Dragonfree productions presents...
With motivation from NaNoWriMo 2006...
Death is not to be feared
So yay. Yeah, this is my NaNo. It never became 50,000 words (finished it before midnight, though - it just wasn't material enough for more than 31,026 words), but what the heck. I love it to bits anyway.
It is composed of forty numbered but untitled "chapters", but as those "chapters" tend to be awfully short (the shortest is about half a page), are not really proper chapters in that they do not always contain a story of their own, and posting them one at a time would take ages, I will not do that. The story is also divided into seven "parts", each of which constitutes a number of chapters, and they are both longer and much more suitable units for posting in general, so it is those that I will be posting.
It is a backstory of Scyther from The Quest for the Legends, but you don't need to read The Quest for the Legends before reading this (although it contains spoilers), nor do you need to read this before reading The Quest for the Legends.
However, there are some notes to make.
First off, please note that this is NaNoWriMo, the epitome of rushed writing. I do edit the parts before posting them, but they are not to be expected to be awfully well-written nonetheless.
Secondly, this fic often hardly describes Pokémon at all. Unfortunately this includes a couple of fake Pokémon as well. I will probably try to insert a little when I edit those parts, but to go into any extensive detail would wreck the style, sorry.
Thirdly, it is not entirely consistent with The Quest for the Legends version ILCOE. This is most prominent near the end where it is actually telling events from that fic from a different point of view and there are notable differences in what happens, but there are also minor insignificant ones before that point. You do not need to point them out unless there is something that falls into neither category which I appear to have missed. It should, on the other hand, be entirely consistent with the one-shot/extra Guilty, and, once I write the relevant chapters of that version, the IALCOTN (not posted here).
Fourthly, this is an entirely character-driven work. It does not really have a continuous plot structure, and leaves a whole bunch of things unexplained. Those are up for The Quest for the Legends to tie up.
Fifthly and lastly, this fic is rated R (or, if you prefer Fiction Ratings, M) for containing various things that could disturb sheltered children such as violence, blood, gore, disturbing imagery, self-mutilation, suicidal thoughts, extremely vague sexual implications, consumption of alcoholic drinks, and the F-word.
Now, time for the actual fic. Moving on to Part I. Sorry about the rather abrupt ending.
PART I: INNOCENCE
The young parents were clearly not much troubled by caring for their egg, as they were fast asleep when it began to make quiet clicking sounds.
The egg wobbled slightly, the sounds growing louder. A small crack formed in its surface, bright white light shining through it.
The father, sleeping close by, opened one reptilian eye.
“Wake up, Silver,” he muttered and lightly prodded the female by his side. “The egg is hatching.”
The male crawled to his clawed feet, watching the egg. There was no visible affection in his expression, though perhaps there was a hint of fondness in the depths of his black eyes.
“Sharp?” the female asked, a rift finally opening between her eyelids. “The egg... what?”
Her gaze traveled slowly over to the oval shape that was now rolling on the ground. Quickly she stood up to watch her egg by the side of her mate.
The eggshell was green with fine streaks of yellow, although the colors were difficult to see in the dusk and tinted by the red glow of the approaching sunrise. Grass blades coated with morning dew stuck to the shell here and there as the egg rolled over and hit a small rock in the grass.
Cracks spread rapidly around the egg’s surface, each one opening a way out for the blinding light within. Silver shielded her eyes with the curved blade on her arm, which was perhaps just as well because now the eggshell exploded, hurling sharp pieces in all directions and leaving a small glowing white shape sitting on the ground instead.
Sharp brushed a shard of shell off his rounded shoulder, his face still showing only calm dutifulness as the white light of the small body on the ground faded away to reveal its true colors.
“Welcome to the world, young Descith,” the father muttered, a hint of a smile crossing his face for a second.
“He looks adorable,” the mother said softly, betraying more emotion than her mate. “Come, little one. Try to get up,” she added encouragingly to her newborn son.
The small creature looked up at her with large, attentive eyes. The small Descith had a head similar to that of his parents, but much bigger in proportion to his body. He looked hesitantly at his nearly cone-shaped feet and at the useless arms, already with the precise curved shape of the adults’ scythes, but the blade itself missing.
He shifted around in an unsuccessful attempt to rise to his feet. He opened his mouth and let out a miserable wail.
“Go on,” Silver said softly. “Stand up.”
The hatchling looked at his arms, one at a time, and carefully poked the grass with them. Discovering its solidness with curiosity, he managed to push himself a little upwards.
It took a few attempts, but eventually he managed to stand up.
The Descith swayed unsteadily on his feet, his sense of balance still underdeveloped for the precision of the biped. After keeping himself upright for a few seconds, he collapsed forwards, shrieking with fear and instinctively moving his arms in front of him to absorb the fall.
His eyes opened again after being squeezed shut in preparation for impact. The impact had never come.
His deformed arms sank into the ground precisely where they gave him balance.
Catching on, the little Descith yanked both of his undeveloped scythes out of the soil. He took a deep breath and let himself fall again – and again, sharp instincts saw to that his arms came down in precisely the right place.
He smiled widely at his new discovery, laughing childishly as he let himself fall again.
“He’ll never learn to walk like this,” Sharp said, amused in spite of himself. His mate just chuckled.
“He acts just like you,” she said adoringly.
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
They watched their son experiment with letting himself fall backwards. His arms automatically took the fall, always. It didn’t matter what he did. The instinct was extraordinarily powerful.
This seemed to eventually take the fun out of it for him and the young Descith began to attempt to stay steady on his feet, using his arms for slight support.
It would be a while before he managed that. It always was. And indeed, his story started out in such a way that it could have been any Scyther’s story.
But this was only one particular Scyther, and his story, though beginning like any other, was decidedly unique.
But no one in the swarm would know until many years later.
“A new member of our swarm was hatched this morning,” announced the Leader to the swarm late in the evening. Every eye was fixed on his illuminated form, except, ironically enough, those of the subject of his speech, which were darting curiously between the different members of the swarm, oblivious to the importance of the ritual that their owner was now unknowingly taking part in.
The Leader looked at the small Descith sitting on the flat rock below him. He hated performing the acceptance ritual. To devote such attention and in fact weaken himself to someone who did not recognize him as Leader – indeed, someone to whom the concept of a Leader in itself was decidedly alien – caused his sense of potential threat to tingle uncomfortably.
But it was a necessary evil, and after all, if no new members were taken into the swarm, he would have no swarm to be Leader over, which would, for obvious reasons, completely defeat the point. And more importantly, the ritual was tradition, and breaking it would be sacrilege. Such said the Code.
He looked back up and continued. “Let this young Descith be a member of our swarm to the day of his eventual return to the soil. Let him grow and flourish, become a Scyther and develop scythes and wings as the rest of us. Let him follow the Code and respect his duties. Let him be honored tonight!”
He raised his right scythe to the soft joint on his left arm and made a clean, sharp cut across it.
“By the blood of the Leader…” he began, feeling only a light trickle as dark Scyther blood dripped onto the hatchling’s head. The Descith twitched and shrieked in surprise, raising his right arm to his eyes to observe the blotch of bluish-black liquid on it.
“…the Father…” he continued, looking towards the Scyther standing by his left side. The father stretched his arm slowly outwards, and the Leader raised his scythe for a second cut. Sharp winced slightly as his blood trickled down on his son as well.
“…and the Fresh Prey,” the Leader finished as he looked to his right at the newborn’s mother and the struggling female Nidoran she was holding in her mouth. As the little rabbit eyed him raising his scythe again, she struggled even harder and let out a piercing scream, but he silenced it with a quick cut across her throat.
The Nidoran’s body went limp. Crimson blood was sprayed onto the rock, almost covering the squirming Descith, who was already beginning to lick the liquid off his exoskeleton. The little one was already gaining a taste for blood, the Leader thought.
Sometimes he daydreamed about the ability to cripple the young ones before they could challenge his leadership. But it was against the very most sacred section of the Code, the Moral Code. It explicitly stated the immorality of inflicting unnecessary torture on another being. And whenever he found himself in such thoughts, he became afraid.
Occasionally, when he was feeling more rebellious, he wondered just what it was that he was afraid of. Nobody knew what was going on inside his head and nobody ever would. He could think all the immoral thoughts he wanted, and the other Scyther would never know. While the implication was that a godly being of some sort had originally created the Code, there was no such being seeing to that the Code was followed in thought as well as action. He could as well, he realized. He could as well think it.
Sometimes, thanks to this rebellious train of thought, he became afraid that one day he would in fact be tempted to act upon it.
But that day was not today.
The young Descith sat in the grass. His parents were out hunting, although he did not know what it was they were doing. He did not know, either, that many species obsessively protected their young. It never crossed his instinct-driven mind to miss them while they were gone. Indeed, he would have felt discomfort if he had found himself alone, but evolution had never needed to give Scyther and Descith a parental bond when it came to protection.
No one attacked a Scyther swarm. That was just the way it was.
Therefore, he did not for a moment wonder whether or when his parents would be back. He simply looked around curiously, still taking the world in through his senses and experimenting with what his own body could do. For example, he had already discovered the undeveloped muscles connected to the knobs on his back that would one day become wings. Of course, he did not know that, either. He just knew he could contract some tiny muscles in his back, and that it didn’t seem to do anything so he quickly lost interest in it.
The buzz of a fly caught his attention. His eyes scanned the air with natural skill and found their tiny target a few meters off. He stood up carefully, something telling him he should not make any sound.
The young Pokémon’s eyes followed the fly as he became tenser with every passing moment: the fly was approaching. Using his arms for support, he stood deathly still except for his flickering eyes, following their target.
Just as the fly was at the closest point it would be, he pounced.
Had he been a fully-grown Scyther, the precision of his aim would have been enough to make his blade cut the fly in half. Instead, he clumsily missed it by an inch and it bonked into his forehead before flying frantically off.
He made a sad sound as he landed on his arms and legs on the ground, looking longingly at the fly. He wasn’t sure why he wanted to catch the fly. He just did. And in his young mind, he didn’t need any more logical reason than that before doing things.
He looked around again and saw a short tree. He wondered if he could get up into it.
Slowly and carefully, he made his way towards the tree, again using his arms for support. He looked it up and down as he arrived next to it, not sure how to get up it. He poked the tree with the tip of his arm to see if it was solid. It was.
He brought his foot onto the trunk, but hesitated. Something told him he would fall if he just tried to walk up it like he walked on the ground.
He walked around the tree, observing how the trunk also had another side that he couldn’t see from each particular point of view, no matter how he tried. When one bit came into view, another always disappeared off the other side. Strange.
After experimenting with this for a few minutes and realizing that this rule appeared impossible to trick, he noticed that there was a low branch only inches above his head. He poked the branch. It was solid too.
He raised his curved arm shape above the branch and pulled it back down so that it hooked onto the branch. He pulled it experimentally down a few times before coming to the conclusion that this might be the way up.
He whipped his other arm over the branch and began to try to pull himself up, but it was difficult and his arms were not curved enough. He tried it again a few more times with little further success.
“Scith,” he sighed in disappointment. It had no particular meaning at this time, neither to him nor to anybody else. It was simply a random sound that his vocal chords could handle.
But he was too stubborn to give up. After a couple of boring minutes, he turned back to the tree and examined the bark of it better. He prodded it harder than before with his scythe. It was somewhat soft.
He drew back and swung the sharp end of his undeveloped right scythe straight towards the tree trunk. It sank ever so slightly into the tree.
Happily, the little Descith hooked his left scythe onto the branch and began to scratch himself upwards with his clawed feet. At first he made no progress, but eventually he figured out how to get a good grip with his claws.
After an exhausting climb, he finally got onto the lowest branch. Hugging the tree to keep his balance, he rested for a short while to gather his breath. He looked up, and he looked down.
He felt very proud of himself.
It was only seconds before he eagerly resumed the climb up to the next branch, and to the next. At one point he nearly fell down, but narrowly pulled himself up again.
From the branch above him hung a sleeping green pupa, immobile as its inner body was going through the final steps of transformation into a beautiful Butterfree. Of course the young Descith had no idea that it was called a Metapod or that it was metamorphosing. In fact, he did not initially assume it was alive. He poked it curiously with his scythe and watched it with glee as it swung back and forth. He prodded it more powerfully to make it swing farther.
The Metapod, awoken from its sleep, opened its eyes sluggishly. Not that it could do anything about the situation it was in. It couldn’t. Except for hardening its shell.
Which, in an interesting twist, did turn out useful, since just then the Descith managed to cut it off the branch it was hanging from.
The cocoon dropped to the ground, bounced off it once and then rolled in a semicircle before finally coming to a halt.
The Descith was about ready to get down from the tree when he saw the cocoon begin to shake. Curiously, he watched it as it twitched for a few seconds and then suddenly ripped in the middle, revealing shining white light.
He flinched, but was still curious; he squinted at the cocoon from the safety of the tree as a dark, crumpled shape crawled out of it and spread its thin white wings for the first time. Its two fine black antennae quivered as the newly-evolved Butterfree flapped its wings experimentally, finally taking off with a high-pitched cry of “Fweeee!”
The young mantis watched, fascinated, as the Butterfree practiced its flight with a few circles and loops, and finally fluttered off over the plains.
The Descith watched it until it was too far away for him to see it. He looked sadly back at the tree he was standing in. He wanted to go down now.
But nature had already instilled in him a fear of heights.
He whimpered, clutching the tree trunk tightly with what would later become his scythes. The sight of the few meters down made him feel dizzy and discomforted. He turned his head quickly towards the trunk, where he couldn’t see the ground, and closed his eyes, unable to think of anything to do other than wait for someone else to save him.
It was nearing sunset when his mother returned from the hunt, carrying a dead Pidgeotto in her mouth.
At first she did not regard the small green shape in the tree as anything out of the ordinary; in fact, the last time she had looked at that particular tree, there had been a Metapod hanging from one of the branches, and she just assumed that was it. The absence of her son did not seem worrisome. There were always guarding Scyther who would make sure that no hatchling would walk away on his own, and after all, no one ever attacked a Scyther swarm.
However, just while she was trying to cut the skin and feathers off her prey to make it easier to eat, she heard a quiet moan coming from the tree.
She stopped what she was doing, turning her eyes towards the direction of the sound.
She rose up and walked over to the tree. “Somebody there?”
The Descith looked quickly at his mother with big, scared eyes that begged her to help him down. She sighed and walked up to the tree, raising her scythes into the air so that her son could use them to climb down.
He hesitated at first, but then carefully turned away from the tree trunk, crouched down, hooked his arms around the branch he was on and let himself descend a little. He unhooked one of his premature scythes and placed it onto his mother’s scythe instead, reaching for the other one with his foot. Finally he let go and allowed his mother to gently put him down.
Unlike some other species’ babies, the young Descith did not need to be comforted. As soon as he was down from the tree and out of all danger, he did no longer need or particularly desire his mother’s company. But she stayed with him anyway, affectionately feeding him some of the softer bits of the Pidgeotto and attempting to make him realize some of the complicated principles of the Pokémon language.
It is, after all, beneficial to help furthering one’s genes, and while natural selection did not care whether one’s genes were furthered with the help of a parent, it did indeed care whether one’s own offspring survived. And thus, she felt more affectionate towards him than he would ever feel towards her in the Scyther’s family-less community and individualistic mindset.
She was what the norms of her kind would call ‘weak’. To love someone meant fear of death, the inevitable end to one’s time knowing them, and fear of death was the number one sin. Ideally, a Scyther was without social bonds, above them, and it would indeed have been frowned upon had, say, the Leader shown personal affection towards another being. But in the end, the Scyther were social creatures, and in spite of the unfortunate implications of their moral code, most of them formed bonds of family and friendship in some form anyway.
Such was simply the way of nature.