RoseIII—Right Hand of the Dragon—Ecruteak (PG-13 to R in some places) [Book Four]

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Thread: RoseIII—Right Hand of the Dragon—Ecruteak (PG-13 to R in some places) [Book Four]

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    Default RoseIII—Right Hand of the Dragon—Ecruteak (PG-13 to R in some places) [Book Four]

    ;x The R-rated parts are in the last chapters. ^^;;

    Anyloo, lots of introspective. Teehee. Tanoshimu!

    The book order goes like so (this will be posted in all the books' threads):
    The Right Hand of the Dragon:
    I: The Story of the Roses (1-17)
    II: The Antics of the Roses (18-34)
    III: Tokyo (35-48)
    IV: Ecruteak (49-80)

    Changing Hands:
    V: A Little Game of Life (1)

    The Left Hand of the Dragon:
    VI: 2436
    VII: The Cimmerian
    VIII: The Bamboo Dragon
    IX: Fade to Black
    X: Epilogue (Rose-X)


    Chapter Forty-Nine: Return to Sunny

    ::Ditz::

    The five of us choked in fear and incomprehension of the thing.

    "Th—that can't be right..." Sesh uttered, grabbing the newspaper and rushing up to the man that was watching the newsstand. "This is some hoax, isn't it?"

    "I thought that too, at first," the old man replied, "but when I saw New Bark's crater yesterday, all I could do was mourn for the loss."

    "N—no!!" he exclaimed, frustrated. "I'm talking about the date. It isn't August fourteenth, and it most definitely isn't 2001."

    The man blinked, then stared at him in utter disbelief. "W—what are you talking about, young man? Of course it is! Unless the world's been turned upside down by New Bark." This thought made the man retreat from his stand and close it, walking off in a worried daze.

    "Y—you don't think that Mélisande screwed up... do you?" Nat began quietly, worried as well. "I mean, this *is* home, but it isn't where we should be...."

    "Maybe it is," I interjected from behind the four. They turned and looked at me angrily and painfully.

    "How is that possible?!" Kit demanded, almost in a rage from my comment.

    "Different dimensions have a different sense of time," I explained. "It could very well be that but a day passed for each year that we were in Tokyo."

    ~*~*~

    We decided to further investigate our disappearance in Sunnytown, as per my previous request.

    It took us a while to find our way around town again due to our time away, but once we had, we found where we were going.

    The five of us poked our heads into Max's shop cautiously, then slowly made our way inside. The bell rang because I didn't catch the door on its way to close, and the Jolteon, Asuka, ambled in slowly at hearing it. We froze and he looked at us strangely.

    It was true that only three days had passed since our journey to Tokyo; Asuka didn't look any different from the last time we'd seen him.

    "May I help you?" he led, a little confused at our reaction to him.

    "A—Asuka...?" I uttered.

    He stared at me and me alone. "How do you know what my name is? This isn't one of those tricks that Keiji and Toshi used to pull on Max and me, is it? Because it's not funny—" He realised that there were five of us and shut up. All he could do was stand there in utter disbelief of it all. "N—no.... You didn't survive... did you? No! I mean, how could you have?"

    We all sighed, a little uneasy on the subject.

    "The Pandora Gate that caused the destruction swept us into another dimension, Asuka," Kit explained, nervous.

    "We're still alive, see?" I poked my face, impishly leaving a dent like I used to. "Could I do that if I weren't alive?"

    "P—probably..." he replied in complete fear. "NO! You're not them!!"

    We sighed hesitantly and each shed our human forms in favour of our true faces. His face began to twitch, and it sounded like he'd stopped breathing. He soon keeled over, having fainted.

    "Joy. I wonder if Max is around or what?" Sesh began, grimacing at the Jolteon on the floor, out cold.

    ~*~*~

    We went upstairs to find that one of the five rooms was locked.

    "Hmm..." I wondered to myself. "Could this be Sean?"

    "It might be Max, Ditz. Don't do anything." My ears drooped.

    "Well fine then. You guys just stay here. You won't listen to me *or* let me do anything I want to...." With that, I teleported outside on the roof, the familiar gentle breeze whisping through my hair.

    I smiled, eyeing a nice patch of sunlight and curled up to go to sleep.

    When I awakened, I looked up to find someone's foot in front of me. They were clad in black leather, and he wore a matching trenchcoat with a pair of jeans and a dark gold wife-beater. His raspberry eyes were filled with a certain mysterious, almost evil golden fire to them, his thick black chin-length hair shining with mauve tones.

    "Hey, what's the matter? Tired?" He grinned at me, a little bemused.

    "What's it business of yours? Go away."

    "Ah, but why would I pass up another opportunity to talk to a Rose?"

    I froze up. "H—how'd you—"

    "I know what you did in New Bark, and I feel for you five," he continued, even futher bewildering me. "I understand if I've startled you. I'm Nayama." He knelt down and offered a handshake. In a sort of daze I accepted and soon came to stand with him. I could sense a strong aura from him... but I couldn't quite place it. Never before had I felt anything quite like it.

    "Takeru," I returned, gazing where he looked off to, which happened to be the sunset. "What do you want from me?"

    "I'm a sort of aide for the Roses, I suppose. I was the one who gave the twelve of you knowledge of shifting between strands."

    "Th—then you're Tenshi?" I began.

    He nodded.

    "And you're here to help us?"

    "No, you in particular, chiisai Bamboo Dragon." ((little) Takeru means bamboo dragon in Japanese)

    I smiled a little.

    "I've seen the sort of mischief you like to brew," Nayama grinned. He chuckled a little. "But you don't exactly have the skills to back up your amusement. I thought that you might enjoy the concept of genetic synthesis."

    I looked at him strangely, almost in disbelief. "Synthesis? As in creation of DNA?"

    Again, he nodded.

    "The others wouldn't let you readily use their necklaces because they knew that you'd use the abilities to have fun at their expense," he explained. "Synthesis eliminates the middle step—the genetic necklace."

    He paused for a moment. "The ability is rendered from those who have the psychic ability to reinforce the Ditto's genetic properties. Since you've evolved into an Espeon, I think that you're quite suitable for synthesis."

    "What do I have to do in order to do this?" I inquired, almost unable to control myself, my grin showing through as a mere sliver of a smile.

    "Well, you have to understand the basic nature of the creature you're synthesising the strand of. That, and you have to be able to concentrate on the strand until it's been created in full. Otherwise, the incomplete strand can become hazardous to your own existing strands.

    "Oh, heh. This brings up another similar ability that's a little easier. Duplication and acquiration." He held his hand out to me with bare forearm. "I have a Celebi strand. I want you to take hold of my arm and concentrate on it. Your hand may go numb, but it's just because of the absorbtion of the duplicate."

    I shrugged and complied, grasping his muscular forearm carefully, then concentrating on the strand that belonged to the green martian. Images of the Celebi flashed in my mind, and I could feel my entire body tingle with the vigour of my genome alteration. My hand soon lost feeling as Nayama had said it would, and not long after the fuzzy feeling went away.

    "Hmm." Nayama thought a moment before lunging at me. I freaked and jumped back, not expecting this. I turned pale when I saw that he was unmoving, almost as if... frozen in that moment! I grinned.

    Once I figured out how to unfreeze Nayama, I did so, and he chuckled, seeing that I wasn't where I had been when he had been frozen.

    "I see that it applies to all novice Celebi possessors that their first freeze is either from fright or pain."

    "Pain?" I echoed.

    "Your brother used his strand first when his tail was stepped on."

    "How would you know that?" Sesh began, walking up behind him.

    "I've been watching the twelve of you for some time. Human splicers intrigue me; it's amusing to see how different races react to having the abilities of Pokémon and aliens."

    "And from this I'm guessing that you're Tenshi, correct?"

    He nodded.

    "Who froze?"

    I chuckled and froze behind him. When he saw that I was gone, he choked and I laughed at him. He whirled around and stared at me.

    "T—Tacky...? How'd you do that? You don't have Celebi DNA." A light turned on and his eyes grew wide. "....Do you?"

    "Nayama showed me how to utilise other peoples' strands," I grinned, turning to look to my new friend. But he was gone.

    "Who *was* that guy?"

    "I dun have the slightest. But what I want to know is if he's on our side."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty: The Imp

    The two of us went back inside to find the others had settled into the upstairs room.

    "What happened?" Kit began.

    "We have a Tenshi watching us," Sesh replied. I laughed nervously when everyone turned and looked at me.

    "N—not me!!" I defended. "H—he's the one that told Leo aobut shifting!"

    "So it wasn't him that figured it out," she muttered aside. "Baka." She paused. "If he's been popping up to aid us in finding our abilities, then what'd he say to you, Tacky?"

    "Hehehe...." I scratched the back of my head nervously. "It's kinda hard to explain, but it's an ability that goes with my Ditto strand." I froze to sit sideways in the armchair and they all freaked.

    "B—but he doesn't have Celebi DNA!" Nat uttered.

    "Using strands that aren't really mine. Cool, huh?"

    They could say nothing though their mouths lay wide open as they stared at me.

    ~*~*~

    After the initial shock wore off, which took a few minutes, we heard the door to the back room creak a little. My mind twinged a little and I could tell someone was there, and they knew we were here.

    We all looked to the back room to find a man in his late thirties, lush dark hair that lay in loose ringlets off his head, and bags lay beneath the deep black eyes set darkly within his pale face.

    His mouth hung open slightly, as if he were trying to say something, but no words came as he glared at us. We'd all felt this sort of stare before, a look of incredulity with the slight tints of fear and confusion.

    Max...? Tane uttered, trying to invoke in him some sort of speech.

    A long silence passed before he registered from whence the voice had come, and his gaze was soon set upon her.

    "I—what—no, how—oh, I just don't understand!" He snorted in frustration. "I mean, first of all I come to befriend these kids who are past acquaintances of my shophand, whom most of which are genetically altered to be like one Pokémon or another. Every once in a while you guys will pull some sort of stunt to freak me out, or you'll get into trouble with these other genetic maniacs that puts Sarah, my shop or myself in danger. Now, now you're involved in a national incident and are believed to be dead... and you just come waltzing in three days after an explosion that wiped out an entire town?!"

    After a moment, Sesh interjected quietly, "Actually, it was more like an *im*plosion, since it sort of sucked New Bark Town into nonexistance."

    At this statement Max could take no more. "N—n—y—whatever you say—" With that, he stumbled off again in a pale daze.

    For the rest of the night and most of the week, we don't think it continued to register with Max that we were there, so we took it upon ourselves to make ourselves at home there once again.

    ~*~*~

    When the others were sound asleep that night, I began to stage my little plan.

    I got up quietly and crept over to Kit, then touched her hand gently, just enough to make skin contact, and aquired her strands.

    She did not stir, didn't awaken. When I felt the light tingle cease, I moved on to my elder brother.

    In this way I soon possessed ten of the twelve necklaces' DNA, having taken what strands I wanted from each of them. With my newfound abilities I also decided to gain Asuka's Jolteon strand.

    That makes eleven, I thought to myself, laying back down, and with what happened last time when I had an Espeon and an Umbreon strand, I don't want the even dozen, even though it does seem a bit lacking.... I sighed. I wonder if I'll be able to find another Pokémon's genome that could fill that place substantially?

    With that last thought, I fell asleep, and rested soundly, remotely content with myself for once.

    ~*~*~

    The next morning, the others found out about my little escapade the night before from a tiny slipup that involved a little anger and some electrical static. Let's just say that they were thoroughly displeased with my actions, and thus denied me to aquire any more strands. Little did they know that they couldn't stop me.

    You could say that I'm a rebellious teen; you tell me not to do something, I'll do it, and if you tell me to do something else, I might.

    But, of course, I've been a rebel for the whole of my life.

    ~*~*~

    Over the next few weeks, one might believe that an evil presence hovered over Sunnytown. Others may think that the place was utterly and completely cursed. But the great few that knew the truth would never again look at me the same way.

    All I'll say on the subject is that the little kid in me wanted to come out and play.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty-One: "Home."

    The five of us sat in the upper room, silent and confused as to why I had called us together that evening. Arms resting upon my knees with hands laced, I at last picked my head up as I sat in the armchair, then looking to them.

    "It's time that we go home, I should think," I began, warm yet solemn flame flickering in my gaze.

    After a short silence, Sesh sighed. "For once, I agree on the subject. We aren't the same as we were when all this started. We've been through a lot in the past six years, and both our families and we deserve it."

    "This is a shock coming from you, Sesh," Kit remarked, staring at him.

    "Wouldn't you like to have our parents at the wedding?" he muttered, returning the gaze.

    The three of us stared at the pair in disbelief.

    "Y—are you serious?" Their gazes turned to become set upon me and I choked. "Wh—when?"

    "We don't know quite yet," Kit replied for them. "I mean, don't you agree that it's taken some adjustments to get used to coming from early December in Japan into July in North Kanto?"

    "Yeah, I suppose." I rubbed my foot in the carpet a little. "I haven't really had that much trouble with it."

    "You're used to change, though," Sesh sighed.

    A long silence ensued.

    "When do the four of you want to go back?" Nat began, trying to break the uneasy air created by our discovery of Kit and Sesh's engagement and my proposition of returning to Ecruteak.

    After a pause, I replied, "I was hoping to go back by the end of the week. I don't know about you guys."

    I don't really have any objections, Tane sided. You all know I don't exactly have a home to go to; I only have that house I bought with the money Jarrell gave me.

    After a silence, I hung my head. "I'm sorry, Tane. We forgot."

    It's all right. All of you should go back to your families and at least tell them what happened. It will help them be more at ease.

    "What happened? What are you guys talking about?" Nat was confused, never having been told about Tane's backgrounds.

    She sighed. I'm an orphan, Natsume. I was kidnapped from the streets.

    "I don't understand.... You guys knew each other before the Enhancement."

    "Nat, you can be so unaware sometimes," Kit muttered. "The state offers scholarships for gifted kids. The orphanage in Ecruteak saw Tane's interest in medicine and she thus came to study in Ecruteak Technical."

    "So you want to study medicine?" the girl asked.

    It's been a dream of mine to be able to rid the world of so many illnesses. I think that if Grass Pokémon and mankind were to work together, both could help each other.

    "So that's why you've got a Bellsprout and Chikorita.... Okay...." It had taken her four long years to realise all of this, and we sweatdropped at her idiocy.

    "But anyway...." I coughed. "I think that Friday is good. Gives us three days to think what we need to do when we get there."

    "I'm still hesitant to think about going home, though," Kit began, brow furrowed. "I mean, what will our families do?"

    "I remember that I used to to like to play with dolls when I was really little; it was perfectly fine with me just so long as they weren't really frilly things. Mom got really worried about me, and I knew it. One by one my little collection vanished, and do you know what happened to them? Mom had been hiding them from me to keep me from being effiminate.

    "I don't think that playing with dolls is effiminate *or* masculine. It's just role-playing."

    I sighed.

    "I told her that I knew that she'd taken them and I told her this. She just didn't want me to play with things intended for girls, and I explained to her that I enjoyed acting with them. She saw my side and she accepted it."

    "She still didn't let you have them back, though," Sesh remarked, a little amused.

    "She did in a way...." I smiled a little. "The next night, I found a doll that I thought was prettier than any of the others I'd had before."

    "Why didn't you ever say anything?" my brother muttered, a little bewildered.

    "I didn't want her taken from me."

    I sighed, gazing blankly down upon the carpet. "She's probably still under the bed."

    "Tacky, you can go see when we go home, all right?" I looked up to meet Kit's gaze, then slowly smiled.

    After a moment the word came to fall from my mouth, the happiest thing I'd said in years. "Home."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty-Two: Shattered Hope

    "What are your plans, Nat?" I began, the two of us sitting downstairs in the back room.

    Kit and Sesh had sort of drifted off somewhere, and Tane had felt uneasy about the day and gone to bed early. Granted, it was already eleven, but lately none of us had gotten any rest. At least, not falling asleep until three or four in the morning.

    "I don't know," she replied, staring out the back window. The moon was but a mere pearl sliver in the sky, the thousands of stars glittering magnificently in the sable tapestry that was the night sky. "I might look for Sean, but then again, the time that has passed for me hasn't passed for him nor anyone else here. Because of this I don't know if I'll be able to find anyone to love."

    "I dunno either. I've wondered what it would be like to speak to my mother. Sometimes the image of the four of us—my mom, dad, Sesh and me—comes to mind, but it's delusional. My father would never return home. He hasn't in nine years; why should he now?"

    My only memory of my father came to mind.

    ~*~*~

    Sesh was sitting to my left at the kitchen table, my dad to the right. There was a small stack of various wrapped packages set before me, and my eyes were so wide with delight that they glittered most like those of a Jigglypuff's. The smallest of these, wrapped dark green with a gold ribbon, was kept just past arm's reach from me, and, being as young as I had been at the time, I dealt with the easier gifts first, dismissing the tiny presents.

    These consisted of a few stuffed Pokémon (an Espeon, a Haunter and a Togepi), some race cars, and a race car track. I had been so overjoyed by the cars that I hurried upstairs to play with them, and had forgotten about the last of the gifts.

    While I was playing, my dad came up quietly, watching me. It took me a few minutes to realise that he had been standing in the doorway, but when I did, I stopped and looked up to him from where I sat in my bedroom floor.

    "Keiji, didn't you see the little box?" he began warmly.

    "Oh yeah!" I smiled and got up to rush downstairs, but he stopped me, placing his large but gentle hand upon my shoulder. I'd always thought that those large hands could do wonderful and miraculous things.

    My father, being rather tall, knelt down to my eye level, and dug in his pocket to produce the small green box tied up in golden strings. I happily but carefully took the package from his hand, slowly untying the ribbons. I shook the bare black box gently by my ear; it rattled lightly, and both my dad and I giggled. Then I took the top of the box off.

    From its innards I pulled a cold, metallic object that would have seemed quite small had I been older, coloured red and white with a black stripe around it. One side of this black outline was hinged, the other marked with a white button, around which the outline continued. My eyes glittered, wide, my mouth hanging open slightly in awe.

    "A Pokéball..." I uttered in amazement.

    "Open it and see," he led, smiling.

    I giggled and hastily complied by first pushing the smaller black button within the white button to enlarge the Pokéball, then pushed the larger white one, a form jumping out in a red flash of light. The creature stood before me on four legs, possessing a shiny cinnamon brown coat, large green eyes that glittered as much as mine, and huge ears that twitched occasionally. I giggled and the fox walked cautiously to me and sniffed my sock foot. I wiggled my big toe and it jumped back, surprised. It tittered after a minute, and I laughed. So did Dad.

    After a moment, I knelt down to pet her. She snuffled my fingers curiously as I held my hand out, then rubbed her head on my palm. "Eev!" she exclaimed.

    "Eve?" I smiled when she trilled. "Eve is sweet, Daddy!" I rushed up to him and hugged him around the neck, Eve perched atop my head. At this my father chuckled, amused both with my choice of name and the fact that she could remain standing easily atop my small head.


    ~*~*~

    Little did I know then that the Pokémon language consisted only of its name.

    I smiled, remembering that first few weeks that I'd had Eve. She'd just been a naveikitten when I'd gotten her; I, too, had been quite young. In this way, we grew up together.

    "She had been there at the Enhancement," I whispered to myself, the tears in my eyes almost blinding my sight.

    ~*~*~

    It was morning. I rubbed my head drowsily, feeling the lump I'd gotten when I'd been attacked from behind. I dismissed the feeling of extra hair on my head until some of it twitched on its own. I felt of them and my crooked smile widened, finding them to be my ears. Discovery of my ears led to finding my wet nose, though it was more of a muzzle now. My teeth were sharp, my tongue thinner and rough like sandpaper. My body was covered in fairly dense brown fur; it was warm, but not so warm that it was uncomfortable.

    My fingers were tipped with sharp claws, as were my toes. A large bushy tail twitched occasionally under me.

    "How...?" I whispered to myself in awe and fear, staring at my hands. It felt strange to talk with the changes that had occurred to my face and mouth.

    'You're awake,' a youthful female voice remarked. The voice sounded like it had come from the floor at the end of the bed.

    The voice confused me a little, because I had heard English, but I could swear that it hadn't been. Almost—

    I freaked out even more, seeing that the voice had been Eve. "H—how'd you speak human, Eve?"

    'Wh—what? Since when could I speak human?' she replied inquizzically.

    It was then that it hit me. I was half Eevee, and because of this I probably had the capability to understand them. I still would hear the true Eevish, but it would be masked with the language with which I could relate.

    "I—it's not you, Eve, it's me," I uttered. "I can understand you."

    I paused.

    "Do you know how this happened?" I began, hopeful.

    'Two men kidnapped you. That's all I know.'


    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty-Three: Heartache

    ::Sesh::

    I looked in on Tak and Nat to see what was going on. It was too quiet.

    He stared out the window blankly, solemn look on his face. He'd shed his human façade, his tails sitting motionless behind him.

    "What's the matter with him?" I whispered to her.

    She turned to face me, worried. "Sesh, I've never seen him like this!" she uttered almost silently, as to not disturb the Espeon's thoughts. "That look in his eyes.... It scares me to just look at him!"

    I looked to him, and my brow furrowed not a second later. "I—I've seen him like this before."

    "When?"

    "When Dad left home."

    ~*~*~

    Upset, I sighed, hanging my head. After a moment I crooked my head down beside his and paused, then spoke. "Keiji, it'll be all right. Dad... Dad doesn't really matter any more. He left us for things he found more important. He doesn't care."

    As I had done before, and knew it would happen, he at once became animate and pinned me to the floor, hands wrapped tight around my neck. Nat freaked out completely.

    "I don't care what you say! He loved us!"

    I laughed sadistically. "Of course he did. You know it... I know it. It's just—he loved his... training more." I began to have difficulty breathing he was so strong onto me, and I froze him and pulled away. I breathed heavily as I sat up and unfroze him.

    He fell to the floor with my absence from his pinning me down; he glared at me angrily, staticking.

    "You know electrocuting me only makes things worse, Keiji."

    He growled a little and vanished.

    "This just keeps getting better and better..." I muttered.

    ~*~*~

    "So you think he's doubting his wanting to go home?" Kit began.

    I nodded. "He... that look in his eyes—he gets like that when he thinks of when Dad left. Thinking about it only hurts him because he can't figure out if he loved us or if he was there through a puppy love marriage he couldn't wait to get out of."

    "Wait... your parents got divorced? I thought your dad just went travelling!"

    I snorted. "Mom didn't tell us what had really happened. She told us that he was training to compete in the Indigo Plateau Pokémon League at first; then she told us that he'd left to do so after they'd gotten a divorce. Mom and Dad didn't love each other as much as they loved us, I suppose. I still hate him for what he did to her."

    My lip quivered a little, but my anger ceased when Kit hugged me. After a moment we ended up kissing, then our gazes met.

    "Your father is in the past. You don't have to hate the past, Toshi."

    "That's one thing I'm bad about.... Holding grudges against things that can't be changed." I sighed. "I... I wish it hadn't been the way it had been with Mom and Dad, but I guess it was for the best. Afterall," I chuckled a moment, "I don't quite think I could have ended up with you had the Enhancement not happened."

    She smiled and giggled. "I don't quite know about *that*...." She grinned. "You never know."

    ~*~*~

    We later found Keiji sitting in the front upstairs room, moping, half-asleep. He was curled up on the foot of the bed, clutching a pillow to his chest.

    "I don't know what we're going to do about him," I began, beginning to become quite worried that he'd be like this for a long period of time. "It isn't healthy to be depressed like that."

    "I wish there were something we could just say to him that would make it all better, but I don't see that happening," Kit mumbled, solemn. "It hurts me to see him like that."

    "I know. I think it hurts all of us to see one of our own in pain."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty-Four: Separate Ways

    ::Ditz::

    I lay there in a cold sweat, completely and utterly shattered, a glass figurine, thrown against the wall.

    What am I going to do with myself? I don't have a clue what's going on.... I jerked a little when I felt a cold nose snuffle the nape of my neck. "Eve...."

    'Keiji, I want to know what's wrong. I've never seen you lay in bed for days on end....'

    I sighed. 'Then again, you never really knew how much I think about everything.' I curled up a little tighter, my tail twitching a bit. 'I don't know how Toshi and I are going to come back home. How do you think Mom will react to us? And what about Meilin?' My nose crinkled a little when I tried to keep myself from crying again.

    'Your mother loves you, Keiji. She'll accept you for what you are, the both of you.'

    'I can only hope you're right, Eve, I can only hope. If she does something irrational because of the two of us, I don't know what I'm going to do.'

    'She may be scared of you at first, but she'll understand that you're still her sons.' Eve peeked over my shoulder to look me in the face. She saw a tear on my cheek and licked it away. 'Keiji, it'll be just fine. Trust yourself.'

    I sighed, rolling onto my back. Eve jumped up atop the pillow and I scratched her behind the ears. I smiled a moment. "I don't know what I'd do without you, Eve."

    ~*~*~

    The end of the week came and I at last gained the courage to again wear a smile upon my face.

    Everyone stared at me when I sat down at the table in the downstairs back room for a late breakfast. They were especially surprised that I was back in my human form.

    "What?" I muttered, grabbing a plate and snatching up a few pancakes. "I said that we should leave Friday, and it's Friday."

    "Y—you're sure you're ready...?" Sesh began, brow furrowed. "You were out the entire week."

    "I'm sure." I poked at the stack a moment before taking a bite.

    A silence passed.

    "So when are we leaving?" I uttered, looking to the others.

    "I guess we can pick up and leave in about an hour or two," Kit replied, shrugging. "Is that okay?"

    "Fine with me," Sesh remarked quietly, almost indifferently. But I knew otherwise. This was having the same effect on him that it had had on me. Anger and bemusement were the only emotions that ever truly shone through.

    "I'm going back to Olivine," Nat added in, trying to be cheerful. "I hear that Sean's grandparents let him move in with them."

    I suppose I'm the only one here that won't be near the others, Tane sighed. I'm going to go back to my house in Ilex.

    "You know we'll visit, Tane," Kit smiled to her. "And you can always come to Ecruteak to see us." The Cleffa nodded.

    Don't think I'll be alone there, though. You don't have to worry. Tane grinned. I've always got Basil and Gloria, and there are plenty of Pokémon that live around my house. And I've always got my studies.

    ~*~*~

    The hour passed quickly, and we said our goodbyes to Asuka and Max. Then we were off our separate ways.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty-Five: Uh, "Ditto on the Roof...?"

    The three of us meandered into Ecruteak unnoticed. It was quiet, as if in mourning. The New Bark Incident had obviously hit them hard.

    "What's the plan, Ditto idiot?" Sesh muttered, unamused and uneasy.

    "I say we ring the doorbell," Kit grumbled.

    "That's not creative," I whined. "C'mon, lemme do what I wanna do."

    "Which would be...?"

    "I want to see how rusty I am on the viola," I replied, teleporting into my room.

    ~*~*~

    I quietly peeked into my closet and brought out the old case, then blew the dust off and lifted the cover in silence. I drew out the viola and the bow, both smelling of dust and resin. I smiled, running my fingers along my old friend's edges, then tightened the strings on the bow. I cradled the viola in my shoulder, gripping the neck a little awkwardly at first, but quickly became accustomed to it. I tested its being on tune, then, satisfied, I smirked and teleported up to stand atop the chimney.

    Kit and Sesh looked up to me, brows arched as they sat upon the high stone fence that lined both sides of the street.

    "What?" I grinned.

    "You're nuts, you know that?"

    I chuckled, shaking my head slightly, then began to play.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Anne Itoh::

    I sighed, at last getting some peace of mind as I sat back in the armchair in the living room with a book.

    My head jerked up in fright, hearing some rustling upstairs, a few strange sounds, then a little more distantly the sound of... a... viola?

    I rushed up to Keiji's room to find the closet wide open, his viola case open, the thing gone. I ran outside to look up on the roof to find a boy on the chimney playing it.

    "I—how dare you!" I hissed, glaring up at him. "Put my son's viola back where you found it, you thief!"

    The boy stopped, hearing me say this. He looked to me, his eyes glittering a beautiful green, his hair shining platinum blond in the setting sun.

    "Not going as planned, is it, eh Tacky?" I heard a dark male voice remark from behind me, bemused. I whirled around to find a man in his early twenties sitting on top of the wall, grinning down upon me. He wore a crimson shirt beneath a black leather jacket, his pale brown hair pulled into a tight ponytail. His eyes... were such a pale blue that I couldn't hardly tell that his eyes even held colour.

    Beside him sat a woman, also in her twenties. Her black hair hung down in loose ringlets down, her eyes shimmering sapphire with warmth. She, too, wore black leather like the man beside her, both pairs of feet clad in black boots.

    "Hi Missus Itoh," she greeted.

    "I—should I know you people?" I stammered, a little afraid.

    The man jumped down off the wall and I took a step back cautiously. He opened his arms wide with a grin.

    "Mom... we're home."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty-Six: Candies

    ::Nat::

    I mumbled quietly to myself as I settled into a motel room in Olivine, sitting at the end of the flimsy old bed in the room, brushing my long ice-blue hair.

    I don't want to scare his grandparents any more than they already probably are with him, I worried to myself. No one accepts me because they think my hair was my doing.... I felt a small sting at the corner of my eye; I used a fingernail to wipe away the crystal tear that had formed. "If only there were a way to get rid of this abominable Midas Touch," I complained.

    As I stared at myself in the mirror, my glare was set upon my eyes, an icier blue than even Sesh's. I looked as if I were alien to this world.

    Perhaps I was now. I most certainly belonged no longer.

    Then it hit me. My gaze widened as I looked closer at my eyes—they were tinted with small swirls of raspberry, and my pupils were elongated ever so slightly less than the vertical width of my irises. Like the Ecruteak Fifteen's are when they're in their true states....

    "I'm like this because of the necklace, and the necklace gave me Suicune DNA...! I can... shift—I think that's what the others called it—I can shift out of this blue hair and goth complexion!"

    It took me a moment to remember what the others had done, then I settled comfortably into where I sat on the bed and concentrated on my human self.

    I soon felt warmth in me for the first time in four years, and my entire body tingled with vigour. I no longer felt like a corpse, but a human being. I was alive again.

    My hair now hung from my head in lush chocolate ringlets, my eyes shining like topaz. My skin was a healthy shade of peach, smooth and soft.

    I stared at my reflection again, this time in awe more than contemplation. I touched my cheek to actually feel the press of my fingers upon my flesh. A tear of joy fell from my eye and it felt... cold.

    "Cold..." I whispered, unable to do anything but gaze into my reflection.

    ~*~*~

    I felt sort of empty not wearing any blue on my person, so I went shopping. Clothing always makes me feel better; dressing up in different things is something I enjoy immensely.

    After a few hours, I had grabbed a few blue garments I had chosen, as well as a new pair of shoes—all-clear Candies. I walked out of the mall feeling as if a massive weight had just been lifted off my shoulders.

    Although the ice-queen the world had come to know me as remained a part of me, human or Rose... I was myself again.

    ~*~*~

    After having changed into my new outfit—the sapphire blue cowl-necked tank top, the crystal-hemmed black wrap skirt that fell just above my knees, the ice Candies, and the powder blue knit hooded sweater that came to the hem of my skirt—I locked up my room and headed out, address of the Hayashitora in my purse as I made my way to the suburbs of Olivine.

    The town was beautiful, I observed, the skies clear and the people friendly. The children I saw playing with Pidgey in the marketplace were feeding them, not chasing them, and the Tech students were orderly and quiet, much unlike those I knew from my hometown in Violet City. Of course every settlement has its own personality, but this place had no true life to it. I could only imagine why he would want to come to a place like this.

    ~*~*~

    The address on the paper read '814 Finchcourt,' and there I stood before a small one-story home, whitestone brick and a black shingle roof. The lawn was a lush green, and the flowerbed was filled with orange flowers of all sorts, laying a golden border around the home. It felt like the owners loved that home.

    I cautiously and nervously walked up to the front door, hesitating to ring the doorbell. After a moment I gained the courage to push the long oval button in the door frame, but soon regretted it somewhat, panicking a little, tapping my foot anxiously as I awaited the door's opening.

    And soon the moment came. Around the edge of the door were curled four fingers that seemed they had lost their strength, and at the floor there lay a sock foot, the toes inside scrunching up uneasily and tiredly. Then the face that belonged to the hand and the foot appeared in the doorway.

    This face... it was worn and depressed, his long orange-tinted blond hair mussed from sleep. When he saw my face, his tired emerald eyes grew wide in apprehension and disbelief. His breathing grew quick and slightly pained.

    "Sean, it's all right," I soothed. "We're all okay."

    After a moment of his endless staring at me, he uttered, "How...?"

    I sighed, looking to my shoes a moment, then back to him. "We didn't die in the accident because it sucked us into another world. We've been in Japan for three years, a year for each day that passed here on Gaea."

    His endless gaze became an utter blank one. "I—I meant... how did you get your hair to be brown again...." He couldn't understand what I'd said and began rubbing the bridge of his nose as if he were suffering from headache twinges.

    I suppressed the urge to smile and laugh.

    "W—why don't you come in, Nat? It doesn't make much sense for me to stand here in my pyjamas, nor does it you to have to stand here in those shoes...." He smiled a little at his comment, letting me inside. "I didn't think I'd be able to rag on your shoes again when I saw the news three days ago, Nat...."

    "Nor did I think I'd ever be able to lay eyes upon you," I replied.

    I smiled.

    I felt whole again with Sean by my side.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty-Seven: Remote Acceptance

    ::Anne Itoh::

    "Mom... we're home."

    I lost my breath when I heard these three tiny words. I just couldn't believe it.

    I heard the boy standing on the roof snort, and when I swirled around to look up to him, he jumped from the chimney. I gasped in shock, afraid for the boy's safety, yet I couldn't move an inch towards helping him.

    He seemed so confident as he leapt....

    He landed gracefully in the green lawn, viola and bow still clutched in hand. Ducked down before, he pulled himself up with a certain proud and happy air, then picked his head up to look at me, warm grin narrowing his glittering green eyes. Yet they glittered with tears, not joy.

    Had he been hurt? I thought to myself. It doesn't seem as though the fall injured him....

    He placed gently in the grass the viola, then he, too, walked up to me, arms open and inviting as the other boy's had.

    "Mom, your boys are home," the younger smiled. "Both of us."

    "Jumping off the roof when I merely slid off the fence?" the elder mumbled. "Always have to show me one up, dontcha?" He smirked almost as if to say that it had been in jest.

    "You know it," the younger one winked.

    "B—but.... My boys would be twelve and seventeen if they were alive...."

    After a moment of absorbing this, the three of them groaned in complaint.

    "We forgot about that, didn't we?" the elder grumbled to the others, practically aside it was so unfocused.

    "Wh—what're you talking about...?" I trailed, confused and worried, taking a step away from them.

    "Ah great," he continued. "Mom... don't. Please don't."

    "S—quit calling me 'Mother!'" I stammered both angrily and fearfully, continuing to back away from them.

    "I was afraid she'd do this," the younger muttered. "Just thought it'd be at least ten or fifteen minutes into her seeing us."

    "Wh—what are you going to do to me...?" I uttered, voice cracking.

    The both of them looked quite strong, and the girl... she seemed as though she could at least handle herself. I didn't want to defy them for fear that they would hurt me.

    "Whadda ya mean, 'what are we going to do'?" the elder inquired. "That's sort of a st—"

    "It's plausible, Tosh," the younger interjected, wanting his brother to back off. "She thinks we're going to hurt her. Our kidnapping severely damaged her mental state; I can tell."

    "Wh—" I could say nothing, in fear and yet... I derived some sort of awe from it.

    Could they really be home?

    Or were they merely setting me up to rob me?


    I cringed back slightly when the elder boy cautiously walked up to me again.

    "Mom... please don't be afraid of us. We've spent all week just trying to come home. It hurts us to see you like this."

    "We're still more afraid that you won't accept us than you are afraid of us," the younger interposed, slightly upset. "We don't want you to be afraid of us just because we're home. There's no reason to fear us for that." The elder and the girl both shot him dirty glances, but he didn't back off. "We're going to tell her anyway, aren't we?"

    "The way you speak.... What are you talking about?"

    "Tacky, now was not the best time," the elder growled. "She's afraid of us as it is. At this rate we'll have to take her to the emergency room for a heart attack or a stroke, or something...."

    "Well, so—rry," the younger grumbled. "It's seriously messing with me to see Mom like this. I feel like it's our fault for not even trying to get back to her. I mean, we could have gotten away...."

    "If we had gotten away, we would have put her in greater danger than she could ever have imagined. You remember all the incidents we had with a certain group of siblings, do you not?"

    He shuddered at the remark. "Hai," he replied nervously, rapidly bobbling his head. "You really think they're still dead?"

    "Is there really any doubt in that?" the elder retorted, a little put off that he should even ask such a question.

    "Wh—who do you speak of?" I asked quietly, trying not to annerve them.

    The elder sighed. "That's a story for later, Mom," he replied, placing his hand on my shoulder. He was warm, though his gaze upon me left me feeling ice cold.

    "Later?" I echoed dumbly.

    "Yes," he continued, walking me inside. The other boy followed, but the girl had gone. "Much later."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty-Eight: Miss Giggles Wants a Piece of Cheese!

    ::Jacqueline Tacheni::

    I smiled, sitting back in my chair with my art pad, working on my latest assignment for my art class. Again I would be drawing Rhea.

    ~*~*~

    Rhea... yes. She's been my friend for the past three weeks. Her hair is black, and her eyes are quite pretty. Her skin is soft and blue, and her ears are pointy like an elf's, only webbed like a fish's. She has a tail like a mermaid's, but she still has legs and feet like a human. In fact, her body is like a girl's, only different because of the other things about her. But she doesn't scare people. What frightens people is that the mermaid only shows herself to me and only me.

    No one else sees her... but me.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::

    I smirked, seeing Toshi and Keiji walking their mother inside, leaving it to them to talk to her. I phased from sight using the Haunter strand of the diamond necklace, then teleported to the first-story roof of my two story home to look in on my little sister.

    Jackie was a sweet little girl. Her soft black hair fell in loose ringlets just past her shoulders, and her powder blue eyes shone eternally with a happy gleam. Even through hardships such as losing her elder sister and best friend she endured.

    She was nine now; she had been seven when I had been kidnapped.

    Jackie smiled, colouring a drawing with a blue chaulk pastel. Then she grabbed a silver pastel and accented it. I teleported inside to look over her shoulder to find the drawing to be of a girl, about seventeen, with pale blue skin and black hair and eyes; her ears were finned, her fingers webbed and sharp with small black claws. She had a mermaidlike tail, but retained the human legs and form. She wore a turtleneck and a pair of flared jeans, stockingfoot.

    Me three years ago.

    The scent of chocolate chip cookies trailed its way upstairs and she grinned, hearing footsteps up the stairs.

    "Hey, sweetie?" a soft female voice began, a blonde woman poking her head through the door. "Want some cookies?"

    "Could I have just a few? That's all I'd like," Jackie smiled. Mother came in and held the plate out for her; she picked up a medium-sized one and nibbled on it, then grabbed three more and set them at the corner of her desk.

    "Jackie, what's this?" Mom asked her, looking at the picture.

    "It's my drawing for art."

    "Wh—who or what is it?" she continued, confused and seemingly afraid.

    She giggled. "Her name's Rhea. She's my friend."

    After a moment of her staring at the drawing, I noticed that Mom's forehead glistened with a cold sweat.

    "H—how long have you been friends with this... 'Rhea'?"

    "About three weeks," Jackie said, admiring her work. She went over one of the outlines with a pencil—the smile—then set the pencil back down on her desk, taking another bite of her cookie.

    "Sweetie, you're nine years old and you have an imaginary friend," Mom worried, setting the plate of cookies down on the bed and combing her gentle fingers into Jackie's hair, caressing her head consolingly.

    "She's not imaginary!" the little girl denied matter-of-factly.

    This remark gave me an ingenious idea.

    "Jackie, it's all right to accept that Meilin is gone," the woman continued. Jackie jerked away from her angrily.

    "What does this have to do with Meilin?!" she whined with a small snarl.

    I smirked to myself, shedding my human form but retaining my cloaking. Yesh, Rhea isn't imaginary. Just... invisible.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Jackie::

    Mom left me alone, still worried about me. I didn't blame her; having an imaginary friend is sorta stupid, but somehow I didn't think that Rhea was imaginary....

    I returned to working on my drawing, adding silver highlights to Rhea's shiny black hair and accenting her teeth. This was my best drawing yet.

    I jumped a little at hearing the faint sound of cloth rustling, sitting up to attention as I noticed one of my cookies float up into the air as if being picked up. I freaked as I saw a bite getting taken out of it. I heard a small girly giggle, then turned to observe the bed creak with the weight of someone sitting upon it. The sheets buckled a little, showing where the supposed person sat. There was no one there.

    "She makes good cookies, y'know?" I heard a girl remark in an almost familiar tone of voice.

    "Y—Rhea...?" I choked out in an almost whisper.

    "Who else could it be, silly?" she replied, showing herself. Yet she was older now... and her hair was curlier and longer than it had been last time she had shown herself.

    "You're older, Rhea..." I remarked in confusion. "Much older...."

    She blushed a deeper blue. After a moment, she responded thusly. "I don't age like human people do." She sweatdropped a little.

    "I never asked you what you were..." I began. "I mean, you say yourself you're not a people."

    "I'm a mermaid of the Pokémon sort," she returned, smirking. A minute passed and she flung herself back on the bed to lay sideways on it, tail swishing in contentment off the side. "I've always thought that your bed was very comfy."

    I giggled, blushing. "It used to be Meilin's."

    "I know."

    I sat there, staring at her a moment. "You know about her?"

    She sighed, a little upset by it. "Of course. You think about her all the time."

    The silence made me uneasy, so I changed the subject. "You've never shown yourself to me like this before.... Why?"

    "I've been nervous. But I really enjoy your mom's cookies." She giggled again, smiling. "She's a good cook."

    "Yeah...."

    "Hey Jackie?" Rhea began, sitting up.

    "What?"

    "Could I have a hug?"

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Fifty-Nine: Clearest Light Casts Darkest Shadow

    ::Ditz::

    Everything about the house washed over me in an almost suffocating wave of emotions. The stale smell of coffee that had always perfumed the first floor, the soft crunch of the tarnished golden carpet underfoot, the way the rooms were softened by the sunlight and bathed them with warmth.

    But no longer did there exist that same warmth that I had known in my early youth, no longer did it feel as though life surged throughout the walls. No. It now felt like ice to be in that house.

    The silence began to get to all three of us as we settled down to sit in the living room. I rubbed my foot in the carpet a little, looking down at my hands, which I had laid uncomfortably in my lap. I coughed once, voicing my uneasiness without words. I then looked up to see my mother's face, worn with the rivers of tears that must have carved the now very apparent distinctions in her gaze. It felt as though that look upon her face could not be drawn from its soulfulness.

    "I... I feel the need to ask so much, yet I cannot form the words to do so...." The woman that I had known for so long now seemed so distant, so like a stranger that I had to keep reminding myself that she was my mother. It had been far too long since my gaze had fallen upon her, far too long since I had so much as heard her voice.

    My heart skipped a beat in sheer anguish. She is sure to find us out, I worried aloud, though it had not been my first intention to speak to my brother in such a way.

    His face tightened in a twinge of annoyance, but his eyes did not fall to me. Instead he replied, Keiji, it'll be all right. We can lead up to that later. For now, I merely intend to make her less on edge about us.

    It took me a minute to shake off that he'd called me by my old name. I didn't completely understand why he'd done it, but then remembered that he of all those involved took the longest to accept that I no longer wished to be called by my true name. He didn't understand how I had struggled to believe that I was still the same person. He still had yet to fully comprehend how it had torn me to pieces to discover that I had become something that I never before had ever conceived.

    But what about the age difference? I continued, clutching my hands tighter as my glare upon them was likely to burn holes in them. I couldn't hardly stand this situation. How will we explain that?

    We were experimented upon, remember? It's plausible that such a thing could make us like this, a side effect if you will.

    At this I was silent. You do know that you think too well for your own good, don't you?

    He smirked a little, now looking down at his clasped hands as well. Then he again looked up to Mother.

    "It took quite a bit for us to be ready to come back. We were unsure if you would take us in again as your sons."

    "Wh—why wouldn't I?" she began.

    "We were experimented upon," I interjected quietly. I extended my right arm a little so that the sunlight that fell through the window could also fall upon my hand. Then I could do nothing but stare at it. I was disgusted with myself, and felt incapable of returning to a place such as this... a place of humanity.

    This shocked my mother undeniably, her pallid expression evenmoreso now. After a moment her emotions faded from shock into dolour, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. Her long, pained release of breath gave us clear insight as to in how much mental anguish she was.

    "You poor things..." she stated, almost completely inable to speak. She rushed up to clutch the two of us tight. Swept up in this, we hugged her back. Then the tears came—mine for my disbelief of my return home, my brother's for her actually accepting us back, and hers for the sheer incapability to cope with the situation at hand—and we were not silent for at least half an hour passed.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Sixty: Invisible, not Imaginary

    ::Kit::

    I froze up while Jackie and I hugged, hearing Mom coming upstairs.

    "Whassa matter?" my younger sister began, confused as to my sudden rigidness.

    I held a finger to my lips to tell her to be quiet, then jumped up quickly to sit on the wall as high up as I could by creating a small time-anomaly between my person and the wall (a rather intriguing trick Sesh had taught me). As I had leapt, I faded away into invisibility. I felt like Ariadosman, or, rather, Ariadosgirl.

    "Aw, Rhea, don't go!" she whispered, upset.

    I'm still here, I informed telepathically, on edge. I just don't want your visitor to know I'm here.

    "Huh?" She looked around the room, trying to figure out how I had said what I had.

    Then the door creaked open.

    Mom poked her head in, looking just a bit worried. "Jackie, I thought I heard another voice up here. Are you all right?"

    "I'm fine, Mom. Rhea and I were just talking. It's fine." My ears rang with apprehension and annoyance.

    This statement upset her, and she came to sit beside Jackie on the bed. Cupping her hand to the side of Jackie's face to look her in the eyes, she said solemnly, "Jackie, you really do need to get over having an imaginary friend. I've begun to think you're starting to pull away from reality because of Meilin."

    "I'm not imaginary," I whispered, though hesitant to do so. Her lack of trust in Jackie hurt me, especially when she didn't believe something to be true. It didn't matter how farfetched the truth was....

    Her eyes flashed open in fear, pulling away from Jackie. She stared off into space, scared stiff.

    It was then that I decided to tell them.

    I brought Jackie's sketch diary to rest in her lap with my telekinesis and opened it to her latest drawing—the one of me. She now stared at it, confused and paralysed.

    "Take a few years off of that girl, maybe make the facial features a bit more human..." I led, now using my normal speaking voice. "The result look any more familiar to you?"

    After a moment of staring at the drawing, Mom slowly and painfully drew in a breath. "It can't be...."

    "Why not?" I demanded, now having come off the wall and was floating directly behind her. "You don't want me to have lived?" Tears began to form in my eyes, but I angrily blinked them away.

    "Y—you aren't alive.... Are you...?" Her gaze fell into the eternity before her, which, in truth, was nothing at all.

    "If you count this kind of existence living," I muttered, flopping down on the bed. This movement totally freaked my mother out and she jumped away from the bed. "Sorry," I apologised, regaining visibility.

    She glared at me, again frozen in her place. "Y—you're... you're that Rose...!" Her breathing was scarce but quick.

    I hung my head a little. "Yes, I'm a Rose, but I'm still Meilin Tacheni. What they did to me doesn't make me any less of a human being than you or Jackie. In fact, I've found more in life just because of what they've done to me."

    "Wh—what do you mean...?"

    "I was experimented upon. All fifteen of us were. That's why seven of the Roses don't have human exteriours."

    A moment passed as it seeped in, then both she and Jackie gained pain in their faces. But they said nothing.

    "Do you still find me to be the elder sister you once had?" I asked Jackie. "And do you still find your lost daughter in me?" I inquired of my mother.

    In an instant, the both rushed to hug me tight. The moment lasted at least a full minute before the two let go.

    And I smiled.

    ~*~*~

    The three of us got to talking, and they immediately wanted to know everything. Figures, I suppose, since my family has always had its share of gossipmongers.

    "Why are you so old now? You should be seventeen, shouldn't you?" Mom began.

    "That's a rather deep topic. It confuses even me, but I can try...." I thought for a moment. "Well... New Bark's disappearance is in direct correlation to the subject, and I haven't heard the peoples' take on what happened...."

    "New Bark?!" Jackie exclaimed, shocked. "I just remembered that the news said the Roses did that...."

    "Yeah... well.... We didn't do it on purpose...." I laughed half-heartedly, scratching the back of my head. They just stared.

    "They say that the Roses made some sort of massive explosion right in Chienrime Square..." Mom told me.

    I was blank for a moment. "Explosion? It was more like an implosion.... New Bark still exists, but it's not all in one piece."

    "So you did cause the damage?"

    "Indirectly, you might say, we were to blame, but, like I said, it was unintentional." I rearranged myself on the bed. "You see.... Jackie, help me out. You're in sixth grade now, correct? And you're taking mythology with Dr. Wendolls?" She nodded. "Have you studied the Yamis yet by any chance?"

    "What does mythology have to do with anything?!" Mom complained. I held a hand up to motion to wait until Jackie had answered.

    "The Yamis were eight of an evil race.... They were all siblings, I think...."

    "Meh. Only six were evil," I corrected. "I'm good friends with two of them. Really nice."

    Again, they just stared.

    "Will ya quit staring at me?! Six years of having people stare at you and you start to act like Toshi about it..." I griped. They made faces and stopped. "But I'm serious. I've met all eight Yamis."

    "How is it possible to meet mythological beings?" Mom continued.

    "The Yamis are the ones that kidnapped the Ecruteak Fifteen and experimented upon them," I explained, a bit more cross than I had intended to be. Again, they donned looks of cognition upon their faces. "You see, the six evil ones began to get bored merely torturing humans or Pokémon, or each other, I might add—I feel for Scyrus...—and, because of their boredom, they decided to make a spicier prey, which, to the common public, was known as the Ecruteak Fifteen. Sarina Kizuki, gym leader of Lavender City, was in on their genetic experimentation, but not under her own will." I was careful to conceal the Tenshi part of the story, though I wasn't sure if I would have to say something about it in explaining who Novena was....

    "Don't you mean Sabrina? As in Sabrina, the psychotic psychic who turns her defeated into dolls?"

    I nodded and she almost fainted.

    "She's really nice too, though," I pondered, staring off into space in thought. "Bit of an airhead, believe it or not...."

    At this they were blank.

    "But anyway.... Back to my story. Jarrell, the youngest female Yami, also one of the two who are benign, was put up to training the fifteen of us for the seven to have a sport in hunting us. Suffice it to say, she let us train ourselves, because she didn't think that children should be devices of war. She only trained us in order to further our knowledge of using our abilities. Each of us is half Pokémon."

    I waved my hand downward while melting it: a rather impressive effect, as it put both my mother and sister in awe. I smirked, reforming my hand. Then I continued.

    "After about a year of staying in Pewter City, where the laboratory where we stayed is located, we were allowed to leave, though Jarrell feared that her siblings would come after us. She was right.

    "As another year passed, I began to accumulate friends wherever I went. Sometimes I found one of the Ecruteak Fifteen, others, I found people who knew them. The only exception to that was this guy named Sean.... He had a crush on me for about two months...." I laughed and the two sweatdropped. "I'm laughing because his emotions are so fickle. One moment he's all in love with me, then he finds an old friend of his from school and then he's all over her. Sort of weird. I think they actually got back together again recently...." I phased out momentarily, then shook the daydreaming.

    "Sorry." I chuckled lightly. "I get that way sometimes." Getting back to my story, I continued, "Once the group had grown to a trio, which included Toshi, Sean, and myself—those were odd times, I must say—we found ourselves in Lavender. I battled Sarina. I won, and she gave me twelve necklaces alongside a Marsh Badge for the defeat.

    "These twelve necklaces are strange things, though...." I pulled mine out from under my shirt to show them. "This one has Espeon DNA in it. It seems that Sarina felt that we needed extra defence against the Yamis, but she didn't deem it fit to tell us what the buggers did."

    "What exactly do they do, Mei?" Jackie began, poking at the silver pendant.

    "Just as I was spliced in a strenuous process with the genome of a Vaporeon in Pewter City, so does this necklace splice the genome of Espeon into mine." I smiled. "Each necklace has a different Pokémon's genetic information in it." Chuckling, I added, "It's why we decided to call our little group the Roses."

    "That's really cool!" Jackie chirped, eyes wide as saucers in delight of the thought. "Could I try it?"

    "Jackie!" Mom exclaimed.

    "No," I mumbled. "It's nothing more than an annoyance half the time. Especially since Espeon really delight in sunlight...." I grumbled inaudibly a moment. "I really feel for Keiji, though...."

    "Why...?"

    "The strands of DNA that were given to him originally were those of Eevee, and he had an evolutionary crisis while we were in Tokyo."

    "Evolutionary crisis? Is that anything like a midlife crisis?" Mom half-chuckled.

    "Tokyo...?" Jackie began. "I think I've heard that name before...."

    Mom was pale when she realised where it had happened, but said nothing.

    I nodded in assent, knowing by the look on her face what she was thinking. "The implosion that destroyed New Bark sent five of the twelve Roses to Tokyo." I snorted. "So much for mythology, ne?"

    "Indeed," the two agreed simultaneously.

    ~*~*~

    "Like I said before, the six evil Yamis ended up hunting the twelve of us, but each one got killed. Despite their great strength, they were no match for us when they tried to attack more than one of us at a time. We look out for one another, y'know?"

    They nodded.

    "Meilin... a murderer?" Jackie began.

    "It's not like that," I complained. "Besides, Tosh was the one who did most of the slicing and dicing."

    At this they were blank.

    "Toshi... a good fighter?" she continued.

    "The Raichu makes for a good swordsplay. The Kendo practice paid off." I chuckled.

    "What does all of this have to do with New Bark?" Mom whined, a tad bit aggravated.

    "Well, let's set a scene, shall we? Keiji, Toshi, Ianna, Sean's girlfriend Natsume, and I are in a final showdown with the leader of the Yamis, Darean. The place is Chienrime Square, New Bark Town. Darean possesses Ianna, but we manage to get him out of her and freeze him solid. Toshi throws Xyra's sword through Darean to shatter him, but the sword keeps going, and it hits the face of the Chienrime Palace. The impact brings the Pandora Gate to open, thus sucking us all into Tokyo."

    My speed in telling the story only left them incapable of voicing their confusion. "Eh. I told you, skip it.

    "But anyway.... So we're in Tokyo. We happen to come along Darean's widow, Novena, and her two children, Mélisande and Tamashii. Méli and Tamashii both inherited their father's magic and genetic enhancements, so we tried not to get on their bad sides.

    Three years passed, and we still had no way of getting home. Mélisande realised that we were stranded in Tokyo and offered to open a gate to send us back. That was about a month ago."

    "So you're saying that there is science that advanced, there are multiple dimensions, magic is real, and mythological beings exist?" Mom began. "I think my head hurts."

    "Mine does from time to time," I admitted. "Just thinking back to all of it begins another migraine...."

    "So we can put the subjects away and not bring them up for the time being?"

    The three of us nodded.

    "Agreed." I sat up and stretched. "I'm going to go check in on Toshi and Keiji, see how they're doing with Missus Itoh." With that, I winked and teleported out of the room and into Mrs. Itoh's back yard.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Sixty-One: Psyburn

    :: Ditz ::

    I sighed after a long silence. It had been at least five minutes between anyone's saying anything and when we had hugged. The whole thing was strung up like an Ariados web, ready to be blown away by the winds of change.

    "Mom...?" I whispered.

    "M... my boys are home..." she uttered, staring off again.

    ~*~*~

    Hey guys, how's it going with your mom?

    The both of us jumped out of our skins.

    Sorry, Kit apologised.

    'Skay, Sesh replied. We needed to be woken up from this stupor....

    Sesh, dun be like that, I mumbled. It's not like it's unexpected that she'd act like this, and you know it. Besides, just as long as she doesn't find out about our... other sides... she'll be fine with us.

    "What's the matter? You jumped," Mom began.

    "Oh, it's nothing, really..." Sesh replied, face hiding his apprehension. Mine didn't hide mine as well.

    "Why did the both of you jump out of your skin at the same time, then? What's wrong?" She just wouldn't give up.

    "Mom... it's one thing they did to us..." I explained. "We can hear things that we're not supposed to be able to hear."

    "Like what...?" she led, upset, yet morbidly intrigued.

    We can also make people hear things they're not supposed to hear... I told her.

    At this, she almost fainted. I turned pale, seeing that I had only freaked her out all the more.

    "H—how'd you put your voice in my head...?" she trailed.

    Sesh shot me a dirty look, and I could just feel Kit's burning eyes within a telepathic link. A lump in my throat formed in my fretting.

    "They played not only with our bodies, but also with our minds. Some of us are worse off with it than others." The thought of Tane came to mind at this comment of mine and a tear burned away at my eye.

    I felt so badly for that girl.... I could just sense some sort of impending doom hovering o'er her every time I so much as thought about her....

    After a moment, Mother began to stare at my forehead intensely, thinking deeply, I could tell.

    "What...?" I uttered, afraid my third eye would show itself just to have a staring contest.

    "These people.... They know a lot about the human body and mind. A lot more than most normal people know...." She gasped when she thought of something. "You were abducted by aliens!"

    At this the both of us were blank. Though she had hit part of the nail on the head, she nad no idea that the aliens walked amongst us.

    Hell, she probably even figured that they were little green men.

    Not a minute passed before the both of us were laughing our heads off. Sesh displayed an image of his Celebi-hybrid form in the minds of the two of us, and the three of us began to laugh even harder.

    So much so that Mom heard Kit outside and leapt up to look.

    The two of us were on the edge of the couch in fright as she stared out the window.

    "Wh.... That girl that was with you.... She was Meilin, right?"

    After a moment the both of us nodded.

    "She's outside...."

    We both sighed with relief that she wasn't freaked out by Kit's being outside.

    "Meilin, come inside," Sesh complained, half-telepathically. "You and I need to talk to my mom for a bit."

    About what, exactly? she retorted.

    "You know what."

    Then she teleported inside. Mom stared at her again.

    "Sh—shhhhh—"

    "Yes, she just teleported. Like I said, Mom," I soothed, "we all have different levels of mental maturity."

    "I guess in your case, Keiji, you're rather immature," Sesh poked, prodding my in the arm.

    I chuckled lightheartedly on the outside, but telepathically growled at him. You know very well that I have the highest ranking psychic abilities of all of us.

    Sure ya do, he giggled, winking at me.

    That one twitch of the face tore me in half, and I slapped him against the broadside of his head with my telekinesis. The three of them stared at me, my mother in fear of what had just happened, but Kit and Sesh in shock of my blunt audacity. I myself was ashamed with my actions.

    Sesh rubbed his head lightly and sat back up, eyes squinted shut in annoyance and pain. "You really hit hard, y'know?" he mumbled.

    I laughed nervously, brows furrowed, my face a deep red of regret.

    "Amazing..." Mom commented in awe. "He just recoiled as if he got struck...."

    "I did get 'struck,' Mom," he complained. "Espeon here did it." He motioned towards me.

    And then it sunk in what choice of words he'd used and he freaked.

    Don't get mad at me...! Please...! he pleaded. You know I diddun mean to say that like that...!

    I'm simply appalled that you think I'd hit you for slipping up like that, I muttered nonchalantly. 'Tis fine. She dun have a clue what you meant.

    "I know I sound stupid by continuing to ask, but what's the matter?" Mom drug out.

    At this Sesh and Kit sighed in relief.

    "I had a bad choice of words. Keiji doesn't like being called that."

    I nosebobbed twice, eyes shut in false indifference.

    "I won't ask...."

    See? I'm right, ne? I know my own Mother better than you do.

    Sesh snorted. This coming from someone I distinctly remember being scared stiff at coming back, afraid of how she'd react to us.

    I laughed nervously in telepathy. Yeah, well....

    Dork, Kit rubbed in.

    "Is it okay with you two if I go lay down?" Mom asked.

    "Fine with us," Sesh shrugged. "I think we're going to end up either upstairs here or at Meilin's."

    "'Kay," she nodded in assent, then ambled off waywardly to her bedroom.

    I sighed. "I think this entire ordeal took more out of her than it did out of us."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Sixty-Two: Woman Formed from Man

    The three of us separated after a little while; Kit returned to her family to talk things through with them, while Sesh decided to take a nap. Myself, I just wanted to lay on the roof and think things through.

    I plopped myself down on the roof, laying back with my hands laced behind my head. It was so nice... so warm and sunny.... I had to hold myself back from reverting to my true form under such conditions. Stupid Espeon side, I muttered to myself.

    Then my introspective began.

    "Why is that I seem to be incapable of understanding people? Why can I not contemplate the complexities of the mortal mind? I could merely delve into their thought patterns with my psychic talents, yet I refrain from such lack of respect towards others. Though I prove openly to possess morals, ostentating this fact on an inner level is difficult for me.

    "But why?"

    A Pidgey flew by, playfully chasing a Butterfree. They were obsiously friendly with one another.

    At this I sighed.

    "Why is it that I cannot have such companionship? I've lost that bond I once held with Kit to my elder brother... and I shall never regain it."

    I stared up into the cloud-spotted crystal blue sky, then sighed.

    "I suppose that it is due to the fact that she loves him, and will never love me. He gives her what I have been afraid to give her. He gives her the warm caress that comforts her in her time of need, her time of distress. He is the calm in the storm of her life.

    "If only I had someone like that for me...."

    After a moment, I began to think about something a little deeper still. "But I never have understood what is so soothing to a person about another's touch. What is it about having a warm body beside you... even when you know deep down that the pain is within you, not them?"

    Then it struck me, dumbfounding me for several minutes. I at last uttered these words.

    "It is the realisation that they do not suffer as you do that is so comforting, the fact that there is someone beside you who wants you to be right again with the world.... The knowledge that... even when you suffer... others in the world have the capability to perservere and give you the solace that has the ability of bringing you to again stand on your own two feet."

    'But what if you don't have any feet?'

    I turned to find a rather bemused look upon my Eevee's face. I'd been so out of it that I hadn't even realised she'd come out of her Pokéball.

    I smiled. 'Silly Eevee. You know very well that what I said was an expression, an idiom.'

    'Idiot?' she mumbled inquizzically, not moments later tittering about her pun. I, too, giggled a little.

    But then I sighed, losing my cheer, ass I thought of something of utmost seriousness. 'Eve, you like plays on words, don't you?'

    She nodded. 'It amuses me to compare two words with similar sounds that aren't all that similar in meaning.'

    'Then you would like to actually make the plays on words?' This puzzled her, as I had apparently been too vague. 'Would you like it if I gave you a Ditto strand so you could play around with sounds?'

    Perhaps this could be my gift to her. Eve.... She was the one who cared for me. She had always been there for me... and always would be....

    She was dumbstruck. 'A—a Ditto strand...?' she trailed. 'You're serious by that?' I nodded. 'Gee... I don't know what to say....'

    'You could say, "Thank you, Takeru," and hug me,' I offered, smiling. As she giggled and leapt into my arms, I readied the duplicate strand of my own genetic information, and spliced it into her genome. She thought that I was merely tickling her, and she tittered, rolling in my arms.

    But after a moment, she stopped, looking at me strangely. 'Keiji, you weren't tickling me, were you? I feel funny....'

    'No, Eve, I was merely taking your mind off of the splicing,' I replied, holding her to me. 'In what way do you feel funny?'

    "Like elastic...." she began.

    A moment passed and we both choked up. I smiled at her, but she remained in a state of shock.

    "You just spoke English, Eve. Do you like that?"

    She nodded lightly, then smiling back at me. "Does this mean that I can do all that you've done? I can be like a Ditto as well?" I laughed a little, happy that I'd made her happy.

    "Of course. Just don't go overdoing it," I play-chided.

    She giggled. "Of course not. I love this, Keiji. ....Thank you."

    ~*~*~*~

    After a while, she scampered off to explore the neighbourhood in its new splendour. I ended up succumbing to my Espeon side and sunbathed for a few hours.

    When I woke up, I found not only the night sky, but also a warm body cuddled up against my back. I felt the twitch of a tail and dismissed it as Eve until I began to awaken further, realising that the being was far too large to be a mere Eevee.

    I sat up to look at it to find a female Eevee-type laying there. Her hair was a wonderful brazen flow that landed at her shoulders. She wore a black miniskirt and a completely backless emerald shirt which tied in the back. She wore no shoes to speak of.

    Her form was delicate and shapely. "Beautiful..." I uttered, unable to do anything but stare at this marvellous sight.

    She awakened at my one word and stretched a little, then looked to me. "I wondered when you'd awaken, Keiji."

    "Wh—who...?"

    "You can call me Dante."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Sixty-Three: Eve for Adam; Dante for the Dragon

    "D—what???" I exclaimed.

    "Silly," the Eevee-girl giggled, cuddling up to me.

    I freaked.

    "Explain why you're hugging yourself, Ditz," Sesh began, making a face. He had found where I'd gone.

    "D—it's not what you think!!" I defended, trying to peel the girl from me. It didn't work too well.

    "It's not, is it? Then prove it, dork."

    "I—I— DANTE, QUIT IT!!" She stopped running her fingers through my hair, looking at me with innocently wide topaz eyes. "I demand that you explain what's going on this instant!"

    She only giggled and hugged me again.

    I sweatdropped. "Dante, quit it! Sesh, you've gotta believe me, I have no idea who this girl is!"

    "Why're you playing dumb, Keiji?" she began, looking up at me again, smiling. "You've known me most all of your life!"

    My head fell to one side and I felt like crying for my extreme confusion and embarrassment.

    "Dork," Sesh muttered. "Gives a whole new meaning to the 'not being able to score' thing...." He looked at her strangely. "You sure she's not yours?" I vehemently shook my head 'no.' He bent down and poked at her. It left a dent in her cheek, and we both sweatdropped. "Liar."

    "I—I'm not lying!! I swear, I woke up and she was laying here with me!!!"

    He looked to her, and she nodded, agreeing with my statement.

    "See?"

    "You say your name's Dante?" She nodded again. "Where'd you come from?"

    She thought a moment, then replied, "An egg!"

    "Okaaay...." He arched an eyebrow at her response. "How did you get up here?"

    "I... jumped?"

    "Not the answer I was looking for.... Ahh.... What brought you to be up here with Keiji?"

    "We've known each other for a very long time." She smiled. "I know we have feelings for one another," she cooed, rubbing her cheek on my arm as she held onto it with both hands.

    I defied this remark by peeling her from my arm, staring at her. "Look, I have no clue who you are! You won't tell me who or what you are, nor where you came from or why! Don't start anything, you evil girl!"

    "You like to beat yourself down, don't you, Ditz?" Sesh muttered, brow arched in doubt and slight confusion.

    Then... he left.

    Okay, maybe it was just because he was around… I thought. "Dante, please tell me who you are."

    "I've been playing around with the DNA you gave me!" she exclaimed. "Don't you like what I've done with myself?" she frowned, giving me Eevee eyes.

    It took a moment to sink in. "Eve...?"

    She giggled, glomping me. "Silly, didn't even recognise me by my colourings!"

    All I could do was stare at her lightly swishing tail. "E—Eve... please.... Dun do this...."

    "What? I can look human just like you, Keiji!" As this she followed through with her statement.

    It only freaked me out more to see my Eevee actually use Transform. "Gack. Eve, would you at least get back in your Pokéball?"

    "You don't want anyone to know what you did, do you?" she began, upset.

    I hung my head so that she couldn't see my face, but I knew that she could tell that I was upset. "......No.... They're mad enough as it is with having just one mischievious morpher in the group. I dunno how they'll react if they find out who you really are."

    "I'm sorry," she consoled, running a hand through my hair. "Would it make you feel better if I didn't go around in other forms?"

    "That would be nice for me, but you really enjoy it, Eve," I replied, looking into her eyes. At that moment, I felt something between us, and I blushed and looked away, up to the waxing moon. "If it's one thing I hate to do is to shackle a freed spirit."

    At this she was silent.

    "Ever since Mom felt that I shouldn' play with dolls, I've never liked doing things that took away pleasures from others, especially if I had been the one who gave joy to them. I never wanted anyone to feel as though their true happiness had been taken away, and never by me."

    "But Keiji..." she uttered, her next comment stuck on her tongue. "You're my true happiness."

    I looked to her in awe.

    "You're my trainer, and I'm your Pokémon. I've known you for as long as I've had a memory, and I can't just throw that fact away. That I have a humanoid form displeases you, so I must."

    With that, she returned to being an Eevee and returned to her Pokéball.

    "Eve...."

    I sighed, looking back to the moon.

    "If only you knew how much it pleased me that you love me, too...."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Sixty-Four: Tigerlily

    ::Kit::

    I sighed, flopping back in my old room. It smelled of long-since-burned candles, with a light touch of the aroma vaguely reminiscent of toffee and freshly tumble-dried laundry. The air was crisp, yet strangely a touch of ancient moisture hung therein. The light in the room danced upon all within, casting eerily haunting shadows all around. Though these malicious-seeming apparitions were malformed and daunting, I knew they were far from harmful. But I could not seem to shake imagining the possibility that I could be wrong.

    These ghastly wraiths could pop out at me at any moment and scare the daylights out of me, or worse, steal the very breath of life from me.

    I rolled my eyes in annoyance of my paranoia and laced my hands beneath my head, staring up at the lazily swirling ceiling fan.

    "I suppose that it's plausible that shadows would make you on edge, isn't it, Kit? Especially after all you've been through."

    "Talking to yourself isn't that bad, sis, but calling yourself by a name you aren't?"

    Jackie plopped down on the end of my bed, jiggling it slightly as the springs adjusted for the extra eighty pounds or so.

    She giggled. She inquired, "I guess you're still not used to the thought of really being home, are you?"

    I shook my head. "What about you? Uneasy about me?"

    "The only thing that bothers me is that my sister is a Rose. And that's not too bad...." She smiled. "I mean, it's not like you're going to make us like you are." She realised what she'd said and blushed. "Th—that came out wrong...."

    My gaze fell from my sister to my feet. "No, it's okay. I understand why you wouldn't want to be like this. Humanity fears inhumanity. It's always been that way. All the way back to vampires, witch hunts, and the spread of Pokémon across the continents."

    She frowned, seeing that she'd upset me. "I think that it's really cool that you're famous, though...."

    Her attempt to cheer me up only brought on a masochistic snort. "More like infamous now.... You forget that all the world blames the Roses for the destruction of New Bark Town."

    "Aw, sis, you know that I meant that you're one of the Ecruteak Fifteen. All of you have a hidden legacy which the world shall never know. All of you have been given the amazing gift to be like a Pokémon. All of you are one step higher on the evolutionary chart."

    "You think this is a gift, Jackie?" I snapped quietly. She pulled back from me, seeing the look in my eyes. "The world sees me as a freak, sees all of us that way. While we may be infinitely more capable of things, we most certainly are not capable of comingling with humanity."

    "Since when did YOU care what people thought of you?"

    At this I was silent.

    "Mei, you need to understand that you're still Meilin Tacheni, daughter of Robert and Emelei Tacheni, elder sister of Jacqueline Tacheni.... You're still the one I look up to, and you always will be."

    A smile tugged at my frown, and I was soon hugging my sister. It's weird how the young always seem to see more than the old.

    "Why'd you come in here, anyway?" I began, amused.

    "Well, Mom and I set something up for you, and she wanted me to tell you to be here tonight."

    "I can only wonder."

    I heard a clamor across the street and teleported to Jackie's window to see. I looked out to find Sesh chewing Ditz out.

    "Wonder what that little imp did now..." I thought aloud. I shrugged and teleported back to land on my bed with a thunk. Jackie yelped, having not moved an inch. She stared at me. "Sorry. I'm just sorta lazy."

    "I wouldn't doubt that you would be lazy with an ability like that..." she remarked.

    "You ragging on my teleportation?" I grinned.

    "N—no.... It's just... different...."

    "What, you've seen an Abra do it, haven't you?"

    "Yeah, but that's different. An Abra isn't my sister."

    At this I laughed aloud. "I can teleport because of Abra."

    "How do you mean?"

    "A Rose has each of his or her abilities due to the genetic structure of a specific Pokémon. Teleportation is a trait gained from Abra."

    "That would explain a lot..." she murmured, thinking. "I remember seeing a thing about the Roses on the news about how Team Rocket attacked you and how you all retaliated. One of you was shown changing shape, and the only explanation I could think of was that he was a Ditto. I suppose that assumption was half right..." she chuckled.

    "Eh, Keiji's a dork."

    She froze. "K—that was Keiji?"

    I nodded.

    "Keiji is... Ditz?"

    She was about to cry at this. She'd had a crush on him since she was five.

    "Just because he can change shape doesn't make him a different person. His acting and multiple personalities are just more pronounced now." I giggled lightly.

    "It's not funny," she whined.

    "Oh, c'mon, sis, get off it. He's still the same little impish kid you knew."

    She flustered. "Well, fine then. I'll just leave you to talking to yourself." She threw her nose up in the air and stomped off.

    I laughed at this. "Always the same ol' Jackie...."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Ditz::

    Once I'd gotten Eve under control, I shifted human again and returned to my room. I found Sesh waiting for me.

    "Tacky, I won't ask if you don't want me to," he grumbled, looking his Pokédex over.

    "Well, I don't," I muttered.

    "Fine."

    "Fine."

    A fair silence, then a small crackle from the human Raichu, welding some wiring in his Pokédex.

    "I thought your Pokédex was gold," I mused, noticing the cosmetic change to the classic red.

    "If you'll keep your mouth shut, I'll keep mine shut about 'Dante,'" he offered. "I sold the gold one."

    "Wh—what?!" I stifled out. "But why?!"

    He held his right hand up to reveal an engagement ring which glittered amethyst.

    I practically fainted at the sight. "You can't be serious, Sesh! You didn't!"

    "I did. In fact, it was the day before we departed from Tokyo."

    I thought back to that day, remembering that he had been gone for a long time.

    "Have you asked her yet?"

    "Stupid question, Tacky. I wouldn't be wearing it if I hadn't."

    "Then that's what you wanted to talk to Mom about?"

    He nodded.

    After another break in the conversation, he set the Pokédex down beside him on the bed. "Keiji, we want you to be the best man."

    "I'd be honoured," I smiled.

    Another silence. "I'm glad you told her how you felt."

    He smiled as well, but said nothing. But he didn't need to say a thing to voice his happiness. He didn't detect my true pains deep within, pains that my elder brother would be with the one I cared for....

    ~*~*~

    Later that evening, I heard a light rapping on my window. My head perked from my novel, and I looked out, a little groggily, to find a girl throwing small rocks to get my attention. Apparently she'd heard of our return to Ecruteak.

    I poked my head out the window to get hit by another rock. Rubbing my head, I grumbled lightly.

    The girl looked about twelve, though I wasn't quite sure in the twilight. Her hair was black. I couldn't tell anything else about her.

    "Keiji?" she whispered.

    "Who's out there?" I muttered.

    She freaked. "Omigosh," she whispered to herself, excited. I could clearly hear her squealing quietly aside and rolled my eyes. "I didn't think that he would really be back...!"

    "Who's out there?" I asked again, this time a bit more aggravated.

    "It's me, Jackie!" she called up to me.

    Great. Kit's little sister is back to pestering me, I mumbled to myself.

    "What do you want, Jackie?" I sighed in annoyance.

    "I just had to see for myself that you were really home!"

    "Well, I'm home. Please leave me alone. I've got a headache."

    "What's the matter?"

    "Small rocks hurt, and little girls are annoying," I grumbled too quietly for her to hear. "I've got secrets and lies to retain, and this conversation's not helping my stress any."

    She sighed sadly. "I'm sorry you're stressed right now, Keiji-san. I hope you feel better soon." With that, she left me alone.

    "God, can that little girl be annoying. It's surprising she and Kit are even related...."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Sixty-Five: Small Rocks Hurt, and Little Girls Are Annoying.

    I sighed, flopping back on my bed, which was the bottom bunk of a twin bed which I had previously shared with my brother, and would be again for the time being. Staring up at the slats above me, I made a face.

    "Jackie always hung on my every word, and will continue to be such a pest unless I do something about it. I need to figure out the one thing that will get her to actually hate me. 'Swhat everyone else does anyway...."

    I chuckled. "It's about nine. I wonder if I could borrow her for a little bit, perhaps?"

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Kit::

    A silly grin crossed my face as Jackie, having told me to cover my eyes, led me slowly downstairs.

    "What is all of this about?" I heard someone whisper with a hint of anger in his voice.

    "You'll see," my mom replied quietly. "Just keep your eyes closed."

    I giggled a little to myself, but made no sound openly. A double surprise. Heh. Probably more of a surprise for him than for me.

    Jackie led me to stand directly in front of the man.

    "Okay, you can look now."

    The both of us glared hard at each other; I was nervous, while he was confused.

    The man was in his early forties, with slightly greying black hair. His eyes were an icy but inviting blue. He wore a button-down white shirt which one wears with a business suit, and a pair of black slacks. His complexion was rough, his skin beginning to show his age.

    "Daddy?" I uttered, smiling a little.

    His face went pale at my single word. This put me evenmoreso on edge.

    "M—Meilin...?" he returned, practically choked on his own tongue his mouth was so dry.

    I held my tears of joy and rushed only to hug him tight. Though surprised and upset by my actions, he hugged back. I felt a drop of moisture on my head—a tear. He was so happy that he couldn't hold it in anymore.

    "Where've you been all this time?"

    "The fifteen of us... we were kidnapped," I replied, sitting beside him on the couch. "They put us all through experimentation."

    I felt Jackie's disapproval in my choice of words and blushed.

    "The other children are alive as well?"

    I nodded.

    "Is it too sore a subject to talk about what they did?" he offered politely. He'd always been one to consider one's feelings.

    I shook my head.

    "It's fine. In fact, I feel that you need to know."

    "Mei, don't. Not right now," Jackie warned. "I don't think he'll be able to handle all of it at once. He's got to deal with a lot more than we do. We took it differently than he will."

    "Why will I take it poorly? You don't look like some hideous freak of nature, Mei...."

    I hung my head a little. "But I am in some ways...."

    I sighed, holding my hand out to my left. With my kinesis I plucked a tigerlily from the arrangement of flowers on the dining room table. Not an instant later it was in my hand, still moist from the vase.

    He stared at the vibrant, angrily coloured bloom, now afraid of me.

    "I didn't return home not because I was held captive, but because I feared that you wouldn't accept what I've become. I'm no longer human, Daddy."

    "Wh—what are you saying?"

    "Daddy's gonna get it," Jackie sang quietly. Mom smacked her hand and hushed her, the both of them then watching intently.

    "I... I'm a Rose."

    ~*~*~

    "I—I—" All he could do was stare at me as I ran my fingers sadly along the edges of the angry tigerlily.

    "All the Ecruteak Fifteen are splicers, sharing their genome with a Pokémon's. It is the Roses who share the similar trait of multiple sources of genetic information."

    I took this moment to shift back to my Vaporeon-type form.

    A silence passed as he absorbed all of this.

    "D—does it hurt to change shape like that...?" he asked, a smile tugging gently at his straight mouth.

    I, too, smiled, my tail swishing gently to my side. "Not a bit. It does hurt to have the splicing done in the first place, though...."

    He sighed, placing his hand over mine and looking me in the eyes. "Meilin, you'll always be my daughter, and you'll always have a place here with us. It's not what you are, but who you are that counts."

    I hugged him tight again, trying to hide my streams of tears. My father of all those who would learn the true fate of the Ecruteak Fifteen was the one I'd least expected to take the truth so easily.

    "It's good to have you back, Meilin."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Ditz::

    I walked across the street, through the cast-iron gate which hinged off of high stone fencing, which surrounded most every house in the suburbs of Ecruteak, and poked my head around the side of the door and peered inside through the glass panes surrounding the door frame. Kit was sitting there chatting with her family, Vaporeon-type. She'd chosen a direct route to telling her loved ones the truth.

    I decided simply to ghost through the door and politely wait to be noticed.

    "C'mon, do it, Mei!" Jackie pleaded.

    She blushed a sort of deep blue, smiling ever so slightly. "No, I couldn't...." Poorly hiding her ego, of course.

    "All Vaporeon can do it," Mr. Tacheni mused. "What, you just don't want to show off? You've already demonstrated extrasensory abilities. We want to see what you can do."

    She closed her eyes, smiling a little more. "Fine."

    "Ohh, don't do it on the couch," Mrs. Tacheni chided.

    Kit shrugged and stood and stretched a little, then sighed, seeming to go into a trance.

    Adding drama to a simple ability, I thought to myself, amused.

    From her ends to her innards she Acid Armoured, retaining her form. When she opened her eyes, one could see that she'd kept them Vaporeon.

    She smiled, then giggled a little in telepathy when Jackie poked her in the leg.

    "Cool!" the pre-teen exclaimed.

    "Jackie, keep your hands to yourself," Mr. Tacheni scolded. "Just a little oil from your fingers could alter the balance of hydrogen bonding in her form."

    At this, I had to make my presence known. "It's nothing like that. Vaporeon have oils on their bodies just like humans. It doesn't make any difference."

    I smiled, looking the girl of water over. "Fantastic acting," I plauded. "Got to love how you made it look harder than it really is."

    All of them stared at me as I leaned back on the wall, arms crossed lazily across my chest. Kit pulled herself out of her watery form, blushing deep red.

    "Why do you like to sneak around, you little ditz?" Kit muttered, embarrassed by my comment.

    "I saw you were showing off to your family and I wanted to watch," I replied, smirking.

    "Keiji!" Jackie whispered, smiling a little. "Are you feeling better?"

    I chuckled a little. "Yeah, a lot better now. ^^ Thanks."

    "I—I don't understand how he got inside without making any sound," Mrs. Tacheni complained.

    "Simple," I replied, looking to the refridgerator to the left of me. I cracked my left hand a little, flexing my fingers, then sticking it in the side of the fridge. The three stared at me, Kit observing, but unamused. I felt around in the fridge a moment, then pulled a can of soda out. I smiled, looking at my choice, then opened it and took a drink. "Cherry Coke," I smirked.

    "It's a lot easier to get something out of the fridge if you use the door," Kit muttered. I laughed at this.

    "But I thought that Ditz only had the abilities of a Ditto," Jackie uttered, staring at me as I sipped on my drink. It seemed to upset her.

    "I *used* to," I answered. "I collect now."

    "I don't even care that he just got the last cold drink out of the fridge. Just seeing it was worth it," Mrs. Tacheni awed.

    "Amazing..." Mr. Tacheni marvelled. "I had no clue that ghost-type Pokémon had genetic code...."

    "Sure. All Pokémon except the mechanical ones have DNA," I told him.

    "Mechanical Pokémon?" he echoed.

    "Like Voltorb or Porygon." I polished off the drink, then tossed the can in the trash and sat on the kitchen isle. "You learn a lot about Pokémon when you have things in common with them." I laughed a little.

    "Wait, who are you again?" he began.

    I practically facefaulted at this. "I'm Keiji, sir."

    "Ahh. That explains a lot."

    "What do you want, Ditz?" Kit grumbled.

    "Dun be mad at me for pointing out that Acid Armouring is a lot simpler than it came off to be when you did it."

    "Let's see *you* do it," she sneered.

    I shrugged and complied, taking but a moment to become completely water as she had before.

    "I'm still not used to seeing you do things like that..." she uttered, rubbing her face in her hand in partial disgust.

    "That's so cool," Jackie grinned. "He's even the same colour Mei was!"

    "That's because he stole *my* Vaporeon DNA," she grumbled.

    I returned to my human form. "Call me a thief if you want, Kit, but I dun recall any disagreement with the assimilation."

    "That's because I was asleep!" she snapped, irate.

    I smirked, snorting in amusement. "I rest my case."

    "Bad pun, Ditto idiot."

    "I try."

    "You never answered me truthfully. In order to see what I was doing, you had to have been here for some reason."

    "Actually, you're right. I wanted to know if I could take Jackie on a short walk."

    This dumbfounded all four of them, Jackie the most.

    "It's Friday night. Sure, why not?" Mr. Tacheni smiled, seeing his little girl's delight. "Eh, how about an hour? It's nice out."

    "That's generous of you, sir. Thanks." I stood and offered a hand to my companion, and she jumped up to take it.

    Jackie giggled at this, thinking of the walk as a date.

    "Then we'll be back within an hour?"

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Sixty-Six: Instigation

    I took Jackie to the small park down by the Bell Tower Ruins for our little walk. It was fairly dark, only lit by the full moon. Perfect, I thought to myself.

    "Yeah, Eve and I are pretty tight now," I told her. "She and I, we tell each other everything on our minds. Saves on psychiatrists' bills, friends do."

    She giggled. "So true!"

    Amused by everything I do and say, I mumbled. Eh, well, at least she's distracted.... I froze her and split mitosis, one of me falling behind Jackie and the other me.

    Once I resumed time for her, I remarked, "Hey, Jackie, look up. The full moon's crested over the Ruins."

    "Wow..." she uttered. "That's so pretty. And spooky!" At the thought, she clutched my arm tight.

    We continued walking, closer to the Ruins for a better view, and the split broke a twig underfoot.

    Jackie froze. "D—did you hear that?"

    "Hear what?" I fooled.

    "Th—there's someone right behind us," she whispered, worried.

    "Dun be upset. You forget that you have a Rose protecting you," I grinned.

    "You're all ego," she mumbled, arching an eyebrow.

    "Happens." I then was the one who arched an eyebrow. "Thought you were scared."

    "I am... I... just... hmmph."

    "If there's really someone there, let's keep walking and find out if they're actually following us. C'mon, it's just a little further to the top of the hill."

    "Fine..." she worried.

    I purposely had the split make sounds underfoot again, and Jackie yelped when she felt a scattered leaf brush against her leg.

    "Th—they're right behind me!!" she squealed.

    I played along again, and looked to her, then behind her to the split, then back and forth, then back to Jackie again. "Uhm...." I scratched at my temple, acting confused.

    My reaction drove her nuts, and she had to see for herself, whirling around to glare at nothing but herself. The split, which was a mirror image of its spectator, circled Jackie as she circled it, confused, frustrated, and weirded out as ever.

    I snickered at such a sight.

    "H—how'd you do that?!" she exclaimed, in awe again of yet another ability I'd come to have.

    I smirked, placing a hand on the split's shoulder, absorbing it back into me, then chuckled. "I've been sliced in half before."

    She stared at me in morbid disgust and wonder.

    "Dun believe me, apparently." I parted my hair down a little in the front to reveal the one scar that remained of Xyra's doing, bending down to show her. "Nut lady took a sword to meh."

    She gawked at the mark. "You poor thing!" she squealed in pain for me.

    I laughed at this. "You think it actually hurt? Pain like that dun happen to a Ditto."

    "That's got to be one of the best advantages to being like you are, then."

    "I suppose. I used to think dying wouldn't have been such a bad thing to have happen to me. You have no clue how much the kidnapping tore me in half." I split on cue and this derived a giggle instead of a tear.

    "Your puns are atrocious," she tittered.

    "Thanks," both of me agreed not-so-humbly, then meshed again. "We're almost up there. C'mon. If the view is like I remember, you'll love Mount Peal."

    ~*~*~

    We came to the crest of Mount Peal, the mound of earth too big to be considered a hill but too small to be a mountain. To the East one could see over Lake Peal, to the North, the Tin Tower, and to the East, the peaks of the Silver Mountain Range. There was no woodland anywhere but at the base of the Mount, so nothing hindered one's view from atop. Truly it was a spectacular sight to see, the one place in the entire city from which you could see it all.

    "Wow..." she awed, looking all around her. "This is amazing, Keiji. ...... Thank you."

    I smirked, sighing in contentment. "I thought you'd like it here. You see, I used to come up here all the time back when I was little."

    "So this is where you ran off to all those times no one could find you..." she thought aloud. "It's a wonder you didn't try to live up here. It's so magnificent!"

    "I'm sure it has just as many things about it unappealing as it does things you'd enjoy."

    I looked up to the full, golden moon and sighed, appearing to be completely out of it. I shifted Eevee-type, seemingly involuntarily, tail swishing so violently I must've looked angry.

    At this Jackie was partially upset, but it was most likely due to the fact that any proof of my inhumanity only seemed to upset her.

    "Keiji, are you all right?" she asked quietly, trying not to disturb me.

    "The pull is hard tonight," I replied, almost completely to myself. My gaze did not turn from the object of my imagined torment. "Too hard."

    "Pull...?" she echoed dumbly.

    "The moon."

    She put two and two together after a moment, believing that I had yet to evolve, and began to worry. I suppressed the urge to smile at this and continued. Falling into an even deeper trance, I allowed my cloned Eevee strand to be pulled into an evolution.

    The familiar burn washed over me as my fur bristled and blackened to be dark as the night sky. I lost my breath as I stared up at the moon, falling to my knees in pain. Soon I felt the poison glands form, which soon made their presence openly known through glowing, golden rings around my ears, arms, legs, and tail. My teeth sharpened in my now longer, more tapered muzzle, even sharper than they had been as those of a mere Eevee. My claws became more animalistic, as did my eyes, which were warmed with a demonic, red fire, and were now gold as the rings upon my fur. All the time these changes had taken place I had been forcing a growth spurt, and not soon after the final ring made its place upon my forehead, a rip of fabric was heard as my shirt no longer fit.

    I stood almost seven feet tall, prominent muscles from beneath my coarse, black fur.

    Popping my neck, I brought myself up to be propped up by one knee, almost as if in prayer to the moon.

    After a moment, I wrenched my head back, eyes clenched shut, and let out a soulful, dark howl.

    A silence passed, when all that was heard was breathing, mine thick, hers quick and frightened. Thrilled by knowing her fear, I licked the roof of my mouth in delight, smirking a little.

    "Keiji...?" she whispered, taking a step back as I looked to her.

    My eyes reflected a blood red in the moonlight. I said nothing, but instead stood, peering down upon her.

    She whimpered a little, cowering down to me. "Keiji, please tell me this isn't really you..." she uttered, eyes wide as saucers.

    My dark silhouette and a short growl were the only response she received.

    Muscles rippling, I fell to stand on all fours, and came to encircle her, smelling of her hungrily. I stared her in the face, snuffling her slowly, up from her foot to the end of her nose. At this point she seemed on the brink of screaming. My ears perked at this, and my fur stood on end, eyes wide, and I soon let out a low, throaty, aggravated growl, nose crinkled in incense. I snapped at her and she screeched, fainting.

    After a moment of contented observation, I shed the added size and synthesized a new shirt, then slipped it on as I stood, again looking down upon the unconscious girl.

    I picked her up in my arms, teleporting the both of us to her room. As I laid her down on her bed, I asked her, "Jackie, you'll still have a crush on me after this, won' you?" Knowing she wouldn't respond, I covered her up and smiled, sighing as I ran my fingers through her dark hair. "Dun hate me for not returning the same affection. I just dun really like to be crushed on."

    I heard a shuffle of feet behind me, and found Mr. Tacheni looking in on the little scene.

    "She'll be all right. She just got a little tuckered out by the walk."

    Smiling, I vanished, teleporting away, leaving the poor, tortured girl alone.

    I found Toshi to be settled into the top bunk of our bed. He heard my presence and poked his head over the side to look at me.

    Both confused and a little freaked, he inquired with a worried brow, "Do I even want to know what you've been up to?"

    "Meh." I flexed my claws, smirking. "Just proving once more that being a shorty leaves people with a sense of false security. Big, scary things with lots of sharp ends can come in small packages."

    He shuddered at my remark, imagining the horrific visage I had most likely concocted, then decided it best to remove himself from the conversation and turned over in bed, curled away from me. A silence passed, then I heard him shudder again. A snicker from me was the last thing I heard before I myself curled up in my bed and fell asleep for the night.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~



    Chapter Sixty-Seven: Threats

    Sitting back with my novel in the desk chair, I was alone in my room. It was quiet enough, though the light breeze outside drove the backyard tree's branch to rake across the second-story rooftop. Kaen was curled up at the foot of the bed, his flames flickering slightly. The Quilava was content enough; so was I.

    In one fleeting moment the silence was broken by Toshi and Kit both tearing into the room. The former was frustrated, the latter, at the brink of ripping me to shreds. Setting my novel down calmly, though I was quite the opposite, I turned to them.

    "Jackie won't come out of her room," Kit grumbled tensely. "You wouldn't happen to have anything to do with that, would you?"

    I blinked, out of it. "She's really that scared of me? Gee...." I got a telekinetic smack across the face. "What? I'm serious! I'm surprised that she'd be this freaked!"

    "What'd you do to her?" she growled.

    "I—" I stopped. "She was just amazed by my abilities, so I decided to show her a synthesis." A nervous chuckle escaped me, a furrowed brow accompanying it. If it was one thing I hadn't mastered, it was lying.

    "God, Keiji..." Sesh let out with utmost exasperation. "Last night was a full moon, and you decided to show her an Umbreon shift?!"

    At this remark Kit's eyes went wide in total anger. "Why the hell did you do that!? You like playing your sadistic little mind games on innocent little kids!?!"

    As she grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, I was more scared of her than she would ever be of me. Just... that look in her eye.... I then knew how Scyrus must've felt when she'd gotten a hold of him that day that we'd raided the Rocket base.

    "I—she annoys me..." I choked out, almost unable to breathe as she held me by the shirt about six inches off the floor. "I just... wanted... to show her... what I was really like now...." I tried to swallow. "Please... let go... can'—breathe...."

    She threw me to the floor with a thud, and I groaned in pain, catching my breath. Kaen ran out the door at that point, fightened out of his mind by Kit.

    She turned away from me, huffing a little. "You—I can't even look at you right now. You know how sensitive I am about my family, especially after the Enhancement."

    "I'm sorry, Kit.... I just.... I dunno what to say that'll make you not hate me for what I did...." I turned from her as well.

    After a moment of silence, I heard Kit sniffle. I looked to her, and she looked to me. "Keiji, you have no idea how angry I am with you right now. We just now get our families back, and you go and do something as stupid as what you did last night. You can lack sensible judgment at the least opportune times, you know that?" She blinked back tears.

    "I wasn't thinking about anyone... but me..." I uttered. "I'm a selfish fool. I suppose I dun respect all that I have now. Perhaps, then, I dun deserve it." Head hung, I stared down at the rough carpet, kneeling. A tear stung my eye, but I failed to blink it away before it fell to the floor, darkening the carpet where it had landed.

    A rustle of clothing was heard by the three of us, and we all looked up to find Mom standing in the doorway, observing the scene.

    "...... How long've you been standing there, Mom?" Sesh asked quietly.

    "Long enough," she replied, upset. "What has he done that you beat him so severely for it?"

    I stopped the others for answering her. "I took Jackie out on a walk last night just to play mind games on her."

    Silence. She was simply amazed beyond belief that I would do such a thing.

    "Keiji, that's not like you, not at all..." she denied. "This entire ordeal's made you a completely different person...."

    It burned deep into me, what she'd said. "It changed me, but the others... they've endured.... The years have isolated me and moulded me into... into this beast...."

    "Don't say that!" Mom exclaimed, horrified. "You're still Keiji Itoh. You're still part of this family. You still have your friends, you still have your brother, and you still have me."

    I looked to her. "I dun deserve such uncorruptable love."

    "Why don't you?" she defied. "You're human, and you're still my son. And you will never lose that bond."

    It should have touched me at that moment that she still saw me as a compassionate human being, but right then I could have cared less. I turned away from her. Tears formed in the corners of my eyes as I let my façade fail me.

    Again, I looked to her, total anguish in my gaze. Even Kit and Sesh were shocked at my choice of time to reveal the complete truth. My twin tails swishing violently behind me, I whispered in an almost completely inaudible tone, "You have no idea."

    ~*~*~

    "Wh—what... are you...?" she uttered, seeming to be in denial. At that moment her eyes lost the gentle green glow they once held.

    "You dunno what I am, do you?" I remarked in partial disbelief of it, especially of past instances. "Seven of the Ecruteak Fifteen.... Twelve collectively known as the Roses...."

    "The Roses...?" she echoed, again, in denial.

    "I knew that you would be crushed to know the complete truth. Toshi and I both did."

    She took a step backwards into the hall. "No... you can't be a Rose.... You're not some delinquent beast bent on destruction...." Her gaze shot quickly to Kit, then Sesh. "You just can't be...."

    "Mom... stop..." I began, reaching towards her, in hope that she would come back into the room so we could talk to her. "We aren' the criminals...."

    "What's that supposed to mean?" she began, glaring at me with an almost hatred.

    "We were experimented upon to be used for a complex game of cat and mouse. There was no way to prevent New Bark from happening. We were attacked."

    "But what about the attacks on Team Rocket?" she continued.

    "You say that like you're on the Rockets' favour," I mused, almost smiling. "No. We attacked them because they attacked us. The leader of the Rockets was one of our tormentours."

    I had succeeded in stopping her reverse movement away from us, but she remained cautious of us.

    "But why did they choose you, of all the people they could have taken?"

    "We dunno why they took us. Perhaps it was because their home had been Ecruteak." This remark got me a dirty glare from the pair. She dun need to know who they were. She just needs to know that they are.

    "Will they attack you again?"

    I shook my head. "No. We showed them that we could fend for ourselves."

    She smiled. "Yes.... You always could prove yourselves worthy to any cause, couldn't you?"

    "Heh. I guess we can, can' we?" This derived a slight chuckle from the others.

    The four of us hugged, but it didn't last long, as Mom's bare forearm brushed up against me. She shuddered a little at the realisation that I had fur, and pulled away from the three of us.

    "Isn't that coat of fur hot? I mean, especially in summer in Northern Johto...."

    "Making jokes so quickly after a grave moment," I stated in amusement. "You always did pick a frown up after such conversations, dinna you?" She smiled with a look in her warm green eyes that hinted that she wanted me to answer her. "It's not too bad. I mean, Espeon like the sun and all, and the coat's light enough that it dun trap too much heat."

    She stared at my twin tails as I responded to her, and when I had finished, and she'd realised that I was staring right back at her, she mentioned, "I never really believed that Espeon had two tails. I never believed it possible...."

    "I dun see why having deviations from the spinal column would be anatomically impossible...." I flicked the tips of my tails a little, looking at them, then shrugged. "All I know is that it hurts a lot when an Eevee evolves into an Espeon and has its tail split like this." I shivered a little at the memory, then regained my human guise. "I'm sorry that we dinna tell you at first. We were just afraid that you'd be completely unaccepting of us. And we were right in part. This way we at least got to tell you what had really happened those times for which everyone finds fault with us."

    "I appreciate that you actually came clean with me. It shows that you respect me."

    "Of course we do..." Sesh sighed. "You're our mother. We'll always respect you."

    "Jackie, however, is another matter," Kit growled playfully, using her Kinesis to grind her knuckles into my hair. I winced and giggled, trying to pull away. It took a little mind play to break the hold she had on me, though.

    "Seriously," Sesh grumbled. "We need to figure out some way to keep *you* out of trouble, Keiji."

    "You know the only one I want to call me that is Mom," I complained.

    He rolled his eyes. "Right now, I don't care what you want to be called. Quit mincing my comments."

    I snorted. "What're you going to do about my little antics? You're far from capable of holding me down."

    "Quiet, you. Just because you collect doesn't mean that I'm not still your elder brother."

    "I say we re-enroll him at Tech," Kit suggested, amused as she sat back on my bed.

    My eyes went wide, and a snarl almost escaped me as Sesh seemed to agree with her. "Y—you woddun!"

    "I think it's a great idea," he remarked, stroking his chin as he looked me over. "You'd look great in uniform again...."

    I gave them a completely defiant glare, backed into the corner and hair standing on end.

    "You need to finish your education, anyway, Tacky," he continued. "Unlike us, you're still young enough to be enrolled at Tech."

    "B—but there are humans..." I whined. If I had been Espeon, my ears would have been flat against my head in defiance to the idea.

    "You can look human, and you think like one," Kit mumbled. "And you should be used to fitting into the general crowd by now."

    "You do know I'll hate the both of you for as long as you make me do this," I growled.

    "It doesn't matter. We're getting our way, and that's final. So long as you're around humans, you'll be less likely to act up, especially here in Ecruteak. Wouldn't want to sacrifice your cover here, now, would you?" He grinned as I growled at him.

    "I hate you. I hate you both."
    Last edited by Kurai; 24th August 2003 at 09:17 PM.

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

  2. #2
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    *hangs a few viruses creators* Morons! Evil! Bad people!

    Destroying parts of this fic is a crime against ficcerskind!

    Yeah, anyway. Great fic, and I can't wait to see more of it :)
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  3. #3
    Man With No Name Karate's Avatar
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    Heh, I've had the privelige of reading this up to chapter 79 already, and I must say that it's quite good. We can only hope that the hacker is stuck working at McDonalds for the rest of his life, and Kurai gets the missing chapters rewritten soon. ^^;

    RoseIII = Best evar. :O

  4. #4
    Like the Memory of a Kiss Kurai's Avatar
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    Default Chapter 68: Umbreon Permutation

    And... I finally get started working on the missing chapters.... I actually like this version of the Umbreon Permutation better than the original. o_O; Dementia looks good on Keiji....

    Chapter Sixty-Eight: Umbreon Permutation

    "I don't care if I have to drag you down there, Keiji. You're going."

    It was the next day and Sesh was trying to get me to see the headmaster.

    I hissed at my brother. "If I'm being forced to meet with the guy, could I at least have a day or so to collect myself into something remotely resembling a human?"

    This silenced his taxing, though I could tell that he was highly suspicious of me. "You have been accustomed to living in fair isolation, and you do need to get used to at least small crowds."

    He sighed. "Classes, I've been told, start Monday: a week from now. I'll give you until Wednesday—no later."

    I smiled a little. "Thanks for understanding," I mumbled in content.

    ~*~*~

    I sighed, leaning back against the cold, black tiles of the shower wall, letting the water run down my body in a relaxing stream, cleansing me physically. While its caress loosened my tense muscles, it failed to relieve my stressing thoughts.

    Frustrated, I began to mumble to myself in Umbreon. 'If I can' be misanthropic, I'll just have to show my inhumanity some other way.' Running my hands through it once, then picking up the shampoo, I washed my wet, blond hair. As the suds gathered at my feet and the scent of pear lingered in the shower, a thought wafted over me. Running my fingers through the somewhat tangled mess, I made my hair longer.

    I finished my shower a few minutes later, grabbed my towel, then wrapped it around me after drying myself off a little. Looking myself over, I stood before the fairly large mirror, which was hung on the wall above the twin sinks, the counters of which were faux marble, traced with black, silver, and white. The entire bathroom's colour scheme was of a pewter variety, as a lot of fixtures were metallic, and most everything in there was painted either black or grey.

    My hair, which now fell just past my shoulders, was darker and heavier with water. Shaking some of the moisture onto the rugged, black carpet, the full creation process fell into furious motion, the cogs in my mind whipping faster than they'd ever gone before in the genesis of an alias. It may have been the rage that quickly began to fuel it. It may have been the sheer exhilaration of trying out a new type of façade. But whatever it had been, it didn't matter to me at the time.

    Another run of my fingers through my hair left it black, streaked silver, a mere blink, gold eyes. A quick complexion makeover left my skin pale and the orbits of my eyes darkened all around, making them look as though they were set slightly deeper in my face. Though I noticed how far from human I looked, and felt I should have been shocked, I ignored my initial feelings about my actions and continued the metamorphosis.

    My fingernails, an inch long and painted black, looked manicured but deadly; though they were not sharp but instead tapered and rounded slightly, they were not far from what most would call claws. My teeth were somewhat vampiric, due to my having sharpened and lengthened my incisors slightly. My body, though deathly pale and of a weak frame, felt fantastically strong. While my muscles weren't prominent, they did indeed show a little. My face held almost animalistic golden eyes.

    Yet it felt as though it lacked something.

    At this, the changes ceased until I could see what the alias needed to be perfect. Then I realised that it needed jewelry and sighed.

    'This isn't going to be fun,' I mumbled to myself, opening the counter drawer and digging to the back to find Sesh's small stash of trinkets.

    Among these were various baubles he'd either found or bought, some ribbons, and a small golden envelope. Emptying the contents of the envelope into my hand, I discovered his sewing needles. He'd accumulated these over a period of at least a year, and varied in thickness from thin to abnormally thick. I chose one between the extremes and sighed, reassuring myself that it wouldn't hurt as much as I kept thinking it would. Then I leveled my head and stared myself in the mirror before administering a pair of piercings to my earlobes, one to the top of my left ear, and one to my left brow. I synthesised two pairs of gold earrings—two hoops, a stud for the top of my ear, and one of those weird ones that had a fasten on each end for my eyebrow—and put them in before my healing Ditto abilities kicked in.

    Sighing, I smiled as I stared at myself again. I smirked, letting my teeth show, and simply admiring the deadliness of what I'd become lit a fire inside me. Realising the affection I clearly possessed for this alias, I didn't shed it once I felt I'd put the finishing touches on it. I synthesised a pair of jeans and a high-collar button-down black shirt, then slipped them on gingerly and looked myself over in the mirror again. Hunching over and nosing up as close to my reflection as I could, I befell to my Umbreon strand and shifted heavily into it, staring into my eyes as I forced the change to be quick. Snarling at myself, I realised just how demonic I looked and jerked back with a short yelp. The ensuing adrenaline at seeing the possessed golden fire my animalistic eyes gave off in the light washed a sense of tranquility over me and I calmed down, slowly smiling again. My insides burned deep; gritting my teeth and crinkling my nose, my smile became a grin and my chuckling quickly became cackling.

    I'd been reborne.

    ~*~*~

    I fell quiet when I noticed the door open and looked, giving a demented, fangy grin to whomever had opened it. It happened to be Sesh, who stared at me in shock. After a moment of silence, his face twitched and he stepped into the bathroom, slowly closing the door behind him and leaning up against it. Breathing as calmly as possible, he could do nothing but stare for a moment.

    "....All right, what're you trying to do?" he uttered at last.

    "What?" I smirked, glaring at him madly. The mere gesture made him cringe up further against the door. It was then that I realised that my voice had taken on a completely dark, rich tone in light of the change and brought the tip of a fingernail to touch my throat in slight confusion. I turned it over in my mind a moment, then shrugged it off, thinking it a change for the better.

    After a moment I eyed Sesh again and his hair stood on end at the recognition, his Raichu ears flopping out with a slight tinkle from his pewter and silver earrings, the rest of the shift following soon thereafter. Another twitch of his eye and I snickered lightly.

    "You find this amusing? You find scaring the hell out of your brother amusing?"

    "You're freaking out over a little cosmetic change," I replied, leaning on the counter nonchalantly. It sank in soon thereafter that I'd also gained some height in the change and I stood slowly, beginning to freak out as I glared at myself in the mirror, shedding the Umbreon shift. I hadn't even noticed.... I hadn't noticed a whole half a foot of growth....

    "Strange that you use the word 'little,'" he mumbled, arching an eyebrow as he looked at me. "What's the matter?"

    "Something's wrong.... Something's seriously wrong...." I stared at my hands, trying to form the words in my mouth. "I... I diddun change my voice when I did this.... And I diddun cause the growth spurt...."

    "What's that supposed to mean?" he worried.

    "I—" It practically knocked me to the floor when I pieced it together. "A growth spurt and a change in one's voice could only be caused by a rage of hormones," I whispered madly, almost inaudibly.

    Sesh freaked out even more when my insane glare shot to him; he leapt back against the door so quickly that he practically knocked it down. I lunged at him and shifted Haunter-type instinctively, rushing into his body in sheer delight of hearing him scream in fright.

    'Ohayo, oniisan,' I whispered to myself in dementia, slowly taking control of his body. I popped his neck and smiled a bit. Looking to the counter, I noticed the sewing needles still out on the counter and picked them up, putting them back in the envelope and slipping it back into the back of the drawer before meandering out of the bathroom and downstairs. I flopped down on the couch with a book open in my lap before I left him, phasing into the wall to observe his reaction to waking up and not remembering how he got there.
    Last edited by Kurai; 10th August 2003 at 07:10 AM.

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

  5. #5
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    I. Am. On. A Roll.

    I'll try to write 70 this evening.

    Chapter Sixty-Nine: At Peal

    He laid there on the couch for about a minute before shooting up and regaining his breath. He glared at the book in his hands, and, breathing quickly, he began slowly to freak out. Hooray! He thinks it was a nightmare!! X3!!! I gleefully thought to myself. I licked lightly at the roof of my mouth in enjoyment of the situation.

    It was then that Sesh began to worry. "I don't remember being on that page," he mumbled, staring at the novel as he arched an eyebrow. "I don't recall that I was even *reading* this book," he grumbled. Closing it, he sighed, sitting up and shaking it off. "Hn, swearing off afternoon naps would be a good idea, I should think...."

    I snickered at him to myself. This is just too great.... He DOES think it was a dream! Heehee! At seeing him lean back on the couch, I decided to have some more fun at his expense and flopped down beside him, again becoming visible. "Heddo!" I cooed maniacally, staring at him with eyes wide and a toothy grin.

    He leapt back with a short yell, glaring at me as it sank in that it hadn't been a dream. "H—how'd you get me downstairs like that...?" he uttered.

    "Something we diddun think the Haunter strand would allow..." I replied musingly, resting my cheek on my left hand as I continued to set my gaze upon his. "I possessed you, oniisan." Chuckling at his shock, I grinned at him, setting him even more on edge.

    "Goddamnit, Keiji, what's wrong with you?!" He took notice of my additions of jewelry and arched an eyebrow, taking hold of the ring in my brow. "You even went as far as fake jewelry to make yourself look like t—" Then he actually pulled on it and realised it wasn't fake. I grinned at him when he let go and he took a deep swallow. "....You're not yourself.... The Keiji I knew was absolutely afraid of sharp things, let alone of piercing his own body...."

    "True. I'm Takeru, and I shall drive my abilities to heights the Keiji you once knew could never reach." With that, I teleported to Mount Peal to be alone for a bit, having enjoyed myself thoroughly.

    ~*~*~

    I'd sat atop the crest of Mount Peal for about ten minutes. The sun was bright that day, and it stung my sensitive eyes a bit, but I didn't mind it too much. There was a match down on the Tech's grass field, and I'd been watching it for a while.

    "Who d'ya think'll win?" a deep, rich male voice asked from behind me. I turned around and looked up to find Nayama standing there, grinning.

    "The Teddiursa clearly has the advantage. I mean seriously. Who would believe that a bag of gas like Koffing could beat something so evilly cute?"

    "Sometimes, you'd be surprised by the outcome of matches like those," he replied, sitting to the right of me. "Nayama," he introduced, offering a handshake.

    "Uh, you apparently dun recognise me," I began, glaring at him, dumbfounded that *he* of all people couldn't place me.

    He returned the stare, put off by my attitude about such a thing. After a minute the stare grew to be a wide-eyed one and he backed off a bit. "Takeru, of all the people I know, you would not be one I'd imagine becoming a corpsegoth...."

    "Ah, well, I guess it's just all the impishness in me," I smiled.

    A silence passed.

    "So what brings you up here?" he asked, pulling a lock of his black hair behind his ear.

    "I needed to get out of the house. The three of us decided to come back home, if you diddun know."

    "No, I didn't know," he told me. "Good to know."

    "What brings you up here?"

    "Well, I saw you up here, and since most people don't come up here due to the folklore involved with the area, I figured it'd be a good idea to see what you were up to."

    "'Saw me *up* here'?" I began, confused.

    He chuckled lightheartedly at this. "I come up here often. It's a good place to catch drake winds." Again I looked at him in confusion and his chuckles became nervous laughter. "Look up there at that Pidgey," he pointed out.

    I looked to see it struggling to stay aloft in the air. "So?"

    "Watch it," he led.

    Soon the Pidgey's frustrated flapping ceased and it glided easily away.

    "He just caught a drake wind," he explained. "It's a condensed pocket of heated air, a thermal mass, if you will. The only difference between the basic thermal and a drake wind is that the latter is much stronger and usually originates from rock faces or asphalt."

    "....Why would you care about drake winds?"

    "Well...." He sighed, readjusting the way he was sitting so that he was leaning back on his hands with his legs crossed out in front of him. "You understand I'm a Tenshi, neh?" I nodded. "Have you ever heard of the myths of Hanehasu involving the Kuraitoshiro Wars?"

    I stared at him, even more confused than before. "The Kuraitenshi and the Shirotenshi.... The Dark Angels and the White Angels...."

    "Ah, so you have heard of the Kurai and the Shiro." He grinned. "But have you seen them?"

    "Of course not," I grumbled. "They're folklore." I stared at him in cognition. "....Aren' they?"

    He chuckled. "The Kurai and the Shiro fought over half a millenium ago, back when the first genetic splicing took place on Hanehasu. The Shiro came first, angelic and seeming pure, but they abused their power and were feared by all. The Kurai, being mythologically sound by countering the holy façade the Shiro carried, became dark and gargoylish, stained by bloodshed in seeking vengeance upon the Shiro for any number of crimes the Shiro committed, which included anything from theft to kidnapping to even to murder. They battled for at least a century, trying to kill each other off, the Kurai to destroy the threat to the well-being of Hanehasu, the Shiro to eliminate any upstart of their path to ultimate power. To my knowledge, there are only four Kurai and three Shiro remaining. The Shiro leader was Gabriel Ayase, while the leader of the Kurai.... Heh." Silence befell the storyteller and he fell into a sort of bemused reminiscent state.

    I poked him. "Hey, snap out of it and tell me!"

    He shook the daze and looked to me. "Tell you who he was? Heh. You're looking at him."

    I stared at him in shock. "I thought you were as old as we are, Nayama..." I uttered. "Wow...."

    "Five-hundred-thirty-seven, if you want to know," he smiled. "I genned so heavily so young that there's not any hope for me to show my age. It's why most people never think twice about me being anything more than a nuisance."

    "Gives a whole new meaning to 'living forever,'" I continued in awe.

    "Since you haven't seen what either look like, I'm sure you'd like to know, being the collector you apparently are now and all."

    "How'd you know?"

    "I figured that I needed to keep an eye on you to see what you'd do that night," he replied.

    "You really should stop watching us," I complained. "It's an invasion of privacy, y'know."

    He laughed. "It's not an invasion of privacy to steal your loved ones' genetic patterns while they're asleep?"

    I flustered at this, but could say nothing as I watched him unbutton his shirt and toss it to the ground.

    "I'd recommend keeping your distance, chisaii Takeru," he warned.

    Watching him intently, I took his advice, confused as to why he would need to take his shirt off.

    He stood, taking a solid stance and bending over ever so slightly, sighing deeply and relaxing himself. He began to concentrate heavily and stared intently into nothingness as the shift began.

    His skin became pitch black and soon grated into rough scales. His face stretched out into a reptilian muzzle; his mouth fell open so he could breathe from it, and I saw his teeth form into vampiric fangs and his tongue taper and thin a bit as his breathing became heavier. He gritted his teeth and shut his eyes, in slight pain as his bare feet grew to be as long as his lower leg and the center of gravity in his body shifted to be further behind him as he began to crouch a bit; his fingers and toes sharpened into claws, and I noticed elven ears perk themselves out from under his hair. He sprouted a long, thick reptilian tail, then he himself grew. He tensed up as his back bulged larger and larger, until he shoved his shoulders back with a screech and splayed a pair of huge batlike wings that shimmered in the sunlight.

    He stood roughly between eight and nine feet tall, his wingspan just more than twice that. His muscles bulged under those fantastic scales, and they rippled even as he so much as breathed. He shot a glance to me and gave me a fang-filled grin. His eyes were an even more demonic gold than even mine, filled with a flame so purely animalistic that I myself feared him.

    I merely stared, dumbstruck.

    His chuckling sounded so inhuman.... So evil.... And he... the form of the Kuraitenshi was so marvellous....

    "By the way you're eyeing me, I figure you'd probably give up your first born just to have this strand, wouldn't you?" he mused, letting his wings fall naturally on his back.

    "Nail on the head, I'd say," I uttered.

    He laughed. "I'm in a good mood today," he began, offering his arm to me as he knelt down to my level. "Here. Something to make all your friends jealous," he played.

    All I could do was gawk at his forearm once he'd offered it. "You've got to be kidding me...." I whispered. "There is just no way that you would just let someone have a strand like this...."

    "I gave you a Celebi strand before, didn't I?" he remarked, slightly put off by my reaction. "Besides, you're not just anyone. I like you, chiisai Takeru."

    The both of us smiled, and I took hold of his forearm, concentrating on acquiring the Kuraitenshi strand as I shut my eyes. Sheer power began to surge through my veins and I began to breathe harder it was so much raw power to handle. My hand was numb for several minutes after obtaining the genetic information, and I fell to my knees, out of breath.

    "You've just had more power simply given to you in the past five minutes than you'll ever gain again in your entire life. I own you, chiisai," he stated, looking down on me warmly but dominatingly. "You just sold your soul."

    I nodded in awe and bewilderment, still in a daze from the acquiration. "A fellow Kuraitenshi," I uttered.

    "I'm glad you understand, chiisai," he continued. "I need some air now, so I suppose I'll see you around." With that he turned from me, and, in a few large strides and a mere leap into the air he took flight, quickly becoming airborne in a form that easily weighed two-hundred pounds.

    Staring at him as he flew off, I realised the exchange we'd had and lost my breath again. "Mr. Scratch seems to have bested me again..." I began, observing that the Koffing had become victorious over the Teddiursa.
    Last edited by Kurai; 10th August 2003 at 07:17 AM.

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

  6. #6
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    Chapter Sixty Nine... such an odd place for me to see subtext, ne?

    Ish wonderful kurai, I like where this is going now, and of course, Possesion is FUN. I look forward to the last of the rewritten chapters to see if they continue to be better than what I read before. *huggles kooai*

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    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Hehe, those new chapters are quite cool...glad to see you getting back at this! Show those virus makers the stuff all writers are made off - insanity or something close to it .

    Great job.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  8. #8
    Like the Memory of a Kiss Kurai's Avatar
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    I'm unsure, but I was recently in the process of adding titles to my chapters, writing them down in a spiral as I read through a hard copy.... I think my numbering's off, because the Umbreon Permutation's supposed to be 68, but, by my calculation, I think it's really 67.... ;-; That's a pain, because now I need to figure out some way to add another chapter between now and the remaining chapters so that "Double-Scythe" can remain #77.... ;-;

    ....
    ... ....

    ;-; *pout*

    [Edit]
    I think I figured out why my calculations were off when I counted the chapters a while back....

    The chapters for Takeru meeting Nayama and Nayama's giving him the strand are one in the same in the splice-rewrite. ><; It flows better, but I think I have my ideas for how to retrace my steps well enough. :3

    Kurai eyes Takeru, grinning.

    Takeru:
    *Afraid.* :(!!!
    Last edited by Kurai; 23rd August 2003 at 11:14 PM.

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

  9. #9
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Ohhhh...nice play on numbers. I didn't catch on it before, though, and that's with my first language being just about the one in which the play is the most obvious ^^;;.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  10. #10
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    [Edit: Uh, I think I understand what you were saying now, Damian. It was early/late when I read your post, and it didn't string together the way it should have. ^^;;]

    [Edit: *snickers that this 77th post is about Double-Scythe*]

    [Edit: *snickers that she has 89 posts...*]
    Last edited by Kurai; 12th April 2003 at 01:48 AM.

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

  11. #11
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    Default Chapter Seventy: Harbinger of Death

    Once I'd caught my breath, Nayama could be seen from the crest of Mount Peal no more. Standing, I sighed. "I suppose I'm in over my head with this," I mumbled, staring off into the sky.

    Looking to my hands, I imagined myself as the creature of whose genetic likeness I'd just acquired, then, grinning and clenching my fists in glee, I decided to try it out.

    Just as Nayama had shed his shirt did I, tossing it to the ground near his; I slipped off my shoes as well. With a flick of my hair, I let the gentle breeze flow through it and over my bare chest as I began to concentrate upon the strand belonging to that of a Kuraitenshi.

    The shift took me over completely the instant I began so much as to think of changing. I lost my breath when my face stretched outward to form a reptilian muzzle and my nostrils flared, my body unable to keep up with the Kuraitenshi. In less than the time it took me to take in a staggered breath from between my now longer, sharper fangs and my thin, rough tongue, my skin had already become black scales; the sensation was as though my skin had died and were detaching itself from my body. I began to feel my stomach form knots when my tail ripped out from behind me, thickening rapidly; I felt blood run down my leg, my body not used to such a thick tail. At the same time my fingers and toes became terrible claws. My feet stretched to abnormal lengths, and I fell to my knees, unable to adjust to the difference in my new centre of gravity. I felt my insides burn and I fell into fits of convulsions as though I were rotting from the inside out the moment my back began to bulge; too, my body began to grow larger. It grew to be as large as me in less than half a minute, and, with a final jerk of my body, the shift was complete as I pushed my wings out with a pain-filled screech. My entire body twitched once in unison, and I collapsed to my hands and knees, then threw up.

    Most of it was blood.

    I stared off in a horrified daze, laying there on my side, hoping that my body could heal itself before I bled to death.

    You gave this to me because you knew I couldn't handle it, diddun you? I thought to myself in agony. You knew that it would hurt me this badly?!

    I cried, feeling the pain of malice for the first time in my life. I stopped, throwing up again.

    "Curse you, Tenshi," I uttered, barely capable to take in the breath to have done so.

    Having uttered the condemnment, I blacked out, lightheaded from lack of oxygen and loss of blood.

    ~*~*~

    When I woke up, I was driven to delirium, oppressed by the power of the form of the Kuraitenshi, and got up on instinct, taking no heed to reinforce my muscles with further hormonal spikes. Once I felt my body could handle it, I crouched down low and leapt up into the air, flapping my wings with immense force in order to get airborne. I cleared the treetops and found a drake wind, losing my breath, realising as I was lifted into the air that I was actually flying by my own force. I cackled madly, soaring higher and glaring down upon the late afternoon. The sensation of flight suppressed the voice of the Kurai.

    For now.

    I saw a flock of Pidgey and flew closer to them, playfully zipping from side to side of them. They all looked to me and shrieked, trying to get away.

    "Dun go," I began, catching one with my kinesis and bringing it closer to me so that I could hold it in my hands.

    It squirmed frantically, trying to escape my grasps. It tried to nip at my finger, but I only smiled at the slight sting it brought upon me. When it realised that it hadn't fazed me, it stopped moving, knowing that it wouldn't get away.

    'W--what are you...?' it uttered.

    "I'm what you may have heard humans call a Rose," I replied. "I collect the genetic patterns of many varieties of creatures and add them to my own."

    At this it chirped soulfully. 'You want to kill me!' it wailed.

    "Acquiring your DNA dossun kill you, silly thing," I began. "Besides, I already have a Pidgey strand."

    It sighed with relief, still under the impression that I devoured souls. I smiled, holding it in my cupped hands up to my face and kissed it on the tip of its beak. Looking peacefully upon it, I soon began to notice its eyes twitch frantically before becoming dull. I saw the feathers around its beak begin to disintegrate and fall off, and I snivelled, distraught in seeing that I'd killed it.

    After a moment of glaring at it in fear, I felt an insatiable hunger well up within me and I screeched, devouring it in a single bite. A small trickle of blood drizzling from the corner of my mouth, the delirium again took me over and I attacked the remaining Pidgey, appeasing the abyss of my dark emptiness.
    Last edited by Kurai; 28th April 2003 at 01:51 AM.

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

  12. #12
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    Hm. Strange new twist in the story there.

    There's this line that bugged me :

    "Looking to my hands, I imagined myself as the creature of whose genetic likeness I'd just acquired and grinned, clenching my fists in glee and deciding to try it out."

    It seems quite hard to follow for some reason. I'm afraid I can't exactly offer advice as to how to fix it, but perhaps trying to break it up a bit might be good.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  13. #13
    Like the Memory of a Kiss Kurai's Avatar
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    Eh. It needs a comma. Or something. >.o;

    "Looking to my hands, I imagined myself as the creature of whose genetic likeness I'd just acquired, then, grinning and clenching my fists in glee, I decided to try it out."

    *fixeseses it* x_x;;

    Oh, and thankee. Awkard sentence construction is the devil.

    -=: [rose.iii] -=:=- [the.kuraitenshi] -=:=- [those.things.with.wings] :=-

    i'll believe all your lies, just pretend you love me
    make believe, close your eyes
    i'll be anything for you

  14. #14
    Goronda Type Vice-Webmaster Evil Figment's Avatar Vice-Webmaster
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    Yes, that does seems better. THough perhaps as two sentence it would flow better.

    "Looking to my hands, I imagined myself as the creature of whose genetic likeness I'd just acquired, then, grinning and clenching my fists in glee, I decided to try it out."


    "Looking at my hands, I imagined myself as the creature of whose genetic likeness I'd just acquired. I grinned and, clenching my fists in glee, decided to try it out."

    It seems to flow better to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mintaka and Hurristat
    He's an evil director / He'll give out infractions / Do something wrong / And he takes direct actions
    Then what'll he do?/ He'll permaban you / You find your name slashed / With a message, 'Adieu'
    Sooooo...watch out!
    "It is said that the federal government, if it was in charge of the Sahara, would run out of sand in five years. Private enterprise, being more efficient, would do it in half the time - and they'd make money off the bridges." - me.
    "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world." - Jack Layton's last letter. Rest in peace, Jack.

  15. #15
    Not Dead yet.
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    Poor Pidgey... *replying while eating large container of chicken* Err...

    Keiji: Well, it was dead anyway, something else was gonna eat it anyway...

    Muyo: Yesh... me... Hungie ;-;

    Keiji: Split a Murkrow?

    Muyo: Sure, lemme finish replying first.

    I don't really see Damian's point there, as the will and the attempt to change broken up by the removal of the shirt, and I don't really know what else you could put in there. He's alone, he's like a kid with a new toy that he's just seen the most amazing commercial for, of course the first thing he's going to do is open it up and play with it, expecting anything else would diminish the realism of the scene. A bit short, but very enjoyable, ish very good kooai ^o^

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