The Dark Unknowing
Hanso vs Varren
Darkness stretched in all directions. An infinite void. Floating in the darkness was a small platform, of uprooted earth. There were several other platforms that seemed to lead to nowhere. the path was illuminated by an unseen light which seemed so dim. The absolute silence, the likes of which no one can find in the real world, a most unsettling sound. A demon waits, hiding in the darkness. He knows a visitor is on the way. What a joy to have a guest. Someone to play with.
Looking back, if he were to live long enough to look back, Hanso would have felt that Sovereign's mind had been, to date, perhaps the most difficult that the SharpEye twins had broken into. It was like a massive stone wall of darkness that they were drilling into, a catastrophic storm that left any it struck spiraling to their death. Well, if it could have been described in the first place.
After forever, or a split second, Hanso found himself on a small earthen platform. Turning revealed to him the infinite void, the dimly lit path of platforms, the absolute silence. Don't think I've seen a mind like this before, have you? Wait. Hanso turned again, then looked around once more. Snap! Where'd the others go? Brynn! Vera!
No reply. It was as if their network had dissolved. Except we've never separated before. Facing the path once more, Hanso sighed, then stepped forward to cross. He could not see where the path ended, or if it did, but it seemed that this mind's occupants had some rules of their own. At least for now.
Each platform bobbed, like boat floating on the water, with each step Hanso took. The path seemed to go on forever as Hanso moved ever forward. "What is this? A mouse caught in a trap? What fun! I've been needing some entertainment, it does get rather dull around here, and it has been so long since I had a guest." The voice was wicked, and harsh. To anyone who was familiar, he sounded just like he belonged in an old gang from Albia.
"What shall we do to pass the time, Hanso? Last time we met we had so much fun. And I'm sure you'll find that I have so much more I can do here. So, what shall we do...?"
Hanso halted as the voice began speaking, chills running down his back. He tried to shake the feeling as he looked around again. There was no sign of another being that he could see, but it would be difficult for the Gallade to forget the voice. "Varren. You're the one I came for, actually."
A mouse in a trap. Was that what this path here was? Hanso turned back to look the way he'd come. "I suppose it won't end if I go back, will it?"
As luck would have it, that was exactly what Hanso needed to do. A door of grand scale and design had appeared right behind him as he turned to look back. The door was white, and was decorated with oddly gothic designs. It screamed fancy, on a decadent scale. The door had a ring knocker, held by a modeled head of a Druddigon.
"How nice of you to finally arrive. Do come in, the guests are waiting ever so patiently for your arrival, but I'm afraid the party has started without you."
Party? Another one? Though I couldn't call wakin' up in a room with an Abra and plenty of food a party, after being gassed. Hanso cautiously approached the door, eyes roaming over the designs. It struck him as something a homicidal killer might appreciate.
Looking around one more time to make sure he wasn't being snuck up on, Hanso lifted the ring knocker and let it drop. How long before he could take charge?
The sound of the knocker echoed across the empty abyss. As the ringing came to a halt, the door cracked open, a blinding light pouring through. When the light subsided, the door was found to be hanging open, with an open, white, ball room inside. There was a stair way in the back of the room, which split off in both directions. The room was decorated as if for a grand celebration. The room was completely void of life, however. The sound of a band playing a joyous dance tune could be heard. It would be most relaxing if not for the fact that every single not was off key, resulting in a most disturbing atmosphere.
"Come in, come in. We have been so bored without you. Please, liven the party!"
Hanso couldn't help but be a little smart-aleck. "Certainly needs livening up," he called back. "Trying to combine a ball and a mausoleum, are you?" Though normally, dead Pokemon were buried in mausoleums.
He needed to keep the atmosphere from getting to him, needed to not freak out, in short. For a moment, Hanso tried to imagine this ballroom the way it would be in real life, with Pokemon and a normal band. Then thoughts of Genevieve started coming, and he tried to cut the whole thing off in his mind.
"HA! Mausoleum, that's a good one! How fitting." One by one, Pokemon began to appear within the ballroom. They danced to the music, as if in celebration. The Pokemon were varied. There were some Machoke off to the side, not dancing at all. Pokemon bearing Gold Tribe medals, and even some Ancients, could be seen all around. Some of them were just ordinary citizens. Among them was a Lucario, possibly the King of Thieves. This was all fine and good, but all of them were missing their face. "Allow me to introduce, the victims of Sovereign "The Crusher," Sentinel of the Silver Tribe."
Okay, how had Sovereign managed to go for ten years with this freak in his head? Hanso only stepped aside when it seemed like one or another of the faceless Pokemon would bump into him if he didn't move. It was difficult to identify any of the Pokemon, even if some did have Gold Tribe medals.
Seeing the Lucario, Hanso frowned and began walking closer, still avoiding the other Pokemon. Was that Roswell? "So the Silver Tribe attacked the Thieves' Village?" he asked aloud. "I'm not sure if I should be surprised or not."
The Lucario turned towards Hanso for a moment, as if to look at him. Suddenly, a flood of memories rushed into his mind, he seemed to be falling, but he could see Sovereign standing above in a great tree.
The great hall was filled with people who all suffered similar fates. As they all turned to look at Hanso, each one's last memory was sent cascading uncontrollably into his mind. A flood of death and destruction, a collage of torment and hatred.
Hanso's hands flew up to clutch his head as the memories came. He didn't have time to think about the Lucario's last memory before the others came crashing in, leaving no room for thought. Stop it... It was both drawn out and a blur, each memory relived yet taking an instant in time.
Finally, one last memory came. More vivid than any of the others. The owner of the memory was looking over a scene with a group of Machoke, who looked very similar to the ones at the party, fighting with a Combusken of small stature and faded feather. A lowly Larvitar lay on the ground already, completely unconscious. Can't do anything right, can they. He thought to himself. He floated down to where the battle ready Combusken was, and whispered, "Sleep..." She staggered a bit before also collapsing to the ground. The Machoke proceeded to beat her while she was unconscious, soft sounds of pain could be heard coming from her mouth. The memory turned to examine the Larvitar.
Vera. Not quite the same species, but Hanso recognized her size and faded colors. Just a memory. Yet he tried to call out to the Combusken, warn her before whoever this was got to her.
"How foolish to defy me. Varren always gets what he wants." The Combusken let out a painful cry, carrying into the ears of the Larvitar which lay before Varren. It's eyes slowly opened, catching Varren off guard. "Wha..." the eyes Varren saw were a deep yellow. "Wh-What is this? Some kind of trick? You think changing your eye color will scare me!?" Varren struck him with a Shadow Punch, but somehow the Larvitar's body did not move.
He saw what was coming. He could feel it even before the memory's bearer looked up at the black sky. They don't stand a chance. Didn't, didn't stand a chance.
Varren noticed that the sounds of the Machoke assaulting the Combusken had stopped. When he looked over, they were all staring into the sky. When Varen looked up, he could see it was black as night. What followed was a mixture of chaos and distorted memories, completely unintelligible. When the chaos ended, Varren was once again looking at the sky, but this time he was on the ground, helplessly waiting.
"I lost EVERYTHING because of an insignificant little worm!" The memory faded away revealing the hall once again, but now it was empty and decrepit.
His lungs filled with breath again, or seemed to, and Hanso's eyes opened as he looked up. Now he knew more of what this Varren was like. And he hated him. "Insignificant? You would think that, wouldn't you?" Hanso's voice was grim, barely hiding his anger. "Easy to think so, when your minions did your dirty work for you. I can already tell what kind of freak you are now, I've seen it before."
It was high time that he took over. His arm-blades unsheathed and began glowing a light blue; his eyes glowed as illusions of himself separated and spread out. Yet in the mind, these weren't mere illusions; they embodied the sensors that Hanso sent out to locate Varren, where the bully's mind was focused. Except 'bully' was nowhere near strong enough to describe this Pokemon.
"You're gonna die, here and now."
The room shook, asn the walls cracked as shadows began to pour in like water.
"What is this? This isn't supposed to happen!" The thick black liquid began to cover everything. Hanso's path, which led up the right hand stairway, was being consumed.
"I suggest you hurry, you and I aren't done, and I highly doubt you want to get swallowed up by Auron's shadow."
Okay, that was creepy in itself, how the room shook right after his words. As the shadows began pouring in, Hanso was already dashing for the stairs. It was the immediate, impulsive reaction to a room being flooded, at least in his case.
The Gallade made a final leap over a spurt of shadows and found the stairway with his feet, body threatening to pinwheel back into the black liquid. Hanso found his balance and hurried up the stairs. "Personally, I believe it isn't Auron's shadow at all." Was he crazy for discussing something like that on the run? "Don't ya know anythin' about his current state of affairs? Oh, wait, you didn't know how they'd all gotten that way in the first place!"
"Think you're so smart, do ya? Auron may not have been the original source of this darkness, but he's the one who currently possesses it." As the ceiling collapsed, the room began to flood faster, the wicked ooze rising further and further. At the top of the stairs, there was another door. It slowly creaked open as Hanso mase his way up the stairs.
"Now get in here, smart-ass!"
"You sure it doesn't possess him?" Am I sure it does? "Whatever!" Hanso suddenly skidded to a halt just before the door. Could he be sure this wasn't an illusion of some sort to push him into a trap? No, I can sense it. The exact same as what corrupted Deluge.
As he ran forward through the door, Hanso didn't look back to check on the shadows' progress. It would cost more time, and he'd already wasted some just then.
Once again, darkness surrounded Hanso. A tile floor could be seen underfoot, illuminated but a circle of light hitting the ground. More beams of light descended, Illuminating a path forward, progressively. At the end of the line, there was Varren, waiting for him. For once, he was not smiling. He looked quite discontent. In fact, it was a very unnerving appearance, since Varren almost always smiled.
"Our little game was cut short, how sad. You finally found me, but can you do what you need to? You can still walk back out that door, and you will return to the outside. You can go back out, and you can kill Sovereign. Or..."
"Or I can kill you," Hanso finished, his voice hard. He had stopped as darkness surrounded him again, then began walking forward slowly as he saw the Gengar. One of the Gallade's arm-blades began glowing a light-blue again, the other covered in the black shadow of a Night Slash.
Even as he approached Varren, Hanso could not help but think that the Gengar would put up a fight. He did not imagine why Varren would just let himself die.
"Yes," Varren said somberly. "You could kill me. But the effects are not the same as they are out there. To kill me is to remove something from Sovereign's mind. But in doing so, your interaction with me may leave you..." Varren smiled once again, but it was a sad smile, filled with regret and sorrow. "... scarred."
"You can't kill me, not really anyway. All you can do is take a part of Sovereign with you. I become a part of you, forever. Are you really capable of that, or will you become a killer in the name of stopping Auron... or do you yet have another agenda...?"
"This is your last chance, you can walk out that door and murder the one you promised to save, or you can slay me and forever be plagued by Sovereign's madness. Make your choice, 'hero'."
Varren's words stopped Hanso in his tracks, holding the Gengar's gaze as he considered. Varren wasn't concerned in the end, was he? If he were to believe him, then doing this would only change the freak's place of residence. Sovereign would not have to deal with Varren, but Hanso would. Thinking about it, Hanso wasn't even sure if he'd be dealing with just Varren, or with this whole madness Sovereign seemed to have.
In all reality, Hanso never had to take this on in the first place. It was only something he'd decided to do. Killing Sovereign would mean one less Sentinel in the way, wouldn't it? And one less monster in the world.
And yet... The Gallade moved forward again, hesitantly at first, then in long steps, until Varren was in striking range. "I've already said you would die." Hanso's voice was just as cold as it had been before, if not colder. "And, it would have been a waste to come all this way just to leave you here." He brought back his Psycho Cut and Night Slash in preparation. "Besides, as you pointed out, I made a promise."
"You came well armed, but this is my domain..." The door slammed shut, as all the lights similtaneously went black. "Kekekekekeke... I am the shadows themseves here, how can you stop what you can't find...?"
So Varren wouldn't go quietly after all. As all light left the area, Hanso reached out with his mental sensors again. The Gengar's presence wasn't focused in front of the Gallade anymore, he was-- Hanso spun and drove his Night Slash home, feeling it slide into Varren. "They call me TrueStriker for a reason."
Varren smiled, but for the first time he actually looked happy. "This place is hell. Maybe your mind will be less painful..." The gash across Varren's body drew no blood. Instead it exploded with a black cloud which ingulfed Hanso, invading his nose, mouth, eyes, and ears!
The Gallade felt as if he was choking, unable to discern anything beyond the dark cloud. As it passed into him, he could almost feel the burden of another mind. The cloud soon passed, leaving Hanso gasping slightly as he looked down at first. After a few moments, his breathing calmed as he looked up.
When the cloud finally cleared, everything was clearer. Despite the fact that everything was dark as night, everything was visible. It was a bedroom. One of exquisite taste. On one of the walls, a painting could be seen. Varren was in it, with several other ghost Pokemon, including a Mismagius, a couple Gastly and a Misdreavus. Varren looked happy in the picture, but not in the twisted way he usually did. On the table in front of the painting there were papers, regarding the murder of a Mismagius who's description matched the one in the picture, and the dissappearance of the three children. Under the papers was a torn open note adressed to a "Darren Vistral."
Your kids are safe. Do exactly what I tell you to, and no one else has to die
After picking up the note and reading it, Hanso dropped it back on the table. What...wait, Varren wasn't so bad before? It wasn't clear at first, but...hey, now they were stuck with each other, probably until the day Hanso died. If he lived beyond the war with the Silver Tribe, then he and Varren would have time to talk. Or fight. Whichever the Gengar decided to do. Man, this'll take a while to get used to.
The black ooze from before began to leak through the door. Despite his new eyes, this darkness was still impossible to see through. There's an escape hatch behind the painting. Get us out of here before we wind up slaves ourselves!
Before Hanso could answer Varren, his mind-- or was it their mind now?-- echoed with a familiar voice. "What?..." Glancing at the black ooze, he agreed with the voice. "Ya think? Time to leave five minutes ago. Wait, isn't Vera with you, Brynn?" The Gallade hurried over to the painting, lifting it by its sides and lightly tossing it to one side.
As he left through the escape hatch, Hanso asked Varren, This means you know and hear everything I do, doesn't it? Great...you're gonna have to tell me if I'd brought anything else with me as part of the package.