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Old March 19th, 2013 (11:36 AM).
Cutlerine Cutlerine is offline
Gone. May or may not return.
    Join Date: Mar 2010
    Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
    Age: 23
    Nature: Impish
    Posts: 1,030
    > Don't give them Vesta. Stand your ground, and threaten to jump into the warp panels.
    > Do not hand Vesta over to them, you created her and only a coward abandons what it created. If you're going to give something throw a pokeball instead maybe this will be the one in a million easy capture with a pokeball
    > Don't hand over vesta. instead, see if anything in your bag will please the ghosts.
    > Assuming you still have it, see if the ghosts will take the spooky torch. I mean it's the same flame as Vesta, but the only difference is that you don't have an emotional attachment to the torch. If you don't have a torch, see if the ghosts will let you light a new one using Vesta.
    > Never let Vesta go. She's a crime against nature, sure, but she's the closest thing to a family you have right now.
    > "Never gonna give you up" Do not ever give Vesta up. Shes probably become attached to you as well... As much as a sentient flame that eats everything can. Instead, Offer them something else. The torch maybe? If you get out of this alive. Check the state of your dress.
    > Promise the ghost that you'll give Vesta, but squeeze some info from them first. If they won't give info and demand Vesta, run away as fast as you can. And by "run away", I mean don't give up Vesta. :3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Now,” he commands. “Give it to me.”

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

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

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

    Othodox's Devotion has drastically increased!

    Othodox is now Smiled Upon by Tabiti!

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

    “I know,” you say. “I don't care.”

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

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

    The Gym falls apart.

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

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

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

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


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

    You stare.


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

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

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

    The black dome is a gigantic Ghost.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Othodox's Devotion has increased!

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

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

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

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

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

    The Gengar's eyes slide open once again.

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

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

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

    Time to get your thinking cap on.

    For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.