You don't know what we've been through...
Vera Fayos and Penance "Madman" Malum
As Vera would wake up she would notice that she was in a rather open area. It wasn't wooden or made of bricks, instead the area was purely made out of rocks and dirt... it seemed she was in another tunnel underneath Cape City. There weren't many Affiliates running around at the moment, just those setting up supplies here and there and those who were attending to her. There was a Chansey checking over her along with a Clefairy acting as a sort of aid.
Off to the side though she would be able to notice that there was a Aggron, just waiting to have an excuse to break her neck no doubt.
Vera certainly was not happy about her situation. In the hands of what she assumed were the Affiliates. She wasn't particularly fond of Aggron in general, they had worked with one before who belonged to the Sentinels and found the experience quite infuriating.
"I know you're not in charge. So why don't you go get him for me?" Vera spoke with a condescending tone.
The Chansey frowned down at her, "Relax. No need to get stressed. You're still a bit injured and I don't want you moving around too much! It could rip out the stitches."
Her Clefairy assistant nodded as the Aggron snorted at her, "Calm your ponytas fire princess. Penance has more important things to do today. He may come soon, or may come hours from now."
"If you knew who I was, you wouldn't be calling me princess," Vera snarled. "So his name is Penance? Isn't that the name of one of the Gold Tribe's soldiers?" It seemed that everything was finally piecing together in Vera's mind. The events in Cape City made little sense, but now it seemed as though an Affiliate had infiltrated the Gold Tribe.
Vera wasn't sure if these two were aware of Vera's position in the Silver Tribe, but if they did it sure wasn't obvious. "Aside from my obvious condition, why am I here? Surely there are better places to store a recovering patient than underground."
The Aggron shrugged, "You're down here because Penance said so, simple as that. Apparently you are wanted up top by a whooooole lot of people. Here you are safe, simple as that."
"I appreciate the concern," Vera scolded sarcastically, "but I can take care of myself." Vera was growing impatient, but the fact of the matter was, she wasn't going anywhere yet.
Suddenly a familiar Golduck walked on in. "Hm... what do we have here!?" He grinned brightly as he came on over and sat next to Vera. "A creature who's fire may have been snuffed out a bit too quickly? But that fire came back, it wasn't time yet of course." He said with a nod. "I suppose though you don't want to be down here eh?"
He grinned wide and glanced back and forth before leaning in to whipser softly, "You know, that Gallade has quite the crush on you. You should see how he acts when you aren't around." He gave a sly wink and leaned back, "But anyways you're free to go. There's a ladder outside. Go! Go to your prince dear princess!"
Vera was fed up by now. "Is that some kind of joke? Do I look like I'm in a state to moving yet?" This had to be him. Vera knew of a Golduck within the Gold Tribe and was certain she had seen him before at battles. "You're in charge here, aren't you? Where's Sovereign, why am I down here? ...Why did you save me?"
Penance let his head hang back as he laughed with a sort of mocking laughter, "You are so funny when you are confused!" He said gleefully. "Well if you don't want to leave I guess I'll have to leave some stuff here for ya. Hm.. bread good enough?" He asked. "Sovereign... hm... heard he ran away, doesn't want to come back here, and I saved ya because you are valuable."
Something certainly seemed off about the Golduck. Was he really in charge? "While I'm not overjoyed to be in the hands of an Affiliate, it's probably better than if the Gold Tribe had me, where I would be a war criminal." Vera adjusted herself so that she was sitting up, careful of her stitching.
At that Penance suddenly rached out, his hand gripping her throat hard and enough to... perhaps break it if he put some psychic power into it. "Ah... the goldies... you best be careful what you wish for." He hissed, his eyes glowing a bit purple. It lasted for close to a second before he let her go and his cheerful expression returned, "No matters! You'll stay here and be a good girl now! We just need to ask some questions is all." He leaned back "So, what has old Auron been cooking up eh?"
Vera gave Penance a cold stare as his hand wrapped around her neck. She wasn't afraid to die any more, but she certainly was regretting her current situation. Vera started laughing at Penance's question. "I'm flattered you think I'm important enough to know what Auron is planning, but I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you. Auron's the sort that gives orders without telling his soldiers why they're doing what they're doing. And neither me nor Sovereign was ever connected by... whatever it is that changed the other Sentinels."
Penance cocked his head, listenging silently to her explanation. "Hm... that so huh?" He sighed, "I thought... you might at least know something." He gave an innocent shrug, "I mean, if that is all you can figure out. Then that's all you can figure out." He leaned in, "But one last thing." At that moment Penance formed a Water Pulse in his hand and flung it right at Vera. Instead of blasting apart the psychic hold he had on it kept it in tact as it completely formed around Vera's head, cutting off her air supply. Penance cocked his head, waiting patiently to see how she would react. Naturally her body would go into panic mode. He had seen many fire types, even goldy ones, fall into that instinctive need as their training would abandon them once they met with their greatest weakness.
Vera flinched as the Water Pulse appraoched her, but instead of hitting her, she found herself being smothered by it. She couldn't breath, or even think for that matter. As she struggled, her body did the only thing it could as it lit up with flames. She met eyes with Penance for only a moment before she exploded, unleashing a Blast Burn, filling the entire room and part of the hall with fire. Surely Penance would not need to worry, but the Aggron and Chansey were not so lucky.
Penance cocked an eyebrow, chuckling as the images of the Chansey and Aggron just dissapeared. In fact the entire room was disintergrated by the flames. He waited a while before releasing the Water Pulse and giggling, "You don't think I would allow anyone to be harmed... do you?" He cooed. There was now blackness around them and the Golduck frowned, "Hm... this won't work at all!"
He snapped his fingers and suddenly the two were in a dungeon setting, with steel straps keeping Vera pressed tightly against a stone slab. Penance was now wearing a pair of medical gloves and next to him was a tray full of medical tools. He picked up a scapel and examined it. "The nice thing about having psychics... they just know how to make the PERFECT images in the mind. All of that felt very real didn't it?" He smirked evilly down at her. "This is my world..." He set the scapel down and picked up a syringe filled with a dark red liquid. "Question is... can you quickly train your mind NOT to feel the pain? None of this will kill you, but if it feels real enough..." He pressed the syringe into her arm and pushed the fluid into her body. "You will feel pain." He giggled a bit. "Now if your mind isn't up to standards... that serum will act as truth serum in this world. We may not have it in the outside world, but it exists here. You'll feel such a need to tell the truth... in fact you won't be able to lie at all."
He patted her head with that same sick grin on his face, "Now we can have all the fun we want in here! Oh, by the way, the mind can work faster than the brain precieves. Three days in here... could be three minutes out there." He looked deep into her eyes, "All the time in the world... wouldn't you say?"
More mind games? Vera had only just gotten out of Sovereign's head and now was trapped in her own with this lunatic. "What ever pain you think you can inflict on me," Vera's eyes burned as she spoke, "none of it can compare to what I've been through. So try your worst, Affiliate."
Penance snickered at the comment, "Well... if that is your way of thinking... I guess this won't work on you." He pushed the tray away, "Maybe something else?" In an instant Vera suddenly found herself in a black room. There were no windows, no doors, just whatever light she could produce would only show black walls.
"Hm... how about a year in solitary? Make it a minute out here, I go and get a sandwich... and you stay in there and have fun dwelling in loneliness? Sound like fun!?"
Darkness. Always with the Darkness. "Do you even know what it means to be alone? Do you know what it's like to be shunned by your own parents? I've lived my whole life alone! If you think this will break me then you're wrong!" There was only silence. Vera sat there, stewing in her own thoughts. There was plenty of time to think now.
Vera did well the first couple of months. For a while it seemed a relief not to have to deal with the outside world. But the lack of sensory stimulation began to take a toll on her. She began seeing things that weren't there. Most common was Sovereign, but on occassion she fell into nightmares of Varren's wicked grin looking down on her.
As the year came to it's close, she fell into something different. She opened her eyes, being unable to sleep, finding herself in a home of exquisite taste. On the wall in front of her was a blazing crest, the symbol of the Fayos lineage. "No... not here... anywhere but here..."
"And where is here?" Penance asked. He was leaning against a wall, looking right at her, "What is it that scares you Vera? What do you have left to fear?" He got off the wall, "You survived the box... most can't come out of it sane, many don't have the intelligence left to speak." He nodded, "You're strong... very strong. It's a wonder the crystal didn't want to assimilate you as well." He began to slowly walk around the room. "Whatever is here... you can fight." He nodded at her, "Either... you can lead on, or you can run and hide in that box, forever trying to escape what is here."
Before Vera could reply, a commotion could be heard from the room on the right side of the hall. The sound of a dish crashing, yelling and screaming. Vera walked to the door, and opened it, revealing a scene from her childhood. A dining room, just as luxurious as the hall. Two Blaziken, each wearing Gold Tribe pendants, a pair of Combusken, and a single, pale Torchic sat at the table. The Torchic was trying to pick up her mess while her father chastised her. "You're can 't do anything right, can you?! You couldn't even be born right! Your feathers don't make you special, you're nothing but a short freak who'll never amount to anything!"
Vera knew this day. "This was the day I ran from home." Suddenly, with the crack of thunder, the room went dark. It was empty, with only Vera standing in the doorway now.
Penance silently watched. "And you still dwell on it..." He murmured softly. "Do you think it's time to confront that fear now?"
Vera turned, and pointed to a door behind Penance. A Combusken, similar to the Torchic earlier in that it was small, and had pale feathers, much like Vera now, stepped through, it's recent evolution giving it confidence. Gripped in her hand was a small, dark blue pouch. Vera wrapped her hands around the very same pouch around her neck as the younger Vera swiftly grabbed a small, oddly shaped rock on a table just below the crest, and shoved it into the pouch.
With another crack of thunder, they were outside in the pouring rain. "It's not fear that brings me here, Penance... It's regret."
He nodded slowly. "Ah... regret. You know, I have met many who have regretted a part of their life..." He smirked a bit. "Regret is not easy to forget you know. I know one big one... you've met him... I think. Hm... maybe you haven't but the others have. It's because of him... the day I met him I realized why this day would come. Not specifically THIS part, but what is happening out there. He helped me see just how disastrous our world was becoming.
He chuckled softly, "Vera... if you knew of one pokemon... just one who had his whole life change simply because... he was taught to kill... what would you think about that? Is it right to teach young ones to kill simply for the sake of killing?"
Vera pondered the question before her younger self came running down the rain drenched path. She bumped into a Dusclops standing walking the opposite direction. She looked at her for only a moment before she ran around him and kept going. "I don't know of such things. What I do know, is that on the night I left home, this Pokemon massacred my family."
She stared Penance dead in the eye as the scenery shifted one more time to the interior of a cave. The young Vera was crying, soaked from the rain. "Do you know what my greatest regret is?"
"An educated mon would say your regret is that you couldn't save them, that deep down despite the anger shown earlier... that you still loved them, and wanted to save them. That your regret is that you can't have them here with you today." He closed his eyes, "But... the wise man would know that is not the case. A regret is built by many things. It's built by circumstance, by key individuals, by thinking the wrong thoughts or what one percieves as the wrong thoughts at the wrong time. It is not just one thing despite how much you may proclaim it is... deep down you would know this as well. I know I do. My greatest regret is actually many regrets that form into one single idea. If we held onto every regret, we would not be able to survive in this world. Holding onto that much regret will cause even the strongest of minds to shatter. That is why common minds percieve a regret with only one sentence in mind. I should have stood in front of him, I should have not yelled at her before she left... such regrets help us to hide the other things we did wrong... because our minds do the best they can to protect our fragile spirits."
He shook his head as the water slowly dripped off of him, "You know.... the Goldies should have died a long time ago."
Thunder streaked once more across the sky.
"Do you know why? If such a event had happened... then this event would have never happened... then something so simple as... as letting young ones die in the wilderness... away from family and friends would never have happened... that we would have become stronger without protectors we would have depended on for countless decades." He chuckled softly, "If only... I had been stronger."
"I used to think my greatest regret was that I was denied the satisfaction of proving them wrong." Vera stared at her younger self, crying because no one cared enough to come looking for her. It wasn't til years later she found out why no one looked for her. "But now I see... my greatest regret is that I didn't stay, and die with the others." Vera's memory faded from view, leaving only her and Penance. "So many times I have been ready to die. And yet she never lets me rest. Perhaps there is something more I need to do, but I just want to sleep..."
Penance glanced around the dark room. "You know... there's a funny thing about that." He began to walk with rocks and a cliff appearing out before him. He stopped right at the edge. "The only monsters... are us. Murderers... war bringers... even those seeking peace though the last means they have. We are the real beasts. So far from humanity we have fallen... so far that we are no longer capable of feeling compassion or guilt. Those are the ones we should really fear. But whether they are lurking in the woods... or in the cities... or even in the darkness of our hearts it's all irrelevant. You can't predict what happens and you can't stop it from happening. There is only one way." He looked up at the night sky that appeared.
"You find yourself becoming them. You become a beast yourself... and you show no mercy... just like them. Because... they are a virus. A virus that infects all who so much as look at them. At first you don't realize that you have become infected, you think that you are doing the world a service, but as time passes you realize how much of your mind you have lost... how... 'mad' you have become. There is a madness in all of us, and that madness just sprouts new madness. It lurks in the corners of your mind, waiting for that moment when you see a truly horrifying sight, when you are at your weakest. It jumps out and hijacks your soul. Even though you can still think, the only thoughts you have are those of continuing your madness because that is all you can think about. In the end however, you are just fulfilling a role that has been predetermined for you. In the end you cannot stop it no matter how many times you tell yourself.
LIfe is filled with choices, but all of them have been prordained right when you took your first breath. In truth freedom of will is but a pointless folly. We all have a date set for when we fall. The events that encompass our lives have already been planned right from the start. To say I should have done this or that is idiotic at best... yet we cannot help but ask ourselves these questions. It is the mortal query that has plagued us since time began. No matter what you tell yourself, life couldn't have played out differently. It's is a unwise man who screams to the heavens that he could have been different, when in fact he would never be. That... that is the truth to this world."
"You sure talk a lot. You would discount my choices in lieu of some destiny? I may have regrets, but I have made choices I am proud of too. To say that it's all going in one direction is to discount every good deed, every triumph in life. To say that our choices are preordained destroys the value of any living creature. It means that heroes do not deserve to be so, because they were only doing what they were supposed to. It would mean that everything I have done up til this point was worthless! That rescuing Sovereign was nothing more than the whim of something else's will! I refuse to believe that, Penance. And I will not be controlled by you, or by Death! You think things are so cut and dry? Maybe I should do something unexpected then, something the world has never seen before."
Vera ripped off the pounch around her neck, and produced the same stone she found earlier. "My father valued this stone, but he never knew what it was. Everyone I brought it to couldn't identify it. Far as anyone knew, it didn't exist. 'It's just a rock. It has no power.' Says them."
Penance was silent for a bit, "Vera... do you really believe that Arceus does not know each and every decision you will make in your life?" He cocked his head, "Because that is far from the truth. To say Arceus cannot know what you do will mean he is not omnipresent. That means he is not a true god. A god is not only omnipresent, but also knowledgeable about every facet of our existence. To say that there is no destiny is folly. We were both destined to stand here and converse in this manner. It was destiny that such words would come out of our mouths. It is even destiny that we have a day to die, and those who know of when they die and how... it is their destiny to prevent it or to simply let it happen.
We are in a way puppets you could say, those destined to walk a certain path, to die a certain way. Heroes are likewise the same. They are those that are destined for greatness most pokemon never have a chance to see in their lifetime. I am not the one in control of you, nor is Arceus. Every choice you have made is simply fate giving you the belief that you have done something remarkable... when in fact you have not. Vera... your family was fated to die that day, but you were spared. It was not some heavenly god looking down with kidness... it was because you were fated to be spared. Such as how I was fated to become mad... to have this as my own fate."
He looked at the stone, "And I would say the same of that rock. But judging by how you worded your sentence... it is apparently something more?"
"...it's funny. I keep the very thing that was valued by the man I hated. All he saw was a pretty rock, though. That's all anyone ever saw. A simple rock. A worthless girl... Does Arceus even care about what I went through? The hell I endured? I can't believe all that. I'll become something more than what he wanted. Even a simple rock can hold great potential. Screw destiny!"
Vera's hand tightened around the rock into a fist. "No more gods! We're done here!" Purple streams swirled around Vera, as a pink shell manifested around her, like a cocoon.
Penance slowly began to back away as the pink shell appeared. "Hm..." He could feel something swelling here, that wasn't good. He nodded, "I understand that attitude... so do what you will Vera. If my death comes today, then it comes. But I've been wired to not sit down... so it could mean your death is here then." He readied two Water Pulses, "So let us see what fate has in store for us."
The walls of the illusion began to peel away, revealing a smallish room in the underground. The shell around Vera began to crack, a few pieces flying off. The pieces left scorch marks where they landed. Then, all at once, the whole thing bursted into a ball of flame, which as it disapated, revealed a new shape. Something yet unseen. The feathers on Vera's head now flowed in an upward direction. The ones on her torso and legs were now Red and Black, instead of Red and Yellow. Two streams of fire emitted from her wrists, and she stood a bit taller than she did before.
Vera approached the wall of glass which seperated her from her capters. She placed a hand on it, and watched as it turned red, and melted away. "Hello, Penance."
The psychics around them quickly began to port away as the glass melted, yet Penance stood there with his two Water Pulses. "Vera... so... do you think it is my fate to perish this day?" He asked nonchalantly. "Either it is... or fate has another plan in store." He looked down at the colored bracelet he had on his wrist. "You know what always helped me... I always had a gut feeling that luck factored into life. Well, initially. My habits still factor into some things... like whenever death is facing me." He dissipated a Pulse and rubbed his bracelet slowly, "I guess it's a bit of calmness you know? To think you have some method of control..." He glanced back up, "It depends on how fate wants this done. Sometimes fate is a ugly mistress, other times it is beneficial to all. I'm sure you can easily kill me here and now... but unfortunatly I have a ceremony to go to."
He pulled out a inivitation and handed it to the fire type, "Of course you're invited. Honoring the dead you know. Usual stuff, ice cream, drinks, food, dancing, etc. To celebrate the happiness of them no longer feeling pain as well as to show how they lived their life." He walked past her and right to the door, "I assume you're coming so you should really get groomed and what not."
Vera knew Sovereign was gone from here. So that only left... "Where's Hanso?"
Penance glanced back at her, "Up there." He pointed at the hole she had made, "City is up there, go ahead and meet him and have some... alone time." He winked at her in a coy way. "Besides, I think he'll like the new look don't you?"
Vera looked up at the mess she made before jumping up, out of the hole. She was done dealing with Affiliates. She wasn't sure what this form was, or how long it would last, but she seemed to be perfectly healthy now. She needed to find Hanso, as he was probably the only friend she had now.