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  #151    
Old March 15th, 2013, 06:49 AM
Raquira's Avatar
Raquira
Unhatched Egg
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: USA
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Ask about the metal collar-thingy around pidgeots neck. It seems to be keeping him in line, so maybe a similar one could help you control Quilava. Or maybe you shouldn't listen to us at all. According to falkner, we seem to be doing pretty good at leading you to your death.
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Last edited by Raquira; March 15th, 2013 at 04:26 PM.
  #152    
Old March 16th, 2013, 02:15 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
> Wow Othodox the Pc Highest Teir you can get (Well besides us of course ) Anyway ask Falkner if he has any idea what to do next?
What is the longest one of your previous incarnations lasted?
Could he teach you his Training Methods?
Ask he has an extra Pokegear you could use to stay in contact just in case.
> Ask about the metal collar-thingy around pidgeots neck. It seems to be keeping him in line, so maybe a similar one could help you control Quilava. Or maybe you shouldn't listen to us at all. According to falkner, we seem to be doing pretty good at leading you to your death.


“These starters,” you say. “They can be controlled, right? I mean, you've got Jawson there. How did you manage to get him under control?”

Falkner smiles mirthlessly.

“I chopped his head off,” he replies. “Over and over again. Eventually he got the picture. I made that collar out of some iron park railings. Took me a month, but now every time I pull on the chain it feels to him like his head's going to get cut off again, so he quiets down.”

Ah. You're not really sure that that's going to be much help with the Quilava. You're not a head-chopping kind of guy. Nor are you a blacksmith. Nor are you the kind of guy who can get close enough to a living inferno with teeth and claws to put a bladed collar around its neck.

“Fair enough,” you say. “Just out of interest... how long have any of us survived before?”

“Not much longer than this,” he replies. “Usually they don't come back from the next part.”

All at once, you feel unaccountably cold.

“The next part...?” you ask hesitantly.

“Yeah.” Falkner flicks a strange, one-eyed look at the Clair scarecrow, and a little smile crosses his face; it's as though they're sharing a private joke. “You're the PC,” he says. “You're the only one who has any chance of stopping this mess. Agreed?”

“Uh...” You're not really sure. Falkner certainly looks like he could do a good job of it. He's the one with the dragon and the axe. Hell, he's practically a Viking already. “I guess...”

“Then you need to know what happened.”

“You mean you don't know?”

Falkner nodded.

“Yeah. I saw it happen – I saw all the Pokémon change, and the people start dying – but I don't know why. But there's someone who does.”

“Who?” you ask, curiosity winning out over fear for once. “Who is it?”

Falkner is silent for a long time, staring into the forest to the north.

“You have to go to Ecruteak,” he tells you at length. “You have to speak to Morty.”

Ecruteak. The city of Ghosts. They were scary enough before the apocalypse – you dread to think what a Gengar might be like now.

“The Ghosts aren't like the other Eldritch Pokémon,” Falkner continues in a low voice. “They're... weirder. Everything got a little smarter when it changed – and the Ghosts were smart already.”

“What happened?” You don't want to know, not really, but you can't help but ask; Falkner's voice is almost hypnotic, and you can't not know what went on.

“I don't know. Not for sure. I only visited once, and I left fast before they got me. But I saw him... saw Morty...” Falkner's voice breaks, and you stand there uncomfortably, not knowing what to do; thankfully, he recovers soon enough, and turns back towards you. “I don't know,” he says. “I don't know. They got him, and they use him...”

It seems clear that he can't say any more about that particular subject, and you decide it's time to change the topic of conversation.

“Why do I need to find him?” you ask.

“You've been having the dreams, right? The dreams of the sea, and the creatures in the deep.”

You start. How could he know that?

Falkner nods at the look on your face.

“Yeah, we all have them. But I think Morty saw more than most. He's psychic, remember – all that 'I can see what others cannot' stuff is true. He saw right down to the sea bed. He saw... everything.”

“How do you know all this?” you ask.

Falkner shrugs.

“It's mostly guesswork,” he admits. “But I know it's right. I'm not... I'm not the same character I was.” He scratches his head furiously with ragged nails. “There's – I was a threshold guardian,” he says at last, gesticulating wildly. “Someone you had to beat in order to progress. That's not me any more. When the world was shaken up and the story was rewritten... I stopped. I'm not – that – any more. I'm a – a – guide character. A tutorial. Does that make any sense?”

To be frank, it doesn't. Falkner is clearly insane; his eye is bulging wildly from its socket and seems incapable of remaining fixed on any one point, and he's shouting at you like you're half a mile away. Nevertheless, he has an axe, so you nod politely and give him a weak little smile.

“Uh... yeah, I guess so.”

“Good.” Falkner stalks off, scratching his head violently, and you let out a shaky sigh of relief. Only as you do so do you realise you've been holding your breath. Christ. The man is terrifying.

And yes: he is a man. Not a boy, as he was before. Despite the way the rest of the world seems exactly the same as before, Falkner is quite clearly several years older than previously. How does that work? You're not sure. Perhaps you'll find out.

“So, whenever you're ready.” He pops up again out of nowhere like a mad-eyed Jack-in-the-box. “I'll fly you to Ecruteak. But that's it, you hear? After that, you're on your own. I did my part. I gave you information.”

“No chance that we could stay in touch via Pokégear, then?” you ask diffidently.

Falkner laughs. It is not pleasant.

“Hell no!” he snaps. “I'm under no illusions here. You enter that dome, you're as dead as the rest of you.” His lip curls. “I'm not wasting sympathy on another dead PC. It's hard enough to keep myself alive.”

He turns away again, and once more begins his furious, mechanical scratching.

“So. Whenever you're ready.”

All right, Othodox.

Deep breath.

Get your stuff together, make sure you're armed.

Then go save the world.
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  #153    
Old March 16th, 2013, 03:13 AM
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Daydream
Spider-Man
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: That thar Kingdom. The United one.
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
THIS WENT FROM A PLACE THAT WAS SILLY TO A PLACE THAT MADE ME CARE.

I'm imagining spending time looting in Ecruteak would be... Unwise. Head straight for the gym upon arrival.
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  #154    
Old March 16th, 2013, 08:18 AM
Raquira's Avatar
Raquira
Unhatched Egg
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: USA
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
After Meeting morty, lets check out the towers, maybe some of the legends can help you in your quest.
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  #155    
Old March 16th, 2013, 10:28 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
> I'm imagining spending time looting in Ecruteak would be... Unwise. Head straight for the gym upon arrival.
> After Meeting morty, lets check out the towers, maybe some of the legends can help you in your quest.


The ride north is swift and uneventful, and it isn't long before the black dome is close enough to fill your entire field of vision. Jawson touches down on the northern end of Route 37, just south of the place where the old gate once stood – where it may still stand, for all you know; the darkness is completely impenetrable.

“There it is,” says Falkner, staring at the wall of blackness. “Ecruteak City.”

You stare with him. It is not an encouraging sight.

“Clair went in, you know,” he continues, and somehow you get the feeling he's not quite talking to you. “Soon after it all started. I can get him, she said. I can find Morty and bring him out of there. He can help.” He shakes his head. “Christ, Clair... why did you do it? You must have known, really...”

“I – I thought Clair was back at the shrine?” you ask hesitantly.

“That's a puppet, you idiot!” roars Falkner, suddenly furious. “Don't you get it? Don't you see? I know – I know it's not real! I know I'm – that my mind is broken...” He's scratching his head again now, mechanical and fierce. “I know it's not real,” he says quietly, half sobbing. “I know... but I can't believe – and I – they can't die—” He breaks off. “I've got to get back to the others,” he says, getting back onto Jawson's back. “They've probably fallen asleep again, and I have to wake them up... have to make sure they're OK...”

He doesn't say goodbye. Considering his state of mind, you're willing to forgive him for that. You watch the vast bulk of his Pokémon recede into the distance, and as it dwindles you suddenly feel very certain that you're never going to see him again.

Poor guy. You hope he makes it. You hope he can hang on just a little while longer, until you can fix this.

Because you are going to fix this, you tell yourself. You're going to solve this mess once and for all, and put everything back the way it was. You're going to do it for mad Falkner, and haunted Morty, and Clair who went into the dark and never came back. You're going to fix reality, and Mr. Pokémon won't be flattened under his TV any more, and Elm will be back in his lab and everything will be OK.

“I promise,” you say quietly, watching the dot in the blue that you know is Falkner. “It's going to be OK.”

You take a deep breath and take out Vesta's jar. You don't have a Spooky Flaming Torch – you needed both hands to hold on during the flight, and you couldn't exactly put it in your Bag – but the light she gives off will be enough. You hope.

More to put off having to enter Ecruteak than anything else, you have a look at the Bad Egg.

The Egg Watch: It looks like this Egg will take a long time to hatch.

Fair enough; you didn't really expect much else.

OK.

Another deep breath.

You step into the dark.

---

For a moment, everything is unrelentingly black—

—and then you're through, and you're in Ecruteak. Dark mist curls down the streets, but it's light enough to see. The black dome seems to be more of a wall than a solid chunk of darkness. You don't put Vesta away, though. You have a feeling you might need her, though you're not sure what use she'll be against the creatures here.

Ecruteak itself, like the rest of Johto, seems largely untouched. The buildings stand exactly as they did before; the houses, the theatre, the Centre, the Mart – and the Gym, down the road to the west. That strange grey mist shivers and eddies down the streets like a living thing, dancing across windowpanes and coalescing into vague and horrible shapes on rooftops, but other than that, the city looks much as it did before. The ruins of the Burned Tower loom over the city to the north; the Bell Tower is invisible behind the black dome.

Despite how normal it all is, you feel very, very afraid. Something is here, you know, that should not be – even more than the Cyndaquil, or That Thing, or any of the other abominations you've encountered so far. It is something old and powerful and from unimaginably far away, and finding it here, in a city you once knew so well... it chills you to the bone. You almost turn back – but then you remember Falkner, and your determination returns. There's no option. You've failed him before, hundreds of times, but not this time. You're going to save him, and everyone else.

“Poor mad Falkner,” says a mocking, gleeful voice on the wind. “All twisted and scarred, tilting at windmills and fleeing the monsters on broken wings.”

You start.

You know that voice – or something like it.

It sounds an awful lot like Morty, only now it has a horrific, alien edge to it that no human could never imitate: it is the voice of something that learned to speak by listening to Morty, but was held back by a lack of conventional larynx.

It's the voice of the Ghost-types, you realise with a shiver.

“You'd like to save him, wouldn't you?” giggles the voice. “You'd like to make everything good again. To save the world.”

You don't reply. You can't. You just can't talk back to this thing.

“Don't be shy,” it whispers. “Come find us. We're waiting, Othodox. We saved a place for you, darling boy.”

ssss, whines Vesta uneasily from her jar. darkcoldssmoke...misstsssflee...

Crap. Even Vesta's scared, and she doesn't have a brain to be scared with.

But there's no choice, and you begin to walk – slowly, ever so slowly – towards the Gym.

“That's right,” says the voice. “Come, Othodox. Just a little further now...”

You pass a house; you remember there was a man there who gave you an Itemfinder – or a Dowsing Machine, you're not sure. What happened to him? Did he die, like the others? Or did the Ghosts find him, use him like they did Morty?

run, hisses Vesta, a note of genuine panic in her crackly voice. sss...sscared...badplace...

“Will you listen to a fire, Othodox?” asks the voice mockingly. “The very thing you've been running from all this time? We'd have thought you would have welcomed our dark, cold little town after all that heat and flame.”

The Gym looms closer, and now you can see that its windows have gone jet black. There will be no seeing what's inside before the Ghosts want you to.

“Almost there!” sings the voice. “Step inside, Othodox. Just remember to watch your step!”

You remember the mass of teleport pads that take you back to the start if you make a wrong move in the Gym, and wonder with a certain detached horror what the Ghosts have made of them.

ssss, says Vesta insistently. noenter...badbadcold...

The automatic doors slide open, and you hesitate for a moment on seeing the absolute darkness within – but there's no other choice.

You hold Vesta up in front of you, and step once more into the dark.

And there he is.

It's Morty all right, standing just where he always does, at the other end of the long, dark room. He has his back to you right now, but as you enter, he turns and spreads his arms.

“Welcome!” he cries, in that terrible, unnatural voice. “Welcome to our Gym!”

You stare. His movements are strange – swift and jerky, like a low-grade animation. And his face – oh God, his face! Those eyes, that skin, that smile... You know exactly why Falkner left town now, and why he can't speak about it. You find it difficult to believe that this could ever have been a man.

Vesta lets out an incoherent, crackling shriek, and burns down low in her jar in fear. You only wish you could do the same.

Morty's grin broadens, and his jaw opens and shuts noiselessly, lips held still as if made of wax. A moment later, just enough to be noticeably out of sync with his movements, the voice rings out:

“I'm over here, Othodox. You remember the way across, don't you? We have the answers you want, if you'll only come and get them.”

No turning back, you think. I am the player character.

You take a step closer, towards the part of the Gym where the warp panels begin. He's right, you do know the path – and with Vesta's faint light to guide you, you think you can manage it easily enough.

“That's right,” says Morty, leaning towards you with something nameless crawling in the pits of his eyes. “Closer...”

First step. Your foot makes contact with solid stone. So far so good. On either side of you, you see the voids where the warp panels were – and where there is nothing now but roiling clouds of that awful grey mist, fitfully illuminated in Vesta's eerie green. A wrong step here, you realise, is going to cost you more than a few minutes' return time.

“Well done,” coos Morty, head jerking about grotesquely on his shoulders. “Such a clever boy.”

It's not Morty, you tell yourself. It's not. He doesn't talk like that. This is that Gengar of his, or the Haunter, or those Gastly... Or all of them together, piled up one atop the other to create some kind of mega-Ghost. Maybe that's possible; you don't know. After all, they're all made of gas, aren't they? Can they mix?

“Closer,” he insists. “Closer, if you want your reward.”

sss, babbles Vesta fearfully, beyond even her usual semi-coherent speech. sss...

More steps. The path goes just as you remember it, and now you're moving faster, gaining confidence. You keep your eyes on the ground, partly to make sure of your way and partly to prevent yourself seeing the thing you're approaching.

“Closer,” repeats Morty hungrily. “Closer.”

Wait...

Should you be obeying him?

You stop, and immediately he starts talking.

“Closer,” he says. “Come over here, and we can talk. We know everything, Othodox. Morty saw it all, before we flowed into him and he became us. We know what lies on the sea floor, and why the smell of petroleum prevails throughout.”

You risk a glance at him, and wish you hadn't. From here, you can see more of his face than you want, and the image lingers horribly before your eyes when you look away.

“Why closer?” you ask – the first thing you've said since setting foot here. “Why can't we talk here?”

“We have the knowledge, we make the terms,” says Morty, part of the hideous sing-song tone fading from his voice. “Come here!”

“No,” you say, surprising yourself with the strength of your voice. “No, if you want me, you'll have to come over here.”

Morty screams. It is the single worst experience of your life – not because of the noise, although the unearthly shrieking is certainly bad; no, this is more because of the way it distorts his mouth into a perfect, gaping circle, blasting teeth from his jaw in a percussive wave of sound.

“Come here!” he growls, and any trace of Morty in the voice is gone now. This is simply the voice of the Ghosts, you know. “Or we will come to you.”

Actually, you don't like the sound of that. In fact, you're no longer sure whether to keep going or to stay where you are.

You're going to have to decide soon, though.
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  #156    
Old March 16th, 2013, 10:46 AM
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StinkomanFan
Intern of the Pokemon world
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
>Follow the crazy guy, but keep your weapon ready
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  #157    
Old March 16th, 2013, 11:04 AM
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Lopnis
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Gender: Male
Stay where you are I think I got an idea well two 1. we try to catch it than threaten to leave it in the purifying light of the shrine until it tells us or 2. We threaten to let Vesta feed to her hearts content, turn their dark sanctuary into a blazing inferno
  #158    
Old March 16th, 2013, 03:35 PM
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Daydream
Spider-Man
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: That thar Kingdom. The United one.
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
I would suggest that since you probably can't escape, and are probably up against unknown amounts of powerful enemies, that continuing on is likely your only option. Worst comes to worst, throw Vesta at its face.
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  #159    
Old March 16th, 2013, 04:08 PM
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Raquira
Unhatched Egg
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: USA
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Do as the ghosts wish, they hold the cards here after all.
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  #160    
Old March 16th, 2013, 07:04 PM
TheTimetraveler.'s Avatar
TheTimetraveler.
Unhatched Egg
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Gender: Female
Continue. The ghosts have the power right now. If something goes bad. Torch the place with Vesta.
  #161    
Old March 17th, 2013, 02:50 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
> Follow the crazy guy, but keep your weapon ready
> Stay where you are I think I got an idea well two 1. we try to catch it than threaten to leave it in the purifying light of the shrine until it tells us or 2. We threaten to let Vesta feed to her hearts content, turn their dark sanctuary into a blazing inferno
> I would suggest that since you probably can't escape, and are probably up against unknown amounts of powerful enemies, that continuing on is likely your only option. Worst comes to worst, throw Vesta at its face.
> Do as the ghosts wish, they hold the cards here after all.
> Continue. The ghosts have the power right now. If something goes bad. Torch the place with Vesta.


(Four to one. Othodox will continue.)

You don't want to go near that thing. You really don't.

But he's right. You have no choice.

You drag your feet, but you keep walking.

Morty relaxes visibly, sagging like a puppet on slack strings.

“Good,” he says. “Good.”

As you get closer, the air gets colder. Vaguely, you remember the Pokédex entry about lurking Gengar; they can conceal themselves, you recall, but their presence leeches the heat from the air. You wonder if the cold is what has distorted Morty's skin, made it crack and blister as it has done.

You wonder if it can extinguish Vesta.

“Why do you want me to come closer?” you ask hesitantly, though you don't stop moving.

“We hunger,” breathes Morty, and for a moment his voice splits apart into a hundred others. “We must feed.”

“What do you eat?” you ask. You have no idea why. It just seems like the right thing to say.

Morty grins.

“That would be telling,” he replies, the many voices melding back into one. “Just come here, Othodox. We have so much to discuss.”

You walk on a little further. The cold is incredible now; it's as if you're walking forwards into the teeth of a windless blizzard. Vesta wails weakly and shrinks down to cinders in her jar, and you hold her close, trying to keep her from going out.

ssss, she hisses frantically. sssscold...

And now you're there: just a few feet away from the thing that once was Morty and now seems to be nothing but a façade for the seething darkness beyond. You force your eyes up from the ground and up to his face, and he smiles at you.

Brave Othodox,” he says. “So much fear to overcome...”

Fear?

“Fear,” you say slowly. “You eat... fear?”

“Amongst other things,” murmurs Morty in a dark, rich voice. “Yours made a piquant starter.”

His head slumps and something black with eyes like frozen stars oozes from the back of his neck, rising into a hump over his head, trickling through his hair. A faint smell of petrol comes to your nose, and you know that this must be one of the Eldritch Ghost-types. It's smaller than you thought, but no less terrifying; of all the Pokémon you've seen, this one most truly deserves the epithet eldritch. There is a hideous eerie wrongness about it that outshines the Cyndaquil, the Pidgeot, everything; it is a blasphemy against the universe itself.

“Give it to us,” says the Ghost, no longer bothering with Morty's face. “Give us the flame.”

You look at Vesta.

“What – this?”

You tap the jar.

That,” confirms the Ghost greedily. “It burns with life – young, fiery life, the perfect dish for such a cold night as this.”

You consider. Should you give them Vesta? You're not sure. It will buy you information, that's for certain, and it may stop them eating your life, which you're pretty keen to do. On the other hand, Vesta is your only protection – and, since she started showing signs of emotion and increased intellect, you're not so sure you could live with the guilt of wilfully destroying her.

Then again, would she last anyway? If you can fix the world, Eldritch Pokémon might no longer exist. Perhaps Vesta would vanish with the rest of the taint – assuming it can be banished, that is.

And then there's something else, some faint dust-veiled alarm bell beginning to trill in the back of your head – a sense that something is not right here, beyond the ghoulish creature before you, beyond the tumultuous abyss below you and the darkness all around.

“Give it to us,” says the Ghost, more imperiously this time, and it stretches out Morty's arms towards you, fingers crooked into clutching claws. “Now.”

You look at the black lump with its dead eyes, and the body beneath it. You look at Vesta, huddled small and scared at the base of her jar.

What do you do?
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  #162    
Old March 17th, 2013, 07:41 AM
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Daydream
Spider-Man
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: That thar Kingdom. The United one.
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Don't give them Vesta. Stand your ground, and threaten to jump into the warp panels.
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  #163    
Old March 17th, 2013, 07:56 AM
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Lopnis
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Gender: Male
Do not hand Vesta over to them, you created her and only a coward abandons what it created. If you're going to give something throw a pokeball instead maybe this will be the one in a million easy capture with a pokeball
  #164    
Old March 17th, 2013, 10:19 AM
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Raquira
Unhatched Egg
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: USA
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Don't hand over vesta. instead, see if anything in your bag will please the ghosts.
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  #165    
Old March 17th, 2013, 02:08 PM
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Ragnia
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: ...What?
Gender: Male
Nature: Calm
Assuming you still have it, see if the ghosts will take the spooky torch. I mean it's the same flame as Vesta, but the only difference is that you don't have an emotional attachment to the torch. If you don't have a torch, see if the ghosts will let you light a new one using Vesta.
  #166    
Old March 17th, 2013, 02:11 PM
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StinkomanFan
Intern of the Pokemon world
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Never let Vesta go. She's a crime against nature, sure, but she's the closest thing to a family you have right now.
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  #167    
Old March 17th, 2013, 03:22 PM
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TheTimetraveler.
Unhatched Egg
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Gender: Female
"Never gonna give you up" Do not ever give Vesta up. Shes probably become attached to you as well... As much as a sentient flame that eats everything can. Instead, Offer them something else. The torch maybe? If you get out of this alive. Check the state of your dress.
  #168    
Old March 17th, 2013, 07:33 PM
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destinedjagold
Oh Hai Thar~ 'ω'
 
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Location: Philippines
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Promise the ghost that you'll give Vesta, but squeeze some info from them first. If they won't give info and demand Vesta, run away as fast as you can. And by "run away", I mean don't give up Vesta. :3
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  #169    
Old March 19th, 2013, 11:36 AM
Cutlerine
Gone. May or may not return.
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 20
Gender:
Nature: Impish
> Don't give them Vesta. Stand your ground, and threaten to jump into the warp panels.
> Do not hand Vesta over to them, you created her and only a coward abandons what it created. If you're going to give something throw a pokeball instead maybe this will be the one in a million easy capture with a pokeball
> Don't hand over vesta. instead, see if anything in your bag will please the ghosts.
> Assuming you still have it, see if the ghosts will take the spooky torch. I mean it's the same flame as Vesta, but the only difference is that you don't have an emotional attachment to the torch. If you don't have a torch, see if the ghosts will let you light a new one using Vesta.
> Never let Vesta go. She's a crime against nature, sure, but she's the closest thing to a family you have right now.
> "Never gonna give you up" Do not ever give Vesta up. Shes probably become attached to you as well... As much as a sentient flame that eats everything can. Instead, Offer them something else. The torch maybe? If you get out of this alive. Check the state of your dress.
> Promise the ghost that you'll give Vesta, but squeeze some info from them first. If they won't give info and demand Vesta, run away as fast as you can. And by "run away", I mean don't give up Vesta. :3


The Narrator is slightly overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of love for Vesta booming out from the voices in your skull, but does not let that stand in the way of a good story.

“OK,” you say slowly. “Tell me something first. So, uh... so I know you aren't lying.”

Yes! The Narrator saw fit to allow you to have a good idea for once!

The Ghost gives you a withering look. Since it comes from eyes that can see through souls, this is almost a literal description of what it does to your face.

“You're lying,” it hisses. “You won't give it to us...”

Well, so much for the Narrator being on your side.

“Don't you want to save the world?” asks the Ghost, bubbling like a swelling pustule further out of Morty's skull. “Don't you want to survive your visit to this Gym? Othodox, Othodox, Othodox – we were so sure you were smarter than that.”

“She's all I have,” you say. You're not sure what else you can say.

It does not appear possible to appeal to a Ghost's humanity, presumably for the excellent reason that it is not, in fact, human.

“Then you have nothing else to offer,” it replies. “Nothing save your own life, that is.”

“Can't I light a fire from her and give it to you?” you ask. “Won't that work?”

“This is a fire lit from a fire lit from a fire,” the Ghost says contemptuously. “With each layer of distance from the source, its life diminishes. Another level and it's not going to be worth the effort of digestion.” It twitches Morty's fingers, a puppeteer deftly flicking a string. “Come on, Othodox. You know what to do.”

“I could jump off the path,” you say. “I could jump off the path if you don't tell me—”

“What do you think the dark is, Othodox?” says that hideous multitude of voices, and all at once dozens of pairs of cold white eyes light up in the dark below and around you – no, not in the dark, you realise; the Ghosts aren't in the dark – they are the dark! The entire Gym is packed with the Ghost-types of every Trainer who worked here, all the Sages and Mediums; Gastly and Haunter without number, crowding around in midnight swarms of eyes and fangs and toxic, clutching hands.

You take a step back, but a horde of sharp-fingered hands brush against your back and you halt abruptly.

“Oh, poor Othodox,” says Morty, his head snapping back up and the Ghost vanishing within his neck. “We're Ghosts, darling boy. What did you expect of us? There's no honour amongst the semi-living.”

The dark crowds in around you, and soft, sinister fingers press up against you on all sides; Morty takes a hesitant, jerky step forwards, and the cold light of the Ghost's eyes burns through his pupils.

“Now,” he commands. “Give it to me.”

You shake your head. You're not certain about very much right now, but you're certain of this.

“No way,” you say, clutching Vesta to your chest. “She's mine.”

Defending your sacred fire is the sort of thing flame goddesses approve of, by the way.

Othodox's Devotion has drastically increased!

Othodox is now Smiled Upon by Tabiti!


“Listen,” says the Ghost – and all its fellows, too, their voices echoing through Morty's blackened mouth. “Othodox. We gave you a choice, but there was never really any choice in it. If we can't have your fire, we'll have you.”

“I know,” you say. “I don't care.”

The muscles of Morty's face shift in ways that they never could in life, sliding off the bone and warping it into the most contorted rictus of rage and disbelief you have ever seen. If you had any lingering hopes that Morty might still be in that shell, somewhere, they're dispelled in an instant: there is nothing human in that thing any more.

The Ghosts don't say anything. They don't have to. All that's necessary is the crawl of their squidgy fingers over your shoulders, slowly, so slowly, creeping towards your mouth.

The Gym falls apart.

At once, the Ghosts recede, their inky surface boiling in confusion and fright; the walls of the Gym have fragmented and just floated away, the roof spiralling up into the dizzying heights of the black dome, and everything is completely goddamn impossible but it's still happening, and—

“No!” howl the Ghosts, their eyes turning upwards, a hundred toothy mouths opening up in their surface to scream at the black sky. “What are you doing? He's ours!”

Their voices are no longer frightening. They sound petulant and whiny, kids telling their mother that their punishment isn't fair.

Not this time, replies a titan voice that echoes slowly in your skull, every letter of every word sinking into your mind as if cast in lead. This one is mine.

“But—”

Mine! repeats the voice sternly, and the Ghosts shrink back, gibbering and whining, slinking away in packs through the mist-haunted streets. Morty looks around wildly, following them with wide, staring eyes – and then collapses, a black blob arcing from his throat and out over the rooftops.

You stare.

Well.

You thought you'd run out of deus ex machina moments two near-deaths ago. Looks like you were wrong.

But who, or what, has saved you this time?

Just as you're wondering this, two huge eyes, infinitely ancient and infinitely cold, open in the darkness above, and a shattering realisation courses through your body.

The black dome is a gigantic Ghost.

The Pokédex beeps, but you don't need that to tell you that this gigantic creature is the Eldritch Gengar.

You have come here before, it tells you. Its voice seems to come from a place so far away that time has not yet reached it. Every time, you pleaded for your life. Every time, the Gastly and the Haunter ate your soul and added your flayed body to the collection.

You came here for information, but this is the sort you really could do without.

Once you offered them Falkner if they let you go, the Gengar continues. There might be contempt in its voice. It's too big for you to be certain. But... this time, something is different. This time, you chose to sacrifice yourself for the merest spark of life.

“Uh, OK... So you've decided to spare me on account of my altruism?” you ask hopefully.

I have not decided anything yet, the Gengar says. For now, I just want to know why.

“Why?” You weren't expecting that, but the answer's clear enough. “Why? Vesta is... she's all I have. I made her, and I've looked after her, and she's... well, she hasn't protected me yet, but she would if she had to.”

sss... Vesta seems to have heard that. She's making little sizzling noises now, and you tear your eyes away from the Gengar above for one moment to see that green drops of napalm are trickling from her embers.

Dear God, your pet fire is crying. You weren't aware she had a heart for you to move, or eyes to cry with for that matter, but the sentiment still gets you.

Othodox's Devotion has increased!

Othodox is A Friend to Fire in the Eyes of Tabiti!


“I... I can't abandon her,” you go on, dragging your gaze back up to the Cyclopean eyes in the sky. “I just can't.”

Sentimentality, murmurs the Gengar. How mortal. A rare and piquant emotion indeed, these days... For that, I shall indeed let you live. You will not be harmed within my borders.

The eyes close, and you blink in confusion. Is that it? It's just going to spare you and send you on your way? You came here for the untold secrets of the apocalypse, goddammit, and considering what you had to go through just then to get here, you're not leaving without them.

“What about the information I came here for?” you yell at the sky. “Can't I have that?”

The Gengar's eyes slide open once again.

Why? it asks. Why should I want to help you return the world to the way it was before? Look at me. Look at how I have benefited from the Dreaming. What is there to make me want to turn things back to normal?

That stumps you. You'd forgotten that for the Pokémon, this has actually been quite a good thing: they've risen to supremacy over humanity and gained significant power boosts. And in the case of the Ghost-types, they've also gained about 70 IQ points, going from Forrest Gump to near-genius overnight and placing them at the top of the new pecking order.

But there must be something. That's how these things work: there's always a way out of every situation, and therefore there has to be something you can say to bring the Gengar around to your point of view.

Time to get your thinking cap on.
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  #170    
Old March 19th, 2013, 12:03 PM
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Raquira
Unhatched Egg
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Nature: Quirky
Since you're safe within the borders of the town, let's go looting!
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  #171    
Old March 19th, 2013, 02:50 PM
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StinkomanFan
Intern of the Pokemon world
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
>Point out that Ghost-types were once humans as well
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  #172    
Old March 19th, 2013, 03:06 PM
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Adin Terim
Absolutely Insane
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Nature: Adamant
Try pointing out that if you aren't able to fix whatever is wrong then everything will be stuck in a loop, repeating itself every time you die. (at least I think that's how the 'game' works)
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  #173    
Old March 19th, 2013, 03:14 PM
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Daydream
Spider-Man
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: That thar Kingdom. The United one.
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Nature: Quirky
Perhaps talk about Morty. This is his Gengar, after all - mustn't they have had some form of bond? Try to convince the Gengar that the companionship between humans and Pokémon is worth preserving, worth bringing back.
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  #174    
Old March 19th, 2013, 03:57 PM
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Lopnis
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Gender: Male
Though this may not affect a ghost type point out that since the events has risen the stacks, so to speak, it's not longer fainting it's dying for everyone even him he's powerful but what if a pack of dark types come along what will happen to their haven than?
  #175    
Old March 20th, 2013, 07:04 AM
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Charvisioku
Psyduck Fanatic
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: York, UK
Age: 21
Gender: Female
((Oh god if that's what Ghost-types are like, imagine what an Eldritch Alakazam's IQ would be! That's a terrifying thought...))

I think you should go to the dance theatre and see if the Kimono Girls are still alive. If so, they may be able to help since they always seemed to have an exceptionally strong bond with Pokemon. Might be wise to check out the legendary towers too, Tabiti might have possessed Ho-oh; how helpful would that be if it'd join you?
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