RoseIII—Right Hand of the Dragon—Tokyo (PG-13) [Book Three]

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    Default RoseIII—Right Hand of the Dragon—Tokyo (PG-13) [Book Three]

    nr3300t. :B~~ You know you're a pathetic fangirl of your own works when you stay up all night mirroring it to your site.... o_O;

    Anyloo.... This is where I feel it begins to get juicy.... n3300t.

    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 Thirty-Five

    ::Kit::

    "I—where are we...?" Nat uttered.

    "You sure you want me to answer that?" I muttered, upset and yet in such awe that I said nothing more for a while.

    "Miru!" the girl exclaimed, pointing at us fearfully. All of us sweatdropped, nervous, and Sesh soon froze the park.

    "I—let's get outta here," the Raichu warned, standing as he assumed a new form. This one was similar to his true self, just with longer cinnamon hair, and though his eyes retained their beautiful fire, they were now an awesome gold. His leather jacket now fell past his knees, his dark green shirt now a collarless black one. Hanging freely around his neck, the emerald necklace glittered in great contrast to his clothes.

    "Nice, Thunderbutt," I poked, following his lead. My now straight black hair fell past my shoulders, my complexion paler than before, which offset my sapphire eyes perfectly, giving them a wonderful, alluring flame. I wore all black now-a sleeveless drape-collared shirt, a pair of flare jeans, and leather flat-heeled boots.

    Sesh arched an eyebrow at me, but said nothing.

    Nat's form grew to be more slender than before, her hair and eyes darkening almost to the point of being black, her hair coming to just past her chin. Her attire consisted of a dark pink long-sleeved shirt with a low-cut collar, and a black skirt that fell to her knees, her gloves now the same colour as her shirt. A pair of white high-heeled sandals adorned her feet, her toenails painted hot pink.

    Ditz looked about fifteen, standing about as tall as I did, his hair brown like his brother's, but cut just shorter than to his chin. He retained his impish green eyes. He wore a black buttondown shirt, cargo pants, and a pair of beaten dark grey-and-black tennis shoes.

    "We need to get Tane to a hospital or something," Ditz began.

    "Yeah, we're going to take a Cleffa-type to the local hospital," I muttered sarcastically, worried as heck.

    "Well, I could fix that," he replied, looking to the unconscious girl laying in the grass.

    "Go right ahead, Tacky," Sesh urged. "We'll do whatever we can to get her a doctor. You guys stay here while Kit and I go find some help."

    ~*~*~

    "Gomen," Sesh began, stopping a woman on the street, "Wareware no... tomodachi wa hijo ni byoki, soshite kanojo ga isha hitsuyoto suru...."—Our friend is very ill, and she needs a doctor.

    "Byoin moyori wa no ue ni Tagetoto," she replied, a little worried about us.—Nearest hospital's on Tagetoto.

    "Dono shinro des-ka?"—Which way's that?

    "Ahh...." She thought a moment, then pointed past a building past her. "Soko, dake go-fun."—There, only five minutes.

    "Ariagatou," I uttered, dragging him along. "Dork. You scared her."

    "Don't you think it was both of us?" he grumbled. "Leggo." I did and he dusted himself off as we continued back to Tane, Ditz and Nat.

    ~*~*~

    "A teleport, perhaps?" I offered.

    "Too risky," Sesh replied. "We'll just have to get a cab."

    "Are you nuts? One: taxi drivers are crazed maniacs, and two: do you think that our money is worth anything here?"

    "We don't have to pay the driver...."

    "You're evil, Sesh. Just plain evil...."

    "What else are we going to do? Just... come out of absolutely nowhere in the middle of the hospital lobby and tell the nurses that Tane needs help?" He snorted, then rolled his eyes. "Yeah. That'll work."

    "Ah shaddap," I grumbled. "Let's hail a cab...."

    ~*~*~

    "Konnichiwa," the guy greeted indifferently as we piled in. "Doko ni made?"—Where to?

    "Tagetoto, byoin," I replied, on edge.

    The driver saw Tane's condition and made all haste to get to the hospital.

    A few minutes passed, and we were all worried when Tane's breathing became scarcer and scarcer, and she began to wheeze. Just as he stopped, Sesh froze him and we all got out. I left a rose in the guy's money box, then closed the door as Sesh unfroze him and we made our way inside.

    The Raichu carried Tane in his arms, and I hurried up to the desk.

    "Gomen, kanojo wa hijo ni byoki.... Kanojo ga dokusatsu suru...."—Please, she's very sick. She's been poisoned.

    The nurse took appropriate measures, and soon she was on her way to the emergency room.

    "That was close," Ditz uttered, nervous as we all sat in the waiting room.

    "What are we going to do?" Sesh complained. "I mean, Japan is a mythical place... isn't it? How're we supposed to get home?"

    "Let's not worry about that right now," I replied, placing my hand on his. "We need to be worrying about Tane's well-being."

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



    Chapter Thirty-Six

    I sighed, slumping down in my chair in the waiting room, looking up to the double doors for what seemed the hundredth time in the past few hours.

    "Ah Kit, it'll be okay," Sesh consoled, putting his hand on my knee. "The doctors know what they're doing."

    "I hope you're right," I replied.

    I felt someone's stare and turned to look to find a little boy watching us through the glass door which led outside.

    He must have been seven, maybe eight years old, with the most haunting fire in his dark soulful eyes. His sandy blond hair reminded me much of Leo's, carelessly tousled and messy.

    The boy darted away when he saw me look up, but soon poked his head around the corner of the building again to see us.

    He soon regained the courage to look in on us when I used my telepathy to watch him instead of my eyes, seeing as he was quite afraid of me. After a moment he actually came inside the hospital.

    "Doushite anata ga yui eikawa anou des-ka?" he uttered, walking up to me. "You're not from around here, are you...?"—How can you speak English so well?

    "I—how long have you been watching us?"

    "Since I saw you appear out of nowhere in the park," he replied innocently, all of a sudden having the fear stricken back into him as he realised the reason he'd been watching us.

    "Kid, you don't have to be afraid of us," Sesh soothed. "We didn't exactly come here on our own accord."

    "Hey, come to think of it, how can you speak English?" I began. "You're a Japanese kid."

    "Ahh, I'm not Japanese..." he whispered, a little on edge. "Where'd you come from?"

    "Our world is called Gaea," Nat told him. "It's wonderful there...." She checked out and we all sweatdropped in embarrasment and disbelief.

    "Er, what's your name?" I asked the little boy.

    "My name's Tamashii, Tamashii Kizuki."

    ~*~*~

    "Daitan, Aikai," the nurse announced, the time that had passed having elapsed totaling well over six or seven hours. It was now dark outside. I motioned for us to follow her, as I had signed her up under that name earlier so we could get her in a room.

    "D—you said... Kizuki...?" I began, a bit confused and worried as we walked down the halls with the little boy and the nurse.

    "Hai," he replied, confused as well. "Why?"—Yes, that's right.

    "I—never mind, maybe later."

    "Koko, ju-shichi," the nurse led. "Kanojo wa nemuranai, keredomo kanojo wa ansei hitsuyoto suru."—Here, in seventeen. She's not asleep, but she needs peace and quiet.

    "Ariagatou," I thanked, the woman leaving us to our friend.

    "Tane...?" Ditz began as we walked up to the bed.

    Where are we?

    We all blinked in disbelief. 'Where are we' - the first thing that pops into her head when she wakes up in a hospital after killing the last evil Yami. Not 'I'm so glad you all are okay!' or 'What the heck is going on?' or even a friendly 'Hi guys.' Just 'Where are we?'...

    Tane, we're in Japan, I replied calmly as possible, trying not to upset her or myself.

    A short paused followed my statement, when she absorbed it slowly. What?! she at last burst out.

    "Why is no one talking? You're all looking at each other funny...."

    And who's this...? she led, looking to him.

    "This is Tamashii. He's Sarina's little kid."

    "Erm, Sarina's my aunt," he corrected.

    We all stared at him.

    "Y—what?"

    "Aunt Sarina is in Gaea, and so is Uncle Jamie. I know about all that stuff."

    "Wait... if Sarina's not your mom and James isn't your dad, then how the heck are you related to them?"

    "My mom's their older sister."

    "Ah." It seeped in after a moment. "They have a sister...?" I glazed over.

    "Too many weird things about it to be talking about it right now," Sesh muttered, snapping me out of my daze. "We need to find someplace to stay."

    "You really think it'll take that long to find a way back?"

    "I'm just being realistic and preparing for the now," he replied, a bit solemn.

    "Aw Sesh, dun be upset about all this. Last thing we need is you to be worried that we're not going to get back to Ecruteak."

    "Like I said, work with what's happening now, not what we expect to." With that, he flopped down in the hospital chair in the corner.

    Staring out the window as he stood there, looking out over the city, Ditz grumbled, "We're all nuts."

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



    Chapter Thirty-Seven

    ::Ditz::

    Another day passed and the hospital released Tane to us.

    "Tamashii, do you know anyplace where we could find a place to stay?" Kit began.

    "There are some apartments by mine that aren't taken," he pondered.

    "Kit, why do you think they'd let us stay in an apartment if we have no money?" Toshi grumbled.

    At this she was silent.

    "Um, you wanna come home with me and talk to my mom?" Tamashii offered. "Since you guys already know each other...."

    "I *would* like to have a chat with this lady..." the Raichu mumbled.

    Soon there was an overall agreement, and we came with him.

    It didn't take all that long; Tamashii lived quite close to the park where we'd come in.

    The place was located in a rather quaint apartment building, about eight or nine stories tall. Tamashii's was 7B.

    He opened the door and let us in.

    "Tamashii, is that you?" a woman asked from a room in the outreaches of the larger-than-average apartment.

    "Yes, Mom," he replied, rather drudgingly, perhaps, and sighed.

    "Have you seen Mélisande today?"

    "No, Oka-san," he grumbled. "I—"

    "DADDY!" a little girl exclaimed, coming out of nowhere and glomping Toshi by the legs. He sweatdropped, tensed up completely as he broke a crooked smile, which twitched.

    "'D—Daddy...'?" he uttered, slowly looking down upon the little one's head.

    She had curly cinnamon hair, and excited green eyes, wide as a Meowth's when it's heard something of interest. She wore a black jumper with a gold-lined pocket on the front and two smaller matching ones at her sides, a black T-shirt with gold bands around the top of the cuffs underneath, and a pair of black leather boots with golden buckles. She had a ruby necklace on.

    This exclamation piqued the woman's interests and she poked her head out of the back room. Her deep green hair fell to her shoulders; her glare was of wondrous blue eyes.

    "I—Tamashii, what have I told you about bringing strange people home?" She stopped. "No offence."

    "Wh—why'd she call me Daddy?" Toshi uttered again.

    "Mélisande, that's not Daddy," Tamashii muttered, nervously tugging her away. "That's Seshi."

    "But he looks like Daddy..." she began.

    "Sweetie, Daddy's in Gaea," the woman began, kneeling down to her eye-level.

    "Who's 'Daddy?'" Toshi continued.

    "Er, that's not important," the woman replied, all of a sudden a little nervous. She looked up to us, getting up again. "I'm Novena Kizuki. And you all are...?"

    "Um, ha." Meilin laughed a little nervously. "We're the Roses."

    She froze up at this, and blinked, almost in disbelief. "The Roses... are in Tokyo?"

    "What's so special about them, Oka-san?" Tamashii asked, brow furrowed.

    We all looked to her and she nodded lightly in assent, allowing us to shed our aliases. Mélisande took a step back, but her elder brother merely stared at us in awe.

    "Wa..." he uttered. "Dittotenshi are real...."

    "Um, what?"

    "Dittotenshi are a kind of Tenshi," Novena explained, a little less nervous.

    Then it hit the boy like a strike of lightning. "Wa! Pokémon ARE real!" With this Tamashii ran off to his room in glee.

    We all sweatdropped.

    "Wh—what did he mean by that...?" Nat began, a little worried.

    "Pokémon don't exist here the way they do on Gaea." She grimaced a little. "Tamashii, come show them some of your collection," she called into his room.

    "He collects?" Toshi inquired, dumbfounded. "At his age?"

    He came running in with three Pokéballs, giddy with glee as he plopped down in the armchair.

    Three Pokémon, I thought to myself, unamused. Big whoop.

    We soon found the Pokéballs to be nothing more than plastic containers shaped like Pokéballs, which contained miniature figurines of Smoochum, Wartortle and Bellossom.

    "I thought you said that he collected, Nova," Meilin began, a little confused.

    "He does. That's how children collect Pokémon." She sighed. "They aren't living creatures here, merely a passing youthful fad."

    He saw Eve's Pokéball at my waist and at once leapt up from his seat to eye it excitedly.

    "What sort of Pokémon's in there?"

    "Um...." I tapped the Pokéball and the little kitsune came out of her containment in a flash of light, reforming atop my head.

    All Tamashii could do was stare at her, and she was tearing her claws into my head; it was making her nervous.

    "Please stop staring at her. She's not used to being stared at, and she's kinda attached to my head because of it."

    "A real live Eevee...."

    'What other sort of Eevee could I be?' she uttered, a little upset. We all snorted.

    "Eve, be nice."

    'And where are we anyway? And who are these people?'

    "We're in Tokyo," I replied.

    'Where's that?'

    'Definitely not Gaea,' I whispered, the fact not pleasing me one bit.

    "Ditz, it'll be okay," Toshi consoled. "It's nice here, isn't it?"

    "I suppose...."

    "Th—he can speak Pokémon!!" Tamashii stammered, now staring more at me than Eve, and I sweatdropped. At once she scampered away to hide under the couch.

    "H—he has no clue who or what we are... does he?" I began.

    "Not a clue," Novena replied. "I prefer to keep Gaea fairly much a closed subject. But I suppose now that the subject has actually come up, I won't be able to." She sighed. "The Roses are Aunt Sarina's more prominent pedaishi," she explained. "There are twelve of them, and they each got a different gen-ginka from her." She smiled a little. "Tamashii, why don't you show them around town? Maybe help them get aqainted with this earth."

    "Wa! You mean it, Oka-san?" He was ecstatic.

    "Just be careful, Tama," she warned lightly, smiling a little.

    We'll keep an eye on him, Nova, Ianna assured, smiling back as the little boy led us out, all of us putting our friendly faces back on. Ianna didn't have a new one, but instead used her first alias.

    We all stopped in our tracks, sweatdropping as Tamashii had already gotten a great lead on us.

    "This is going to be more trouble than we expected," Toshi uttered.

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



    Chapter Thirty-Eight

    ::Philo::

    "Hey Philo, what's the matter?"

    Sakura came up from behind me and placed a hand on my shoulder lovingly. I'd been staring out the window over Pewter for about an hour then from my balcony.

    I looked to her. "Do you think that we were even a little harsh by telling them to leave us alone?"

    She stared at me, aghast. "*We* were harsh? No, sweetie, I don't." She knelt down beside me, and sighed, taking a hold of my right hand with both hers, looking into my eyes. "I want you here—with me, Philo. If we would have kept up the charade, I don't think that any of us would have survived."

    Cassidy ran into my room, out of breath.

    "What's wrong, Cass?" I began.

    "New Bark Town—gone—"

    At this, we stood in horror, running into the recreation room to see what all this was about. When we saw the ten-mile-wide crater, both of our mouths dropped to the floor as all the others' before us.

    "....Eyewitnesses have reported that New Bark had been inhaled by some sort of force field, and that the Roses had something to do with it.

    "'I was in Cherrygrove when it happened,' an elderly man muttered dejectedly. 'Tragedy of the century, I say. But, at least the victims didn't suffer. I know that they didn't suffer because the thing that ate the city looked almost like magick in a way.'

    "'Yeah!' another, a woman in her thirties, exclaimed. 'I seen those four fightin' one'a their own. I knew that them kids was evil! Then—THEN I see this huge hole open up in the wall and I start a'runnin' for my life!'

    "As more on this national tragedy unfolds, we here on NJC will be here to report." Touya muted the television at that point, all of us pale.

    "Th—they can't be serious," Sarah uttered. "I mean, we were here... right?" Leo wrapped his arm consolingly around her shoulders and whispered something to her, after which her eyes shot wide in realisation, then in pain. "No...."

    "They—they're gone..." Sakura whispered, unable to bring her eyes away from the screen until that point. She looked to me. "I suppose we really *did* out-survive them, Philo...."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Ditz::

    "Come on, slowpokes!" Tamashii exclaimed, half-running backwards to look to us as we tried to keep up with him.

    "Don't call us Slowpoke," Toshi muttered under his breath as we trekked on.

    "Sesh, freeze him," Meilin whispered to him. "Maybe then we could get a hold of him and get him to slow down." He nodded and everyone froze as if suspended in time, the five of us the only ones that seemed so much as alive.

    I shuddered at the thought, then made a face when Meilin and Toshi rushed up from behind me and they both took him up by an arm, time resuming. He realised that he was trying to walk along without any sidewalk to tread upon and freaked, struggling frantically to get out of their grasps, then saw that it was futile and laughed half-heartedly, looking up to their unamused, narrowed gazes.

    "Slow down," Meilin complained a little angrily.

    "G—gomen," he apologised. "Would you lemme go?" he began.

    "If you'll walk at a pace where we can keep up," Toshi replied. "If you like, I'll carry you."

    "Good call," Meilin whispered to him, smiling up at the boy perched atop Toshi's shoulders, the Raichu a little amused himself.

    ~*~*~

    Tamashii smiled happily as he looked around from his lookout view, pointing out various landmarks. He stopped himself from pointing out the hospital where Ianna had been convalescing, instead showing us the cinema a few blocks down from it.

    "I think it's still showing," he thought aloud to himself.

    "What exactly do you think is still showing?" Toshi muttered, looking up at him.

    "You'll see," he replied mysteriously, grinning as we walked up to the ticket booth. "Lemme down so I can get the tickets, Seshi."

    With that, he ran up to the man, who looked to be in his twenties or thirties, that stood in the booth.

    Tamashii said something inaudible to him and the man replied, "Nomi Tama-kun! Anata wa eiga ano miru ji-nu no kai!"—But Tamashii! You've seen that movie twelve times now!

    He pointed to us and said something else, also too quietly for us to hear him, and the man chuckled.

    "Tomodachi itsumo ga sore suru," he told himself, doling out the six tickets.—Friends always make it better.

    We came to follow him inside the cinema, and Kit snatched the tickets from Tamashii with her Kinesis, trying to figure out what we were so utterly being forced to watch. She went wide-eyed when she saw the print on the thing, sweatdropping and glazing over at the mere thought of it.

    "Lemme see," I began, snatching them from her. Pokémon: Revelation Lugia. I, too, fell to the same fate as she had. Tamashii regained his prizes and paraded up to the ticket boy, who soon directed us to the theater where we were in for definite torture.

    ~*~*~

    We sat down in the fourth row back from the front, dead centre. We practically had the place to ourselves; the thing had probably been showing for weeks now and had lost its popularity.

    "Hey Meilin," I whispered, "we didn't get any popcorn." She rolled her eyes at this and popped me some. I grinned happily, munching on the movie-type treat.

    Then the movie started.

    ~*~*~

    "A—talking—Meowth...?" Toshi stammered, staring in disbelief, as were we, at the English-speaking feline portrayed in cartoon form on the screen.

    "Hai," Tama agreed. "He learned how to talk to impress a girl Meowth."

    "Kind of reminds me of a certain electric mouse I know," Kit snickered. We muffled our laughter as much as we could before we all burst at the seams, laughing at Toshi, who was now beet red. He staticked a little, pouting, and we all shut up, returning to watching the movie.

    'Come on, guys! Pull the nest in!' the Pikachu exclaimed enthusiastically as the chain of Pokémon, which ranged from a Vulpix to a Snorlax, tried to pull a nest of Exeggcute infants in from blowing away in a storm. 'We can do it!'

    Various agreement from the ranks.

    'Yeah. You can put us to sleep,' I muttered under my breath. The others snickered at me.

    A minute passed and the Pokémon that belonged to a particular trainer, including the Pikachu, were on their way back to them. A Dragonair flew by and we all sweatdropped when Nat sighed in disappointment, again upset about her choice of necklace.

    "Give it up, Nat," Meilin complained.

    ~*~*~

    Disturb not the harmony of Fire, Ice, and Lightning,
    Lest these titans wreak destruction upon the world in which they clash.
    Though the water's great guardian shall arise to quell the fighting,
    Alone its song will fail, thus the earth shall turn to ash.

    From the trio of islands, ancient spheres shall you take,
    For between life and death, all the difference you'll make.
    O Chosen One, into thine hands bring together all three,
    Their treasures combined tame the beast of the sea.


    The legend of the Chosen One, He who tames the ancient bird of the sea, Lugia. You see, this strange boy by the name Satoshi was destined to gather the three spheres of Shamouti in order to summon Lugia and to quell the element birds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, and bring their fighting to an end. But who is this one man that stands in his way? The Collector.

    One by one each of us decided to cosplay a character from the movie. Meilin chose Furura, Nat Kasumi (which was quite a bit of a stretch, seeing as the previous Cerulean Gym Leader has red hair, much unlike our hapless camaraderie), Ianna Furura's sister, Toshi the Collector, aka Jiriudan (whom I do believe Kit was blushing over a bit, heh. When she saw what he'd done she started giggling), and myself Satoshi, without the moronic hat and jacket of course. When the lights came on, Tamashii could do nothing but stare at us.

    "Don't you like it?" Tosh began, using Jiri-san's voice in perfection. Meilin giggled, blushing. He shot her a light glance, then back to Tama, grinning to himself proudly.

    "I—it's not that, just—y—you're the people out of the movie...."

    "We can do that if we want to," I chuckled, following Tosh's lead and mimicking my voice to Satoshi's, seeing his horror at the situation.

    "B—but what if someone says something?!" he uttered absolute disbelief of what was happening.

    "If they say anything, you get to play along," Meilin replied, also with her character's voice, grabbing him by the hand as we came to walk out of the theater.

    Toshi grinned to himself, admiring the glittering gem in his hand.

    "That's not what I think it is, is it?" Tamashii uttered, almost about to faint in fright. The green-haired Raichu nodded almost as if one could expect to hear rattling from within. I swear, Tama swaggered at seeing the Ancient Mew card in my brother's hand.

    He tossed it to the floor and froze everyone but him and me. "Tacky, help me out in having some fun."

    "Um, what?" I uttered, blank.

    "Split like you did before and morph one of them into a widdle bitty Lugia."

    "I—fine."

    I complied and positioned my miniature self where he told me to, the Raichu getting back where he had been, myself doing the same. Time resumed, and Tamashii stared in utter horror at the tiny ancient bird, which had appeared in a ball of light. Toshi had charged the card before tossing it down, and thus disintegrated once it had expulsed the energy.

    "Loogie!" the little me sang, trying not to laugh. Meilin, Nat, and Ianna followed Tama's lead, more in disbelief that I'd done such a thing than because of the fact that I'd morphed it into the ancient.

    "Th—th—th—that—" Tama could say nothing but stammer incessantly as it came to perch atop Toshi's shoulder.

    "Looo," the little me cooed, ruffling its feathers a little.

    People started to stare at us and we decided to move on, walking outside.

    'Are you sure you want to do this out in public?' the little me whispered to him. He nodded, grinning. 'You're nuts.'

    'You're even more nuts than him just for doing that,' Meilin muttered. The little me cocked its head over its shoulder and raspberried her. She flustered at this and stopped in her tracks. I laughed at her and she smacked me with her Kinesis, both the little me and myself falling to the sidewalk face-first.

    "Owww...."

    "Serves you right," she grumbled, dusting her hands off as she continued on. "Don't stick your tongue out at me. Ever."

    ~*~*~

    We all slowly got bored with the façade and walked downtown as ourselves again.

    I missed a step when I felt my heart lurch and my throat close up, falling to my knees in utter agony as my vision began to blur not only from tears but also from having the blood rush out of my head. I soon blacked out.

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



    Chapter Thirty-Nine

    "Ditz!" A silence passed. "Ditz!" The person calling my name began shaking me. "DITZ!" Meilin slapped me, almost in tears.

    I groaned, my eyelids quivering a moment before opening them. I looked up to find my friends' faces, and they took a step back from me. My brow furrowed in confusion.

    "What happened?" I began, sitting up. I realised that my voice was different and choked.

    "Then you didn't do this to be funny..." she worried, handing me a compact mirror.

    I could do nothing but stare at my reflection—I was not only older by several years, but my Eevee half had become heavily more prominent.

    "Y—you guys dunno what happened... do you...?"

    "You blacked out, Tacky," Toshi replied, seriously worried, almost afraid of me. "W—we don't know why."

    I dropped the mirror when I felt my heart skip a beat again.

    I myself was then worried.

    I looked to my hands to find my flesh was rippling, then groaned when I felt my stomach twist into knots.

    "Y—we need to get you inside," he uttered, almost completely unable to witness what I was going through. I felt the same way.

    ~*~*~

    Ianna teleported the six of us back to Novena's apartment, and Tamashii ran off in search of his mother. Mélisande poked her head around the corner to see what the commotion was. When she saw me look at her, she gasped and darted back to her room in fright. My ears drooped, seeing that people were afraid of me, and it wasn't even my fault.

    Nova came in and stopped when she saw me, eyes set on me.

    "Oh dear," she worried with furrowed brow, biting her lip.

    "What exactly do you mean by 'oh dear'?" Toshi half-demanded, looking between her and me.

    "Tak, you were the youngest of the Ecruteak Fifteen, weren't you?"

    "I—I was nine," I agreed. "Why?"

    "Your Ditto and Eevee strands are taking in the hormones in your body much like a sponge, causing them to make you shift forms alongside accelerated growth spurts. Because the two are trying to remove themselves from your genome, your body is rejecting them almost completely." She sighed. "It happened to Marlow, my elder son."

    "What happened to him?" I uttered, upset.

    "It took him a good year or so to get over the disorder," she replied. A silence passed. "He's in Mahogany. I don't know what he's up to these days." She saw my dismay and smiled a little. "The spasms get further and further apart, don't worry."

    "But since they become fewer number, dun that mean that they get stronger?"

    She sighed. "Yes."

    "Is there anything we can do to make it easier for him, Nova?" Toshi asked.

    "Once he evolves, it'll be better for him. Then he'll only be having difficulty with his Ditto strand, because once the Eevee strand mutates it won't want to take in as much of the growth hormones."

    "Evolve?" I choked. "I—I dun wanna evolve...." She ignored my disliking of the concept and continued to walk to the back of the apartment. We followed.

    "I think I have some herbs in my garden that would ameliorate the situation, but you're going to have to ride it out."

    "Garden?" I mouthed to Tamashii, brow twitching, as we trailed up a spiral staircase in the back of the apartment which led to the roof.

    "She keeps her plants up here," he whispered in response. "They do all sorts of stuff."

    Novena stopped at one plant in particular, one with strangely shaped jagged crimson leaves and hundreds of pale blue flowers that seemed to glow in the half-light. Its leaves were about a foot long, the flowers the size of berries. The plant stood about four feet tall.

    "Hey, pretty," she said to the plant, holding the leaves up to look to its stem. "I need some of your thorns." Having plucked a good handful of black thorns, she smiled, showing them to me. "The spice made from the spines of the halseri can cut off the signals in your brain that produce hormones. I need to prepare them before you can eat any."

    "What do they taste like?" I inquired, following her back.

    She smiled. "Here, you can eat one just to see what they taste like, but they pack more of a punch once they've been roasted." I took one and bit the sharp part off, then stuck it in my mouth. It tasted sort of coppery, but also like cherries.

    "Er, how long will it take for you to... prepare the stuff?" Toshi asked.

    "A few hours at most."

    "Oka-san, you do know you don't have to bake it into anything," Tama complained.

    "Bake?" I uttered.

    She laughed. "I'm a confectioner at heart. Most of my remedies are in some sort of candy or another."

    "Then get cooking," Meilin snickered.

    ~*~*~

    My heart skipped again and I stumbled, catching myself on the handrail of the staircase. Meilin took a hold of me around my shoulders and helped me down the rest of the flight.

    "I think I sprained my ankle," I complained as I laid back on the couch. I looked to my foot to find I no longer had one and freaked. "Wh—where's my foot?" I uttered, about to cry. I didn't understand any of this, and now I was losing appendages?

    "Um, right here," Toshi uttered in disgust, tapping it over to me with his foot.

    "Stop kicking my foot. It hurts."

    At this he stopped, sweatdropping at the severe irony of it. I poked my leg at my foot and it popped back on, then flexed it a little to make sure it wasn't dead or anything. I sighed in annoyance.

    "I think I'll just lay here until this is over," I muttered dejectedly.

    "That's no attitude to have," Nova started. "You can fight this, Tak. It'll just take some doing."

    "She's right, Tacky," Toshi sided, sitting in front of my legs. "We dealt with the Yamis, now we deal with this."

    Nova put the baking sheet down on the counter and stopped what she was doing when he said this. Looking to us, she demanded, "What do you mean, you dealt with them?"

    "They're dead," he replied, not getting what she was getting at.

    "E-even... Darean?" She was about to cry.

    "Darean?" we uttered.

    She sighed with temporary relief when she saw we had no clue what she was talking about.

    "Maybe she means the Yami that possessed Tane," Nat whispered to Meilin.

    "Why wouldn't we want to kill the Yamis?" I began. "Well, Jarrell and Scyrus are okay, but the others...."

    "I—Darean... is their father."

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



    Chapter Forty

    "What?!"

    All of us stared at her in utter horror at what she'd just said.

    "Y—you didn't just say what we think you said... did you?"

    "That Darean is their father? You five are fools." She turned from us, tears in her eyes. "Darean... he was the only one of them with a heart. Scyrus had no backbone, Jarrell no courage. The rest were purely evil, no doubts in that. But Darean...." It was at that point that she burst into tears, running from the room crying her heart out. We could do nothing but sit there in awe, pain and fear.

    Mélisande came to tug on her brother's pant-leg, staring at us. "Tama, they killed Daddy... didn't they?"

    "M—Mélisande, d—d—don't say it like that..." he began. "They didn't kill him. He was a good Yami. And they said that they killed the bad ones." His plaster smile twitched.

    We killed six Yamis, Meilin contemplated. And we know that five of them were Annra, Xyra, Angelus, Brynne and Randall, right? That only leaves us to speculate that Daddy Yami was that noxious fog.

    Kit, don't, Toshi complained. This is already nuts enough as it is.

    'It is, is it?' I spat angrily. 'Are you forgetting that we're past the point of this being surreal, beyond the point where you could pinch me and I'd wake up from this hideous... nightmare?! No. This isn't nuts. This is insane. This is evil. This... this is hell.'

    A moment of silence passed. "Ditz..." she began, pain for me enveloping her face.

    'What? You think that you can make it all better, doncha? What the hell can you do that will make our situation any less of the nightmare it already is? My strands are abandoning me, leaving me in about the same condition as an epileptic leper, and we're stranded in a world that we didn't even believe existed, without any money, without any place to stay, without any way in this godforsaken rock to know what will bloody happen next. What? We're going to find that all along the Yamis weren't really dead, but instead reincarnated here, and they're all going to gang up on us tomorrow? I wouldn't doubt it with all this crap.'

    Tacky, calm down. It's all right.

    'HOW IS IT GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT?!' I yelled. 'How is it all right that we widowed Sarina's sister? How is it all right knowing that we're to blame for these two not having a father?'

    Another silence. Ditz, you know very well that he was the one that attacked us. It was kill or be killed. Don't give me that.

    "They're mad at each other, aren't they?" Mélisande whispered to Tama.

    This comment made us all shut up and look to her.

    "Y—you're not upset... are you, Mélisande?" I uttered, pale.

    She shook her head. "Daddy was mean to people...."

    "Méli, don't say that," Tama scorned, looking at her, upset.

    "But why not? It's true, isn't it? You don't want me to say things that are true? You want me to say things that aren't true. That's not right. Lying isn't right, Tamashii."

    'Sh—she's so innocent...' I whispered, about to cry.

    Ditz, don't cry, Kit began. You're supposed to be the strongest one of us. You're the youngest of the Ecruteak Fifteen, and yet you've never let any of this get you down.

    'Maybe even I need to let out the emotion,' I muttered, shifting Eevee and curling up under the couch with Eve.

    'Keiji, it's all right,' she soothed, nudging my shoulder with her muzzle. 'Don't cry.'

    'I need to cry right now,' I defied, curling up in an even tighter ball, so that I probably looked like a small brown pom-pom.

    And, backed up against the baseboards, I cried my heart out for the first time since that clear August day two years before.

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



    Chapter Forty-One

    It had been about a week since the incident with Nova, and we'd decided to find a way to get some money. Tamashii had reccomended a pawn shop downtown.

    It was really sweet, ya know? Those two weren't upset like their mother about Darean, and they wanted to help us in any way they could (despite the fact that their mother wanted them to have nothing to do with such creatures as ourselves). Mélisande really liked us, and often talked to her Umbreon doll about wanting to be a Rose like us so she could fight the darkness. It made us blush a little, since we did no such thing, but we let her pretend.

    But back to the pawn shop.

    The five of us had come downtown, Ianna, Nat, and Meilin sitting outside with Mélisande, Tamashii, Toshi and I going inside. I just had to watch.

    The bell that was hung on the glass door tinkled a little when the door slowly closed again, sometimes striking the glass lightly. The door was travelled through often by the looks of how many scratches the bell had put on the thing.

    'If they have any evolution stones, I'm leaving,' I warned to my brother, pouting a little.

    Tacky, Pokémon don't exist here. You think they'd really have stones? He sighed. Besides, you heard Nova, you need to evolve to get over this... thing.

    'That's really consolate of you,' I muttered, rolling my eyes.

    Shaddap and, well, yeah, shaddap.

    'I—' I shut up and growled a little.

    A man in his thirties ambled up to the counter. His dark eyes were almost beady and scheming, but definitely hiding some ulteriour motive, his greying hair also balding, his scalp showing on top, the silvered dark hair hanging thinly from the sides of his head. He wore a beaten T-shirt and a pair of jeans that could almost be considered clean save the spattering of dark blue paint on the left leg.

    "Watakushi wa ni tsuite shitemoi tetsudau-ka?"—May I be of help?

    "Hai. Wareware ga kinsen hitsuyoto suru, soshite watashi ga ikuraka no mochimono to iu koto watashi dekiru uru motte iru," he replied.—Yes, that's right. We need money, and I have some things that I can sell. He dug in his bag a moment before drawing out a small satchel that tinkled with life. The Raichu emptied its contents into his hand, carefully rearranging the various glittering objects atop the bag that now lay on the glass counter.

    There were a few of them that I could recognise as to what they were—a Spell Tag for raising the accuracy and potency of Ghost-type abilities, an Umbra Sphere for Dark-types, a Twisted Spoon for Psychic-types, and a Quick Claw for speed. These were Tech Tools, and he was selling them to some guy, where they would never see use in this world.

    "Hijo ni mare na karera des," he uttered, smiling as he looked over the some fifteen to twenty trinkets. "Mono son'na o kesshite izen ni au shinai...."—These are awfully rare. Never before have I seen such things....

    "Tosh, no," I began. "I mean, they're worth a lot, sure, but do you think that anyone'll end up using these to the benefit of the creatures they're for?"

    "That's not the point," he muttered in response. "We need the money, and we don't need them as much as food or shelter."

    At this I could say nothing.

    "Kinka no ikutsu ware ga dekiru uketoru-ka?" he inquired of the man.—How many pieces can I get?

    The guy merely stood there, blank.

    "Kin...? Kinka...." At this he laughed.—Gold...? Gold pieces....

    "Why's he laughing at us, Tama?" he uttered to the youth.

    "Gold is not used in any currency denominations but in a few countries. Japan is not one of these few. The currency is called 'yen' here."

    "Th—then you ask him," he led, embarrassed at having gotten an adult laughing at him.

    "Kinsen no ikutsu kare ga dekiru uketoru-ka?" Tama asked again.—How much money can he get?

    He laughed a moment, then smiled. "Kanko-kyaku?" he asked the boy.—Tourists?

    After a moment, he thought it best to nod hyperactively and respond, "Hai. Karera wa hijo ni myo des."—Yeah, they're really weird.

    The two of us turned beet red.

    "We are not!" we defied quietly. The man laughed at us again and we shut up.

    "Tonikaku...." The guy looked the various pendants and devices over a moment, picking a few up and seeing how they glittered in the light. "Hn. Anata o ju-man ageru."—Anyway.... Hmm. I'll give you a hundred-thousand.

    The two of us choked on this.

    "A hundred-thousand is about a thousand dollars," Tama interjected quietly. "A dollar will buy two sodas." Our surprise fell to small happiness and we nodded, accepting the exchange.

    "Ni tsuite wa do desuka sorera?" he began solemnly, chunking a satchel of pieces on the counter.—How about those?

    The man's eyes glittered in awe of seeing the good three pounds of solid gold. He soon was looking at it from every angle, biting it to see if it were real, and measuring it on a scale.

    "Kore Karato wa nan des-ka?"—What Karat is that?

    Tosh shrugged.

    "A—anata o hyaku-man ageru."—I—I'll give you a million.

    The three of us lost our breaths at this.

    "H—hyaku-man...?" Tosh uttered in response. "Ariagatou!" He giggled, giddy. "That was fifty pieces. I couldn't have bought more than a cheeseburger with it. Now what do we have? Ten-thousand pieces?" He giggled again.

    The man pulled a wad of paper bills out of the register and counted them as he walked back over to us. "Hyaku-man to ju-man. Koko."—A million and a hundred-thousand. Here.

    Tosh dumped his gold pieces in his hand and stuffed the yen in his then empty wallet. "Domo ariagatou, Kyo."—Many thanks, Sir.

    "Paper money," the Raichu muttered to himself, unamused. He sighed as we walked out. "I suppose my pack feels lighter now."

    "Well yeah. You got rid of what, five pounds of gold, silver, and gems?" I muttered a little sarcastically, taking the comment literally. "I just hope no Tenshi come along and pick one of those things up. No tellin' what sort of damage they could do if they had some stray strand."

    "So how'd the trading go, Mousy?" Meilin inquired, the four standing to attention when they heard the bell on the door tinkle.

    "We got eleven thousand pieces," he replied, a tad dejectedly.

    "You didn't really want to sell those, did you?" she consoled.

    He sighed again. "Not really. But that's not a point. They were material things." He smirked. "Not like I sold your laptop or my PokéGear...."

    "You wouldn't!" she uttered, now angry. He laughed.

    "Y'know... you don't really need it..." he contemplated, stroking his chin, brow arched in thought.

    She growled and tore off after him, the Raichu laughing at her. We laughed too.

    ~*~*~

    We settled for apartment 8B in the Taiyoyama Apartments, the place where Novena and the two lived. The apartment we chose had three beds, a couch, an armchair, one table and a fridge with nothing in it.

    "Aw guys, no TV? No food?" I frowned. "But I'm hungry."

    "We can go shopping later," Meilin replied. "For now, we need to decide what to do about our... cramped conditions."

    "I can sleep in the armchair," I offered. "A cat should be of no concern," I smiled.

    "That's one down, four to go. We have three beds."

    "I'll take the couch," Toshi muttered. "A girl needs a bed more than a guy does."

    "You know that I could just pop two more beds," she began.

    "Where would we put them, you dork?" he retorted, kicking back on the old couch.

    I did the same in the armchair. "Ah guys, quit fighting. We have a place to stay, and I'm hungry. Aren' you guys?" Various rumblings of the stomach agreed with me. "What I thought. C'mon, let's go eat!!"

    "Tacky, calm down. We just got this money, and we already spent, what, about two-hundred pieces worth on the apartment? Geez." He stopped a moment. "I never would have thought I'd have so much money...."

    "It's our money, dork," Meilin muttered.

    "Nonono, it's mine. I sold him my pieces, I sold him my Tech Tools." She growled in hesitant agreement. "Attagirl." He grinned. "What I'm trying to say is that this money can't last us forever. Where are we going to get more money when this pile runs out?"

    "Er, you're not saying what I think you're saying, are you?" she began.

    He nodded. "We need to get jobs."

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



    Chapter Forty-Two

    We grabbed some yakisoba** for dinner and ate back at the apartment. I sat on the balcony, gnawing contemplatively on my chopsticks once there was nothing left to actually eat.

    I sighed in thought. If I have to evolve to get over this, then which way should I go? I began. If I were to go with Vaporeon, Jolteon, or Flareon, I'd need a stone. I dun think that Tosh's got a stone. So that leaves Espeon and Umbreon. I groaned in dislike of the situation. "Espeon and Umbreon come about through mood...."

    "Whassa matter, lil' brother?" Toshi began, plopping down beside me.

    "I—" I sighed, poking at a cold onion in the bottom of my plastic bowl. "I was just thinking about my predicament." I looked to him. "You dun have any evolution stones other than that sun stone, do you?" He shook his head.

    "Tacky, you can't force yourself through this. There is no quick fix when it comes to things like growing up." He poked me in the arm. "Why're you in such a hurry to grow up, anyway?"

    "Y—you're trying to be funny, right?"

    "You think I'd be that cruel and serious at the same time?" he muttered, bemused.

    "You're evil," I grumbled.

    "I've got an idea," he said at last, a long silence having passed. I looked at him, unamused. "Kit's Rose necklace is Espeon, right?"

    "Wh—you mean that—"

    He nodded a little. "You could get a feel of whether you'd rather be a night-dweller or a day-dweller."

    ~*~*~

    "Hey Kit, c'mere," he began, the two of us coming back inside.

    She looked up from her place on the couch, pausing her work on her laptop. "What?"

    "We just had an idea about helping me with my predicament."

    "Ahem. *I* had the idea, Tacky," he corrected. I made a face.

    "Does that really matter?" I complained.

    I couldn't breathe for a moment and collapsed to standing up by the back of the armchair alone, now breathing heavily.

    "Tacky...?" Toshi began, looking to me, worried.

    My mind suddenly ignited and pain blazed as if a wildfire in my head, and I cried out in anguish, falling to the wooden floor in convulsions.

    I sat up after a moment, groaning in pain, then freaked when I realised I was in front of the door. My tail swished furiously in fear.

    "H—how'd I get over here?!" I squeaked, pale. The two stared at me.

    "I—you were—and then—" Toshi looked back and forth between where I had been and where I now sat several times before whimpering. Then his eyes grew wide in apprehension once they were again set upon me. "Tacky, look in the mirror...."

    "D—do I really want to?"

    "J—just do it," he half-ordered, brow twitching as he pointed into the bathroom.

    I slowly stood and found my way the few yards, then turned the light on to jump back in surprise, seeing my reflection. I laughed a little when I realised that I'd merely had an involuntary shift.

    "Aw c'mon guys, am I really that scary—" Then I saw the golden stripes of fur that wound themselves about my ears. They glowed a little when I looked to my eyes, which were of a golden hue. "Th—this isn't funny!"

    "What's not fun—" Nat freaked when she saw me and teleported back to her room. I frowned, ears drooping.

    "What did I do to deserve this?" I grumbled, looking to my hands. "Okay, this is stupid. Why is my fur still brown, and yet I've got Umbreon bands around my ears?"

    "Maybe it wasn't a full evolution?" Toshi offered. "I've read about them before, very rare. Sometimes a Pokémon doesn't want to evolve all that much, and fights the change as much as it can. And it works for a few." He grabbed absently for his PokéGear and flipped it open, looking for the Pokédex section of it. "Here." He handed the device over to me.

    'Harliqueon are very rare creatures. Eevee may become this creature through two ways, one through use of the Moon stone, the other from fighting its evolution. If it fights it long enough that it evolves during either sunset or sunrise, it becomes this marvellous creature.

    'Other instances of fighting the evolution that have been recorded over the past century have shown that Eevee hybrids such as Flareon-Eevee are becoming more and more common, as the tiny fox-type's genome has become more and more altered over the ages. And the more altered its genome becomes, they shall either grow to be hardier and hardier, able to withstand evolutions, or their will shall weaken and wither into nothingness, so much as a spark causing an evolution into a Jolteon, a ray of sunlight an Espeon.'

    "That's real endearing," I mumbled. "I'm some freak."

    "Maybe if you balanced it out with our original plan, it'd look better," he offered.

    "What was your original plan?" Meilin began.

    "Since your necklace is of an Espeon, we were thinking of letting ol' Tak have the strand."

    "You think that's gonna work, Mousy? I mean, how many of the others tried to unlock it and failed?"

    "I—I can, Meilin. I know I can. I mean, I'm Espeon's relative, aren't I?" I looked to her with Eevee eyes. "At least let me try?"

    She broke. "Fine. Just don't get mad at me if you don't get it."

    "Thank you thank you thank you," I adored, happily taking the silver rose necklace from her, kneeling down to the floor again to brace myself for any disturbances it may cause.

    The necklace cupped in my hands and my chin resting upon my hands, I concentrated hard on the strand locked within the argentine confinement. I felt a burning sensation after a moment and let out a breath painfully, not stopping the acquiration. I collapsed to the floor after having lost all my strength.

    I woke up on the couch.

    "Are you okay, T.K.?" Meilin inquired, hovering over me. Toshi stood beside her, the same look of worry upon his face as hers.

    "I—I think so," I replied, sitting up again.

    "D—do you feel any different, Tacky?" Toshi began.

    "A little. My head hurts."

    "My head didn't hurt when I unlocked it..." she contemplated.

    "Of course it didn't. Evolved strands contradict basic strands, you nimbus," the Raichu grumbled.

    "Well so—rry, Mr. I—Study—Myself—because—I've—Got—Nothing—Better—to—Do," she sneered.

    "Hey, stoppit," I complained. The two of them suddenly shot across the room in different directions, Toshi to the balcony door, Meilin to the front door. I freaked.

    So did they.

    "D—did I do that...?" I uttered, pale.

    "He obviously got the strand," my brother observed. "But will he be able to handle it?"


    ** Soba is defined as broad buckweat noodles. Yakisoba is soba with shredded beef and chicken, and often thinly sliced peppers and onions.

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



    Chapter Forty-Three

    Over the next six or seven months I had fewer and fewer seizures, and, as Nova had foretold, with the lessening numbers also came more potent attacks.

    Of course, I had gotten used to having them every three to five weeks, but since I already had a fully-matured Espeon strand, the Umbreon side fought with me for the longest. It looked like the Umbreon side was going to win, because my genome wanted balance. My Eevee strand could hardly stand having an Espeon strand alongside it, and demanded evenmoreso than before that itself evolve.

    Full moons were the worst, because my Umbreon side always gave me severe urges to go out and howl at the moon. Often, it won, and I ended up one step closer to being an Umbreon. The Espeon strand didn't particularly like it all that much, and I ended up falling into seizures if I let the Umbreon side have its way with me for too long.

    There had been a solar eclipse once during that time. I had difficulty with the Espeon side—I could see and hear everything. Ianna could relate, and helped me through the ordeal. Meilin, however, had no difficulty with her telepathy then. I supposed that it had been harsh for me because of my contrasting strands, and, since she had none, had no trouble at all. Though she did become quite engrossed in observing the natural marvel, and had shifted Espeon to spectate it. Toshi and I still agree that she hadn't done so under her own accord. He has yet to cease his teasing; he found a new base for his derision that day.

    All in all it hadn't been all that bad, nothing like anything that was to happen to me in the future.

    ~*~*~

    I was looking around Nova's garden, though she had no idea that I was up there, and I came across one strange plant. Its leaves were spindly and looked sort of like a pine tree branch if instead of needles there were thin little leaves. The stem, though, was nothing like a tree trunk, but more plantlike in nature. Little white flowers adorned it, and it smelled just heavenly.

    I instinctively nabbed a stalk and teleported back to the balcony, munching happily on the treat. I bit into one of the flowers and all of a sudden a sort of juice rolled onto my tongue. Then the pain started.

    I fell into another seizure because of the way the taste made me feel. I was dizzy at first, then I started to lose my sight, nothing but that smell enveloping me.

    It started to sicken me, and I tried to escape. Then I felt the sensation of falling, then a cracking thud as I fell onto the cement on my back. I screeched out in pain, falling unconscious.

    ~*~*~

    "Miru! Sore wa kaijuu!!"—Look! It's a monster!

    "Iie! Pokettsu Monsutaa des! Evui!!"—No! It's a Pokémon!! An Eevee!

    "Tha's not Pockemon," another grumbled in poor English. "Pockemon no look lai a paaso."

    "Ah shaddap," the first complained. "Omae ga to iu koto sumato na omae son'na kangaeru," he spat at her.—You think you're so smart....

    I groaned, looking slowly up to find the faces of possibly every kid in the neighbourhood and began to whimper to myself, not liking the thought one bit. Then the girl giggled and rubbed my stomach as if I were a dog and my foot started twitching. I purred.

    After a moment I looked up to find Toshi looking down at me over the half-demolished balcony, shock on his pale face. He teleported down to the street, his usual Raichu self, and the kids scattered, soon finding themselves watching from across the street, hiding behind various things.

    'What the hell do you think you doing?!' he demanded, frightened out of his mind.

    I whimpered, looking to him with such a look that he soon warmed, and he bent down and scratched me behind the ear. My foot started twitching again, and I grinned, purring a little.

    "Okay, this is nuts. We have got to settle this once and for all." He stopped scratching my ear and sighed, looking to me as if he were going to do something mean and didn't feel very good about doing it. He slapped me across the face, then teleported the both of us upstairs.

    It brought tears to my eyes, and I looked to him with upset Eevee eyes.

    "I'm sorry, Tak," he began. "I thought it'd snap you out of it." He sighed in dolour and rushed off to bring Meilin back with him. I looked to her and blushed. "H—hey, now stop that."

    "What happened...?" she uttered, confused and a little afraid of me.

    "Methinks he got into some sort of catnip," he replied. He then walked out onto the balcony and picked up some of my plant.

    This piqued my attentions and I teleported over to him, snatching the thing and teleporting back to my spot on the floor by the front door, again munching on the treat.

    "That's no longer just a thought," he remarked, blank. He slammed his fist on the wall and growled, "This isn't right! My little brother shouldn't have to go through crap like this!"

    "Sesh, c'mere," she grumbled, unamused. She gave him a piece. "You eat some. See if it's just him."

    "Wh—what? Are you kidding me? H—" She stuffed the leaf in his mouth and he choked a little, bright red. Slowly his pained red face turned to one of blush as he chewed on it a little, and he sweatdropped when his fur stood on end. He froze away.

    I giggled at this and curled up on the rug to fall asleep for the day.

    ~*~*~

    I awoke later to the sumptuous scent of hamburgers, and I stretched, sitting up and shaking off the sleepiness.

    "Did you guys save me one?" I began, seeing them sitting around the table in the kitchen. They all stopped eating at hearing me, and turned to stare at me. "What?"

    "Good to have you back on the rational side," Meilin muttered. "You've been out since this morning. Don't get into the catnip again, you dork." She smiled. "Yeah, we saved you two, and fries and a coke."

    "Thanks," I replied, grabbing some of my fries as I sat down to eat with them. "Are you serious? Catnip?" I laughed. I sighed after a long silence. "You are serious." I looked down to my food, and poked at my fries. "So."

    "What?"

    I shrugged. "A conversation, maybe? We hardly ever talk anymore."

    "Maybe because it's... uncomfortable?" she retorted, sipping on her coke.

    "Well... The least you could do is tell me if the apprehension is because of me."

    Silence.

    I blinked away tears.

    "Ditz, it's not you so much as what you're going through," she began, trying her best not to upset me. "We feel bad for you, we really do, but it's too much."

    I never would have thought that evolution of these strands was possible, Ianna interjected quietly. If you're able to, Tak, then what about me? Most of my strands are lower-level evolutions—Abra, Cleffa, Haunter.... She sighed. Once you get this one strand evolution out of your system, you have no more of this to deal with. What if one of my strands decide to evolve? Will the others follow suit, all at once, or will it be over time that I go through this sort of torture?

    I blinked in disbelief at what she said, but said nothing. She saw the look in my eyes, and could probably hear what I was thinking, and I didn't deem it fit to say aloud how much what she had said had hurt me.

    Toshi sighed. "Tacky's gotta go through this because he's got an Eevee strand, Ianna. I'm sure it'll be a lot easier for you if it ever happens." He smiled a little. "Look at it this way, Tane—your abilities will grow with the change."

    I have trouble with my strands as it is, she muttered dejectedly. If any of them were to be any stronger I don't think I could handle it.

    "Now lookit this," I grumbled, finishing off my second hamburger. "No wonder you guys dun wanna talk while I'm around."

    "Ditz—"

    I teleported onto the roof to get away from them, and to settle this once and for all.

    I no longer cared whether I was an Espeon or an Umbreon. I just wanted it to end.

    I roared out to the crescent moon hung in the sky over the city, the thousands of stars lending their strength to me as I felt the animalism of my Umbreon side wash over me, taking me over as I accepted the evolution.

    My fur bristled as I tensed up at the burn of pain. I soon found it to be the burn of poison as the Umbreon poison glands made their presence known, my fur turning black as the night in which I stood, the golden bands forming around my ears, arms, legs and tail. I felt the last ring form on my forehead and screeched, my body jolting from the agony, and I stumbled, falling off the roof.

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



    Chapter Forty-Four

    "Takeru, you didn't want this. I know you didn't because you hated it. Let me, and I'll give you what you really wanted." I felt a small, cold hand placed upon my face, then suddenly it felt quite warm and I returned to a rather tranquil, hazy state.

    I awoke in a little girl's room, a warm fuzzy feeling in my head, then I looked around to find it filled with all sorts of Umbreon dolls, figurines and pictures. I was in Mélisande's room.

    My attentions turned to the little girl, who lay asleep on her bed, which had black silk sheets and golden fringe. Even her rugs and curtains were black and gold. I shuddered at the obsession.

    Then I saw Mélisande's condition.

    I freaked, stumbling back to find her tail flicking gently, her ears twitching occasionally. She'd just... taken my Umbreon strand.

    At realising this, I rushed to her vanity mirror to look at myself in the mirror. All that remained was my regular Eevee self. Pale, I touched my face to ensure my doubts to find my ice cold touch upon my face.

    H—how'd she take it...? I demanded to myself. She's just a little girl. How the heck did she take it? Then I remembered who Mommy and Daddy were and shuddered. I—I want my strand back.... It was mine.... "Mélisande," I whispered, shaking her by the shoulder gently. "Please wake up. I want my strand back."

    She awoke slowly, and groaned a little, then squealed a little in delight when she stretched.

    "Hi, Takeru," she greeted. "Do you feel better now?"

    "Your mom is going to be very angry with me if I let you keep that strand, Mélisande," I began, trying to be as sweet as possible.

    "I didn't take your strand. I took your evolution." She smiled, hugging me. "I had an Eevee strand too, Takeru. Your Eevee likes me, and she let me have a copy of her DNA."

    "H—how'd you take my evolution...?" I uttered, blankly hugging back.

    "She didn't take it by conventional means, that's for sure," Tamashii explained, walking into the room. Mélisande looked to him, wide-eyed that he was in her room.

    "Tamashii, what have I said about staying out of my room?"

    "Damare, Mélisande," he retorted quietly.—Just shut up.

    She choked at his audacity, and so did I.

    "That wasn't the nicest thing you could say to her, Tama," I complained.

    "I came in here because I heard T.K. in here. I heard what you were talking about and wanted to see if it were true. And I see now that she actually did." His lip quivered, and he sneered, "Mahou."—Witch.

    "You know very well that the both of us are," she replied, sticking her tongue out at him.

    "Y—you're kidding... right?"

    They looked to me, utter seriousness on their faces. I freaked and vanished in a puff of smoke, having teleported to the apartment.

    ~*~*~

    I sighed with relief as I sat back in my armchair.

    "Ditz! Where've you been?!" Meilin looked up from the kitchen table in surprise. Her exclamation woke up Toshi, and probably Nat and Ianna.

    "I—Mélisande got a hold of me...." I shuddered.

    She repressed laughter and pointed at my tail. "It shows."

    "What are you talking abou—" I yelped, seeing that Mélisande had braided my tail and tied it with a gold bow. I blushed bright red when Toshi started laughing too. "I—It's not funny!!" I defended, trying to untie it. I frowned. "It's knotted in my fur...." Another roar of laughter.

    Nat came in to see what the commotion was and saw my tail, and thus began laughing hysterically at me.

    "H—hey Ditz, you trying a new style?" she cackled, almost falling over she was laughing so hard at me.

    I shifted Espeon-type and the bow came to be knotted around one tail, no fur in it, and I slipped it off with ease.

    They shut up and blinked.

    "Y—did you just evolve?" Toshi began.

    I shook my head. "I thought that I had last night. This is the Rose strand, not the Enhancement strand."

    "What do you mean, 'you thought you already did'?" Meilin uttered.

    "Mélisande stole my evolution." I frowned.

    "W—what?!"

    "You heard me. I woke up in her room this morning, and she was half-Umbreon." I whispered, "I tell you that girl is obsessed with Umbreon. Every inch of her room is black, gold and red. And you already know that she only wears those colours."

    "I—I don't believe it," she stammered.

    "Why not believe it? I mean, Mom's a Tenshi and Dad... Dad was noxious gas." I shuddered. "She used magick on me. They're wiccan, the both of them."

    "Magick's not real, Tacky," Toshi soothed. "C'mon, we'll go see her."

    "Fine. I'm just... going to sit on her balcony and wait for you guys."

    ~*~*~

    The four of us came to apartment 7B, to our little Umbreon girl's room. I stayed outside to watch, wary of the two siblings.

    "Mélisande...?" Toshi uttered, seeing the neonate splicer on the bed.

    "Geez, Ditz was right. She *is* obsessed..." Meilin agreed, looking around the room.

    "Hi," the girl returned, looking up from her Barbie doll, whose hair and skin had been dyed black and wore a gold shirt and pair of pants. No shoes.

    "M—Mélisande, what exactly did you do to my brother T.K.?" the Raichu asked of her, trying to be calm and unangered.

    "I used a simple energy transference," she replied innocently. "I know that he didn't want to be an Umbreon. But I did."

    She smiled, turning back to grooming the mutant Barbie, the brush putting golden streaks in the thing's sable hair.

    "Sadie, sit down. It's hard to brush your hair when you're standing up on the bed. Besides, Mommy doesn't like people standing on the bed." The doll at once showed itself to be animate, and sat Indian-style on the comforter before the Umbreon girl. Not a natural pose for a Barbie, either. "Thank you, Sadie." The thing giggled, then returned to its state of plastick existence.

    See? Was I right? Huh? They all gave me dirty looks, scared out of their wits.

    "Why are you so afraid of me?" Mélisande began, looking to them again. "Did I do something bad?"

    "N—no, Mélisande," Toshi replied, nervous as heck, thought retaining the twitching plaster smile. "W—we just never have seen a—anything like this before...."

    She smiled, proud. "I know. I like my dolls. They're nice, not silent and cold like the ones my friends at school have."

    "Y—th—they d—don't talk at school... do they?"

    She giggled. "No, silly. Mommy won't let me do magick in public."

    "She knows about your... ability?" Meilin uttered.

    She nodded. "She knows. Daddy knew magick too. All the Yamis knew magick, especially Uncle Scy." She giggled again. "You know he's a really nice guy. He's got lotsa humans that work for him."

    Yeah, Rockets, I muttered, almost laughing at her not knowing this.

    Shaddap, Ditz, Meilin snapped. She likes 'Uncle Scy.' So what?

    I rolled my eyes at this and shrugged.

    Mélisande looked to me. "Did Takeru already evolve today? He looks pretty as an Espeon." I blushed at this acknowledgement.

    "No, Méli," Toshi said. "If he evolves during the daytime, he'll have two Espeon strands. Meilin here gave him one from her necklace that your Auntie Sarina gave her."

    "That's cool," she smiled, looking back to her 'Sadie.' "Sadie, I'm done with your hair. Do you want to go play with Hizashi and Gekkoi?" The doll nodded a little, her small smile turning a little more. Mélisande got up from her bed and walked over to her ashen grey dollhouse and placed the doll carefully on the second story, where it then walked off the inside of the edifice.

    I teleported inside, just having to see this marvel, and all four of us walked over to the house, which was almost as tall as I was, to look under the black shingled roof.

    There within were two male Umbreon dolls as well, one with long gold hair, the other with messy black hair. They saw 'Sadie' come into the living room and moved left and right on the couch to make room for her. Their lips moved, but no sound was heard.

    "Um, this... this is a little freakish, even for me," I began. "Mélisande, magick... if you're good at it, practicing helps your abilities grow in strength. Just make sure you know what you're doing."

    "She knows what she's doing," Novena muttered. We turned to find her grimacing angrily, gaze narrowed. "Why are you in my apartment?"

    "We—"

    "Mélisande sort of took my evolution last night," I finished, not wanting Toshi to say anything that would get Novena mad at us any more than she already was. "She was trying to help me, Nova. Dun punish her for anything that was most undoubtedly my fault."

    "Mommy, it is my fault that they're in here," the Umbreon girl defended quietly. "I went out when I shouldn't have."

    Nova saw what her child had done to herself and choked, coming to hold her tight in confusion and sufferance.

    "Aijin***, don't." She looked into Mélisande's crimson eyes. "Why did you do this? I thought we already talked about not taking others' things."

    "He didn't want to be an Umbreon, Mommy. He was just trying to escape what was happening to him."

    "What did you do to him?" Novena looked back and forth between her and me.

    "When he evolved, I used an energy transference so my Eevee DNA would evolve and his would devolve." Her eyes began to quiver, on the brink of tears. "Oh Mommy, please don't be angry with me. I was just trying to help. I'm sorry if I only made you upset and I only made things worse...."

    Novena soothed her, rocking her gently. "It's all right, aijin. You were only trying to help them." She looked to us. "I'm sorry for getting upset with you five. I found that Darean was the one that attacked you, not the other way around. You killed him out of defence."

    "Had we known he had children we would have found some other way to deal with him," Toshi explained, all of us still upset about it.

    "It's not proper to live in a world of ifs and would haves," she remarked, smiling. "It's quite all right. He's still in my heart and theirs. It seems Tamashii and Mélisande have already forgiven you."

    "Mélisande, I want to thank you for preventing my doing something stupid," I told the little girl, kneeling down to her eye level. She giggled and hugged me, tears in her eyes.

    "Nova, you've brought up your children to be wonderful kids," Toshi thanked, smiling as he looked upon the warm moment.


    *** aijin - "sweetheart," an endearing Japanese love name

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



    Chapter Forty-Five

    I sighed in tranquility, sitting on the roof alone, the only sound the chilled spring winds that brushed by my face ever so gently and the bustle of the streets below in the distance.

    I was at peace with the world again.

    "Maybe what Mélisande did to me cured me," I pondered to myself. I thought back to the torture that had occurred over the past twelve months and shuddered. "I sure hope so."

    I heard the church downtown chime noon and I soon realised that my vision had just then gone further than just my pair of eyes could see. I blinked to feel a third eye on my forehead.

    "Why do I always seem to jinx myself...?" I uttered, feeling the sun bore itself into me. I cried out as if struck down from behind, falling to my knees to the roof in agony, accepting the evolution.

    My fur felt lighter, less dense, as it thinned and grew to be slightly longer and a wondrous pale lavender. My long bushy tail shed most of its fur, and I almost retched when that section of my spine split in two, the fresh tails swishing angrily behind me.

    My ears reshaped a bit, showing themselves that Espeon were far more regal than an Eevee, my claws following this suit as well, becoming more shapely and not quite so animalistic as they had previously been. All throughout the experience I felt as though the sun were roasting me alive. I tried several times to cry out in anguish, finding my throat to close up on itself at the mere attempt.

    As a finishing touch to the evolution, I instinctively set my third eye upon the sun above and I felt absolute energy fill me. This rushed straight to my head and I couldn't see anything but a bright light.

    I was able to shake the daze after a few minutes, and propped myself up on my hands. I looked down to the church to find it about half-past noon.

    "Geez, I had to have passed out...."

    I sighed, teleporting back to the apartment.

    Meilin yelped when I flopped back in the chair beside her. She growled at me, then saw my new façade and yelped again. "Y—did you finally...?"

    I nodded hyperactively, grinning my fang-filled grin.

    "It was a pain, literally," I complained. "But it's better now. I feel all warm and fuzzy now."

    "That could be because you're sitting in the sun?" she muttered, almost laughing at me.

    My ears flattened against my head, I growled let out a low, throaty growl. "Dun laugh at me, Kit. You dun like people makin' fun of you, dun make fun of me."

    "I—okay...." She was so docile all of a sudden, and I wondered why until I realised that I'd shattered the balcony window and door in my annoyance. "This is going to be harder than I thought...."

    ~*~*~

    The Espeon strands truly created in me intolerance, and as a result I ended up breaking a lot of glass, including the mirror in Mélisande's room. I had been upstairs when it shattered.

    Over time I became more able to handle the annoyance that the strands posed. It was a difficult struggle, but it was nothing I couldn't handle.

    ~*~*~

    It grew to be winter again, and contrary to our inhuman sides, we began to go outside more and more. The chill of Japanese winter is quite invigorating, especially if you're an Espeon and it's daylight out.

    Meilin and I had decided to go on a stroll together, since I had still been struggling at that time.

    "Look, Tak, it's snowing," Meilin smiled to me, taking my arm as we walked downtown. Tiny crystals of ice fluttered down from the heavens above, tickling the end of my nose as I gazed skywards in awe.

    I stood there as if struck dumb by the beauty of the falling ice for several minutes before I realised that Meilin was smiling at my reaction.

    "You've never seen snow before, have you, Tak?" she inquired as we continued on.

    I chuckled a little, shaking my head. "It's so beautiful," I uttered, holding my gloved hand out to catch a snowflake. I smiled as well.

    I noticed her shiver a little, but she said nothing, and we went to get something to eat at the corner deli.

    We sat down at a table outside to eat, only to find the temperature had dropped by about five or six degrees, amking it about forty degrees. Nevertheless, she insisted that we sit outside.

    "Are you sure you dun want to eat inside, Kit?" I began, a little worried. "You're cold."

    "I—I'm fine, Tak." She avoided eye contact with me at this point.

    "What's the matter? Did I do something?"

    "I like it cold," she muttered, angrily taking a bite out of her sandwich. "Is there something wrong with that?" she snapped, looking at me in the face.

    "I—no," I stammered, shocked and hurt. She ignored the horrified look on my face and continued eating, grumbling unintelligibly to herself telepathically.

    I ate slowly, trying to understand it. My gaze soon began to grow wide, set upon her, as I saw her skin show signs of returning to her true form.

    "Are you okay?" I uttered, brow furrowed uneasily when she stopped eating.

    "So... cold...." At this she looked up to me, but said nothing, and did nothing. After a minute I stood to attention, afraid and worried.

    "Kit, speak to me!" I shook her by the shoulder to find her ice cold and frozen solid. I stared at her in utter disbelief. "KIT!" I freaked when my frustration and fears decided to manifest themselves in my Espeon strand and Kit shattered before my very eyes. All I could do was stare at the pile of crimson and navy ice, unable to speak, unable to move, unable to do anything.

    I at last fell to my knees in anguish, holding my head in mental agony. I cried out, the restaurant windows shattering behind me.

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



    Chapter Forty-Six

    ::Kit::

    I still felt my mentality in tact, but my mind was in a haze. And I was too out of it to do anything. I just hope that Keiji does something. If the snow turns to rain—No. I don't want to think like that. .... But it's so cold....

    Keiji, I saw, had shed his human form in his mental anguish, and he continued to wail for loss of words. The very sight of his pain wrought me into a driven consciousness. I concentrated hard upon my strands, and the spiritual fire bequeathed to me of the kitsune at once burst into flame, combusting the ice in which my form was trapped. Once I was in a liquid form, I slowly and carefully reformed myself, an Espeon-type, kneeling on the cold cement.

    The Espeon stared at me in complete and utter disbelief. "Having a Ninetales strand in your possession can be a good thing, even when you're not pyroing something." I winked at him and smiled, and he rushed up to me, hugging me tight.

    "I'm—so sorry," he whispered over my shoulder, half-crying.

    I hugged back. "Tak, it's all right. It's not like you meant to do it. Besides," I pulled him back from me to look him in the face, "do I look angry? Do I look like you've seriously injured me?"

    He sniffled a little, but came to shake his head no after a moment, then quickly went back to hugging me. I smiled again, running my fingers through his dark blond hair and holding his head to me. A tear fell from my cheek at my thoughts.

    ~*~*~

    'Meilin, come and catch me!' a dark-haired three-year-old exclaimed over the mound of snow behind which she poked her head out from. She giggled, darting back into her home-made igloo.

    I smiled, stopping my work on the snow-Squirtle I had been moulding from the icy medium, and crept up slowly on my little sister from behind. She giggled as we fell to the snow, being tickled by her ten-year old sister.

    The two of us rolled in the snow, laughing, for what seemed hours.


    ~*~*~

    I wonder how Jackie's doing. ..... Does she miss me? Or has she even forgotten me? I sighed. Will I ever get to see her again?

    "Kit... please," Tak uttered, voice breaking a little. I snapped out of it and let go of him to find my fingers wet, tinted crimson.

    He'd long since realised how much of a daze I was in, and probably wanted to pull away from me but didn't, afraid of causing me to burst into tears.

    "I—Tak, I'm so sorry," I uttered, in disbelief and shame. "I had no idea that I'd been so dazed."

    He said nothing, but helped me stand instead.

    This brought to my attention the crowd around us; they all drew back a step when they saw me get up from my assumed demise.

    "Miru!" they whispered to each other. "Kanojo wa shinde iru dewa arimasen!"—[i]Look! She's not dead![/k]

    "Ningen dewa arimasen," another observed.—She's not human.

    'What a keen observation,' I muttered under my breath.

    'C'mon, Kit. Let's go,' Tak led. 'I'll leave some money to help pay for the windows.'

    ~*~*~

    We walked down the streets again, having frozen away and regained our aliases.

    "You miss her, don't you?" Tak uttered almost silently to me.

    "You have no idea," I replied dejectedly, harrying my pace down the now darker streets.

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



    Chapter Forty-Seven

    ::Sesh::

    "All right," I sighed, content. "Nat's out shopping and Tane's with Tamashii and Mélisande. I've the apartment to myself. Now to get to work." Before I unscrewed the back of my Pokédex to look at the innards of the intriguing device, I took out the battery cells, only to find them crackle in my hands. I made a face, tossing them on the floor, annoyed, and my gaze was soon set upon the silicon mouldings of the handheld database. I ran my fingers along the fine circuitwork, then took out the id-chip to make sure I didn't accidentally fry four years worth of research.

    It's a little amusing how they named the various parts and accessories of Pokémon-related devices. The id-chip, for example, is the drive which possesses the intelligence of the entire processor. They named it in relation to the id and ego, which is worth a laugh, seeing as the ego-chip is the visual-driver that allows for holographic imaging. The id-chip is the brains, the ego-chip shows it off. ^_^ Perceptive people see the boredom involved in the nomenclature of electronics.

    I smirked, beginning a light spark coursing from my fingers to the motherboard, mending a few frazzled circuits from overuse. ~_~ Over the past few weeks I'd been staying up quite late researching what the Japanese thought of Pokémon. Kit was quite fed up with my use of her cable, but it was mostly because she was possessive of her laptop. But it was worth it.

    The Japanese were quite the intuitive peoples; though there were no Pokémon in this world, their recreation of the creatures was awe-striking. Their animations of them, called 'anime,' were crude but quite accurate; however, their voices are nothing like those in the animations. I found that many websites had things called 'manga,' which seemed to be comic books. A certain type of manga, a doujinshi, was illustrated and written by fans. Most revolved around Satoshi, Kasumi, and Takeshi, aka Ash, Misty and Brock. Misty and Brock were Gym Leaders that came to follow Ash on his quest to be the world's greatest Pokémon Master. Gag me.

    What particularly frightens me about the Pokémon cartoon is the fact that they get certain details about it ever so precise. For instance, Misty really *does* have a horrible fear of bugs, and Brock aspires to be a Breeder like myself. They even have a Giovanni, in a way. He's even head of Team Rocket. Single problem: Yamis don't exist. Closest to urban myths they get is the Maiden of the Peak. Gag me. An English-speaking Gastly? That can change form like a Ditto? Right. And I'm a pet rock.

    I'm quite hurt, actually. There isn't anything in Ecruteak about fifteen kids being kidnapped, nor twelve inhuman teens making appearances when the Yamis are hunting them. Nope. Only some dumb kid who relies on luck and faith to battle, who gives away his favourite and most powerful Pokémon because they'd be better off somewhere else. This Ash kid is a moron, plain and simple. If he were a good trainer, he wouldn't have to leave his Charizard in the Charicific Valley, his Squirtle with a firefighting team, or his Primeape with a boxer. What's the point of watching Pokémon on television? There is none, aside from the adolescent morality trip. Big whoop.

    ~*~*~

    Kit burst in the front door, and I fumbled with my Pokédex, the break of silence startling me. Tak trailed in soon after, clearly upset that she was upset. Kit locked herself in the bathroom, and the two of us could hear her weeping softly.

    "What's eating her?" I muttered, brow arched in worry and confusion.

    "She froze outside, and there... was an incident," he replied sheepishly, hesitant to tell me what had happened.

    "Spill it," I demanded, giving him a look that broke him in an instant.

    "Well...." He winced a little, expecting me to be actively angry. When I didn't lash out at him, he sighed. "Kit insisted that we eat lunch outside, but it was too cold, and she kind of froze.... I was upset, and, stupid me, my Espeon side shattered her." At this he shrank down in an instant to an Espeon, and teleported to the far corner.

    All I could to was stare at him in absolute incredulity. "Y—are you serious? She was millions of shards of ice... on the sidewalk...?"

    He nodded nervously, cringing away from me, backed into the baseboards. I could hear myself crackling with electricity, but didn't care. But when I heard my Pokédex fizzle and pop, I freaked, whimpering as I whirled around and whisked it up, my static ceasing when I saw the damage I'd done.

    "Dammit. I really need to get off the power surges. 'Sreally getting to me."

    'Toshi, Kit's not upset because I almost killed her,' Tak began, still cowering.

    "Then what's the matter with her?"

    'The incident made her think about Jackie,' he replied, and, seeing that I was no longer upset with him, began to slink slowly out of the corner. 'Sesh, she needs someone to talk to, and she's not too responsive to me.'

    "I'll see what I can do."

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    ::Tane::

    I smiled warmly, watching Mélisande draw. She giggled.

    Whatcha drawing? I inquired, trying to look over her shoulder.

    "My daddy's seal," she replied, smiling as she grabbed for the gold crayon.

    Now Mélisande, why're you doing that?

    "I know you guys miss your home. You've been here three years now."

    Wh—what does your father's seal have to do with our getting home?! I demanded.

    "My daddy's magick was stronger than mine is. I'm too young to have strong enough magick for the magnitude of deiriguchi incantation that I'm going to do. I need to find spell ingredients-that won't be hard-and I need to convince Tama to help."

    She shifted Umbreon-type and crept across the hall to her brother's door. "Tama?"

    He yelped and grumbled something in Japanese, and I followed, intent on finding out what the heck was going on.

    "Mélisande, what did Mom tell you about walking around like that?" he griped. "What do you want?"

    "I'm sorry that I scared you, Tama.... I just need your help."

    "With what?"

    "A deiriguchi incantation to get the Roses home."

    He looked to me, solemn glare in his eyes. "You five aren't here because you want to be, are you?"

    No. The battle we had with your father opened the Pandora Gate, which sucked us here.

    "The Pandora Gate?!" Tama choked.

    What's the matter?

    "Th—the Pandora Gate... it demolishes everything for miles...." He was pale at the concept of all the destruction. So were Mélisande and I. After a moment he shook the pain and looked to me again. "Yes. I'll help."

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



    Chapter Forty-Eight

    ::Sesh::

    I sighed, making my way up to the bathroom door. I hesitated for a moment before knocking. "Kit?"

    "G—go away," she retorted, choking on her sobbing.

    "Aw Kit, come on," I began. "I know you're upset, and I understand why."

    "Toshi, you have no clue how much this hurts!" she snapped. "You weren't torn away from Keiji."

    "You're right," I replied after a moment. "He was torn from me." I paused, the memories stinging a little. "You remember, though, don't you...? That he was the first of us? You have no clue how much it hurt *me* when he turned up missing, no idea how many different realities my mind conjured up trying to compensate for his disappearance, no idea how many nights I fell asleep crying, hoping that he'd come back." I blinked back tears, hoping that I wouldn't have to go on to get her to listen to me.

    But I did. She continued to snivel and whimper.

    "Kit, please. You have to understand that that life is in the past now. No longer are you Meilin Tacheni. You're Kit. You don't belong with them anymore. To them, you're dead, and it's best left that way."

    "I'm not like you," she uttered fiercely. "I can't just ignore who I am, nor can I suppress the fact that my family lives on without me."

    "You think it's that easy for me to forget?" I growled. "Kit," I trailed off, laughing painfully for a moment, "I still live in pain of it all. And what, it happened five years ago now? Hehe... no. There is no way to completely escape the memories."

    She sat there in complete silence, not even crying when she heard my words. After a moment, the door opened and she looked at me, pained look in eyes that glistened with tears, her face flushed. A moment passed when all we did was stare into each other's eyes, then she hugged me tight, wrenched into another wave of tears. I held her consolingly, stroking her back gently to calm her down.

    "It'll be all right Kit. We have each other... right?"

    She looked up at me again, slowly smiling. "Yes, that we do."

    Just then, Tane came in with Mélisande and the hug dissolved, the three of us confused as to why the little Umbreon girl had come downstairs with her.

    Mélisande can get us home, the Cleffa uttered, grave seriousness upon her face.

    ~*~*~

    "Wh—what?!" the three of us choked out.

    "Tamashii and I can perform a deiriguchi incantation to open a portal back to your home," Mélisande explained, smiling a little. "It will take a few hours to me to prepare."

    "Y—you're serious, Méli?" Tak began, only able to stare at her.

    She's already begun gathering materials, Tane informed.

    ~*~*~

    Over the next few hours, we assembled in our apartment, brooding over the huge change about to occur in our lives. And I knew that there was about to be an even bigger one in mine than just going home.

    I held the gold ornament in my hand, tilting it this way and that so that the sunlight glittered hundreds of colours from its many tiny jewels.

    Should I tell her now or after we get home? I wondered to myself. It's important, but it might be too much for her to be asked right now....

    My hand instinctively snapped shut at the sound of someone at the balcony door. I turned to find Kit standing there, curious and more beautiful than ever.

    She slid the door open and poked her head out.

    "Why're you sitting out here, Sesh?" she began, sitting beside me. I froze her to stick the thing in my pocket, nervous. She noticed that I'd done something as such and gave me a puzzled look. "What's the matter?"

    "I—I've just been thinking," I replied, flustering a little. "I mean, we're going back to Gaea, where we'll actually be at home. We'll get to see the others again, and Max, and Jarrell. And maybe even see our families."

    "And...?" she led, knowing distinctly that I was straying from my intentions.

    "I was, more importantly, thinking about how close we've gotten over the past four years," I continued, fumbling the golden band in my pocket. "We've come to know and care for each other. We're close enough to say that we share a certain passion between us."

    "Sesh, where are you going with this...?" she trailed, both worried and intrigued.

    I pulled a small black velvet box from my pocket slowly and carefully, offering the view of its contents to her. "I sold my Pokédex and Pokégear for this ring and mine."

    Her eyes glittered with an amazed fire at the sight of the ring. "Y—you didn't...."

    I choked up a little before continuing. "Kit, will you marry me?" I smiled a little, trying to hide my nervousness as best I could.

    At this, she could say nothing. After a few minutes which seemed like hours, she opened her mouth to speak, but didn't.

    My heart pounded with anticipation. My mouth was dry in fear of rejection, my hair on end with excitement.

    At last she offered her response.

    "Toshi... this is all so sudden.... I don't know what to say...."

    With this I believed she would decline, and my hopes drooped.

    "Yes, I will."

    She smiled and held my hand in both hers, looking into my eyes with the warmth only her gaze could possess. I smiled back, dropped the ring to the balcony and kissed her.

    ~*~*~

    The others were minding their own business, meandering about in their rooms, when we came back inside. I hugged Kit around the waist and she giggled; this brought Tak to look up from his book.

    He arched an eyebrow at us. "Why are you two so happy?" The two of us just grinned in response. His brow furrowed even more in confusion, and we giggled again.

    ~*~*~

    The time came for the five of us to return home about an hour after my proposal. Novena had agreed that Tamashii and Mélisande could keep our apartment, and apologised that she hadn't helped us get home any sooner, but it was mostly because she felt bad about our practically being stuck here.

    The seven of us stood on the apartment roof, having gathered our belongings together.

    Mélisande sighed in concentration, pulling various ingredients from a satchel in which she'd gathered them in the past four hours. One by one she added them to a glass vial, the mix soon looking like a frothy glass of mud. But once the little wiccan and her brother began the matching incantation, it brimmed with life, whirling in a dervish of blue and green light.

    "Reiha nai abun deshai,
    Inhou furen kekkuwai,
    Ukuren nesho hotto
    Ikiruro bittou sho.
    Reiha asho jibun rai,
    Inhou hishen gaffunai,
    Ukuren iku shi wo
    Erimunai nemusho.
    "

    They repeated this spell for several minutes before the energy emitted from the mixture spilled over as if a mist, encircling us. Kit, Tak and Nat held onto me, quite afraid, and I held them in fear as well. Tane seemed unafraid by this despite our reactions to it.

    The mist soon became so dense in the chanting of the two that we could soon no longer hear nor see them; in this way the five of us blacked out.

    ~*~*~

    We awoke in New Bark Town, in the middle of the destruction of the Pandora Gate. It was to our dismay to see that the town hadn't attempted to rebuild itself after the three years that had passed.

    "That's funny," I uttered to myself. "I would have thought that the people around here would have made the town again. It's such an important place...."

    "Maybe the destruction of an entire ten-mile-wide town sorta made them hesitate," Nat muttered. Kit smacked her and giggled. "Well, it very well could have...."

    "I doubt that there's anyone around here anymore," Tak contemplated. "Let's go to Sunny or Pewter to see if anyone's still around."

    "You're in too much of a hurry, lil' guy," I began. "I think we need to at least figure out what's going on around here. Let's go to Cherrygrove instead."

    The others agreed with me and Tak broke in, agreeing hesitantly as well.

    ~*~*~

    The five of us meandered into town to find it similar to how we'd left it.

    "Even more bizarre," I continued to myself.

    Tak froze in front of a newsstand. "Guys...? You might want to take a look at this...." We all crowded around a single newspaper. The Pandora Gate incident was still in the news. "That's not what I'm talking about. Look at the date!"

    I read it aloud, pale. "August 14, 2001. Three days after the Gate."
    Last edited by Kurai; 24th August 2003 at 09:31 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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    *stops to take a breath*

    Whew. Finished reading the whole three books. This is pretty good, and getting better. Somewhoat of a usual base idea (hybrids, etc), but definitely an original treatment with the yami and tenchi. The gene-splicing necklace are also a nice original touch, good job on that.

    Things also seems to be getting darker. All in all, I like 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
    Like the Memory of a Kiss Kurai's Avatar
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    I believe that I was the first Pokémorph author, though I'm partly unsure. Karate seems to believe it wholeheartedly.

    Some history: RoseIII's "evil" characters were partly derived from Sailor Moon. Originally they were a race all in their own, but they morphed as I rewrote, as did the necklace concept.

    As for the "rose" symbol, they were originally enchanted, live roses. ^^; When I decided that keeping a rose in one's pocket at all times was dorky, they became necklaces that unlocked hidden powers. Then it became a true gothic theme, mutating into genetics.

    Also, the Ecruteak Fifteen were originally kidnapped as infants, and thus had no recollection of a human home to go home to. ^^;

    The saga is in its third rewrite, some parts of it in their fourth.

    And in response to "this seems to be getting darker," you have no clue how dark Ecruteak gets.

    Oh, and you're not alone. Most people who read RoseIII do so all at once. ^____________^ Teehee. You have yet to read the next thirty-one chapters of Ecruteak! And it's not even finished yet!

    Perhaps you'll enjoy the Tenshi themes when I get around to rewriting RoseIII's sister saga...? LOL

    -=: [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

  4. #4
    Man With No Name Karate's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Kurai
    I believe that I was the first Pokémorph author, though I'm partly unsure. Karate seems to believe it wholeheartedly.
    Actually, I now doubt that you were the first Pokemorph-author, though I do believe you were the first insanely popular one. ;)

    I read all of this already, and dang, it's good. XD I might read it again for good measure... but not tonight. :P RoseIII owns me.

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