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  1. #16
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Now, I will be merciful and warn you all that the following installment is particularly dark… As a matter of fact, it’s specifically chapters like this one that led me to give this story a PG-13 rating.


    Chapter 10 – Embracing the Predator

    “Can’t you do this any faster?” Syr urged.

    “Do you want this done in a hurry, or do you want it done right?” Madeline asked crossly.


    “Just keep your skin on, purple man!” the mr. mime snapped.

    Teresa, Syr, and Jen had fetched Madeline, and after briefing her on what had transpired regarding Esaax, they’d gone with her to access the Haven’s pokémon database. In addition to being the first hospital designed to admit treat both humans and pokémon, the Haven had also been a very active center of pokémon research. Here, an immense volume and spectrum of pokémon-related data from all over the world was compiled.

    Therefore it was quite odd, not to mention very frustrating for Madeline and those who were gathered there with her, when minute after minute of the mr. mime’s work (which, Syr’s impatience aside, was truthfully very speedy) continued to yield nothing on the subject of wobbuffet evolution.

    “It must be super-obscure or else we’d have it already,” Madeline said.

    “Keep looking,” Teresa directed her.

    Madeline did not pause, her fingers continuing to fly over the keys. Meanwhile, she shivered and said, “Brrr. Is it just me, or did it just get really cold in here all of a sudden?”

    “Yes, it is colder in here…” Teresa was well-insulated against the elements, but she’d noticed the chill, too. She cast a questioning glance at Jen. The snorunt caught her eye and suddenly looked as though he’d been caught robbing the cookie jar. Uttering a small, embarrassed noise, Jen made a hasty exit.

    “He didn’t have to leave…” said Madeline, who was too busy to sound as sorry for Jen as she felt. She continued her search, her brow knitted in hard focus. Finally, “Argh.”

    “‘Argh’?” Syr echoed in puzzlement.

    “Yes, argh. That’s everything,” Madeline said. “Nothing in here at all about wobbuffet being able to evolve. It can’t even conceive of such a thing.”

    “Then he must have become an entirely new form of pokémon,” said Syr.

    “I don’t think so,” Teresa said. “We’d thought that wobbuffet were unable to evolve, but this proves that they actually are. They’ve probably always been able to—it just seems too unlikely that this is the first time that this has happened. There’s got to be a precedent.”

    “Well, if there is, it should be in here, but it’s not,” said Madeline. “We’ve got just about the most complete recorded history of pokémon you could ask for here. That includes some very obscure and unusual information, some of which is thousands of years old. So I seriously doubt that the absence of any information about wobbuffet evolving is just an oversight.”

    Obscure and unusual information…

    Thousands of years old…

    “Karo,” Syr all but whispered, wondering why he hadn’t thought of this sooner. The arbok made for the door, rushing past the other two pokémon in the room.

    “What are you doing?” Teresa asked, startled by Syr’s sudden action.

    “Plan B,” Syr said. “Stay; I’ll be right back.” With no further explanation, he left the Haven and set off down the street.

    * * *

    After traveling a short distance southward, Syr came to a three-story house in the part of town where the more expensive homes stood. This was the residence of Ekunasic Karo.

    Karo was a nosepass, aged 6,731 years, which among his kind was still quite young. He had once belonged to the gym leader Ren Bridges of the Apex League: the gyms open only to elite trainers. Following the Extinction, Karo was no longer bound by his rather demanding gym duties and left with little to do aside from the maintenance of his trainer’s house. He was thereby given the time to acquire quite a few new friends, whom he would occasionally invite over to admire his eccentric trainer’s collection of the rare, the unique, and the obscure.

    Syr was included among those few. However, he had not spoken to or even seen Karo in over a year. He’d somewhat recently asked one of Karo’s other friends what the nosepass might be up to, and the answer given was that Karo had decided to go to sleep.

    Therein lay the potential problem with Syr’s idea: nosepass could sleep indefinitely and were profoundly difficult to wake. If Karo was still sleeping…

    Syr knew that he’d just have to find out whether or not that was the case and deal with the situation as it unfolded. He made his slithering approach up the walkway. Right away, he found something amiss: the door was unlocked and ajar. He knew that Karo would have had someone coming over periodically to take care of things while he slept, but he doubted that any of Karo’s housesitters would have so carelessly left the door open.

    Cautiously, Syr slipped through the door, not knowing for certain what he would find. He nudged the lightswitch that was just inside with his nose. In spite of the suspicious front that the situation had already presented, Syr was nonetheless shocked by what he saw.

    A number of hanging lights illuminated a scene of chaos. Trinkets and artifacts were scattered and broken all about. Furniture was upended, disarrayed, and ruined. On top of that, the walls, floor, ceiling, and every other surface in sight was covered in three different colors of what was unmistakably smeargle graffiti—as was the nosepass in the middle of the room, who was just obliviously sitting there like the big rock that he was.

    Syr slithered over to Karo. The nosepass had obviously not been up and around during the invasion of his home. Even now, he remained more still and inanimate than seemed possible, even for a rock-type. It made Syr wonder if Karo wasn’t more than just very deeply asleep.

    Concerned, Syr pressed his head against the stone surface of Karo’s body. He was able to hear something going on in there, working out an undeniable rhythm, albeit a very slow one.

    Having confirmed that the nosepass was still alive, Syr now faced the daunting task of waking him. He tried shouting at Karo. He tried pushing and prodding at him. He even poked Karo in the eye, but still the nosepass kept snoozing on.

    Syr was quickly losing patience and getting desperate. He was on the verge of finding out whether or not Karo would respond to having something shoved up his huge, honking nose. Then he spotted something potentially useful in the corner.

    It was a fairly large mace, which had caught Syr’s eye when light had glinted off of its surface. It was the only metal object in the entire room, though clearly not of a kind of metal that would be attracted by Karo’s magnetism; otherwise, the “up-the-nose” question would likely have answered itself.

    Syr went over and lifted the mace with his tail. The weapon was good and heavy. This ought to do it, he thought. He returned to Karo, swung the mace high, and struck the side of the nosepass’s face.

    Nothing happened.

    Syr tried striking Karo a bit harder, this time hitting him just below his massive nose, but still Karo would not awaken.

    Fairly frustrated now, Syr gathered all his strength and then some, raising the mace as high overhead as he could. With a loud yell, Syr brought the mace crashing down one last time, dead center into Karo’s forehead.


    There was a small explosion of gray dust. When it cleared, Syr saw that he had opened a long, shallow fissure in Karo’s head, splitting it like a melon.

    Syr stared horrorstruck at the damage for a moment, afraid that he might have just killed Karo, but then a groan issued from the nosepass. Karo rocked back and forth briefly on his short legs, then tilted backward and held that position, seeming to gaze up unsteadily at Syr.

    Then, without warning, the nosepass lunged forward. Syr flung himself out of the way just as Karo’s pointed nose punched a large hole in the floor right where the arbok had been seconds before.

    Syr kept himself at a distance as Karo righted himself once more. “Karo, it’s me!” Syr shouted, but it was of no use. The nosepass was still fast asleep, with his cognitive faculties compromised further by the blow that he’d suffered to his head.

    Concerned that Karo might charge at him again, Syr tried to move out of the way. Much to his alarm, however, he found himself completely immobilized as if he were caught in an invisible vice. When did he use block on me? Syr wondered, bewildered. He could do nothing but stare as Karo followed up with lock-on, his huge nose glowing as it brought itself to bear on the arbok.

    Syr knew what was coming next, and he was not looking forward to it at all. He knew that he had to get Karo back to his senses… but if cracking the nosepass’s head open could not awaken him completely, then what could? At any rate, Syr was not keen on being on the receiving end of an electric blast if he could help it at all. He prepared to use acid, but found to his shock that he couldn’t even get his jaws open. Damn, that’s a good block! Syr remarked silently as he was forced to swallow his own acid attack, leaving a sickening, burning sensation in his stomach.

    An ominous hum resonated through the room, and the air tingled with electricity. Karo was about to unleash a zap cannon. Knowing that he could not escape, Syr shut his eyes in dread and braced himself…


    When stars stopped exploding in Syr’s brain, he found that he was lying on his side; the block that had held been holding him in position had apparently been diverted to something else, though to what or why, Syr couldn’t imagine. Filling almost his entire view was one of Karo’s big, stumpy feet.

    Syr tried to bolt away, but the zap cannon attack had rendered him almost thoroughly paralyzed, his body now devoid of sensation and largely unresponsive. He was utterly helpless if Karo opted to crush his skull with that stone foot in his not-quite-conscious rampage.

    Instead of attacking again, however, Karo spoke to him. He seemed to be much more awake now, but he still sounded rather dazed. “Hey, Syr. Man, I don’t know what’s been going on… was I sleepwalking?”

    “No, you were sleep-zapping,” Syr said crossly, struggling slightly to speak due to his numbed mouth.

    “What?” Karo was apparently still coming to some of his senses and not having a particularly easy time doing so. “Aw… dude, I am so sorry… did I really?”

    “Yes, you did.”

    “I am so sorry,” Karo said again. He slowly became aware of his surroundings. “Aw, no, I didn’t do all of this, did I?”

    “No, it was some smeargle. They came in and trashed the place, marked all over everything. Including you.”

    “When?” Karo demanded.

    “I have no clue,” Syr responded.

    “Hmmph. Yeah, it was smeargle, all right. Look at this mess…” The nosepass meandered around the house, surveying the vandalism and groaning ever louder as he stumbled upon more and more damage. At some point, he apparently came across his own reflection somewhere; “Aw, crap, they did mark me!” he shouted. “How’d they put this crack in my head, though?”

    “They didn’t. I did, and I was just trying to wake you up. Does it hurt?” Syr asked in concern.

    “No, not really,” Karo replied. He came back into the room where Syr still lay immobilized. The hole that he’d made in the floor caught and held his attention. “Who did this?”

    “That would be you and your massive nose.”

    “Huh.” Karo actually sounded as if he were impressed with himself at this news.

    Syr was not impressed. Rather, he was quite annoyed. “Haven’t you noticed that I am paralyzed here?”

    “Whoa… Yeah, you are, aren’t you? But that’s okay, cause Ren always keeps a good supply of dried cheri berries around—”

    “Gee, I wonder why?” Syr muttered.

    “That’s assuming those idiot mammals didn’t get into them,” Karo finished, ignoring Syr’s comment. “I’ll go get… oh. I forgot—they’re in the kitchen,” he groaned. “I can’t go in there…”

    “And why can’t you go in there, exactly?” Syr demanded.


    It took a moment for Syr to make sense of that. The arbok then noticed that Karo was heading for the front door. “Wait, where are you going?”

    “I’m gonna get help from across the street,” Karo answered as he opened the door and began to step out. “Don’t move.” He stopped in his tracks as he realized that he’d just said that to someone who was presently almost completely paralyzed. Then he burst out into his loud, honking brand of laughter, which was still audible long after he’d shut the door and left.

    Syr just lay there on the floor, seething with annoyance and worry at how much time this misadventure was costing him.

    * * *

    Teresa leaned against the office door, the tip of her tail flicking about restlessly. Whatever Syr had gone to do, she hadn’t expected him to take this long about it. It was beginning to look as though Syr’s search for answers would prove as fruitless as Madeline’s had.

    “Might as well look in on Esaax again,” the chansey said wearily. “I imagine he’s still asleep in there, though…”

    Madeline turned in her seat to face Teresa. “Do you think maybe I could…?” She was fluttering her fingers and wearing a self-betraying smile.

    Teresa looked her in the eyes, wearing an amused expression. Before she could say anything in response, however, the door was flung open. Teresa was catapulted onto the floor, where she rolled for a short distance before she was able to pick herself back up again.

    Regarding the sticky remnants of the now shattered egg in her belly pouch with severe annoyance, the chansey readied an angry glare for whomever was making their entrance. As it turned out, it was Jen who stepped into the room. Before Teresa could chew him out, though, words came tumbling out of his mouth at maximum volume, completely unintelligible.

    “Say that again. And breathe this time,” Teresa said, seizing the snorunt by his shoulders.

    “There’s-someone-at-the-front-door-and-I-don’t-know-who-or-what-she-is-but-she’s-here-to-see-Esaax-and-she’s-really-freaked-out-and—” Jen very nearly passed out right then and there.

    “I thought I told you to breathe,” Teresa said. “Thank you for letting me know about that, Jen. Now please go sit down and relax somewhere before your heart explodes.”

    Teresa went over to the desk upon which she’d set down the microphone unit for Esaax’s cell, retrieved the device, and handed it to Madeline. “If he’s up, you can tell him he has another visitor. But if he’s not, don’t wake him.”

    The chansey left the room, with Jen tottering woozily behind. Madeline watched them go, then set out herself in a bit of a rush.

    Esaax had been placed in a part of the Haven that was rarely used, usually deserted, and far removed from the greater population of the hospital. This meant a bit of a walk for Madeline, but it was more than worth it as far as she was concerned.

    Eventually, she found herself standing before Esaax’s cell. She hit the switch on the microphone unit controlling the window, and once the window had opened, she peered through it eagerly. The dim light fed into the room at all times revealed that Esaax was still sleeping, his slender, spidery body curled up on the floor.

    Madeline marveled at the sight before her, impressed with Esaax’s new form beyond even her own expectations. If only he were awake, she wished silently, then I could see him in action

    The mr. mime began to turn away, sighing in disappointment. Then she thought she saw something moving out of the corner of her eye. Turning back, she saw something long, black, and bearing a ring of eyes appear in the window, searching about like a periscope. Rising up from the floor after it came Esaax’s new, saurian face.

    Madeline switched on the microphone and speaker in a hurry. “Aww, did you wake up just for me?” she asked.

    “No,” Esaax croaked. Madeline wilted in mock embarrassment. “I wasn’t asleep,” the kwazai added.

    “You weren’t?”

    “I was faking it the whole time.”

    “Faking it, huh?” Madeline echoed skeptically. “What about the sleep powder Teresa blasted in there?”

    Esaax smirked. A lime-green aura briefly shimmered around him.

    Safeguard… Madeline just stared at him, her mouth hanging slightly open. She wondered how he had managed to activate that defensive aura without Teresa noticing it.

    She continued to watch Esaax through the window, and he gazed right back at her almost… longingly… Madeline felt her mouth go dry. Could it be… does he really…? she wondered.

    “You… you really do understand the way I feel about you, don’t you?” she asked, her pulse quickening.

    Esaax merely blinked at her, pressing his vaguely smiling muzzle against the glass.

    Whether that was a “yes”, a “no”, or anything in between was utterly irrelevant to Madeline; she had already made up her mind. She threw a glance over her shoulder at the security camera that looked down upon them. It, like all the rest of the Haven’s cameras, had gone out of order a couple of days prior and had still not been repaired, but she still had an odd, fleeting notion that she should perhaps disable it telekinetically.

    She decided against tampering with the camera, however, and instead turned her attention back toward another device. She uncapped a tiny green button on the microphone unit and allowed her finger to hover very briefly over it before pushing it. There was a faint tone. Then, smoothly and almost silently, the door to Esaax’s cell slid open.

    The gangly shape within stirred, framed in soft light and looking ghostly. Esaax lurched forward and emerged from his cell, bowing his already low-slung head even further as he passed through the doorway. Now that he was no longer contained, he seemed much larger than he had appeared to be while within his cell, and she detected another difference in him, though it took her a moment to make sense of it. But soon enough, He’s part dark-type now, she recognized.

    Esaax moved toward Madeline with slow, graceful steps. He loomed over her, twice her height. He drew an incredibly long, deep breath, his broad chest swelling immensely. A long, red tongue flitted quickly across his lips.

    Madeline looked up at Esaax with an expression of awe, struggling to breathe more calmly and to stop trembling so much. Bringing a smile to her face that seemed unusually hesitant to form, she reached for one of his massive hands.

    The spidery, blue fingers closed over Madeline’s own with an iron grip. It was all she could do not to yelp in pain.

    Esaax moved even closer and lowered his head, his face just inches from Madeline’s. His lips drew back, baring his jagged teeth. He began caressing her face with his muzzle, drawing short, panting breaths, taking in her scent.

    Madeline felt a wave of revulsion wash over her. This was not the experience with Esaax about which she’d fantasized so many times—he was starting to legitimately scare her.

    Nonetheless, she forced herself to look at him directly, trying as hard as she could to not appear as unsettled as she felt. She thought, or at least hoped, that perhaps if she could continue to treat him with affection, he would snap out of this disturbing phase and treat her more pleasantly.

    She sent her other hand up to touch the kwazai’s face, caressing it with fingers that shook in spite of her efforts to prevent such. His skin was rubbery and quite smooth. She found it pleasant to the touch, and she tried to focus on how nice it felt rather than on the fear that was steadily overtaking her. It began to work, too. But then Esaax’s head suddenly moved with surprising speed, the jaws snapping harshly. His serrated teeth sank deeply into the meager flesh of her arm.

    Madeline screamed in pain. All the love that she’d had for Esaax was gone from her mind now, replaced by pure, primal terror. Knowing that she currently had access to no attacks that could do him any harm and aware that she would likely just get them thrown right back at her at twice the power if she did have any, she tried desperately to free herself from him, but to no avail. Her escape was foiled soundly, not only by Esaax’s sheer physical strength but also by the dark gray aura that flared into being around both pokémon at her attempt to escape, signaling that Esaax had retained his shadow tag ability.

    Esaax worried Madeline’s arm in his jaws with shredding teeth and sharp, jerking movements of his neck until the appendage was torn away at the elbow, gruesomely freeing one side of her, drawing more cries of agony. His left hand clutched her right hand even more tightly, and there were several sickening cracks as the bones in his grip yielded to the pressure. His other hand shot forward and slammed into her chest, pinning her to the wall.

    Now struggling to breathe, Madeline stared through eyes blurred with tears at the empty space where half of her arm had once been. Then, fearfully, she looked up at Esaax once more. His head was already raised for another strike. Her blood dripped slowly and thickly from his jaws, and she glimpsed a couple of her own fingers protruding from between his teeth before they, along with the rest of her severed limb, disappeared into his mouth and down his very long throat.

    It was in that moment that Esaax became aware of something new. He had discovered the presence of a power within him into which he had not yet tapped. He summoned it forth, and it rose up through his spine, radiated out through one arm, and gathered in his hand.

    Esaax went ahead and released Madeline, letting her slump to the floor in her wavering consciousness, knowing that she couldn’t escape anyway. He gazed at his hand with curiosity. Energy in a shade of black that he’d never seen before danced in a slow vortex around it with a glow that was intensifying by the second.

    He drew that arm back as if he were working an invisible bow, fully focusing all of his senses on the bleeding, shaking mr. mime before him. His concentration became heightened to its maximum acuteness. At this range, it was virtually unnecessary to take aim, but he nonetheless sought out the most lethal trajectory for his new weapon.

    His arm thrust forward. With a loud, hollow sound, a glowing black beam of incredible intensity exploded from his hand, blasting Madeline point-blank.

    At the exact moment that the beam struck Madeline, a sudden pain hit Esaax like a wrecking ball, taking his breath away. Red light exploded in his vision. His nerves seared for what felt like innumerable seconds, and his head felt as though it were blowing itself apart.

    In his suffering, Esaax lashed out involuntarily, his teeth meeting flesh and drawing a fresh torrent of blood. Then he staggered and fell to the floor. When he rose once more, his mind surfaced from the altered state that it had been in for nearly the entire duration of the time since he’d evolved.

    His vision returned in the next moment. He saw blood before him, and followed its trail to the torn-out throat of a mr. mime—a corpse. Something—someone—who, mere moments ago, had been alive—until he had killed her.

    Esaax recoiled with a scream, suddenly frantic to be as far away from the scene as possible. His stomach violently expelled its contents. His renewed clarity wouldn’t let him delude himself into believing that this was a nightmare or a hallucination. The scene before his eyes unflinchingly spoke the truth: he had murdered this pokémon. He had tasted her blood. He had eaten her flesh…

    A howl of anguish and horror tore its way out through his throat. With fear, confusion, and disgust like none that he had ever known, all directed straight toward himself, Esaax brought his newfound technique to bear on the wall, letting it linger there until a large area of the wall had turned black and disintegrated, and then fled into the night.


    A little story regarding Karo’s name: One day, at my cousin’s house, I allowed her to read this chapter while this story was still a work-in-progress. After she’d read it, she led me into the kitchen. I had no idea what she was doing. Then, she pulled something out of a paper grocery bag that was sitting on the counter and showed it to me, making sure I got a good, long look at it. That something was a bottle of corn syrup. Its label read… “Karo”. And my cousin has not let me live that coincidence down ever since.

    In my defense, his name is not pronounced the same way as the name of the corn syrup. (It’s car-o, not care-o.) But… yeah, even I don’t think that really helps things much. XD Alas…

    Shortly after the corn syrup incident, my cousin also informed me that Esaax might as well be “Ex-Lax”. Alas again… XD

    Next chapter: Karo has something that he thinks Syr should like to see. (Get your mind out of the gutter! XD) See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 11th December 2013 at 08:13 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  2. #17
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Ouch, what a horrible thing for a peaceful Wobby to become...

  3. #18
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Blackjack Palazzo:
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack Palazzo View Post
    Ouch, what a horrible thing for a peaceful Wobby to become...
    Heh, yeah, I second that. And I’m sure Esaax would third it.


    Chapter 11 – The Vault

    Karo returned just a short while after he’d left. He was accompanied by Breanna, a granbull from across the street, who fetched the dried cheri berries from Karo’s kitchen and administered them to Syr. She also provided a couple of sitrus berries from her own cupboard for the nosepass’s injury.

    Syr had never watched Karo eat before. After finally doing so, the arbok decided that he would never watch it happen again if he could help it.

    The granbull even helped to rid Karo of the graffiti that had been inflicted upon him. Unfortunately, though, not all of it came off.

    After the granbull left, Syr explained to Karo what had happened to Esaax at the Haven. He then asked the nosepass if he possessed any information about the evolved form of wobbuffet.

    Karo gave Syr an odd, sly look. He beckoned the arbok to a closet that, when opened, appeared to contain nothing other than an obscene message scrawled in yellow smeargle ink. Then Karo uttered a harsh, trilling sound, and the closet’s back wall split open to reveal another, larger room.

    “After you,” Karo said, ushering Syr into the hidden room before entering it himself.

    Syr wasn’t surprised by the secret room; this wasn’t the first time that Karo had shown it to him. He also wasn’t surprised when he felt the room begin to make a descent. He knew that it was actually an elevator, having ridden it several times.

    He was, however, a bit surprised to be riding it on this particular occasion. He had hoped that Karo would be able to provide some information about what Esaax had become but had not really expected him to be able to do so. “I take it this means you do know something about what wobbuffet evolve into?” he asked.

    “You could say that.” The elevator came to a stop. “Now, you’re not gonna find one hair of smeargle in here,” Karo said, snorting grumpily. “Stupid furballs, scribbling their filth—I’d like to show them who likes to eat their own…”

    Syr and Karo exited the elevator and entered what Ren had dubbed the Vault. It was a large room that had been the home of all of Ren’s most valued possessions. Just as Karo had predicted, it was completely free of any signs of intrusion by smeargle.

    The Vault contained more books than anything else, which were arranged on towering bookcases that lined the wall directly in front of Syr as well as those off to either side. Syr’s gaze swept over the vast book collection. “Which of these has the information we want?” he asked.

    “Never mind them,” Karo said, making his way further into the room. “I kinda got the impression that you’re in a hurry—” Syr made an exasperated noise at this, with the face to match. “—so, for the sake of time, just watch the screen.”

    The screen to which Karo was referring was mounted next to the elevator doors and covered a sizable portion of the wall. Syr slithered over to Karo, who then produced a deep and very resonant sound. The overhead lights turned off, and the screen before Syr and Karo came awake with light.

    “Number thirty-nine,” Karo said. Words and symbols flashed briefly on the screen, and then a film began to play…

    A pokémon battle was about to commence in a gym that was lit by glowing, pale green crystals—the Exo Gym. The walls were decorated with carved figures of pokémon over a softly glowing background of shifting colors. The floor was covered by an equally colorful mosaic depicting planets, comets, and stars.

    Ren sat on one side of the arena in a dark-colored, metal chair. The strange lighting and the camera angle didn’t allow for a very detailed examination of his appearance, revealing only that he was slight of build, completely bald, and dressed in simple, entirely black attire.

    Opposite him, his challenger was seated in a chair like his own. The camera revealed somewhat more of the challenger’s appearance than Ren’s. Like him, she wore dark clothing, deep blue denim for her jacket and pants and black for the rest of her outfit. Unlike him, she had hair: dark, unkempt, and reaching down past her shoulders.

    “You’re sure you want to do this the straightforward way?” the gym leader said in his sly-sounding, slightly lilting voice. “The special features of my gym do exist solely out of consideration for the challenger.”

    “Thanks, but I came here to battle a gym leader, not a gentleman,” responded the challenger in a low, cackling voice.

    Ren gave a short laugh. “Out with it, then!”

    The challenger produced a nest ball. “Go, Alain!”

    With a burst of light, an alakazam appeared. Alain gazed intensely at the gym leader, holding both of his spoons in one hand while thoughtfully stroking his long whiskers with the other.

    “Oh, that’s
    nice…” Ren remarked. “Very nice. A shame, really, considering… oh well. Acheron? Could you step forward, please?”

    There was no pokéball of any kind thrown, no flash or sparkle of light to herald the entrance of Ren’s pokémon. Instead, the summoned creature emerged from the shadows at Ren’s side. Rays of pale green light fell upon Acheron, revealing the form of…

    “Okay, Syr, is that what you saw?” Karo asked.

    “Yes. Yes, it is,” Syr answered almost breathlessly. The arbok could barely believe his eyes, but the sight they presented told the truth: whatever Esaax now was, Acheron was the exact same thing.

    Syr returned his attention to the footage, watching the commencement of the battle between Alain and Acheron.

    In the Exo Gym, as well as every other gym in the Apex League, the trainers were not allowed to issue commands to their pokémon. Ren and his challenger had to merely sit back and watch their pokémon carry out the battle on their own terms.

    Sensing the presence of the dark element within his opponent, Alain knew that his psychic attacks were of no use in this match. He furthermore identified Acheron by sight as having once been a wobbuffet; as such, Alain knew that he risked doing more harm to himself than to Acheron in attacking him.

    Alain quickly formulated a plan to get around that risk, however. He transferred one of his spoons to the other hand, then summoned one of the techniques that he had inherited from his medicham father. The air around the alakazam crackled with electricity, and miniature bolts of lightning began a frenzied dance around one of his hands.

    Acheron, meanwhile, stood calmly on the other side of the arena, his long tail waving as he looked upon his opponent with a faint smirk. Alain surged forward and leapt high into the air, his psychic power allowing him to hover momentarily over the head of his eight-foot-tall opponent before slamming his thunderpunch into the back of Acheron’s neck.

    Small tremors rippled through Acheron’s body as electricity briefly coursed through him, but he kept silent and showed no visible signs that the thunderpunch had caused him any actual pain—that is, until he caused an orange aura to blaze into being around himself, sending the alakazam flying with the force of his counter attack.

    Grunting at the pain of the retaliatory strike, Alain telekinetically righted himself in midair and looked intently at Acheron, hoping to see evidence that he’d successfully paralyzed him—the less pain Acheron could feel, the less he could inflict, Alain reckoned. Acheron’s tail was waving back and forth just as fluidly as it had been before he’d taken the thunderpunch, however, and his legs were steady beneath him.

    Accepting this, Alain lowered himself back down to the ground and implemented the other aspect of his plan, hoping that it, at least,
    would work on the first try. He transferred his other spoon back into his empty hand, and then a dull red glow filled his eyes. A ball of energy in the same color gathered between his spoons and then fired forth at Acheron, bursting into jagged red streaks that snaked over his entire body on impact. The streaks gave a single red flash, then turned black and vanished into Acheron’s skin. Alain smiled at this—Acheron’s counter technique had been successfully disabled.

    Acheron regarded this new development without any concern—he hadn’t been planning on relying solely on that technique and knew that he could do just fine without it. He shut his eyes, allowing his mind to sink into a deep meditation.

    Alain wasted no time in launching more attempts to paralyze his opponent, hoping to succeed in that endeavor before the effects of his disable technique wore off. The Exo Gym was filled with the crackling sounds of electric power as he delivered three more thunderpunches in quick succession, to all of which Acheron gave no more reaction than he had to the first.

    Alain then moved back from him, once again checking to see if Acheron was showing any signs of paralysis. Acheron’s skin was blistered and raw at the site of each thunderpunch’s impact, and he reeked of charred flesh and trembled on the spot.

    Those tremors subsided very quickly, however, and the moment they did, Acheron’s body suddenly took on a bright red glow. The light expanded outward in a bide attack, forming a shockwave that knocked Alain off his feet and blasted him clear across the arena—he was almost sent flying right into his trainer’s face.

    Acheron grinned as he watched the alakazam on the other side of the arena struggle to catch his breath and get back onto his feet, greatly weakened now. This, Acheron decided, was a good time to bring out the big guns—as weak as his opponent now was, he might only have to do it once. Besides which, he figured he’d played around with him long enough.

    He allowed a dark-type charge to build around one hand, seeing a faint, off-white glow surround Alain as he did so. The alakazam was trying to heal himself via the recover technique—but too late. No sooner had his injuries begun to repair themselves than a black beam came roaring forth from Acheron’s hand and struck him. Alain screamed in agony—and curiously, so did Acheron.

    The attack ceased. Alain, covered from head to toe in black scorch marks, twitched briefly before falling unconscious and still. Acheron fell to his knees, still voicing his pain in the wake of the last attack that he’d launched, but he remained conscious. The match was over. The challenger had lost.

    “So that’s it, then,” Syr stated, knowing that the Exo Gym allowed only one pokémon to each competitor.

    “Yeah, that’s it. But don’t feel too bad for her. She may have lost the match, but,” Karo said with a chuckle, “she won him.”

    Syr watched as Alain’s trainer first recalled her pokémon into the nest ball and then rushed into the arena to the aid of the moaning blue pokémon there—the very same pokémon who had just denied her a victory in this gym. Syr could just make out the expression of wonder that was forming on Ren’s face, and a realization hit him. “You mean, that’s her?”

    “You guessed it,” Karo confirmed. “She made an enormous impression on Ren there in that gym on that day. And the rest is history.” He smirked insofar as he could with a face that was comprised of a nose and not much else. “Let’s give them some privacy,” he then said. He produced the same low sound that he had used to activate the video screen, and the screen was returned to blankness.

    “So… that creature… what was that?” Syr asked.

    “That,” Karo said, “was a kwazai.”

    “Kwazai…” Syr echoed. “And that last attack he used…” Syr had never seen anything like it before, especially not from any creature bearing any relation to a wobbuffet. This was no retaliatory technique—Acheron had attacked proactively, something that wobbuffet were unable to do. Apparently evolution freed the species from that restriction. “What in the world was that?”

    “That would be reflux,” Karo answered. “It’s a dark-type attack, and it’s one of the nastiest ones there is, too.”

    “Does this mean that kwazai are dark-types?” Syr asked.

    “Only half that. Psychic/dark-type, to be specific. But that’s only the males. The females, now, they’re another thing altogether…”


    “Yeah. Males evolve one way, and females evolve another,” Karo explained.

    “Just how much do you know about kwazai?” Syr asked, astounded.

    “Meh… pretty good amount, I guess…” Karo replied nonchalantly.

    “That does it. You’re coming with me!”

    * * *

    Syr and Karo arrived shortly thereafter at the Haven. Once through the doors, they were immediately greeted by a scene that neither of them had expected to find.

    Teresa was unloading a small bundle of assorted medicines when she noticed the presence of the arbok and the nosepass. “Oh good, you’re finally back!” she said.

    But neither Syr nor Karo really heard her, particularly not Syr. This was because the two of them had noticed the tall, blue figure lying on its side on a bench near where Teresa was busily sifting through her portable remedies.

    Syr moved closer to the unknown being. He was almost completely certain that this pokémon, with its blue skin and its black tail that held a presently-closed oculon in each of its four branches, bore some relation to the species of wynaut and wobbuffet. He turned to Karo for verification. “Is that…?”

    “Kwazai, female,” Karo confirmed. “Yeah, I wish I’d had time to show you that video—you’d have liked Demi, man, you really would’ve…”

    Teresa came to stand with them, carrying a spray-bottle of potion and a faintly glowing, coral-colored revive crystal. “Karo, I presume?” she asked of the nosepass. Karo responded affirmatively with a small grunt and an action that would have been a nod if he had possessed a neck.

    “Can you tell us what happened here?” Syr asked Teresa.

    “Well, she showed up here and managed to let me know that she was looking for Esaax, but something was driving her madder by the second. There seemed to be no calming her. And when we tried to restrain her, she started psywaving everything in sight before screaming bloody murder and passing out. Unfortunately, one of those psywaves did hit Jen…”

    What?” Syr said, instantly worried.

    “He’s not hurt,” Teresa assured him. “The poor kid’s just had his brain scrambled a little bit. He got so dizzy that he just tipped right over and hasn’t been able to get back onto his feet yet. But other than that, no damage done. He’ll be just fine soon. I put him right over there,” she added, pointing. “You can see for yourself.”

    She was indicating a chair off in the corner, in which the snorunt was lying with his eyes half-closed. Syr, distracted by the kwazai, hadn’t even seen him there. He slithered over to Jen. “How are you feeling?” he asked concernedly. Jen only groaned softly, rolled over, and turned his back on Syr in response.

    “Best not to stimulate him in any way right now if you’d rather he didn’t throw up,” Teresa said.

    She took the revive and held it against the kwazai’s forehead. The crystal’s glow intensified for a moment, then ceased entirely, leaving the spent crystal darkened inside like a burned-out lightbulb. The kwazai stirred slightly and gave a soft moan, revealing the first, faintest signs of returning consciousness. Teresa then set about spraying potion over a series of scrapes and bruises covering the kwazai’s arms; the wounds began quickly fading away at once. “Poor thing. She must have taken a nasty spill on the way here,” the chansey said.

    “Who is she?” Syr wondered aloud as he gazed down at the kwazai. “Did you manage to get any personal information out of her before she passed out?”

    “I tried to get her name,” Teresa said, “and I think I succeeded. It sounded like ‘Intro’…”


    Teresa’s attention turned to the kwazai, as did that of the others. “What?”

    “It’s N-tair-row.” The kwazai’s voice was breathy and lilting. She also sounded rather groggy at the moment—she was still in the process of waking up. “Is that all you want to know?”

    Teresa opened her mouth to answer, but before she could get a single word out, she was interrupted by another chansey, one who was bawling her eyes out as she came barreling in. The new arrival just barely managed to come to a halt in front of Teresa in time to avoid colliding with her.

    “Rebecca, what is it?” Teresa asked of the other chansey, clearly alarmed.

    Rebecca tried to speak, but then froze, her mouth hanging halfway open as she stood paralyzed by some unknown horror. Finally, she just began howling like a siren.

    The noise abruptly brought Ntairow to her senses. She got up onto her single pair of long, stiltlike legs with a suddenness more befitting teleportation than a simple act of standing. She held her tail high, its branches fanning out.

    “What is it, Rebecca?” Teresa asked again, more slowly this time. She placed her paws upon Rebecca’s shoulders and gave her an imploring stare.

    “It’s… just… horrible,” Rebecca managed to gasp out. She then backed away from Teresa and cast a fearful glance into the hallway from which she’d emerged just moments before. Returning her tearful gaze to the others, she breathlessly said, “Here. It’s over here,” and then took off down the hallway from whence she’d come.

    Teresa rushed after her as fast as her short legs would allow, accompanied by Syr, Karo, and Ntairow. Ultimately, Rebecca came to a halt, and once all of the others had arrived at their apparent destination, she wasted no time in fleeing the scene. She had not wanted to come back to that place and the sight that it presented, and upon seeing it with their own eyes, no one whom she had brought there was in any doubt as to why.

    There was Madeline’s lifeless body, her skin scorched in several places. There was her blood, spilled out over her in thick streams, cast and smeared all over the floor and walls. And there was the door to Esaax’s cell, left wide open, with a hole burned through the far wall that was more than big enough to admit an escaping kwazai.

    Cries of shock, sorrow and revulsion tore through the air. Karo immediately looked away from the slain Mr. Mime. Syr turned and retched. Ntairow cried out and buried her face in one of her left hands while reaching out with both of her right hands to prop herself against the wall.

    “My God… no…” Teresa’s voice sounded very fragile. She leaned over the corpse, reaching for Madeline’s remaining hand, and broke into sobs.

    Shakily, Syr turned to Ntairow. The kwazai swayed slightly where she stood, as if she were about to pass out again. She was clutching her head and her chest simultaneously, and the tension in her face told Syr that she was in very real pain.

    “The darkness…” Ntairow said almost voicelessly. “The residue of it still hangs in the air. But he’s not here.”

    She pushed herself away from the wall and began to stride determinedly toward the exit that Esaax had made, avoiding the blood on the ground with graceful and sure steps. But then she found the end of a long, purple tail coiled around one of her arms as if to try and halt her.

    “Wait!” Syr called out to her, struggling not to be dragged along as she kept on walking.

    The kwazai stopped and turned her long, flat face toward him, wearing the glare to end all glares.

    “…Listen,” Syr said. “Esaax is my friend, too. If you’re going after him, I’m going with you.”

    Karo approached Ntairow and Syr. The expression on his stone face was unreadable. “And if he’s going, then I’m going,” he said. “I’ll look after you, buddy, don’t worry,” he told Syr.

    Ntairow didn’t feel as though she had the luxury of time or of patience enough to argue with them. The urge to seek out the terribly troubled creature that Esaax had become and rush to his aid was hard-wired into her brain—she couldn’t easily resist the demands of her highly developed powers of empathy and flat-out wouldn’t resist them when it was the suffering of someone whom she loved that spurred them into action. She nodded to Syr and Karo, and Syr released his hold on her.

    The arbok looked back at Teresa. Tears fell silently from his gray eyes. “Take care of Jen,” he told her. Then Syr turned away, and he and Karo followed Ntairow out of the Haven in silence.


    In the original version of this story, the battle between Alain and Acheron was not actually written out. Basically, the text just stated that Karo and Syr watched a video of a Gym battle, and there was a kwazai in said battle. XD

    Speaking of that scene, I decided one time to subject a previous version of it to the comedic wonders of Babelfish, one paragraph at a time, through a battery of translations and re-translations. From the end result, I learned that alakazam are apparently Golden Delicious apples and that kwazai apparently use bide by going into a “mental toilet”. XD

    The two different forms of the kwazai were originally the result of my inability to decide which of the two designs I’d come up with I liked better. At some point, I thought of one of them being the male form and the other form being the female and decided to go with that.

    Next time: Esaax wrestles with his new instincts and finds himself in territory where he is most unwelcome. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 09:12 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  4. #19
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Ooh, interesting.

    I should babelfish some of my fics sometime...

  5. #20
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Blackjack Palazzo:
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjack Palazzo View Post
    I should babelfish some of my fics sometime...
    Yes, absolutely! The results could be glorious. :D


    Chapter 12 – Hunter of the Shadows

    As silently as he could, Esaax staggered through the forested area outside of Convergence. He’d put a considerable distance between himself and the Haven in quite a short time, having run at full speed the entire way, but now he was slowed by exhaustion and impeded further by the rain-induced softness of the ground, as well as by the maze of surrounding trees.

    Though lightheaded and aching everywhere, Esaax nonetheless fought to keep his breathing calm and inaudible in spite of his lungs’ demands for more air. He would not allow himself to be heard if he could help it. He didn’t want to be noticed by any living thing.

    He knew what he would do if anything did show up. Thoughts of it—desires of it—were taking over his mind. The simple, undeniable fact was that he had never known a hunger as savagely strong as that which he now felt, and Esaax knew that the next living creature to cross his path would be fatally obliged to stop it.

    Going into the forest had been a wise move on his part, he reckoned. There were pokémon here, but they were fewer in number and more scattered than the pokémon back in the city, where Esaax could effortlessly seek out his prey door-to-door…

    He shook his head fiercely to once again clear it of the notion of running back to an easy feast. In his growing desperation, he silently called out, Stay away! Many pokémon feared psychic-types, he knew, and so he figured that a mindvoice would likely keep most of his potential victims at a safe distance.

    But, as Esaax quickly realized, his new form was no more telepathically gifted than his prior form. His silent message might have reached the mind of another psychic, but it was completely undetected by the hoothoot who appeared then from the branches above, oblivious to Esaax’s desperate warning.

    The bird was quite small, quite young. Possibly he was out on his very first hunt, but rather than spotting some relatively harmless and tasty prey creature, he had instead found Esaax. Puzzled and curious, the hoothoot began flapping his way closer to the kwazai.

    “No, no!” Esaax urged under his breath, but it was really himself that he was trying to stop. And he was failing.

    His heart raced as the hoothoot approached. The overwhelming power of his instincts flooded his brain, driving his mind beneath their currents. His senses lit up, and his muscles tensed—he was ready to strike. The hoothoot drew closer and closer—and then Esaax’s arm lashed out suddenly, his huge hand snatching the hoothoot right out of the air, his desire to avoid doing any further harm having become completely unreachable in an instant.

    The hoothoot struggled in the kwazai’s strong grip, scattering feathers and screaming. The commotion brought another presence into Esaax’s company: that of the father noctowl.

    Without a second’s hesitation, the noctowl attempted hypnosis, but Esaax had already raised his safeguard on the chance that the hoothoot might try the same thing. The kwazai merely stared into the pulsing, red light in the noctowl’s eyes with an utterly unconcerned expression.

    “Let him go!” the noctowl cried, then surged forward in a take down attack, not caring about the pain that he knew that the attack’s recoil would deal unto him in the process. His strike ended up hurting him much more than he’d expected, however; an orange counter aura flared up around the kwazai a split-second before the take down could connect, and the noctowl was thrown violently backward with a scream of both pain and surprise.

    With the noctowl now writhing on the ground, seemingly incapacitated for the moment, Esaax decided that he could finally eat in peace. His fingers closed around the hoothoot within his grip with all their strength. One last, piercing squawk escaped the beak of the hoothoot, and then warm, thick streams of blood flowed freely downward over Esaax’s wrist and forearm as he squeezed the life out of his prey. The kwazai then opened his mouth as wide as it would go. He shoved the bloody remnant of his victim into the back of his throat and swallowed it whole.

    Esaax relocated his jaws and sighed happily. Then he caught sight of the furious father noctowl, who shrieked wordlessly in grief and rage as he managed to get back onto his feet and then leapt into flight. The noctowl’s wings shimmered and transformed into gleaming, metallic blades as he wheeled around in midair, ready to strike with steel wing.

    Esaax was more than ready for him. His predatory eyes, which focused sharply on anything that lived and breathed, kept an unbreakable gaze upon the noctowl. His multisensory tail, meanwhile, guided his target acquisition with deadly precision. Just as the now razor-sharp edge of one of the noctowl’s wings was about to slice into his neck, Esaax blasted the noctowl with a reflux attack. The noctowl was sent crashing into a tree several yards away, knocked out cold.

    Though Esaax had not given the slightest concern to the drawback of his dark-type attack prior to using it, he now found himself vaguely surprised that he felt so little painful recoil upon using reflux this time, particularly considering that he’d blasted the noctowl almost head-on and at very close range. While the price that he’d just paid for using it was nothing to scoff at, it was nowhere near as terrible as what the reflux that had killed Madeline had earned him.

    The shock to his body from blasting the noctowl unconscious was gone fairly quickly, whereas the shock to his mind that he’d experienced the last time that he’d used reflux was absent altogether this time. As for his hunger, the young hoothoot whom he had just devoured was too small to satisfy it. Quite eagerly, Esaax made his way forward to feed upon the noctowl, as well.

    * * *

    Ntairow had followed Esaax’s trail into the forest, with the arbok and nosepass close behind. The terrain had become more difficult upon entering the woods; there were patches of mud everywhere, some of them being somewhat deep, in which the three pokémon had to try and avoid getting stuck. Within a matter of minutes, however, Karo failed in that endeavor.

    “Move, you guys. I’m gonna try and blast my way out,” Karo announced. He began charging up his nose with an ominous hum.

    “I get the feeling that you should save your electricity, Karo,” Syr advised.

    “Not to mention that you should consider the noise that might make,” Ntairow added.

    Ntairow and Syr then got as good a hold on the nosepass as was possible. Fortunately, they were both quite strong, so once they had a good grip on him, the going was easy enough.

    “You can still stay behind,” Ntairow pointed out to Karo as she worked to free him. The nosepass only scowled at her as he was pulled out from the mud.

    “He doesn’t need to stay behind. He just needs to watch his step,” Syr countered. “Are you all right now?” he asked of Karo.

    Karo just grunted inconclusively in reply. “Stupid mud,” he griped to himself. “I hate that stuff…”

    “Well, on the bright side, it did cover up the rest of that smeargle graffiti,” Syr said.

    The three then got moving once again, picking their way through the trees and minding the scattered puddles of mud all the more carefully.

    “Are we still on the right track?” Syr asked.

    “We are,” Ntairow said, “but…”

    “‘But’…?” Syr prompted her.

    Ntairow sighed. “His spirit has closed itself off to me. I no longer share any of his sensations… it’s like the greater part of his being has died…” The thought of what this could mean brought tears to her eyes that immediately began flowing down her face in steady streams. “I can still sense his physical presence—his body, that’s all—meaning I know where he is but not what he’s experiencing or doing—though I do have some idea,” she said darkly. “Very recent death hovers nearby…”

    For quite a while in the wake of those words, the three continued after Esaax in total silence. As the quiet persisted, something crossed Syr’s mind and ultimately compelled him to ask about it.

    “So…” he spoke up. “Ntairow, was it?”

    The kwazai merely made a vaguely affirmative noise at this.

    “There’s something I’ve been wondering…” Syr said.

    “And that is…? Ntairow prompted.

    “Well… you’ve known Esaax for a long time, right?”

    “If you consider roughly a fifth of a century a long time, then yes,” Ntairow answered.

    “I do,” Syr said, though what really struck him about the length of time that she’d just described was that it meant that she actually hadn’t known Esaax for much longer than he had, which surprised him a bit. While Syr and Esaax had encountered others of the latter’s kind during their previous time together, they’d never really gotten the chance to get to know any of them under the circumstances; as such, Syr had assumed that Ntairow had come from wherever Esaax had, that the two kwazai had grown up together.

    Since that was apparently not the case, he reckoned that Ntairow wouldn’t have gotten as many chances to have perhaps witnessed what it was that he wanted to ask her about, but he figured that it was worth a shot anyway.

    “Anyway…” the arbok went on, “well, when you knew him… did you ever see any signs of it? Of his illness, I mean?”

    Ntairow sent an odd look back at him. “What he’s going through right now was caused by his evolution. He only just evolved tonight.”

    “No, not that… I’m talking about something else,” Syr said. “Something I saw earlier today. We… we lost an old friend today.” His voice cracked on those words, and he had to struggle a bit to continue. “Before we went to see her… and during… I saw this strange, multicolored aura try to form around him a couple of times.”

    Ntairow didn’t stop walking, but she did tense up noticeably. “You’re certain it had many colors?” she asked, sounding somewhat awed and alarmed at the same time.

    “Yes,” Syr confirmed. “And… I think it has something to do with grief. When I went to meet him at the Haven, they told me why he was in there. They said it was some kind of psychic illness, and they described something that happened… right after we lost one of our other friends.” Thinking about her brought out the tears that had been welling up in Syr’s eyes ever since he had spoken of what had happened to Faurur; he shook them away as best as he could, which wasn’t terribly well at all.

    “They said that he’d apparently seen a multicolored aura appear around himself then,” he continued, “and then he couldn’t tell whether he was alive or dead or what. It broke him, Ntairow. It took the people at the Haven years before they got him back to anywhere near normal… but it looks as though he needed more time.”

    “Dear Night…” Ntairow said, half-whispering. “We were right about him all along…”

    “What?” Syr asked. “Did you see that aura, too?”

    “No,” Ntairow responded, “but I did see something just as important, something in his psychic signature that apparently none of his people recognized—or believed us about. Even Esaax himself couldn’t quite believe what we told him about what we saw. Some of us took their word for it—just assumed that there genuinely weren’t any among the Evergray and that we must have been mistaken in our perception of him somehow—but others weren’t so quick to dismiss it, including me…”

    “Ntairow… what are you talking about?” Syr asked, trying not to sound as confused as he felt or as frustrated as he was beginning to feel. “They assumed that there genuinely weren’t any what among the Evergray?”

    “Healers,” Ntairow clarified. “Esaax is a healer. Most of our kind can only share our pain. Those like Esaax can share their lifeforce, as well. They use this ability to help others, to strengthen and heal them.”

    “Wow…” Syr said, astonished at the notion that his friend could have been harboring such a secret all this time and vaguely wondering why he had been keeping it a secret. “That’s amazing if it’s true… but I don’t know. It didn’t sound or look like he was really helping anyone—just hurting himself.”

    “That’s part of how it’s supposed to work,” Ntairow told him. “Like I said, it involves sharing one’s lifeforce—giving of one’s self. But it’s not supposed to hurt the healer in the ways you described.

    “And if it really wasn’t helping anyone… well, I’m not surprised. It sounds as though no one among his kind or anyone else he’s lived with over the years has known for sure that he was what he was any more than he’s known it. And his healer abilities have been compelling him to use them—and since he had no proper guidance, no way of really knowing what he was doing… of course he’s made mistakes. Of course things went wrong.” She sighed. “Dear Night, do I ever wish I had reunited with him sooner…”

    “Yeah… I wish I had, too,” Syr said, finding himself at a loss for anything else to say. “Not that I could have really helped him, but…”

    Ntairow lowered her head slightly in acknowledgment of his words, but said nothing else for a moment. Then, “So how long have you known him, then?” she asked Syr.

    “Not quite as long as you have,” Syr answered. “Only since just a few years before the Extinction. We… hadn’t been in touch for a while before today,” he found himself admitting. “Me and… and another of our friends had to take care of something important—someone was threatening some of her kind and mine—and, well… He couldn’t come with us, and we couldn’t go with him.”

    “Hmm,” was apparently all that Ntairow had to say to that.

    Syr didn’t attempt to get anything more out of her for the time being, not on that subject or any other. He had a lot on his mind now, even more than before… and among those thoughts was something that had made its way back toward the forefront of his mind as someone who had so recently departed his life once and for all had been brought up more than once in the conversation that he’d just had.

    He felt fresh pangs of grief as his mind lingered on the subject of Faurur, and he tried but failed to hold back a fresh surge of tears as well as the sobs that accompanied them. Ntairow cast a concerned, sympathetic-looking glance over her shoulder at this but said nothing.

    Karo, however, hastily waddled up to the arbok, fighting to stay alongside him. “You all right there, big guy?” he asked. “…Is this about that friend you said you lost earlier?”

    Syr found that he could only nod in response.

    “Well—” Karo broke off into a swear as he nearly tripped on a branch. “…Whoops, sorry about that. Anyway… uh… crap. I kinda suck at this… I wish you’d been able to tell me about this sooner, like back at the house, maybe. I could’ve had Breanna bring us over some pie or something, and we could have talked about all this… Maybe she’d have had a better idea on what to say than I do.”

    “It’s okay. I appreciate what you’re doing just fine,” Syr said, and he meant it. Still, he did have to agree with Karo’s wish that they’d had more of a chance to discuss what had happened with Faurur earlier—especially since the nosepass might have been in a position to help him carry out some of Faurur’s last wishes. Syr knew very little about what she had asked him to start warning people about, but Karo, with the wealth of information that he had lying around at his home, might have been a little more knowledgeable about the things in question.

    Even without ready access to those stores of information, Karo still might know something useful offhand, Syr considered. Deciding to find out if indeed Karo did, “Hey, Karo… have you ever heard of deranics?” he asked the nosepass. “And something to do with them called—oh, what was it? …Oh yes. ‘Seterhath Zulo-Denvenda’. Are you familiar with these things at all?”

    “Hmm… I’m not, but Ren might be. When he gets back, I’ll ask him,” Karo said.

    Syr sighed. “I really wish you’d stop talking about your trainer like that.”

    “Like what?” Karo asked.

    “Like… well, like he’s still alive,” Syr answered quietly.

    “And why wouldn’t he be?” Karo asked.

    “Well… because he’s human, Karo,” Syr said.

    Karo snorted. “Whatever you say…”

    Syr looked at him pityingly for a moment, as he usually did whenever Karo insisted on entertaining the notion that Ren was still alive, but the weight of his own recent loss on his figurative shoulders led him to let the subject drop early this time. Let him believe, if that’s the only way he can deal with it, he told himself, with some small part of him wishing that he had been given the luxury of doing likewise.

    * * *

    Ceaselessly moving as if possessed, Esaax found the trees around him thinning. His wandering had brought him back toward the city, which was now perfectly fine by him. He was no longer hungry in the slightest anyway. He had found the abandoned, partial carcass of a stantler minutes ago, and there had been just enough left to chase away the last remaining traces of his hunger.

    He had eaten too much, actually. He felt slightly ill and sought to sleep it off as soon as he could find a decent place to do so. Before long, he came upon the structure of an unfinished mini mall. He figured that he could go into one of the empty stores and thereby at least avoid direct exposure to the sun, which was due to rise in just a matter of hours.

    Esaax entered one of the stores through a large, smashed window. To his surprise, he was instantly greeted by a trio of voices:

    “Hey, what’s that?”

    “Huh, I can’t tell what he is…”

    “Who cares what he is? He doesn’t belong here!”

    The owners of the three voices came forward to reveal themselves as three smeargle—needlessly in this case, as Esaax had already seen them through the darkness. The one whom Esaax had heard last spoke again, introducing himself and his companions.

    “Why, hello there! I’m Mark,” he said. “This is Tom—” He pointed at the smeargle to his right. “—and this is Travis.” He pointed at the one to his left. “And this,” Mark said, spreading his arms wide to indicate the space surrounding him, “is our territory. Thanks for the visit. Now get out!”

    Mentioning that this place was their territory was also unnecessary for any of the smeargle to have done, as Esaax had already seen that, too. It was literally written all over the walls. It looked to him as though they were trying to convince themselves more than anyone else that this place belonged to them.

    Esaax took a step toward the smeargle. The smeargle all took a step back. “Maybe I’d just rather tell you to get out,” the kwazai said.

    “Hmm. Looks like blue-butt won’t listen to reason. What a shame,” Mark said, shaking his head. “Okay, then, if that’s how you wanna play…” He took a great leap backward and called out, “Go!”

    Tom attacked first, using spark. Electricity crackled all about his body as he tackled the kwazai’s shoulder and held on tightly to allow his electric charge to keep on flowing into his opponent.

    Esaax snarled at the sizzling pain and retaliated with counter. The attack shocked Tom out of his electric technique, but the smeargle still refused to let go of him. Esaax solved that problem by grabbing the smeargle with his jaws and pulling him off, shaking him briefly before throwing him forcefully to the ground.

    Esaax was sure that Tom was out of the fight, but then the smeargle began to emit the telltale glow of the recover technique. Tom’s wounds began mending swiftly. Esaax moved to try and foil Tom’s recovery—but then Travis seemed to launch out of nowhere with a blazing dynamicpunch—

    —and missed. His attack had been ruined by Esaax’s watchful tail, which had allowed the kwazai to sense its unsubtle approach and sidestep it almost lazily.

    Snarling and muttering curses under his breath, Travis spun on his heel to face Esaax once more. He raised his fist, and it burst into rust-colored “flames” of fighting-type energy as he readied another dynamicpunch. But he never got a chance to launch his second strike, for at that moment, Esaax fired a reflux attack at him. The force of the dark-type blast sent Travis flying into a junk-filled corner, where he was impaled upon a shard of jagged sheet metal. The smeargle’s eyes froze wide open as his body slid slowly down upon the daggerlike protrusion.

    Esaax staggered at the jolt of his attack’s recoil. It compromised him for a moment that was just long enough to allow Mark to blast him right in the head—with the reflux that he had just sketched from the kwazai himself.

    The strike itself was only somewhat painful… but the moment after the last traces of its dark energy seeped into him, a strange, harsh noise swelled to a painful intensity inside Esaax’s skull. He gave a ragged, tormented-sounding cry and swayed on the spot as a dizzying wave washed over him, and then he dropped like a stone.

    Just before he blacked out, he heard Tom say, “No, don’t zap him again; let’s just get out of here!”


    Yeah, I know. The idea of a smeargle dropping anything that easily, especially as admittingly unfair a pokémon as a wobbuffet evo, is downright laughable, at least based on game stats alone. XD But here are some factors to consider: a.) it was a head shot, b.) Esaax was not exactly in mint condition at the time, and c.) there was perhaps more going on there than just that reflux to the head…

    Next time: Esaax tries to figure out just how in the world he became what he is now and does so with help from an unexpected source. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 09:15 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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    The devour of that Hoothoot haunted my mind for days!

  7. #22
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bio_Warrior_3000 View Post
    The devour of that Hoothoot haunted my mind for days!
    Really? Wow... I'm flattered. ^^ Though I do, of course, apologize if it haunted your mind in a bad way; I don't mean to really traumatize anyone... ^^;


    Chapter 13 – X

    Esaax wasn’t unconscious for long. He awoke to find himself feeling quite unwell, nauseated and fatigued. Pain pounded in his head and seared down the length of his spine to the end of his tail.

    He tried to stand, but found that he couldn’t do so. Instead, he fell into a four-legged version of a kneeling position. He looked about, sweeping the space surrounding him with a gaze that wouldn’t quite focus. Grumbling, he buried his face in his hands and tried to rub the haze out of his eyes.

    When he looked up again, he spotted movement off in the corner. He turned his head toward the motion. There he saw Travis the smeargle crawl out of the junk pile, brush himself off, and begin walking up to him. The smeargle was covered in black scorch marks, with the metal shard still pierced right through him.

    “Feeling all right?” Travis asked amiably.

    Esaax stared blankly at Travis for a second. He then tried to get back onto his feet once again, succeeding this time, and started backing away from Travis in as much of a hurry as he could manage. His legs gave out from underneath him before he got very far, however, forcing him to once again kneel before the undead smeargle.

    “What are you running from, huh? Can’t we have a little chat?” Travis asked.

    “I’m not talking to you,” Esaax said flatly.

    “Yes, you are, you just opened your mouth and said—”

    “You’re a hallucination!”

    “I’m a damned good hallucination, though, you have to admit,” Travis said, fidgeting with the bloody piece of metal that protruded from his chest.

    Esaax shut his eyes and shook his head. To his dismay, Travis was still there when he opened his eyes once more. Esaax groaned. “I feel like crap,” he mumbled.

    “Well, of course you do! I mean, think about it. You keep using that crazy black beam of yours, and you hurt yourself every time you use it, no matter how much you hold back when you do. And it’s cumulative, you know. That damage adds up over time.

    “But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, isn’t it?” Travis went on. “See, every time that nifty little attack bounces back at you, that’s pure dark energy hitting your system. Psybane. Which really shouldn’t bother you that much, right? After all, you’re half-psychic, but you’re half-dark, too, aren’t you?”

    Esaax sighed. “Yeah, that’s right.”

    “Well, now, wait a minute. Suppose that’s… not exactly right.”

    “…What do you mean?” Esaax asked, perplexed.

    “Botched evolution, my friend,” Travis answered. “Or are you gonna try and tell me that there wasn’t something distinctly… off about your evolutionary experience?”

    Esaax only growled in response.

    “The problem with you evolving is that you weren’t supposed to,” Travis said. “Wasn’t supposed to be possible, was it? My friend, you got forced into this form. You got forced into this combination of elements, and it’s not one that’s meant to be fooled around with.”

    The smeargle began to pace in front of Esaax. “Dark and psychic. That’s a completely one-sided matchup right there. One is devastatingly dominant; the other, totally helpless. Now, maybe somewhere out there in the wide world of nature and supernature, that works just fine. But not here. Not in you.

    “You just can’t go forcing these things, man. Yet someone—I repeat, someone—forced it on you. Now, I want you to take a moment right now to think back. Can you figure out who might have done this to you?”

    After a moment’s hesitation, Esaax did as he was advised, but his present illness made it hard for him to focus well enough to recall his memories clearly. As he managed to remember some of the most recent things that he’d done, he found himself sickened further, swallowing hard as his stomach gave a threatening lurch.

    It wasn’t until he managed to reach back to his memory of the period of time immediately preceding his evolution that anything even remotely resembling an answer to Travis’s question came to him. “I… I don’t know who it was for sure, but… I remember something hitting me right before I evolved. And I thought I felt someone in the room with me… I think it was a ghost.”

    Travis cocked an eyebrow at him. “You thought you felt a ghost in the room with you, huh?” he said in a skeptical tone. “May I remind you that you… weren’t exactly feeling so great at the time? In case you haven’t noticed, sometimes the mind plays tricks on you when you’re feeling under the weather.”

    Esaax just glared dully at him.

    “But anyway,” Travis went on, “try looking a little further back than that. Is there anything else you’ve experienced recently that had any kind of significant physical effect on you?”

    Esaax combed through his memories again, trying to keep his thoughts moving in a straight line backward from his evolution without overlooking any potentially important details. He remembered being brought to the Haven, then remembered the ride in Jen’s car from Syr’s house, and then remembered the ride to Syr’s house from…

    Esaax’s eyes widened, and he felt his mouth go dry. In his mind, he held a picture of the private counseling office at the Hope Institute, wherein a needle sank into his arm under the guidance of a human hand…

    DeLeo,” Esaax said hoarsely.


    “It was that serum he gave me… that’s what started all this…”

    “You’ve got it,” Travis said, beaming proudly. “You’re miserable now because of that sorry excuse for a human. He just tacked another type on you, and that screwed up the one you already had. Your new body was elementally unstable from the start, and it’s growing ever more so, I’m afraid…”

    Travis came to stand right in front of Esaax. He stood on his toes, brought his paintbrush-tail forward, and painted a large “X” across the kwazai’s chest in bright red ink. “You’re a goner, Evergray.”

    “What if I just don’t use that dark attack anymore?”

    Travis shook his head sadly. “I’m afraid it’s too late now, my friend. Too much damage and too much stress in a period of time that’s much too short for your poor body to cope with… and there’s no fixing it, man. You’re on the way out, and there’s no turning back…”

    Esaax spent a few moments in silence. “So this is really gonna kill me,” he said finally, wearily.

    Travis nodded, uttering a small, affirmative noise. “And it’s all thanks to Mr. Sylvester DeLeo.”

    Esaax sighed and knitted his spidery fingers on top of his head, covering his face with his large palms. “Maybe I should go,” he whispered. “I hate what I’ve become. Do you realize how many people I’ve killed just tonight?”

    “You’re a predator now, so what? You’ve gotta eat, right?”

    “I killed you on a full stomach,” Esaax pointed out.

    Accidentally. And no, you didn’t kill me, anyway; I’m just a hallucination, remember?”

    Esaax groaned miserably and lowered his gaze to the dirty floor. “This is all just so wrong…”

    “I agree,” said Travis, lowering his head somberly. “I wish that there was some way to change your fate… but there just isn’t one, man. Sorry. Oh… but there is something you can still do about it…”

    “What’s that?” Esaax asked, lifting his gaze.

    “DeLeo put this misery on you. Why don’t you go pay him back?”


    “Come on. You know you wanna.”

    “I don’t know,” Esaax muttered. “I’m just so tired…”

    “There, you see? Your time is running out. So go on, get going. It’s not too far from here.”

    “I don’t know if I can walk there right now, even if it is close. I’m sure I can’t run,” Esaax told the smeargle. “And besides, I… I just don’t think I have it in me… I mean, going over there, and then hurting him… killing him…”

    “But you do have it in you, my friend,” Travis said with more than a hint of enthusiasm. “You can do this. You can pull this off. There’s just one thing you have to do.”

    “And what’s that?”

    The smeargle gave a bloody grin. “Surrender, Evergray. Let me take over.” His green eyes shifted dramatically in color, becoming black all throughout like a pair of deep, dark holes. The rest of him followed suit, the scattered scorchings of his coat spreading until he was pitch-black all over. He became an animate shadow, a dark mass that rapidly changed shape and grew into a dramatically different form.

    Esaax now beheld the great, dark form of another kwazai, one who was made out of softly glowing shadow-substance. He stared at them, and he quickly found himself moved by the sight and presence of them. He found them beautiful, incredibly so, and he wondered why he had not allowed himself to look at this presence and that which they represented in this way before.

    The shadow-kwazai lifted Esaax’s head in their hands, comforting him as if he were their child. They took him by the shoulders and lifted him back onto his feet, supporting his weight easily. They gazed deep into his eyes as they held him steady. “May I?” they asked in a hollow-sounding voice.

    Esaax’s surrender was silent. He opened his arms to embrace the darkness, which melted into him like ice and left him feeling virtually nothing: no remorse for his recent actions or trepidation about what he was about to do, no pain or illness, not even the tiredness that he had known mere minutes before. All that was left was the cold simplicity of his new resolve: Go. Find him.

    Esaax rose, exited the empty store, and strode over to the curb, stepping over it onto the street. Headlights appeared from around the corner a short distance away, and the moment they did, he collapsed onto the asphalt.

    The approaching car came to a stop just short of where Esaax had fallen, and the golduck who’d been driving it got out and rushed to his side at once, leaving the vehicle running.

    “Are you all right?” the golduck asked concernedly—then gave a squawk of surprise as a massive hand lying at his feet suddenly seized him by the ankles and pulled him to the ground. Esaax’s other hand came down hard in a fist against the golduck’s head immediately afterward, then did so again for good measure, knocking the golduck out.

    Esaax got back to his feet once again, then went over to the car. He determined that he could probably fit into it and operate it just fine if it weren’t for that roof. With a fair bit of effort, he managed to tear away enough of it to suit his needs. He then smashed the window in his way and stepped over the door to get in, not noticing the broken shards of glass that bit into him as he did so. Somewhat awkwardly, he turned himself to face forward and extended his hind legs up and over into the seat behind him.

    Had he been in his right mind, Esaax might have felt a thrill at the fact that he was going to drive for the first time in over a decade, with no Syr or anyone else around in any position to tell him that he couldn’t do so. As it was, though, he was still focused wholly upon the task that awaited him. Without a second’s hesitation, he sped off toward the Hope Institute, very nearly running over the golduck from whom he’d stolen the car.

    * * *

    Just as the three pokémon who were seeking Esaax exited the forest, Ntairow stopped abruptly in front of Syr and Karo. Syr very nearly ran right into her, reeling back and veering off to the side just in time.

    “Ntairow, what is it?” he asked her.

    “I’ve lost him completely now,” Ntairow said heavily. She turned to the others. “I can’t sense anything of him now. It’s as if he’s simply gone.”

    “You don’t think that he’s… that he’s no longer alive, do you?” Syr asked fearfully in barely more than a whisper.

    Ntairow lowered her head. “I don’t know,” she said quietly. “I honestly don’t know.”

    Out of nowhere, two shapes burst onto the scene then: the two surviving smeargle. They stopped dead at the sight of Ntairow.

    “Run for it, it’s another one!” said Tom.

    “No, it’s not…” said Mark.

    “Yes, it is,” said Ntairow. She swiftly grabbed both smeargle by their tails and raised them to eye level. “You two have seen Esaax, then?”

    “If by ‘Esaax’, you mean that big, blue psycho who killed our friend, then yes!” Mark said, flailing in a futile attempt to escape.

    Syr and Ntairow both winced at the news of yet another murder having been committed by their friend. Karo, meanwhile, came to stand before Ntairow and looked up at her two captives.

    “Give them to me,” the nosepass said. There was an ominous weight to his voice that hadn’t been present before, and he seemed to be bearing down on the smeargle even from below.

    It was then that the smeargle finally noticed Karo. Their nervousness increased, and they began to struggle even more desperately to get away.

    “Karo, you have no way of knowing if these are the same smeargle who broke into your house,” said Syr.

    “Are you sure about that? Cause I’ve gotta say, they’re looking pretty guilty from here.” He edged even closer to the smeargle, and their reactions to this made it clear that they badly wanted to be somewhere else at this point. “See how they fear me,” Karo said with a laugh. “They know what they’ve done. And they know what’s coming. Now, let’s see…” he said, examining the ink that was beginning to leak from their tail-tips under the pressure of Ntairow’s grip. “There’s Mr. Blue… there’s Mr. Yellow… hey, where’s Mr. Red?”

    “I already said, schnozzo, that ‘Esaax’ thing killed him! He tried to kill all of us!” Mark said angrily.

    “And he was the one trespassing in our territory!” Tom added.

    “Yeah, but then I blasted him with one of these—” Mark raised his hand and shot a reflux into the sky, at which Ntairow nearly dropped him. “—and down he went.”

    “…You didn’t kill him, did you?” Ntairow asked shakily.

    “No, Tom wouldn’t let me finish him off,” Mark said acidly.

    “Cause when you shot him, it hurt you, too! You might have died if you’d killed him!” Tom responded.

    “You can’t possibly know that any more than I can!” Mark argued. “Well, okay, then. When that blue freak wakes up and decides to come after us, I’ll just tell him he can go ahead and blast your brains out first since it’ll have been your bright idea to show mercy to the psycho that’ll have made that lovely scenario possible in the first place, you dumbass!”

    “Stop it, both of you,” Ntairow said firmly. She knocked the smeargles’ heads together. Karo cheered. “Is he still where you left him, then?” Ntairow demanded of the smeargle.

    “Urgh… I don’t know,” Mark replied after he stopped seeing lights bursting in the back of his eyes. “If he’s stayed unconscious, then yes, he’s probably still there.”

    “Actually… he’s not,” said Tom. Everyone, including Mark, turned to stare at him. “Over there,” Tom said, pointing.

    Everyone looked in the direction that Tom was indicating. There they saw a kwazai in a mangled blue car hurtling down the street at an incredible speed.

    Ntairow threw the two smeargle facefirst to the ground. “Come on!” she shouted, taking off at a run in the general direction in which the car was heading. “And leave them alone!” she added over her shoulder to Karo.

    “Awww…” the nosepass groaned in disappointment. He turned to the two smeargle, who were still sprawled out on the ground and rubbing their sore muzzles. Now he really was bearing down on them. “Make no mistake—I am so gonna squash you one of these days,” he told them, using the “ominous” voice once again. Then he shot off a tiny bolt of electricity to send the smeargle scurrying off on their way.


    Next time: It’s back to the Hope Institute for Esaax, where something of a history lesson ensues. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 09:17 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  8. #23
    Henshin! Kamen_Fanatic's Avatar
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    I hope Sylvester gets what he deserves!

  9. #24
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bio_Warrior_3000 View Post
    I hope Sylvester gets what he deserves!
    Hee hee, I suspect that there are others who share that sentiment—among the characters, there are, at the very least. X3


    Chapter 14 – Chasing a Rumor

    Esaax rushed recklessly through the streets of Convergence, which were fortunately more or less deserted at the time. Most of the local pokémon were diurnal, and with sunrise approaching, most of those who didn’t keep daytime hours were likely getting ready to go to sleep.

    The kwazai found what he was looking for fairly quickly, recognizing the squat box of a building that was the Hope Institute right away. He entered the parking lot and parked the car at an odd angle across two spaces, then jumped out of the vehicle, landing less than gracefully and struggling for a couple of moments to keep from toppling over.

    Esaax didn’t bother making his way around to the front door. He could sense living presences just a couple of yards past the wall that lay before him, two of whom were familiar—one of whom was his target.

    He fired a sustained reflux into the barrier in front of him. As soon as enough of the wall had been weakened to admit him, he stepped forward right into it, causing the weakened portion to crumble into powder around him as he passed through it.

    It turned out that there was another wall between him and his quarry, but this fact didn’t faze him; he simply decided to repeat the process that had gotten him into the building in the first place. His body seemed somewhat less willing to oblige this time. There was a slightly longer delay than usual before the black beam came to his summons, and when the dark energy began pouring from his outstretched hand, his senses faltered a bit, his vision briefly dimming, the raised voices from the other side of the wall temporarily drowned out by a ringing in his ears.

    Just as he’d done the time before, Esaax pushed his way through the wall and into the room beyond it as soon as he could. He was met with the sight of a small crowd of glalie bearing dark blue protect auras, and he could sense DeLeo’s presence behind them as the human used them for cover—but before he could try to leap over the glalie and get at his quarry, there was a loud crack, and he was down in an instant.

    DeLeo stood and made his way over to the now unconscious kwazai, then looked down at him and sighed. “You could have just knocked, Esaax.”

    * * *

    When Esaax awoke, he was greeted by the sight of a long, spindly, robotic arm that extended from somewhere above him to a point right in front of his face. It clutched a now-darkened revive crystal in its metal fingers. Esaax considered biting the arm and tearing it down as he watched it ascend rather swiftly away from him, but lingering grogginess kept him from acting on that idea before the arm had vanished into its source.

    It was then that his senses reawakened enough to detect the two familiar presences from earlier very nearby: those of DeLeo and Solonn—the former of which got a very strong reaction from him. His eyes and oculons both locked on to the human before him, and his exhaustion seemed to shatter into pieces; he promptly rose and began snapping and swiping at the wall of glowing, green energy that separated him from DeLeo.

    In the next moment, however, he found himself suddenly no longer interested in trying to break out, lowering his arms and sinking to his knees. A calming gas had been released into the field with him from above while he had been so distracted by the sight of his target so close to him.

    “Shh… it’s all right, Esaax,” DeLeo said. “You’re exactly where you need to be right now. I’ll bet you’ve got a lot of questions about what’s happened to you, and I’ve got all the answers.”

    DeLeo looked at him expectantly, but Esaax only stared back. The kwazai still entertained thoughts of attacking and killing DeLeo as he looked upon him, but no longer felt any need to act upon those thoughts.

    DeLeo approached the containment field then. He came to a stop right in front of it and leaned against the glowing wall as if it were ordinary glass. Doing so apparently didn’t hurt him in any way, just as it had not hurt Esaax.

    “You probably didn’t know you could evolve, did you?” DeLeo asked. “I know most wobbuffet don’t. So I’m gonna tell you a little story, Esaax. One that’ll explain why this has been kept from you—and why you shouldn’t be scared of it. No, you should be anything but scared…” he told Esaax with a note of what sounded like awed excitement in his voice.

    DeLeo took a step back then, clasping his hands in front of himself. “There’s a legend,” he began, “hundreds of years old, about a king of the Mordial region named Asotura. His reign was glorious but short—he was killed by an assassin who was never found.

    “The king’s body was discovered by his most faithful pokémon friend. And that friend was a kwazai, Esaax. Just like you are.

    “Anyway, according to the legend, this kwazai refused to let the king be taken from him, and so he called on his ‘ultimate inner power’—and actually raised Asotura from the dead.

    “Now, that was the good news for the king. The bad news was that his people decided they didn’t want his reign to continue. They didn’t exactly like the tale of Asotura’s resurrection, you see. They called it unnatural, and they called him an abomination.

    “And the kwazai became demons in their eyes. The ancient Mordialans decided to just slaughter every single kwazai they could find. And they did the same thing to wobbuffet and wynaut, too, in order to make sure the kwazai were exterminated completely. Asotura’s own army even sided with the public. They went against the king’s orders to put an end to the killing and instead joined in the effort to eradicate your species. Doesn’t it just make you sick?”

    Esaax neither said nor did a single thing in response. His two eyes and four oculons continued to hold the human in a dead, silent stare.

    “Well, anyway…” DeLeo resumed, “as for Asotura himself, there wasn’t anyone around who didn’t want him dead—and permanently this time. But when they stormed the castle, he wasn’t anywhere to be found. Nobody knows how he got away, but he did, and he also managed to rescue a handful of your kind along with himself.

    “After he escaped from Mordial, he looked for a place where your people could continue to be protected for generations to come. Apparently one was provided right here in Hoenn by a legendary pokémon—nobody knows which one. Whoever they were, they gave their home to the refugees. Then they used their legendary powers to hide the refugees’ new sanctuary before taking off for who knows where. You might’ve heard of this sanctuary, Esaax. These days, it’s known as Mirage Island.

    “Anyway, the people of Asotura’s former kingdom tried to keep his story and the secret of your people’s final evolutionary form from surviving the ages. But their efforts ultimately proved useless, because that story was recorded—supposedly by Asotura himself—on a little something called the Tablet of Asotura. The tablet went missing for centuries, but it was eventually found by a human explorer from Pacifidlog. But before he could go public with his discovery, well… you know what happened fourteen years ago,” he said quietly.

    “Luckily, though, one of the explorer’s pokémon bothered to take care of the tablet after the explorer passed away. That pokémon eventually decided he wanted to see kwazai brought back into the world, and ultimately he found us and sought our assistance in that matter. Once he told me the story of Asotura and what his kwazai could do… well, there was no question about it. None. I knew I had to help him.”

    DeLeo stepped back up to the containment field. “Do you remember what I told you earlier, Esaax?” he asked. “About why I founded the Hope Institute? This—” He gestured toward Esaax. “—ties into that. We turned you into this for a very special purpose, Esaax. A very, very important one.”

    An expression that managed to look sort of hopeful and pained at the same time overtook his features. “I know what you’ve lost, Esaax. I know exactly what you’ve lost,” he said, and his voice cracked audibly on those last six words. “I’ve lost the exact same thing—the exact same people. But we’re gonna bring ’em back, Esaax. You’re gonna bring ’em back, as soon as we’re sure you’re strong enough.”

    DeLeo pressed his hands against the wall of energy between him and Esaax once more. “You’ll see,” he half-whispered, sounding slightly crazed, his smile broadening. “It’s gonna be just like the old days. Only better.”

    He then turned away from Esaax and made for the room’s exit, striding past Solonn as he went. Solonn had kept silent the entire time that DeLeo had been speaking to Esaax, and DeLeo had actually managed to forget that the glalie was there until he walked past him.

    As he spoke the voice command that opened the doors before him and then ushered Solonn out of the room ahead of him, part of him noticed that the glalie was wearing an expression that was severe-looking even for those of his kind, his large, luminous, blue eyes burning rather brighter than usual. DeLeo gave these details next to none of his mind, however, too absorbed in thoughts of how close he was to finally accomplishing the goal toward which he’d been striving for more than a decade, a goal that meant more to him than anything in the world.

    A few seconds later, however, a low voice from behind him cut into those thoughts.

    “How could you do such a thing?” Solonn demanded, sounding both angry and hurt.

    DeLeo stopped in his tracks and turned to face the glalie. “…What? What’re you talking about?”

    “You did this to him,” Solonn hissed, shaking slightly as he spoke, “without his consent? Without even so much as his awareness that he could be changed in such a way?”

    DeLeo blinked at him, bemused. “What… what’s it to you?”

    Solonn’s eyes narrowed. “You have no right to inflict a change on someone who doesn’t ask you for it first,” he said, moving even closer to DeLeo, causing the human to take a step back involuntarily. “No one has that right. You disgust me, DeLeo.”

    Fear began showing through DeLeo’s expression insofar as it could. “Look… I’m sorry you don’t like how we’ve gone about this whole kwazai business, okay? I really am. But… don’t you understand what we’re trying to do here?” he asked, pained frustration managing to come through in his tone. “Were you even paying attention to anything I said in there other than the parts you didn’t like? We’re trying to restore lives, Solonn! And let me tell you something: once we’ve restored certain lives in particular, I promise you Esaax is gonna be so happy that he’s not gonna care that he didn’t have a say in whether or not he evolved.”

    “And what if this legend you spoke of is just that—just a legend?” Solonn asked. “What if it turns out that you’ve only been chasing a damned rumor all this time? Did you consider that possibility for even a second? Did you consider what it might do to Esaax if he were told that he can bring back people whom he cares about when in reality he can’t, to find out that he was subjected to a change—one that has obviously upset him very much—for nothing?”

    DeLeo only stared at him at first. Then his face twisted in what was as much of a look of anguish as it was capable of producing. “…It’s more than just a legend,” he insisted. “I’m sorry you can’t see that… and I’m not gonna let you get in the way of our proving it!”

    With an inhuman speed, DeLeo’s hands swung out toward Solonn and split down the middle with a faint click, each of them simultaneously opening up like the covers of a book and exposing dark, metallic nozzles. In very nearly the same instant, jets of fire came roaring out from the newly-revealed weapons—only to dissipate harmlessly against the dark blue aura that their intended target had conjured around himself just in time.

    Solonn hissed and recoiled in reaction to the fiery attack despite its futility. His eyes then blazed a bright white, and a crack echoed through the hallway as he unleashed a sheer cold attack on DeLeo.

    The strike hit its mark—DeLeo immediately fell unconscious and dropped to the floor. Solonn briefly looked down upon him in lingering disbelief, still shaking in primal fear for a few moments, then called out to his co-workers in the Hope Institute, not comfortable with the notion of leaving DeLeo unguarded despite the human’s present condition.

    He couldn’t undo what DeLeo had done to Esaax. But he was determined to at least see to it that the human paid for it.


    Next time: Esaax’s pursuers run into some trouble… See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 09:19 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  10. #25
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    oooooh interesting. How does a Persian come by that sort of--wait. Unless it's *that* Persian...

  11. #26
    Henshin! Kamen_Fanatic's Avatar
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    Ew. That was a fate only the purely black-hearted should ever experience.

  12. #27
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Chapter 15 – The Swarm

    There came a point in her pursuit of Esaax when Ntairow’s patience for Karo’s speed—or rather for his lack thereof—finally ran out. Without warning, she broke away from the party at a very fast run, ignoring the other two pokemon’s shouting pleas to let them catch up.

    Syr might have at least been able to keep not too far behind Ntairow, but he would not abandon Karo. Likewise, Syr would not abandon the search for Esaax, but having completely lost sight of him and now separated from Ntairow and her empathic connection by which they’d been tracking Esaax, Syr could really only hope to still be moving in the right direction.

    It was by pure chance that he and Karo eventually managed to reunite with Ntairow, several minutes after she’d left them. She was standing with her back against the front doors of none other than the Hope Institute.

    “Of course…” Syr rushed to Ntairow’s side. “He’s here?” he asked her.

    “Yes,” she answered.

    This is where it started,” Syr said, his eyes wide with realization. “Esaax got sick right after he left from here…” The arbok shook his head in disbelief and shame. “I should have figured it out much sooner, but I’d already made scapegoats out of the poor staff at the Haven… Looks like Esaax knew, though. And now he’s come back for answers.”

    “Or blood,” Ntairow said grimly.

    Syr immediately found himself having to struggle to drive out an image presented by his brain of a massacre at Esaax’s hands. “…So how long have you been just waiting out here?” he asked Ntairow.

    “Too long. All the doors are locked, and I couldn’t force any of them open. Esaax opted to take a shortcut through one of the walls, but the hole’s been covered over with ice. And not normal ice, either. I was able to chip away at it somewhat, but it immediately grew back, almost as if it were alive…”

    Syr shuddered, feeling his throat go dry. “Living” ice needed no further explanation—he could already imagine the sort of creatures that could be responsible for such things, could all too easily picture their hellishly glowing eyes, their massive teeth…

    Nonetheless, he tried to brace himself as well as he could for what he might have to face within the building. You’re doing this for Esaax, he reminded himself.

    The arbok studied the door for a moment. “I think I can help you get in,” he said. He motioned Ntairow out of the way, then spat a dark spray of full-strength acid at the doors. The attack caused the metal of the barrier to soften and deform slightly, as well as to give off harsh, stinking fumes, but the poison-type technique failed to burn its way completely through the doors.

    “I’m sorry,” Syr said. “It normally burns right through…”

    “You’ve actually weakened the metal quite well,” said Ntairow. “I could certainly tear it open now were it not for what the lingering acid would likely do to my hands in the process.”

    “The acid won’t bother me.” That was all the warning that Karo gave before plowing into the doors. His large nose punched right through the softened metal, and the rest of him followed.

    The others entered after him, careful to avoid the sharp, torn, acid-coated edges of their makeshift entrance. Once they were all in, Ntairow managed an impressed smile at Syr and Karo. “Great job, both of you,” she said. “Thank you.”

    “You’re welcome,” Syr and Karo said, almost in unison.

    As the three of them began making their way into the building, Karo turned back briefly to look at the hole that he and his nose had just helped to create. “Wow, that’s even bigger than the last one,” he remarked. “Awesome.”

    * * *

    Purposefully, Moriel made her way through the corridors of the Hope Institute. The glalie kept a mindfully quick pace as she moved; she had a fairly important task to carry out.

    Their employer was apparently not quite the good guy that he’d made himself out to be. Solonn had told Moriel, as well as the rest of the glalie and the claydol who lived among them, that DeLeo had tricked one of his clients into evolving and that this was against the law in Convergence. As such, someone needed to go and alert the authorities of this transgression, as well as to contact the staff at the Haven so that they could come to the aid of the victim.

    Moriel had readily volunteered to take care of this matter. Having once been in league with their enemies, she still wasn’t entirely certain that she had gained the full trust of all of the other glalie with whom she now associated, even after having fought alongside them. Any help that she could provide for any of them was an opportunity that she gladly seized.

    As she navigated the winding halls of the building, she found herself feeling grateful that she’d been working there for as long as she had. The Hope Institute’s internal layout could be a bit confusing for newcomers, but by that point, Moriel had memorized it fairly well. It also helped that the building was presently closed; it was easier to focus on where she was supposed to be going with the building being largely empty.

    Then she rounded a corner into a rather large room and found that the Hope Institute wasn’t quite so empty as she’d thought it was.

    Moriel had stumbled upon Ntairow, Karo, and Syr. The former two looked upon her with largely unreadable expressions, but the arbok looked distinctly and increasingly afraid, his mouth hanging open and his eyes wide.

    “Whoa, hey!” Moriel exclaimed. “Who are you, and wh—”

    She was cut off as first a terrified shout and then a spray of acid escaped the arbok in a moment’s panic. Moriel shrieked in pain as the burning fluid struck her face, and she retaliated immediately and automatically: in an instant, the room was filled with a small army of illusory glalie, and at the same time, three loud cracks rang out in rapid succession.

    All three of the sheer cold strikes hit their targets, but only Syr was affected. As he dropped to the floor, unconscious, the swarm of glalie began rushing about in circles around Ntairow and Syr—independently, at varying speeds, with some moving clockwise and others moving counterclockwise.

    Then Moriel and her illusory copies all turned inward toward their targets for just long enough to fire ice beams in unison, sending jagged, bright blue bolts of ice-type energy flying in a crisscrossing web around Ntairow, Karo, and the insensible arbok at their feet. Most of them passed inconsequentially through or around the nosepass and the kwazai, but one of them—the real one—struck Karo on the left side of the head, causing him to swear explosively and stagger.

    A pale bluish-purple light filled Ntairow’s eyes as she tapped into the source of her psywave technique. The branches of her tail were fanned out and moving around independently, their oculons trying to pick out the telltales that would distinguish the real, living glalie from the nonliving copies, but something about the glalie was confounding her psychic senses. Unable to pick out her target directly, Ntairow instead went into a spin on one foot, firing a quick volley of psywaves in a circle around her—but succeeding only in causing three illusory glalie to vanish before a protect aura went up around the remaining copies and their maker, foiling the rest of the psychic strikes.

    Another web of ice beams was fired from the swarm then, hitting Karo once again—Ntairow scowled, wishing that she’d been able to tell from which direction the real ice beam had come so that she could have dived in front of it. Using the glalie’s attacks to fuel mirror coat responses—and ultimately to fuel a devastating anguish attack once the kwazai had taken enough of them—seemed to Ntairow like the best hope for taking her out at this point. Psywaves were much slower, much easier to avoid than the instantaneous reactions that her retaliatory attacks were, and for all the help that Karo was providing in the fight, he might as well have been in the same state as Syr presently was.

    “Why aren’t you doing anything?” Ntairow demanded of the nosepass.

    “I’m trying!” Karo insisted, and he was indeed trying. The trouble was that he had a very limited selection of techniques to bring to bear against their adversary, the consequence of his trainer having decided to limit the number of attacks that he could learn to a mere four out of a sense that it would make Karo hone those four to a greater potency than usual and learn to use them more creatively.

    Karo might not have minded this so much at the present moment if one of the moves that he’d been left with had been a nice rock-type attack, preferably one that would simply drop rocks on all of the glalie at once and thereby perhaps weaken the real one enough to render her incapable of keeping up her double team illusions, at least. His zap cannon technique was terribly difficult to aim and terribly easy to dodge, and being unable to pick out his actual target in the first place meant that he couldn’t use lock-on to overcome those drawbacks.

    The only hope that he could see lay in his remaining two techniques, one of which he was presently bringing to bear not against the glalie but rather against Ntairow, Syr, and himself. Specifically, he was trying to the best of his ability to impose a block field around all three of them. Blocking more than one target at the same time was never easy, and the pain from the ice-type strikes that he’d already suffered was not helping matters.

    But then he saw Ntairow go completely rigid, halted right in the middle of unleashing another series of psywaves, taking on a look of alarm. Satisfied as he could be under the circumstances that the field was secure around its targets, Karo focused on intensifying it so that it would not only prevent anything from breaking out of it but also prevent anything from breaking into it.

    A third ice beam was fired Karo’s way—only to dissipate harmlessly against the force field that he had summoned. Karo felt a spark of pride burst into being within him—he’d succeeded. With a faint sense of relief, he let the block field withdraw from him, leaving it clinging to Ntairow and Syr as he unleashed the last of his four techniques.

    All at once, the space was filled with blazing light and thunderous noise.


    Next time: Ntairow and Syr have some explaining to do… See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 09:21 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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  13. #28
    A black and white world Blackjack Gabbiani's Avatar
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    Ohhhhh, very interesting, I look forward to the rest!

  14. #29
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    In my book, that's pretty sad if you're a Rock-type and don't know any Rock-type attacks. That is an artistic way of describing Crunch. In my mind, it's just a more powerful version of Bite. When Karo got a piece of him chewed off, I thought either those Glalie have steel teeth or Rock-type skin is similar to actual rock in texture and hardness, but not quite

  15. #30
    Irsuicca Sike Saner's Avatar
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    Thanks to both of you for replying, and thanks to everyone who’s reading! ^^


    Chapter 16 – Balance

    Syr awoke to a rather different scene from what he had last seen. From where he was presently lying, he now had a sideways view of shattered floor tiles illuminated by scattered moonlight, as well as of an irregular hole in the wall through which he could see Ntairow leaning partway.

    There was also a sound in the air that hadn’t been there before: a very faint moaning in an unfamiliar voice. Syr’s brows drew together in puzzlement as he pulled himself up from the floor; a bit of a daze still lingered in the wake of his unconsciousness, making it hard at the moment for him to guess to whom the voice belonged.

    He made his way over to Ntairow to see if she had any clue what the source of the voice was. The sound grew louder as he approached her, though its volume still remained very low. Once he was by her side, he found out exactly whom he was hearing without having to voice his question after all, and the answer snapped him back to full awareness in an instant.

    Just on the other side of the ruined wall lay a glalie; Syr could only assume that this was the same one who had knocked him out. Even in her current state—her right horn missing its tip, her ice armor broken off in places, and a pool of nearly colorless blood trying to form around her but hampered a bit by the fact that it was slowly turning to pale mist as it left her body—her presence made him distinctly uncomfortable. His breaths began escaping in worried hisses, and he found himself moving back away from the broken wall without really having decided to do so.

    Syr shifted his gaze to Ntairow and held it there, the glalie now entirely out of his sight. In the corner of his vision, he noticed a bluish-purple light glowing briefly through the hole in the wall. When it subsided, so did the moaning.

    The arbok moved ever so slightly closer to Ntairow once more as she ducked back out of the hole in the wall. “Did you…?”

    “She’s alive,” Ntairow said, which didn’t answer the question that Syr had actually had in mind. “But she won’t be giving us any trouble again anytime soon,” she then said, which did answer it. “You have nothing to fear from her now. Although I have to say that you undoubtedly scared her every bit as much as she scared you.”

    “Yes, well…” Syr began irritably, doubting Ntairow’s claim. Then he noticed the gray-and-orange shape lying several feet away from Ntairow, back in the direction from whence they’d come. “Karo!” he shouted concernedly. He rushed over to him, ignoring the way that the broken floor and scattered debris scraped and dug into his belly as he did so—but he stopped in his tracks when he got close enough to see just what sort of condition his friend was in at the moment.

    He was looking at roughly half of a nosepass.

    “Oh God…” Syr whispered.

    “It’s all right,” Ntairow assured him. “He’s still alive, and he has already begun to repair himself.”

    Syr just stared for a moment at what was left of Karo, his horror giving way to a strange sort of awe. “He wasn’t kidding…” he said, more to himself than anyone else. Karo had once bragged to Syr that nosepass lived indefinitely if no one or nothing else could kill them and that killing them wasn’t easy. The nosepass had said that even if he were smashed to pieces, he would just regenerate. Syr had always just always figured that he must have been exaggerating.

    “He said it’s a very slow process, though. Regenerating, I mean,” Syr said, then sighed. “He needs to go to the Haven. They can speed up his repairs with their revives and potions there. Otherwise… God, from the look of him, he probably won’t see the next hundred years. At least.”

    “He’s perfectly stable for the time being,” Ntairow told him. “The same can’t be said for Esaax.” And with that, she turned away from the broken wall and the glalie beyond it and set off in search of Esaax once more.

    Syr didn’t start following her right away. Leaving the glalie behind struck him as a very good idea, but leaving Karo behind did not, no matter how indestructible the nosepass claimed himself to be. Syr took a moment to wrap his tail securely around Karo, then proceeded onward after Ntairow, now noticing and dodging every bit of debris in his path while trying not to think too hard about just what the source of some of it was.

    But not thinking about this was difficult for him, especially since, in addition to the fact that he was presently pulling the weight of the pokémon to whom some of the debris had formerly belonged, he was still furthermore not altogether certain of just what had left Karo in such a state in the first place. “What did this to him, anyway?” he asked.

    A couple of Ntairow’s tail branches curled toward Syr. She stopped and turned around, then gave a sigh and closed the distance between her and the arbok; dragging Karo along had prevented Syr from catching up to her.

    “He used an explosion,” Ntairow answered him as she went over to take hold of Karo. She saw a look of astonishment overtake Syr’s features—the arbok had craned his neck to watch what she had been doing—and gave him a nod that silently said, It’s true, as well as a forward wave of one hand that silently said, Now let’s move along, please.

    Syr followed her unspoken directions, able to move somewhat faster now that Ntairow was helping him carry the unconscious nosepass, still in disbelief at what he’d just been told. “God… what possessed him to resort to that?” he asked as they left the room for the corridor beyond.

    “That glalie seemed to have a particular talent for using double team,” Ntairow said. “There were just too many copies, and they were indistinguishable from their maker. He decided to just take them all out at once, I suppose.” She smiled very faintly. “I do have to commend him for managing to do that—or to come close, anyway—without taking us out, as well. I’m still not completely sure how he did it.”

    “I’m not sure either, but wow…” Syr said. I have got to make this up to him someday, he thought.

    Meanwhile, something else in what Ntairow had said was striking him as a little odd. “…You said that you couldn’t tell the real one from the copies, right?” he asked her.

    “Yes, that’s right. I think her dark subtype may have been overdeveloped; it was deflecting my psychic perception.”

    “Oh,” Syr said at first. Then, “Wait, what do you mean, ‘subtype’?”

    “An elemental factor that’s strong enough to have an effect on its owner but not strong enough to figure into their actual type. All pokémon have—”

    She fell abruptly silent, and Syr didn’t wonder why—he could see the reason for himself. It was another glalie encounter, but this time there were four of them, all of whom looked at least somewhat alarmed. On top of that, Solonn was one of those four; Syr immediately wished that he had been able to go through life without learning that glalie could get that large. There was also a claydol in the glalie’s midst, to whom Syr gave almost no real attention; the arbok was aware of almost nothing beyond the glowing blue eyes that were quickly approaching and the frantic pounding of his own heart.

    Distantly, he felt the weight that he was helping to carry sink to the ground, then saw Ntairow move into his peripheral vision. “Stay put,” she hissed as she swiftly made her way around to stand beside him, “and try to stay calm. Please.”

    Syr gave neither a word nor a motion in response. Her words had managed to get through to him over the din of instincts and memories that were clamoring for him to attack or flee or do something, but while he was managing to keep stock still for the time being, he didn’t trust himself not to break at any moment.

    “What are you people doing here?” one of the glalie demanded as he and the rest of his group came to a stop a few feet away from Ntairow, Syr, and Karo. He shifted slightly to look past Syr, his eyes finding the partially-destroyed nosepass who was still being held in Syr’s coils. “Actually, never mind that. I think we’ve already got our answer,” he said, nodding toward the unconscious rock-type.

    “You were responsible for that explosion?” Solonn asked of Ntairow and Syr.

    “Yes,” Ntairow began to answer evenly, at which Syr immediately threw her a sanity-questioning look, “but we hadn’t intended to. It was all just a misunderstanding. We ran into one of your people unexpectedly; he—” She gestured toward Syr. “—attacked her out of panic; and things just sort of escalated, unfortunately. Don’t worry—she’s still alive, although she does need to get some medical attention soon.”

    The glalie who had spoken first swore at this, and all of the glowing blue eyes that regarded the intruders widened. “Where is she?” he demanded.

    Ntairow pointed back toward the room off behind her. Two of the glalie rushed off in that direction at once, as did the claydol. “You will need to come along with us,” said one of the remaining glalie, at which Ntairow nodded and gave Syr a nudge, then went back to help carry Karo once more.

    Syr felt a tug on the end of his tail, a signal from Ntairow that he needed to get moving. He was anything but enthusiastic about spending more time in the company of that many glalie, but the notion of offending them further by disobeying them scared him even more. Still, it was with considerable reluctance that he turned around and headed back into the explosion-damaged room, feeling his body trying to fight him the entire way there.

    As he and Ntairow carried Karo into the room, with two of the glalie following them, the two who had gone in ahead of them turned to regard them from the spot by the broken wall where they and the claydol hovered. One of them stayed there with Moriel, while Solonn and the claydol approached the intruders. One of the glalie who had just come in moved forward past Solonn and the claydol, pausing very briefly to get a quick assessment of Moriel’s condition before heading off toward an exit.

    “Why did you come here?” Solonn asked of Ntairow and Syr, his tone heavy.

    “Because someone here desperately needs help,” Ntairow said. “I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there’s a pokémon here who’s been forced to evolve. He’s elementally unstable—he needs a psychic-type of his own kind to serve as a vessel for his excess darkness. Please… you’ve got to give me a chance to try and balance him out. He won’t survive otherwise.”

    “Do you mean Esaax?” Solonn asked her.

    “Yes, I do. You’ve got to let me see him,” Ntairow said urgently.

    “She could still be lying,” the glalie over by the broken wall pointed out.

    Solonn sent him a brief glance, then sighed and turned his gaze back toward Ntairow. “Would you consent to a psychic scan in order to prove that you’re telling the truth?”

    Ntairow didn’t quite bother to keep herself from scowling. “Will it be quick?”

    <Yes,> the claydol assured her, speaking telepathically while what Syr could only assume was their actual voice rattled on incomprehensibly alongside their silent words, <and it will be painless.>

    “Fine, then,” Ntairow said.

    Without hesitation, the claydol moved to hover right in front of her, lowered their head, and closed all but the foremost of their eyes. Soon afterward, <She is completely truthful in her claims,> the claydol confirmed.

    “All right, then,” Solonn said quietly. “If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to where Esaax is being kept.” He made his way back toward the hallway through which Ntairow, Syr, and Karo had tried to pass before. “I hope for his sake that you succeed in saving him,” he said as first Ntairow and Syr—carrying Karo once more—followed him out of the room and then one of the other glalie did likewise. “He’s already been through enough that he didn’t deserve.”

    “I hope I succeed, too,” Ntairow said quietly. Syr, still too uncomfortable in the presence of the glalie to speak, only nodded in agreement.

    * * *

    Not very far away from his would-be savior, Esaax stirred in his containment field, his eyes widening. Two words, nearly voiceless, escaped on a breath exhaled as if he’d been holding it all his life.

    She’s here…”


    Next time: It’s the final chapter… After decades apart, Esaax and Ntairow are on the verge of being together again at last. But someone—or something—is determined to undermine their joyous reunion. See you then!

    - Sike Saner
    Last edited by Sike Saner; 10th December 2013 at 09:23 PM. Reason: Revisions.

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