Why yes, I didn't manage to get an April chapter up. Sad sad. I blame school.

That reminds me, i'm planning on another one-shot to do at some point in the near future. A Pokémon POV with lots of evilness.
Evilness is kewl. And you know who to call if it needs checking over. ^_^

I've never seen such a short chapter from you in my life! Not that i'm complaining, it did make it very precise and dramatic - to the point. It's still more than me though, i'm sticking to a rigid 6-page-per-chapter which just looks noob compared to how much you're capable of.
True. But it still feels insanely weird to do after a 55-page chapter. And BTW, your 6-page chapters look pro compared to my earlier chapters. Straining to get just into the page limit was probably a factor in the sheer level of bad.

But self-deprecations aside ...

emo!Frosti + Beast threat + Blaze + Scary Face + Dragon Rage =/= somebody you want to mess with. Unless you're suicidal. Or crazier than Phlash.

I was really relieved to get this one over with, TBH. I mean, stuff happens that probably should've happened long ago, and it was so good to get it down, but something about the chapter itself just rubs me the wrong way. Meh, I'm sure some kind person will point it out.

And a warning to everyone living under a rock: if you don't know what global warming is, you won't find this chapter's humorous bits funny at all.

* * *

Chapter Twenty-Two: No Cause For a Crossfire (The Roots of Love and Fear! Combusken versus Grovyle!)

The sun is perhaps the most misunderstood thing on Earth.

For instance, the vast majority of educated humanity agrees that this star is an average yellow dwarf at the center of the solar system, though some religious fanatics claim that it is in fact the legendary Ho-oh flying on an eternal round from one horizon to the other. (Why someone would advocate for the idea of a great flaming bird speeding around Earth at roughly a thousand and fifty miles per hour, when it could instead be doing something that actually benefits people, is anyone’s guess.) Aside from this fact, there are great discrepancies in its interpretation.

Arctic explorers are frequently found dying due to an assumed lack of the sun’s warmth, while colonists trekking through the Amazon go dizzy with the blistering heat. However, as the sun itself has the same temperature no matter where it is observed from, it has little to do with any of this. Only the weather overhead changes the intensity of the sun’s heat rays; thus, the over-curious humans have no one to blame but themselves for going into such dangerous situations without doing their research first – a prime justification for the title “Retarded Mortals”.

On a less personal yet more controversial note, some people, including politicians (surprisingly enough), claim that due to the general corrupt greediness of capitalist enterprises, air pollution runs rampant, culminating in an atmospheric phenomenon which, in destroying the ozone layer, is assumed to inadvertently destroy all life on Earth.

The enterprises, on the other hand, claim that this whole “global warming” idea is simply a myth created by the government in order to scare civilians into boycotting particular products and eventually bringing entire companies to ruin.

The politicians reply that the phenomenon is nevertheless the truth; and while it may be an inconvenient truth for the enterprises, it is a very convenient truth for everyone else (i.e. the portion of the population that places moral values over monetary value). And since “everyone else” forms the vast majority of humankind, why not be democratic for once and actually listen to what they need?

The enterprises make a side remark about funding somebody’s next election campaign, followed by a sigh that they just can’t support any politician who won’t make some underhanded move to get the attention and business that they surely deserve. And after all, they make millions of jobs available to those poor, sad people who were too busy knocking each other up to get a college education. Would the politicians, they wonder, really be so utterly heartless as to destroy the civilians who have no purpose in life other than to become the bottom portion of the national income statistics?

After a long pause, the politicians remark that this global warming thing is, and always has been, an inconvenient truth, and one that has little meaning next to the more pressing matters of giving people the right to make a crapshoot out of their lives. They are quickly awarded a multi-million dollar donation for next term’s campaign, the cheers from the near-sighted conservatives, and a nice little contract from the enterprises staking a claim on their souls.

The sun, of course, utterly fails to give a damn about this, and is perfectly contented to float in the vastness of space while inadvertently giving potentially fatal skin cancer to the conservatives who voted against protection from harmful ultraviolet, as well as to underdressed hookers with an average IQ of one hundred and twenty and an average motivation level of zero.

Politics are only interesting to watch when they are looked down upon.

In any case, the sun proceeded to shine cheerfully (or as least as cheerfully as a great flaming ball of gas can manage) above the great shimmering wasteland of doom, officially known as Orre. The “cheerful” part of this fact, however, was lost on Rinka in lieu of the less subjective term “shine”: the blinding rays had been forcing her eyes squeezed almost shut for the entire trek.

<Was this really necessary?> she asked, not particularly looking for an answer.

A few yards ahead, the silver-eyed Lucario took the question in untiring stride. <Yes. Unless you’d prefer appearing out of thin air in front of over a hundred or so witnesses? I hear Collectors are especially ambitious these days ….>

The young angel merely huffed through her small, drying nose, putting one paw in front of the other without any enthusiasm. She was not trotting cutely behind her companion; she was too tired for such silly antics. Then again, even at the start of their unending walk when they’d winked into existence in the harsh desert, she refused to look like she actually enjoyed being all but blackmailed into this incomprehensible situation.

Naturally, the biggest question reverberating through her mind was Why me? After all, there was no particular reason as to why this was happening – just a bit of mindless dozing off, and suddenly she’d shown up in the world’s weirdest casino, almost became a wolf’s appetizer, and been kidnapped in all but name by this random Lucario. What was she planning?

She’d heard stories of vicious humans who knew of the existence of angels, and sought to destroy them for whatever twisted reason. Angel slayers, they called them. She shivered slightly at the memory of those two words. Just four innocent syllables … serving as a thin veneer over tales of faceless, heartless monsters looming over screaming, bloody victims. There was a possibility, however small, that this strange jackal was somehow in league with them. A possibility that she was being led to an unimaginable death.

And there was little doubt that the Lucario could take her by force if she chose.

It was difficult to be nervous at the moment, however. Right now all she wanted was to curl up in some quiet dark corner and sleep.

Stupid sun.

<It’s the same sun everywhere else,> the other said. <There’s no point in getting mad at it.>

Rinka huffed again. Annoyed, however, was not the same thing as nervous. <Did we really have to walk all the way there?> she asked tersely. <I mean, surely if we can magically teleport here, we can magically teleport to where we’re going. Wouldn’t that be easier?>

<It’s not teleportation.> The voice couldn’t hide an unseen smirk. <It’s dimension shifting. There’s a world of difference.>

<Right.> Rinka sputtered softly; a bit of sand had inexplicably ended up in her mouth. <Dimension shifting. Of course. How stupid of me.>

The Lucario’s pace slowed, then suddenly stopped. Noting this, Rinka quickly skidded to a halt behind her as well: unlike most small cute animals, the idea of smacking suddenly into the legs of people behind her was repugnant to her, as it ranks somewhere between “yelling at an ocean wave that knocked your sand castle down” and “inhaling vinegar through a straw in your nostril” on the universal list of Signs of Stupidity.

<Um, sorry …> the angel began, then trailed off when she realized that her companion’s stance had tensed considerably. Her head was leaned back slightly, nose and ears twitching at something unseen in the distance ahead.

She stayed that way for a few seconds, watching and listening; but just as Rinka was about to ask, she dropped back onto her heels, rolling her eyes. <Guerrilla squadrons,> she scoffed. <Well, of course. It’s a wonder we hadn’t run into any already.> She turned to look at the small fox, who stared back up at her curiously. <We may have to take drastic evasive maneuvers.>

Rinka wrinkled her nose in confusion. <Why?>

An exasperated sigh. <Because they have guns, obviously.>

<But … but I thought gorillas weren’t smart enough to use guns.>

The Lucario facepalmed.

<… I just said something stupid, didn’t I?>

<Very stupid. These are war guerrillas, Rinka. The ones that shoot at each other. Which they’re doing right now as they get closer to us.> She sighed. <Damn stupid Orreans. I don’t want to kill them all just to get through them.> Running her paws through the Aura Sensors dangling behind her ears, she took a deep breath. <Well, time for plan B.>

Rinka’s ears automatically pricked in wariness. <Plan B. Right. Um …>

She paused, watching curiously as the Lucario’s body was suddenly obscured by a flare of light so bright that the fox had to shut her eyes completely.

<Remind me again … what’s Plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa—?>

Her question dissolved into a surprised yelp as something long and bumpy snaked around her small form and yanked her sharply upward. As her paws left the ground, she opened her eyes again to see the earth fall below, the sand blurring as she flew forward in midair. Wind shrieked in her ears, adding to her dizziness.

Oh no, oh no, oh no …

From far away, the sound of rapid gunfire reached her sensitive ears, punctuated by the fainter sounds of agonized screaming and angry swearing. Even though the rushing wind hurt her eyes, she could still just barely make out the sight of quickly growing black dots running to and fro.

<Stupid buggers,> the Lucario’s voice sighed.

Startled slightly by the unexpected sound, Rinka quickly glanced upward to see that the creature carrying her was, contrary to her feeble expectations, swooping high on black, bat-like wings that carried its pale bluish-purple body over the sandy landscape. Yellow eyes glinted with sunlight from its demonic face; its huge triangular ears were pinned back from the wind, giving Rinka a good view of their inner crimson color.

In short, the creature was definitely not a Lucario.

<What …> Rinka began, but then faltered: her voice was virtually inaudible in the rushing wind.

Yet the creature seemed to hear her, for it looked down slightly to catch sight of the fox looking frazzled and frightened in the grip of its long tail. <By the way …> it said, and suddenly Rinka noticed the familiarity of its alto voice, together with that by-now hateful smirk, looking alien on a mouth full of fangs …

<I’m Fystor.>

The Vulpix didn’t hear the surprised shouts of soldiers below as they finally caught sight of them; the blood was rushing to her ears in giddiness. <A Fystor?> she gasped. She’d only ever heard of Fystor: the enigmatic legendary griffins were few and far between, even for angels. They were supposed to be heroic harbingers of justice, champions of truth that only revealed their secret to those they deemed worthy … but that didn’t explain how this one could turn into a Gliscor. Unless she was—

<The Fystor.>

Rinka fainted.

* * *

They walked along the dusty path, Leaf carefully cradling Abigail’s unconscious body in her arms. The Abra’s breathing seemed irregular: her chest rose, fell, was still, then suddenly rose raggedly again. She shifted the Pokemon in her arms slightly, making it a little easier for Lightning, walking beside her, to ease a little Rawst Berry jam into her slack mouth. It wasn’t the best cure in the world, considering it was mostly sugar and preservatives, but the dark blue jam was the only thing on hand that could do something for the burn.

Her eyes wandered over the blackened patches of the Abra’s skin. Black like the shadow streaming to Frosti’s right, its darkness hardly affected by his softly flickering tail as he walked mechanically in front of them. Black like the cavern his mouth had formed upon using Scary Face for the first time, dripping with stalactites of bone. Black like Cheri’s stripes as she buzzed behind the ragtag party, watching him an unwavering ruby gaze. Black like his mood now.

She watched him move stiffly before them, shoulders hunched and shaking slightly.

I don’t understand. He wasn’t like this before—

The memory of an indigo Lapras bursting from her egg, scattering shards about the floor … her overwhelming adoration of the pseudo-shiny hatchling … Frosti’s face, colored retroactively in envy.

Was he?

She remembered fawning incessantly over Paris and her shiny scales, bragging endlessly about Skipper’s sheer strength, shivering in awe at Cheri’s knowing gaze, smiling at Parvati’s playful antics … but what about Frosti? She’d never really paid much attention to him in particular. After all, he was cute, but he’d seemed to be just an ordinary Charmander. Not that she didn’t like him – all things considered, she probably would’ve picked him if she’d had first choice. But he’d been the shy, neglected Pokemon hovering in the corner she never thought about as much as she should’ve.

And that time had long since past.

She sighed, patting Abigail’s head absentmindedly. If only it wasn’t always too late …

A wisp of cloud floated above them, concealing the sun for a brief moment.

… To set things right.



From her perch on his shoulder, Peach watched Lightning with curious eyes. She wasn’t exactly sure what had happened during their training, although due to the large amount of screaming involved, followed by the sight of the Abra’s burnt body and Frosti’s horrified expression, it wasn’t difficult to put two and two together.

She watched him smile weakly as Abigail unconsciously smacked her lips, and also grinned at the thought that her jealousy would be incredible if it were anyone else. As it was, the sight of the fox’s burnt body fueled no such emotion; after all, Abigail had already asserted herself to be arrogant and aggressive, neither of which were common or desired traits in psychics. The idea that he cared for the fox for any motive beyond her livelihood was laughable.

And yet the tenderness in his expression spoke volumes of the purity and kindness in him.

He has so much love in him, she realized, watching him reach out with another spoonful of jam. It’s amazing that I’m the only one who finds him adorable. And …

Her breath caught at the thought that came next.

I’m so lucky to be his.

She’d always thought her rejection by the first three Pallet trainers was a sign of worthlessness on her part, and as such it was mere coincidence that she’d managed to encounter him. But now it seemed, somehow, that the matches had all been meant to be …

Too-bubbly Squirtle had been in need of being brought down to earth and grounded in a firm view of the real world – the cold practical boy had done so, though now he needed to help her look toward the sky again.

Hideki needed someone to make him feel like he was important – the less stable boy’s ambition of a stunning collection served that purpose, albeit in an unorthodox way.

And Frosti … well, Frosti’d needed to learn to assert himself and to realize that he had so, so much potential. And Leaf had brought him there. Even if she’d done so unintentionally, and even if the process had involved him seriously injuring a fox who’d done nothing more than say the wrong thing at the wrong time.

But she and Lightning? They’d hit it off almost instantly, skipping over the “tools” and “acquaintances” and “partners” idealisms entirely and coming to a stop at the far end of “friends”. It felt like she’d been on his shoulder her entire life, by his side whether they were happy or gloomy, victorious or despairing, having fun or feeling bored, laughing themselves to death or running for their lives. And maybe …

Maybe she really had. After all, somebody once said you were never really alive until you had someone to live for.

And oh, did she feel alive …

She sensed what was coming even through her joyous nostalgia, and quickly jumped off her trainer’s shoulder, facing the trainers with a strange undercurrent of determination. They halted before her, surprised at her action; up ahead on the trail, Frosti turned and stared at her listlessly.

“Peach?” Lightning asked, leaning slightly forward with a frown. “Are you okay?”

She simply smiled at him as she felt something inside her stir, as if a key were cautiously turning in some locked chest full of wondrous secrets she hadn’t known she’d wanted to know. He was so caring, so wonderful – they were meant to be together. He’d learn someday that she loved him, as the future soared closer to the now …

She closed her eyes.

The lock clicked.

The two kids could only gasp in astonishment as the faint glow exploded from her being, rippling around her in a strange parody of aura. There was a sound of creaking bone as her small form began to expand slightly – her rhomboid ears stretched creakily into thin, pointed things; her tail burst into a long, jagged shape, yet her smile remained.

No pain. No fear. Only euphoria.

The process, painless as it was, ended relatively quickly. When her glow had faded into nothingness, she opened her eyes and looked down at her new self standing in the burnt dirt. A slightly larger and stouter body met her gaze, coated in buttery yellow fur and standing on two small feet. She twisted around, feeling her body bend more easily than it ever had; her tail was no longer short and black, but yellow, long, and shaped like a thunderbolt, with a dent at the end that gave it the vague appearance of a heart. It twitched under the two new brown stripes adorning her back.

She looked up at Lightning then, beaming as his shocked expression dissolved into relieved awe. Then his mouth slowly stretched into an astonished grin, and he whispered, “Peach …”

He reached out with both arms.

“You did it!”

And she leapt into his hug, letting herself melt in his embrace and undying friendship.

Yes, she felt alive.

“Oh, ISN’T THAT CUTE.”

Leaf, Lightning, and Peach all glared at the Pokedex. Sparks flickered from the Pokemon’s scarlet cheeks.

“Pikachu, the Vastly Overrated Pokemon. Gender is Female, you MORONS. Height is Rodent, Weight is Nerfball. People like these buggers from some reason, which doesn’t make sense – they’re not strong, they don’t have any character, and they smell funny. But the thing is, they’re actually brainwashing the world into becoming their slaves! Yeah really. I mean, why else would everyone tolerate them? Oh, and something else: Pikachu tend to let off random shocks. Because they’re so RETARDED, that’s why.”

Peach raised an eyebrow at it. <Oh really? Forgive me for that. Here, I’ll try to make this one not random.>

“Well, you need the practice, mousie. Oh wait … crap—”

“CHUUU!”

The group erupted with laughter as the Pokedex sputtered furiously, crackling softly thanks to the Pikachu’s Thundershock. She smirked in triumph, then hugged Lightning again.

Friendship.

* * *

His aching chest throbbed as he pulled in another ragged gulp of air. The repeated pounding of his boots striking the ground was rewarded with dull pulses of pain, adding to the aching torment of his unceasing flight. Around him, the landscape blurred into a panorama of unending green-yellow grass, rimmed with distant specks of green marking the position of trees on the position. Nothing else.

Nowhere to hide.

Keep running.

Far ahead of him loomed mounds of rock, their exact shapes and colors impossible to tell in the heat waves distorting his vision. He forced himself to keep his eyes on them, to focus on safety – but the awareness of that awful openness around him pressed on his mind. Here, he was easy prey.

Something silvery glinted in his path, and he leapt over the object instinctively, leaving the broken watch – a mark of some trainer long past – behind him.

He had to run, had to escape. He was probably already on his trail, making his way to Cerulean as swift as death’s wings, ready to kill him before he could run as far away as he could, pushing himself just to survive—

An inhuman yowl reverberated through the forest. With a great, shuddering breath, he forced himself to move faster.

Bushes snagged at his clothes, scratching his face, but he couldn’t feel them at all. Sheer horror had numbed him.

Sunlight shimmered in his path, lighting his way through the verdant forest, crisp with summer air. Berries hung from nearby bushes, bright spots of color against dark patches of green. A Starly twittered somewhere overhead; a Pachirisu peered down at him from an overhanging branch, its blue stripes mirrored by the brilliant sky above. All in all, another cheerful day in Oreburgh Forest, dancing and blossoming with life.

It was all horribly, horribly wrong.

There should have been raging fires. The sky should have been jet-black, filled with lightning and suffocating smoke. Blood leaking from trees and raining from poisonous clouds. Terrified bawling, screams of rage, maniacal laughter … bodies of Pokemon strewn about the forest floor and left to bleed to death. Anything but this peaceful façade.

Because it forced him to endure all the pain alone.

The steady streams of tears dripped into his gasping mouth. Sweat plastered his hair to his head and neck.

Another roar, octaves deeper and miles closer than the first, shattered the forest calm. His heart screamed silently, echoing the audible sounds of surprised birds as they rapidly took to the air. He envied them.

He heard the crashing of undergrowth. The heavy breathing of something in pursuit. The snap of some unlucky sapling. The thud-thud-thud of impending doom.

He was a dead man.

His nerves shrieked as a dark shape burst out—


—of the grass beside him. Startled, he yelled in terror and swiveled toward it, only to crash face-first on the rocky path. The resultant searing pain made him gasp, but he nevertheless forced himself to get on his hands and knees, looking warily about for the stranger.

“Ta!”

The purple rat squeaked in surprise, confused at this unexpected development. Deciding that this strange human might be more troublesome to scavenge from than was convenient, it executed a hasty about-face, scampering back off into the grass.

With a shuddering sigh, the miner crumpled with exhaustion there at the edge of the path, sinking mercifully into unconsciousness.

Far behind him, the watch glinted dully in the light of the sinking sun.

* * *

Frosti wasn’t sure what to think.

He’d thought he knew what evolution did by now. It put you through the worst pain imaginable, wringing screams out of all but the strongest Pokemon, and left you with a body that was difficult to control physically and mentally. It twisted bones, boiled blood, burned skin … and then there were the accidents, a million times worse: ribs slicing through a heart that expanded too fast; eyeballs speared with ingrown horns; limbs twisting the wrong way until they had basically tied themselves into knots. It was the thing to be truly feared, alongside the news of his Beast.

And yet Peach had not only endured it, but welcomed it.

She was riding on Lightning’s shoulder as usual, nose twitching at the many scents she had not noticed before. Her size had barely changed, but even on that usual perch, she already looked more mature and alive; her eyes seemed to sparkle with a brand new light. His mouth twisted into a frown. When was the last time he’d ridden on Leaf’s shoulder like that?

When was the last time he’d been happy like that?

Surely he’d been happy once. Now all he could think about was his impending fall at the claws of his Beast, which he imagined to be a formless liquid shadow which peered out from his eyes at the world he saw. He shuddered again.

How can I possibly hope to fix this?

Something crashed in the undergrowth nearby. Startled, he whirled towards the source, only to be knocked down by a feathery orange-and-yellow figure. He winced as he landed on his tail, feeling the small, jagged rocks of the trail pierce his scales slightly. Rubbing the injury, he glared after the feathery Pokemon, who hadn’t even noticed he was there, but continued to run on stick-thin gray legs.

“What …?” Leaf asked, blinking at the sudden appearance.

“It’s a Pokemon, Naaaarrrrrrrgh. What’d you expect, the Spanish Inquisition? Combusken, the Foul Young Pokemon. Gender is Female, even though it’s a cock. Height is Barnyard Freak ON STEROIDS, Weight is Bird That Doesn’t Eat Like A Bird. Combusken don’t live in Kanto, so this is probably a result of your brain on drugs. Then again, there was that idiot Swampert you caught in Pallet Town, thank Arceus you gave him back to the emo nerd. Or maybe this chick escaped from slaughterhouse five? That would sorta explain the knives she’s got. I dunno, I just work here.”

Indeed, the belt looped over Combusken’s shoulder was positively glowing with the light reflected off of sharp metal. The blades paled in comparison, however, to the long, lethal-looking claws on her arm-like wings, sharpened to deadly points. Those details seemed to be the only reason to avoid her, though: her small beak was opened in gasping breaths, and her orange eyes were wide with fear.

Something whistled ominously behind the group. More out of instinct than anything else, Cheri and the humans managed to duck only just in time: something shadowy, with a vague lizard-like shape, whooshed over their heads, soaring through the air with breakneck speed toward the Combusken. The chicken glanced over her shoulder, squawked, and tried to duck as well, but the shadow merely altered its course, diving down towards her.

Right before impact, the shadow abruptly solidified into its true form: a lanky green lizard with thin, spidery limbs. Three long, blade-like leaves sprouted from each wrist; twin leaves took the place of tails; a single leaf as long as his entire body fluttered behind him like a thin banner. He slammed into the chicken with surprising force; crying out in pain, she lashed out at him with her claws, but he blocked them easily with his wrist-leaves, which glowed a strange pale green color.

In sharp contrast to the astonished humans, Cheri only nodded in realization. <That’s him,> she muttered, mostly to herself. <The one who was following us earlier.> She folded her spindly arms as she watched the scene unfold before her.

“Yeah, but you do know you could’ve asked me to begin with. So your ‘shrewdness’ doesn’t really impress anyone, buggie. Grovyle, the KILL IT WITH FIRE Pokemon. Gender is Male. Height is Spider Freak, Weight is How Does It Manage Not To Get Blown Away All The Time? Once again, we see a thingie that doesn’t live in Kanto. You know what? We probably just got teleported to the Safari Zone without knowing it. Or even to Hoenn. Blame that bloody Abra. As for the thingie itself, Grovyle are weird little thingies that leap around from tree to tree all the time. Even if there are no trees around. Chalk that up to its ninja-type skills, I guess, because only a ninja could find a tree in the desert. Assuming it hasn’t been burned to a crisp by the stupid sun, obviously.”

Nobody was listening to it, of course: the ongoing clash between glowing wrist-leaves and slashing claws had captivated their attention.

Frosti still sat where he had landed, merely watching as the Combusken managed to get in a lucky swipe, slicing off one of the Grovyle’s wrist-leaves. The forest lizard’s reaction was immediate: with a furious hiss he had pushed himself hard off of the ground, slamming into the hapless chicken while surrounded by streaks of white light, before the leaf had hit the ground. The sheer force of his Aerial Ace resulted in a good-sized dent marking the spot where she had fallen; in spite of that, however, she managed to push herself up onto her feet again, raising her claws quickly to block another onslaught.

And Frosti sat and watched.

They are what you’ll never be.

That soft whisper of doubt sent a shiver down the fire lizard’s spine. He wasn’t sure why the sight of these two battlers affected him as much as it did, but the horrible feeling of weakness – the sense that he would never, ever be worth being a part of a team – slowly crept over him.

<Where is he hiding?> the Grovyle asked sharply, dodging a small fireball from his opponent’s beak.

She shook her feathery head, pausing for a moment to focus herself. <I’ve told you, Shuriken, it’s not up to me.>

<Not up to you? Are you kidding?> His face bore a mark of betrayed disbelief. <You have every right not to be his Pokemon. He uses you for murdering. Murdering, Kera! Spilling the blood of dozens of innocent civilians, and you willingly go along with that!>

<Don’t call me by that name!> Combusken readied her claws for another round. <I’m not worth being an individual. He tells me so: I am nameless!>

It was his turn to shake his head. <You deserve better than that life.>

You deserve better.

The words rang in Frosti’s head as he watched the fray resume without really seeing anything. Did he deserve better? Of course not. He was the outsider, the failure … And yet, perhaps he did. Leaf had picked him over Peach, placing her faith in him from the first.

A faith that he would make her proud of him.

You deserve better.

That faith was probably dead now. But perhaps he was also partly to blame. Perhaps he had … let her ignore him. The other starters were familiar with his comparatively passive stance, after all, and had frequently commented on it. They had commented on everything. They were younger than he was, saw the world with frank appraisal, and weren’t nearly as timid in making their opinions known as he would have been. What would they say now?

You deserve better.

Perhaps that he needed to prove himself. To somehow earn back Leaf’s faith in him. To be worth something.

His heartbeat slowly accelerated in anticipation of the unknown. Flares of dark blue burned behind his gaze. Muscles tensed. Claws flexed. Eyes narrowed.

You deserve … to be.

He was watching through his own eyes as if from a distance: leaping up from his downed position towards the two battlers – both turned slightly toward him, then cringed in horror – was his face really so terrible? Did they think it was everything that was part of him, every thought, word and deed he had ever done? Did they understand the horror and horrified lurking beneath the twisted mask?

No. They didn’t.

They thought they were better, but – his tail smashed into the Grovyle, the blue-white flames wrapped themselves around the Combusken – they were mistaken. They had no idea, no idea, of the mind behind that mask. He was more than a faulty machine: he was an individual.

Somebody yelled his name. He ignored it.

The Combusken slashed at him with a claw dripping with shadows. He stared at the gash on his chest. Blood spurted from it, and he blinked vaguely. Disconnected, he felt himself hurting.

His vision dissolved into haziness. He felt himself collapse in a pile as the pain – pain he was numbed to, and yet felt so clearly – drove him to the ground.

His mouth was open in a scream that everyone but he could hear.

I am brave. I am strong. I am worthy.

A dagger of pure pain stabbed the back of his head, and he felt his vocal chords vibrate in a silent howl.

I deserve better.

Something snapped, and it all went black.

* * *

Author’s Note: I hate writing happiness evolutions. D:

As you’ve all undoubtedly seen, angels, legends/gods, and glitches/demons are all capable of transforming. The extent of this ability is undoubtedly confusing some of you, so let me explain it, just for the record:

Angels* have exactly three possible forms. One is their legendary form, which has the same species as that of their legendary/angel parent. Another is their human form. The third is that of a mortal Pokemon, which can either have one of the types of their legendary forms, or be capable of evolving into a Pokemon with said type. (E.g., a Latios angel could potentially be born with the ability to transform into a Dratini (dragon), a Horsea (pre-dragon), an Abra (psychic), or an Eevee (pre-psychic) – not that it’s limited to just those. There are loads of other flying and dragon Pokemon out there.)

Legends* have similar abilities, with one major difference: they can turn into any of those Pokemon. Fystor, for example, can become any mortal Pokemon that is or will be a fighting or flying type. She can become anything from a Poliwag to a Togekiss. Yes really.

Glitches are a lot different from those two. Most are only capable of manually reshaping their bodies, Lego-style. There are only a few, like Missingno, that can undergo true transformation, although that power is rather limited. There are only a couple of odd shapes that they can take on.

*(Of course I didn’t forget this bit: the exceptions to these rules – legendary Mew, the angel Mew, and Apolydon – can all use the actual move Transform. They can become literally anything. Even a hairbrush. Lucky for us. We could all use an immortal hairbrush every now and then.)