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Old January 16th, 2007, 02:55 PM
Saffire Persian's Avatar
Saffire Persian
Feline of Light and Shadow
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Utah
Age: 26
Gender: Female
Nature: Adamant
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Thanks for your review. Yeah, there is more, just got distracted with other projects to put up this installment.

Ah, on a random note, the link to Loyalty has been fixed.

Part II: Morana

Babysitting never has been (and never will be) your greatest strongpoint. You've never been the kind of Growlithe just likes to sit there and do nothing. You're no guard dog, and frankly, you find your current assignment to be rather insulting. It hurts your pride to think you, a great and talented fighter, has been degraded to watching a cat chase his tail around the expansive, decorated halls.

It is especially humiliating in front of your Growlithe teammates. Just hearing them snicker as they trot passed makes your blood boil. And if you hear “cute” one more time…

Ugh. If you weren't so well behaved, you'd show them what for, but for now, you have a cat to watch.

Your main mission is to keep him from doing anything stupid – which is a chore and a half in itself.

Chance seems to have taken a fancy to spontaneously darting in between all the party guest’s legs, nearly tripping a great number of them, and the Humans themselves aren’t making your job any easier. There are way, way too many sparkling things in the room for Chance to try and pounce on. This includes (but is not limited to) people's jewelry, and heaven help it if a single golden coin is sticking out of a patron’s left pocket. You’ve been waiting to see him get a good, hard kick in the butt from one of the high-heeled woman because of his risky antics – the kind of women whose shoes could put a hole through somebody’s chest. But nooo, they think the little Chance is cute .

Oh, pet the cat as he greedily paws at your anklet. Feed him when he jumps on your lap, begging for food.

Why not just slap him and tell him he is a dirty little thief? Seriously, if it were a Linoone pick pocketing, they would have booted it to kingdom come.

You eye Chance as he plays with another rich lady’s bracelet – one of the Police Headquarters’ secretary’s. This one doesn’t do anything to punish him either, petting his head as she lets him play with her jewel-studded bracelet.

Just wait until Chance steals your whole set of diamonds, lady, then we’ll see who’s “cute”, you think with a snort.

You peer around the room with a bored look on your face.

You have to admit, this New Year's Eve party has certainly had a lot of work put into it. Every empty wall has been decorated to their full capacity, festooned head-to-toe with bright streamers and rainbow colored confetti. The dining room that you’re in is especially extravagant. Tables with food and drink are everywhere, and there's even a little fountain spitting out some kind of green liquid with a lemon smell. Punch, probably. It's disappearing like mad. There's even food catered especially to Pokémon on a few of the lower-set tables. You've never been one for huge parties such as this, full of chattering humans and Pokémon, but still, it's too bad you're too busy watching Chance to glean even an ounce of enjoyment out of it.

“To marriage!” a loud, boisterous voice roars, catching your attention. The lion-voice is followed by several others, each sounding in equally good humor. Some are even hiccupping. You look up to see a few wide-rimmed glasses being raised, full of a dark red substance.

“To Singles!

“To Death!”

“To Glory!”

“To Paychecks!”

“To Santa Clause!” A rather rotund fellow yells out, wobbling about like a Teeter Dancing Spinda. “Beat that!”

The crowd around the gold table pauses. Some appear to be deep in thought, others just look confused.

A man hiccups. “San’a doesn' even exist, you moron!” His acne-covered face suddenly blanks. “Umm... where was I? Eh? To Women!”

“To Explosions!”

A dreary, forlorn voice: “To the children I'll never have…”

You cough once you recognize the pale figure that just spoke, the one who’s barely keeping his own glass aloft. It's the Rat. He’s still muttering something in a low, slurred tone, his head laying on his arms in a depressed fashion. It’s surprise his white shirt and black tie aren’t stained yet.

“Did I hear you say something, Alex?”

Riley appears out of nowhere, touching the Rat lightly on the shoulder, smirking. That is, before the Rat nearly trips over himself in attempts to turn around. It takes only seconds for her to deliver a venomous hawk-eyed glare over at the other men crowded around the table as she tries to steady her husband. “What have you done to my husband?”

“Just gave `im somthin' to drink, ya?” says one of them, snickering.

“Yeah, we told `im it was punch, didn't we, `arry?””

“Yup. And `e fell for it. You obveeously hav't teached him much, eh, Riley?” a particularly ugly looking guy responds. You recognize him: he’s the janitor for the police force headquarter’s. Larry, that’s it.

The look he's giving Riley is making you want to tear his arms off -- that, or bite him where it hurts. She can take care of herself; she’s already fixing Larry with a `try me' sort of look. He shrugs, going back to his drink with a gravelly laugh. He probably doesn't know she carries a gun with her at all times.

(You’d very much like to see him find out.)

“Hey, where's your little cat?”

You spin around, startled. It's only Ember, one of the youngest (and most annoying) recruits. “What do you want?”

“I wanted to know where your little kitty-kat went. I heard you were supposed to be babysitting a Meowth, so I came to see.”

You growl, eyes darting frantically around for any sign of Chance. “None of your business.”

“You lost him, didn't cha?” the Growlithe snickers, body shaking in mirth. “You lost him! You lost him!”

(And when you find him you're going to kill him.)

“You did! I can see it on your face!” Ember continues to taunt. “How are you supposed to watch a prisoner if you can't watch a mangy ca -“

Ember doesn't have time to finish his sentence, as you bound forward, emitting a loud, angry Roar that sends the Growlithe fleeing fast in the other direction. You ignore the accusing stares that drift in your direction, black nose sniffing the ground. You easily pick up Chance's scent - it's unmistakable and strong.

You follow the trail angrily, feet going from carpet to tile as you circle around the house, weaving through the crowd through and open doorway into a tiny room. The lights are completely off, and it takes a few seconds for your eyes to begin to adjust - but not before your nose runs into wood.

You look up, blinking a few times. Your vision slowly clears. It's a door, just slightly ajar and wooden. It probably leads to a basement cellar. A strong odor that’s not quite cat is drifting from it -- in fact, it’s a mixture of strange scents, though they've coalesced with one another so much it's hard to distinguish.

The only one sure thing is that Chance definitely went down there. …And so must you.

******

The cellar’s completely dark, and it takes a while for your eyes to fully adjust to the sudden change in lighting. The floor's made of hard, cold cement and the mixture of strong smells in the air is making you sneeze. Cabinets full of glass bottles line the walls and middle of the room.

Crack!

The sound of breaking glass makes you jump, spinning about to the right where the noise originated. Slowly you creep forward. Rounding one of the wooden shelves, you spot a familiar white figure jump down from one of them, mumbling something indistinguishable. You see his pink tongue flick out, paws clutched protectively around a broken, sky colored glass bottle as he laps up the substance inside.

In - out - in - out.

It's then you make your presence known.

“And what do you think you're doing?”

Chance looks up, his eyes glowing eerily in the dark. He has the most idiotic grin you've ever seen plastered on his face. You bet it would even rival a Sunflora’s in terms of sheer stupidity. “Cal!” he yells, smiling a secret smile as he looks sneakily around the room. His voice fades to a low whisper. “I'm drinking.”

“Give me that,” you growl, wresting the bottle out of Chance's possessive grip with your teeth. It has a picture of an Altaria on it, flying high amongst rainbow colored clouds. There’s human writing on it, but you can’t exactly read that.

“You SHOULD try it!” Chance's voice says, fluctuating in loudness and tone at an alarming rate. He stands up, walking as if his legs have been completely jellified. The Meowth manages to spring up onto the top of the shelves, walking along it with less than his usual feline grace. “You can `ave that! I've had THAT kind before!”

You slowly set the bottle down, sniffing it carefully. The berry-like smell is almost overwhelming to your olfactory sensors. It has another smell to it though - a hot, pungent odor that makes your nose itch. You're sure you've smelled it before but you can't put your paw on it.

Another glass bottle shatters on the floor, and you can't restrain a nervous bark. Chance chirps with glee, already on the floor and lapping up the liquid quickly seeping from the broken container.

Curiosity finally overthrows your caution and suspicion. You begin to lap up what's in your own bottle. You recoil at first at the strange, strong taste. It's not altogether unpleasant though. There's a definite berry flavor to it, with a touch of cool mint to offset the hot smell, but as you continue on nothing can stop you from draining the rest of the bottle's contents or pulling down another one from the shelves and consuming it with rapidly increasing greed.

******

You are completely, absolutely drunk.

…Not that you would know anything about that.

Your mind has long since been locked into a prison of your own making, rattling on the steel bars in utter bewilderment. Many of your thoughts have been replaced with hazy confusion and all common sense has been thrown to the wind, perhaps never to return. After drinking down as many bottles of that sweet-bitter-mint-stuff as you did, it wouldn't be a surprise.

Of course, you wouldn't know anything about that either, would you?

No… you're still wondering how you managed to get outside. You don't remember ever leaving. A moment you were in that basement, the next…well, you were here. Lost, completely lost.

The cold night air is chilled, and everywhere you go, silence reigns. Snow is softly falling from the star-struck heavens above, landing on the pavement with cat-like silence and prestige. Around you, the buildings are dark and dreary, all lights turned off with only a few flickering lamplights providing any sort of luminance.

That brings to mind your second ever-fleeting question: Why the heck do the lights insist on swimming about like a school of bloodthirsty Sharpedo? It doesn't make sense; it's defying all sense of logic. Not to mention it's making you feel sick.

….It is pretty though.

All the pretty lights swimming round-round-round-round-round…

Even those thoughts are making you feel a bit sick. Pushing aside all those needless, sickly feelings though, your emotions are that of sheer, deluded happiness. You feel, despite all the confusion, like you're about to burst. You have never felt this… this… giddy in your entire life. It's a wonderful feeling!

You want to leap!

You want to bound!

You want to sing!

You want to jump and howl at the moon above like some kind of untrained savage!

(…Now, where did that thought come from? Hmm…)

Not a bad idea though.

Yes, you think you just might do that.

Even though your legs are almost refusing to cooperate with you, nearly tripping over your own paws at every step, you prepare yourself to leap. Your muscles tighten like an arrow waiting to fly, hackles rise in anticipation…

…then you become aware of a strange, warm weight on your back. You shake yourself, priorities changing in a flash. You now want nothing more than get this strange mass off you. Pain, small and sharp, digs into your fur at the shake. You grimace, eyes rolling as you try to stop yourself from falling over.

You manage to steady yourself, and you peer over your shoulder. You see three white cats clinging to your back, their claws digging painfully into your fur, sleeping. Your eyes focus and unfocus, and the forms waver. Wait - there's only one.

Chance, something tells you.

Are you supposed to know him?

Yes, the voice says, insistently. It then adds, in a nasty, biting tone you do not like at all: idiot.

Okay, so you know him.

Now why is he on your back? You're not some beast of burden.

You shrug, shaking your head madly. You shouldn't try to think, you'll probably end up hurting yourself. Just keep walking. You're bound to end up somewhere useful. You have a distinct feeling that you do indeed know where you are - but it's only a feeling, nothing more.

“Eighty-seven Rattata in the grass, eighty-seven Rattata! Take one out, smack it around, eighty-six Rattata in the grass—”

Your eyes tighten, ears twitching at the sound of the rough voice. You look behind you, hoping to catch some glimpse of whoever's singing. It was coming from behind you. You are sure of that.

Suddenly, you collide into something cold and solid in front of you. Grunting, you recoil. Your eyes are spinning about like bowling pins as you try to regain equilibrium. Slowly, your eyes follow a path upwards. The body is a dark one, covered in some kind of short fur with long claws, scythe-like and lethal.

“Watch where you're goin', you freakin' moron.”

A growl, unbidden, rises in your throat. Automatically, you feel your whole body tense up. Fur rises at its ends. Something inside tells you that very few beings have gotten away with calling you that; you're just feeling too dizzy to do much of anything about it.

“If you're thinking about growling at me, do me a freakin' favor and shut it. You ran into me, not the other way around. ”

Your eyes finally come to the creature’s head. It's cat-like in appearance, with a definite, foreign look. A pair of pitch-dark sunglasses covers its eyes…

Wait…

Your heartbeat quickens to a frantic chatter. You know this Pokémon. You've seen this Sneasel before.

Morana.

You try to say it, but you find your mouth can't form the words. A rumble comes out, but nothing even close to being understandable.

“Maybe if you let go of that freakin' bottle, you just might be able to speak halfway decent,” the Sneasel says, snorting in a half-annoyed, half-amused fashion, before adding nastily: “Just a suggestion.”

You are suddenly painfully aware that there's an object in between your jaws. Something hard and slick. You try to look at it, but black stars swim in your eyes at the attempt and you give up, heeding the Sneasel's advice, and relinquishing the glass bottle to the ground. You let it roll across the sidewalk. The Sneasel is looking at you expectantly.

“Morana,” is all you can say. Your jaws are incredibly stiff. On your back, the warm presence starts to stir.

Morana's eyebrows furrow in confusion. “Am I supposed to know you or somethin'?” she says slowly. She pauses, staying silent for a few seconds before she snaps her paws, startling you with a sudden movement. “Wait! You're a police lapdog, aren't you? What's your name?”

You open your mouth to speak, only to find you can't answer. You don't remember.

“'s Cal!” the voice from your back answers for you, his voice pattern sounding like a badly turned piano. Chance is standing up on your back, wobbling a bit before tumbling off, the sidewalk breaking his fall. The Sneasel only gives the Meowth a passing, jaded glance.

That name seems to spark something in your memory, and you reply, growling adamantly: “I'm not Cal.” You remain blissfully unaware how strange and slurred your voice sounds. However, Morana picks it up, eying you with a sudden suspicion. Her eyes, hidden by the black shades, dart over to where the bottle is, before picking it up with her paws.

“Altaria Wine –” she reads, “the secret, splendid mixture of spirits popular ever since 1548. Drink freely. Unchain your majestic spirit and allow yourself to find release and soar to Cloud Nine and beyond…” She stops, looking incredibly disgusted. Her sideways glance meets yours. “You and your little cat are freakin' drunk aren't ya?”

You don't answer, not quite knowing how to respond. Meanwhile, Chance is already up and at it, having revived from his drowsiness rather quickly. His current obsession seems to be pouncing on snowflakes from behind you, missing most of them. He's apparently bored listening to the rather one-sided conversation.

Out of nowhere, Chance suddenly performs a gallant leap that sends him headfirst into a lamppost. He slumps to the ground, stunned. Morana's eyebrows twitch. You **** your head, and decide that that white cat is really stupid. You would never do something like that.

You turn your attention back to Morana, blinking a few times as your vision becomes slightly hazy. You shake your head.

“Ha! I thought so,” is all she says, a smirk darting quickly across her ebony face. She tosses the glass wantonly over her shoulder. It lands into the ditch, rolling. “I go out patrolling for drunk humans `cause they don't want me at the party, and instead I find drunk Pokémon, what are the odds?”

You smile, the sudden anger you felt towards the Sneasel starting to fade away, replaced by that unnatural happiness again.

“Let's see… acts of stupidity… You're not that one they call Blaze, are ya?” Why do you suddenly feel insulted? You don't answer - nor do you have time to. Morana quickly picks up where she left off. “Naa, too skinny. Lesse - Ember? No? Wait! Wait, I've freakin' got it! You're Riley's partner aren't you?”

The mere mention of Riley's name makes your ears perk up. A strange sense of pride fills up your body like running water into a glass. It's almost overflowing.

“Oh - that makes a lot of freakin' sense, lemme tell ya. I can see it now; don't know why I didn't before. You're that freakin' moron of a Growlithe that almost became road kill six months ago, because ‘e forgot to look both ways before crossin' the street. You had to be saved by a stick figure of a human, too. Heh - I was hearin' about that for weeks. And now lookit you – drunk just like one of those Spinda. How I wish I could put those things out of their miseries.” She takes a breath that rattles in her throat. “Well, them and humans. Their existence makes no freakin' sense, and the greater part of their population ends up killing themselves someway or another … that is –” she smiles evilly, apparently enjoying the next train of thought. “—if something else doesn't kill'em first. That's always interesting to see, lemme tell ya. It's why I'm in the `good guy' job. Breakin' down doors n' figuring out homicides, that’s the life.”

You listen to Morana's continuous tirade. She seems content with monologuing to herself (you aren't exactly paying full attention). The Sneasel herself has broken into a fit of mad cackles over something you don't get.

“I've got to give it to you though,” once again, she has your attention, “for being drunk, you haven't done anythin' stupid yet. By now, a human would've done somethin', like run away or try to attack me with a knife –” she looks at her long claws, snickering at some fond memory “--or… doing something along the lines of what your kitty friend is doing.”

You spin around, and to your growing horror (and amazement) you realize Chance is attempting to scale the nearest lamppost, his claws finding whatever purchase he can. He's doing pretty well, his posture rigid and determined.

“He’s doin’ it just like humans do. You should watch `em try sometime, it's the most hilarious thing to watch. They scurry up the poles like roaches. Most of them fall flat on their backs in the first five seconds. Though - and here's the thing - some of them actually have a bit of monkey still left in `em. They climb right up those polls without any trouble at all - dunno how, but they do.”

You blink in shock at Morana's statement. A sudden, clear thought comes to you, floating amidst the junk floating around your mind. “You watch them?”

Shouldn't she be stopping them?

“Oh yeah. I don't save other humans from their own stupidity, Watchdog. If they want to be a monkey, then I let them. `S not my business. It's when they go unconscious from falling or jumping that's my business.”

You stare down at the ground. Thinking - thinking about nothing. Somehow, you being here is feeling decidedly strange, and now that you're not moving, you're starting to feel sleepy -

“'ey, Watchdog,” again, the Sneasel's screechy voice brings you back to some semblance of reality, “your Meowth friend wouldn't happen to be one of those freakin' jumping types, now, would he?”

Your head snaps upwards as you collapse onto your haunches. Chance seems to have made it to the top, already walking over to where the dim light fixture extends over the sidewalk. He's assuming an eerily familiar stance, body to the ground, posterior swaying…

“Well, looks like he's goin' to jump. Most humans don't usually make it that far, though some do. This should be interesting.”

Interesting?

“Y'see, most humans get cold feet after climbin' all the way up there, but a few - you know, the kind of people who are really stupid, have a lot of guts, have a death wish, got extremely drunk, or’ve just got cheated on by their girlfriends – those are the ones that to go out with a bang!” She accentuates her meaning with a swift punch - though she stops in mid-action, tilting her head. “Well, it's technically more a loud thud, but still…”

“GO! SEE! I'm flying!” comes the joyous cry, tearing through the night air with a fiery, exuberant passion.

Morana whistles, looking impressed. “Haven't had anybody who was so delusional they thought they could freakin' fly though. But they basically do the same things he just did...” Her head follows Chance's quick descent as he drops like a wounded bird. He lands hard on the cement, feet first, crumbling to the floor.

Out of instinct, you run over to his side (teetering all along the way). As far as you're drunken mind is concerned, that was one of the most amazing spectacles you've ever seen! Something in the corner of your mind is telling you that you should've at least told him he couldn't fly.

You're at his side now. Chance's eyes are closed, though you can see the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathes. He looks extremely content for a Pokémon who's just had a less than pleasant fall. Morana's keen eyes dart up and down the Meowth's body, no doubt looking for signs of broken bones or abrasions. “Unlike humans,” she continues, “we Pokémon are a lot stronger than they are, so your friend pretty much got away with nothin' but a few bad bruises that he'll definitely feel in the mornin'. Humans though, they're not so lucky. Most of `em never get up again. We usually have to peel them off the cement with a spatula.” She smiles that disturbing smile again. “Tragedy, ain't it, watchdog? We-hell, time to get movin', I suppose.”

You nod. (What are you nodding at?)

Morana carefully lifts Chance off the ground, throwing him over her shoulder with obvious ease. She begins to walk away, and with less than perfect elegance, you follow her. Across the street you walk, coming to the other side. You can guess that Morana's keeping tabs behind those darkened glasses. She makes her way around a brick building. You do too, head down, watching your paws.

Suddenly, you hit something metal with the center of your head. Your vision swims, blotched with black circles. You're only vaguely aware of a dull throb is beginning to rise from the center of your head before everything goes black.
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Battle ye not with a monster, lest ye become one.

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