire human population all over the globe, bringing extinction to the species—in just a matter of
    hours.

    With Jessie lost in death and something of himself gone along with her, Esaax fled the scene of her demise to wander for days in shock. Sometime later, once his spirit had begun to mend itself, he began seeking old familiarities and acquaintances to use as a foundation on which to rebuild his life. In particular, he sought after his pokémon partners from Team Rocket. However, his quest yielded six no-shows, one rejection, and one successful reunion. That reunion was very promising in the beginning, but ultimately led to tragedy.

    That was the last straw—Esaax’s stability was dealt the killing blow. Once again, he tried to run from his sorrow. Eventually, he found himself in the city of Convergence. It was a place that had been the world’s first fully-integrated community, in which pokémon and humans had lived, worked, and learned as equals. Following the Extinction, many pokémon there continued to live the lifestyles that the humans had taught them, perhaps as an act of remembrance of the lost species.

    But Esaax had no more luck in finding serenity there than he’d had in any of the other places in which he’d searched. He fell into a spiral of sickness and despair that finally culminated with him trying to provoke a houndoom into killing him. She instead took pity on Esaax, delivering him to the Haven and thus to salvation…


    * * *


    With a gentle but nonetheless abrupt severing of mental connections, the session ended. It was still hard for Esaax to believe that over half of a century could be compressed into less than five minutes. As far as he was concerned, though, how it was possible was not important. It was what it determined that mattered.

    Usually, Adn would dismiss Esaax with a simple, psychic signal, not saying a single word. This time, however, much to Esaax’s surprise, Adn spoke to him for the very first time.

    “I see that the sorrows of your history can still evoke pain in you, Esaax,” the gardevoir said.

    Esaax pondered that for a moment. Then he wilted. “You mean I failed the test?”

    Even more unexpected than Adn’s speaking up was Adn’s suddenly bursting into laughter. “No, no!” he said. “You’ve passed! If you had not felt hurt by the memories of sadness in your life, then you would have failed. You ache where it is appropriate, and you rejoice where that is appropriate. For you, that is healthy. Numbness is not.”

    “…So I can go, then?”

    “Yes, you certainly may,” the gardevoir said, smiling proudly. “Farewell, and good luck to you!”

    * * *


    The time to return to the world at large had finally come. As Esaax stood before the exit alongside Syr, he bade farewell to the people who had taken such good care of him. Teresa made him smile, Madeline made him feel slightly ill, and a skiploom whom he didn’t even know just baffled him by doing something very rude with her tiny arms (which Esaax didn’t realize was not intended for him). Adn was not present, apparently already engrossed in another session, but he sent his kind regards with Teresa.

    On the verge of tears, yet beaming like the sun, Esaax thanked everyone for their support and waved one last goodbye. Then he passed through the doors as they opened, emerging into the world for what felt like the first time in eons.

    _________________________

    Next chapter: Esaax and Syr get a summons from a face (or two) from their shared past, but what awaits them if they answer the call? And what, exactly, happened in the past between Esaax and the summoner that’s gotten him in such a perturbed state all of a sudden? See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 08:39 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Oh wow. I didn't think he'd be *that* Wobby...that's interesting.

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    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack Palazzo View Post
    Oh wow. I didn't think he'd be *that* Wobby...that's interesting.
    Yep, indeed he is that wobbuffet. ^^ As I mentioned, I do like to take things and characters that usually have comedic and/or lighthearted purposes and put a darker or more serious spin on them, as I'm doing with him here.

    Thanks again for reading! ^^


    All right, everyone. Just to let you know, this is where the heavier aspects of the story begin to rear their heads—although I don’t think these are quite the things that justify the rating of PG-13 or higher. No, those are still to come…

    _________________________

    Chapter 4 – The Messenger



    The nearest place to park in the shade was five blocks away from the Haven—five blocks to walk under the harsh midday sun, under which Esaax had not been for years. He certainly wasn’t enjoying it, and he continued to wonder how in the world a snorunt could tolerate it at all, shade or no shade. He still halfway expected to find a little gray-and-yellow corpse sitting behind the wheel—or perhaps just a puddle…

    Breaking away from that train of thought and the rather morbid turn that it had decided to take, Esaax thought of something that restored some of his sun-drained spirits. “You know what, Syr? I think I’d really like to drive. You just tell me where to go, and I’ll go there. Think Jan’ll let me?”

    “It’s ‘Jen’, Esaax, not ‘Jon’,” Syr corrected.

    “I said ‘Jan’.”

    “Well, whatever you said, it was wrong. And no, you can’t drive this car.”

    “You know I know perfectly well how to drive a car, Syr,” Esaax said a bit crossly.

    “Not this car. Besides which, I haven’t forgotten your record with motor vehicles. Every time you’d try to drive something, anything, you’d break it or wreck it, or else you’d just—”

    “But they fixed that at the Haven,” Esaax interrupted. “They made me stronger so that I could be more careful and less likely to break things.”

    The arbok at his side raised an eyebrow at him. “Doesn’t it seem like more strength should make someone less careful and more likely to break things?”

    “I’m not gonna wreck it! Just let me drive the stupid thing!”

    “I’ll only say this one more time. Listen very carefully. You can’t drive this car,” Syr said.

    Esaax was about to argue some more, but then he actually saw the car—a copper convertible—for himself and knew at first sight that Syr was absolutely right about it. The wobbuffet couldn’t drive it, no matter how much he wanted to or how carefully he thought he could do so. The driver’s seat had been modified, reshaped expressly for small species to put everything within their reach. The space was so small and everything in it crammed so closely together that it would have been awkward to the point of impossibility for someone Esaax’s size to occupy and use.

    And there was indeed a snorunt behind the wheel. Despite Esaax’s concerns, the ice-type was very much alive and well. Jen scrutinized Esaax through beady little eyes, nibbling every few seconds at a tropical snow cone as he stared. “That’s him?” he asked.

    “Yes, that’s Esaax… Where’d you get that snow cone?” Syr asked.

    “An ice cream truck went by not long ago,” Jen answered, continuing to stare at Esaax. Then he smiled at the wobbuffet with teeth that looked more than capable of taking off an arm. “I’m very delighted to meet you, Esaax. You can ride up front with me—if you want.”

    Esaax shivered, finding that smile more than a little unnerving. Nonetheless, he saw that he didn’t really have much choice with regards to the seating arrangements since Syr was really too big to ride anywhere but in the back, and so Esaax took his place next to the snorunt, albeit reluctantly. The arbok entered the vehicle after him, coiling loosely across the back seats. With everyone on board, they were on their way.

    “So tell me,” Esaax said to Jen shortly after they’d headed off, chatting more out of nervousness than actual interest, “how do you plan to drive this thing once you evolve and don’t have hands anymore?”

    “He’s not evolving,” Syr said.

    “Now, that’s not fair,” said Esaax. “You can’t forbid him to evolve just because you’re scared of—”

    “No, it’s all right,” said Jen. “I don’t want to become a glalie. If he said ‘do it’, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t do it for anyone.”

    “Huh. I always thought it’d be kind of neat to evolve,” said Esaax.

    “You never have?” Jen asked.

    “Well, yeah, I have, before I was born. But that doesn’t really count.”

    “Huh… Anyway, it isn’t ‘kind of neat’—it’s major. It isn’t just your shape that changes—your whole life changes. Especially when it comes to changing into a glalie…”

    Jen gave a small shudder and went dead silent, apparently not wanting to proceed any further with that topic. Luckily, they arrived at their destination just then, preventing things from getting any more awkward. The three of them got out of the car, and Jen unlocked the front door.

    Esaax, Syr, and Jen entered the house, and a place quite far from Esaax’s expectations opened up before him. This had once been a home for humans, and outwardly it appeared as though it still were one. But on the inside, only a scattered few furnishings, such as a television and a rather large, gray sofa, still spoke of its former residents. In the place of human décor, the home had largely taken on a more natural appearance, fashioned into a curious amalgam of a woodland burrow and a cave.

    Esaax tossed himself onto the sofa like a bean bag and stared up at the ceiling and the artificial stalactites that hung there; he had to shoo away an sudden, unbidden mental image of one of them breaking off and falling on him. “How long did it take to put all this together?” he asked, indicating his surroundings with a wave of his hand.

    “Couple of months,” Syr answered. “It was started right after I got Jen. We actually had a pretty small team working together on it; I’m surprised the work went by so fast.”

    “I think it’s cool,” Esaax said. “You guys did a good job.”

    “Nomel cookie?”

    Esaax looked over to his right from whence that voice had just sounded and found Jen offering him some dainty-looking little cookies on a tray. There was that disturbing smile again—was that a smile? Man, that kid’s creepy, Esaax thought. He took two of the cookies and thanked Jen so as not to risk offending the snorunt’s feelings—he didn’t want to find out the hard way just what those teeth could do.

    Esaax popped a couple of the cookies into his mouth, but a weird twinge prickling across the back of his mind in the next moment distracted him from their flavor at once. Someone—and something—was coming his way. He was given no time at all to figure out how or why he knew this, for just as soon as the notion had hit him, that someone was knocking at the door.

    “I’ll get it,” Syr said as he went to answer the door. He opened it and found a xatu standing on the other side.

    “Misters Esaax Evergray and Syr. Someone wishes to speak with you,” the xatu said.

    “How did you find us?” asked Esaax as he rose to join Syr.

    “Who wants to speak with us?” demanded Syr.

    “I foresaw myself arriving at this destination prior to leaving,” the xatu said in response to the first question. To the latter, “You are summoned by one Faurur ursh Nanku.”

    Both Esaax’s and Syr’s eyes widened dramatically at this. Syr’s mouth fell slightly open, but he remained silent.

    “I shall wait for you outside until you are ready to leave.” Without even touching it, the xatu closed the door on the bewildered recipients of his message.

    Esaax and Syr looked at each other for a few moments, neither saying a word. Finally, “Jen?” Syr spoke up, turning toward where Jen still stood with his cookie tray. “Esaax and I need to have a talk in private,” the arbok said. Jen nodded in acquiescence.

    Syr led Esaax into the bathroom and shut the door. Esaax noticed that unlike the other parts of the house that he’d seen, the bathroom was almost completely unchanged from the way that humans had intended it to be. All the fixtures were still intact—including the toilet. Unbidden curiosities made it to the surface of his mind, even in spite of the much heavier thoughts already there.

    Fortunately, Syr brought Esaax back into focus before he couldn’t help asking as well as wondering. “I’m not so sure about this,” the arbok said. “You’re the psychic. Tell me: can we really be so sure about this guy?”

    “I’m psychic, but I’m no mind-reader. Still, I’m pretty sure he’s for real. I got this… this feeling about him just before he showed up. I knew he was coming, and that his arrival was very important somehow.”

    “A premonition?”

    “I guess so. I can still feel the weight of that, plus… something else. I’ve just got this instinct about him, and it just feels really, really big.” He shrugged. “It’s enough for me to vouch for him, anyway.”

    The wobbuffet noticed then that he was pacing and realized that he’d been doing so ever since he’d entered the bathroom. He’d overestimated his nerves yet again. He managed to get his legs to stop moving, but his tail kept on anxiously switching back and forth. Though he tried, he could not calm it.

    Sighing in surrender to his unrest, Esaax said, “You know, that’s actually what I wanted to discuss with you back at the Haven—not the xatu, obviously. I mean, you know, what all you two did after you left T—” He felt his voice catch in his throat. “What you guys did after you left us, and how Faurur’s been lately…”

    “I actually haven’t talked with him in a long time,” Syr said, sounding a bit troubled.

    “Her,” Esaax corrected.

    “…What?”

    “You really haven’t seen Faurur in a long time…” Esaax remarked. “What’s been keeping you guys out of touch? I always thought you were like the ultimate best friends and all…”

    “Hey, it wasn’t like it was my fault!” Syr blurted out. The outburst surprised even him. He took a moment to stop and breathe. “Sorry… sorry, it’s not like it was really Faurur’s fault, either. Something happened—something weird. It happened almost right after Faurur and I parted ways with you. These lights that were like nothing I’d ever seen before appeared and moved across the sky one night. The next day, the koffing were all saying that their ‘gods’ had arrived. They demanded that my people swear loyalty to these gods, too.

    “We had no clue what they were talking about, and we weren’t about to just give ourselves and our faith to total strangers. So the koffing drove us all away—you wouldn’t believe how strong they can be in a group. I never did find out if Faurur was on their side… Anyway, since you obviously have seen him—her—more recently than I have, tell me: when you were with her then, how was she?”

    “Well, first of all,” Esaax tended first to the unspoken question that he suspected that Syr was harboring, “they’re able to do that by just deciding to do that. Change sexes, I mean. How they’re able to do that, I don’t know at all, but they are. Anyway, the reason Faurur did was because the koffing had chosen her to be their new colony leader, but the thing is, they have this law that the colony leader always has to be female. She told me that was why she made the change.”

    Esaax hesitated then. He didn’t really want to go on and tell of what had happened between himself and Faurur, for the memory pained him to no small degree. But at the same time, he couldn’t help feeling like he owed it to Syr given that the arbok and weezing had known each other and had been close friends long before he’d come into the picture.

    As Esaax began to tell his story, his voice underwent a marked transformation. His words were strained; it was all too clear that he was forcing them out.

    “After the Extinction,” Esaax began, “I tried to get back together with some of the old crew. No luck finding anybody other than Basath, but… well, she hates me… You never got to meet her, though, did you?”

    “No, I didn’t,” Syr confirmed.

    A strange, distinctly sour look took over Esaax’s features. “Well, consider yourself lucky,” he said, and his tone told that he was not at all interested in continuing any further on that subject.

    “Eventually, I managed to find Faurur,” he then said. “Now, as for these ‘gods’ you were talking about, she made no mention of any such thing. And when I asked her where you were, the answer she gave me was really ambiguous. She told me that you and the ekans just decided to go off on your own somewhere, and that you gave no explanation as to why.

    “What she said didn’t seem suspicious to me at the time. I don’t remember that anything about the situation did. But I’m not surprised that I missed the signs. I was… kind of in another mind at the time…

    “Anyway…” Esaax’s voice began to tremble and crack. “…Anyway, something went wrong—nothing to do with gods or sky-lights or any such crap. Faurur wanted to know, of course, whatever had become of her poor, precious ‘Master’. She actually, honestly didn’t know; that’s how far-removed her life had become. I had to break that news to her. I had to deliver that message—it was awful.

    “You can just imagine her reaction, right?” But before Syr could answer, “Wrong. You have no idea. I mean, the level of adoration there… it’s much greater than we ever thought. I told her, and it was like I’d just ripped her right open…”

    Esaax, having begun to pace again as he spoke, came to a stop once more. But this time, rather than standing, he sank, sliding down the wall until he was slouched against it on the floor with his spine bent at almost a right angle.

    “It was awful,” he repeated. “I just felt like a monster for making her feel that way. I swore that, no matter what, I would do anything to help her. I gave her that pain, so I had to be the one to take it away. I had to be there for her so she could recover.”

    His voice changed yet again; it was now barely more than an exhalation. “We became very, very close…”

    Syr had had his head lowered in the somberness that his friend was casting over the room. He looked back up at Esaax then and found the wobbuffet staring at nothing.

    “We became very close,” Esaax continued, “and then… and then we…” He swallowed very hard. “We had an egg.”

    For a moment, Syr was too surprised to say anything. When he found his voice and his wits again, he asked, “So… was it a boy, or a girl?”

    Esaax smiled very faintly. “It was a girl,” the wobbuffet answered. “A koffing, of course, but a little more blue than purple because of me. When she hatched, she was so tiny that I could hold her in one hand…”

    His smile widened, but became very shaky. “She was named Drasigon, and I really liked that name. Faurur told me that it means ‘never ignored’, and I agreed on it instantly.”

    Startlingly, his gaze locked back into focus in a single moment. With a stare like a homing missile straight into Syr’s eyes, Esaax said, “Guess how long she lasted.”

    “What?”

    “Come on, guess.”

    What kind of a thing is that to say? Syr wondered. “…How long?” he finally asked.

    There was no response.

    “How long?” Syr asked again, more gingerly this time.

    Four days,” Esaax answered abruptly, harshly. “Four days. That’s all. Four days, and then she just burst into flames, just like that. And then she was gone, Syr, like some evil magic hit her. For no reason!”

    Esaax was shaking so hard at this point that it looked like he could just fall apart. His eyes closed, overflowing with tears. As Syr stared at him in shock and sorrow, he thought that he saw something that disconcerted him even further: for just a second, there seemed to be a faint, multicolored aura around Esaax.

    “And Faurur was there when it happened, too,” Esaax went on. “We were just frozen there for a little while. I looked her right in the eyes, and… and I just didn’t know what to do, so I… so I just ran…”

    Silently weeping, Syr gathered up the wobbuffet in his coils and embraced him tightly as if trying to hold him together. Though Syr certainly wanted to reunite with Faurur, he wasn’t sure it was such a good idea for Esaax to revisit that aspect of his past face-to-face (or faces, as it were), regardless of whether or not the wobbuffet wished to do so. In fact, Syr began to wonder if maybe the only place Esaax ought to be going was right back to the Haven…

    Before he could say anything to that effect, however, Esaax took a very deep breath, stood once more, and then removed himself from the arbok’s coils with total ease. “I have to go back to her,” the wobbuffet said. “Right now.”

    “Are… are you sure that’s such a good idea?” Syr asked quietly.

    “She needs us,” Esaax responded, wiping the tears from his face as well as he could. “Both of us. She wouldn’t have called for us both if she didn’t. If something happened to her because I couldn’t be there for her…” He swallowed hard again. “…I don’t think I could forgive myself, Syr.”

    Syr frowned at Esaax for a moment, still unsure about the situation. Esaax lowered his gaze, then turned toward the door. Sighing, Syr followed him out of the room and back to where the xatu was waiting, hoping that this was indeed the safer course of action for his friend to take.

    _________________________

    Feel free to guess about who and what Basath happens to be (her name is a slight hint). ^^

    Next chapter: Syr and Esaax reunite with Faurur at last. What news and events could she possibly bear that would have warranted reaching out to them after so many years, and in such an unusual manner? See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 08:41 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Oooooh. Poor Wobby.

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    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Blackjack Palazzo: Yes, poor Wobby, indeed...

    _________________________

    Chapter 5 – The Fire and the Air



    A golden light swelled around Syr, Esaax, and the xatu. When it faded, the xatu bowed and bade them farewell, saying that he knew when to return for them. And with that, he teleported away, leaving Esaax and Syr alone and somewhat confused.

    Where the bird brought them was not where either had expected to go. They were in a very long and narrow alleyway. Two tall, rather plain buildings loomed up on either side, and a huge cement wall created a dead end. The structures cast dreary, gray shadows into the alley that made it seem later in the day than it actually was.

    “Look at this place,” Esaax said. “This could be any city… there’s no telling where we are.” He kicked at an old, dented soda can. “You know… I think it’s a little strange that Faurur had us brought to meet her here when she could have had that xatu bring her to us.”

    “I’m not surprised she chose to do things this way, actually,” Syr said, then shook his head as if trying to clear something out of it. “Poison-folk don’t tolerate being exposed to psychic energy very well. I know I didn’t particularly enjoy the trip, but I don’t think we really went very far. Otherwise, I’d really be feeling it. Faurur, however, doesn’t live anywhere near my house. It wouldn’t have been good for her to teleport that whole distance,” Syr explained.

    “Right, of course… That makes sense.”

    Syr nodded. “So where is she?”

    “She’s here. I can totally feel it.”

    “Oh, I know. I’m aware of her, too; she’s got to be nearby,” Syr said. “I’ll just keep looking over here, and you can—” He fell silent.

    “Syr?”

    “Esaax, come here,” the arbok said softly.

    Esaax heeded the arbok, feeling an awful, compelling sort of dread. He had a sickening suspicion about what he was about to see. What did he find? he wondered. Dear Night… she’s not dead, is she?

    It turned out that Faurur wasn’t dead, but her current state suggested that that might not be the case for much longer. She was reduced to lying deflated on the asphalt, pale and shapeless.

    Esaax leaned forward as close to her as he could, but he couldn’t have reached eye level with her at this point without melting into the earth. Tears stung his eyes as they registered the sight before him. He could barely breathe, feeling as though he could just cave in on himself at any moment, just as she had done.

    But why had she? What had happened to her? Esaax had only seen Faurur this way once before: one time (out of countless many), when their meowth-head balloon had been shot down by that particular pikachu, she had landed very ungracefully upon the rocks below. Her mantle had torn, leaving her deflated and unable to get up off of the ground until she was given the necessary medical attention.

    Esaax could see no sign of a breach this time, but still… “What did this to you?” he asked hoarsely.

    “Nothing,” Faurur replied, her twin voices sounding very weak. “Nothing but the seasons. One hundred and thirteen seasons… too many…”

    “What? Oh no, that’s right…” Esaax said as he remembered. It was a statistic that Faurur had mentioned to him while they had been waiting for their egg to hatch. About one hundred seasons, or twenty-five years, was generally as long as any weezing could expect to live. Most didn’t make it anywhere near that far, and yet Faurur had managed to surpass that mark.

    Thus, Faurur was very, very old. Esaax explained these details to Syr while Faurur remained silently gathering her strength for more crucial words. The two gazed upon her with immense sorrow as the apparent truth sunk in fully: she had not called them there to help her but rather to say goodbye.

    “Listen,” Faurur spoke up then. “I came here to warn you. Beware the strangers from the sky!”

    “From the sky…” Syr’s mind, seeming reluctant to process this situation further, didn’t know what to do with Faurur’s unexpected warning at first. “…Do you mean the sky-lights? I thought those were your gods,” Syr said.

    Faurur emitted a sound of loathing, a deep groan that was alarmingly loud given her condition. “Gods?” she scoffed. “Deranics aren’t gods. Worms, maybe. But not gods. They tricked us. They promised us happiness. But they brought only slavery. My whole colony—my family, all of them, never to be free again. And after we fought so hard for them!” She stared up at Syr with anguish in all four of her eyes.

    “I know,” the arbok said, his voice constrained. “It’s okay. Your people didn’t really mean to drive mine away, did they?”

    “No. The deranics controlled us with their lies. But listen, they won’t stop with us. More will come and spread their worm-lies through all lands. They’ll seem so nice at first, but don’t trust them—that’s how they started with us. Then they said, ‘Obey us or die.’ And someday they’ll say this to everyone if they can.”

    Faurur lowered her voices even more then, as if afraid of someone overhearing. “This is very important. Pay attention and never forget: Their plan to control has already begun. Already something huge has been done to the world by them. I know because I heard it from them myself. They think we’re too stupid to remember what they say… Anyway, they call it…”

    She had to stop to catch her breath, but she was also working through a minor frustration. Finally, she forced herself to continue. “They call it ‘Seterhath Zulo-Denvenda’.” And then she literally spat. “Filthy worm-language! We all know some of their words, but these…”

    Faurur winced, revealing her pain for the first time. “I have no time,” she said, half-panting. “You must figure it out. Don’t forget: beware the deranics. And don’t forget ‘Seterhath Zulo-Denvenda’. Figure it out and warn the world, please!”

    “We will. Don’t worry,” Syr said. Esaax nodded in agreement.

    Faurur smiled at them. But then she cried out in agony.

    Esaax cringed at the horrid noise—and just as it erupted from the dying weezing, a shard of burning pain sliced deep into his chest. In that moment, suspicions that he’d had about himself for a long time grew stronger than ever before.

    “Faurur… I think I can help you,” he said then, his voice sounding very fragile. He leaned forward and laid his hand upon her as he spoke—just as he had done once before, with someone else…

    Her body was utterly still save for the vague fluttering of her mantle as she breathed. Esaax, however, was shaking so hard that he could barely stand as he struggled to accomplish what he was still only partially certain that he could actually do. Even as the first hints of a multicolored aura began to blink into existence around him, he feared that his efforts would prove to be in vain. Still, he kept trying, feeling that he owed her greatly, and for reasons beyond her having been a friend and a lover to him.

    “I’m so sorry,” he managed in barely more than a whisper.

    Faurur no longer howled or screamed. She seemed to have moved beyond pain. She only made a small, puzzled noise at Esaax, seeming not to understand what he was saying.

    “For running away,” Esaax elaborated. “For abandoning you all those years ago. First… first, Drasigon left you, and then I…”

    Faurur actually gave a little chuckle of surprise. “Is that all? It’s fine! Don’t cry, I’m not angry at you. You just didn’t understand. Drasigon never left. She just changed into the air. You see? You just didn’t understand then, so you ran away. But now maybe you do understand.”

    She must be delirious… Esaax thought. “I still shouldn’t have just taken off on you like that.”

    It’s fine,” Faurur repeated. “Why do you fret? You’re here now, right? Now is all that matters. Drasigon is here, too, in the air. Can’t you feel her?”

    So that’s what she’s saying. Esaax kept his hand upon Faurur despite how unnervingly warm she suddenly became. “I was always told that we become part of the earth after… you know.”

    “Maybe,” Faurur said softly. “All I know is the fire and the air…”

    And then, as if on cue, flames blossomed from within her. She gazed up at Esaax and Syr, her expression now showing nothing but pure and serene adoration even as the fire raged. Within mere seconds, the flames had consumed her completely.

    The fire had caused Esaax to involuntarily pull his hand away, but how close that hand had come to being burned could not have been further from his mind. He had not had time to completely form the psychic link by which he had hoped to help Faurur. A sense of having failed her grew within him, and he felt as though it were hollowing him out inside.

    As Esaax watched Faurur’s ashes and embers float away, he felt Syr gently lay his tail-tip upon his shoulder.

    “Esaax… I think there’s someplace you really need to be,” the arbok said quietly.

    Then, just as the xatu had said would happen, the golden light of teleportation bloomed once again to bring them home.

    _________________________

    Next chapter: Jen thinks he knows just the thing to ease Esaax’s grief in the wake of Faurur’s passing—and he is quite insistent that Esaax gives it a try. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 08:43 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  10. #10
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Chapter 6 – Hope



    The door opened for Syr and Esaax thanks to the dutiful snorunt standing right inside. Jen had been waiting on full alert for the slightest sign of anyone approaching since the arbok and wobbuffet had left.

    “There was no one to bite while you were away,” he said.

    “That’s good,” Syr said in a low, very drained-sounding voice. He slithered into the house with all the liveliness of a zombie. He was practically carrying Esaax, who was even less animate in his bereavement.

    Syr placed the listless wobbuffet on the sofa and made his way into the kitchen, fully aware that Jen was following him. Without turning, he said, “I’m about to need you and your car. Esaax is going right back to the Haven.”

    “Going back?” There was a constant clicking as Jen’s tiny, gray feet hopped and skittered across the linoleum. He was apparently having a very hard time holding still.

    Syr sighed heavily. “We’ve just experienced… something difficult. I’m worried that Esaax might not be well enough to handle it.”

    Syr told Jen about what had happened in the alley with Faurur. He also told him about the strange aura that had appeared around Esaax before they had gone to see her.

    “They must have made some kind of mistake at the Haven. I think he’s still suffering from some kind of psychic disturbance,” he said.

    “I see… Maybe what he needs can’t be found in any hospital,” Jen suggested.

    Though the weight of Syr’s account of Faurur’s passing had forced the snorunt to grow still, it was still obvious that something was gnawing at him. “Are you all right?” Syr asked of him.

    Jen gave Syr a quick glance with preoccupied eyes and swallowed hard. “I’m fine,” he answered. “I think I am, anyway.”

    “I hope you are; I’d hate for you to get sick, too. Now, what were you saying?”

    “About the Haven? I said that maybe they can’t help him there. He might do better to come to Hope with me tonight. Maybe he just needs the support of a commiserating audience.”

    “I’m not quite sure you completely understand the nature of this situation, Jen,” Syr said.

    “Yes, I do,” Jen said. “Everyone at the Hope Institute does. People go there because they’ve experienced loss. They go there to find inner peace. That’s what it was built for. I know they’ve done a world of good for me. Especially before you came along—they were a family for me. They were always there for me.

    “Look, the Haven has obviously failed Esaax, right? I know he’s a major friend of yours. So if you respect him so much, why give him back to that place and those people and let them have another chance to fail him when there might just be a better way?”

    Jen’s words hit their mark. Syr couldn’t help but believe that if there was any chance that something could still be awry within Esaax—and Syr had seen things firsthand that were strange enough to convince him that something was—then the Haven really should have recognized it and not released him. It seemed to Syr that there might well be a degree of incompetence—or something—at work within the Haven, and he found himself wanting to give them a piece of his mind if not his fangs about it.

    “I think you might be right, Jen,” Syr said finally. “Maybe it’s about time someone took a different approach to this. For his sake.”

    Jen nodded insofar as he could. “Maybe you should go, too. I couldn’t help noticing your tears…”

    Syr hadn’t noticed them. He quickly turned his head. “I’d… really rather not.” He forced himself to meet Jen’s gaze once more. “But don’t worry. I think all I need is some quiet time alone to remember. Then I’ll be fine.”

    “Okay. I’m going to try and talk to him, if that’s all right.”

    “Go ahead.”

    Jen fetched the nomel cookies and a tall glass of water and carried them to the living room and the spiritless wobbuffet therein.

    Esaax was still lying on the sofa. Mentally, however, he was quite absent. He seemed not to notice or care that his head and arms had come to dangle over the armrest, his face steadily turning a much deeper shade of blue.

    Jen placed the cookies and water on the little coffee table in front of Esaax. Esaax paid no mind.

    “I brought you some refreshments,” the snorunt said brightly, but he may as well have spoken to a big, blue brick. He frowned concernedly at the wobbuffet. “You shouldn’t be hanging upside-down like that. You’re going to get a head rush.”

    He tried pushing Esaax’s head back up over the armrest, but it was too large and heavy for him to hoist up. So Jen decided to take a different approach. He hopped up onto the other end of the sofa and grabbed Esaax by the pods. With a tremendous effort, Jen managed to pull the wobbuffet back up into a more proper resting position.

    Jen sat down on the armrest opposite Esaax, panting as he did so. “Phew… you may not be quite as heavy as you look, but still!” As soon as he caught his breath, he made his move. “I heard all about what happened today, Esaax,” he said in a kindly voice. “I understand what you’re going through. That’s why I offer the best thing in the world for you right now.”

    If Esaax was listening, if he was even hearing Jen’s words, he gave no indication of it. He was still enveloped in his reverie, feeling as though he were disembodied and drifting.

    Jen went on in spite of Esaax’s lack of responsiveness. “I invite… I request your presence at the Hope Institute tonight. We’ll all be there for you, Esaax. You’ll get whatever you need to ease your pain. If you want to talk about it with others who’ve also lost someone they love, you can. If you don’t want to talk about it, well, that’s fine, too. I know you’ll find comfort just by being there. They’ll support you, just like they’ve supported me. So what do you say, Esaax? Would you like to come along with me tonight?”

    Jen’s speech seemed to have been in vain. Esaax just continued his zombielike stare into nothingness with glazed eyes and sagging lips, completely unresponsive.

    Jen sighed. How in the world could I possibly get through to him? he wondered. There was no question in his mind that Esaax needed to be brought to the Hope Institute. How then, Jen wondered, could he get the wobbuffet to agree to it when it seemed impossible to get a response of any kind out of him?

    “Can’t respond” means “can’t refuse”, the snorunt considered.

    Jen dismissed that notion at once. He was sure that Syr wouldn’t allow one of his best friends to be taken involuntarily into something that he’d initially doubted himself, at least not without making things more difficult than they needed to be. And being just in the next room, he’d have overheard the whole scene, so there was no use lying to him about Esaax’s compliance. What do I do, then?

    Jen stared like a bird of prey at the untouched glass of water as he mulled over this problem. As he did, the liquid began a curious transformation. It shimmered and gave a slight quiver, and then with a tiny crack, it instantly froze thoroughly. It then began sprouting upward, spreading out into intricate, crystalline branches as it rose up from within the glass.

    Strangely, this tree made of ice seemed to be just what it took to coax Esaax out of his reverie. The moment it caught his eye, he was enthralled by it, finding the shapes that the enchanted ice was forming soothing and mesmerizing in an odd way.

    Esaax noticed the snorunt out of the corner of his eye. Is he doing this? he wondered. Wait… is he glowing? Esaax turned his sights fully toward Jen… but it seemed that there was no glow about him after all.

    Huh. Must have imagined that, Esaax thought idly. Back to the tree… pretty… Still spellbound by the moving ice, he asked, “Where did you say this was?” in a voice that was devoid of inflection.

    That utterance snapped Jen out of his own altered state. Only then did he notice the ice tree, and he gasped in shock as he realized what had been happening. I almost let it go that time… It was getting harder and harder for him to resist the urges of a body that wanted desperately to evolve.

    He was about to revert the ice sculpture to water once more… but then he realized something. “Oh, um, it’s called the Hope Institute. It’s just on the other side of town,” he replied hurriedly. “Are you saying you wish to go?” As he spoke, he melted the ice tree, but not all at once. The branches curled in on themselves and liquefied gracefully but nonetheless quickly.

    Esaax was wearing a smile that looked both contented and intoxicated. “Yeah,” he answered, “sure…”

    The ice sculpture was soon gone, and Jen was satisfied that it had successfully cast whatever strange, hypnotic spell it had carried—and that he had gotten rid of it before it could be noticed by anyone else.

    Sighing with relief, Jen hopped off of the sofa. Before he went to confirm his successful persuasion to Syr, he stopped to clasp one of Esaax’s hands in both of his own. “Good choice, friend,” he said with a smile.

    Better than you know, he added silently.

    * * *


    Mid-evening, Jen’s convertible pulled up to the curb across the street from the sprawling, single-story structure that was the Hope Institute. It had no identifying characteristics other than a simple wooden sign on which the word “HOPE” was painted in black unown-characters. The sign was crudely lit from beneath with a single lightbulb.

    As Jen led Esaax (who was now once again independently mobile, albeit still seeming a bit spellbound) through the entrance, a sceptile at the door stopped and bowed in front of them.

    “Blessings,” she said, her tone very warm and inviting.

    “Blessings to you, too,” Jen replied, bowing in turn.

    “Is the wobbuffet new here?” the sceptile asked.

    “Yes, ma’am. I trust he’ll be welcomed?”

    “Of course.” The sceptile turned to Esaax. “Blessings,” she repeated, bowing to him and offering her clawed hands, which Esaax took as he returned what seemed to be the ritual greeting in this place.

    “May your spirit be ever light,” the sceptile said in farewell, as Jen and Esaax left her behind to proceed further into the Hope Institute.

    Esaax found himself led into an assembly space of some sort: a vast, well-lit room whose walls were plastered with posters bearing various uplifting slogans in unown-script. Looking around, he saw a diverse collection of pokémon species gathering in this place. A few of the attendees were milling about, while others were conversing with one another in small cliques. Most of them, however, were already forming a nice and orderly audience. Standing, sitting, coiled, grounded, or perched in semi-loose rows, they all had their eyes or equivalent sensory organs trained straight forward at a presently unoccupied, scarlet-curtained stage.

    Clearly something was about to take place upon that stage, and so Esaax turned his attention forward, too. It wasn’t long before the stage was no longer empty.

    A hitmonlee stepped out from behind the curtain, carrying a microphone and a clipboard. He scanned the audience briefly, and for a moment he looked like he was ready to speak. But then he glanced at his clipboard and gave the mouthless equivalent of a frown.

    The hitmonlee turned and shouted something to someone offstage, though Esaax was too far away to hear exactly what was said. At the hitmonlee’s call, an especially large glalie drifted across the stage toward him.

    “Hey, Jen,” Esaax said, continuing to sound only partially present. “That glalie up there… is that someone you know?”

    “Huh? Oh, you mean him? Not really, no. He works here now; that’s all I know for sure. I think most of them in Convergence do—the glalie, I mean.”

    “You’re sure you don’t know him? Cause he’s acting like he knows you. He’s looking this way right now.”

    Indeed he was. As the glalie was being consulted by the hitmonlee, he was also casting an eye into the audience every other second. He had apparently become fixated on Jen and Esaax’s general location.

    “Why does he keep looking at us like that?” Esaax asked, nervousness beginning to break through his previously dazed tone.

    The glalie hesitantly broke eye contact with Esaax and Jen as he finished his conversation with the hitmonlee. Then he went right back to giving the two of them the laser-eye. His stare unbreaking, the glalie descended from the stage and started making his way into the audience.

    “Why is he coming this way?” Esaax asked in a small, slightly panicked voice.

    “Relax,” Jen said. “I’m sure he just wants to say hello.”

    As the glalie came to a halt before the two of them, Esaax strongly hoped that Jen was right.

    “Blessings,” the glalie said.

    “Blessings,” Esaax and Jen returned in unison.

    The glalie’s gaze shifted more toward Esaax. “Pardon me,” he said, “but could you come with me, please?”

    “…What for?” Esaax asked uneasily. He found himself starting to shiver and wished that he could stop, but his now steadily building unease wouldn’t let him do so. He was beginning to realize in earnest that he didn’t really have any idea what was going on here, and the current face of his uncertainty was just too large and too close for comfort.

    “I’m sorry, but this is the youth assembly,” the glalie answered. “You’ll want our adult group.”

    Esaax took another look around and finally recognized that the audience was indeed comprised entirely of children and adolescents. He looked to Jen, but the snorunt made no move to contradict the glalie.

    With a nod and a vaguely affirmative noise, Esaax agreed to follow the glalie to this “adult group”. But just as they were about to leave, the glalie hesitated and turned back around. He was staring again, but only at Jen this time, and the glalie looked distinctly conflicted as he did so.

    However, the action terminated without explanation, the same way as it had begun. The glalie abandoned whatever that pause might have led to in something of a hurry, leaving Esaax scrambling to catch up.

    Esaax followed behind the glalie through corridor after corridor. He might have been more fascinated by how swiftly such a creature was able to move in spite of having no legs and looking to be very heavy were it not for the fact that he was growing more confused and anxious by the second.

    What is this place… and why did I come here? He honestly could not remember. His mind offered only blankness whenever he tried to present it with those questions.

    He had other questions, too: Where are we going, exactly? How big is this place, anyway? The youth assembly looked like it was about to start when we left; wouldn’t the adult meeting have started by now, too? Shouldn’t we already be there?

    Unless that’s not really where we’re going…
    That thought was truly unsettling. What if I really am in some kind of trouble… Oh crap, am I?

    Esaax almost tried seeing if the glalie would shed some light on things, but he found that asking questions to his back wasn’t much easier than asking them to his face.

    He couldn’t just stay quiet, though; as it ever did, his nervousness forbade it. So rather than just come out with what he really wanted to say, Esaax opted to start out with small talk, hoping that it would help him to bring about more important questions and their answers with greater ease and grace.

    “Excuse me, uh, sir?” Esaax began tentatively.

    “Hm?”

    “What’s your name?” Esaax asked.

    “Solonn,” the glalie answered, “and you?”

    “I’m Esaax.”

    “Ah, all right, then. Pleasure to meet you, Esaax,” Solonn said.

    The glalie’s last few words didn’t quite reach Esaax. Whatever the ice tree had set upon Esaax’s mind was continuing to dissolve at an increasing rate, and it was now being replaced just as quickly by a growing, unrelenting feeling that he had forgotten something crucially important, the sort of thing that should be utterly impossible to forget.

    “I’m afraid we’re already a little late,” Solonn then said, “but the good news is that I know a shortcut through the building that’ll keep you from missing too much more of the assembly. We’ll just go right around here, and—”

    Solonn halted all of a sudden, neither executing his turn nor finishing his sentence. A pair of doors to his right had just slid open unexpectedly. A second later, there emerged the most peculiar creature…

    _________________________

    Next chapter: Find out what just stepped out of that door! Plus, Esaax confesses suspicions about himself, and a solution to the problems they’ve wrought is offered. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 08:45 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  11. #11
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Chapter 7 – One on One



    Esaax stared at the creature who had just stepped out into the corridor. The newcomer stood on two legs and had chin-length, reddish-brown hair. He wore human clothing, which in and of itself wasn’t terribly remarkable; Esaax had seen the occasional pokémon wear human-style clothing before, both prior to and after the Extinction. What had taken such a strong hold of Esaax’s attention was the fact that it really looked as though this wasn’t just another instance of a pokémon dressing like a human…

    Esaax shook his head, dismissing that possibility as well as he could. There’s no way, he told himself silently. It has to be a trick of some kind. Like a disguise or something…

    “Sir… don’t you have an assembly to address?” Solonn asked of the newcomer.

    “Nope, not this time. I’ve decided to put my new office to work and devote tonight to one on one sessions,” the newcomer replied perkily. There was something strange about his voice; it sounded slightly unnatural somehow, as though he were performing a less-than-perfect impression of another person. “Don’t worry, though. Cain’ll cover for me. He can run the show this time instead of just playing second fiddle. The experience oughtta do him some good.”

    It was then that he noticed Esaax. His eyes widened, and he smiled, but there was an odd, masklike quality to his face that made the expression seem a little off. “Hey, there! Haven’t seen you around here before!” He offered his hand to the wobbuffet; Esaax took it after a moment’s hesitation, and was given a vigorous handshake with a surprisingly strong grip. “The name’s Sylvester DeLeo, and I’m the president and founder of this fine establishment. And you are…?”

    “…Esaax” the wobbuffet replied.

    “Glad to make your acquaintance, Esaax,” DeLeo said, still smiling. “Say… do you mind if I ask you a quick question?”

    “Uh… No, I guess not,” Esaax responded.

    “Okay, then. Tell me, what clan are you from?” DeLeo asked.

    “Evergray,” Esaax answered, vaguely wondering why DeLeo wanted to know such a thing.

    “Ah.” DeLeo straightened his posture. “All right, Esaax, if you’ll just follow me, I’ll take you to my private counseling office,” he said, gesturing toward the room off to the side from whence he’d come.

    Esaax stared at the doors in uncertainty for a moment. He looked toward where Solonn had been hovering and found that the glalie had excused himself, taking his knowledge of how to get to the adult assembly with him. “Could I still go to the assembly?” he asked of DeLeo.

    “Well, you could,” DeLeo said, “but you’ve already missed a good chunk of it. If you come with me we can take it from the top. Not only that, but your concerns—what you need—could be addressed more directly this way. Seeing as how you’re a first-timer here, I think you’d definitely benefit more from that than from walking in on a meeting that’s not only half-over but is also really geared more toward helping people out with more generalized problems.”

    That seemed to make enough sense, at least as far as Esaax was concerned. The idea of going to a meeting and possibly not being able to understand what in the world the people there were talking about didn’t appeal to him at all; he was dealing with enough confusion as it was. “Okay,” Esaax said, allowing DeLeo to lead him into the private counseling office.

    DeLeo took a seat behind a desk at the far end of the rather small room, then gestured toward a trio of chairs in differing styles and sizes that were lined up against the wall to Esaax’s right. Esaax regarded them for a couple of moments but then shook his head, indicating that he’d rather just stand.

    Esaax had now fully emerged from the tranquilizing haze that had enveloped him, but his amnesia still remained. He was so preoccupied in his search for his missing memories that it was quite difficult to pay unbroken attention to anything going on externally; as such, he didn’t notice right away when the office became significantly darker. He cast a glance up at the now quite dim lights above him, then turned his sights back toward DeLeo.

    “Thought you’d be a bit more comfortable this way,” DeLeo explained. “I know wobbuffet aren’t too keen on bright light.” He folded his hands on the desk before him. “So. Before we begin, I’m curious: how’d you discover us, Esaax?” he asked. “Did a friend tell you about us?”

    A friend? Esaax didn’t exactly know Jen, per se, but he nonetheless responded with, “Yeah.”

    “Well, I’m glad you took your friend’s advice. You did the right thing coming here, Esaax. I promise you: we’re gonna help you out, no matter what it takes, okay? Now, the first thing you’ve gotta do, though, is you need to tell me exactly what’s wrong.”

    That’s what I wanna know! Esaax thought desperately, still struggling to regain his memory and perhaps thereby also gain some clue as to what he was even doing in this strange place. He remained silent, staring at DeLeo with a very troubled look.

    “It’s okay, Esaax,” DeLeo assured him. “You can trust me. Anything you tell me will remain strictly confidential. So you can just go right on ahead and let me know what’s troubling you.”

    Esaax would have gladly let it all out if only he’d known what “it” was. Once again, he strained his mind for the answer, doubting that his efforts would yield any success.

    But then DeLeo provided the answer for him: “You’ve lost someone who meant a lot to you, haven’t you?”

    Esaax felt his heart seem to stop for a moment, his breath catching halfway up his throat, as the last mind-blocking remnants of his trance shattered into nothingness. His full memory returned with a brutal suddenness, the sorrows that it carried revealed anew. Such stark lucidity following such a thick mental fog was painful for him, and he couldn’t help crying out.

    “That’s right,” DeLeo said soothingly. “Just let it all out.” He noticed that Esaax was beginning to pitch and sway on the spot as if his spine were turning to rubber. DeLeo stood and managed to pull up a chair for Esaax just in time for the wobbuffet to collapse into it.

    DeLeo then returned to his seat. “You’ve got something in common with just about everyone who’s come here, you know. Just like you, they’re also mourning people they loved—particularly their lost human friends. I know you’re gonna have no problem finding people here who can relate to your suffering.”

    “No one can do that,” Esaax croaked, his eyes suddenly overflowing with tears. “They can’t possibly understand how I let her—how I let both of them down. How I failed them.” He turned away in shame. “They died because of me,” he whispered.

    “Oh, Esaax, no. You know better than that,” DeLeo tried to console him. “It wasn’t your fault that—”

    “But maybe it was!” Esaax interrupted. “I… I don’t know. Look, there’s something you don’t know about me. I know it’s gonna sound crazy, but… there’s something strange inside me. I don’t know what it is, but… it can heal people. I just know it can. It could even stop them from dying, but I just don’t understand it enough to know how…”

    As Esaax spoke, he stared into the “eyes” of his own tail, gazing into their reddish-black blankness as if he could find the long-sought understanding of his own internal mysteries there. He finally closed both his eyes and his oculons in despair.

    “Both times, I didn’t really think very much about doing it, if at all,” Esaax said in a low, cracking voice. “I just tried, and I failed. First Jessie, all those years ago. And then Faurur, just today! If I’m still not good enough to save the people I care about after all this time, then I never will be…”

    Esaax fell silent then, but DeLeo gave no immediate response to what he’d said. DeLeo’s face had taken on what was as close to a somber expression as it seemed capable of, and his gaze was cast downward.

    “You know,” DeLeo said quietly after a couple of moments, meeting Esaax’s gaze once more, “you really shouldn’t give up on your talents just yet. And that’s not the only thing you shouldn’t give up on, either. You probably believe, like most people do, that humans are totally extinct. Just gone from the world forever. But what if I were to tell you—” He leaned over the desk toward Esaax for effect. “—that we’re not?”

    “…‘We’?” The voice of one of the Evergray elders, reciting one of her favorite sayings, rang out in his memory: “A fool fears he is wrong—a wise man fears he is right.” Esaax had been regarding what his eyes had been telling him about DeLeo with skepticism, but now all those doubts were stepping aside, for DeLeo’s last three words had been spoken in a human language.

    Pointing a shaking hand at DeLeo and sounding much more accusatory than he’d intended, he blurted, “You’re—”

    “Human,” DeLeo finished, continuing to use that human language. “Yep, that’s right. But I’ll bet you suspected it right from the start, though, didn’t you?”

    Esaax was almost completely overwhelmed by what the situation was giving him. There had to be some flaw about this creature, Esaax’s mind insisted, something to prove that he was not human, because he couldn’t be—especially, he felt, not when certain other humans had not been allowed to continue existing…

    When Esaax managed to come up with potential evidence that DeLeo was not what he claimed, he pursued it right away. “You can understand me,” he said. “And the glalie. Humans can’t do that.” Something else dawned on him, as well. “And you’ve been speaking our languages!” He wondered how in the world he had not realized it sooner. “How? You can’t…” he spluttered.

    “It’s true,” DeLeo said. “All my life, I’ve been able to talk to pokémon just like they do amongst themselves. Now I’m using that gift to help pokémon deal with their loss.” Even now, speaking in the language of his own kind, there was a definite, unplaceable wrongness about DeLeo’s voice. “I think that might just be the reason why I was spared,” he said solemnly, “though I still don’t have any idea as to how I was spared. Still… the fact that I was spared gives me hope—hope that I’m not the only one and that maybe… well, maybe those who were lost don’t have to stay lost.”

    DeLeo opened a drawer in his desk then, and he began rummaging through its contents. “That’s the real reason why I founded the Hope Institute,” he said. “Not just for the pokémon who were left behind by the plague but for the humans, too. We’re trying to find other survivors so we can help protect both them and any future generations of humanity… and we’re also trying to find ways to bring back the ones who didn’t survive.

    “And that’s why I’m offering you this.” DeLeo pulled a small, white box out from the drawer. From within it, he brought out a syringe, which he proceeded to fill with a pale blue fluid.

    Esaax swallowed against the anxiety that built up in his throat at the sight of the needle. “What is that?” he asked nervously.

    “It’s a serum we’ve developed for pokémon who have abilities or powers that have been compromised or are just plain missing altogether due to birth defects, illness, elemental disruption, or any of a whole bunch of other causes. It restores those abilities and powers.”

    Esaax’s eyes widened. “Then… you mean, it could strengthen me… and strengthen my power… so that it’s not too weak anymore? So that it could be there for me when I need it, and… and I could finally, really help people? And never let anyone down again?”

    “Maybe,” DeLeo responded. “I’ve gotta warn you, though: the serum is untested…”

    “Then you can test it on me,” Esaax said hoarsely but firmly.

    DeLeo nodded and took Esaax’s arm. Seconds later, the serum was coursing through Esaax’s veins, while a single, silent vow repeated again and again behind the wobbuffet’s eyes: Never let anyone down again…

    _________________________

    Next time: Esaax faces a new challenge. Meanwhile, the long quest of another finally approaches its end. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 08:47 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  12. #12
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Chapter 8 – Phasing Forward, Looking Back



    The doors to DeLeo’s office opened, and the human ushered Esaax out.

    Walking was requiring a bit more effort from Esaax than usual. His muscles were oddly tense, and his tail was flicking about restlessly. His bones, however, felt as though they could simply come apart and melt away. Esaax got the distinct feeling that he was starting to fall ill.

    “Esaax!”

    The voice from down the corridor drew Esaax’s attention. He looked, and there was Jen, bounding toward him with much more energy than he’d seen the snorunt exhibit thus far.

    “It’s time to go,” Jen said once he came to a stop. “I heard that you got to talk with Mr. DeLeo in private. You’re so lucky! So tell me, then, did you like it?”

    “…It was something.” That was all that Esaax could think to say under the current circumstances.

    DeLeo smiled down at the snorunt. “It was great to meet your friend, Jen. And I think I managed to make a real breakthrough for his benefit. Thanks very much for bringing him.”

    Jen gave an enormous grin and even giggled a little, apparently made giddy by the fact that his actions had pleased the founder of his beloved Hope Institute. He bade the human farewell and led an increasingly pale Esaax away.

    DeLeo watched them leave, working his tie between his fingers with something of a faraway look in his mahogany eyes. It’s gonna be all right, Esaax, he thought. Soon you’ll have your old life back. Both of us will…

    * * *


    Esaax was riding back to Syr’s house with Jen, and he was now genuinely sick. It felt like someone was rearranging his insides, and clumsily at that.

    Jen noticed Esaax’s condition at the next red light. “You don’t look so good,” he said.

    “Nnnnrrrrrrr…” was Esaax’s reply, and it was the last thing out of his mouth until he and Jen were a block away from Syr’s house, when Esaax threw up over the side of the car.

    “Oh dear,” Jen said as he pulled into the driveway, then exited the vehicle to inspect the mess. “Guess you’ll need to have that checked out… ewww…”

    “Haven…” Esaax managed to croak out, “now…”

    “Okay, okay, don’t worry…” Jen said. He was about to get back into the car when the front door of the house opened. Syr slithered out and looked about ready to say something, but before the arbok could say a word, Esaax was violently sick again.

    Syr shot a distressed look at the wobbuffet, and then at Jen. “When did he get so sick?” he demanded worriedly.

    “Just minutes ago,” the snorunt answered. “It just hit him out of nowhere.”

    “Haven…” Esaax groaned again.

    Syr nodded. “Don’t worry,” he said, as much for his own benefit as for Esaax’s, “we’ll take you there right away.” He leapt into the backseat, while Jen took his place behind the wheel. “Go. Now!” Syr commanded.

    The three of them made a beeline for the Haven, with Esaax vomiting twice more and developing tremors along the way.

    * * *


    Forty-five minutes had passed since arriving at the Haven. Syr was coiled up in a waiting room, full of worry, anger, and a few choice words that he wanted to blast at the next person to enter the room.

    Luckily he did no such thing, for the next person to walk in was Jen. The snorunt had just returned from getting the car washed. “Is he going to be all right?” Jen asked.

    “I don’t know yet. I’m still waiting for the nurse to come back.” Syr’s tail lashed in outright fury. “Those idiots! They had to have seen this coming. Anything that happens to him is on their heads!”

    “I told you that they and their human medicine failed him,” Jen said quietly.

    “They didn’t just fail him, Jen, they betrayed him. And I’m telling you, they’d better not do it again this time. Either he walks out of here alive and well—for real this time—or so help me, I’ll—”

    Teresa entered the waiting room, and Syr shut up in a hurry. He forced himself into calmer body language and a more even tone of voice, managing to stay aware that unleashing the full brunt of his anger would only complicate things for both himself and Esaax.

    “How is he?” Syr asked.

    “He’s stable, for now,” Teresa responded. “He actually came right out of that fit almost as soon as we’d gotten a hold of him. He might still relapse, though; we’ll need to keep him here until we can be sure of exactly what he’s experiencing. He’s in no hurry to leave anyway, trust me. He’s almost too weak to move at all.”

    “So you still don’t know what’s wrong with him,” Syr said.

    “I’m afraid not,” Teresa replied. “We still have some tests to run through, the results of which will hopefully give us the answers we’re looking for. Unfortunately, that will take time. Even more unfortunately, all the signs so far seem to be pointing to something with which we’re entirely unfamiliar.”

    “And why didn’t you see this coming?” Syr demanded in a tone that was suddenly cold, unable to stop himself.

    Teresa stared at him, looking almost appalled.

    “You had him here just this morning,” Syr pressed on. “You were supposed to be taking care of him, keeping an eye on his condition. It seems to me that you should have noticed this sickness setting in while he was in your care, and yet you didn’t. So why in the hell didn’t you see this coming?”

    Now Teresa looked thoroughly appalled. “Whatever Esaax’s current malady is, it’s completely unrelated to the condition for which he was initially brought here. He gave no indication whatsoever that he would fall ill like this while he was in our care, and he was in excellent shape when we released him. There was no way this could have been predicted!”

    “Well, that’s not all, though. What about that psychic sickness that he was in here for to begin with, huh? I saw it. I saw that multicolored aura just hours ago, and he’s been like the living dead ever since it appeared. How can you have thought it was all right to let him out when this sort of thing is still happening?”

    Teresa’s expression softened somewhat; she now looked more troubled than angry. “That aura never appeared even once during his time here. Adn’s methods should have triggered it if it were still possible for it to be triggered.”

    “But they didn’t,” Syr spat. “I think I want to have a talk with this ‘Adn’ person. It sounds like they’re the one who’s gone and screwed things up here.”

    “I’m sorry, but he’s not here at this time,” Teresa said. “I will speak with him later, all right? In the meantime, please… I understand that you’re worried for Esaax. I really do. I’m worried for him, too. I hate seeing him like this, especially so soon after it honestly seemed like he’d finally gotten through the last set of hardships life gave him. But losing your composure won’t do him any good at all. It’ll only get you removed from the premises—I’m sure you don’t want that, and I don’t want that, either. Esaax needs you to be here for him and hold it together. Okay?”

    There was a moment’s delay, but then Syr sighed, lowering his head guiltily. “You’re right,” he said. “I’m sorry. Just… please, take care of him. Please,” he said, looking imploringly into Teresa’s eyes.

    “We’ll do everything we can,” Teresa assured him, then turned and left.

    As Syr watched her go, he hoped dearly that everything that the Haven’s staff could do would indeed be enough.

    * * *


    Lying in bed with his eyes closed, yet still partially awake, Esaax was still suffering the nauseous, ache-inducing effects of his mystery illness. Though miserable, he was about to fall asleep out of sheer exhaustion.

    He was almost disconnected from his senses enough in his current state to fail to notice the presence that entered his midst then, emerging from the wall just above his bed. A dark bluish-gray gengar now hovered over him, clutching a flat, black stone whose edges had a silvery sheen.

    By the time Esaax’s presently-compromised psychic senses realized that there was a potentially dangerous, partly ghost-type creature nearby, the gengar had already vanished from the scene. The stone, however, had not—Esaax opened his eyes in a delayed and imperfect state of primal alarm just in time to see it drop from the air and land right on his face.

    He would have shouted in pain and surprise, but the moment that the stone made contact with his skin, he felt a massive jolt fire through his body that took his breath away. An instant later, it was gone and replaced by an extremely unpleasant feeling in his bones. It was a stretching feeling, as if hands had seized each one of his extremities and both ends of his spine and were pulling on them as hard as they could. It genuinely felt as though every part of him were being stretched out of shape, as if his entire body were being forcibly and dramatically elongated.

    There came a second shock, one much greater than the initial jolt that he’d received upon being hit with the stone, as Esaax realized in horror that it was.

    * * *


    Not far away, in a large puddle of recent rain, the reflection of a long, blue face gazed up at its owner: none other than Ntairow Fade, who was finally near the end of a very long search.

    She had been forced by her clan’s leadership to leave Esaax behind with the rest of the Evergray, but had never accepted the choice that they’d made for her. Ultimately, she had broken free from her clan with the aid of a few fellow Fade whom she’d successfully convinced of the injustice that she’d been dealt.

    Soon after she’d escaped, something had come into the picture that had made her all the more glad that she was free to return to the Evergray and reunite with Esaax. That something appeared now as another blue reflection beside her own, resting on his long arms as he peered into the water with a large, perpetual smile.

    “They’re ready, Mother,” the wynaut said.

    He was her son, named Zerzekai. Tonight he was going to take part in the ritual of evolution—for about the fortieth time. Zerzekai seemed to have a fear of evolving despite how earnestly he wanted to evolve; as such, every single one of his “transforming” battles thus far had ended the same way: cold feet and only two of them.

    “The question is, are you ready?” Ntairow asked.

    “Of course I’m ready! I know you’re gonna be proud of me if I do this, and I bet Father will be, too!”

    “We will be proud of you no matter what,” Ntairow assured him. “And your father’s going to be absolutely delighted to finally meet you no matter what form you’re in.”

    When she’d made it back to Evergray territory, she had been told that Esaax had left and was nowhere to be found. Upon learning this, she’d set out with her child in order to find him and bring him back to what she had thought of as her new clan ever since she’d first spent time with them.

    “But we already met! …Oh. No, we didn’t. Not really…” Zerzekai reminded himself, sounding crestfallen.

    The wynaut and his mother had made numerous return trips to the Blackthorn area in search of Esaax. On one occasion, while exploring and playing alone, Zerzekai had actually found him. He had realized almost as soon as he’d laid eyes and oculon upon Esaax that that wobbuffet was his father, but he had lost track of Esaax after running to tell Ntairow of his discovery.

    “He should have recognized me,” Zerzekai said, and not for the first time.

    Ntairow shook her head. “Different people’s senses don’t always work in the same ways. You know that.”

    Differences in the way senses worked was a subject with which Ntairow had had a very personal sort of experience herself. Having already experienced a change in her own, she had chosen to subject them to another set of enhancing alterations in order to ultimately track down Esaax. She remembered that at the time, she’d found it oddly funny that she’d managed to find the fairly obscure thing that was required to provoke those changes so much more quickly and easily than she’d found Esaax, and she wondered if he would find that similarly amusing.

    She also wondered how much it was going to take to convince him that she was indeed someone whom he’d known and loved before. Ntairow wanted to believe that it would be easy enough, but…

    She loved the Evergray. She really did. Their laws were nowhere near as strict as those of the Fade. But there was a lot about not only the world outside their caverns but also about the secrets of their own kind that they had yet to learn. If, in his time outside of Evergray territory, Esaax hadn’t learned that the course of action that she had taken in order to find him was even an option, she would have to enlighten him about it.

    “We’re ready whenever you are!” a voice called out from not too far away then. Its source was a linoone, next to whom there stood a zigzagoon.

    “Go on, then, if you’re ready,” Ntairow told Zerzekai. “And remember: no matter how this turns out, we will both be proud of you.”

    With a smile that was huge, even for a wynaut, Zerzekai rushed over to the linoone and zigzagoon and allowed himself to be led toward a larger clearing by them. The latter would be the one whom Zerzekai would fight (and defeat—the two normal-types had agreed to Ntairow’s request for the zigzagoon to throw the fight after having been paid handsomely in berries).

    And after the battle, regardless of the outcome, they would go to reunite with Esaax. As a shout from the linoone signaled the start of the match, Ntairow found herself reminiscing about the last night that she’d spent with Esaax…

    FLASH!

    Ntairow’s reverie was abruptly shattered by something that seemed to explode inside her head, something that tore through the image of Esaax that she was holding within her mind and caused that picture to warp and twist.

    Ntairow’s heart froze. “No… it’s not possible,” she whispered.

    A horrid scream stabbed into her mind then—a psychic scream. It rose up, but then faltered and changed, distorted and corrupted in a way that could only have been achieved by…

    “Dear Night, no!” Ntairow stood, reeling as she fought against the harsh brain-noise of the psybane that had so suddenly and impossibly blossomed into being. “Don’t follow!” she then called out to Zerzekai. But she could only hope and pray that her son had heard her and would obey, for she was already running full tilt toward Esaax and the horror that was befalling him. She suffered all the while as she ran, trying but failing to bite back cries of pain and clutching her head in her hands—in all four of them.

    _________________________

    Next time: In the wake of his being struck by the strange stone, a bizarre and terrible experience befalls Esaax, one whose results deeply trouble his caretakers at the Haven. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 08:49 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  13. #13
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Ooh, not sure how I missed the previous chapter...humans! Wow!

    I can't wait to find out what happened to Esaax (which I keep reading as Essax, mind you).

  14. #14
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Blackjack Palazzo:
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack Palazzo View Post
    I can't wait to find out what happened to Esaax (which I keep reading as Essax, mind you).
    My brain does the same thing with that name—many times have I caught myself typing that name as “Essax”. XD;

    _________________________

    Chapter 9 – Altered States



    Esaax refused to believe it at first. Wake up, wake up, wake up! he screamed silently, again and again. But in truth, he knew better. This was not a dream. There was no denying this new reality.

    He’d shut his eyes to the sight of what was befalling him, wishing that he could just pretend it away. Now that he was fully convinced that he couldn’t, a sort of morbid curiosity arose in him and soon compelled him to look again.

    When he did, he saw the same thing that his eyes had last shown him before he’d closed them in horror: his body was in a process of stretching itself out of shape, giving off a somewhat dim white glow as it did so. He was now longer than the bed on which he lay rather than the other way around—and he was still growing.

    This surreal warping of his body had confused and terrified Esaax more than it had actually hurt him up to this point, but now it made the shift from mere discomfort to sheer pain, starting when his head suddenly tore away from his shoulders in a single, violent jerk that threw him from the bed and onto the floor.

    Esaax lay there in stunned bewilderment. His mind was almost frozen with fear, but his body was writhing and flailing in panic and agony. He vaguely wondered how he could possibly still be alive, since it had genuinely felt as though he had just been beheaded.

    The answer was that his head was still attached, though distantly now. He had grown a very long neck. Its curvature allowed him a clear, complete view of the reshaping of his body from a distance, as if he were watching it happening to someone else.

    Still, he didn’t find the sight of his changes anywhere near as awful as the feeling of them—or the sound. There was an audible creaking and crunching as his face bulged outward into an almost saurian shape. There were snaps and pops as new vertebrae were added to his tail. There was a ripping sound as a meager coating of flesh raced to keep up with the rapidly elongating bones in his legs. There was the wet, sickening churning of altering organs, all the while accompanied by the violently hard pounding of his heart, every beat of which felt like brass knuckles to his sternum.

    Pain exploded in his mouth, as well, as his original teeth were shattered by the sudden eruption of a new, more dangerous set: one row above and two below of curved, serrated teeth. At the same time, his eyes were stabbed straight through to his brain by something searing-hot that changed his vision.

    Esaax then felt his hands seeming to tear themselves apart from within. He watched in horrified revulsion as they each split wide open, first at the knuckles and then off to one side, near the wrists. From the gashes, spindly, blood-soaked fingers began to emerge, four to each hand.

    Esaax wanted to scream. He had been trying to all the while. But he was nearly breathless, and his voice would not come to his summons anyway. It was too consumed in its own changes to pay any heed to his urges to cry out in his suffering.

    Finally, there came what struck him as the worst feeling of all, one that spread up through his now nearly eight-foot-long tail from the newly-formed bulb at its end that contained his pseudobrain. What made this sensation the worst was that it was not a pain but a seemingly impossible lack thereof. The part of him that should have been suffering the most was instead feeling nothing at all.

    And furthermore, as he noted in fearful bewilderment, his new tail appeared to be eyeless… but then he learned that it actually wasn’t. One by one, his new oculons opened in a ring around the bulb at the end of his tail, four in total.

    Esaax’s tail twitched suddenly, and slowly, involuntarily, the multisensory organ curled inward. It brought itself to bear before his eyes, locking on to the center of his forehead. In that moment, in the dead stare of his own tail, Esaax’s heart seemed to stop, and he became as numb and still as a corpse. Then his tail and all of its senses came back to life, and with those senses, Esaax discovered an aspect of his new form that terrified him more than any other.

    Right on cue, his voice returned. An unearthly roar tore its way out of him that was almost like two voices in one, simultaneously deep and piercing.

    The rather weak light that had surrounded him finally gave out altogether then, and the moment that it did, the gengar who had entered the room earlier appeared once again, rising up through the floor on the opposite side of the bed from Esaax. No sooner had she fully emerged than she seemed to start melting back into the floor, her body losing definition as it rapidly dwindled, but she stopped shrinking once she was in what was her true form: that of a ditto by the name of Anomaly.

    Anomaly flattened themself against the floor. As they did so, they extended part of their shapeless body in the form of two long, bright blue tendrils that were each almost as thin as a hair at the end. One of the tendrils reached out to grab the now spent evolutionary stone that lay a couple of feet away, while the other lashed out toward Esaax, who was now panicking, seemingly crazed.

    Esaax’s tail noticed the swiftly-approaching tendril and flicked toward it, but Esaax, apparently too absorbed in the fear and pain that still gripped him, gave no further reaction to it even as its end darted swiftly and briefly into the skin of one of his ankles.

    The ditto withdrew both tendrils, letting the stone rest on the floor right in front of their face for a moment as they hurriedly transformed again, grabbing it once more as soon as a pair of white hands grew from their changing form.

    The shape that Anomaly was taking was so familiar to them that they achieved it in no time. Where the ditto had sat mere seconds ago, the gardevoir known as Adn now crouched, but only for a moment before disappearing in a burst of golden light, leaving the Haven behind with no intentions of ever returning.

    Almost immediately afterward, a small group of chansey nurses, drawn by the sounds of Esaax’s screams, arrived at the scene to find the result of his unexpected evolution but nothing at all of its cause.

    * * *


    Esaax floated, suspended in some strange, viscous medium. Though smotheringly hot, the gel that was wrapped around him was also comforting. He knew that it protected him as it held him fast.

    There were tubes entering his body from all sides. They fed substances into him that burned like the worst of all acids and brought pain to every part of him but also nourished him and gave him life. He was glad to have these lifelines snaking into him despite the hurt that they caused.

    Something appeared in the murky distance, moving toward Esaax with incredible speed and grace. Esaax distantly wondered how it could cut through the gel so effortlessly when he was held so firmly in place by the viscous substance. When the thing drew close enough, Esaax could see that it had the form of a huge, disembodied, four-fingered hand—or rather the shadow of such a hand.

    It closed around Esaax the moment that he was within range of its long, thin fingers. Its grip felt like being enveloped in icy water. The contrasting cold was sudden yet not terribly harsh. He soon came to regard it as a pleasant and quite soothing change after having been in such sweltering heat for so long. As the chill sank in deeper, it even started to dull away the acidic pain that had been flowing through him.

    The hand was snuffing out Esaax’s suffering. It was also snuffing out his life. Little by little, he felt less and less. The coldness filled him completely and consumed his every feeling. And Esaax couldn’t help thinking that it was fine to let this chill flush out his soul and leave him hollow so long as the pain was purged along with it.

    The dark hand began to carry Esaax away then, and Esaax found himself perfectly willing to let it do so. This new void that the shadow-hand offered was comforting. It was good, and it was right. It was where he belonged.

    Dragged ever further into the darkness, Esaax felt his nourishing lifelines start to break and pull out of him. Each one lost left him more unfeeling. It was good. It was right. It was…

    Wrong! Suddenly panicked, Esaax fought against the tow of the dark hand, straining and thrashing in vain to escape the nothingness—

    —and succeeding instead in escaping his unconsciousness. His eyes opened, and he was instantly aware that he had been moved to another location. There was no bed here, and there was no door, either. There was barely any space at all, just enough to comfortably hold his large, spidery form. This room was nothing more than a place to contain him. It was just a box—or rather a cage, Esaax couldn’t help but think: a cage with soft, padded walls rather than metal bars.

    “Nicer than being in a pokéball, anyway,” he thought aloud, and he was immediately surprised by the voice that he’d just produced. It was a rasping, guttural kind of voice, sounding somewhere between a hiss and a groan.

    I don’t sound like that! Esaax thought fearfully, but the fact was that he now did. And oddly enough, he became bored of the new voice just as quickly as he’d been shocked by it. All at once, he found himself possessed of an attitude that was as if the new voice and all of the other aspects of his change were just as they had always been.

    A movement to his right caught his attention then. His tail immediately focused on the source of the motion. A window that had been well-concealed opened there, and a familiar chansey’s face was visible through its thick, reinforced glass.

    Esaax pushed his torso up from the floor and got up onto his feet, standing at more than eight feet tall. His neck naturally curved forward and downward rather than straight upward, preventing him from having to duck more than just a little to avoid the ceiling.

    Teresa watched him stand up, her expression unchanging as he aimed his eyes directly into hers. Her view of the large, blue pokémon was blurred every few seconds by the fog of his breath clouding the glass, giving Esaax an almost miragelike appearance.

    “Esaax Evergray,” Teresa addressed him.

    Esaax turned his head. The room was soundproof. Teresa was speaking into a microphone, and her voice was reaching him through an unseen speaker that was somewhere behind him. Meanwhile, she listened through a speaker outside.

    He turned back toward Teresa. “What?” he responded.

    “You’ve evolved,” Teresa said.

    “Good eye,” Esaax said blandly. He folded his arms and cocked his head at Teresa. The senses of his tail told him that she was not happy with him, but he found that he didn’t really care. “So what of it?”

    “I wasn’t aware that multiple-stage evolution was possible in your species,” Teresa said. “Do you know what you’ve evolved into?”

    Esaax only stared at her in response. He hadn’t been aware that wobbuffet could evolve, either. For a moment, he wondered just what it was that he’d become, vaguely annoyed at the fact that he didn’t know, but soon came to decide that something else about his current situation was much more important.

    “Why did you imprison me?” he demanded.

    “Are you honestly saying you don’t remember? Or are you just being a wiseguy again?” Teresa had a hard time disliking anyone, but this creature that Esaax had become—or more specifically, the attitude that apparently went along with the change—was starting to push it. “You exhibited threatening behavior. The nurses who found you following your evolution said that you tried to kick and bite them, so we sedated you and put you here.”

    At those words, Esaax wondered how long he’d been unconscious, but that moment of curiosity was as short-lived as the one that had preceded it. He gave an annoyed sigh. “I seriously don’t remember doing any such thing,” he said, “but if you insist that I did do such a thing, well… sorry. Now, how about letting me out of here?”

    “I don’t think so,” Teresa said. “You see, wobbuffet are incapable of direct violence. We don’t know what else evolution might have made you capable of. So we’re going to have to keep you in there until we’ve managed to figure you out. Oh, and by the way: if you’ve learned to use any beams or projectile attacks to complement your new physical advantages, and you’re considering using them to break out, don’t bother. The room is elementproof.”

    “Huh. Well, could you at least be so kind as to get me something to eat? I’m starving in here.” The cell that held Esaax blocked sounds but not scents. It wasn’t until he smelled the chansey and tasted her scent of warmth and life and flesh on the air that he realized just how hungry he was.

    “All right. Just give us a few minutes, and we’ll bring you something,” Teresa assured him, her tone and expression softening somewhat.

    “No,” Esaax said. “I can’t wait that long.” He took a step back, then suddenly lunged forward, trying but failing to kick down the door. His jaws then snapped against the window, the sharp teeth scraping the glass again and again with a harsh screeching sound.

    Teresa jumped back from Esaax’s futile but nonetheless startling strike. She uncapped a hidden button on her microphone unit and pressed it. With a loud hiss, sleep powder sprayed forcefully into Esaax’s cell from all directions. In a near-instant, the cell was filled with obscuring, bluish-white powder. Seconds later, vents and fans siphoned away the dust, and Esaax was revealed once more. He was completely subdued now, curled up on the floor.

    Teresa sighed, gazing pityingly at Esaax. I’ll find a way to get through to you. I swear it, she said silently.

    She then made her way to the waiting room and the arbok and snorunt therein. Once there, she explained the current situation to them. She then brought them to Esaax’s cell and allowed them both to have a look at him.

    “You honestly have no idea what he’s become?” Syr quietly asked Teresa as he held a troubled stare upon Esaax.

    “Not at the moment, no,” Teresa answered. As she spoke, she flicked a switch on the microphone unit. The cell’s small window and its view to the pokémon within were closed off once more. With a determined expression, Teresa turned to the others. “Come with me,” she said. “We may be able to find out yet.”

    _________________________

    Next time: Information is sought regarding the pokémon that Esaax has become, and Syr thinks he knows just who might be able to provide it. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 09:06 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Ooooh, I sure wasn't expecting that! What's the source of the name Kwazai?

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