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The Crusade of Dark Nostalgia
Rating: PG-13 for moderate language, violence, tobacco/alcohol usage, some adult humor/insinuation, and dark themes throughout
Disclaimer: This fiction is the work of a fan author and is in no means meant to infringe on the copyrights of Nintendo, Game Freak, or Pokémon. As a work of fiction, this story is written under the premise of fair use, is not for monetary gain, and is meant for the entertainment of fellow Pokémon fans in the public domain.
Genres: Science Fiction and Dark Fantasy
Bases: Original Region, Pokémon Colosseum and XD: Gale of Darkness
About my fake Region: Ronac is a massive region located far to the west of Sinnoh across the Kainos Ocean. It consists of two primary areas, a continental expanse that takes up two-thirds of the region’s northwestern section and an oceanic portion that takes up the remaining third to the south and east. These zones are further subdivided into the East Mainland, the West Mainland, the Kainos Ocean (to the east), and the Sea of Golbania (to the south). East Mainland Ronac is dominated mostly by an expansive woodland, save for the southernmost third where many seaside ports and farming communities have sprung up, while the West Mainland primarily consists of ruins and wasteland; a sprawling canyon known as the Otulp Abyss separates the two parts by splitting the landmass virtually in half, extending from the foothills of Mount Corona (which lies dead-center in the northern mountain range) to exactly 666 miles from the delta of the Morgus River. Numerous island communities also exist in the region’s seas, with larger ones located towards Ronac’s easternmost reaches and smaller ones in the scattered throughout the south.
Part One: Lost in Longing
i. Renaissance (In OP)
III. No Country for Old Men
IV. Cause of Infection
VI. Bad Blood
VII. The Gods of Nostalgia
Part Two: Found In Fury
IX. Sky-High Expectations
X. The Parasitic Punisher
XI. Trails of the Forgotten
One: Lost in Longing
Maritide Island-North, Ronac Region
International Institute of Pokémon Science
Monday, May 19, 1986-11:32 p.m.
Felicia stood alone in the eerily quiet corridor outside the school’s main biology lab, waiting patiently for her professor. After a hard day, she was glad to finally be heading home for the evening with a good night’s sleep anticipated upon her arrival.
At twenty-six years old, the tall graduate student had a rather voluptuous physique. In the hall’s dimmed lighting, her dark blue shirt and matching jeans appeared to form a solid black jumpsuit, and her narrow-framed glasses gave off a faint reflection that obscured her beautiful sapphire eyes. Clenching her binder underarm, the fair-skinned brunette felt a tinge of apprehension overtake her body. She hated being at the university this late but recently it’d become increasingly necessary.
Hearing the door creak open behind her, the woman took a deep breath. Then she slowly turned to see her professor come out.
The gentleman was a stout fellow about a foot shorter than Felicia. Evidently in his late fifties, he had a receding black hairline with thinning sideburns as well as a graying beard and moustache. Overall his attire seemed fairly relaxed given his position, consisting of a tweed sweater-vest over a green plaid shirt, a pair of sleek black pants, and blue suede shoes. With a curious glint in his deep green eyes, the man pivoted back around so he could lock the door.
“I thought you were on your way out. What’s the matter?” he asked in a suave baritone.
“Nothing, Dr. Nobles…” Felicia murmured.
“Is that so? Not worried about your project now, are you?” She nodded slightly, and Dr. Nobles faced her grinningly.
“I’ve told you time and again. So long as she’s in her Stasis Ball, Doxinox will be fine. There’s not a Pokémon alive capable of escaping a unit that powerful.” She snorted at the comment.
“Don’t fret about it, my dear. When the committee sees the data you’ve collected and your experiment’s final results, they’ll be flabbergasted,” he continued, “You’ll see.”
“Now, if that’s all, let’s go.” She nodded, and then the two started down the long hallway towards the entrance.
For years, Dr. Edwin Nobles ran the most prestigious academy in Ronac, focused strictly on developing students’ minds for the world of Pokémon research. Many passed through its hallowed halls over the years, learning the true ways of scientific discovery through hands-on involvement and classes that utilized state-of-the-art technology. Yet in his entire time at IIPS, the man never imagined seeing something that would put even Charles Darwin to shame, let alone it being from one of his own students.
As they approached the end of the hall, Felicia felt an unusual chill in the air. Immediately she stopped dead in her tracks.
“What’s wrong?” Edwin asked, shooting her an awkward stare.
“Do you feel something?” she replied. Goosebumps rose on her skin, and the hairs on the back of her neck stood straight up. It felt as if a spirit just passed through her, though she knew all the university’s Ghost-type Pokémon were kept elsewhere on-campus.
“What do you mean?”
“Seriously? You don’t feel that chill?” She started rubbing her arms but it didn’t seem to help. Her skin felt cold as ice.
“Why?” a weak voice then whispered.
Turning around, she whined, “Tell me you heard that!”
“What the hell are you talking about? Hear what?”
“How could she do this?” it continued, slightly louder now. The tone sounded male, but it was still too quiet to tell for sure.
“There it goes again.”
“I doubt this, but a Gastly may have escaped from the Spectral Studies wing. Even so, it’s nothing to worry about. I’ll handle it come morning. Let’s go!” Felicia finally shrugged, and they began heading out again.
Barely a few moments passed before they reached the lobby, and then an ominous cry began to scream like a siren. The shriek was incredibly high-pitched with a bizarre gurgling noise mixed into its resonance.
“Impossible…” both slurred as they whipped their bodies around.
“Tayi-vek lu sha!” the voice of a woman shouted from back down the hall.
“Please tell me you heard that!” Felicia screamed.
“Of course, but wasn’t that language…Quofyi?”
Suddenly a horrible gust of wind blasted them backwards onto the floor, its ungodly howl rivaling the bays of many wolves. As the shockwave passed, Felicia felt something overcome her. Her confusion about what was transpiring faded quickly, only to be replaced by a very stark realization; someone or something was after her project. Jumping to her feet, she heard the lobby’s front windows shatter from the force of the gale. She then sprinted headlong back towards the lab.
Each step she took felt longer than the last. Time itself seemed as though it were slowing down as she got closer to the fight. Bloodlust fueled her entire being; rage didn’t even begin to describe her hatred anymore.
The moans and cries of both Pokémon carried throughout the entire building the whole time she approached. At first, she heard gargling followed by powerful explosions, no doubt Doxinox using her signature ability to fend off the assailant. But then, there were several howls followed by a series of high-pitched squeals. Clearly the enemy couldn’t be harmed by biological attacks…
When she finally reached to the intersection, Felicia stopped for a moment in astonishment. The door and parts of the adjacent walls had been cut out to form an opening in the shape of a perfect circle over nine-feet in diameter. However, the interior of the room on the other side looked completely dark, though she knew at least some moonlight should have filtered in from the windows on the far side of the room. Only a blinking white dot at the center of the hole gave off any illumination whatsoever.
“Shine Vector?” the woman whimpered, feeling her anger turn into total dread.
“Why?” the male whisper again asked.
Immediately, the speck burst into an all-consuming silver light and a surge of intense gravity drew Felicia straight to the floor. Trying to stay on her hands and knees, the girl had to endure the most brutal torment imaginable. Her body fluids sloshed back and forth violently; her flesh felt like it was being pulled every which way; and her eyes, ears, and nose seemed like they were going to bleed with the tremendous strain being put upon her. It was impossible to tell how long it lasted; seconds, minutes, hours…they all seemed meaningless in this unbearable hell. But, the sensation suddenly ended with the sound of an abrupt crash.
Coughing up some blood, Felicia slowly got back onto her feet. Her body quivered from weakness and most of it ached from the stress the force put on her, but she was still very much alive. Even so, her condition seemed insignificant compared to her desperation to see if her project survived as well. When she caught her breath, the woman staggered into the lab.
From what she saw, the entire place was ransacked. The desks and tables had been pushed off to the far sides of the large room, most flipped on their sides or upside down and some completely destroyed. Test tubes, centrifuges, beakers, and any of the other small equipment left out for morning classes were broken and scattered across the floor. Worst of all, though, a thick layer of glowing green-and-black ooze covered most of the floor. She couldn’t believe this much damage happened in mere moments.
Exasperated Felicia ambled towards a massive hole she spotted in the room’s far wall. Just a few feet from it, the girl stepped on an odd hemispherical object hidden in the slime. Kicking it aside and then another one that emerged right next to it, she realized immediately what they were.
“God, damn it! What the f…” she cursed until a hand shook her right arm. Taking a deep breath, the girl turned hoping to see her professor, only instead to meet the inquisitive stare of…something else…
Directly behind her hovered the most alien Pokémon she’d seen in her entire life. With a generally arrow-like form, she gauged that the creature was over twelve-feet-long from head to tail. Its face appeared to be unusually conical with a slightly rounded nose and ears comparable to isosceles triangles, which jutted straight upwards from its temples. At the stem of its rather elongated neck, the being had a stout egg-shaped body with a pair of curved wings that seemed to form a virtual heart at its buttocks. Lastly, from what she could tell, a pair of attached oval disks served as either the creature’s feet or its tails.
“How could she do this?” the whisper again asked. Right afterwards, the entity curled his neck back and positioned his body in a vertical fashion so he could stare Felicia down with his slanted auburn-glowing eyes.
“You can talk?” she screamed at him.
“Insolent girl… Of course, I can speak! Where did my sister go? What does she hope to gain by doing this?”
“I…I don’t know what you’re talking about! I just came to check on my project!”
“ANSWER ME! NOW!” he finally bellowed in a terrifying voice that seemed to quake the entire building.
She immediately covered her ears but it didn’t do any good. The sound echoed from beyond her physical being, and almost as if straight from the deepest parts of her mind. If he kept it up for too long, she knew she’d be dead…
I've been working on this and its sister fanfic (Dark Nostalgia: Biohazard) off-and-on for several years, so any new input is welcome. Just know I don't take well to people tearing my work apart, but actual critiques are more than appreciated.
I have yet to read a fic where the writer incorporates their own region, and I look forward to see how you handled it.
Okay, I can tell you have been working on this a long time. It flows very well and I wasn't lost. The writing is polished and I don't really have anything to say about it. I know you were probably hoping for ways to improve, but I don't have anything more to say about it. I like the idea of you creating your own region, and I look forward to reading how it turns out.
There was a reason I put that sad face after the quote of "End Prologue". I wanted to read more. It wasn't because I like reviewing, but rather you had captured my attention and I legitimately wanted to read on. That doesn't happen often and I look forward to future updates, where maybe I can give a half decent review.
Click the eggs?
Aye, I'm not new to writing by any standard. I've been working on this story (and its indirect sequel) off-and-on 2007. I've gone through a couple different drafts too, but only recently I've refined the plot into a version I actually liked.
I use somewhat of an unorthodox writing style, which is why there's a sudden cutoff in the prologue. The main point is to make readers wonder if Felicia actually survives and build up the conflict for the entire story. There are a lot of minute details about this one event that don't really come into play a few chapters in, but I can't specify what, otherwise it'll spoil the plot.
Pawford City, Ronac Region
Saturday, June 7, 2008-7:29 a.m.
“Humans are such fragile creatures. Wouldn’t you agree?” a woman whispered into my right ear, her voice a seductive soprano.
“Who…who are you?” I asked her, unsure of what was happening. I tried to open my eyes, but it felt as though they’d been glued shut.
For several moments, the lady hovered over my shoulders, exhaling down the back of my neck. Her breath seemed unusually cool. It sent terrible chills down my spine, the type of which I’d never felt before. What’s going on?
“Their spirits are so easily shattered, like so many panes of glass. Isn’t that right?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
Carefully she pressed something against my throat, the flat edge of a knife judging by its feel. Then she slowly moved its tip so that it was next to my Adam’s apple. After a short pause, the woman jerked it across the rest of my neck jaggedly.
“You’re all just so pathetic,” she chuckled as I screamed.
“Are you insane?” I woofed, realizing she didn’t cut me.
She burst into a full-on laugh for several minutes before finally replying, “You remember, don’t you? The rush you always got with the crowd chanting your precious nickname. Feral… Feral. Feral!”
“Feral! Feral! Feral!” people started to shout behind me in unison.
“And the perspiration dripping down your forehead?” she said, moving over to my left ear, “Surely you remember that.” The area suddenly got hotter, and I began to sweat like crazy.
“What are you doing to me?”
“And the light… That blinding light! Wasn’t that why you closed your eyes to begin with?” Powerful sunrays shone directly in my eyes. I put my hand in front of my face to block them, but it didn’t do any good because of their intensity.
“And Apollo… We can’t forget him. His cry was enough to startle even you, correct?”
A Pokémon then yelped shrilly, causing me to finally force my eyes open. The building’s lights still overwhelmed me for a moment, making everything appear as a white blur. Afterwards, I could see that I stood inside a massive stadium surrounded by rising stands filled with thousands of roaring fans, some of who kept shouting my nickname at the top of their lungs. Before me, there laid a sprawling battlefield marked by a rectangular chalk-line border and with referees on the far right and left sides.
Hearing the creature growl, I turned my gaze forward to the sight of a large weasel Pokémon floating just above the floor several feet from me. The eight-foot-tall mammal had a beautiful coat that slowly transitioned from magenta around his neck, to pink near his belly, and then white at his waist. Behind his face there was a wide frill of golden hair, which had grown out into triangular points to form a type of sun disk. A series of yellow-orange fire arcs raged down his neck in an upside-down V shape, with similar flares wavering back from each shoulder like streamers in the wind. From the opening between his neck’s fires, a huge streak of burnt fur extended all the way down his back to his buttocks, where it gave way to a bluish-white inferno atop his somewhat bulbous tail. Likewise, I noticed he had additional burn marks arcing across the top of each hind leg.
“Damn it, Jay! Focus! What should I do now?” my Incinermyn yelled at me telepathically.
Cringing from the resulting headache, I yelled, “Pyro Salvo!” Then I gazed across the field at his opponent.
Staggering from a previous attack, Apollo’s enemy was a behemoth to say the least. At nine-and-a-half feet tall, the dark-green Pokémon had a body comparable to a stegosaurus with seven rows of massive spikes growing out of its back. While his head appeared rather small and rounded for his size, the monster had two massive horns and a pair of long pointed ears that easily offset the fact. Similarly several branches covered in barbs grew from his temples and worked their way around his body as if they were his veins, twisting around his short neck, spines, forelegs, and even his long spiked-tipped tail while making noticeable twitching movements all their own. After I saw the demon porcupine bare his serrated fangs in anguish, I remembered that the two beasts were in the middle of a virtual death match.
My Incinermyn shifted his body upright so his tail’s tip touched the ground. Numerous fireballs then shot from the weasel’s forehead. They all hit their mark, exploding right in the Nettlepine’s face in rapid succession and making the monster cry out in terrible agony.
“Thorn Forest!” a teenage girl cried, her voice gentle yet a bit aggravated.
Turning my stare slightly off to the right, I noticed that the behemoth’s owner was a young woman no older than seventeen. She looked slim and stood at a height of about five-foot-two. Her attire consisted of a tie-dye green shirt with the silk-screen picture of a Leafeon lying on a patch of grass, blue jeans, and sleek black boots; the Pokémon in the photo gazed straight at any onlookers inquisitively, while wearing an olive collar around her neck with a blue crystal dangling from it. The girl’s brunette locks were combed back and slung around to one side so that her hair hung over her left shoulder. Lastly, I noted she wore gold bracelets on both wrists, each with three Poké Balls hanging from them as charms.
Her Pokémon roared, while rearing his head backwards and then slammed his forepaws into the ground in succession. The impact made large craters before him, which he further dug his overgrown claws into. Right after that, the vines on his legs shot into the earth.
“Don’t let him finish that attack!” I shouted.
Apollo aimed his head skyward, revealing his maw, his closed eyes, and the large ruby embedded in his brow. The flames on his shoulders and neck turned bluish-white, and then slowed to an almost-ethereal burn. Next his gem glistened, psychically causing all his burn marks to start ablaze. Suddenly the hellfire swirled around him like a funnel, congregating into an enormous fireball over his head.
“Sol Wake!” Apollo then head-butted the sphere to the ceiling, where it brightened into a miniature version of the sun.
“Quick, Luke, use Endure instead!” the girl abruptly shouted.
“You cocky little…” I slurred, until bands of solar fire from Apollo’s attack swept down onto the battlefield.
Both Pokémon screamed in bloodcurdling agony as they were swathed by the heat and plasma. I knew that even strong Fire Pokémon couldn’t survive an inferno like that, especially in Apollo’s condition.
After the onslaught ended, I dropped to my knees in astonishment. Apollo was still floating while his rival lay on the ground panting heavily. Just as I stood up again, my Incinermyn slowly cocked his head backwards and spun around several times until he fell hard onto his side.
“And Apollo goes down! Amazing, folks! In a match that will surely go down in legend for decades to come, Jay has just lost to his little sister. Congratulations to Ronac’s new League Champion, Megan Christie!” an announcer’s voice boomed over the loudspeaker.
“Apollo…I’m sorry…” I whimpered as I recalled him.
I turned my gaze downward for a moment. My chest was heavy, my palms were sticky, and tears dripped down my cheeks. It felt like I’d just had my soul sucked out of me… Right now, I just wanted to die!
Drying my eyes, I looked up again to see something a bit unexpected. Barely an inch from my nose, the disembodied head of a Pokémon stared me down with a disgusted look in its slanted auburn eyes. Its cranium looked generally cone-shaped, save only for the relatively flat surface that served as its face. The creature’s mug seemed almost featureless aside from its eyes, though; there was a slightly rounded nose with no apparent mouth or beak as well as a narrow red triangle outlining the perimeter of the being’s forehead, but otherwise all it had was silvery metallic skin.
“Yi quay-os sul…” it calmly whispered with a feminine-sounding voice.
“Yi quay-os sul.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand…”
Pressing her brow to mine, she finally shouted, “As always…BETRAYED!”
I awoke suddenly to a sudden jerk. For a long moment, I just lied in my bed dazed and confused. My heart raced wildly, and my bedding felt like it’d been soaked in sweat. I panted heavily as I stared at the blank white ceiling overhead, trying to make sense of what just happened.
Only one thing came to mind. That nightmare again… The one I’d been having for the past several months about losing my title to my sister.
It happened six months ago, during the Ronac League’s annual championship. After she’d fought her way through all the other competitors and the Elite Four, we finally went at it in a six-on-six match only for her to make me look like a fool in front of the millions watching the fight in the stadium and on television. As if taking the title I held for only year weren’t enough, she also broke my other record by being the youngest trainer to win the competition in our region’s history…just thinking about it made me sick!
But then, reliving the event didn’t bug me as much as the other stuff in the dream. What was with the woman coaxing that memory back to begin with, and then that creature yelling at me after it ended? Furthermore, how come the entity could speak in the dead language of Quofyi before shouting the phase ‘as always, betrayed?’ I knew dreams weren’t supposed to make sense, but this was just ridiculous.
Suddenly a pack of wolves began howling on the nightstand to my right. Either which way, I couldn’t keep drawing on about it. Not today, anyhow…
“Time to get up, Spunky!” I said, moving my legs gently. A chipper voice yawned as a Pokémon stretched out its body across the end of my bed. The dog yelped as he flopped onto the floor. I giggled a little as I glanced off to my right.
The table next to me consisted simply of a rectangular oak board with rounded sides supported by four metal legs twisted to form spirals. Sitting on top of it, I saw a circular clock fixed inside a porcelain sculpture of four Mightyena sitting on rocky outcroppings with their heads to the sky. There was a silver plate with a pair of knobs and a switch affixed to it atop the decoration.
When the pack howled again, I flipped the switch away from me. The wolves yipped twice, signaling that the alarm shut off.
I grabbed my eyeglass case set in front of the clock, and pulled my arm back under my comforter. Then I threw off the blanket depicting a school of Lapras crossing the sea on a full moon’s night. A breeze of cool air blew onto my arms and legs, sending a mild chill through my body.
Spunky flipped on the light switch with his nose as I pivoted my legs to the left. Hunched over, I sat on the edge of my bed feeling under the case’s flap with my thumb, ripping open its Velcro, then taking out my glasses and putting them on.
Looking up, I saw a dresser-desk against my room’s south wall. The left side had three large drawers, while the right half had a smaller one. Being fairly old, though, the furnishing’s ebony finish looked pretty faded.
An LCD TV sat atop the dresser, and a Gateway laptop lay closed on the desk part. In the television’s blackened screen, there was the reflection of a six-and-a-half foot tall Caucasian man about nineteen-years-old who had a slight gut and flabby arms. His hazel eyes were pretty stern, but his brown hair hadn’t been cut in so long that it had gotten straggly along with his beard, moustache, and sideburns. God, I really let myself go…
Spunky barked at me and put one of his cocoa-brown paws on my right leg. I turned to him and looked straight into the deep black pits of his steely amber eyes.
Lupudle were strong-bodied wolves, with Spunky being no exception to that fact. At four-feet-tall, his body had well-toned muscles, most notably around his hindquarters and his long tail with a sharp bend about halfway down its length. The canine’s maw was relatively short compared to most dog Pokémon, though his fangs could easily bite through steel. Starting between his gently curved-back ears, the wolf’s thick chocolate-colored locks reached back almost to his shoulder area. Like most of his kind, a pair of silver anklets wrapped around his forepaws to represent the subordinate status he would’ve had in a wild pack.
“What? You want out?” I asked him, petting his scruff. He took his paw off me and then spread his gray claws into the golden friezé carpet with an evident grin.
“Hey, Dad! Meg! Anyone here?” I shouted. With my mom Roselyn in Deltsed City all week for the region’s Pokémon Contest Grand Festival, I would only hope that someone else was home at this time, since I knew that my dad Stephen usually headed to work early and Meg usually just went out somewhere for the hell of it.
“Yeah! What the hell you want?” Meg’s voice called from upstairs.
“Let Spunky out!”
“Spunky! Here, boy!” she continued, followed by a whistle. Spunky turned his head to the open door a few feet away from my desk, and then dashed headlong out it.
Within seconds, I heard him howling outside and Apollo yelp at him angrily. As usual, that weasel of mine snuck out to meditate in the morning air. He enjoyed it, so far be it for me to keep my first ‘official’ Pokémon in a cramped Poké Ball. Then again, there were some creatures that deserved to be left in their balls as often as possible.
I stood up and stretched my arms upward until I pressed my hands flat against the ceiling. After a moment, I dropped them to my sides and thought about the curious e-mail that I received the other day.
Dr. Felicia M. Barnes was the leading biologist at IIPS on Maritide Island and served, in part, as its dean of admissions. If not for the fact that my mother and her were old friends, I wouldn’t have even bothered applying to the school. When I first got the message, I thought it nothing more than a mere ‘congrats on being accepted.’ However, it turned out to be an invitation for a private orientation…or so she claimed. Knowing her, this could easily turn into something completely different.
Heading over to my door, I closed it firmly. Then I took a moment to look over my room.
It wasn’t much different than any other guy my age probably had, give-or-take. There were posters of girls in skimpy bikinis on the east wall over my bed, and a car calendar in the corner by my TV. Next to the first escape window in the north wall, I had a photo of my championship team from a year and a half ago, as well as a case for the badges I earned while taking on the Ronac Gym Circuit (the emblems consisting of a silo, a broadsword, a snowflake, a biohazard symbol, a pair of dragon fangs, a mudflow, a triangle bisected by lines from each corner, and a tree set ablaze); in the picture were myself, Spunky, Apollo, Sheila my Lapras, Mitch my Luxray, Sophie my Altaria, and a tall black-furred humanoid with its head turned away. Under those there sat a small bookshelf filled mostly with DVDs, though amongst the few books on it were The Loch, The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and a short series of non-fiction works titled “The Wolves of Ronac.”
Turning at last to my closet, I went over and opened its folding doors. Inside, I saw a rainbow assortment of shirts with wildlife prints. Searching through them quickly, I tried to find my favorite, an azure one with a picture of two Lapras swimming across a beautiful sunrise. Once I found it, I took it off the hanger and put it half-folded under my arm.
At my feet, there were several boxes and two piles of folded pants. Grabbing a pair, I closed the doors and went back to my dresser. I opened the bottom drawer, took out a pair of socks, closed it, and set my clothes on my bed. Then I quickly switched from my nightwear into the street clothes.
Sticking my hands in my pockets, I still felt a little naked. Pulling out the stood under my desk, I noticed on its seat laid a black Nokia flip-phone, my dual-flap wallet, my Poké Ball holsters, and a leather belt. After putting the belt on, I slipped the cell phone in my front left pocket, the wallet in my rear right one, and then grabbed both of the black nylon cases that had two balls in them apiece. After I’d clipped one onto each side of my belt, I left my room and shut the door behind me.
Our home had two levels. The ground floor consisted of a large kitchen and dining room area, a living room, a short hall with a small office of its side, a master bedroom, and a master bathroom. Likewise, the basement was made up of a rec room, two bedrooms, a laundry room, a bathroom, a closet under the stairs, and a large storage area near the bottom of the steps. Meg’s room and mine were next to each other on my right, while the laundry room and the downstairs’ bathroom were on my left.
The rec room seemed a lot more like a miniature bar with the counter my dad had built near its northeast corner. Two neon signs hung on the adjoining walls behind it, one for Budweiser and the other for Miller Genuine Draft. We had also a pool table in the middle of the room and a small flatscreen TV mounted in the room’s northwest corner to accentuate the motif.
I headed up the stairs. A grayish Berber with a varying-hued, intersecting diamond pattern covered them, the same carpet that was in the living room and master bedroom. It’s hard to believe just a few summers ago my dad and I put the carpet in, but when he took over the flooring store downtown, Mom just had to have something newer than the old shag the house originally had.
Once I got upstairs, I stomped a little on the hardwood and stared for a long moment at the island-counter several feet out from our marble-topped cabinets. I saw an empty plastic container that had greasy streaks on its interior on top of it with a serving spoon off to its side.
“Yeah. Thanks for saving me some hot dish, Meg…”
“Wasn’t me! Apollo ate it!” she snickered. I pivoted towards living room, my gaze passing the dining room table, chandelier, and several paintings of plants on the far walls.
In the living room, we had a large Plasma TV set over a modest-sized fireplace. Near the middle of the room sat a stainless steel coffee table flanked by two black-leather recliners. A couple feet behind those, there was a large sofa that sat up to three people, though only Meg laid on it right now with her head on the armrest closet to me. She wore the same shirt she did the day of our battle, and green pajama bottoms to go with it.
Lying upon her chest, I saw a familiar vulpine Pokémon with a mostly onion-green pelt. She slept peaceably for several more moments, not twitching a muscle or even the blades of grass growing out of her chest, neck, legs, and atop her brow. Finally, the critter yawned cutely as she stretched out her body across her owner’s belly.
“You sure it wasn’t Kelly?”
Her Leafeon immediately lifted her crumply tail and opening her russet-colored eyes. Meg giggled, coursing her Pokémon’s back with her hand. Kelly pushed herself up with her delicate brown forepaws. Once she was standing, Kelly looked at me with her head tilted slightly to the left.
The girl lifted her Pokémon off of her torso and sat up. After petting her a few more times, Meg set Kelly on the floor. The fox then slowly made her way over to me. She sat at my feet and looked up at me adoringly.
Glaring back, I focused on the crystal attached to her collar. Grandma Darlene gave the heirloom to Meg on her eleventh birthday, the same day she got Kelly, and the creature’s been wearing it ever since.
“Well?” Meg said.
I grabbed Kelly with both hands and lifted her up to eye level. For a long moment, I stared loathingly at the fox. Her jewel shimmered a bit with an odd light. She cooed a little and blinked twice. I huffed as I set her back down gently.
“Good girl,” I said, rubbing my nose against hers.
“So, what do you think Felicia wants?” Meg asked as she stood up and stretched.
She shrugged as I went over to the sliding door on the other side of the couch. Through the glass, I saw Apollo several feet away hovering just above the patio. His tail flame was down to a slow kindle burn of yellowish-red, and the streaming flares on his shoulders wavered backwards slowly while the ones down his neck were momentarily extinguished.
Cracking the door open, I slipped out and went over by him. When I stopped, the ermine turned to me with his jewel glittering in the minute sunlight filtering through the tree line. Glancing at him, he quickly looked forward again.
After a few seconds, I started, “So…” He suddenly cringed.
He whimpered a bit and then telepathically replied, “No… Not really.” I knew he was terrified of Dr. Barnes, and to an extent I couldn’t blame him. Even so, it wasn’t like he had talk to her.
I removed his Poké Ball from the second niche of my right holster, and then I recalled the Incinermyn. Afterwards, I scanned the area for Spunky.
Our backyard basically consisted of a wide area over two acres in size surrounded a wire-mesh fence, which separated it from the wooded area on the property. With only a few oak trees and bushes, it served as an ideal place for practice battles as a kid. But now it hardly compensated for the space I needed to train my Pokémon.
“Spunky! Hurry up!” The wolf grumbled incoherently behind a shrub near the northeast corner of the yard. He then gave out a terrifying cry that sounded like he was in excruciating pain.
After a moment or so, Spunky jumped out from his bush and ran towards me with an awkward gait. His dash straightened out quickly and then turned into a headlong charge; it didn’t even look like he would be able to stop. I drew his Poké Ball out of the first spot of my left holster and held it at the ready position, just in case. Seeing the device, he immediately pressed all of his paws into the dirt to come to a full stop right at my feet. He then whined and started to tremble.
“Fine! Let’s go then!” Spunky gave a happy barked as I put the ball away and we went inside.
Meg met me at the door and immediately asked, “So, what’re you gonna do for breakfast?”
“Same as I do any other day.”
“Don’t go and piss off Daphne again.”
I rolled my eyes. Lord forbid I upset the chief doctor of the Pawford Pokémon Center. Meg just put her arms on her hips and shook her head. Kelly cooed at me again, tilting her head inquisitively when I glanced at her. Spunky woofed at her playfully, and the Leafeon went back over to the couch.
“Well, I guess,” I muttered looking back up at Meg. She sighed.
Boldly I walked past her and headed to the door. I stopped when I reached the entry. The front door was a distinguished emerald color with a semicircular window in its upper third before me. Its glass was separated into four sections and stained a translucent teal and, on the door’s right, we had another decorative pane of glass etched with the picture of a wild rose.
Turning to the adjacent closet, I opened it to see several jackets hanging up and a couple pairs of shoes and boots set on the floor inside. One particular pair stood out, two jet-black shoes with Velcro straps.
“Yeah… This morning I didn’t have to trip over your ‘boats’,” Meg commented as I crouched over to take them out of the closet.
I sneered at the thought of her comment as I closed the door again. She always found some way to tease me about the oversized shoes I wore, but I really didn’t want to start in on her this morning. So, I just slipped them on and strapped them up without a word.
“See ya, Jay,” Meg uttered as I headed out.
“Later!” I replied, shutting the door once Spunky was outside with me.
<End Chapter One>
I made some minor edits to take out curse words that otherwise would've gotten censored by the site. I originally had some profuse language in this story, but a lot of it can be toned down somewhat without undermining the dialogue. My greater concern is how I phrase things in the story. Some of it is for humor, while other stuff may just come across as weird... If anything sounds funky, let me know. I'm currently revising this for a few other sites I'm on too.
I drove downtown in my Ford F-350. Spunky stuck his face out the passenger’s side window that I left partway open for him, bobbing his head to the beat of the song Holy Diver as it played on the radio. Watching the timberland give way to more-and-more townscape, I thought about how little my hometown had actually changed in the nine years since I began my Pokémon training career.
Situated on the southeastern third of Ronac’s expansive mainland, Pawford was home to about nine thousand people and the easternmost city on the continent. Like a lot of the region’s seaside communities, its general layout consisted of a small port that had several industries around it, which then gave way to the city’s residential and commercial districts. The only thing really distinguishing Pawford from any other town along the coast had to be how the city’s northern half gradually vanished into a dense forest.
Almost a block before Main Street, I flipped my left-turn signal on and began to slow to a near stop. After waiting for an oncoming Cadillac to pass, I quickly pulled into the adjacent parking lot. Since there weren’t many cars here this morning, I parked my vehicle right against the curb of the sidewalk leading to the Pawford Pokémon Center.
One of the town’s landmarks, the city’s clinic was a large facility in the heart of downtown. The virtually square building stood just over four stories tall and took up most of a city block. Dark red bricks decorated the majority of its exterior, and an A-frame structure served as its midsection. The inner triangle itself had large panes of tinted glass from bottom to top, save only for the red stain-glass ‘P’ near its apex.
I rolled up the passenger-side window and opened my door. Hearing me press the lock button, Spunky turned to me with a whimper.
“Come on!” I told him as I exited. Then he stepped over the armrests between our seats, hopped out of the truck, and we headed down the sidewalk towards the building.
As we approached, I spotted a five-and-a-half foot tall Latino man standing off to the right of the entry doors. Overall, the tawny-eyed guy didn’t look that much older than me, though clearly he was in better physical shape than I was with his broad shoulders and muscular arms. He wore a sleeveless lime-green shirt with a few small holes in it and a pair of old pants that had wear-marks on the knees. His tan shoes were in generally good condition, however their toes appeared worn down to the point where the protective steel inside them showed.
Taking a cigarette out of his mouth, Enrique raised his hand slightly and shouted, “Well, I’ll be damned! How ya been, Feral?”
“Yo, Rick! What’s up?” I replied, stopping next to him. Spunky sat at my side and barked to get his attention.
“Mornin’ to you, too, Spunky,” Rick nodded in response.
Perhaps the only true friend I ever had, Enrique ‘Rick’ Sanchez and I went back quite a ways. Our fathers were formerly partners when they started out as flooring installers, and then introduced us to one another before we even started preschool. While my success as a trainer left our friendship strained for a time, Rick still had my back through thick and thin.
“My job today got canceled, so I’m hangin’ out here. Don’t mind it, though… Got enough hot chicks to watch, right?” he chuckled as he motioned at the building.
“Amen to that!” I cackled. Spunky giggled as well.
Since he subcontracted through my dad’s store now, I knew just how slow things had been recently for the flooring trade. But leave it to Rick to hangout wherever there were beautiful women, and there was no better place to find them than at the Pawford Pokémon Center!
“Yeah, but seriously…” he continued, turning his grin into a sniping glare, “You gotta keep your guard up. There’s this group lurkin’ around here today. Aside from being wickedly tough, one of them is wearin’ perhaps the gayest-looking outfit you’ll ever see.”
“Um… Okay… So, did you kick his ass?”
“Hell, no! He took Girafarig and Machamp out in two hits apiece. I’m just waitin’ for Daphne to finish treatin’ ‘em.”
“That strong, huh?”
“Yeah, and he did it with a single Pokémon too. I ain’t seen anything like it before in my life!”
He shook his head and then asked, “So, what you doin’? Gettin’ a bite, then headin’ to the woods again?”
“Nah, I’m going to IIPS on Maritide.”
Rick inhaled deeply to finish his cigarette. He then exhaled a thick cloud of smoke, and plunked the butt into the conical receptacle just off to his left.
“You know, you made a mistake, Feral…a really big mistake. People like Dr. Barnes, everyone at IIPS, even your old sponsors… They all have their noses stuck so far up their asses they love the smell of their own crap. You get where I’m goin’ with this?”
I scratched my head and replied, “Guess so. But what can I do? Felicia’s one of my mom’s best friends. I can’t just diss her.”
“Whatever…” he shrugged, shaking his head in distaste.
Rick headed over to the door and opened it for us. Spunky went inside first, and the two of us quickly followed.
The clinic’s lobby was essentially one huge corridor reaching from one end of the building to the other. It had tan walls decorated with hanging portraits from years ago depicting various trainers and their Pokémon teams, some of which were previous regional champions and others who were local celebrities with their own claims to fame. For flooring the reception area had a dark green commercial rug covering it from end to end, though that gave way to a checkerboard mix of black and speckled white tile in the off-branching halls near the middle of the building.
At the center of the room, I saw a large ring-shaped desk with several computer stations set up around it. Only three receptionists were on-duty this morning. Two of them sat at the backside of the table doing paperwork, while the other one typed away at the central PC on the side facing us.
Unlike her fellow employees, who were in their thirties, the closest girl looked no more than a few years older than Meg and almost her height. The blonde wore a dark blue skirt embroidered with a repeating pattern of lilacs. Her delicate skin seemed to radiate an enchanting light as we approached, or at least her bracelets did since they seemed to glisten while she typed. A shame that this beauty just had to be the daughter of my second greatest adversary…
She looked at me with a disdainful glare in her russet eyes and stated, “Good morning, Mister Christie. How may I help you?”
“Good morning to you as well, Miss Hawthorn. I’d like to have my Pokémon examined if it wouldn’t be too much trouble,” I replied haughtily, removing my holsters and setting them on the counter.
Josephine immediately grabbed my wrist and hissed, “Are you really that retarded, Jay? Or do you just fashion yourself some kind of sick joker?” Undoing the first ball in my right holder, she put it into my hand and made me clench the sphere tightly.
“Dude, you weren’t serious?” Rick whispered, “You know what Daphne told you the last time she tried to treat Orion!”
I immediately snorted at the comment. After a few seconds, though, I cringed at the memory and rubbed my top few vertebrae. The welt healed long ago, but the pain still felt as sharp ever. Who would’ve seriously thought Orion was going to evolve during treatment, let alone a week before my match with Meg?
“Well?” Josephine continued, taking a small tray out from under the table, “Rick, do you mind waiting here for a moment? I’ll check on…” She stuttered as she set Apollo’s ball into one of the indents, glancing down the east hallway. We all heard the familiar voice of Josephine’s mother as she came towards the lobby, despite her words being somewhat muffled by the distance.
Rick, Spunky, and I turned to see a pudgy five-foot-tall woman walking towards us alongside a teenage girl dressed in a lavender shirt, blue jeans, and a pink baseball cap. The doctor wore a lab coat over her light blue shirt and a pair of black pants. Her shoes were just as white as her cover, and there wasn’t a wrinkle to be found on any of her clothing. If not for looking like she was in her fifties, I would’ve easily sworn that Josephine and her were sisters.
“Oh, crap…” I whispered, stuffing Orion’s ball into my pocket.
“I didn’t know that, Dr. Hawthorn,” the brunette said as they entered the reception area.
“Most people don’t, dear,” the lady giggled.
“Oh... Um, okay. Well, thank you for treating Ditto, ma’am.”
“Bless your heart. Just take it easy from here on out, okay?” The girl nodded and then headed out the opposite entrance. Afterwards, Daphne went behind the desk and stopped right beside Josephine.
Setting down her digital tablet, the woman rolled her eyes and commented, “Well, well, well. If it isn’t my absolute ‘favorite’ trainer in this Podunk little town? God, I swear it’s times like these I wish I’d never moved my family all the here from Hearthome City.”
“Um, g-goo…” I replied until she interrupted.
“No. I have told you over a hundred times. I am not taking any of your bullcrap, Jay Bartholomew Christie. If you cannot show me the least bit respect by withholding that nightmare of a Pokémon that you call Orion, I will deny you our services every time. It’s as simple as that.”
“Um. Mother,” Josephine whispered, tapping on the Poké Ball tray. Her mother eyed the lonely sphere on it along with the two remaining orbs in my holsters.
“Very well,” she sighed and then suddenly shouted, “But if you raise hell in my cafeteria again, I’ll throw you out of here in a heartbeat! Got it?”
Breathing heavily for a moment, she slowly calmed down and reached into one of her coat pockets. Taking out a blue Poké Ball and a yellow one, the woman stared at Rick awkwardly with a grin.
“Ricky, dear. Your Pokémon are going to be fine, but be careful fighting unfamiliar Pokémon. With the gaping bites Girafarig had, I’m surprised the creature’s attack didn’t just snap her neck.”
“Damn, what were you up against, Rick?” I asked him abruptly.
“Trust me, Feral. You don’t wanna know,” Rick commented, “Anyways, thanks, Doc Hawthorn! Later, Jay, Jo!”
“Yeah. Later!” Josephine replied as I watched him leave.
Turning back to the counter, I watched the doctor examine Spunky’s ball for a moment. She looked at my wolf with a wicked grin. Instinctively he hid behind me, quivering in utter terror.
“I guess I can leave you out for now, if you behave.” He barked cheerfully in response as he rushed over to the side of the desk.
“Okay. If that’s settled, I’ll be getting something to eat now.” I started to reach for my holsters, when Dr. Hawthorn suddenly grabbed one of my wrists.
“Mark…my…words… If I ever catch that monster out anywhere in this building or even on this property, I will kick your sorry ass all the way to Mount Corona. ¿Comprende?” she hissed. I nodded; then she took my balls and left.
Once she went out of sight, I clipped my holsters back onto my pockets. I brought Orion back out and eyed his unit as I headed towards the west wing.
He hadn’t always been a monster, and even now was normally…hospitable… People told me for years not to spoil him too much but I snubbed the warnings, knowing that no matter what Orion would stay the adorable little critter I raised from youth. Yet still, the thought often crossed my mind as to whether or not he’d eventually tire of the master-and-pet charade and turn his savage tendencies on me instead of an unsuspecting opponent.
Sighing, I lifted my head up to catch something bizarre out the corner of my eye. Upon entering the hallway, I turned my gaze leftward to spot a trio of men sitting together on a nearby bench.
Of the threesome, the middle one grabbed my attention the most. He was apparently a very tall and fairly slim man who kept his legs crossed as read this morning’s issue of the “Maritide Messenger.” A massive afro utterly exploded from the top of his head; as the ball of hair weren’t flamboyant enough, he had half of it dyed red and the other half white. Also, the man wore a silken pair of purple pants as well as a belt with a large star-shaped buckle and platform shoes.
To his right sat a blond guy with hair that flared up into a plume of orange-red tips hunched over and gave me a smug look as I passed. The punk wore a dark sleeveless shirt and thick brown trousers with several small cases attached his belt. Cracking his knuckles to flex his fingerless gloves, he suddenly cracked a grin and nodded slowly, causing a weird reflection off his blue goggles with thick oval lenses.
Sitting on Afro’s left, his other partner was clearly blond based on the look of the guy’s sideburns, and wore a weird black hat with two white-rimmed humps atop it. This guy wore a red vest with a white stripe around its midsection over a dark long-sleeved shirt. Like his friend, he had on brown pants with several holders clipped to his belt and a pair of red goggles with hexagonal lenses. However, this guy seemed too bent on reading Afro’s paper to even look at me.
“Hey, boss!” the plume-haired guy said as I returned my gaze forward.
“Hmm?” his boss replied in a cheery-sounding voice, followed by some whispering and then the sound of his paper ruffling, “Really? Now, this is something that I have to see.”
Clenching Orion’s ball, I pressed onward. I didn’t want to piss off Daphne more than I already had this morning, but if these idiots were going to start something with me, then they had another thing coming. No doubt they were the guys Rick talked about.
As I reached the commons, I took a quick glance back. The threesome left already. Giving a small sigh of relief, I headed through the double doors into the dining room.
The cafeteria at the Pawford Pokémon Center consisted of a large room with tables set up neatly throughout it, though several paths had been left open down the sides and middle of the room. Normally the place would’ve been packed with hungry trainers wolfing down food from the long line of buffet tables. Today, however, it looked as though nobody had been here at all save only for the cooks. I headed straight for the table where plates were, grabbed one and a set of prearranged silverware, and began the arduous task of hunting for my favorite breakfast foods.
Pancakes, sausages, waffles… Everything one could possibly want for breakfast was piled neatly into all of the heating trays that I passed. But being the connoisseur I am, only one thing would satisfy my taste buds this morning. Finally I found the single greatest dish in the entire world…biscuits and sausage gravy. Just the smell of them got my mouth watering, so I stacked as many biscuits on my plate as I could and then slathered them completely with gravy.
When I finished, I quickly took my food to a nearby table and sat down to enjoy it. I removed my cell phone from my pocket and set it next to my plate along with Orion’s ball. Then, I dug right into my meal.
Halfway through it, I glanced at the clock on my phone. Just a little after eight… Plenty of time to get to the docks before the next ferry left for Maritide. I wasn’t exactly in a rush this morning, but knowing Felicia’s over-punctuality, I’d still have to get to IIPS between 9:30 and 10:00 before she’d start throwing a fit. Either way, it didn’t matter to me so long as I got there.
I finished the rest of my food and immediately went up for seconds. This time I took a smaller serving, three sausages and a waffle with strawberries and whipped topping slopped on top of everything.
No sooner did I sit back down, Daphne entered the dining room. With a disgusted look on her face, the woman zigzagged between the tables to get to me.
“So, what’s the word?” I asked as she stopped.
Snorting, the doctor looked down at her computer quickly and whispered, “You… You are either the luckiest SOB in the world or the unluckiest.”
“And that means…?” My gut tightened with anxiety.
“Apollo and Sheila are fine, but Spunky pulled some muscles in one of his hind legs. Now, the thing I can’t believe is that you didn’t bring him in days ago to get it checked out so that I could give him pain reliever,” she criticized as she dropped my balls on the table.
I rolled my eyes and she shouted, “Oh, for the love of God! Don’t you care about your Pokémon anymore? I remember the day you came in here to get Apollo from Kyle. You were a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed little kid clinging hard to his mommy and nervous as all hell about getting a Fire Pokémon from the local Gym Leader because you didn’t think you could handle it. To see you go from that to this is simply pathetic.”
She cut me off, “If Spunky’s in that condition, I don’t want imagine how bad Orion is.”
I fingered Orion’s ball and taunted, “Well, if you really want to find out...” As soon as I enlarged it, she instantly grabbed my wrist. A long moment passed, and I finally released my grip on the orb and she let go of hers on me.
“Just finish eating and get out of my sight,” she concluded and then headed out.
Several seconds after she left, Spunky came out of his ball. When he appeared off to my left, the wolf sat on the floor and stared at me with his mouth wide open.
“Sorry, buddy,” I replied, petting his locks. He grumbled at me, sniffing and then licking my hand. I knew he had to be starving, but feeding him and the others would have to wait until we were on the ferry.
Going back to my meal, I started eating the waffle. Spunky set his maw on the table a short distance from my plate. He inched closer and closer to it, licking his chops. All of a sudden, my sausages disappeared.
“Spunky!” I scolded, watching him eat the three links in one bite. After he finished, the wolf belched so loud that it echoed throughout the room.
I shrugged, going back to my waffle. Once I finished eating, I stood up, set my Poké Balls back into their holders, and my phone put in my pocket. Afterwards, Spunky and I exited the cafeteria, heading for the entrance.
“Bye, Jay!” Josephine said. I raised my hand and nodded as we passed by her station.
As I approached the doors, I saw that the three men from earlier were waiting on the sidewalk outside, just meters from the door. They faced away from the building and this time I could see the rest of what Afro was wearing, a formfitting purple shirt and a gaudy yellow scarf with small tassels at its ends.
Taking Orion’s ball out again, I told Spunky, “Looks like we’re not getting away from this one…” Spunky trembled as we stepped outside. I pressed the button that kept the device closed.
Amidst the released flash, I could make out the distinct silhouette of a six-foot-tall humanoid. When the light faded, the mammal’s true form was revealed as that of a bipedal skunk. He had a short maw protruding from his face, away from the thick black dreadlocks concealing part of his eyes and forehead. His build appeared pretty muscular, though it didn’t offset the fact that he was relatively lithe. There were intricate tribal markings down his back in the form of twin stripes made by numerous thin white lines cascading down his back in a cascading pattern. Once his streaks met, they turned into a solid stripe that coursed his large bushy tail until it fanned out across its tip.
Orion yawned annoyingly as he stretched his arms outright. Spunky inched off to the side as the Skunter swung his eight-foot-long bowstaff towards him. Afterwards, the huntsman skunk snorted and slung the weapon over his shoulder.
“This is going to be good,” I snickered. We then walked towards the group in front of us.
“What luck, Miror! First we pull off that heist on Maritide, and now there’s this opportunity!” the guy with the weird cap said to Afro as he stood off to the man’s right.
“Yeah, Trudly!” his plume-haired buddy, on Afro’s left, added.
“Aye! So, we’re gonna be hoggin’ the sidewalk all day, are we, mateys?” I commented in the worst-sounding pirate voice I could muster.
“What?” Trudly replied, pivoting quickly.
“Argh! So ye all be butt pirates, me hearties?” I cackled.
“Butt pirates! Who the hell are you calling ‘butt pirates,’ numb-nuts?” the other guy said, also turning to face me.
“That the best you can come up with?”
“Oh, it’s on now!” he replied, reaching into his pocket. Spunky woofed harshly at him, and the gangster-wannabe froze.
“Now, now, now! Boys, boys, boys! There’s no need for all these hostilities! We’re all friends here, right?” Miror said as he rotated around with his right arm firmly pressed on his side. Doing so, I could now see his star-shaped sunglasses, his dangling earrings, and that a portion of his shirt was open. God, Rick was right… He was a total queer.
He looked at me for a moment, then Spunky, and finally Orion. With a grin he nodded, making his afro bob up and down wildly.
“O-ho-ho-ho! What have we here?” he giggled, shaking his other arm back and forth in the air, “All that fuss over a silly little Skuntank?”
“SKUNTANK?” Orion suddenly hollered in his gruff baritone. He immediately raised his stick and swung it at Miror. The man fell flat on his back trying to jump away.
“Hey, jackass!” he then shouted, holding the weapon overhead and glaring menacingly at his victim with his steely emerald eyes, “I may be a Pokémon, but I’m not retarded!” The man’s flunkies just stood there gawking. Miror, on the other hand, remained absolutely calm with a self-righteous grin spreading across his face.
“He can talk?” Miror’s minions quibbled.
Unbeknownst to most people, Orion’s species had developed the ability to both speak and understand most human languages. While scientists theorized it was due to the Dallinos tribe raising the creatures so much that the Pokémon tried to become human, the genetic triggers for the trait remained a total mystery. Actually getting Orion to say anything, though, took major effort…unless he felt like he’d been insulted. Then he would never shut up.
“Oh, posh! I bet you really think you’re something special with this doll, Feral,” Miror continued.
“Actually, I do! Show him why, Orion.” The skunk immediately jabbed the weapon hard into Miror’s hairdo, just grazing his scalp.
“ARE YOU INSANE?” all three shouted.
Orion commented, “Oh, good. You do know fear. That makes this so much easier.” He lifted his staff and prepared to strike again.
“Orion, back off!” I ordered. Orion snorted as he twirled his staff around. He eventually came back to my side and slammed the stick’s tip into the ground. Meanwhile, Miror scuttled away somewhat before getting back on his feet.
“So, then… Shall we?” Miror abruptly asked me, motioning to the grassy area off to the left of the sidewalk.
“Yeah.” Miror and his grunts started over to the far side by the parking lot immediately; my Pokémon and I hesitated a moment, while Spunky seemed to scold Orion.
“Shut up, Spunky,” Orion replied as we then walked over to our side of the battlefield.
“One-on-one, no substitutions?” I asked my opponent.
“Fine by me, ho-ho.” Miror reached into his pocket and took out a Dusk Ball.
He threw it out and, in the darkened halo it released, the silhouette of a seven-and-a-half-foot tall avian Pokémon emerged. Overall, the bird’s body was rather skinny and covered in jade plumage, including his incredibly long neck and the upper parts of his widespread wings. The peacock had a small head with a short orange beak, a pair of glowing teal eyes, and golden contour feathers that formed what looked like blond hair though a solitary one stuck straight up from his brow. His wings each possessed an eerie pattern consisting of large black streak that arced and thinned out as they spread from near the bird’s chest to its wingtip, a large area of purple underneath it, and nine splotches of blue with teal midsections that spaced evenly across the bottom of each appendage.
The peacock let out an elegant cry as he sashayed onto the lawn. He glanced quickly between Orion, Spunky, and I as if he were trying to figure out whom he was battling. I motioned for Orion to take his place; the skunk walked out onto the field, keeping his staff held outright to show he accepted the bird’s challenge.
“Destail! Show him that fabulous Liar’s Prance of yours!” Miror then crooned, pointing at the heavens and tapping his left foot. His Pokémon immediately covered the symbol on his chest with his left wing. Then, he pointed his head skyward and began to croon a serene nocturne.
Orion raised his weapon sideways as the bird started to prance towards him. As he eyed the bird, Orion noticed that the peacock was pacing side-to-side as he switched wings to keep his triangle hidden. When he came within striking distance, the bird spread his appendages wide and started to flap them.
Seeing that happen, Orion suddenly vaulted overhead, knowing not to fall for such a pathetic taunt. At the peak of his jump, the skunk twisted his body and plunged feet-first onto his enemy. Squawking terribly, the bird couldn’t do a thing once Orion pinned him with his belly down. Holding his bowstaff overhead again, the Skunter jabbed his weapon as forcefully as he could into his enemy’s head…or would have if Miror hadn’t recalled him.
Orion howled ferociously as he immediately charged the trainer at full-on speed. Within seconds, he tackled his quarry and readied to attack again.
“Get…him…off! Get him off!” the man cried. Just as Orion plunged his weapon into Miror’s forehead, I recalled the creature and put his ball away.
“Who in their right mind keeps that kind of a monster?” he whined as he got back up.
“Someone who likes terrorizing people who don’t know their place. Consider it a little bit of payback for what you did to my buddy Rick,” I remarked.
“You…you’re a terrible person, you know that?” Trudly shouted.
“Oh, get over it…”
“Folly! Trudly! Let’s am-scray!” Miror ordered.
“Right, boss!” the other two replied as they all fled.
“Good riddance!” Spunky slowly came up to me whimpering after a couple seconds. Taking a deep breath, I knelt down to pet him.
“Well, I guess that’s our excitement this morning. So, how about we get going?”
My wolf nodded gently, and then I stood back up. After that, we headed straight to the truck and got in. Then, I pulled out of the parking lot, drove down to Main Street, and headed towards the port…
<End Chapter Two>
I hope Orion's dialogue doesn't prove too...problematic... He was an experimental Fakemon based on anthropomorphic characters I came up with some years ago, so I decided to keep his ability to speak (especially since his tribal ancestry comes into play later on in the story).
III. No Country for Old Men
“Two entities whom never should have met,” spoke the stern voice of a man throughout the semi-darkened plane of Nostalgia, “Cross paths in the Space-Time Rift, their strife tears at the very boundaries of Leyi Quofyi, damaging the physical realm beyond even Golbania’s power to mitigate.”
Slowly the silhouette of a wolf’s head materialized, basically floating almost eight feet above the lavender tiles that paved the entire field. The creature’s visage was as black as coal, and his eyes were bloodshot amber. He possessed exceedingly sharp teeth, all virtual daggers polished scarlet from the countless victims he’d consumed in era past. Around his neck, the beast wore an extravagant collar forged of solid gold with iron rims at its top and bottom as well as streaks of silver that crisscrossed each other within the brace’s midsection. He also had a golden crest upon his brow, which extended up past his ears that in turn were adorned with five earrings apiece.
“What fools be these brothers born unto Arceus, the bastard child of Watcher Humility. Neither aware of their heritage, and never to know of my claim on their souls… That is, until now.”
“What is it you wish of me, My Liege?” the somber voice of another man inquired.
A pitch-black phantom slowly emerged from the floor next to him. His shape crudely humanlike, the specter appeared as little more than a torso with scrawny arms and a squat head. Wavering wisps flowed from his shoulders and ashen-white locks whipped backwards from his scalp. Glancing over his red jagged collar, Darkrai looked upon his master with unusual pleasure.
One of the wolf’s paws emerged from his invisible mane, an enormous foot with long red claws and a silver anklet decorated with golden studs. Suddenly a surge of terror overwhelmed the specter, causing him to withdraw behind the beast.
“Yi cu-seth lyi qual,” his master reprimanded, the area quaking with every word. As I speak, your voice is treason.
They stopped for a moment. Silence set in as the canine gazed around and then skyward.
“For an eternity I have been imprisoned here, watching all that transpires throughout the multiverse via others’ memories… My hatred long-since waned, and now I wonder what will become of this domain should I leave it once again.”
“Your Majesty? I…I don’t under…”
The wolf’s ear twitched and he continued, “That is why I need your assistance. As you are aware, I am never of a mind to forgive treason especially when it opposes the interests of my mother, Watcher Chastity. Such cases being your failed attempts to destroy Dialga’s Temporal Tower and then disrupt Palkia’s control over space in that one world in the distant future…”
“My King, again I apologize for…” His lord glared at him, and the wraith backed away once again.
“However, this opportunity is far too great to pass up. As we speak, the Traitors move evermore into position, drawn to Beyi-geyi’s previous emergence point as if insects to an open flame. My emissary is poising himself to strike them down the moment that they appear, and force them open a passage for me through the Nexus. Yet one thing remains unchecked.”
“And that would be?”
“The abomination… For over twenty years, an ungodly foe has existed outside of this domain, an enemy unfazed by my presence. Should Dialga, Palkia, or Arceus merge with it, my potential to lord over them shall vanish forever… Therefore, it must be eliminated.”
“Consider it done, My Liege,” Darkrai bowed.
“And, Darkrai,” the beast stated, more solemnly, “Should My Memories fade…”
“Understood, Milord!” The phantom finally vanished.
Once he’d gone, Otulp looked skyward once more and uttered, “Woe unto them, for they have gone the way of Cain…”
The ferry to Maritide seemed packed by the time I got to port this morning. Pulling onto the boat’s rear, a middle-aged man helped guide me to a parking spot between a silver PT Cruiser and a sky-blue Grand Marquis. Like most employees of the Mouranx Cruise Lines, Inc., he wore the company’s signature uniform of a lime green vest with a small ship embroidered on the right shoulder, a matching cap, a white shirt, and black pants.
“Alright, sir. Stop!” he commanded when my truck’s hood was nearly on top of him.
I slammed on the brake, and Spunky fell forward. While he grumbled, I exited the trunk and went to its rear cargo area.
Directly behind the cab rested a five-gallon cooler that I had tied against the side with a couple bungee cords. Opening it, I took a long glance at several plastic containers that I’d stored inside, all of which were filled with different types of meat cutlets and fish fillets. After grabbing three containing beef and a fourth one with salmon inside, I went back around to the passenger’s door to let Spunky out.
Noticing a spare Wal-Mart bag on the truck’s floor, I nabbed it quickly and stowed my Pokémon’s food in it. Spunky licked his chops as he jumped out. Once he’d cleared the door, I locked the vehicle up and made a beeline for the ferry’s stairwell.
Visitors to Ronac found the region’s ferries a little bit odd due to their layout. Ones from Pawford to the nearby islands had three main levels: the lowest, of course, being for cars; the middle one was a leisure deck with a café, restrooms, and seating for passengers; and the highest strictly for the wheelhouse and crew. Atop the third floor, however, existed a small arena for friendly Pokémon battles. Rules for its usage were pretty restrictive, though, considering how well these vessels had been built. Pokémon that weighed over one thousand pounds and any attacks capable of causing collateral damage couldn’t be used, not to mention that only one-on-one battles were allowed.
When I reached the stairs, I opened the door for Spunky, following him up as he walked. Once we got to the salon deck, the two of us stopped and looked it over. Round tables had been set out in virtual rectangles of four-by-six from the front of the ship to the end of the covered area and at least sixty people were on-board this morning. Not much of a surprise since the ship could easily handle up to one hundred fifty passengers or more.
Spunky groaned inquisitively, suddenly glancing backwards. Then he began barking at something.
“Damn it, Spunky!” I scolded him before turning to see what startled him.
For a moment, I felt a little dazzled at the sight I beheld. A husky six-foot-tall man dressed in a friar’s cloak stood several feet behind me, staring me dead in the eye no less. The garb appeared to be made from heavy gray material and draped over his entire form rather loosely. There was a thick rope tied around his waist to serve a belt, though I noticed he had no crosses dangling from where the ends were hanging loose. He also had his robe’s cowl pulled completely over his head, hiding most of his face in shadow save only for his daunting amber-colored eyes.
“Pardon me, um… Father? Or Brother?” He folded his arms together and bowed respectfully.
Backing away, I continued, “Spunky, let him pass.” Spunky grumbled a little before finally stepping aside. The monk moved sideways and headed out towards the veranda.
My wolf started to bark again until I hissed, “Show some respect.”
“Like I already said, as soon as we get to Maritide, I’ll be heading straight for the facility,” an Irishman spoke as he exited the staircase after the monk.
I turned to the guy to see that he was also a robust fellow, fairly shorter than the last man. Oddly enough, the middle-aged man with graying black hair had a build similar to a bear, evident with how his dark blue shirt with a silk-screen print of three Vaporeon on its front appeared to be ripping at the seams because of his bulging muscles. The rest of his attire, though, looked a bit offsetting with a pitch-black pair of shades, dark pants that seemed more appropriate for a business suit, tan leather shoes, and a Rolex on his left wrist.
“Well, I don’t give a rat’s ass as to what Cleo wants. Are ya hearing me?” he barked as he followed the monk. I noticed a Bluetooth in his right ear and that another Vaporeon was tattooed onto his shoulder.
“Damn! Why don’t they wait up when I tell them?” a youth barked from downstairs after the second man left.
Seconds later, the third guy emerged and jogged after the other two. Unlike the previous man, he looked a lot closer to my age and almost as tall as me too. He wore a black sleeveless shirt, blue-jean shorts that were cut off at the knees, blue socks, and gray shoes. Also the kid appeared to have a thing for snakes, judging by the Ekans tattoo that wrapped itself around his left arm, disappeared on the back of his shoulder, and then reappeared down his right arm.
Spunky and I watched as the three headed outside and around the corner, climbing the stairs to the battle deck. After a moment, I shuffled on over to the café.
At the counter, a young black woman dressed in the same getup as the man who guided me onboard cracked a modest grin and greeted me with, “Good morning, sir! How may I help you?”
“A Dr. Pepper, please.”
“Alright,” she said with a cute wink.
While she reached for a cup under the table, I looked back at Spunky and called, “Well?” He sneezed, approaching with his head down as if he was being punished.
“Stubborn dog, huh?”
“Oh, yeah! He’s not as bad as another one of my Pokémon, though.” I returned my gaze to the girl to see her filling a forty-four-ounce cup with soda for me.
“Well, the monk probably scared him.”
“Yeah, but he didn’t have to bark. How much?” I said, reaching for my wallet.
I set two bucks on the counter and grabbed my beverage. She took the money, pressed a button on the adjacent cash register, and gave me back three quarters. Nodding, I headed out onto the deck’s veranda with Spunky right at my side.
Outside there were several tables positioned right up against the ledge. Taking the closest one I saw, I sat down, setting my bag and drink down in front of me. Spunky squatted next to my seat and stared longingly at the containers of food.
“Here!” Opening a beef-filled one, I put it in front of him and he wolfed it down like nothing.
While he ate, I took out Orion and Apollo’s Poké Balls, opening them both right away. Spunky seemed too distracted to notice the eight-foot-tall ermine looming over him and drooling, nor the glowering skunk holding his bowstaff overhead.
“About damn time,” Orion said, swiping another of the beef containers and taking the seat across from me.
“Finally!” Apollo screamed telepathically. The ferret immediately levitated the remaining box of meat overhead and forced it open with his psychic power. Afterwards, he emptied its contents and held the cutlets over his open maw. Then I heard the sound of the meat sizzling as he cooked it with his pyrokinesis, watching the juices drip slowly into his mouth.
Orion snorted at the ermine as he sat down, commenting, “Can’t eat it raw?” The morsels finally dropped into Apollo’s mouth one at a time so he could eat them.
“Orion?” I asked the huntsman skunk.
“What?” he barked, dropping his weapon cockily and then clawing his food box open.
“Eh, never mind…” No point in asking him anything when he hadn’t eaten since last night.
After eating a couple bites, my Skunter grumbled, “You know what’s been bugging me lately?”
Apollo asked, “Oh, Lord. What now?”
“Well, fighting that Destail a bit ago really got me thinking. We need to get back in the game. I’m tired of just BS-ing around the woods all the time like we’ve been.”
Apollo grinned and then threw his head back in a full-on laugh. Spunky just sat there, staring at the weasel as he chuckled.
“Hey, I’m just saying it like it is!” Orion shouted before returning to his meal. He had a point. But then, it wasn’t really like him to care what we accomplish during the day anyhow. The times that he did ended as soon as he evolved into a Skunanne, and oh how I longed for those days again. Back when he was still that childlike critter someone could just love-and-hold.
It must’ve been about thirteen years now since I first got Orion. It was around ten o’clock on Christmas morning. My family had finished cleaning up after unwrapping presents an hour beforehand and started preparing for the party we were going to have that afternoon. Mom and Grandma cooked in the kitchen, while my dad was downstairs trying to get liquor together. Meg and I sat alone in the living room watching cartoons on Nickelodeon.
The two of us were still dressed in our pajamas, not exactly ready for what the day was going to bring. Meg wore a hooded outfit that resembled a Buneary; I had a two-piece suit with random pictures of baby Pokémon all over it. However, considering myself the victor of the day, I clung greedily to the big Raichu plushie that I’d received as a gift from ‘Santa Claus.’
Suddenly the doorbell rang. I remained seated quietly, much too preoccupied by the mindless antics of Rugrats to mind my mother’s first request to answer the door.
After it rang again, Mom called more harshly, “Jay, could you get that? It’s Felicia.”
“Who?” I asked but only to get no response.
I stood up and reluctantly headed to the front door. The bell rang again as I approached, grumbling about having to leave my show.
When I got to the entry, I grabbed the knob and the door swung open widely to give me the shock of my life. Wrapped in a heavy black coat as well as a matching muffler around her neck and earmuffs on her head, a brunette giant glowered at me with a criticizing pair of deep blue eyes. Or at least at the time, she looked like a giant looming over me at a height of five-ten.
A few moments passed before she finally blinked and whispered, “You are Jay, correct?” Her voice sounded as frigid as the air outside that winter. Then I moved aside as she strode in.
“Pity. A boy your age shouldn’t be cuddling stuffed Pokémon like an infant,” she continued, reaching in her left pocket.
“H-hey, I j-just…” I stuttered as the woman handed me a Poké Ball.
“Merry Christmas.” Afterwards Felicia went into the kitchen to chat with my mom.
Once she was out of sight, the sphere jiggled in my hand. I dropped it immediately and the orb popped open on the floor. A small quadruped instantly emerged from its released flash.
I didn’t know what to make of the creature at first. It looked like a cute enough mammal, barely a foot-and-a-half tall. He had silky black fur all over his body with a puffball of hair resting on the twin stripes that crept over his head and then down his back, as well as a pair of shimmering green eyes that were simply adorable. For the moment, he even seemed to be grinning at me.
The skunk then hopped upright, almost as if he were a baby trying to stand for the first time. When he got his balance, the critter put one of his forepaws out.
“What? You want me to shake?” I asked him. He nodded and I shrugged.
Grabbing his paw, the Pokémon suddenly spoke, “Hi! I’m Orion!”
“What?” I muttered, both scared and confused.
The Skunette closed his eyes and giggled, “I said I’m Orion. What’s your name?”
“You…you can talk? No! That can’t be right… Pokémon can’t…” I stuttered as I broke into tears, feeling like part of a sick joke.
“No, don’t cry!” he then said, reaching out to hug me, “I’m friendly, see?”
Wrapping his small arms around me, I started to calm down. After a couple seconds, I did the same to him. Sadly, that was probably one of the few times in my life that he’d been honest about his feelings. Since then, that Pokémon grew into the brutal savage that everyone in Ronac knew to fear.
Apollo suddenly yelped into my right ear, trying to snap me out of my daydream. Next I felt an intense burning sensation thanks to him pressing his ember-hot nose against the side of my neck.
“Damn it, Apollo! What was that for?” I scolded him.
“Erm… Aside from you forgetting to feed Sheila, I think we might have company,” he whimpered.
“Dude! Those are some awesome Pokémon ya got there,” the voice of a teenage guy commented from behind my Incinermyn. Apollo whined nervously, and then floated off to the side by Spunky. Orion grunted as he finished the last of his meal, glowering at the teen as he approached us.
Glancing up, I saw that the kid was a rather scrawny guy who looked to be about Meg’s age. He couldn’t have been more than five-foot-six, even though the dark-green baseball cap he wore basically just rested on top of his thick black hair. Even with his face fresh shaven, his attire gave me more the impression that he as if he were someone trying to appear more thuggish than he really was; he had on a sleeveless leather jacket over a black AC/DC t-shirt as well as black overhauls with apparent patches in random spots on the legs.
“Sweet! You mind if I check their stats with my Pokédex?” the youth asked as he came closer to us. Spunky and Apollo just looked at him awkwardly when he stopped in front of them. Orion just belched loudly, and then picked at his teeth with his pointed claws.
“I’d rather you not, but do whatever you want…” I calmly stated. If that’s all he wants to do, I wasn’t going to stop him.
Setting his backpack down, the guy reached into its main pocket and took out an electronic device reminiscent of a handheld gaming system. Opening it, he focused the iris on its side at Apollo, then Spunky, and lastly Orion.
“Whoa! Tough guys, aren’t ya?” he then complimented them, Apollo cracking a bit of grin while Spunky and Orion tried to look uninterested, “You must be a top-notch trainer then, huh?”
“I was the Regional Champion until last year, kid. It’s old news. If you didn’t hear about it then, you won’t now.” I took a long drink from my pop after that.
His jaw dropped and he slurred, “R-really? Damn, that must’ve been awesome! I’d sure like to battle you, if you don’t mind.” Orion glanced at the guy, then at his tote bag, and scoffed.
“Did the words ‘Regional Champion’ elude you, by any chance?” God, I really was not in the mood for this right now.
“No, Jay, wait!” Orion bellowed out in a full laugh, “I want to see what pathetic excuse for Pokémon this kid’s got on him. Apollo can sense it, too, that they’re not good. Right?” I slapped my hand against my forehead.
Apollo whined turning to face the trainer and telepathically said, “Please don’t mind him. He doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.”
“Holy crap! I knew that Skunter could talk, but you can use telepathy?” the kid barked. My Incinermyn cracked a grimaced smile.
“Well, I guess now we don’t have a choice. What’s your name, kid?”
“I’m Chase. I’m on a journey here from the Hoenn Region,” he explained.
“Never been, but I heard it’s usually warm there,” I asked and he nodded in response, “Ronac’s the utter contrast. Wilderness everywhere and lots of snow during the winter.”
“Yeah, interesting climate you guys have here.”
“Listen. I still have to feed my Lapras, but after that we’ll join you on the battle deck. A three-on-three match okay with you?” Chase nodded, then picked up his bag, and headed for the stairwell to the highest level of the ferry. A few moments later, I made Orion and Apollo return to their Poké Balls.
Standing up, I tried to push my table as far off to the side as I could without drawing too much attention to myself. Lapras were common enough sights in Ronac, but the sheer girth of one appearing on deck would probably raise some ire if anything got knocked over.
“Spunky. Over there,” I ordered, directing him to the side of another table. The pooch nodded and immediately got out of the way.
Taking Sheila’s ball in hand, I threw it into the air and then the sphere opened downward to release a dark blue flash. In the burst appeared the distinct silhouette of a large turtle-like creature with a long neck similar to that of a plesiosaur. The mostly azure Pokémon was nearly as tall as Apollo from her crème-colored belly up to the small horn atop her brow and her curly bun-shaped ears, though her body looked a little wider due to her flippers. Her grayish half-shell seemed rocklike and craggy with its numerous bumps and bulges.
Yawning, my Lapras looked towards me with a slight glint in her eyes. Then she stared at Spunky and lastly the sole container of food that remained on the table.
I said, “Morning, Sheila.” She grumbled as I grabbed the box and took its lid off. When it came to enjoying their food, Orion and her were pretty much the same way.
With barely a flick of her tongue, the turtle dragon grabbed all seven pieces of fish to clean the carton out and swallowed the morsels whole. She belched after a few seconds and suddenly nuzzled my cheek affectionately. In return, I petted her on the nose and rubbed my face against hers. Unlike the rest of my team, she wasn’t really a harden athlete though she could hold her own versus practically any opponent.
“Sorry to cut this short, but we’ve got a battle.” Sheila pulled her head away, tilting it inquisitively. Next, she glanced at the uppermost deck and seemingly gave a nod.
After recalling her, I packed the empty containers back into my Wal-mart bag. With Spunky tailing behind me, we headed upstairs to the battle deck, where Chase waited right at the top of the steps.
“What’s up?” I asked him.
“Those three guys right there…” he pointed across the wide open arena to the threesome on the opposite side of the deck, “Doesn’t something strange about them?” Looking up, I saw that the men from a little bit ago were standing right near the edge of the platform, gazing listlessly across the seascape toward Maritide Island in the distance.
A whistle blew from the deck below and the boat slowly started to move away from port. Noting the position that the threesome had taken at the far end, I did sense something a bit off about them now. The monk stood dead center with the Irishman at his right and the punk off to his left. What surprised me, though, wasn’t how they stood but rather the air that emanated from around them…or, more specifically, the holy man and the Poké Balls that were no doubt in the other two men’s pockets. It seemed as though just being near them made me want to run off and hide in a closet.
“Well, we can’t just stand here all day. You want to battle or not?” I inquired, snapping out of my momentary trance.
“Sure,” Chase said as he headed for the far side of the battlefield. Likewise Spunky and I went a short distance from the stairs to the front of the arena.
“Zomborg, front and center!” he shouted, taking out a Poké Ball and chucking it forward once he was across the way.
Emerging from the sphere, an almost seven-foot-tall ungulate dropped heavily onto the deck, causing a mighty clang as its feet hit the floor. Overall, the Pokémon looked mechanized with a large boxy body, long metallic legs bolted somewhat into its sides, cast-iron hooves, and a solid but curved neck. It had odd triads of concaved parts serving as joints in the bends of its legs, as well as bulgier ones at the base of its neck and the backside of its head. The machine’s head was somewhat elongated and cylindrical with three horns jutting outward, one sticking straight out of its forehead while the others were where its ears should have been. A hinged bowl-like plate covered the area where its mouth should’ve been, and his eyes glowed malevolently just a hue off scarlet.
Stomping its feet, the mechanized horse let out a ghastly howl comparable to a train whistle. The cap over its mouth rose upward and black smog blew out from it like a smokestack.
“Spunky, you’re up!” I said as the wolf took the battlefield.
“Zomborg, Shadow Sneak!” Chase immediately ordered. Zomborg’s shadow suddenly extended from beneath the machine towards where Spunky stood. Once it reached him, the poltergeist tried to manifest to strike him with a black tendril, which passed right through him instead.
Chase looked stumped for a moment until I explained, “Lupudle are Normal-and-Fighting type Pokémon, meaning Spunky’s immune to Ghost type attacks. Reciprocally, his attacks would be useless against a Steel-and-Ghost type one like Zomborg unless he uses Odor Sleuth.” Standing at attention, Spunky snarled at Chase’s Pokémon, trying to take in its scent. Once he picked up on it, the wolf barked to make his enemy shutter momentarily.
Spunky then charged at Zomborg without my say-so, heading straight for the machine’s right leg. His enemy wailed again and then unleashed a stream of silvery sparks from his horns at the wolf. Even though he was hit, Spunky continued to dash until he got to the enemy’s feet. He slung his body so he could slide across the deck, aimed his feet for Zomborg’s appendage, and then forcibly kicked the right front leg as he slid under to cause it to buckle.
To avoid getting pinned under Zomborg, the wolf wrenched his teeth around the Pokémon’s left front leg and swung himself back around towards me. Jumping to his feet, the dog watched patiently as the machine slowly toppled over onto its side.
“The thing I like about fighting Zomborg is the little problem they have getting back up once they’ve been tripped up like that!” I pointed out.
Zomborg screeched loudly in frustration as it moved its legs awkwardly trying to force itself up. Their blocky bodies made them completely immobile if they were turned on their sides. This was exactly what I’d explicitly taught Spunky to do whenever he fought one, and it never got old.
“Spunky, show him what I mean with your Thrust Kick.” The wolf barked joyfully, dashing around to Zomborg’s front.
“Zomborg, use Shriek Clang!” Chase ordered.
I then heard the gears inside of the machine’s body smashing against one another, creating an awful sound. Afterwards, the monster opened its mouth to release a terrible shriek that forced Spunky to back off momentarily. The noise continued to echo for several moments after it actually ended, and my dog started to walk around randomly in a hypnotic daze.
“Snap out of it and strike Zomborg down already!” I shouted at the wolf, but he didn’t seem to listen.
Meanwhile, Zomborg cackled to itself in excitement. Apparently it finally figured out a way it could stand back up, given the loud banging noise now coming from inside it. Clearly the spirits that possessed the machine were trying to force the shell upright again. If Spunky didn’t come to his senses quickly, they’d probably succeed too.
“Spunky, back in your ball!” I ordered, making him return into his Poké Ball. I then sent out Orion as a replacement.
“Enough bullcrap!” he shouted as he ran over to Zomborg and started jabbing it repeatedly in the head with his staff. Though the angle was off, I could tell that Orion’s Run-Through was still hurting the machine significantly. Under normal conditions, the attack dealt serious damage because of its raw power, but Orion’s Belligerence ability made it downright deadly.
After a couple moments of constant striking, Zomborg started to cackle again. With monstrous bump, the machine forced itself into the air at a slanted trajectory and landed back on its feet. Orion jumped back with a grunt as it did.
With brutish fling, my Skunter threw his weapon spinning through the air at Zomborg’s head. The stick whacked one of its horns, and then flew away on an arced path that made it whiz past Chase to just behind the threesome on the far end of the battle deck. Circling back, the attack hit Zomborg alongside the head, somehow causing it to fall over but onto its left this time.
Catching his staff, Orion snorted, “Now stay down!” Zomborg let out a painful-sounding moan in apparent response, no doubt a sign of surrender.
Recalling Zomborg, Chase immediately sent out a Pokémon I didn’t recognize at all. The creature was overall humanoid, though his incredibly slim body gave off the impression of a stick figure. He stood at a height of five-foot-three from the soles of his feet to the tip of an ornamental frill that arced upward from the back of his head. His arms, head, and upper torso were mostly teal save only for the whitish area around his reddish eyes. Unlike the rest of his body, the Pokémon’s white legs and waist appeared relatively thicker and perhaps muscular. Taking up a leftward fighting pose, I noticed another heart-shaped frill protruded out of his chest and back. The Pokémon huffed loudly as he caused long blades to suddenly jut out from his elbows.
“Orion, use Kamikaze Leap!” I ordered. The skunk looked back at me and snorted at first. Seconds later, he vaulted skyward with his staff held overhead.
“Gallade, get him with X-Scissor!” Suddenly the Gallade jumped into the air after Orion with his forearms crossed downwardly.
“Think you’re so smart?” Orion barked as he neared the peak of his jump and flipped his body upside-down.
With his staff pointed right at the oncoming Gallade’s forehead, the huntsman plunged headlong upon his enemy in a kamikaze dive. Chase’s Pokémon tried countering by hacking at Orion with a crossed midair slash from the blades on his elbows but missed due to the offset angle. Orion struck him down immediately with a powerful jab from his bowstaff. Gallade hit the floor hard, with Orion twisting his body around to land next to him.
Orion pivoted around to face Chase and said, “It’s going to take a lot than that to get me, kid.” Afterwards, the skunk jumped backwards to get back over to my side of the arena. He huffed for a moment after he landed, clearly using his stick to support him as he hunched over slightly. I then saw that his leg had a small cut from the attack Gallade used on him. It wasn’t a serious injury, but I knew I had to recall him before he got knocked out. Taking out his Poké Ball, I forced him to return to it without a word.
Likewise, Chase recalled his Gallade and then sent out his final Pokémon. The reptilian creature stood authoritatively on the far side of the battlefield at a height of five-foot-seven. He had smooth forest-green skin covering most of his body, from the grooved area atop his brow that separated his yellow eyes all the way down to his kangaroo-like legs save only for his reddish lower jaw and a matching band around his belly. There were long leaves growing out of his forearms as well as more from his dark-green tail. Likewise the lizard had several orb-shaped seeds that grew from his backside. The Pokémon cooed meanly as he stretched out his lithe form so it was parallel with the floor.
I sent out Apollo as my final combatant, given a Fire-and-Psychic Pokémon had an obvious advantage over this obvious Grass-type. As he appeared levitating over the arena’s floor, the ermine gave out an unexpected yawn.
“Just because your Skunter beat down my other Pokémon doesn’t mean you’ve got the right to get smug! Sceptile’s my best Pokémon,” Chase said, clearly taking the yawn as an insult rather than Apollo getting too relaxed after being in his Poké Ball for the past few minutes.
“Coronal Gaze!” I ordered in response.
Apollo’s eyes twitched a bit as he prepared to open them. Then a flash of intense light consumed the area in front of him. Both Chase and his Sceptile screamed terribly because of the gleam. Once Apollo shut his eyes again, the burst immediately ended.
“That attack temporarily blinds anyone who stares into it. Incinermyn have the arcane power to control solar flares and UV rays, which are what Apollo just used to hurt your retinas.”
Angrily Sceptile began sprinting off away from the battlefield, undoubtedly thinking that’s where Apollo was. He got close to the three men standing on the far side of the deck when he suddenly lashed at the man in the friar’s cloak with his Leaf Blade.
“Hey, get the hell out of here!” the Irishman scolded the lizard after the attack and then socked the Pokémon alongside the head.
“Apollo, use Psychic and bring Sceptile back over here!” I ordered. Apollo raised his head and forcibly grabbed onto Sceptile with his psychokinesis. He then dragged the lizard back to the arena.
“Watch where that Pokémon goes, boy, or I’ll come over there and keelhaul both of yer asses!” the man snapped, giving us the finger.
“Let’s get this over with, Apollo. Take Sceptile out with Fiery Gale!”
Crying to the heavens, Apollo pointed his head upward and began rotating his body on a wobbling axis. As he body spun faster around, he began blowing flames out of his mouth and the jewel in his forehead. The fires started to swirl around his body in a tornado-like funnel. Once the twister grew large enough, Sceptile got sucked up into the vortex and was severely burned by the attack. When Apollo was finished, he dropped his unconscious opponent onto the floor and made the tornado dissipate.
Apparently regaining his sight, Chase gawked at the sight of his Sceptile having fainted from a single attack. I smirked, while Apollo burst into a full-on laugh. It wasn’t often, but once in a great while, Fiery Gale became strong enough to knockout targets in one hit like that.
“Okay, I give! You really were the champ at one point,” the kid said as he recalled his final Pokémon, “My only question is how did you lose that title?”
“Simply put, his sister beat him,” the Irishman commented as he and his associates came over by us.
“Hey, jackass! Why don’t you just mind your own business?” I told him off, considering how he’d just insulted us not but a few moments ago.
“My apologies for that little outburst there. I didn’t realize it was you, Feral, at first.”
“Only my friends call me ‘Feral!’” He passed by Chase while his friends stayed by the youth.
Taking a business card out of his wallet, he suddenly introduced himself, “My name is Jonathon Kyles, a CEO of the Zenith Corporation. Surely you’ve heard of us?”
I took his card and read it. It was printed on a light blue background with the symbol of a circle surrounding the outline of a Dragonite soaring upward on the left side. He had his name and title printed in large letters across the top as well as several phone numbers and email addresses listed below it. Finally, I noted there was the second insignia of a Vaporeon’s tail in the card’s lower-right corner.
“Yeah, I know all about Zenith Corp in Darwin City. You guys were one of my sponsors until I lost my title. And to be frank, I was never much of a satisfied costumer anyways, even before I was paid to endorse your merchandise for trainers.”
“Aye, ‘twasn’t my area of supervision anyways. I’m in-charge of Research and Development. Part of that includes scouting trainers to test our products, one of which may interest you.”
“Whatever it is, I don’t want anything to do with it. Sorry…” I told him, handing back the card. He pushed it at me again with a sinister grin.
“What if I told you it involved a new breed of Pokémon so damn powerful that even Arceus himself would be afraid of them?”
“Listen, I spent several years working to raise my Pokémon to be as good as they were before even going to the Ronac League Championship. I don’t need or even want new ones to raise. Leave me alone!”
“A pity, but I guess yer mind is made up. My offer stands, so call my cell number if you decide to take me up on it since I’ll be away from the office for the time,” he shrugged and then motioned to his companions to follow him downstairs, “I just hope for your sake nothing changes between us before then.” Jonathon and the kid traveling with him left almost immediately, whilst the monk dragged his feet as he headed after them. For some reason, he was giving me a blatant stare as he walked away.
Once they’d all left, Chase came over by me and asked, “What the hell was that all about?”
“I don’t know nor do I want to.”
Sighing, I recalled Apollo and headed for the far end of the deck. On the horizon, Maritide Island slowly grew into a sprawling metropolis situated on the ocean. Despite being one of the cultural hubs in the region, the place’s setup literally contrasted itself from the northernmost neighborhoods to the southern ghettos. The north third of the island had been built up with some of the sleekest-looking buildings imaginable, while the central area possessed a conglomerated mixture of semi-modern homes and businesses, and the south district was comprised mostly of old factories and warehouses.
“So what are you going to Maritide for?” I asked Chase as he came over and leaned against the ferry’s guardrail.
“Mostly checking out the sights and seeing if I can find people to battle.”
“Best bet for the latter is downtown near the Pokémon Center. They’ve got a Battle Bar next door just for roughnecks and ne’er-do-wells hankering to fight other trainers. It’ll also be a good place to train your Zomborg since the guys there like to use Poison Pokémon.”
“Where are you heading, though?”
“The International Institute of Pokémon Science. Dr. Barnes, the head biologist at the school, wanted me to swing by today because she had something important she wanted to discuss…I guess anyways…”
“Well, maybe we can meet up after you’re done?”
“Oh, alright, then.”
I didn’t want to burst his bubble, but I honestly wasn’t in the mood to deal with him right now. In either case, I had better stuff I could do than hangout with him all afternoon, presuming that Felicia wouldn’t keep me at IIPS until nightfall.
<End Chapter Three>
I find it awkward that some swear words aren't while other versions of said words are. It's not as bad as PokeBeach's censors, so I can't complain...
IV. Cause of Infection
For over eighty years, the International Institute of Pokémon Science on Maritide has been heralded as one of the most prestigious colleges in the world for Pokémon studies. Situated on the island’s northernmost peninsula, the campus consisted of one central building with four annexes branching off in the intermediate directions. However, compared to the region’s other schools, the facility was relatively small and hosted no on-campus housing for students, meaning I’d have to find an apartment downtown when my first semester started.
Despite its pleasant façade, though, there remained one factoid about IIPS that boggled the mind of everyone who so much as visited the institute. Some twenty years ago, a catastrophic experiment took place that resulted in massive explosion, which caused major damage to the main building’s biology lab and the front lobby. The full details about what exactly happened that night still remained up for debate, but the chain of events that followed ultimately made Dr. Felicia Marian Barnes the head scientist at IIPS, while getting her mentor Dr. Edwin Nobles fired and his credibility as a Pokémon researcher destroyed.
Even knowing the place’s history, I only concerned myself with the reason why Felicia asked me to come here today. Though she explicitly stated this was supposed to be an orientation in her email, my gut told me she either finally fulfilled my request to find out how to make Spunky evolve or meant to send me on another wild goose chase. More than likely, it’d be the latter…
Pulling into the main parking lot, I found myself in awe at the massive area it took up. The blacktopped surface stretched out to nearly the size of a football field, if not more. However, there were only a few cars here near the sidewalk leading up to the main building’s entrance. A few spots over from the handicap spaces, I noticed a familiar yellow Camaro and decided to park right next to it.
Undoing my seatbelt and then opening the door, I cringed as I realized that I’d parked just a little too close to Felicia’s car. Squeezing out, I slowly closed my door and checked the adjacent vehicle. Thankfully, I didn’t scratch it or I’d never hear the end of it.
Starting down the sidewalk, I noted that the campus lawn was just as expansive as the parking area. Occasional trees obscured parts of the landscape, but it otherwise seemed to sprawl right on up to the granite-brick walls of the college buildings. On top of that, the grass itself looked amazingly lush and vibrantly green.
Reaching the path leading up to the entrance, I stopped a moment to gaze admiringly at a pair of twin statues honoring the deities of ancient Sinnoh. On the right stood a massive quadruped of dinosaur-like stature with an elongated neck, sturdy legs, a tail that arced downward, a large frill atop its rear, and a huge bulge protruding from its chest. Off to the left, its counterpart was a bipedal monster of similar height with a shorter neck, shield-like forearms, a large orb protruding from each of its shoulders, a relatively stout body, and a vaguely reptilian figure.
Despite constant opposition from members of the community, including Felicia herself, IIPS’s oversight committee decided some ten years ago that it would be appropriate to erect statues of the mythical Pokémon Palkia and Dialga as a show of good faith towards Sinnoh, given Ronac had a shared history with the far-off region. Personally, I thought the twosome looming overhead was pretty awesome, but I could also understand why people actually hated having them in place of Ronac’s own legendaries.
On the opposite side of the statues, the central building of the university towered over them and everything else on-campus at nearly eight stories high. Its design appeared octagonal when viewed from the front, though I knew that the backside of the complex was indented with a large courtyard where students could relax between classes. Glancing up at the three story panes of glass decorating the exterior of the lobby, I felt even more entranced by how the tinted glass had been adored by the etching of three distinct lupine Pokémon.
The first on the right-hand side bared a clear resemblance to Spunky, save only for how this beast appeared to be clad in armor and twice Spunky’s size. Its armor consisted of a helmet that shaped to its forehead and upper jaw, a solid shell that protected most of its torso and part of its back, and chain mail that covered its neck, forelegs, and belly. Like Spunky’s mane, there were locks of hair sticking out from the backside of its helmet, but they draped down the sides of this wolf’s neck rather than flow down it like his did. Lastly, I noticed that the beast had a triad of long talons forged onto a ring around each of its forepaws; the blades arced over the wolf’s toes several inches to keep them cutting into the beast’s flesh.
On the left-hand side opposite the armored wolf, there was a six-foot-tall biped with a wolf-like head. Aside from having a humanlike form, the Pokémon didn’t have any distinguishing characteristics in particular save for a four-eyed mask the covered his brow, face, and parts of his cheeks. Additionally, the entity had copper-colored bands on its wrists and ankles that vaguely resembled shackles.
Across the windows above the two appeared the effigy of a third lupine being. Unlike the other two, its form was stretched out and obscured by a phantasmal mane of silvery hair. Only its head and forelegs were revealed at the far left side of the etching, and even then, they looked like they were shaded out due to the mid-morning light. I made out that this creature had a distinct mask atop its brow with evident markings in it.
Metalupus and Canersia were heralded as Ronac’s most symbolic Pokémon. They supposedly evolved from the same infant, but had drastically different legends surrounding them. Mythology often depicted Metalupus as a gallant soldier who’s sworn duty was to protect the region at all cost, whereas Canersia merely existed as a traitor to Metalupus’s clan. Canersia is said to have such a strong vendetta against Metalupus that he’d never hesitate to kill one or its progeny on-sight. However, that claim was merely passed down through stories told by the Dallinos tribe from eons ago, and not something anyone had actually seen; in fact, a Canersia hasn’t been seen in over five hundred years, around the time the Dallinos were wiped out by foreign explorers seeking to takeover the region.
Surviving legends spoke of the third phantom wolf as a Pokémon that formerly protected the region, but he had never been seen by human eyes. Some myths tied to him say that he waged war against another powerful Pokémon, only to lose his life in the process. Others speak of how he hid himself away after engaging his opponent and realizing he couldn’t win. To this day, the beast’s identity remains undiscovered if he even existed at all.
I stopped at the front door and took a peek through the tinted glass to see if anyone was inside the lobby. Apparently, someone had been there earlier since I spotted a briefcase on one of the tables off to the left side of the commons, but otherwise I couldn’t see anybody there right now. Trying the door, I realized that it had been left unlocked after all, so I went in.
A small antechamber separated entry doors from the actual lobby with three walls of clear glass. After I exited it, I entered a large reception area that formed a virtual trapezoid with how it started out wide near the entrance and then the flanking tan walls slanted inward towards each other until they met the one on the other side of the room. From what I could see, most of the floor was covered in a brownish office carpet except for three paths of white ceramic tile forked down middle and sides of the lobby. Four marble pillars formed a virtual square in the center of the foyer, due to how they were positioned in the left and right central parts of the room. Finally, I noticed that several tables, desks, and couches had been positioned neatly along the outside and middle areas of the commons.
Clearly something happened since the school’s offices were all opened up with their lights on, and the reception counter on the far side of the room. I wasn’t exactly in the mood to start poking my nose around, so I immediately took a seat on a nearby couch. Realizing a television had been mounted on a closest pillar to the entryway, I turned it on and watched a local news channel while I waited for someone to show up.
“To say that you people are idiots is an understatement!” Dr. Barnes suddenly bellowed as she stomped out of far corridor, heading towards her office. Glancing at her, I immediately shut the television off so she didn’t think I’d been here long. Today she wore a long black dress with an ornate floral pattern that spiraled counterclockwise around her figure, high-heel shoes, and a pair of narrow-framed glasses.
“Felicia, please be reasonable!” a six-foot-tall African man with a thick accent pleaded, breaking away from a group of security officers to catch up to her. His attire consisted of a white lab coat, a gray shirt underneath it, sleek black pants, and a pair of blue suede shoes. For a scientist, though, he seemed rather muscular as opposed to most of the nerdy people I’d met the few other times I’d visited here.
“No, Ali! Due to the incompetence of people YOU hired, one of the deadliest Pokémon alive is in the possession of three bumbling bozos who wandered in off the streets during the wee hours of the morning.”
“But it was only a parasite. It couldn’t possibly be that dangerous,” the poor guy muttered.
“Doxisite can suck a Pokémon’s body dry in mere seconds. Do you have any idea what he’d do to a person? The monster’s got an insatiable appetite, and won’t stop feeding for weeks at a time. That’s why I had him confined to a Stasis Ball in the first place.”
“Felicia!” I called from across the room. The two scientists looked at me, but the man called Ali glanced away immediately.
“Jay, you’re here already? Good. At least someone here will be able to take my mind off all the crap I’ve had to put up with this morning,” Felicia commented with a smirk as she turned back to Ali, “You, stay here. And the rest of you, find out who the hell stole my Pokémon!”
“But, Felicia…” one of the security officers muttered.
“You’ve all got computers, and you’re all skilled hackers! That’s why you were hired in the first place! Get to work!”
“I have to apologize for that,” she then whispered as she ushered me to her office, “Crap really hit the fan when I came into work today. Since then, it’s just been one thing right after another going wrong.” When we arrived at it, we both went inside.
Felicia’s office was a spacious room with ornately painted walls, bearing the fresco-like design of four snakes wrapping around each other until their heads met on the opposite side of the room. Each serpent had a different symbol on its face; one with a V-shaped marking that extended from its forehead to his nose, another with a plus-sign between its eyes, the third with an upright pentagram on its snout, and the last with an X-shaped marking under its jaw. I saw that Felicia had her doctorate mounted dead-center on the far wall between the snakes’ heads. Likewise, she had a pair of replica samurai swords crisscrossing underneath the certificate. Several pictures and other ornaments hung on the other walls, including a flat-screen TV on the left-hand one. In the middle of the office a large sofa and coffee table were set out for visitors. Behind those, Felicia had a large desk with a Sony VIAO laptop and several portfolios atop it as well as a few file cabinets and office chairs at its sides.
As the woman headed across the room, she said, “So, I presume you know why I asked you to come here today, right?”
I took a seat in one of the chairs near her desk and replied, “You said it was for a private orientation, but I know you better than that.”
“Hmm…” she hummed before sitting down and thumbing through one of the folders on her workstation, “Actually I was going to give you a tour, but only after you do a little favor for me.”
“As usual.” She always had something she wanted me to do before anything else. Last time, she sent me to investigate the Forest Ruins near Marble Town to find an ancient Dallinos tribal relic that ultimately didn’t exist. I couldn’t imagine what sort of thing she needed me for now.
“You’re familiar with the incident that occurred here over twenty years ago, correct?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“Good,” she grinned, taking a piece of paper out of the file she’d just skimmed through. Then she set it in front of me and I read through it for a long moment.
“A confidentiality agreement?” I asked as she handed me a pen.
“What I’m about to tell deserves the utmost secrecy, and if you so much as utter a word of it to anyone outside of this school, you’ll have a lawsuit on your hands the likes of which you’d never imagine.” Shrugging I took her pen and signed the bottom line of the contract in my best cursive.
“Thank you,” she commented, putting the contract away. Then she reclined back in her chair and took a short glance back at her doctorate.
“Twenty-five years ago, your mother and I were graduate students here at IIPS. While we each studied different fields, her focus being general Pokémon studies and mine being Pokémon physiology, the two of us formed quite a bond. Roommates, colleagues, friends… You know that much already, right?” Felicia spoke longingly. I nodded in response as she looked back at me.
“Well, about a year later, Roselyn finished her Masters’ degree and went on to pursue a career as a regional contest judge. No offense, but that’s perhaps the biggest mistake of her life, regardless of how famous she became,” she continued, “I, on the other hand, continued forward with my studies to earn my Ph. D. As you can plainly see, my life turned out all the better for it.”
“So what? You made me come here just to talk smack about my mom?”
“No. I’m just voicing my open opinion to you while I’ve got your ear,” the woman responded while rolling her eyes, “Let me continue…”
“The fall semester after your mother left was quite stressful for me. While I had all of these astonishing theories on how Pokémon gene frequencies could be converted through chemical-based mutation, I possessed absolutely no hard data to back them up and designing an experiment that used living creatures wasn’t only unethical, but downright illegal even at that time. So, it came down to two choices…either quit while I was ahead and find another field of study or improvise. As you may guess, I chose the latter.”
“Of course,” I said with a sarcastic grin. She gave me a stern look for a moment, my smile immediately turning into a blank expression again.
“After several months of experimentation on microorganisms such as bacteria and protists, I finally decided to create a synthetic membrane I could seed with artificial compounds that mimicked DNA. At first it seemed fruitless, but I eventually got something to actually develop into a living specimen.”
“Interesting, but that sounds a bit farfetched to me.”
“Understandable, but everything I’ve just mentioned is absolutely true. It was quite a revolutionary breakthrough since, until that point, no one else had been able to thoroughly prove Darwin’s theory of evolution correct in the sense that all modern organisms developed from ancestral species.”
“Come again? I thought you said you just created a new life form. What does that have anything to do with Darwinian Evolution?”
She sighed and continued, “The organism in question rapidly developed from a small cluster of microorganisms into a massive unified colony with subhuman intelligence. Because its genetic code changed with every new generation of cells born, my project proved once and for all that organisms do and can evolve from ancestral species over vast amounts of time, not just as part of their natural life-cycles such as the case with most Pokémon.”
“Now that’s where I’m a bit confused. I’m aware that the current theories about the origins of modern day Pokémon species state that they developed from ancestral species, hence why Darwin’s theory is important to you as a Pokémon scientist. But, the idea is that the process takes place over millions if not billions of years. What type of experiment could you have run in a relatively short amount of time that could have possibly supported those ideas beyond a shadow of a doubt?”
“Doxi Riboneria is what it eventually became known as. But the common name I assigned her was Doxinox. As I just said, this creature’s gene frequency changed rapidly, meaning that it evolved into more advanced forms in a short amount of time as well. Seven months, to be specific.”
“So, if you created such a miraculous organism, where is it now?”
She shuffled through some of her folders, and then pulled out a thick one with photos sticking out of its side. From what I could tell, some of them were pictures of red eyeballs with slits for irises, while others had blobby masses with lime-green and black streaks across their surfaces.
“To be honest, I haven’t a clue. I lost it the prototype after the catastrophe twenty-two years ago, but several progeny were somehow birthed from the event.”
Opening the file, she pulled out two of the photographs. The first had the image of a distinctly reptilian monster whose form consisted almost strictly of a head with oversized jaws, a large conical tail, and two powerful arms protruding from its cheeks. Similarly, the other one showed three Pokémon that looked like they’d split off from its tail, its scalp, and its face through mitosis.
Pointing at the center of the second picture, she commented, “This was the Pokémon that got stolen this morning.”
Looking more closely at the photo, I saw that the creature had a thick cone-shaped body with alternating lime and black rings coursing the length of his form. His gaping maw drew my attention particularly since a set of dagger-like teeth comprised the entirety of his devilish smile. Aside from staring dead-on in the direction of the camera with a bloodthirsty gaze, the Pokémon appeared to have a large red serrated fins coursing down his backside.
“Doxisite is a very dangerous predator, especially in comparison to his siblings and mother. Doxibond and Doxifice only react in self-defense, while Doxisite attacks any other organism he can clamp his maw around. From there, he’ll inject his prey with narrow tubes and drain out a victim’s body fluids straight from inside its heart.”
“Geez, I see why you’re so angry at your staff then.”
“You don’t know the half of it. Ali was assigned to keep the Doxi Siblings under wraps, and nobody should have known about their existence besides him, myself, and a few other professors.”
“How do you know the thieves weren’t just after exotic Pokémon?”
“I kept them in specially-designed Poké Balls inside a safe hidden inside the back courtyard’s central statue. It requires a twenty-digit pass code to access the compartment as well as a thumbprint scan to unlock the safe itself. Only Ali and I have our prints registered. So when I discovered Doxisite’s ball missing, it could only have been because Ali accessed it.”
“Back up a second. Where do the three ‘bumbling bozos’ you mentioned out in the lobby come into play?”
“The parking lot’s security cameras showed three men loitering on the premises around 3:00AM. They came up to the front doors several times before someone eventually let them in. I’m trying to figure out who it was, though. The cams didn’t pick that up.”
“Okay… So you think Ali did it?”
“I know he did!” she barked, pounding her fist on the table.
“Am I right to assume he’s your vice-dean or something?”
She nodded and then replied, “Dr. Jubara has been working here for several years now and was a trusted colleague until several months ago when he signed on with the Zenith Corporation for some special project they needed our Spectral Studies wing for. Since then, his demeanor’s apparently become a lot shiftier.”
“Okay, so where does that put me?”
“Dr. Jubara has spent some time in the South Maritide sewers investigating workers’ reports of an unidentified Pokémon that matches the description of Doxinox. To this point, he never encountered it, but he did acquire some strong evidence that she is there.” After that, she pulled open a drawer, took out several items, and placed them in front of me. One appeared to be a map of some sort with markings all over it, several Xs crossing out certain areas and a few other parts circled, while the other two were Poké Balls with lime-green and black hemispheres instead of the normal red and white coloring.
“You may want to stand back a moment, and move the seats for me please,” she then ordered. I did what she asked and stood over by her coffee table.
Pressing the switch on one of the balls, she suddenly released a blobby mass upon the floor. The oozing Pokémon looked and smelled distinctly familiar, but the wavering lime-green and black streaks across its body sort of made me question that.
“Grimer…” it suddenly moaned. Weakly, the sludge monster tried to reach out and grab my pants’ leg but couldn’t muster up the strength to stretch more than a couple inches from where it sat.
“Doxinox instinctively assimilates any pseudo-organic mass to stimulate her own growth or just nourish her pre-existing cells. For some reason, though, she has a preference for decomposing matter or anything that gives off the appearance of it.”
“You mean this thing’s being turned into a ‘Doxinox?’”
“In layman’s terms, yes. But the effect diminishes and turns into a lethal infection if the victim isn’t taken into the colony as a whole.”
“You mean it’s dying?”
“Indeed.” She suddenly recalled the ailing Pokémon and returned her gaze to the other objects.
“So what’s with those things then?”
She pointed at the map and said, “These are schematics of the city’s southern sewer system. Like I just said, Ali investigated several locations where city employees claimed to have spotted Doxinox. Thus far, he’s found three spots with anomalous ooze trails and Pokémon infected like that Grimer is.”
“So what do you want me to do?”
“Track down and recapture Doxinox, of course. Ali clearly can’t be trusted with this task anymore, especially after this morning’s incident.”
“That all?” I asked, knowing that her requests often turned into full-blown missions.
“Ali will be accompanying you, so make sure you keep an eye on him.”
“So are you onboard or not?”
“Of course, but I can’t guarantee I’ll find anything.”
Felicia stood up with a widening grin and held her hand out to shake on the deal. I accepted the gesture and shook accordingly. Afterwards, she gave me the map and the second Poké Ball she’d taken out.
“That Poké Ball is actually a refurbished version of the one that Doxinox was originally kept in. Its design causes Pokémon housed within it to be put into a type of suspended animation, rather than how standard ones that just serve as capsulated storage units.”
“Wait, is this even legal to use then? I don’t want to get accused of Pokémon abuse just for having this thing.”
“This is why I had you sign that confidentiality agreement. Some of the technology we utilize here is technically legal but highly controversial.”
I rolled my eyes. Leave it to IIPS to be ahead of the game but also borderline when it came to unethical experimentation. On that note, she motioned towards the door and I followed her out of the room.
Dr. Jubara came running at us from the reception desks across the lobby. He held a paper in his right hand that he waved about frantically. When he finally stopped before Felicia and me, I noticed his thick brown locks dripped with sweat and his tawny eyes had tears running down from them.
“Dr. Barnes! We found out who is behind this and it’s worse than any of us could possibly imagine!”
“Spit it out, then!” Felicia demanded, snatching the sheet from him.
“His name is Miror B. He’s wanted in several regions for Pokémon theft and selling said Pokémon on the black market, not to mention he renowned for being a former boss of the Orre crime syndicate known as Cipher.”
Glancing at the print-off, I immediately recognized the man’s afro and said, “Hey, I just battled that guy barely an hour ago.”
“Damn it, Jay! Didn’t he use Doxisite against you? Why didn’t you mention something after I just showed you what the Pokémon looked like?”
“He just used a Destail against me, which isn’t exactly a threat to Orion. But apparently, my buddy Rick almost lost his Girafarig to some other monster that this guy had.”
“This is bad. Did you find out where he was heading after you battled him?”
“No, the guy and his cronies just took off for God knows where.”
“We’ll have to call the authorities now, Felicia. This is way out of our hands,” Ali said, pivoted back towards the reception desks.
“No way in hell!” Felicia shouted at him, “Keeping an incident under wraps is the only way to prevent a media wildfire. This school has too much at stake to have its reputation smeared by scandal.”
“Then what do you suggest we do?” he shrewdly asked.
She huffed a moment and then calmly stated, “For the time being, you will escort Jay Christie to the sites you discovered Doxinox likely rested at for long periods of time. At this moment, that’s my top priority because, without the original experiment, my next project cannot advance.”
“Wait… What next project?” I asked.
“You didn’t explain that to him, Felicia?” Ali responded, clearly confused.
Felicia rubbed her chin and then stated, “I was going to wait until you came back, but there’s another thing I need you for today, Jay.”
“Ah, I will tell you the full details on our way downtown. In the meantime, I’d suggest we make haste,” Ali interrupted.
“Fine, but I want straight answers.”
After that, Felicia and I nodded to one another. Ali and I then headed for the entrance, leaving the building and going straight to my truck. Pulling out of the parking lot, I felt a sense of something amiss, but whatever it was would have to wait until we got back.
<End Chapter Four>
Darkrai stopped his pursuit midair as he heard the ungodly scream of his target, who narrowly escaped the Dark Pulse he’d just used against her. As the amorphous being slipped downstream through the sewer’s main channel, the phantom hovered over to a nearby walkway examining whatever damage he took from the monster’s counterstrike. Glancing under his left arm, he saw a pulsating green and black blob attached to the side of his chest that was slowly absorbing into his skin. He didn’t feel any pain, but he knew the parasites contained in this thing would kill him if he didn’t leave the physical realm soon.
At this moment, though, a greater concern plagued his mind. Most of his attacks didn’t affect that abomination whatsoever. Dark Void put her under for a moment, but when he tried to use Nightmare and Dream Eater, the monster immediately caused him to focus on only a few of its cells to essentially nullified the moves’ effects. Furthermore, when he used Dark Pulse before she reawakened, the Pokémon just sloshed around its impact zone and then reformed her body accordingly. Why hadn’t his master warn him the entity was capable of such feats?
He suddenly heard his enemy belch in the distance. Clearly it had an insatiable appetite, considering that he found the creature digesting fecal matter before he attacked it. As disgusting as it seemed, it somehow made sense that the Pokémon would have adapted to being a traditional bottom-feeder like Grimer or Muk.
Suddenly, a circle of light shone down from above. Staring upward, Darkrai noticed a human’s shadow peeking through the manhole overhead. Apparently, his mission would have to wait, on account of how another one of those workers was coming here to investigate. Even so, he could still follow after his quarry in the secrecy of shadows. Slowly he phased onto the wall’s side and took off in a phantasmal rush.
“So, Felicia wants Doxinox back because she believes her project caused some ethereal Pokémon to appear at IIPS?” I asked as I slowly climbed down into the moderate darkness of the Maritide Sewers.
Several feet below me and off to the side of the ladder, Ali stood on the concrete walkway alongside the canal sewage water flowed through. With flashlight in mouth, he stared at the sewer schematics Felicia gave me before we left and then back up at me. The beam blinded me until he took the device out of his mouth and nodded.
“It’s just a thought. But Felicia firmly believes that the finalization of Doxi Riboneria as an experiment somehow caused one of two mythological Pokémon to appear. If it wasn’t Golbania, she’s near certain it had to be the legendary Pokémon depicted in the etching over the university’s main entrance.”
“Not to question Felicia’s sanity, but even I don’t believe in some of the legends passed down from the Dallinos tribe. Golbania is one thing because there have been countless sightings over the years with tons of hard evidence to back them up, but there’s no hard evidence to prove the existence of that phantom wolf.”
“If you say so. But I still like to believe that some myths may be true, even though I can’t officially state that publicly without persecution and ridicule.”
“Of course. It’s not like I’m going to say anything about it, especially since I’m legally bound not to now,” I replied as I dropped to the path. I immediately took off the Snakelight from my glove box that I had around my neck, wrapped it somewhat around my right forearm, and turned it on.
Looking around, I noticed that the specific corridor we were in was particularly wide and long even for a sewer. If I didn’t know any better, it probably stretched the length of the island itself. I also saw that there were numerous other tunnels with just as many if not more pipes heading down them in virtual entanglements of metal. But, there didn’t look to be any bridges across to the pathways along their channels diverging from this main one. As if that weren’t bad enough, though, it smelled worse than that Grimer from the lab down here.
“Do you mind if I send out some of my own Pokémon before we actually start our search?” Ali then asked.
“Sure,” I replied, standing off to the side for a moment.
“Zombroken, Giltana! I need your assistance,” he declared as he threw two Poké Balls in the northward direction. The first orb landed on the concrete pathway we stood on, while the other hovered over the sewage water. They opened simultaneously and flew back into their owner’s hands.
In a blackened haze, the thirteen-foot-tall form of a familiar mechanical horse appeared on the walkway. Unlike Chase’s Zomborg from earlier, this creature had a bulkier body that seemed vaguely oval-shaped. Its neck seemed to be longer and curved more sharply than the way its younger form’s did. The horns on its head also looked larger and curled inward acutely now. There were hemispherical covers atop each of his legs with a set of decorative blades welded onto their front and rear spots, which in turn arced back towards each other for a menacing appearance. Finally, metallic wheels with spikes sticking out of their rims replaced the lower parts of the machine’s hind legs.
Zombroken wheezed tiredly, the cap on his mouth blowing open somewhat. As the creature fully awakened, he glared at me with his demonic red eyes. Suddenly, he expelled a huff of smoke and closed his eye-shutters again.
A second monster emerged from the polluted waterway with a ferocious cry. Overall the scaly purple-and-green Pokémon looked vaguely fishlike and towered over both Ali and I at a height of sixteen-and-a-half feet. She had a large maw filled with serrated teeth that extended away from the rest of her face, a pair of piercing amber eyes, and violet gills that seemed fanned outward as she breathed. A pair of long black ears curled backwards atop her head, forming apparent blades with their blood-red edges. Her torso was muscular along with her thick arms that had jagged purple and lime-green markings decorating them up until her hands, while her abdomen and legs seemed relatively stocky. There appeared to be a long row of wavering dorsal fins coursing her backside. Lastly, I noted that her tail fin possessed twin blades similar to her ears, the top one having its red edge facing forward and the lower one with its edge reversed.
“Impressive,” I complimented Ali, “Zombroken especially, considering how few trainers are lucky enough to have their Zombrong evolve into it. I’m curious as to how you got one to.”
“Zombroken was actually a gift when I signed up to assist with the Zenith Corporation’s latest endeavor. He’s supposedly an experimental Pokémon.”
“I have a question for you, Dr. Jubara. Out of curiosity, what’s your field of expertise?”
“As awkward as it may sound, I am a leading authority on Spectral Studies in the Ronac Region as well as a biochemist. My primary studies were always focused the enigmas of Ghost-type Pokémon, which according to all known natural laws should not exist whatsoever. I took up biochemistry as a sort of standby in case that didn’t work out.”
“All right. That’s all I wanted to know for the moment.”
Ali started to say something in response to that, but then we heard a ghastly shriek come further down the passageway followed immediately by the sound of something gurgling. Pivoting around, I thought I caught the crude shadow of a humanoid figure dart away through a rightward tunnel not even fifty yards from where we stood.
“That couldn’t have been Doxinox, do you think?” I then asked Ali.
“No, but I’d recognize that silhouette anywhere,” he replied solemnly, “That shadow belonged to a Sinnoh-native Pokémon known as Darkrai.”
“They’re notorious for causing horrific nightmares to anyone or anything that falls asleep near them.”
“What would one be doing in a place like this?”
“We have to go investigate!” he commented, turning back to his Zombroken, “Can you follow us?” The mechanical horse neighed, breathing out more smoke.
“Giltana, go on ahead and try to pursue that Darkrai!” Grumbling for a second, the mutant fish-dragon agreed and suddenly took off in a wicked gait.
Finally Ali turned back to me and stated, “I have to wait for Zombroken to get up to full-steam before he’ll be of any use against Doxinox or Darkrai. Make sure nothing happens to Giltana in the meantime, alright?” I nodded, starting off for the corridor where I saw the specter head down.
It took me a few minutes to reach the intersection. Giltana was already far ahead of me. Before I went dashed the corridor as well, I noticed an odd trail of ooze that had been split by her wake. The lime-green and black streaks were nauseating enough; however, the stench given off by the half-digested feces floating nearby made the sight ten times worse.
“Orion, get your ass out here!” I demanded, releasing my Skunter from his Poké Ball. As he appeared, he immediately gagged.
“Damn! Why are we down here?” he shouted.
“Follow that Giltana! We’re on the hunt for a Darkrai,” I told him. The skunk looked and sneered.
“Eh, fair enough,” he shrugged and then dashed off down the tunnel. I followed behind him at a decent pace.
Ahead of us, a blackened halo appeared to seemingly swallow Giltana whole. Orion and I stopped to watch the anomaly fade away, which had caused the mutant Pokémon to fall asleep in the toxic water. Overhead, the full-formed phantasm floated slowly backwards, staring down his target with a menacing blue eye.
“Be gone, human!” Darkrai declared in a deep raspy voice, holding out his scrawny arm, “The abomination must be destroyed!”
“Abomination?” I asked.
“Go to hell!” Orion shouted as he flung his stick towards the ghost-like being. In response, the specter created another dark aura that almost swallowed up Orion.
I suddenly heard Ali’s other Pokémon wailing as an invisible force flew past Orion and me, knocking my Skunter away from the phantom’s attack. Hearing the demon’s metallic hooves clang against the concrete as he jumped, Zombroken instantly reappeared midair and slammed into Darkrai with his Shadow Force.
“Even at half-strength, Zombroken’s physical attacks are still quite powerful. Coupled with the move Overdrive, Shadow Force becomes a virtually lethal assault when it hits,” Ali commented as he caught up to us.
“Zombroken?” Orion muttered confusedly as he got back on his feet. Admittedly, he’d never had the opportunity to fight one properly, so it was no surprise to me that he didn’t know about them.
The Pokémon in question slammed into the sidewall of the channel and then fell into the polluted water. Meanwhile his target crash-landed onto the walkway on the opposite side of the sewer. Though it didn’t look like he’d fallen so hard, I could tell that impact from Zombroken’s attack must have caused major injury to his side due to how he already had an odd bulge swelling up on it.
“Giltana, snap out of it!” Ali shouted at his Pokémon. The mutant fish-dragon woke up on command, and then went over to Zombroken to lift him back onto the walkway.
“Hey, do you notice that bulge growing out of Darkrai’s side?” I asked Ali. He took a momentary glance at the specter, nodding once he noticed the green and black blob attached to Darkrai’s body.
“He’s been infected by the Doxi Riboneria strain. It will spread throughout his circulatory system and convert his cells into more of its own if the main colony itself doesn’t order it to stop, which is very unlikely even if we find Doxinox in time.”
“Speaking of Doxinox, that ooze trail there seemed like it was getting thicker the further we came in this direction,” I commented as I pointed at the stream.
Ali looked into it as well and commented, “This does not surprise me. We are awfully close to one of her presumed feeding grounds. I’ve just never had the opportunity to spot Doxinox in the midst of mealtime.”
“Orion and I are going on ahead then. We can’t lose track of Doxinox just because some rogue Pokémon disrupted our search.”
“Agreed, but I want my Giltana to go with you. If Darkrai is any example of how terrible the colony can be, you’ll need a Poison-type Pokémon that won’t be so easily infected.”
I nodded in agreement. He then handed me Giltana’s Poké Ball and ordered his Pokémon to obey be for the time being. Afterwards, Orion, Giltana, and I continued further down the corridor until it abruptly turned left. We then followed it almost all the way into a large underground reservoir where all the wastewater had been collected for treatment.
Orion and I followed the remaining walkway into the chamber proper, and made our way onto a steel platform suspended over the tank that the sewage spewed into. Giltana, on the other hand, swam down into the pool to investigate the swirling mass congregating at the bottom. Like the trail we followed, there were globular lime-green and black formations floating around the tank.
“This is bad…” Orion commented as we reached the middle of the room.
“You sense something?”
“No, and that’s the problem,” he sneered, “When you started on about something called Doxinox, I presumed it was some sort of Pokémon…”
“It is. That’s what Ali and I came down here to find.”
“But any normal Pokémon, even mutants like Grimer and Muk, give off conscious thought patterns I can pick up on. Aside from Giltana’s brainwaves, I don’t sense a thing.” Orion wasn’t a pure Psychic-type, but he still relied somewhat on telepathy, so this could be a problem.
Finishing her investigation, Giltana started to swim back up towards us again. Once her head emerged from the depths, she cried out a horrific scream.
“Run!” Orion ordered as he made a quick dash for the concrete walkway. Giltana swam under and away from the platform too. Realizing the blobs were starting to coagulate near the top of the reservoir, I backed off as well but watched awestruck because of how they were rapidly changing into something solid.
Oozing through the grated floor of the platform, the creature’s head took on the distinct shape of a tyrannosaurus-like head covered mostly by dark-green scales. Her jaws were massive with alternating lime-green and black stripes rippling backwards down the lower one, from its lip to near its cheek. As she formed her body better, I could see that she had a slight brow-line where a long row of jagged red fins began to emerge at its midsection. Slowly but surely, her tail began to develop into a virtual cone that possessed rings similar to the stripes on her jaw. Finally the Pokémon forcibly grew a pair of strong purplish arms behind her jaws, each with five fingers and long reddish claws.
“So you’re Doxinox?” I nervously told myself as I continued to inch away.
Placing her palms under her jaws, she immediately pushed her body upward and curled her tail underneath it to fully support herself, towering over me at a height of ten-feet-tall. Grunting at first, I noticed she then started to sniff around as though she picked up a familiar scent. Afterwards, she appeared to grin widely.
Opening her mouth slightly, she then gargled, “We are Doxinox, yes. How do you know this?”
My expression turned to disgust the moment she finished, but I swallowed my pride and replied, “I was sent by your creator to find you.”
“Creator?” she belched.
“Perhaps this will refresh your memory.” I took out the Stasis Ball that Felicia gave me to recapture Doxinox with. The monster turned so that she could get a better look with one of her large red eyes, the slit in her iris widening at the sight of it.
“Master is alive?” she then asked. I nodded in response.
“We thought she was killed by Beyi-geyi. That is why we took refuge here.”
“The one who condemned us as an ‘abomination.’ She deemed us unworthy to live and set a beast upon us. We barely escaped from it.”
“Is that what happened?” Doxinox just tilted her head back and apparently sighed.
After a long moment of silence, I heard the clang of Zombroken’s hooves, knowing that Dr. Jubara and his Pokémon were coming. Orion started back over to where I stood, slinging his staff over his shoulder. As the silhouettes of the scientist and his accompanying Pokémon emerged from the tunnel, I noticed something terribly different about them. Zombroken’s eyes glowed violet instead of red, and Ali’s hair somehow turned into a flowing mane of silvery-white.
“Giltana, return!” the man ordered as he held out the creature’s Poké Ball.
“Ali, what’s wrong?” I asked him, about to dash over to his side. Orion stopped me, though, by holding his weapon out ahead.
“They’re possessed!” the skunk then shouted.
“Oh, no… This far better than mere possession,” Ali rasped as he cocked his head back to reveal that his eyes had turned an abnormal shade of blue, “I have overridden the souls of these completely. They have wariness of what they’re doing.”
“Who are you then? Darkrai?”
“The one and only! Now that I’ve left the physical domain, I again have the power to temporarily usurp any mortal bodies as I see fit.”
“What are you talking about? How is that even possible?”
“He just said he wasn’t in the physical world anymore,” Orion whispered.
“What’s that supposed to mean then?” I asked him.
“He must be controlling them from the Dreamtime like in the Dallinos legends, remember?” I nodded at him. For a moment, I recollected the countless lectures in my high school history classes in which we were taught about the legends of a dreamtime world called Beyi Quofyi. Supposedly it was a realm attached to the real world through dreams and memories, but nobody honestly believed it existed.
“Zombroken, go forth and destroy the abomination!” Ali commanded.
The mechanized horse neighed loudly and moved towards the platform we stood on. Orion gave out a fierce battle cry in response as he jumped into the air overhead. Plunging downward, the skunk kept his feet down so that he could land right on Zombroken’s back. Zombroken, however, shot him down with a series of electrical bolts generated from his horns. Now paralyzed, the huntsman landed face first in front of me unable to move much.
I recalled him and sent out Apollo. Unable to bear the stench, he instinctively gave out a terrible scream and then teleported back into his ball.
“Damn it! This is no time to wimp out on me!” I scolded him. Zombroken got to the far end of the bridge leading to the platform and, no sooner putting a hoof on it, caused it to shake violently. Undoubtedly the people who designed the thing only meant for it to hold humans and light Pokémon. That heavy-metal hoofer would collapse the walkway with his thirteen-hundred-pound body.
“Doxinox, I need you to stop that machine!”
“We shall try.”
Suddenly, the monster grabbed onto the side rails and flung herself into the air. Zombroken backed off the platform a little bit, shooting another Thunderbolt overhead to get in a second preemptive strike. However, Doxinox appeared to be almost completely unfazed by the attack, save for the impact spot on her chin becoming slightly deformed. Slamming down hard, Doxinox’s body splattered all over the machine around it.
“Zombroken, she’s immune to spiritual attacks. Make certain you don’t waste them on her,” Ali ordered.
“Doxinox, his body’s made almost entirely of cast iron. If you submerge him, he can’t counterattack!” I shouted.
Doxinox seeped underneath Zombroken and reformed her hands around his belly to lift him upward. The mechanical horse spun his rear wheels furiously in order to mutilate his attacker’s palms, but only caused her fingers to splatter and gunk up the appendages. Zombroken let out a ghastly wail along with a thick smokescreen.
Holding him firmly overhead now, Doxinox threw Zombroken into the middle of the reservoir. I watched excitedly as he sunk to the bottom of the wastewater pool. Once she was fully formed again, Doxinox dove in after her assailant to continue the attack.
“Giltana, go assist Zombroken!” Ali ordered as he re-released his other Pokémon. As soon as she appeared, I realized that she too had been put under the same trance Zombroken was in due to the abnormal violet coloring of her eyes. Following his command to a tee, Giltana dove into the sewage and pursued Doxinox.
“Sheila, don’t give me the type of BS Apollo did!” I commented as I threw my Lapras’s ball out towards the water. The plesiosaur splashed down into the reservoir and gave out a disgusted cry.
“Sorry, but I need you to use Ice Beam on that Giltana, stat!”
Sheila looked downward to see the mutant fish chasing after Doxinox. She threw her head back briefly and then shot an icy-blue energy stream out of her mouth, straight at her targeted Pokémon. Within split seconds the move struck, freezing Giltana solid along with any wastewater in the path of the Ice Beam due to it being such a pinpointed attack.
Doxinox finally reached Zombroken’s location at the deepest part of the basin. Angered by her last strike, the mechanized horse opened his mouth widely to unleash a piercing sound that resonated from inside his body. Shriek Clang’s effectiveness appeared to be doubled underwater, judging by how Doxinox dissolved her body again in a likely attempt to avoid the attack’s full power. Sheila also cried out painfully because of the noise, so I immediately recalled her.
“What do you hope to gain by killing Doxinox?” I decided to ask.
“This is nothing more than my master’s wish, boy,” the Darkrai-controlled Ali replied.
“What? Who’s your master then?”
Before he could respond again, Dr. Jubara’s body jerked upward for some reason. Afterwards, Darkrai was forcefully ejected from Ali’s backside. Then, the man pivoted around to face the specter authoritatively.
“DARKRAI!” Ali’s voice suddenly boomed, “How dare you commandeer these mortal vessels without my consent?”
“My… My Liege… I didn’t realize that I…”
“Silence!” the entity now in control demanded, “Your task here is finished. Convene with my emissary at once!”
“But, S-Sire…” A malevolent purple-and-black aura immediately veiled the doctor’s body after that comment. On that note, Darkrai withdrew back into the sewer corridor we’d just come down and dashed away as an intangible shadow.
“I shall deal with you humans when the time is nigh…” the being spoke solemnly as the corona dissipated. Then Ali dropped to his knees before slouching on the floor listlessly.
Zombroken instantly stopped his attack, now apparently confused by the fact that he was underwater. Doxinox resumed her regular form, watching cautiously as if she expected another fight. After a couple seconds, Giltana thawed out enough to break free of her icy prison and then glanced around to get her bearings.
“Doxinox, Giltana, try to help Zombroken out of there! I’m going to check on Ali,” I told the Pokémon. Both of them swam towards the mechanical horse. Meanwhile, I headed off the platform I had been standing on and over to Dr. Jubara’s side.
The man pushed himself up off the floor, trying to get back on his feet. For some reason, he trembled terribly as I grabbed his arm to help. However, he pulled away from me and screamed.
“What’s wrong?” I asked him.
“That monster… He… I can’t even describe how horrific he was…” Ali sobbed.
“No, that other beast!” After a couple seconds, he stood upright completely. Staring blankly at the terrified expression on Ali’s face, I felt like I somehow knew what he meant.
“That creature… He is unlike anything else I’ve ever encountered in my seven years of research. To call him a demon is a severe understatement.”
“Alright, geez… Calm down, man. It’s over now.”
“No, you don’t understand! I will never know calm again after that experience.”
With a small splash, the Pokémon emerged from the depths. Doxinox and Giltana gently set Zombroken on the ground behind us. Giltana then climbed out of the water, while Doxinox just floated nearby.
“Unbelievable… You actually found Felicia’s project?” Ali complimented me with some excitement returning to his voice.
“Yep.” I went over to the platform again, holding Doxinox’s Stasis Ball in my right hand.
Focusing her eyes on it, she asked, “Do you wish to take us back to Master?”
“If you’ll come back.”
“We shall!” Doxinox gurgled joyfully.
On that note, I threw the modified Poké Ball at her. The sphere opened slowly; however, it drew the colony inside within moments, including all the trails of ooze down the off-branching corridors leading out from the reservoir. Once it sealed, the orb returned to my hand and I put it away in my right holster.
Ali recalled both of his Pokémon and anxiously asked, “Are we done here?”
“Yeah,” I replied, “Let’s head back to IIPS. I’m going to need a seriously long shower tonight when I get home, though.” We then headed back out of the sewers the exact same way we’d come in, making as much haste as we could.
<End Chapter Five>
At one point, I would've cursed out these forums for being super-active while my fanfics got ignored, but coming off PB, I've kind of gotten used to minimal attention.
VI. Bad Blood
Ali hadn’t said a word since the moment we left the sewers downtown. Apparently that paranormal experience back there left the man utterly traumatized to the point where he couldn’t look me square in the eye and explain stuff anymore. As much as I’d like to call his bluff, situations such as those were exactly why I hated fighting against Ghost Pokémon and I absolutely refused to raise any. This guy, on the other hand, immersed himself into their world, basically opening himself up to spiritual attacks exactly like that.
“Tell me something, Ali…” I said to him, getting his attention momentarily, “Do you know anything about something called Beyi-geyi, by any chance?”
“Mmm… That would be from the dead Quofyi language, I think,” he replied, sounding a little calmer than he did earlier, “I know that the word ‘beyi’ always translates purity or, more literally, chastity. ‘Geyi’ is a subjective term, typically added as a title of honor or respect; it can also be used to address one as divinity, but that’s an obscure use.”
“I see… That doesn’t really answer my question.”
“I apologize. I was never much a student of history, much less archaic languages.”
“But you are a Pokémon scientist. I just thought you’d know something about it.”
“Alas, I do not. Dallinos legends are very cryptic. There are Pokémon described in them that even we at IIPS don’t know for certain exist,” he shook his head, “Why the sudden interest?”
“Oh…” I hesitated a long moment before working up the courage to fully answer, “Doxinox mentioned that name to me when I first found her. I was just wondering if it meant anything to you.”
“Again, I apologize for my lack of knowledge. As I said before, I would like to believe that some Pokémon described in legends exist, but the fact remains that only Golbania has been found. That said, I could lecture you all day about Sinnoh’s legendary Pokémon such as Darkrai. The monster that controlled me after he did, however…” he ended the last sentence with an abrupt scream.
“Geez, settle down already! The worst part is over. Look, we’re almost back to campus.” On the horizon, I saw the two statues of Palkia and Dialga rising in front of the central building. In a few moments, we’d be inside meeting with Felicia and I’d finally have the private orientation she promised me.
As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, a strange feeling overtook me for a split-second and I slammed hard onto brake pedal. Ali braced his hands against the dashboard to keep himself from flying forward because he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. Afterwards, he looked at me angrily.
“What’s wrong?” he shouted as soon as the vehicle came to a complete stop.
“Not sure…” I replied. Glancing at my rearview mirror, I noticed that somebody stood in the middle of the road staring at us. I turned around in my seat to actually look out the back window, only to see that he’d disappeared.
Dr. Jubara looked in the same direction as well and then said, “Did you see something?”
“I thought I did, but I guess it was just my imagination.”
“Then by all means, let us return to campus and be done with this ordeal.” I nodded and then drove the rest of the way up to the building.
Parking next to Felicia’s Camaro like I did earlier, the two of us exited the vehicle and quickly headed for the entrance. Upon opening one of the front doors, that feeling started to bother me again. I didn’t know how to describe it exactly, but it felt like something was putting pressure on a pinpoint area near the back of my head.
Ali started into the building, entered the lobby, and then held the inner door open for me. I continued in after him with a look of grimace on my face that I shirked the moment the sensation ended. Once we were both inside the common area, I made sure the door didn’t slam shut and followed Ali towards the center of the room.
“Felicia will want to know that we’ve successfully returned with Doxinox. Would you mind waiting here or in her office for a few moments?”
“Sure,” I replied. Dr. Jubara nodded and went down the long hallway opposite the entryway.
Walking a few steps forward, I felt the same pain return to the back of my head. This time, however, it turned into a splitting headache that quickly spread to my forehead and temples. Within a couple moments, the migraine stopped but I could feel a malevolent force trying to gain control over my mind.
“STOP IT!” I demanded.
The presence only continued to probe my brain and assault it. As much as I tried to resist this being’s psychic power, I felt like it became progressively more futile due to how its attacks kept focusing on specific areas of my cerebral cortex. After several moments, though, the entity suddenly stopped as though he’d made a gruesome discovery.
Pivoting around, I immediately shouted, “Show yourself, you coward!” There was no doubt that attack came from some sort of Pokémon. If it ended up being that Darkrai again, I’d just sick Orion on him to finish what we started earlier.
Something growled behind one of the pillars near the entrance. Then the familiar figure of the monk I saw on the ferry ride to Maritide slowly emerged from the right pillar’s backside. In his left hand, the man carried a long golden scepter with a glowing purple sphere at its top; the orb also seemed to contain electrical bolts that discharged from side-to-side in a slow plasma-like fashion. As he approached the midsection between the columns, he turned towards me and took up an imposing stance across the way.
“You again?” I asked him confusedly. He began to growl again, his tone sounding somehow wolf-like. All of a sudden, I sensed an intense halo of malice emanate from the monk similar to the aura that Ali had earlier during his possession.
“Alright! Who or what the hell are you, and what do you want from me?” He held out his furry right hand, on which I noticed the symbol of an eyeball with an amber iris tattooed onto his palm. After a few moments, the man pointed at my right Poké Ball holster with the thick claw on his index finger.
“My Pokémon?” I muttered until I realized his claw was angled slightly downward, “No, Doxinox?” The monk nodded in response.
“Well, you can forget it. She belongs to Felicia, and I’m not about to give her to you just because you demand it.”
The man growled again and finally lowered his cowl. As soon as he revealed his face, I immediately realized that he wasn’t a human after all but rather a humanoid beast with a lupine head and enlarged brow. He wore a solemn bronze mask that concealed the entirety of his forehead, his eyes, and part of his cheeks. Thick brown fur covered most of his face, from the tops of his triangular ears down to his blackened neckline. Finally, there were four amber eyeballs fitted into spots of the mask, two near where his real eyes should’ve been and another pair in the area just above the lower set.
“You’re…a Canersia?” I gasped. Raising his right hand, the beast suddenly caused a straight-bladed gold dagger to materialize overhead and grabbed it. He pointed at me again with the newly created weapon, clearly enraged.
“Orion, get out here!” I ordered, flinging the skunk’s ball forward. However, the orb just dropped onto the floor without opening.
Canersia began to approach me, all of his eyes focused on Doxinox’s Poké Ball. I went over to pick up my Poké Ball and then made a mad dash to the hallway that Ali had gone down. Before I could even enter it, though, I felt myself being forcefully towed back towards my oncoming attacker due to his Psychic attack. After I reached the middle of the room, I found myself getting turned around in order to greet the Pokémon face-to-face.
“Not so cocky now, are you?” Darkrai cackled from behind Canersia as the monk held his dagger near my jugular vein. The specter then appeared off to my right in the form of a shadowy mass, and slowly began to transform back into a stout humanlike torso with a squat head.
Glaring at me with his single azure eye, he continued, “Humans truly are fragile creatures, to say the least. But then, even I cannot endure Canersia’s attacks for long. It’s a surprise that you fended him off just briefly. Now, relinquish the abomination!”
“Why the hell are you obsessed with killing her so much?”
“Doxinox’s existence is a threat to your world and countless others. So long as she exists, my nemesis shall stop at nothing to control her and annihilate everything you hold dear,” a solemn voice spoke to me telepathically. Judging by the tone, it clearly belonged to a man but didn’t seem like Canersia talking to me due to how three of his eyes focused on Darkrai at the moment.
“Alright. Then who are you, and who’s your nemesis?”
“You know quite well whom I am, boy. I needn’t state the obvious.”
“The entity who possessed Ali?” I muttered. Darkrai cackled maniacally, but Canersia immediately struck the phantom with his scepter to make him shut up.
“Indeed. But you’ve known me long before this. The same way that all creatures do,” the being continued, “Birth, life, and death are all encompassed within my being. Those who deny my existence deny nothing more than the very essence of themselves…their memories…”
“So what are claiming to be? God?”
“Humans’ perception of godhood is grossly exaggerated. What passes for deities amongst your species insults me more than you could possibly know.”
“Then prove it!”
“VEYI-QUO TEK!” he suddenly bellowed, his voice echoing throughout the room. Canersia and Darkrai backed away towards the sides of the room as though they were clearing the way for this entity.
An expansive shadow stretched from beneath my feet and out towards the front of the common’s area. Almost immediately, it began to take the silhouette form of the same lupine phantom depicted on the glass mural outside.
“Very few humans have ever seen my wraith form and lived to tell the tale. If you weren’t so integral to my plans, you would meet that same fate,” he then commented, opening one of his bloodshot amber-colored eyes.
“What do you mean by that?” I demanded momentarily before an odd sensation overcame me once more. This time, it felt more like this thing’s presence overpowered me with feelings of sorrow and anguish than Canersia attacking me again.
“Put simply, I want you to submit to me. Acknowledge that I am real. From there, you shall discover the task that lies ahead.”
“And if I refuse?”
“My sister has quite a fondness for arrogant young men with lust in their hearts. You wish nothing more than get back at your own sibling for the embarrassment she dealt you all those months ago. We can make that reality.”
“How so?” I asked until thought about what he just mentioned, “Wait a second, who’s your sister?”
“That is of little relevance. All you need to know is that there exist Pokémon more powerful than any other in creation. There are entities capable of shattering the very boundary separating physical reality from the Dreamtime world of Beyi Quofyi if their powers go unchecked. If you pledge loyalty to me, I shall grant you the power with which to rein them in.”
“And are they in league with the nemesis you said was after Doxinox?” The phantom wolf nodded.
“You still haven’t told me who he is and why Doxinox is such an asset to him.” Suddenly the entity’s shadow spread out to engulf the entire room and swallowed me up in a globe of perpetual blackness.
After several moments, the darkness faded and gave way to perhaps the most horrific thing I’d ever seen. I was hovering far in the sky over the lands surrounding Pawford City. A horrendous forest fire had long-since burned up the townscape and nearby woodlands, leaving a massive scorched area along part of the coastline that stretched well into the Kalef Mountains. Looking west, I saw that nearby Egret Town and Lactavarn City were both utterly destroyed by similar meteoric impacts. Glancing back east, it looked like Maritide Island had also fallen into ruin, though most of its buildings remained intact in comparison to how the other cities were essentially gone.
“The vision you are beholding is one from over ten years in the future. Your species has long since gone extinct, and many Pokémon who once relied on your kind for protection died off as well. Orion and Spunky survived this catastrophe, but anyone else you had as a pet perished with you. This outcome only happens because the being known as Arceus merged with the abomination you now possess, and it occurs repetitively throughout the multiverse in all realities where Doxinox came into being.”
“What if we take extra precautions to prevent the merger from happening? Humans aren’t stupid.”
“I never said you were. Simply that your kind is too naïve to prevent this on their own.”
Hearing an odd sound coming from overhead, I looked upward to see a nightmarish creature floating in the heavens above. Overall, it looked like an oversized horse with a misshaped head. The entity had a massive golden ring protruding from the area between its torso and abdomen, with the appendage itself being separated in two spots near its top and bottom arcs. Its legs were strongly built in terms of muscle mass but seemed to morph into deformed tendrils that possessed Doxinox’s signature lime-green and black streaks on their skin. Evidently hostile, the being’s eyes glowed a malevolent red as it opened its gapping maw to roar and display its serrated fangs.
“This fusion will occur in a matter days if Arceus is not stopped. Once he transforms, I shall no longer be able to suppress his spiritual energy. I have been trying to consume his soul since the beginning of time.”
“How do I know you’re not just showing me what you want me to see?” I asked.
“I am forever bound only to show the truth of all things as they have, will, can, and may occur. In the end, his power in this state will overwhelm my own and result in the full destruction of the multiverse. The only way to prevent this is to annihilate the abomination in its entirety.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“So be it.”
Suddenly I began to plummet from the heavens, my body plunging straight towards the stretch of sea between Pawford and Maritide. Splashing down in the water, I immediately sank all the way to the bottom. Slowly but surely, everything went black.
<End Chapter Six>
I hope nobody minds that I've posted a short chapter for a change. Well, for me, it's a short chapter since I typically average between seven and fifteen pages per chapter depending on how strong I feel the events need to be emphasized. Originally, Chapter Six was a two-parter, but I've decided to break it up into regular chapters since the next one is fairly long.
VII. The Gods of Nostalgia
“How does it feel, knowing that everything you’ve done amounts to nothing?” a woman spoke off in the distance, her voice raspy and shrill.
“What?” I asked as I slowly awoke.
I lied still on a cold floor covered with lavender tiles. Feeling weak, I waited several moments before finally trying to get on my feet. I wasn’t sure of where I was at the moment, but one thing that seemed certain was that that phantom wolf probably left me here for dead after making me see that awful vision. Whether it would come true or not, I had serious doubts that Doxinox would be the ultimate cause of it.
“You heard me. How does it feel, knowing that the world you live in may soon come to an end?” she asked again, hissing this time.
“Why should I believe that killing Doxinox will change anything? As far as I know, that’s just a ploy that monster was trying to use on me to hand her over when everything would be fine.”
I glanced around trying to see if I could spot the woman, but couldn’t see anything for miles. The whole area looked to be just one dark and endless plane of tiles. Only purplish-black clouds hanging on the horizon seemed to be the other dominant feature of this realm.
“The gods of Beyi Quofyi have long stood in defiance of charlatans such as Arceus’s brood. Who are you to question us?”
Suddenly, I heard something falling from far above. Looking upward, I noticed a huge ball-shaped object with large metal spikes protruding from it flying straight for me. Immediately, I dashed headlong to get out of the way. The mace-like object slammed into the floor several yards behind me, creating a massive shockwave that forced me to the ground.
“What the hell was that?” I swore to myself. Glancing back, I saw that the impact left a deep crater around the ten-foot-diameter orb with three-foot-long spikes. As the sphere lifted off the ground, I realized that it was actually attached to the thick tail of an enormous snake. The appendage bared crisscrossing black and red stripes that seemed to course the entire length of the serpent’s otherwise brown body as it vanished into the distance. I couldn’t tell for certain, but this monster had to be at least one hundred feet long.
“I am the strongest Pokémon in all existence, Rage Incarnate herself,” the woman hissed as her gargantuan shadow loomed overhead.
Coiling her tail under the rest of her body, the behemoth descended to ground level, revealing her cobra-like head covered with thick ebony scales. She had three crimson-red eyes, two positioned regularly with the third in the middle of her brow, and a gaping maw full of numerous daggers for teeth. Lastly, I noticed that there was also a tattoo right under her face consisting of matching red eyeball with two white crescents flanking its top and bottom.
“Rage…Incarnate…?” I stuttered as she stared me straight in the face.
“I am the embodiment of hatred, born from the malice all beings share.”
“That’s impossible… How could a Pokémon come into existence like that?”
Slamming her spiked tail-tip into the ground behind me, she retorted, “How dare you liken me the creatures you train? I am a goddess and you shall respect me as such!”
“Oh, Vaspudem! Learn to control your temper now, will you?” another woman spoke from a short distance away. There was no mistaking her voice either. It had to be that same ***** who’d been terrorizing me in my dreams.
Vaspudem slowly lifted her weapon-like tail away again and coiled it around her backside. Unable to bring myself to face her, I waited as the other entity crept up to me and put a hand on my right shoulder. Glancing at it out the corner of my eye, I noticed that she only had two long fingers and a slightly shorter thumb, each with a small pointed claw on their fingertips. Additionally, she seemed to have hard dark-purple skin similar to an exoskeleton.
“I never thought the time would come when we would meet face-to-face, boy…” she then commented, “And I must say, you’re just how I like my prey. All plump and juicy, not like those strapping young warriors I seduced in the olden days!”
“Why the hell don’t you just leave me alone for a change?”
“Ha! I’ve told you this all before. Humans are such fragile creatures. The least bit of rage or lust in your hearts is more than enough to twist your mind.” I shrugged to make her loosen her grip and then stepped forward a little. Vaspudem reared her head back as though she were readying to bite at me.
“Stay your hand, Vaspudem!” the other woman demanded, “He’s mine.”
Pivoting around, I saw that my tormentor these past several months had been an eight-foot-tall half-humanoid Pokémon, in the sense that her torso was that of a voluptuous woman while her lower body seemed comparable to an arachnid’s abdomen. She wore an ivory mask that obscured her face, though I could plainly see her silvery eyes peering through the holes near the brow area; her long violet hair seemed to hide the rest of what the mask didn’t cover. A black-iron breastplate accentuated her slim figure perfectly, and she wore matching vambraces on her forearms and shins. There was an upside-down symbol on her belly that consisted of three white triangles touching one another at their inward points, with the lowest triangle extending all the way to the large spinnerets on her butt.
“What do you want with me?” I asked her.
She threw her head back in full-on laughter for a moment before she suddenly replied, “Well, since you’ve refused to hand over Doxinox, how about killing Arceus for us instead?”
“You heard Corros,” Vaspudem hissed overhead.
“Arceus has been eluding our brother since time began. We’re out to do nothing less than prove what a fraud he is, and there’s no better way to do that than by proving that he isn’t immortal,” the spider-woman scoffed.
“You’re lying!” I shouted.
“You only kid yourself, boy. If nothing is done, your world and many others will end. That much I assure you,” she snickered, twiddling her fingers and creating a silk web between her claws.
“Why the hell task me with this, then?”
“Your essence is forever bound to this domain, just like everyone else whom has ever lived,” the voice of the phantom wolf explained, “If Arceus gets his way, this realm will fall into steady collapse and the foundation of the multiverse shall waste away to nothing, resulting in the annihilation of all existence. For this reason, either he or the abomination must be destroyed.” Glancing around, I noticed that he wasn’t anywhere to be seen this time; however, I saw that both the spider-woman and her sister were slowly backing away from me.
The lupine entity’s shadow appeared off to my left before expanding across the floor into the distance. Unlike before, the creature’s head essentially vanished as it reached towards the far-off horizon, leaving an apparent trail of flowing hair behind him. I felt it a bit perplexing that this being’s underlings gone the extra length to make themselves known this whole time, while he’d chosen to remain as nothing more than a specter.
“Why can’t you just kill him yourself? You seem pretty boastful about how much stronger you are than Arceus, but all you’ve really showed me is evidence of his strength and not yours…”
For a moment, I thought I struck a nerve. I could vaguely see the full-form body of a large wolf Pokémon coming back towards me from the distance. As the creature stomped ever closer, I realized it wasn’t the same beast that confronted me earlier. Instead, he seemed to be something ungodly altogether.
The canine monster loomed over me at a height of about twenty-three-feet tall. His pelt looked dark gray, and his body overall seemed extremely muscular. There were seven iron spikes jutting out in different directions from his backside, and he had large reddish claws protruding from each of the toes on his paws. Apparently this creature’s tail seemed longer than I’d have expected it to be, but for the reason it had an iron mace with seven large spikes at its end similar to Vaspudem’s tail-tip. Most disturbingly, though, this Pokémon possessed three different heads positioned equidistantly from one another atop a huge disk resting on his thick neck. Unlike the rest of its body, the fur on each head was colored black, red, and green respectively, with the last two facing away from me and apparently resting in a sleeplike trance. The face staring at me had a particularly grim expression, making a slight frown with his mouth and keeping his glowing amber eyes wide open as if he were ready to cry.
“You clearly do not comprehend the situation in which you find yourself,” he spoke with ghastly report. The hellhound then began to circle around me as if he were readying to strike. I reached for one of the Poké Balls in my right holster but suddenly realized I didn’t have any of them on me.
“Your Pokémon do not exist in this part of Chastity’s Domain. This part of the realm is exclusively reserved for you.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“This is an area where your dreams and memories do not include them…early childhood…” Glancing down for a moment, I realized that I was a lot shorter here than how I was supposed to be. Also, I seemed to be wearing clothes featuring cartoon characters on them.
“Your current state is merely a reflection of your former youth, which now only exists here.”
“What makes this place so important to begin with? I get the part about it being connected to my world, but how?”
“Before the beginning, there only existed two beings trapped within an endless void. They were twins born from the same primordial mass and consciousness, all of which sustains the multiverse even today. Because they ceaselessly fought one another, the energy released from their attacks caused such massive explosions that entire cosmoses were formed and, through their chaos, this realm came into being to connect them all.”
“And any damage caused in them happens here?”
“To an extent. Many universes have fizzled out of existence, but records of them remain on the furthest boundaries of this domain…as nothing more than shattered memories…”
“So this place is essentially a ‘hall of records.’” The monster looked away from me and off to the horizon. Then, he nodded slowly in confirmation.
“Anything that happens in physical reality is reflected here. However, on such a monumental scale as milord showed you, it would have catastrophic consequences by triggering a chain reaction that would make this place too unstable to support itself.”
“That still doesn’t explain why he can’t handle Arceus on his own!” I retorted. The beast rotated his heads’ disk to the right and then roared at me with his red-colored face.
“He has been tracking him for eons and to no avail! Is that much not clear?”
Nervously, I again asked, “Then why have me do it?”
Rotating heads again so that his green one faced me now, the creature snorted and replied, “Your destiny has been bound to this task since the day I appeared to attack the abomination. If you don’t believe me, go forth and see for yourself…”
“What?” Suddenly the monster opened his abysmal maw widely, and then lunged as if to swallow me whole.
I awoke to the feeling of a violent jerk throughout my body. My heart was racing, and I had a hard time catching my breath after that terrifying nightmare. As I lie facedown on the floor, I took a moment to glace around and reassure myself that I was back in the lobby of IIPS, recognizing the common’s generally lounge-like décor.
Canersia and his partner had apparently left since the time I’d fallen unconscious, which was most likely hours ago given that it looked dark outside through the entrance’s windows. After a moment of thought, I checked both of my holsters in case they decided to take Doxinox from me anyways. Feeling her ball snuggly in its holder, I breathed a sigh of relief as slowly turned over a little and finally stood up.
I felt that something was still amiss about this whole situation. Those Pokémon in my dream seemed as real as anything else I’ve encountered during my career, but something about them seemed completely off. If what they said about their realm being affected by anything that happens here, how could they know what was going to happen before it actually occurred?
“Why?” I heard a faint voice call from down the hallway directly behind me. Turning around, I saw that the corridor Ali went down earlier was almost pitch-black due to the lights being off…or at least it was until a sudden flash radiated from the far end and brightened it up with a blinding gleam. Amidst the burst, I heard the bloodcurdling screams of a young woman.
“Felicia!” I cried, immediately recognizing the familiar tone of her voice. Then, I dashed like a madman down the hall after her.
I couldn’t see much thanks to the intensity of the light, but I noticed that I passed by the vague silhouette of a plump guy passed out near the entrance of the hallway. As I reached the end of the corridor, I could make out Felicia’s outline as well. For some reason, she appeared to be hunched over on the floor. Once I caught up to her, I noticed that she was actually down on her hands and knees screaming in agony. I tried to reach down and grab her, but my hands went right through her body like I was a ghost. Suddenly the blinding light faded and she seemingly disappeared.
Looking around, I noticed that I now stood in a virtual fork in the hall, which diverged into left and right branched in front of a room that I presumed was one of the school’s classes. Clearly what I just watched was some sort of illusion since the corridor appeared almost the same as I saw it from the entryway before Canersia and Darkrai attacked me. I couldn’t tell if they were manipulating my thoughts or I was still caught in that dream world.
Hearing a violent crash coming from the classroom between the split in the hallway, I pivoted around to see that the doorway into the room had been essentially cut out and replaced with a perfectly circular opening nearly nine-feet across. Because it was so gaping, I saw all the way into the lab-like chamber. Numerous desks had been pushed off to the sides of the large room, toppled over, and broken apart by some unprecedented force; likewise, there were many trails of familiar green and black ooze. As horrendous as all this destruction seemed, the thing that drew my attention most was the second larger hole in the wall on the far side of the room. That hellhound must have had something to do with it, given his derogatory remark about attacking Doxinox sometime in the past.
I slowly stepped inside, keeping my hand on Apollo’s Poké Ball just in case I needed him. The scene seemed unusually quiet, considering the apparent rampage Doxinox and the hellhound went on. However, I could feel that I wasn’t alone here.
“How could she do this?” the voice from a few moments ago spoke again.
I turned back around to come face-to-face with an all too familiar sight. Just a few inches behind me was the visage of the same avian Pokémon who’d been harassing me at the end of my dreams these past few months. Her cone-like face seemed pale in the darkness but I could distinguish the familiar triangle around the perimeter of her visage and her slanted auburn-colored eyes. This time, I could see how she had a twelve-foot-long arrow-shaped body, since she had a long neck extending from the rest of her egg-shaped body. Her wings appeared fused to her sides and curved back and away from her form to create an apparent heart shape near her rear. Finally, I noticed that a pair of flat oval disks seemed to comprise her feet or tails.
“YOU!” I barked at her as the creature hovered awkwardly so that her body was level with the ground and she could curve her neck in order to stare me down menacingly. Doing so, I suddenly realized that this wasn’t the same entity that’d been haunting me in my dreams like I thought, given that the marking around its face turned out to be blue instead of red when faint light reflected off the creature’s metallic skin.
“You…are not Felicia?” he then asked me telepathically.
“Of course not,” I told him, reaching for Apollo’s Poké Ball. He backed away somewhat and then straightened his body out while keeping an eye on my movements as I grabbed the sphere.
“That device will not work here,” he commented, tilting his head inquisitively to the left. Stepping backwards myself, I pressed the button on the orb to release my Pokémon, but the mechanism wouldn’t unlock.
“What are you?”
The entity tilted his head to the right now and said, “My name is Leyi-geyi. I am…an atypical species of what you humans call Pokémon.”
“Okay… How do you know Felicia, and why don’t my Poké Balls work?”
“This place is the manifestation of a traumatic event Felicia endured many years ago, which I inadvertently caused. Also, things from physical reality have no place in the world of Nostalgia…” I gave him a disgruntled look in response.
“Young man, please explain to me how you came to be here. Only a select few can move freely within this domain, so how is it that you can wander about?”
“To be honest, I don’t know… Before waking up here, I encountered a three-headed monster who…”
“Cyobrus…. He patrols the Dreamtime at his master’s bidding. His powers also allow him to take mortals from their normal dreamscapes and show them those of others.”
“That explains a lot, but what did he want me to see here then?”
Leyi-geyi suddenly shifted his body from left to right as though he were feeling uneasy being near me. Afterwards, he pointed his nose straight up towards the ceiling.
“You wouldn’t have an acquaintanceship with my twin sister, would you?”
“No, of course not. What would possibly make you think that?”
“This event only occurred because she had become so spiteful of Felicia Barnes’ creation that she unleashed Cyobrus just to slay it. But by doing so, she undermined the boundaries separating physical reality from Nostalgia. Those barriers are necessary to keep the dimensions of the multiverse from colliding with one another.”
“Come again…” I said, not understanding what he meant at all.
“Mmm… Put simply, the divergent realities forming all creation would destroy one another if they suddenly overlapped. This would occur on a level far beyond your comprehension, but the effects are no less destructive than what human astronomers dubbed a ‘super-massive black hole…’”
“You’re joking?” I slurred. Being somewhat of a science buff, I knew that something of that magnitude was theoretically the most powerful force in the universe.
“Thankfully that damage was repairable. However, our emergence into your world was not… We exist on the very fringes of reality, tethered to no dimensional restraints like other beings are.”
I scratched my head and then said, “Alright, now you’ve really got me confused. What exactly are you, some sort of deity or something? Because I’m getting really tired of all these supernatural shenanigans.”
“‘Deity’ is the last term I’d use to describe myself… I prefer to think of myself as more of watcher, hence why my name translates as ‘Watcher Humility’ from the language of Quofyi.”
“Okay, okay, you’re a watcher. I honestly don’t give a damn. I just want to get my facts straight and get the hell out of here!” He mumbled to himself for a moment and then turned away from me.
“The Pokémon who rules over this realm won’t allow that, even if I were to intervene. He is a tyrannical fiend known as Otulp, and doesn’t stop hounding his victims until they break. What he wants is nothing less than the eradication of all, and I mean ALL, humans from this and any other reality they live in…” Leyi-geyi replied with a tinge of conceitedness in his voice.
“Are you serious?”
“Indeed. But his spite only stems from my sister’s desire to annihilate me after making what she saw as a dire mistake. As it were, my actions against her inadvertently led to the creation of all matter in physical reality at the exact moment she spawned this domain. From then on, our children ceaseless fought against each other while we stayed on the proverbial sidelines.”
“So where does that leave me?”
“Otulp and his sisters, Vaspudem and Corros, have a natural affinity that draws them to their mother’s presence. Consciousnesses that profusely exude auras of Lust, Rage, and Fear cause them to go into a frenzy the likes of which mortals cannot possibly fathom.”
“So, how does this domain work? Do memories just manifest themselves here, or is there something more to it than that?” I then asked.
Leyi-geyi turned back to me and explained, “The memories of all creatures who shall ever exist congregate and interconnect in this plane. However, it is the task of Nostalgia’s keepers to ensure that no entities come into being that exist independently of this realm.”
“Then, Doxinox would be such an entity.” He nodded gently in response.
“That explains why Otulp and his sisters are so pissed off at me for trying to resist them for so long. But if I don’t give them Doxinox, the only alternative is to take them up on their ultimatum and…” I uttered until Leyi-geyi interrupted me.
“…Destroy Arceus… The same thing Otulp has been trying to do since before the beginning of time. Trust me, it isn’t anywhere near as easy as he would make it sound. And even if you manage to destroy your universe’s Arceus, he has created many doppelgangers that exist throughout countless realities, which makes the task virtually meaningless.”
“What can I do then? If the two Pokémon fuse together like he showed me, everything is just going to be destroyed anyhow.”
“Otulp never reveals his true motives to anyone, even his siblings. He’s exactly like his mother, and the few things he does reveal may as well be half-truths since they’re so indistinct.”
“Do you mean…?”
Leyi-geyi shook his head and continued, “No, whatever you were showed, you should accept as an honest fact unless you’re given reason to believe otherwise. I cannot discern what you saw for certain, but I can tell you that it will happen in one form or another.”
“What should I do?” I muttered to myself.
He then commented, “Time betrays us all in ways unimaginable… What occurs now and then doesn’t always impact how things will ultimately turn out in your life. The only thing that’s certain is that time goes on with or without you. Make the most of what you have, for Destiny cannot always decide what’s best for you…” Suddenly, his body appeared to disintegrate into tiny glowing bits as he vanished from head to tail.
“Wait, what’s going on?” I called out to him as he nearly faded away.
“I can return you to your own time from here, but know that a terrible challenge awaits you upon your return. Do you think you can surmount to it as ill-prepared as you are?”
“What’s happening back in the real world?”
“I cannot say for certain, but Canersia is probably waiting to attack you soon after you reawaken. I believe that this item will help you put him in his place!”
The shimmering particles that streamed from his body then swirled together in front of me and took on the form of an oddly-shaped helmet. It was made from silvery metal, and looked like it had been forged to fit over some canine’s head. There were eye slits, ear holes, and openings for the creature’s nostrils so it could see, hear, and breathe without problems. Lastly, there was some chain mail around the neck area, and a small opening for hair to come out of near the back of the head.
“Equip your Lupudle with this helmet after I send you back. It should strengthen his physical prowess twofold if not more. Just know that its true power won’t reveal itself unless he fully realizes the age-old discipline of his clan.”
“Okay… If you say so.”
Suddenly I felt unusually weak… It seemed like the wind got knocked out of me. I crouched onto the floor, gasping for air. If this was Leyi-geyi’s way of waking me up, it sure wasn’t pleasant. A shadowy presence then consumed the area as I finally passed out on the ground, clutching the helmet close to my chest.
Slowly I began to awaken upon the floor in the middle of IIPS’s lobby. Feeling the remaining headache brought on by Canersia probing my mind earlier, I realized that I actually was awake this time and not just going through another transient fantasy caused by those demons again. As I stood upright, I also noticed that I had the object that Leyi-geyi gave me before he sent me out of that domain. But then, that also meant that I had to get this thing on Spunky before I suddenly found myself at Canersia’s knifepoint.
I took out Spunky’s Poké Ball and released him almost immediately. The wolf appeared in front of me with a yelp, wagging his tail joyfully. Gesturing for him to sit, he instantly plopped his butt on the floor at attention. Sliding the chain mail over his neck, I managed to get the item on him without so much as a nip from my Lupudle. As his ears and locks fit through the helmet’s openings, I gazed in wonder at how much Spunky looked like his evolved form now.
His eyes squinted past me as he noticed someone coming down the hallway behind me. I turned to see the vague silhouette of a husky man approaching in the dimly lit corridor. At first I thought that it was Ali coming to get me, but I then noticed the glowing amber eyeballs glaring from four uniform spots on his face and brow. With a dagger in his right hand, the lupine monk stopped imposingly in front of the passageway, apparently creating a translucent barrier to seal it off.
Standing off to my Lupudle’s side, I told him, “Show him what you do to Psychic-types, Spunky!”
Spunky stood down on his forepaws and barked at his opponent as he readied to charge him. Canersia sneered in response, but then pointed his knife at us. The blade looked crimson-red this time, with droplets of fresh blood dripping onto the floor. Whether or not he’d just killed someone, the beast seemed clearly determined to make an example of Spunky for challenging him.
The monk began approaching us with a staggered gait. I wouldn’t have thought he’d be such a swift runner given his apparent weight. Backing away somewhat, I watched as Spunky ran at him head-on to tackle Canersia hard with his Double-edge attack. Upon contact, Canersia’s body flew backwards and slammed into his own barrier. Clearly he didn’t have the physical strength to brace against regular attacks like most opponents Spunky fought against.
Quick to recover, though, Canersia got right back up. As he came at us again, he swung his blade out in front of him to launch psychokinetic shockwaves at Spunky with Psycho Cut. Each attack hit stronger than the last, forcing Spunky back several more inches as they struck. They didn’t really seem to be hurting Spunky since the blades only struck the top of his helmet.
Once Canersia got close enough, he turned his attention to me and aimed attacks my way instead. Stepping out of the way, I realized that the monk’s assaults weren’t as potent as I’d have thought they’d be. He was probably just toying with us at this point, trying to bide time for some reason.
“Spunky, use Reaper Fang!” I ordered as soon I got over by him near lobby’s entryway.
My Lupudle growled deeply as a black aura that began to surround him. Canersia stopped about halfway across the commons, focusing all of his eyes on the malevolent force starting to engulf the area. Partway through his trance, Spunky opened his maw widely to reveal his fangs, as they appeared to grow out to unprecedented lengths. His body also transformed into that of a primordial-looking canine with hulking muscles and a raggedy-looking mane several feet long. Lastly, his fur turned to a charcoal-gray color and his body seemed to become transparent like a ghost.
Canersia just stood there as though he were waiting for Spunky to charge at him again. Instead, my Lupudle just vanished into thin air and instantly reappeared right behind his opponent. Biting hard through the back of the monk’s cloak, the grisly Pokémon grasped his jaws firmly onto the victim’s soul. Then, he tried to forcibly rip out Canersia’s essence.
Furiously, Canersia ripped off his cloak and jumped away from Spunky before he could finish his attack. Landing right in front of me, the humanoid wolf roared in my face and then returned his attention to my Lupudle, who began to revert to his normal form. With his back to me, I noticed that Canersia had three blood-red scars extending from the base of his neck down to his tail. Also, I saw the distinctive tattoo of a brown pawmark with an amber-irised eyeball centered in its pad on the backside of his head.
“Spunky, use Feral Fang!” I commanded as Canersia moved towards him again.
Dropping his dagger on the floor, the monk summoned an ankh-tipped staff that appeared in his right hand. Then, he reformed the scepter he had earlier into his left one. Afterwards, Canersia stopped right at the center of the room and held each weapon towards the floor.
Spunky stood his ground several feet away from him, instead of following my last command. Clearly he sensed something about Canersia’s stance that I didn’t pick up on. A few seconds later, I realized that the tips of his staffs emitted pulsating purple auras. Once they synchronized, a lariat of energy dropped from each rod.
Raising his ankh, the monk snapped the first psychic whip at my Lupudle, striking him hard on his side. Spunky yelped loudly in horrific pain. Canersia then cracked his other one at the young wolf, lashing Spunky dastardly across his hind-leg. Welts appeared on his victim’s body almost as soon as he pulled back on his weapons. Next hitting him with both at once across his back, the assault now drew blood as it cut into Spunky’s skin. The Lupudle backed away out of fear for his own life the second right after that hit.
“You bastard!” I shouted as I dashed over to pick up the dagger Canersia dropped.
Unfazed by my comment, Canersia continued to lash out his whips as he tried to force Spunky back against the barrier he created at the rear of the room. Irately, I charged at the wolf-man and jabbed his own weapon into the back of his head. He immediately howled out in horrific pain and dropped his weapons onto the floor, causing their energy streams to dissipate as well. Then Canersia dropped to his knees and tried to reach the knife to pull it out.
Rushing over to Spunky’s side, I checked to make sure his welts weren’t too serious. From what I could tell, there only appeared to be light cuts and bruises in the spots where Canersia whipped him. I recalled Spunky into his ball to keep him safe from any more danger and then brought out Orion to help finish this fight.
Orion sneered at his opponent as soon as he laid eyes on him. In his distraught state, Canersia didn’t even bat an eye at the huntsman that loomed over him with his bowstaff held upward ready to kill him.
“This is bad… This is very bad,” Orion muttered as he thrust his weapon deep into the wolf-man’s skull. Canersia let out a final bloodcurdling howl, but suddenly vanished in a wisp of thick smoke.
“He was nothing more than an illusion.”
“You’re joking? What kind of monster could create one that realistic?
“Canersia is a Psychic-type, right?”
“Yeah, I would think so.”
“That would explain a lot, especially if he’s learned the art of psychological manipulation.”
“At least you saw through the rouse. Spunky took a beating because of it.”
Orion sighed, “Let’s just hope we don’t have to fight Canersia for real.” Turning around, I noticed that Canersia’s barrier had faded away like his doppelganger did. Recalling Orion, I immediately headed down the long corridor ahead of me.
I felt a sense of uneasiness as I raced down the hall. The classrooms were all locked up tightly and cleaned out for summer break. There wasn’t a lot of lighting save for the single row of fluorescent bulbs left on for security staff while they patrolled the building earlier. As I reached the end of the hallway, I saw the diverging paths like I saw in my dream but noticed that the doorway into the laboratory had long since been repaired where a giant hole existed before.
Coming to a stop at the fork, I took a look down both paths. I couldn’t tell which way to go in order to find Ali and Felicia. Given the circumstances, though, it may have been a smarter idea to leave the building and call the police. Then again, would anyone really be able to stand up against the monsters attacking the university if I didn’t? Suddenly I heard something click loudly behind me.
“Well, look who we have here?” a familiar Irishman’s voice spoke as the stench of tobacco smoke filled the air. Pivoting around, I found myself staring down the end of a double-barreled shotgun. Holding the rifle steadily in his right had, I saw the same man Chase and I met on the ferry earlier today.
“Bet you didn’t expect to see me here, boyo,” the muscular Mr. Kyles continued, taking a long inhale from the cigar he had between his left hand’s index and middle fingers.
“I should’ve figured as much after Canersia showed himself.”
“Then I guess you already got the gist of it?” he said, pointing his gun down the right branch of the corridor, “Get moving. Yer friends are waiting for you.” Pivoting around, I started down the passageway. Jonathon Kyles put his weapon against the back of my head as soon as I took a few steps away from him.
I ceased up for a moment while he finished, “And don’t get any stupid ideas. I will blow your brains out without a second thought.”
Removing it from my cranium, he shoved me along down the hall until we came upon an off-branching outlet that led outside into the rear courtyard. Pushing on my side, the man then guided me into the smaller hallway that led outside to where Felicia, Ali, and several security officers were gathered in front of a large statue of Arceus near the central plaza. I noticed amongst them that there was the same guy who accompanied Jonathon here with Canersia. He held out a small handgun at the group in an attempt to keep them in one spot.
“Alright, Ali! We’re done playing games! Where are those monsters you promised us?” Kyles called out from across the way. Ali squealed in agony as Felicia conked him on the side of his head with her fist.
“You son of a *****! I knew you were behind this the whole time!”
“Felicia, please! I have never met these men in my entire life! I thought that my contacts were the three who swung by early this morning, but they only wanted Doxisite…”
“That doesn’t change the fact that you gave out classified information to terrorists!”
The young man shot off his handgun overhead and shouted, “Shut the hell up already! You two argue worse than an old married couple!” Both Ali and Felicia looked at him with spiteful glares.
“Kids these days… No real nerve whatsoever…” Jonathon uttered, shoving me aside and walking straight up to the group. Aiming his shotgun right at Ali’s face, the scientist stared blankly at him in fear. After a second, Kyles pointed the weapon downward and shot the man’s right shin. Ali collapsed onto the ground, screaming out in pain.
“Now that is how a white man does it, Wolfgang. Get yer act together, boyo!” Kyles scolded his protégé as he took another puff off his cigar.
Afterwards, he reloaded his shotgun with bullets hidden in his pockets and again demanded, “Where are the Pokémon you promised us, Ali?”
“Behind the statue! There’s a compartment that only Felicia and I can access! The experiments are secured inside it!” Ali yelled, clutching his leg in agony.
“Good,” Kyles commented, and then put the gun to Ali’s forehead. Begging for his life, Ali tried to force himself backwards away from oncoming gunshot, but all in futility as the projectile hit him pointblank.
“NO!” Felicia and I both screamed.
“You’re coming with me, woman!” Kyles then demanded, grabbing Felicia by the arm, “Wolfgang, keep an eye on Feral and the others until we come back around.”
“Yes, sir!” Wolfgang replied.
“Let go of me!” Felicia shouted as the burly man forcibly pulled her around the far side of the plaza’s sculpture. Wolfgang turned to me for a moment and then glanced back at the group of security officers gawking in shock at the sight of Dr. Jubara’s corpse.
Taking out Doxinox’s Poké Ball, I threw it towards Wolfgang as hard as I could. The sphere clonked him in the back of the head before it fell to the ground and opened.
“Hey! No funny business, you assho…” he retorted with his firearm aimed at me, until he saw the massive reptilian head forming from a large puddle of ooze beside him.
Doxinox roared right in his face as he fired off a couple shots into her enormous maw. The bullets apparently stopped inside her body since they didn’t pierce through to her backside. After a momentary pause, she suddenly grabbed the gun out of Wolfgang’s hand with a tongue-like appendage and swallowed it on him.
“What the hell is this thing?” Wolfgang asked as he backed several yards away from Doxinox.
“Doxi Riboneria… The same type of monster your friend is about to get his hands on if he doesn’t stop what he’s doing.”
Angrily, the punk took out a purple-colored Poké Ball and threw it into the air. In a blackened flash, the silhouette of a large bulbous insect appeared in the sky overhead. The bug screamed ferociously as it crashed into the sidewalk.
Overall, the bug’s brownish head and thorax were drastically smaller than its seven-foot tall abdomen, making it look somewhat ridiculous. A callused part of its shell split the midsection of its cranium so that its eyes sat on opposite sides from one another, directly over each of its wide-clamping pincers. It had three long but stocky-looking legs on each side of its thorax, and a pair of large amber wings that stemmed from it and only seemed to cover up a small portion of its backside. Lastly, I saw that the insect had a pair of cutters on its rear.
“Coreetle, use Flamethrower!” Wolfgang demanded. The enormous beetle backed up a little bit and opened up the tiny mandibles hidden under its face. Sticking out a forked tongue, it then unleashed a powerful stream of flames that utterly consumed Doxinox in a massive inferno.
Doxinox dissolved her body into a liquefied state once again. Then she formed a massive purplish hand that grabbed onto Coreetle’s hindquarters. Afterwards she flung him skyward, and launched herself right behind him. As she reformed into her normal shape far above the battle area, Doxinox wrapped her normal arms around the beetle widely and caused themselves to flip-flip erratically in midair. Once they reached the peak of their flight, the experimental Pokémon made sure that her opponent had its back turned to the ground as they began to fall straight back to earth.
“Get out of the way!” I ordered. Everyone immediately spread out so that they wouldn’t get caught up in the oncoming crash from Doxinox’s oncoming Seismic Plunge.
As the two Pokémon slammed hard into the concrete nearest the statue, the resulting tremors caused the entire courtyard to shake violently. The impact also left a small crater where the monsters landed. Doxinox lay listlessly splattered on top of a barely twitching Coreetle. Both Pokémon apparently fainted from the sheer power of the assault.
Unfazed by Doxinox’s strength, Wolfgang recalled his Pokémon and reached for another right away. I made Doxinox return to her Poké Ball too and immediately sent out Apollo in her stead.
In another dark flash, the outline of a four-foot-tall boxlike structure appeared and landed on the ground with a hard thud. As the corona dissipated, I recognized it as a miniature replica of a vaudeville stage. Its frame and performance area were constructed from a partially rotted hardwood, its faded red curtains were tattered, and the small pair of adorning happy-sad masks at its top-center portion looked cracked. A pair of scrawny arms reached out of the backside suddenly, each covered in pale brown fur and having stumpy fingers with long black claws growing out of their paws.
A few seconds passed before the demon screamed as its head suddenly popped out from between its appendages. The creature itself had a crudely egg-shaped head with a single trapezoidal ear sticking up from it and the other half of its cranium cut open so its grayish brain matter showed. Its eyes were nothing more than large white circles that had beady black irises at their centers, and the lower half of its elongated jaw seemed hinged because it was broken.
“Apollo, Pyro Salvo!”
“Oposeteer, use Shadow Ball!”
Apollo immediately clapped his forepaws together, while forming a massive fireball atop the ruby in his forehead. Oposeteer held his scrawny arms out in front of his chest area, focusing spiritual energy into a shadowy orb. Before his opponent could finish, Apollo released a fiery barrage of small blasts upon Oposeteer and knocked the possum puppeteer onto his back. The creature struggled to get upright again, but Apollo showered more firebombs upon him and kept attacking until the Pokémon fainted.
“Damn it!” Wolfgang squealed as he recalled his Pokémon and sent out a third one, “Cryse, finish this!”
After the blackened aura faded this time, I made out the distinctive form of a lean five-foot-tall canine. A thick mane of translucent white hair obscured most of its otherwise bluish-white body. The Pokémon’s frame seemed almost solid like an ice sculpture, which was supported by thick icicles for legs and defined by a robust chest, thin abdomen, and curled-up tail that had long icy daggers hanging from it. Its face also looked as though it were frozen in place because its maw pointed slightly upward and away from Apollo with an apparent sneer, while the frosty spires dropping off its floppy ears aimed directly at my Pokémon. Finally, I noticed how this Pokémon’s eyes glowed a violet hue.
“Shadow Sneak!” its trainer demanded.
“Fiery Gale!” I shouted at Apollo.
Cryse immediately exuded a purplish-black aura and stretched out a ghastly arm along the ground with his shadow. In response, Apollo began to spin around and create a funnel of flames above his head. His enemy grabbed onto his leg from underneath using the phantasmal appendage he’d created, and then rung him around counterclockwise to break Apollo’s concentration. Afterwards he slammed the ermine hard into the dirt.
Momentarily enraged, Apollo counterattacked Cryse by launching a powerful stream of blue flames from his mouth. The sudden inferno consumed the frosty pooch entirely, causing him to scream out in horrific pain. Next, Apollo levitated upright again and intensified the flames by using his pyrokinesis to make them burn hotter. Cryse’s body started to melt because of the assault, though the ghostly form of his spirit inside it still retained the creature’s general shape.
Once the body liquefied, the specter inside charged my Pokémon wildly. As soon as he got close to Apollo, Cryse vanished in order to enter his body. Several seconds passed before Apollo started to scream out in agony. His body jerked violently back and forth as though he were being hit from side to side. After a few more moments, Cryse’s spirit reappeared in front of his owner, while Apollo suddenly dropped onto the ground. I knew the attack Wraith Run was intense, but I didn’t imagine it could do such horrible damage without the user being visible.
I recalled Apollo a few seconds after he collapsed. Reaching for Orion’s ball, I felt that something seriously wrong was about to take place. Cryse recreated his frozen body from the puddle on the ground, but then for some reason, he immediately returned to his master’s Poké Ball.
“Ha! I think I’ve bought Jack enough time to do what he had to!” Wolfgang cackled as he ran around the far side of the Arceus statue.
“Damn it!” I barked, realizing that he was right. I went around the opposite side of the sculpture, while the remaining group of security guards followed me.
Once on the other side, I saw that Felicia had already opened up the secret vault in the base of the statue. Jonathon Kyles reached inside to take out the two Poké Balls with the same lime-green and black coloring as Doxinox’s ball. Wolfgang immediately came up behind the two and briefly explained what happened to his boss.
“I have to give you some credit, Feral. You’ve got guts fighting an armed man with a Pokémon that’s immune to gunshots,” Jonathon then commented, pointing his gun off towards the back of the courtyard, “But you’re just a bit too late to stop what we’re about to accomplish.” Across the way, I saw the familiar cloaked figure of Canersia standing before a massive gray vortex that seemed to be sucking down into the earth. Its center glowed with a mixture of black, red, and green as though something were about to emerge from the portal.
Something then began to howl with a horrifically loud pitch. The sound was stunningly powerful, making me feel an intense mixture of negative emotions all at once. Suddenly three canine heads started to rising from deep within the funnel. Each of them held their maws back as they bayed to the heavens and had a unique pelt color that matched those of the energy spiral. After the heads surfaced, the studded iron plate they were attached to around its perimeter appeared as well.
Cyobrus’s rear heads immediately went back to sleep while the front black-colored one faced forward and hovered away from the portal they came out of. Behind them, the shadow of the phantom wolf from before also emerged from the vortex. This time, however, his form seemed to transform into something humanlike; his lupine body gave way to the bolder silhouette of a ten-foot-tall man who had a nearly perfect physique complete with bulging chest muscles and massive biceps. The entity’s bottom half was covered up by thick black fur that resembled pants, while the rest of his body had pale gray skin. All four of his eyes seemed to reposition themselves so that two were atop his brow and two were above his nose. Lastly, his enormous mane turned into flowing locks of endless hair cascading down his backside like a stream.
“Those who think themselves God shall perish in my maw,” Otulp then declared in a booming voice. He then held out his left hand, causing a massive sword to appear in it as if from nowhere. The blade was made from black metal that shone with a foreboding luster. In his opposite hand, he summoned forth a set of three arced hand-claws created from a similar.
“This shall be my final ultimatum, boy. Serve my cause or I shall destroy all of whom you hold dear,” he said, staring directly at me.
“Jay, what the hell is he talking about?” Felicia cried out.
“This guy is the one who’s really after Doxinox. He claims that she’s a threat because one of Sinnoh’s legendary Pokémon wants to merge with her,” I replied, facing the statue of Arceus once again.
“If you do not believe me still, watch now as his children come forth to wage war against me,” Otulp stated as he then turned his attention skyward.
The rest of us did as well, beholding another spectacle overhead. Two additional portals appeared, one blue and the other pink. Several moments passed before the silhouettes of two dinosaur-like Pokémon came soaring out of them. Canersia and Cyobrus seemed aggravated by the presence of the new Pokémon, almost as though they wanted to attack them the second they appeared. Otulp raised his sword to apparently quell them.
Both dragons landed off to each side of Otulp as if they were ready to take vengeance on him for some long-standing blood feud. Each of them resembled the two statues out front, the blue one having an imposing stature like a brontosaurus and the pinkish one vaguely mimicking Godzilla. The Pokémon had odd jewels embedded in their bodies, the first with a diamond in his chest and the other with pearls set in his shoulders.
“And so the Traitors have arrived…” Otulp sneered, “Pathetic, to say the least.” Both Pokémon roared furiously at him until he held his blade over his head and slashed crossways at Dialga. It barely nicked the jewel in his chest but the beast dropped to its knees as though its strength had been completely sapped.
“Such is the power of my Nostalgia Longsword. A mere cut shall drain all your strength. A full slice will cleave you in two, and then devour soul… Your father knew this all too well,” he signed, “Alas, I regret using this weapon as my fangs are much more effective.” He proceeded to do the same to Palkia, only cutting his chest lightly instead of aiming for the gems on the creature’s shoulders.
“Oh, how many times we’ve been through this across countless realities. I don’t even bother keeping track anymore of all your doppelgangers that I’ve slain.” Finally, Otulp ended his victims’ lives with a one brutal hack across both of their necks. He then licked their blood of his blade.
“What did you do?” I slurred at him.
“The same thing I have done for eons. But no matter how many times I kill them, their father still eludes me. This is why I want you to join me. So long as the abomination exists, Arceus shall pursue it. If they merge, the multiverse will be destroyed.”
“Jay, don’t listen to him! He’s just trying to brainwash you into giving him MY creation!” Felicia yelled at me.
“Shut up, *****!” Kyles demanded, backhanding her across the face.
“Leave her alone!” I scolded him before feeling an intense surge of pain that forced me to cringe.
“It does not matter what the woman thinks. I only state the truth about what her creation will bring about,” Otulp continued, “In fact, she deserves punishment for her actions.” He suddenly vanished and reappeared next to Jonathon, Wolfgang, and Felicia. Dispatching his claw weapon, Otulp summoned forth a massive coffer adorned with gold and silver diamond-shapes around its exterior.
“If this woman means anything to you, locate Arceus and bring me his head. My hellhound shall accompany you from this moment forward to ensure you do your job. Fail me, and I shall destroy her wholly.” Suddenly he dropped the box upon her, and it opened like a cage to trap her inside it.
“What? NO!” I shouted as the container disappeared.
“As for the others…” he concluded, teleporting over by the security guards, “Let this serve as a reminder of exactly who I am.” He slung his sword through the entire group and cleaved them all in half. Licking their blood off his blade, I noticed that faint mist also getting absorbed into his body as well as the shrieks and moans of the people he’d just killed.
Afterwards, Otulp made himself vanish along with Jonathon Kyles and Wolfgang. Canersia and Cyobrus remained behind, however. Fearing an instant attack from either of them, I reached for Orion’s ball. But no sooner did I touch it, I suddenly felt Canersia attacking my mind again. Then, everything went black…
<End Chapter Seven>
<End Lost in Longing>
Two: Found in FuryVIII. Restitution
“It is all your fault… Your fault…” a mysterious voice whispered into my left ear.
“Who…who’s there?” I asked as I slowly came to on a blue-tiled floor.
“It is all your fault… Your fault…” he repeated.
Opening my eyes completely, I saw that I was in the large entry chamber of some ancient temple or ruin. The walls and ceiling were adorned with marvelous sapphire-colored bricks that gleamed in the light of the numerous torches around the perimeter of the room. Standing up, I glanced at a wide staircase leading into the building made of the same blocks. Four statues of enormous serpents stood guard at its sides, each bearing a different symbol on either its forehead or chin. Pivoting around, I noticed that the back part of the area had a pool of water blocking the apparent exit.
“It is all your fault… Your fault…” the voice rasped again.
Turning back to the entrance, I realized that whoever it was had to be down one of the long tunnels leading into the structure. I began to walk up the ornate stairs when I noticed there were four paths that I could take. Determining which one led to him, though, didn’t seem like it would be much of a challenge given how his voice carried down only the central-right tunnel. As such, I immediately headed down it.
“What do you mean?” I called out.
“You know what I mean… I mean…” his voice echoed throughout the darkening corridor, “It is all your fault… Your fault…”
As the torchlight at one end of the hall waned, I could see more coming from the next chamber I approached. Once inside it, I saw that the room was a large square space with three different outlets aside from the one through which I entered. Like the corridor I just exited, it looked as though the passages they opened into diverged into four paths apiece.
“Who are you?” I shouted down the opposite hallway to see if the man would respond again. I walked up to the middle of the area when I sensed that something was watching me from somewhere off to my right. Staring down the rightmost tunnel on that side, I caught a glimpse of a vaguely cone-shaped head that had a red marking around part of its face. Realizing I spotted it, the creature fled from view.
I turned to chase after it but then the voice called out from behind me, “Only fools chase after illusions… After illusions…” My gut instinct told me not to listen to him, since there was no mistaking what that creature had to be. Immediately I gave chase after it, knowing that it could be nothing else but the entity I kept seeing in my dreams.
After several moments, I reached the end of the divergent tunnel only to find myself in a room similar to the one I’d just left. There were three off-branching corridors through the north, south, and west sides of the chamber that each with four separate paths to choose from. The only distinctive thing about this place, however, was the ominous statue of a large snake’s head protruding straight upward from the ground near its heart. Circling around it, I noticed that it had an unusual V-shaped marking painted from the creature’s mouth to its brow.
A few minutes passed before I noticed that there were runes engraved onto the serpent’s lower jaw. I recognized them as a type of cuneiform I’d learned about in history class that the Meradai tribe supposedly used to enchant certain relics and cast protective curses upon their tombs. No doubt this inscription described something to that effect as well, but I didn’t know enough about their language to fluently read it.
“He who does not see the truth in reason… In reason…” the mysterious voice crooned from behind me once again, “Shall walk blindly forevermore… Blindly forevermore…” I felt like I was being watched again. Peeking around the sculpture, I locked eyes with the Pokémon again down the center-left branch of the room’s northward hallway. This time she stared at me for a long moment with her slanted amber irises before fleeing from view.
Though I was tempted to follow her, I also felt as though the voice had a good point this time around. Immediately I turned around and went down the flip opposite hall, where I thought I heard the man speak.
Taking my time heading there, I sensed that the next chamber of this temple would be empty just like the first one I entered. As soon as I reached it, I found myself somewhat astonished as to how the room actually had only two exits to the right and left this time with another snakehead statue directly in the center again. The lower jaw faced the eastward tunnel, while the upper part of the skull was turned towards the western one. I could see that this carving had a plus sign or cross-shaped marking between its eyes.
“The segregation of one’s logic and emotion… And emotion…” the voice called out again as I approached the side with an inscription, “Is a fatal mistake… Fatal mistake…”
Unlike the last time, though, I couldn’t tell which direction his beckon was coming from. However, I noticed that my ‘peek-a-boo friend’ had found her way to the leftmost branch of the west-facing corridor. On a whim, I decided to follow after her to see where I would end up now.
The next chamber seemed vastly different from the previous ones. There was no statue at the center of it or any sign of off-branching halls. Just another wide room with three solid walls made of the bluish bricks…a dead end…
“I warned you that only fools chase after illusions, boy… Illusions, boy…” the voice bellowed throughout the area, “Now what will you do when confronted by an enemy you cannot defeat…? Cannot defeat…?”
Hearing something like a rockslide, I dashed headlong away from the entryway and watched as a gigantic slab sealed me inside. Afterwards, the floor began to heave like in a savage earthquake, breaking apart towards the center tile after tile. Massive footprints slowly made their way towards me and the bloodcurdling screams of a monstrous beast echoed throughout the arena. The black silhouette of an oversized dragon began to emerge, its body unusually formed so that its abdomen supported by six stocky legs remained parallel to the ground while its torso was upright. A pair of bat-like wings appeared on its back, each with glowing red claws protruding from their underside. Lastly, it seemingly glowered at me with a pair of crimson eyes near the center of its vaguely ellipse-shaped head.
Reaching for the right holster on my belt, I grabbed what I thought was Orion’s ball and flung it at the beast, knowing that he’d have an easier time against this spectral demon than anyone else on my team. I gazed on with shock, though, when I noticed that the object I’d tossed was an orb that had gray and black hemispheres with tiny spikes jutting from them instead of a regular Poké Ball. The device landed several yards in front of me and opened, releasing a burst of black-colored light. From the gleam, the full-bodied form of Cyobrus emerged, facing the specter and standing at attention as if he were awaiting my order.
“Wail of Trepidation!” I instinctively commanded.
His black-furred head awoke from its slumber and switched positions with his greenish one. Then he unleashed a ghastly howl that resonated through the chamber. As the noise reverberated off the walls, his opponent’s body seemed to distort as the creature itself tried to back away.
“Reaper Fang!” I then invoked, not understanding why I was just blurting out commands. The gray mane flowing down the back of Cyobrus’s head flared up as the beast gripped his fangs around his enemy’s neck, and then forcefully pulled out its transparent soul. Afterwards, the phantom dragon just disappeared.
“Cyobrus will not allow himself to be controlled by the likes of you… Of you…” the voice then said. Suddenly, Cyobrus return to his Poké Ball and then the object floated back over to me. I grabbed it and put it away.
As if by magic, the floor seemed to return to normal. Afterwards, all of the walls opened up into different passageways again. Clearly whomever or whatever was behind this must’ve been a master illusionist.
“Continue onward if you wish to find me… Find me…” I heard him beckon from one of the central paths in the northward exit this time. Walking over to it, I noticed that the other entity I’d been following stare at me from left side, so I decided to go down the right one instead.
I reached another chamber with a snakehead statue. Unlike the other two, this one had a five-pointed star on its nose. Approaching the inscription under its chin, I noticed that the inscription was written out in English this time. It read as follows: ‘There are no greater anguishes than with Pride, Hatred, and Tyranny.’
“Veyi-tok mo ya-quet nofyi Beyi-Tokam, Beyi-Lefquay, dalyi Beyi-Akyos… Dalyi Beyi-Akyos…” the voice now spoke, likely in the ancient tongue of Quofyi. Hearing it come from one of the passages behind me, I pivoted around to see that there were only two now leading deeper into the temple. Down the right path, I could see the head of trickster Pokémon peeking out once more. Knowing better than to follow her at this point, I headed down the left tunnel where the voice was surely coming from.
The next room I entered was actually more like a half-lit corridor that had another snakehead sculpture right near the entryway. This statue’s marking, however, appeared to be underneath its chin, which was turned directly at me now. As I went around the opposite side, I found the inscription on this one centered directly between the figures eyes.
“One’s convictions are always tested during the very thick of battle… Of battle…” the voice spoke from the blackened half of the room, “Your greatest enemy is always the one you confide in most… In most…”
Suddenly the torches on the outside walls began to dim. I turned around and started walking into the darkest part of the chamber. More torches lit ahead of me as the ones behind me burned out. Eventually, I came upon a massive altar with a raised shrine that held five enormous mirrors, two simple panes on each side and an ornate one fitted into the coils of another snake statue at its rear.
I slowly climbed the stairs leading onto the memorial, more torches igniting as I did. The far mirror seemed clouded, whereas the others glistened with the luminosity of diamonds.
“I should have realized it sooner. You’re the quadruplets that make up Golbania…” I commented as I glanced briefly at each of the flanking mirrors, “Sly, Chaste, Serenity, and Conviction.”
“That is correct… Is correct…” the voice echoed.
Approaching the far mirror, I asked, “What do you want with me?”
“What do you think? You think?”
Wiping part of the mirror clean, I saw the face of Beyi-geyi looking right over my shoulder. Turning around in fear, I realized like there was nothing behind me at all. Returning my stare to the glass, it became evident that she only appeared in this pane’s reflection.
Stepping back, the fogginess that obscured the surface began to clear up and I could see my reflection get replaced by the image of a long-necked avian form almost identical to Leyi-geyi. Unlike her brother, Beyi-geyi’s body was far smaller at about eight-and-a-half feet long, but was just as streamline with a cone-like face, a pair of thin curled-back ears, a stout body, two large wings that each arced backwards from her sides to an acute point, and flat oval-shaped tails. I noticed that her neck seemed to be formed from alternating metal plates of silver and iron. Similarly, it looked like her wings were comprised of metallic red and gray diamond-shaped pieces that kept switching right up to their tips. Her egg-shaped body was also made up of a combination of red metal that joined her wings to it and iron, which fused her neck to her chest. Lastly, I noticed that she had a large blue triangle painted on her chest.
“The gods of Beyi Quofyi had been sealed away from this part of Leyi Quofyi for an eternity now… Eternity now…” Golbania hissed from one side of the altar, “But twenty-two years ago that seal had been broken by their mother, Beyi-geyi, after she forced open a passage into this realm from Nostalgia… From Nostalgia…”
“We helped to reseal that opening so they could not enter this plane again… Plane again…” his voice then shifted to the other half, “But your conceited nature allowed them to force it open once again… Once again…
“What? How could I have known that?”
“You didn’t, but Beyi-geyi did… Beyi-geyi did…” he explained, “So she hid herself away deep inside your consciousness before you were even born… Even born…
“So how was that my fault?”
“You found her in your dreams, yet you did not try to expel her… Expel her… Therefore, it is all your fault… Your fault…”
“What do you want me to do about it then? It’s not like I wanted to get involved in all this supernatural bullcrap!”
“Rectify what you have done wrong… Done wrong… You were responsible for Otulp’s actions, so bring him to justice… To justice…”
“The Judge-Sovereign is not as omnipotent as he seems… He seems… Beyi-geyi created him, and only she can destroy him… Destroy him… The Lost Goddess must be reawakened… Be reawakened…”
“The Lost Goddess? Why would you call her that?”
“She gave up her emotions to become a more perfect being, but unknowingly lost her true self in the process… The process…”
“So how am I supposed to undo that?”
“There exist relics throughout this region containing the very essences of her soul… Her soul… Three kinds of Nostalgia Crystals, Chastity’s Boa, Humility’s Shroud, the Amity Helmet, and the Odium Mask; one of these you currently possess… Currently possess…” I had a hunch that he meant the helmet Leyi-geyi gave me before my fight against Canersia.
“Where do I find the others, and what do I do once I have them?”
“I hold one of the Nostalgia Crystals in my possession, but shall not relinquish it to you here… You here… Another lies with someone you hold close and a third exists near the old throne of Nostalgia’s King… Nostalgia’s King…” Golbania explained, “The Watchers’ treasures exist in tombs within accessible areas of the dense woodland and the arid wastelands, while the Odium Mask may already be lost to you… To you…”
“What do you mean?”
“Otulp entrusted it to his most loyal minion, who will stop at nothing to see you dead… You dead…” The image of Canersia’s four-eyed mask suddenly appeared in the back of my mind. From what I saw earlier, it had to be the very source of that entity’s power.
“Is there anything I can do to obtain it?”
“Nothing less than taking his life… His life… It is an impossible task… Impossible task…”
Looking at the floor, I had a split-second thought and asked, “Is it possible to reawaken Beyi-geyi’s true self without having to go through all this trouble like I’m about it to?”
“She is a being of pure logic, but not one of reason… Of reason… She will not acknowledge you as an equal without these relics… These relics…”
“The events that have transpired at IIPS must remain a secret from all whom would trespass there… Trespass there… You cannot tell anyone about it nor shall you return there, lest you suffer my wrath… My wrath…”
“But what if others try to go there and investigate?”
“They shall find themselves transformed into beasts, as all who enrage me do… Me do…”
“Umm… Okay, then.”
“The next time we meet, I shall not be so kindly… So kindly… Farewell, Jay Christie… Jay Christie…” Just then, a brilliant light enshrouded me and I began to feel faint.
I slowly awoke to the sight of a familiar white ceiling overhead. Breathing a sigh of relief, I was glad to find out my experience had all just been another strange dream. But then, given the bizarre series of events I’d been through lately, it didn’t surprise me anymore.
Stretching out my legs off the end of my bed, I tried to relax my body now that I’d gotten a good night’s sleep without waking up half-drenched. The excitement of yesterday seemed so insignificant now that I’d learned of a way to fight back against Otulp, save Felicia, and avoid having to carryout his dirty work in the process. As lofty of quest as Golbania made it sound, I wasn’t worried one bit about gathering the items he told me to and getting Beyi-geyi on my side.
Sitting upright on my mattress, I noticed that my street clothes from yesterday had been strewn across the left side of my bed. It seemed strange since I was usually a lot tidier about putting things away before bed. However, my memories of last night were so vague that I really didn’t care. I was home, so why not take it easy for this morning?
I grabbed my glasses off my nightstand and put them on. Getting out of bed, I picked up my laundry and set it on my stool. Taking my holsters off my pants, I shoved the individual balls into my boxers’ pocket, briefly noticing that I now had a sixth ball in addition to Doxinox’s but paying it no mind. Smelling something cooking upstairs, I decided to go and see what dad was probably making for breakfast.
Heading out of my room and into the hall, I caught up with Meg dressed in her favorite shirt and pajama bottoms.
“Morning,” I told her with a yawn.
“Good morning!” she said with a slight yelp, “You got home late. What kept you?”
“Well…” I started, about to tell her exactly what went on at IIPS yesterday.
Giving it a second thought, I said, “Felicia had me go on a scavenger hunt to try and find her long-lost pet. I found it, then we celebrated with shots the rest of the night.” I grinned widely to let her know I was kidding.
“Pfft…” she blew it off, “Yeah, yeah. I know she has a little bit of an alcohol addiction, but you don’t have to joke about it like that. I bet she kept you around for an extra long lecture or something.” She didn’t know the half of it… After we were done giggling for a second, the two of us headed up to the kitchen to find our father cooking up a fierce meal of bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, and waffles.
A strongly built man, Stephan Christie stood firmly at a height of six-foot-two. He wore a sleeveless black shirt with the company logo of several large carpet rolls over text reading ‘Kalef Mountain Flooring Company’ embroidered on the back of it as well as a dark pair of blue jeans, black socks, and black shoes. His muscular arms seemed to explode with power as he flexed while gripping onto the spatula he used to flip some of the breakfast items he was making. With an aggressive look in his hazel-colored eyes, the man shot us a brief glance and then motioned towards the dining room’s table where several dishes and cups had already been set out with food and beverages them.
“Morning, Dad!” Meg and I both greeted him. He grunted a little bit in response since he seemed more concerned about getting his own breakfast ready than talking to us at the moment. The two of us took our seats, mine being the only spot without eggs readily on the plate.
“Bad day yesterday?” I asked him as I scuttled my chair in gently.
“No,” he spoke gruffly, “Just another late Saturday night taking inventory.” I almost forgot that he usually spent the weekends recording what his business had in its warehouse and what needed to be ordered the following week.
As soon as he finished cooking his meal, the man turned off all the burners on the stovetop and scooped them onto some nearby plates. Briefly, I heard the soft clang of metal again glass as he rushed to get the food off his spatula. Grabbing the dishes, he came over, set them on the table, and sat down across from the two of us.
After eating for a few moments, I said, “So, Rick said his job for yesterday got canceled.”
“Yeah, so what?” my father replied as he finished his eggs.
“Nothing. I was just wondering what happened.” I played with my food a little while I waited for a response.
“The customers didn’t have time for it, so they called and rescheduled.”
“Okay.” I poked my fork into a link of sausage and ate it slowly.
Gazing across to the island at the middle of the room, Stephan saw that the coffee pot had finally gotten full. He went over to the cupboard, took out three coffee mugs, and headed to the coffee maker to fill them. Once he finished, Meg and I got out of our seats to retrieve our respective cups. Taking mine over to the counter, I grabbed the sugar bowl and scooped three teaspoons out of it into my coffee. Then, I returned to my seat.
Preferring her coffee black, Meg beat me back to the table and started downing her meal once again. Basically inhaling the rest of her eggs and waffles, she soon guzzled her coffee and headed back over to the pot for seconds.
“So, what did Felicia want?” Stephan asked me when he got back from adding just the right amount of sugar and creamer to his coffee.
“Well…” I hesitated, trying to think of something that didn’t vaguely recount what Golbania warned me not to say, “She had something special to give me for Spunky.” Nodding, he reached over and picked up this morning’s newspaper, which he had set off to the side of the table where our mother would normally sit.
“I see. And what was it?”
“A helmet!” I squealed, expecting an instant criticism.
“Helmet?” he inquired as he opened up the periodical and shot me an awkward glint from under his brow.
“Yeah, a helmet.”
“This wouldn’t have to do with that Metalupus obsession of yours again, would it?”
“Yes, sir…” I murmured, knowing just what he had to be thinking.
Sighing, he commented, “You do remember that what happened when your Skunette evolved, right?”
I placed my hand on my forehead and said, “Not this again…”
“Listen, Jay. I just don’t want to see another monster like Orion. That thing scares the living hell out of me every time I see him, and you know that. Metalupus are the exact same way. Why do you think nobody else has ever tried to evolve their Lupudle into one?”
“Yeah, but you forget I’ve basically got Orion under thumb, and Spunky’s too tame to suddenly turn feral after evolution.”
“You say that now, but later he’ll maul the hell out someone and you’ll be in deep trouble.” We both shook our heads at one another out of disgust after that, and finally returned to our meals.
As soon as I finished my plate, I took it and my empty coffee mug over to the sink to rinse them down. I added my dish to the small pile already in it and then set the cup off to the left side of the sink. Washing my hands with some soap, I went to the living room and sat down to watch TV for a little bit.
Turning on the local Sunday Morning News, I immediately pulled the mystery Poké Ball from my pocket and began to examine it. The half-black, half-gray sphere seemed to have a crisscrossing web design of gold and silver inlaid into its surface that glistened faintly. Given the powerful entity I knew was inside it, the ball appeared to exude a faint purple-black aura from the seams.
“Whoa, did Felicia give you that Poké Ball?” Meg asked as she looked over my shoulder.
“Huh, uh, yeah…” I replied, setting the orb on my lap. She walked around the couch and sat next to me.
“Can I see it?” Nodding, I handed her the Poké Ball. Taking it in hand, she turned it around to observe the intricate pattern engraved into the sphere. After a couple seconds, my sister flinched as though something scared her and she gave it back to me.
“So, what do you think?”
“It’s cool. I didn’t think Felicia had the money to make or buy something like that, though. Looks…expensive,” she sighed, looking out the patio door as if she were suddenly afraid of me.
“What’s wrong?” I then asked her.
“Nothing,” Meg then muttered.
“Well, I’m going to get dressed. I need to get Spunky checked out, since he had a rough battle yesterday.”
“Mind if I come with you?” she asked as I stood up.
“Sure. We can take my truck.” Megan stood back up as well. We both then headed downstairs again.
I quickly changed back into my street clothes from yesterday, and took a few moments to organize my room a little bit. Afterwards, I headed back up to the living room where my father sat alone watching TV. Sipping another cup of coffee, he grumbled to himself about something he just saw.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Bad forecast for this week. Rain on Tuesday, meaning that Rick won’t be able to do the outdoor porch he’s schedule to work on,” he replied. When he said that, I knew he really meant that there would be a delay in getting paid for it, which might take a chunk out of our household income this week.
“Well, that sucks. And, it can’t be done tomorrow?”
He shook his head and replied, “Possibly, but he’s already booked on a seventy-five yard job and may not have time for it until the afternoon. I’ll just have to call the customer and then him later to reschedule.”
“Good luck with that.”
“All right. I’m ready to go,” Meg said as she came up the stairs behind me.
Turning to her, I noticed that she changed into her favorite dark-purple dress accented with the embroidered image of a Destail’s fanlike tail feathers that had a picture the peacock’s face silk-screened on the chest area. The garb appeared to be made from a silky fabric and contoured Megan’s body exquisitely. It also had additional embroidering along the sides and sleeves so that the stitching looked like part of its decoration. I also noticed that she was wearing the same bracelets she had on during our battle six months ago, which she had all of her current Poké Balls attached to like they were part of the accessories.
“Okay, then. See ya later, Dad!” I said, heading for the door.
“Later, Dad!” Meg said as she followed me.
“Bye, kids,” he replied to us both.
With my keys in hand, the two of us went outside and over to the driveway. After we got to my pickup, Meg walked around to the passenger side and then got in. I entered the vehicle as well, buckled up, and started the truck. Then I put it in Reverse, backed up into the turn space we had, slowly drove down the hill in front of our house, and finally pulled out onto the road to head downtown.
<End Chapter Seven>