Thread: [Pokémon] White Heart Black Bones [PG-14]
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Old March 31st, 2012, 04:43 PM
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OpenDoorLeia
The Will of One
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Gender: Female
Nature: Lonely
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A cluster of leaves danced through the air, falling and rising in the cool current; they spun and circled together over the many fragments of wood and glass that blanketed the ground. In the distance, skeletal trees bordered the town. Their naked branches clattered together in the breeze, which added even more dead leaves to the current. From a distance, and mixed with the faraway drone of the ocean, the rattling of those branches sounded like laughter. The wind sank its chill into my skin and I shuddered as N and I stood in the shadow of my ruined home.


The beaten structure leered at us with eyes of shattered glass, looming forward as if it delighted in crushing us and making us just as scarred as it was. The front door swung limply on its hinges, creaking back and forth as if beckoning us to enter. I followed its calls with stilted, robotic movements and came to a stop right before the misshapen building. I lay a gentle hand upon its body of broken boards, but there was no sensation… no aura or feeling. It was lifeless… and empty. My eyes rose slowly, taking in the sight of the dilapidated building that crouched before me.


The house in which I had been born in, the house which I had grown up in, the house which had once harbored a family… had now become dead.
The wind chose its moment to die, and in the silence I realized… nobody was here.


Team Plasma had been here long ago it seemed, and had torn this place to shambles, leaving only memories to fester.


It took a while for me to speak, but eventually I found my voice, "They're gone." I turned to N who remained stationary on the very divide between shadow and gray sunlight. There was no despair or remorse in his eyes. He was aloof from the sadness I felt, but his air of detachment was justified. N didn't hold emotional ties to this place. This wasn't his home so he had no reason to be sad.


He broke the gaze we shared, "I figured this might have happened…" and deep down I was probably expecting it too. But coming face to face with this frozen destruction was too much to handle. Team Plasma had ravaged this place and my mother, Bianca, Cheren and the Professor were all gone… and could very well be dead.


Wait! I thought in foolish desperation, maybe they're hiding somewhere! They must be!

I hurried towards the open doorway of my home, speeding into its confines and calling my mother's name, hoping that someone would answer. I was in denial and I knew it, but I still held tight to my stupid false hope. It was the only thing keeping me from losing my mind.


I was eaten up by darkness as I breached the doorway and my hand flung to the wall on impulse. I found the light switch but the room would not illuminate no matter how hard I flicked it. The power was down, or had been for a long time. I squinted hard against the darkness, begging internally for my eyes to adjust, and eventually they did. The shattered windows also leant their assistance by shining in a few rays from the overcast sky. It made trying to move around in this ruinous room a little easier.


The ground floor was frightening in the darkness. Tables and chairs had been overturned and strewn asunder. Drooping wallpaper had been fragmented by jagged gashes and dulled by element exposure. Family pictures and keepsakes had either been smashed or stolen.


I drifted in, rushed but stunned by what I'd seen. It was like entering another world. I suddenly gagged as the musty scent of decomposed food met me. I tried to pinch my nose shut, but the damage had already been done it seemed. The source of the vile stench, I soon realized, was the overturned refrigerator which rested silently with guts spilled all across the floor. But amongst all this destruction, I could not find life.


"Mom?" I ran up the steps as it appeared that the first floor was vacant, and burst into my own room which was in a much worse condition than what I'd seen downstairs. My bed was overturned and split in two, with shredded sheets dangling in the breeze. The same claw marks I'd seen downstairs ripped gorges into the floor and tore my wallpaper to bits. My bookcase was spilt; my old laptop appeared to be missing, and my dresser was smashed in the middle, like a large fist had been thrown into the wood. But there was no one here.


The reality began to seep in, and even though I knew it would be uneventful, I checked my mother's room as well. I just needed to be sure. But her room was destroyed and empty, just like the rest of Nuvema.
I turned away from her room in defeat, hung my head and headed back down to the first floor. N was waiting for me at the front door, regarding the internal wreckage with a steely disposition. He was both emotionless and unreadable as the breeze stirred his hair, as if it was trying to guide him in.


He spotted me on the stairwell, "They're not here, Touko."


I couldn't deny that he was right. Even seeing both Cheren and Bianca's equally ruined homes through the broken windows of my own, I knew that their houses were the same as mine—empty. No one was living here in secrecy; no one was hiding out in wait of my arrival; Team Plasma made sure that no one was left after they had come. We were alone in this town.


The desperation left me only to be replaced by unfathomable guilt. Why hadn't I been here when my friends and family had been attacked? If I'd only acted sooner, or had not even lost to Ghetsis in the first place, then none of this would have happened! This blame… this sin, the feeling strangled my insides and my cheeks were soon wet with tears.


N, who I guess noticed my crying, drew near in hopes of offering some comfort, "Touko…? A-are you going to be okay?"


But I didn't want his pity or his company. To put it bluntly, he was the last person I wanted to see, and when he placed a shy hand on my shoulder I pushed him away.


He reacted with genuine hurt at my cold repulsion but he just managed to say, "Maybe I… can help you?" Offering comfort wasn't one of N's strong points but his actions were pure. He just didn't want to see me get eaten up by sadness all over again. But I was upset and irrational and I honestly felt sickened by his gesture… as if he could understand what I was feeling.


"Just leave me alone," I responded coldly before nudging him aside and speeding out the door. But no matter how far I ran, the unforgettable past would not release its hands from my throat.






Chapter Nine
Weight of the world (…memories from the heights)





The waters of the ocean, turned gray by the overcast sky, flowed and ebbed against the jagged rock face of the cliff on which I perched. Only a small railing separated me from the drop below, and I did feel my stomach somersault a few times out of nervousness, but what I felt… the nostalgia of this place numbed out the acrophobia. I had my legs through the bars of the railing and I swung them back and forth over the edge, with cold hands clenching even colder steel. It had been years since I'd been here and strangely enough… so little had changed. On the other hand, I was worlds apart from the small girl who used to come here to kill the days and watch the endless waves roll by.


I hadn't been born with fear, and I don't think things like fear are predetermined by birth. The things you experience during your life, whether good or bad, attribute to what you enjoy and what you're afraid of.
My hands held tighter to the frigid rail.


This place had been the origin of my acrophobia. As a child, I wasn't scared of anything. Cheren would go pale-faced at the sight of insects; Bianca was perturbed by both physical and emotional pain but I wasn't afraid of anything, not even the heights. As a child I would often come to this place at the edge of town to be alone. Whenever I got into an argument with mom or one of my friends, this had always been my go-to place: my hideout.


I enjoyed watching the waves and thinking about all the different places that they came from, and I would even walk along the tightrope-thin railing that guarded me from the fall. I can only shake my head about how reckless I was, but even as a kid I was headstrong and defiant. I couldn't grasp the consequences of what I did; it never really clicked that if I ever fell off that railing then I would die.


I fell into the ocean one day.


The waves which had been so beautiful from above devoured my tiny frame with ruthlessness and fury. I was tossed around like a stuffed animal in a washing machine, water pressed against my body from all sides. It entered my mouth and suffocated my cries; it stung my eyes and took away my sight; I was pulled down deep into the unforgiving depths. In a world of pre-death you can't really think of much. Instincts take over and people react on their primal urges, just as I did. But no matter how hard my small body fought, nature prevailed and I was swallowed by the depths. I knew I was going to die.


By some strange twist of fate, I survived. You see, Professor Juniper had been near enough to see me slip off the railing. She arrived just in time to pull me out of the water with the help of her Swanna. It dove into the depths and yanked me out of the ocean.


As I was hoisted up into the air, my acrophobia took root. As I was pulled up and up, the distance which separated me from the fall grew and became more threatening. Falling meant entering that world of death again, and I wanted to avoid it at all costs.


As I fell onto dry land, coughing and sputtering, I could hear the voices of Cheren, Bianca and my mother calling for me in worry. In mere moments they were by my side sobbing, embracing, and angry at my foolhardiness. But they were always like that. My friends and family had always been there for me and in return I had been there for them, and that didn't change much even when we went separate ways during our Pokémon journey.


I began to delve into my memories again, a smile spreading over my face as I watched the gray horizon.




XXX


The Legend badge was firmly grasped in my hands. This small piece of metal I had slain dragons for was the key to my final destination: the Pokémon League. I pondered endlessly on what was waiting for me over that horizon. I knew I would have to fight the Elite Four and finish off with the Champion, but I wondered if I would even get that far. How high could I climb until I would have to face N again? Things were different now considering he had the legendary dragon on his side. Was I strong enough to defeat him? Did I have enough power to knock him from his imperial perch and save the world he wanted to change?


It wasn't right for N to change the world, for only him to decide if humans and Pokémon should be together or not. No single person should be able to decide the fate of many. I felt that way the first time I fought him, and my convictions hadn't faltered after many battles past. The world N wanted to create may be one built on pure will, but it could only amount to despair. It's as they say, 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions'.


I loved my Pokémon and I had decided that I would go to any lengths to keep them by my side, even if that meant I had to destroy N's dreams. I made this pledge and I was resolved to see it through, but the more I thought about it the more weary I became.


What if I lost?


The world's future would be decided at the Pokémon League. If I lost to Team Plasma then all of the blood and tears that followed would be on my head. The world was perched on my shoulders and the weight of it was slowly crushing me. Having the Legend badge felt like less of a victory and more like a death sentence. Even after I had won the badge, I refused to leave Opelucid City. Every time I found myself at the gates to Route 10, a sickening feeling would overcome me; my nervousness would get the better of me and I'd turn tail.


Every morning I'd wake up at the Pokémon Center's lodgings and promise myself that I would move on. But my pledge would drift into the wind once I came face to face with the gate.


What if I lost?


As each day went by, my fears grew and the weight of the world threatened to shatter my spine. After a point… I almost considered giving up. I harbored serious thoughts of running off and letting Unova's fate be decided by others, because I had never wanted the responsibility in the first place. The Elite Four and Alder were strong… they wouldn't go down without a fight. They would protect the Pokémon League from being taken over. They would defeat N. I was trying to convince myself that it wasn't necessary for me to fight. I tried to pretend that I wasn't a hero.


During the seventh day of my inactivity at Opelucid city, something rather unexpected happened. My mother showed up. I saw her calling out to me from across the street, waving her arms frantically so she wouldn't go unnoticed. I thought I'd lost my mind.


"Touko~! Toukooo!" She continued to call, rushing across the ivy-riddled streets of the city, with heels clacking against cobblestone.


My throat was dry, "M-mom?" I only had time to speak for a moment before she threw her arms around me and I was buried in her chestnut coloured hair, "Wha… What are you doing here!"


She continued to squeeze me for a few moments before pulling away and locking her sky-blue eyes into mine. "I had to come as soon as I heard," she gushed. "I'm so proud of you!" she said, stealing me up into another hug. "You've got your final badge…"


Right. At least I knew the 'why' of her being here. I pulled away from her almost smothering hug, "I do but… how on earth did you know that?" I regarded her unbreaking smile quizzically.


"Mothers intuition!" she grinned, tapping her forehead lightly with her finger.
I blinked. "…So you came all the way here, across the region, to congratulate me in person?" I paused, letting the reality of the moment sink in.


"Well, sure why not? But that's hardly important now darling," she grabbed my hand hurriedly, flashing me an excited glance. "I've got a surprise for you. Come with me dear."


I could hardly manage a grunt of protest as my mother proceeded to drag me half way across town. But the main reason why I didn't rebel against her actions was because I felt that my mother was giving me an excuse to ignore my calling. Hanging out with my mom, who I didn't see much anyway, was a lot better than facing the dreaded future.


The destination we reached was the Pokémon Center. "Um… This is great mom but why here? My Pokémon are already healthy…"


She suddenly flashed a wolfish grin, "Ohh you'll see. Now just close your eyes darling!"


"Wait. What?" Her hands suddenly closed over my eyes and I felt her push me from behind into the building. My paranoia skyrocketed. Was this really my mother? Why was she dragging me into a darkened building like this right before I was set to battle the Elite Four? Could some Plasma Grunt have assumed the role of my mother and was now in the process of luring me to my demise? That's it! They were taking care of me before I even had a change to oppose them!


"Happy Birthday!"


The large front lobby of the center was suddenly filled with a shower of confetti as both Bianca and Cheren proceeded to empty the glittering shards of paper into the air, very enthusiastically on Bianca's part. I was utterly speechless as my friends drew near.


"You should see the look on your face right now," Cheren observed with a crooked upturn of his lips.


"But…" I pointed at them blankly. "What?"


Bianca cocked her head to the side, pursing her lip in confusion, "Touko… don't tell me you forgot. It's your birthday for goodness sake!"


My mom let out a boisterous laugh at my gaping expression, then cupped her hand around her mouth as if trying to be covert, "I think we may have thrown it on her a little bit too suddenly!"


I was still at a loss for words as my friends dragged me out of the central lobby and into a secondary room that they rented out to host the party. As I was escorted to a rounded table dominating the room, I managed to find my voice, "Cheren? Bianca? How long have you two been here?"


Cheren rolled his eyes, "For the last couple minutes, dummy."


"I meant in the city!" I shot back. "How long have you guys been in Opelucid?"


"We arrived just this morning actually!" Bianca chimed in, guiding me into a chair and seating me right in front of a large pink cake. I had to gawp at it. Each member of my Pokémon team was painted onto the cake with coloured icing.


"Bianca did the drawings…" Cheren said, pushing his glasses way up his nose, acting like he had no part of the cutesy figures on the pastry. "But I drew that one…" he added quickly under his breath, pointing towards a large dark-blue blob which I guessed was supposed to be my Carracosta.


"I drew your Ophelia!" Bianca piped happily, pointing to a detailed drawing of a little Lilligant. "Oh! And I drew this one too!" She then pointed to a grumpy blotch of red and black which resembled Hyle to a T. I couldn't hold back my laughter any longer.


"Honestly, Touko," Bianca crossed her arms over her chest as a flush came to her cheeks. "They aren't that bad!" then pouted under her breath, "I think I did a really good job."

"It's not that—haha," I tried to speak through my laughter. "It just looks so—pshhehehe!"


"Now, now children," My mother came in as mediator and had us all settled down soon enough. She then pulled out a camera and started snapping pictures left and right. She even got a shot of the cake, which was good because I almost felt guilty eating apart my friend's cake-doodles. After we'd taken our pictures and formed still-framed memories, mom dimmed the lights, pulled out a match and began to light eleven candles.


"My Touko's growing up so fast," she said snuffing out the match and catching a stray tear.


"Come on mom! You don't have to bring out the waterworks for this!" My mom always got so teary eyed on my birthdays. To me it didn't seem like something to cry over, but I really grew with every year passed. The little girl who was born eleven years ago had grown into a hero.


"I wonder what you're going to wish for?" Bianca questioned excitedly. My friends and family followed that remark with a volley of eager faces. I wondered… what should I wish for?


Should I wish for victory against Team Plasma? This party had me sidetracked from my real goal, but now of all times the realization had to flood back and my expression dropped with my hopes. Once the fun and games of this celebration was over, I would have to fight for the fate of the world. Should I wish for a way out…?


"…Touko? What's the matter?" My moistening eyes and quivering lips must have been more apparent than I thought.


"It's about Team Plasma, isn't it?" I had to flinch. Cheren was as perceptive as ever, "You don't think you'll be able to stop them. That's why you haven't left Opelucid city yet, isn't it?" Very perceptive. I was impressed that he could see through me so effortlessly; was I really so easy to read?


"I thought you said you've only been here since this morning…" I grumbled, avoiding all eye contact with my surrounding friends.


"That's not the point!" Cheren spat with unexpected force. "How long are you just planning to sit here and wait for things to change!"


"It's not easy alright!" I shot back, "You don't know what it's like to be a designated hero. The pressure is sickening… If I lose then the whole world pays for it. I'm not the only one who's gonna suffer!" Tears were starting to run from my eyes, and I had to force every word out my mouth so it wouldn't crack with sadness.


"Please don't fight you two!" Bianca cried, standing up and trying to settle us down as she brought up her hands.


"Bianca's right," my mom said in concern. "This isn't the time for a petty argument."


Cheren turned his head with a swish of raven hair, "I wouldn't call the fate of the world petty."


"That's enough, Cheren!" Bianca barked with unexpected ferocity, "You too, Touko!" The blond approached me and wrapped me up in a huge hug. "Touko…" She breathed into my shoulder and began to tremble. "Why don't you believe in yourself?"


I bit down on my tongue, unable to form an answer that wouldn't be seen as pathetic. Bianca pulled away and stared right into me.


"Because I believe in you, Touko! And even though Cheren's a jerk, he believes in you too!" She was crying for some reason. I found it strange since I was the one with the problem here and I'd hardly even shed a tear. But Bianca was always more emotional then Cheren or I. She knew better than to let her feelings bottle up and gnaw away at her insides. "Your Pokémon, your mom, Professor Juniper… all the Gym Leaders… and even," her tears were beginning to distort her words. "Every single trainer in Unova… Touko… They all believe in you!"


I was shocked by what she was saying. Every person in this region… had faith in me?


"She's right." Cheren suddenly spoke up, "And that's why you won't lose to N, Touko. You've got this whole region behind you. And Bianca and I," he stared me down from under the lenses of this glasses which shimmered in the candlelight. "We aren't going to let you down. Understand?"


The reason I had never taken the initiative, after wining my final badge, to take on the League and defeat Team Plasma was because I felt like I was alone. After what Bianca and Cheren had said to me, I came to the realization that I wasn't the only one holding up the world. The hands of every trainer and every person in this region were hoisting it up too, and they were all stacked up behind me rooting for a victory that wasn't just mine—it belonged to all of us.


Because of the faith and confidence that my friends held for me, I finally did build up the courage to leave Opelucid City. And after that, I climbed my way up to the very top of the world. I beat the Elite Four and I even beat N. It was Ghetsis who I really lost to, and it was simply because that man wanted to seize the future far more than I did. Ghetsis wanted to create something, and even if it was a crooked, artificial world, his desire gave him the power to gain victory and mold Unova with his own hands.


As I watched the world burn from my tower, I had to wonder how Bianca, Cheren and everyone else were fairing. In the back of my mind, I had hoped that they would be okay and that they hadn't succumbed to Team Plasma's villainy. But in the end… I may have been wrong. They may have been defeated a long time ago, and the ghostly shell that Nuvema had become only further solidified that fact.


My friends… my family, where were they now? I couldn't find an answer. No matter how long the waves lashed the shore or the wind tore my skin, I couldn't find an answer.




XXX


N came over and sat down beside me, sliding his legs through the gaps in the railing and swinging them back and forth over the edge. I was startled to see he'd come. I was so wrapped up in my memories and thoughts, and his movements were so subtle and silent, that I didn't even notice him coming. That, and I didn't expect him to come see me when I was in such obvious turmoil, and I had pushed him away so coldly before. I'd thought that he'd simply wait for me to return, probably scrounging around Juniper's lab and picking up clues as he waited. But he was here, right beside me, staring out at the waves that marched over the silver skyline. Even if I had repulsed him earlier, the anger was gone and I was left with a bitter feeling of regret.


"N… I…" It felt like there was a lump in my throat, "I didn't mean to push you away like that…" I couldn't make eye contact with the boy beside me, and even though I had begun talking he wouldn't take his eyes off the horizon, "It's just that… everyone is gone and…"


I suddenly felt his hand close over my own and was drawn back over to his eyes. "You said it yourself right?" he showed a faint smile. "You shouldn't carry a burden this big all by yourself."


He gave my hand an assuring squeeze, "Your mother and your friends are strong… just like you are. They possess an unbreakable drive that makes them unstoppable. Even if they're not here, and this town has been abandoned…" he paused, looking down at the raging waves, "It doesn't mean that they're gone." He smiled at me again. "I think I can understand why you must be sad. But to the extent of my knowledge, your friends and family haven't been captured by Team Plasma as of yet."


I couldn't suppress a smile, "So you think they're still out there somewhere?" I could feel tears brimming over my eyes.


"I wouldn't be surprised if your friends are forming a resistance against Team Plasma as we speak." His smile was replaced by a look of serious composure, "And if they are then we need to find them."


"You're right," I agreed, feeling confidence flare inside me again, and then my stomach gave a noisy growl.


N and I both turned to my abdomen, and with cheeks flushed I said, "After we eat that is…"




XXX


I surveyed the destroyed refrigerator of my house, stirring through the clumps of mold that used to be food with my foot; they disintegrated at my touch. I had hoped to find something edible in this mass, but every single piece of food that had once packed our kitchen fridge had been festering in the air for years now. In short, there was nothing salvageable.


After my raid on the fridge had turned up fruitless, I turned to the cupboards that lined the upper wall of our once baby-blue kitchen. I poked my nose into the gaping cupboard door in search of cookies, granola bars or some other sort of nonperishable food item. In contrast to the fridge, the cabinets seemed to have been cleaned out by those who had trashed the town. I only found a solitary box of chocolate chip cookies and my hopes rose only to be dashed again by the small remainder of crumbs which trickled out. I frowned at the thought of the perpetrators of this disaster helping themselves to my food.


"Touko?" I spun around to the doorway to find N standing there with Marie in tow. "Any luck?"


"My cookies have been eaten," I told him with a frown, "how did you do? Find anything that we could snack on?" I ditched the bag and walked over to him. "We still have some food from Anthea and Concordia, but if we can find something here it'd be good to save what we've already got."


N shrugged, "We couldn't find much but…"Marie held up a box of granola bars, "we found these in Professor Juniper's lab…"


My face scrunched in confusion, "What are these then?" I picked the white box from the Audino's hands. An image of a chocolate coated bar was just barely legible on the battered box. I couldn't read the name brand apart from a few letters. All I could make out was the 'all natural health bar' sign written in bright red. "Are these edible…?"


"Well… they haven't been opened yet so it's better than nothing," N said passively.


"I suppose." I said, fumbling the box open and taking out a granola bar. "So how's Juniper's lab? Did you find anything interesting there?" I ripped open the bar and smelt it cautiously. It was apparently nonperishable but I had no idea how long it had been sitting inside of that box. There was no real telling how fresh it could be, especially if it was all natural like the box claimed. My nose ached after a whiff of that bar as it carried the overwhelming scent of pine. I nearly gagged at the potency.


"Her laboratory is worse than the rest of the town. Team Plasma's soldiers really tore it apart looking for her research. There was nothing salvageable, and we can't access her computers since the power is down. Though her machines are in such a state that, even with power, they'd be too broken to function." N walked in with Marie waddling behind and surveyed the sights of my ramshackle homestead with a wide, detached gaze, almost as if analyzing. "I do hope that Professor Juniper was able to get all valuable information out before they arrived."


"I wouldn't worry too much about that," I said, finally giving up at dissecting the granola bar and biting a chunk off. "She's usually on the ball… ohh bluhhh," My hand flung to my mouth.


"What's wrong Touko? Has it gone bad?" N noticed my distress and rushed over.


I managed to push down what I'd bitten off before answering, "M-my god…" I sputtered, "how on earth can she eat these things! They taste like raw dirt." I spun the package around, scouring for an ingredients label.


"They can't be that bad," he said with a relived smile. I frowned at my friend's ignorance as I tried to get the taste out of my mouth, but it continued to cling to my taste buds like a glue.


"We should probably stay here tonight then, Touko." N said.


"Right. We could hide down in the basement… you know, just in case Team Plasma decides to show up," I threw him an apprehensive glance. "You don't think they'll show up, do you?"


"I don't want to rule it out," N stared at me seriously, "chances are that they'll come here just to check if we were around. I can have Laika cast an illusion for us… so I think we'll be okay."


His words put me at ease if only slightly. I headed over to an old red rug that lay on the floor and peeled it away to reveal the doorway leading to the basement.


"I guess they haven't been down here yet." I said as I attempted to pry the door open, but for some reason it decided to be difficult and stick. I cursed, "Stupid thing…" After a few more seconds of struggling, I managed to get the door open and we descended down into the unlit depths. It wasn't all bad that the power was down, because lighting up a town that was supposed to be abandoned was not a good idea. N and I just had to rely on eyesight as we stomped down the rickety stairs.


"Sorry," I said, pulling a spare mattress down from a ledge under the stairs, "there's only one mattress so…"


"I can sleep on the floor." N said indifferently. I gave him a stare and then took a look down at the hard concrete floor of the basement, which was already coated in its own blanket of dust and dirt.


"Well, it's a double so we could uhh… we could… uhh, you know." I have no idea why it was so awkward trying to say 'we could sleep together'. Maybe I just had some weird connotation in my mind.


"Sleep together?" N finished for me with a slight smirk hovering over his lips, "I don't have a problem with that. I find that I have a better sleep when you're beside me anyway, Touko."


My cheeks became inflamed and I tried my hardest to hide it. "Yeah. Okay. Okay…"


"Then, Touko…" The serious tone of N's voiced caused me to find his eyes again. I was a bit surprised to see he'd already taken a seat on the mattress and had Marie resting in his lap.


"Now that we know Nuvema Town is uninhabited, where do you think we should head next?" I could tell by his tone that he was asking for my opinion, not a decision.


"Well," I said, taking a small nibble of my already half-eaten granola bar, "how does Accumula sound? Neither you or I know very much about what Ghetsis has done to Unova. I've been in that castle so long…" My voice faded slightly as I began to zone out, shifting my weight from one leg to the other. If Nuvema Town was a hollow, then what was the state of the rest of the region?


"I think you're right. Accumula Town would be a good place to gather information. We need to have a good grasp on the extent of Ghetsis's takeover and what the current state of the world is…" N stared intently at the ground as if a million thoughts were bustling in his head, "perhaps we could find some information about Professor Juniper and your friends… or maybe, if we're lucky, we might find sympathizers to our cause…"


"One thing's for certain, "I said with a smile, "we're gonna need a good night's sleep if we're gonna rebel against Team Plasma." I took a seat beside him on the bed and offered him a granola bar, "You wanna try a bite? They're actually not that bad…"




XXX


I was on a pedestal on level with the clouds, dangling my feet over the precipice and feeling the heat from the world below on my skin. My brain was sluggish and slow witted in this ethereal plain of heaven. It didn't even register to me that the world below my rocking feet was being devoured by flames. The forests were dying in a red inferno; the leaves burnt down to quick ash and the ancient woods collapsed into their own bodies. As my head swiveled slowly, I saw that the colossal mountains which pointed their peaks towards me were also crimson with flame. Even after seeing the sights, the reality refused to hit.


The world was burning.


Thunders echoed in the heavens as a tempest of wind rushed by, tearing at my skin and fluttering the skirt of my dress. A jagged web of lightning streaked across the clouds with a massive crash, creating the illusion that the sky was cracking. I wondered if it was even possible for the sky to break and fall… but that thought seemed to be filled with only curiosity and absent of consequence.


As the thoughts wound their way through my head, I turned my gaze up to meet the vast plains of heaven. The clouds pooled around my perch in a tunnel: a vast nimbus above my head, opening passage to thousands of glittering stars above. I laughed like some sort of child as I reached my arms up to the heights, completely oblivious to the stench of rotting flesh in my nose and on my tongue. From where I was sitting… I felt like I could grab the sun. Lightning crashed again and the inferno down below began to build and climb. I knew somehow that the blaze was yearning to embrace me. Even the lightning that galloped across the clouds had a desire to sink into my flesh and bury into my bones.


Turn around Touko.

I obeyed the disembodied voice that beckoned, and turned my head to find two brilliant figures composed of black and white facing me, opposite my side of the pedestal. They were massive creatures, standing many heads above mine, staring me down with their burning eyes and rumbling with their glistening teeth.


I will create… order through chaos…

I only came to notice the figure standing right between the two gods after he had spoken. Ghetsis was there staring at me with a face empty of any emotion. The Sage looked like an obelisk of a man, silhouetted against raging skies. My heart jumped right to my throat at his sudden arrival and I braced myself for fountains of blood to spring forth from the stone floor. But apart from the raging gales, the drone of flames and the sharp cracks of lightning, all was still. Everything was silent. I couldn't break my gaze with him; I felt paralyzed. But no blood sprang forth; no bodies emerged; the dragons simply bordered the man.


Order through chaos… He said again through unmoving lips. Even though Ghetsis remained stationary, I could tell that the voice was his.


A sudden stream of cold injected itself deep into the violent gale that ripped through the atmosphere. Flecks of snow began to rush by, dancing in the current and merging with the stars above. There was another dragon in the sky, but this one was painted in a veil of icy gray. Golden eyes met mine as it snarled in a breath of steamy air, showing its spaded teeth and the flesh and bone wedged between them.


After our eyes had met, my perch collapsed under the weight of the burning bodies which held it aloft. I fell through the air for only a few moments, before I was swallowed up by hungry flames which had long ago consumed the earth. Fires ate my flesh, my bones and even my spirit as I watched the uncountable stars glisten above.


Somehow I knew, as I was eaten away, that the heavens were laughing at my death.






Nightmares don't die…
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