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Thread: Blazing Frost

  1. #176
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    Sinnohan Swallow!” I think you got ya species muddled up thar

    This fic is seriously getting interesting now. I really like Fystor as a character and whole the whole quest thing has been introduced in. Also all the description on the emotions (Frosti specifically, aww he's so sweet :3) are really in depth which really gives a good insight onto how the Pokémon are feeling. Which i like because its fun reading about what the Pokémon are doing rather than the people XD

    And i guessed Zoroark before you said that at the end! I was so pleased with myself after that. Woop.

    And congrats on getting it done on time ^^ now you have an extra 2 days becasue March is even longer.

  2. #177
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    :O How did I not see that. *fixes*

    Glad you feel that way, even though the people and Pokemon are equally deep (in my opinion anyway =P). Although I did make quite an effort to characterize the Pokemon, especially the ones belonging to the main characters, so I'll take that as a point to my success there ^^;

    Anyway. Remember those "question of the week" things I used to do? Yeah, I know, they were retarded. But I've got another question for you, my reader(s): You know how each title has two parts? There's the main one that shows up in the table of contents, and then the "Japanese" one. They can be fun to think up, but they also look kinda tacked-on and can be potential spoiler material. I've been toying with the idea of getting rid of them, but I wanted to hear whether you guys liked them ...
    FF.Net profile | Blazing Frost | Project Valentine | River Styx | Hexachromalurgy | Fizzy Bubbles

    Latest PV pair: Green/Yellow - I guess you could call it accidental.

  3. #178
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkdragontamer View Post
    Anyway. Remember those "question of the week" things I used to do? Yeah, I know, they were retarded. But I've got another question for you, my reader(s): You know how each title has two parts? There's the main one that shows up in the table of contents, and then the "Japanese" one. They can be fun to think up, but they also look kinda tacked-on and can be potential spoiler material. I've been toying with the idea of getting rid of them, but I wanted to hear whether you guys liked them ...
    Shows how good my memory is, i don't remeber any 'question of the week's.

    But to answer that one, i like it. It's quite unique because most people just put a regular chapter title (like me, who has gone to the boringness of one-word titles). It could be a a good or bad thing that it gives the impression of being like an episode rather than a story. But your titles tend to be funny and not too obvious as to be spoilers so imo, keep them in ^^

  4. #179
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    Shows how good my memory is, i don't remeber any 'question of the week's.
    Then you are very lucky. They were a few questions posed to readers in my attempt to make this more ... shall we say, interactive. One of them was about which character you'd invite to dinner. Yes really. Because I'd been hanging around the Games section too much, that's why. I've gone back and erased them to avoid giving readers an aneurism.

    But to answer that one, i like it. It's quite unique because most people just put a regular chapter title (like me, who has gone to the boringness of one-word titles). It could be a good or bad thing that it gives the impression of being like an episode rather than a story. But your titles tend to be funny and not too obvious as to be spoilers so imo, keep them in ^^
    Very well. You like them, and the closet readers others have no objections, so they shall stay put. Meeting adjourned. Metaphorically.

    So, guess what. In a reverse of my usual expectations, this chapter was actually a great deal shorter than I thought it would be. Of course, the fact that it was originally going to have more than two scenes in it helps. But still ... only eight pages is like, return-to-noob-days length. For me, anyway. Then again, maybe it adds to the "power" of what happens in this one. Eh, who knows. Either way, it should make those of you who're more into the Poke-centric plotlines happy. (SD, that includes you. LOL.)

    Oh yeah, guess what almost ruined everything. TV MOTHERLOVING TROPES. Here's the laydown: browsing through the horror tropes for inspiration for a short horror fic I've been toying with (and admittedly for bits and pieces of this one, as will be demonstrated below) can be fun. Having a couple of nightmares as a result is less fun. Having an onslaught of said nightmares, made extremely realistic due to flu-induced delusions, is about as far from fun as you can get. Try writing when you're recovering from that, I dare you.

    In other ramblings news, thread views are OVER NINE THOUSAND~! Whoo, confetti, et cetera. Thanks closet readers, ILU too. <3

    *insert obligatory HGSS comment here*

    * * *

    Chapter Twenty-One: Crazy Train (Aim to Be the Best! Frosti's Anger!)

    “You wanted to see me, Officer?”

    “I’ll cut to the chase, Agent. Your original priority is on the loose again.”

    In the darkness, the young man’s eyes flashed in excitement. “Finally, back to some real excitement,” he joked, shifting slightly as if eager to take on the challenge. And in truth, he was. He had been informed on his arrival that his target had already been taken out by some League member and an upstart, and since then boredom had assaulted him in spite of his quest to find something to do – until now.

    “It’s no laughing matter,” Jenny said sternly. “Look at this. The prisoner utterly destroyed it.” She held up a slashed hunk of metal, almost in distaste. Seeing the other’s confusion, she explained, “It’s the security camera for that section of the cells. There were holes punched in the wall below it; we’re guessing he climbed up to it.” Reaching over with one drawn hand, she drew the blinds, allowing the light and urban scenery into the strictly angular office. “Holes rimmed with blood, so we can guess how he was cleaning his claws of the prison stench. Agent, this is serious. This man is a serial killer, as you of all people should know. A person of his description was reported heading in the direction of Route Five. Your mission is back on. Now do us proud; go and get your man.”

    “Okay, I’m on it.” Nodding deeply to the Officer, he had to swivel around so she wouldn’t see the excited grin on his face as he fished through his pockets for a pair of sunglasses. “Now – time to find out how our Rocket …” He put them on, obscuring his eyes in a cool manner. “… took off.”

    * * *

    <YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH—>

    Crunch.

    <Ugh.>

    The small audience winced in unison as it watched Perry Jack slide down the tree trunk with agonizing slowness, until he finally flopped to the ground, wings spreading limply to either side. His eyes fluttered almost girlishly, and a faint groan escaped his half-open beak.

    “Perry!” Lightning exclaimed, rushing to his fallen Spearow’s side. Carefully he knelt at his side, patting his feathery head. “Sorry, Perry, sorry … I wasn’t thinking that there’d be trees in the way … we should’ve started with simpler flight patterns …”

    <Eh…> Perry Jack blinked vaguely. <S’all right, son … swig o’ rum ‘n’ I’ll be right ‘s rain …>

    Leaf, watching from her position on a log some distance away, sighed as she watched the blonde comfort his Pokemon, while Peach comforted him from her usual position on his shoulder, patting his head in an attempt to alleviate his distress. If things had turned out differently, she thought despondently, remembering yet again the tortured, betrayed look in Paris’s eyes, that could’ve been me.

    Shaking her head, she turned her attention back to her own Pokemon, situated in another nearby clearing as they practiced their new training method that Cheri had suggested. It wasn’t one that Leaf particularly approved of, especially considering her new moral outlook, but neither Frosti nor Parvarti had objected to it – Parvati had practically bounced with excitement upon hearing the bee’s proposal – so she reluctantly allowed them to go through with it, on the condition that she could halt their training immediately if things became too violent. She remembered a strange, incredulous look pass over the bee’s face, as if in disbelief as to Leaf’s authority over such things, before the Pokemon had finally accepted the terms.

    Currently, Parvati was scampering up into the emerald leaves of a convenient tree, narrowly avoiding Cheri’s thrusting spear; not missing a beat, the Beedrill used the momentum to turn sharply on one foot, nicking Frosti’s tail with the outstretched weapon. With a yelp the lizard leapt back, rubbing his injured appendage as a trickle of blood began to drip from it. Taking advantage of his momentary pause, Cheri then half-closed her eyes, taking a deep breath to further sharpen her focus.

    Frosti frowned, then opened his mouth wide, spewing a barrage of small, dancing flames. The Beedrill’s eyes quickly snapped open, however, and with ease she buzzed away on her fragile-looking wings.

    <C’mon, that’s no fair!> he called after her, tilting his head upward as he watched her fly about above him.

    <No fair?> Cheri laughed. <But it is perfectly fair to use one’s natural abilities. In fact, it would be rather … ungrateful of me, I suppose … if I decided not to use them, don’t you agree?>

    Saying such, she spat another String Shot at him; in response he managed to smack it with his tail, causing the sticky projectile not only to miss its intended target of his feet, but also to stem the flow of blood droplets oozing from his wound. Blinking in surprise, he glanced at it, then grinned up triumphantly at Cheri, only to get an eyeful of another sticky string.

    <I was not expecting that,> she remarked, flexing her arms while he sputtered indignantly below. <But you were lucky. In battle, one must make one’s own luck—>

    <Sha-ZAM!>

    In an explosion of leaves from the green canopy, Parvati leapt from her branch and past Cheri’s still hovering form, very loudly smacking her small paws together right in front of the bug’s face. She then soared through the air for a moment before landing on the ground with feline ease, and swiveled around to see the results of her surprise ambush … but the grin slid off her face when she realized that, somehow, nothing had happened.

    <It does not work if your foe was already expecting it,> Cheri explained, tilting her head in amusement. <Good try, though.>

    With a sudden drone of her wings she put on a burst of speed, raising her spears as she dived sharply downward toward the wide-eyed cat. Parvati immediately scampered out of the Beedrill’s path; looking over her shoulder at her pursuer, she failed to notice where she was going until she tripped right over an outstretched, flaming tail.

    THUMP!

    Sputtering on a mouthful of dirt, the Meowth jumped to her feet again, eyes narrowing as the Beedrill swooped down upon her. Muttering to herself, the cat hastily shuffled her paws over each other in a hasty, impromptu dance, just as Cheri was looming above her, spears prepared to strike … Abruptly Parvati halted, opened her mouth wide, and unleashed a hacking wheeze and a massive cloud of putrid, ashy smoke to go with it, obscuring Cheri’s vision. The bug’s twin stabs into the smoke proved futile, and her eyes watered slightly as she coughed a couple of times.

    <That … that …> Frosti stammered, staring in astonishment as Parvarti darted out of the cloud, her fur smudged with dirty coal gray. <That’s my Smokescreen!>

    <Well, yeah.> The Meowth paused to lick a dirty paw, letting her pink tongue cleanse the tan fur. <It’s a special dance thingy. Mom told me that Dad could do it, too. It’s really cool, I think.>

    He nodded vaguely, glancing about in his brief time-out – fighting wouldn’t resume until Parvati had finished her bath or Cheri had found her way out of the smoke, if at all. A yawn forced its way out of his mouth; this training method took more out of him than he would’ve guessed.

    ”It’s called Assist, Naaaarrrrrrrgh. A sneaky move where the bugger using it uses a move that one of its teammates knows. It’s been bred onto her, same as your dearly beloved Lapras. She also knows Tail Whip and Charm. Personally, I think that means her daddy was really naughty.”

    Glancing around, Frosti noticed his trainer sitting nearby, scrolling through the unseen screen of her snarky Pokedex. To his own surprise, a small smile tweaked the corners of his mouth. Sitting there on that log, wearing a thoughtful expression as her eyes moved to and fro, she reminded him strongly of that day they’d first met, when she’d named him on Pallet Beach. Weren’t we friends then? he wondered, narrowing his eyes slightly in thought. We must’ve been … We were already talking about how far we were going to go in the League. Well, she was talking, at least … I was just glad she was there to back me up.

    Then Leaf glanced up, her eyes meeting Frosti’s briefly before returning to the Pokedex; her mouth creased downward in a slight frown. With a shiver he turned away, forcing himself to put the expression on her face out of his mind as he tried to focus instead on the sight of Cheri, who had finally found her way out of the smoky cloud and was now coughing loudly. But the memory had firmly set itself in his brain.

    She frowned at me.

    Cheri’s body heaved with another wheeze before she flexed her arms again, eyes narrowing in embarrassment as she looked from one teammate to the other. <I … I regret what I said about natural abilities,> she admitted, her voice hoarse with coughing. <You were absolutely right, Frosti. It really is not fair.>

    Parvati giggled cheekily, and even Frosti managed a weak grin.

    <Mm, it’s not him. Just some rookies.>

    The Charmander froze and turned his head sharply toward the source of the whisper, situated somewhere in the thick bushes surrounding the clearing. <Who said that?>

    <I did. I mean, whoops! Nobody said anything! Nobody. Ahahaha. Er …>

    Frowning, Frosti exchanged glances with Parvati, who looked puzzled, and Cheri, who returned his look with a knowing nod. Together the lizard and bee cautiously approached the place where the mysterious speaker seemed to be, with the uncertain cat padding close behind. Reaching the scraggly mess of green, Cheri stabbed in and pulled the bushes apart while Frosti hurled himself headlong toward the newly formed space, only to crash into an inconveniently placed tree.

    <What?> Parvati tilted her head to the side in confusion. <Where’d he go?>

    Dazed, Frosti shakily pulled himself back onto his feet, rubbing his head. <He couldn’t have gone anywhere,> he said, his voice slightly slurred. <We would’ve heard him, right?>

    <Of course.> Cheri tapped her chin thoughtfully with the tip of her stinger. Then her ruby eyes glinted in some sort of realization. <Unless …>

    She trailed off. Waiting to hear the rest of her unfinished sentence, the other two looked over at her, only to gasp in astonishment at the sight of nothing but thin air in the place where the bee had just been standing a second ago.

    <Cheri?> Parvati called nervously, glancing around. <Cheri?>

    The Charmander shook his head once more to clear it. It was becoming apparent that this incident was not due to any concussion he might have received.

    <Interesting.>

    The two swiveled around, squealing in shock; standing behind them was none other than Cheri herself, looking down at herself with interest and more than a little amusement. Then her eyes flashed, her wings twitched, and she half hurled herself, half flew into the forest with an almost invisible speed.

    Frosti glanced at Parvati.

    Parvati glanced at Frosti.

    Both of them glanced, rather uncertainly, in the direction that Cheri had gone.

    <… She couldn’t do that before, right?> Frosti asked finally, hoping he wasn’t going completely nuts.

    <I doubt it.> Parvati shrugged.

    <She won’t catch him,> a voice chuckled. <Sorry to burst your bubble.>

    Startled, they turned their gazes upward in time to see a taller, lanky shape drop out of the branches above them, landing on its long-toed feet with spider-like ease. The new Pokemon then straightened up out of her half-crouching position, giving them a full view of her physique. Her short, fuzzy fur was a golden yellow, broken only by the brown shirt-like formation coating her chest and shoulders. Above her pointed face, twin triangular ears were pricked to attention. With a short exhalation she blew a strangely long forelock of hair out of her face, before fixing the two smaller Pokemon with a pair of slanted green eyes.

    <Um, hi,> Parvati said, blinking uncertainly. <Were you watching us that whole time?>

    <Naturally.> The Pokemon swatted her hair out of her face again. <I even saw the green lizard before he took off. He didn’t mean any harm, but he’s faster than your Beedrill buddy. She’ll be lucky if she even gets a glimpse from him, much less an explanation.> Her gaze flicked to Frosti, and she snorted. <But at least she has a slim chance.>

    Frosti frowned, folding his arms. <And what’s that supposed to mean?>

    <I’ve been watching you guys, remember?> The stranger examined her fingernails idly. <You’re all just rookies, really. Didn’t start out until lately, I’m guessing? Yeah, that’s what I thought. She shows a little promise, that Beedrill does, but none of you are really any good. Especially you, Charmander.>

    His lips parted unconsciously, exposing the tips of his fangs, as he balled his hands into fists. Who does this person think she is? he thought angrily, glaring at her through narrowed eyes. It’s one thing for Leaf to consider me weak – we’ve been together since the beginning – but for her to pass judgment on me isn’t gonna fly.

    <Oh dear, I seem to have struck a nerve.> The Pokemon smirked at him, as if she could hear his heart’s rhythm increasing to the faster beat of a battle frenzy.

    “I thought that was MY job, my dear freak. Let’s see how my analysis grabs you. Abra, the Snore Pokemon. Gender is Female. Height is You Hit Puberty, Really? Weight is Nope, It’s Just Anorexic. This is one of those mystic Psychic freaks that you should, above anything else, feel free to point and laugh at. It’s so retarded it has to sleep for eighteen hours just to keep its mental powers at mediocre level! That’s seventy-five percent of the day wasted snoozing. The ironic thing about this is, it can’t even use those powers without some serious training! All it can do is randomly teleport because it’s a moron. That’s a failtastic feat if I ever saw one, believe you me.”

    <Your machine brings up a good point,> the Abra admitted as she gestured toward the Pokedex without looking at it, surprising everyone. <But it assumes that I’m like other Abra, and so is incorrect. What’s your issue, lizard?> she asked suddenly, snapping her green gaze towards him. <Oh, wait, don’t tell me. You’ve got no ambition. You’re perfectly content to be some human’s slave without any benefits in it for you. Idiocy at its finest.>

    A growl escaped his throat, to Parvati’s surprise; sensing a brawl, the Meowth quickly slunk away, darting for a safer position beside Leaf’s feet. She gazed up at the girl, who was watching the two remaining Pokemon intently, as if waiting for something.

    <They called you Frosti,> the Abra said, beginning to walk back and forth in front of him slowly, tauntingly, waving her thick tail to and fro. <Ha, fits you. Stupid name for a stupid brute. Oh, but you don’t know my name! Let me change that for you; the loser of a battle should always know the identity the one who defeated him. I am Abigail, the most unique among all Abra.> She snapped her fingers dramatically, sending a brief series of sparks glittering above her hand. <Most of my species are cowardly idiots, like you. But I … I am different.>

    Her voice sounded garbled and faint to him behind the roaring that pounded in his mind. The feelings he had tried so hard to restrain, the rage, the terror, the indignant need to prove himself, flooded through his being. Training had left him too tired to resist them any longer, yet the adrenaline pouring through his veins gave him the strength to act on those impulses. Only his ever-present patience remained to give his reason the upper hand in the internal struggle. And his patience was fast running out.

    <Abra are only content to meditate and teleport.> Abigail’s voice came out in a rush, as if she had been dying to say this for some time. <But that Zen stuff isn’t for me. Mind power is vastly overrated. Manipulate five dimensions at once? No. Give me a firm control over these three dimensions any day. Fighting types have that down, and so will I, even if I have to defeat every pathetic wea—>

    SLAM! went the brightly glowing tail, cutting off the rest of words. Surprised at Frosti’s sudden assault, Abigail wheezed as the tail knocked the breath out of her, slamming her into the ground with an audible, wince-inducing thud.

    <What right do you have to call me pathetic?> Frosti snarled, looming over her with revenge sparkling like stars in his black eyes.

    Grunting, Abigail thrust her hand sharply upward, curling her stubby fingers into a fist that shimmered with some strange power, distorting the air around it. As it collided with Frosti’s gut, the energy around her fist suddenly flared a lively yellow color, and the Charmander hissed in surprise as he felt strength suddenly and inexplicably drain from him. Yet even as he doubled over and his vision wavered, he realized dimly that his defeat would only strengthen his fear and Abigail’s claim: that he was useless, worthless, powerless. Inhaling sharply, he let a surge of determination sharpen his focus, letting it channel his rage into strength and his fury into willpower. I won’t prove her right! he promised himself with a feral growl. Never!

    Scrambling to her long-toed feet, Abigail paused, brushing her forelock out of her eyes irritably before returning her attention to Frosti, preparing another punch – and then he looked up at her, very slowly, and she gaped in astonishment at the change that had come over him. His tail flame, once relatively small and shimmering with orange and gold, now hissed with a new combination of blue and white so brilliantly bright that it burned the eyes, swelling to almost double its original size with a violent hissing and crackling. And his eyes, too, had turned from a soft black to an almost violent shade of dark blue, which seemed to flicker as if there were a fire shining behind them.

    Then those eyes caught sight of her, and a horrible shadow crossed his face: a demonic grin lit up his eyes even further, and they narrowed to deathly thin slits … his mouth widened with horrific slowness, revealing elongating teeth resembling snake fangs, dripping with saliva that sparkled like poison. Behind those teeth his pink tongue lolled about, thrashing like some deformed, hairless creature in a cage, attempting to break free from imprisonment.

    Abigail recoiled in horror, tripping over her own feet as this nightmare approached. Her mind worked furiously, trying to come up with some option, but it was no use, not with that thing standing right there and grinning as if he knew there was nowhere she could run …

    And then, suddenly, it was over: his fangs shrank; his tongue settled; his eyes returned to their original size, though they still flickered with that unnatural blue. He simply glared at her. She couldn’t move even then, not with the memory of that horrific face still haunting her mind. All she could do was keep her eyes on him and hope against hope that his gums wouldn’t curl back again, like a curtain concealing the final act of some twisted performance.

    His mouth opened.

    <I’m not weak.>

    A barrage of blue-white flames poured from his jaws, wrapping themselves around Abigail’s limbs almost lovingly, caressing fingers that would devour all they touched. A scream tore itself from her throat as her fuzz caught fire, and she at last broke free from her terror-induced paralysis, throwing herself to the ground and rolling about madly in an attempt to suffocate the destructive flames. Frosti only ceased his assault to watch his foe flail about in agony, and a dark smile crept across his face as he laughed triumphantly.

    <Sorry, he was too fast, I couldn’t catch – Frosti, what are you doing?>

    He glanced around lazily to see an exhausted Cheri stumbling out of the forest, ruby eyes wide at the sight of the thrashing Abra. Something stirred in Frosti’s mind as the Beedrill hurried towards him, staring at him with a strange look. <What does it look like I’m doing?> he laughed, as Abigail’s shriek increased another couple of decibels. <She was mocking me. So I taught her a lesson.> She shouldn’t be looking at me that way. I’m strong!

    “Frosti, cut it out!” Leaf’s call seemed to be coming from a distance. “Stop hurting the poor thing, leave her alone!”

    <Enough is enough!> Cheri snapped, pointing a spear at him. <Murdering a foe when he or she is beneath you is dishonorable, Frosti! Stem the flow, let it go!>

    He blinked and, quite suddenly, it was all over. At the tip of his tail, the flames abruptly died down, flickering in their usual sunny colors. His eyes, black once more, stared at her in confusion. With a soft hiss, the fire surrounding Abigail dissipated into thin air, and she collapsed in the dirt, gasping for breath as tears stung her burnt face. He glanced at her, then at Cheri, then at Leaf, who stared back at him, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

    <What …?> he asked, then trailed off. Why was he so out of breath? Why was that Abra lying at his feet?

    “See, I told you he’d use those moves soon, Naaaarrrrrrrgh. Though I’m really surprised at how well he did them, considering him. I didn’t think Dragon Rage could turn into a Vortex of Hellish Doom like that. Just goes to show that even Pokedexes learn things, in spite of the fact that I know more than all of you combined, so ha.”

    The Charmander turned his gaze around in a circle, staring at the patterns of shimmering heat waves dancing in the air around the Abra and himself. His nostrils twitched at the scents they carried. Blood. Fire. Smoke. Fear. Hatred.

    Blood.

    Completing the circle, his gaze returned to Cheri, who had not moved since he had looked away. He wondered at her motionless stance. <Why’re you standing like that?> he asked, then trailed away as a strange thought occurred to him. The Abra was at his feet. The stench of charred flesh belonged to her. His eyes widened as he put two and two together.

    It was Cheri who coldly voiced his fear. <You almost killed her.>

    <But … but I …> He stared at his paws in horror, as if they might reach up to strangle him. <But I didn’t! I couldn’t have, I was … I didn’t!> His head snapped around in everyone’s direction; a pleading look shone in his eyes, begging them to tell him he was right, that this was somehow just an accident.

    Evidently, it wasn’t.

    <Frosti.> Cheri’s watchful eyes narrowed at him. <What. Have. You. Done?>

    <I’m sorry!> he moaned, his eyes welling up with tears as the realization of his guilt stung him fully. <I’m so, so sorry, I didn’t … I didn’t want …> A lump threatened to obstruct his throat, and he swallowed it painfully. <I didn’t … I …>

    <It is far more serious than you realize,> Cheri hissed, and Frosti suddenly realized what the strange look in her eyes was, the look that he’d never, ever seen there before.

    Pure fear.

    <Cheri?> he whimpered.

    For a long, tense moment, she didn’t answer him. Instead she continued to stare back at him, perhaps searching for whatever had sent him careening into his attack. Please, please, just tell me what it is, he pleaded silently, hoping she could hear his heartfelt request. I can’t feel like this anymore. I need to know what’s wrong with me. Tell me.

    When she finally spoke, however, he instantly wished she hadn’t.

    <For a moment … your Beast stirred.>

    * * *
    FF.Net profile | Blazing Frost | Project Valentine | River Styx | Hexachromalurgy | Fizzy Bubbles

    Latest PV pair: Green/Yellow - I guess you could call it accidental.

  5. #180
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkdragontamer View Post
    Either way, it should make those of you who're more into the Poke-centric plotlines happy. (SD, that includes you. LOL.)
    Woo! XD

    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.

    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.

    I loved the opening with Perry. Classic sliding down tree very slowly is pure genius.

    All the training stuff was refreshing too, again its good to see how they're all getting on. Especially Frosti Cliffhangers should be illegal.

  6. #181
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    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.)
    FF.Net profile | Blazing Frost | Project Valentine | River Styx | Hexachromalurgy | Fizzy Bubbles

    Latest PV pair: Green/Yellow - I guess you could call it accidental.

  7. #182
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    *comes out of random closet, which burns down behind her*

    Hello, DDT! I'm just another closet reader showing her face for a while.

    First things first, I've read your entries in Ysavrryl's(sp?) Pokédex One-Shots thread, and they were amazing! So, when I noticed that you were writing a fanfic, I immediately mosied my butt over here and started reading.

    This is an interesting twist to the normal OT fics I'm seeing around here. You don't know how many times I've fallen out of my seat laughing. You have a great sense of humor.

    The characters are awesome, though I REALLY want to set my Typhlosion on Leaf for letting Paris go. That Lapras was Freaking Adorable! Also, I'm confused as to where Fire and Ocean are. All I've seen are Leaf, Lightning, and Roark (who I seriously hope he's gonna be okay! DON'T DIE, ROARK!!!!)

    (Ehhehe... I liek Roark, too.)

    The League chats are hilarious, too. Although I seriously want to know what the hell is up Volkner's butt. He was really mean to Riley!

    I'm really curious about the rift between Byron and Roark. Could Byron be one of the Rockets?

    Finally, who the hell is Cobalt?! Is he one of the gym leaders?

    Okay, I'm done for now, but I WILL be back! 10/10!

    Keep it up!

    I have claimed Alucard (Hellsing), Sebastian (Kuroshitsuji), and Laguna Loire (Final Fantasy VIII).
    Hellsing, Street Fighter, The Elder Scrolls, Dangan Ronpa, Bleach, Homestuck, Black Butler, and Puella Magi Madoka Magica fan.
    Sig made by Izagar.
    3DS FC: 3738 0398 8876 Mikan
    Friend Safari: Ground (Wooper, Camerupt, and Palpitoad)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister_SGG View Post
    Actually I'm back b/c I plugged in my amp and playing one note when my grandpa came in and told me to stfu

    So now I'm just sitting here stroking my guitar while naked

  8. #183
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    =D Have I mentioned I love love love hearing closet readers comment?

    I'm very glad to hear you're enjoying this! And wow, somebody still remembers those old one-shots? You are far, far too kind. But then again, after reading stories as depressing as those ... I guess everyone would want some good, healthy lulz. I'm going off track, aren't I?

    The characters are awesome, though I REALLY want to set my Typhlosion on Leaf for letting Paris go.
    Which means I executed that part right, apparently. =D

    That Lapras was Freaking Adorable!
    QFT.

    Also, I'm confused as to where Fire and Ocean are.
    Funny you should mention them: I'm planning on putting them in the next chapter. (In a scene that was originally going to be in chapter 20, so yeah.) I haven't forgotten about them, and I DEFINITELY haven't forgotten about Cobalt. It's just that there's so much plot going on that I don't want to confuse people by shoving it all in their faces at once.

    All I've seen are Leaf, Lightning, and Roark (who I seriously hope he's gonna be okay! DON'T DIE, ROARK!!!!)

    (Ehhehe... I liek Roark, too.)
    That was somewhat intentional, as they illustrate three different types of hero: the designated, rather nonheroic "heroine"; the naive, coming-of age hero; and the angsty, somewhat disillusioned hero. And seeing them side by side can be quite interesting, no?

    LOL, Roark's perfectly fine. I can't kill my own bishie, especially not now! He's just physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. All that exhaustion's taken his toll by now, so he fainted. (Hopefully that clears up the silent snarkers' questions as to why he kept bursting into tears in his earlier chapters.)

    The League chats are hilarious, too. Although I seriously want to know what the hell is up Volkner's butt. He was really mean to Riley!
    I love writing those so much. After all that conscientious cross-referencing to earlier events in the main story, it's so much fun just letting go and watching the characters act for themselves. ^_^

    To be honest, Volkner has no personal issues with Riley at all. He was just being a prick as far as sticking to the rules was concerned. On the other hand, he has a MAJOR issue with the Cobalts' ruling-class status, as demonstrated in chapter 17. And he has a nasty vendetta against one four-eyed Cobalt in particular ...

    I'm really curious about the rift between Byron and Roark. Could Byron be one of the Rockets?
    Ooh, nice question. While I'm rather edgy about answering questions about the "incident" ahead of its intended reveal, there is absolutely no harm in answering this one, so I can confirm here and now that Byron is not, never was, and never will be a Rocket. In fact, in this fic he's barely been to Kanto at all!

    Though I do find the idea that Roark would sob uncontrollably after learning such a thing to be utterly hilarious.

    *masked man in Rocket suit corners Roark, wielding a machine gun*
    Roark: OMG! You killed my father!
    Man: *shakes head* No, Roark. I am *takes off mask dramatically* your father.
    Roark: D,: NOOOOOOOOOOO!

    ... XD

    Finally, who the hell is Cobalt?! Is he one of the gym leaders?
    Not telling. :P The only ones you can rule out for sure are the other characters who were in that scene, and Severus. Any other male in the story is fair game ... including the ones who haven't even appeared yet!

    Anyway, there's more to come at some point of the future (not saying soon, I don't want to jinx it), so thank you again and be sure to stay tuned! ;D
    Last edited by SugarPesticide; 23rd May 2010 at 11:06 AM.
    FF.Net profile | Blazing Frost | Project Valentine | River Styx | Hexachromalurgy | Fizzy Bubbles

    Latest PV pair: Green/Yellow - I guess you could call it accidental.

  9. #184
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    Double post lol.

    So, here's the deal: there's not going to be a new chapter this month. Good news is, that's because I finished redoing chapters one through five. If you hated the original versions, go reread them. Personally, they're still not my favorite chapters, but they're a helluva lot better than they were originally. And now there are dex entries for Rattata, Machop, and Electabuzz to sweeten the deal even more. (Entry for Tyranitar but no entry for Rattata? lolwut?)

    And another note: Skipper is no longer known as Orca during his time with Leaf. Reason? I thought it might confuse people. :P
    FF.Net profile | Blazing Frost | Project Valentine | River Styx | Hexachromalurgy | Fizzy Bubbles

    Latest PV pair: Green/Yellow - I guess you could call it accidental.

  10. #185
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    OMGWTFBBQ WHY DID I PUT THIS OFF FOR SO LONG FFFFFFFFUUUUUUU ...
    ...
    ...
    ...
    .

    This fic isn't dead! Hooray!

    I am very, very sorry about the *checks calendar* eight-month-long wait since the last chapter o_0 It's been a very busy year for me. And by busy I mean TV Tropes and FanFiction.Net and shipping and graduating and college. But mostly the first three. Because, you know, seeing how much most of the FF.Net fics need work and laughing my *** off about it is more important than the fic I started three years ago (!) or even writing much new material at all. (Besides Project freaking Valentine, but that's a horse of a very, very different color.)

    tl;dr: Sorry.

    In other news, Deerling is a terrible name.

    By the way, I lied before:

    Also, I'm confused as to where Fire and Ocean are.
    Funny you should mention them: I'm planning on putting them in the next chapter.
    Just a heads-up. Sorry to disappoint fans who really wanted to see them, or anti-fans who really wanted to see them so they could punch them.

    Here is a warning in advance, dear readers: this is not a particularly happy chapter. You have been warned, oh natives of sugar-pixie-land. /redundantwarning

    * * *

    Chapter Twenty-Three: Awake (Remembrance of the Heart and Mind!)

    All was darkness.















    Whispers … whispers in the gloom.

    They hate me they hate me they all hate me I will kill them they hate me they hate me

    Wondering how to live again. Wondering why bother. Useless, forgotten.

    They hate me I will destroy them their flesh will feed my fire because they hate me

    Whispers … familiar resonance, tone carrying through memory. Hateful hissing. Own voice, other throat.

    No one will miss them they hate me I hate them the world hates them the angels hate them no one will mind if they are slaughtered

    So easy to lay dormant … turn away from everything … sleep.

    So easy.

    So close so close so close so close everything is mine life and blood and muscle all mine everything is mine is mine is mine

    Flash of sound, shines like sunlight, coming and going:

    “Frosti … Frosti, please, p-please wake up …”

    Darkness again, silent confusion. Whispers again.

    Liar liar liar burn in hell liar liar burn in hell liars will burn suffer at Master’s feet you will suffer liar

    Dawning realization in midst of whispers. Thinking, thinking.

    … She’d miss me.

    No they hate me they hate me burn in hell

    Flashes of memory, brief and light, laughter, tears, sorrow, joy, life.

    Love.

    It all … it all means something.

    THEY DO NOT DESERVE THEIR BLOOD

    Surge of willpower, sudden and glorious. No. Blood is life!

    Silence. Sensation of, taste of something … pleasant. Freedom?

    Rumbling snarl out of the darkness. Flare of defiance. Snarl quiets, suddenly cut off.

    You will not bother me again. Bravery, noncompliance. Self stirs, gathering resolve. They don’t deserve you, and you don’t deserve them. You’ve tormented me long enough.

    Moment of calm, before sudden, piercing, discordant shriek is unleashed.

    I don’t know if I’m strong enough for out there, but … Voice carries over the other noise, refusing to be drowned out. Knowledge of worth is strength, bolstering his soul. But I’m strong enough in here. And for me, that’s all that matters … that I don’t lose myself to you and your nothingness.

    You will not overpower me, Beast.

    And suddenly he moves up, or forward, or outside, or more directions than he cares to count, and the primal yowl follows him in vain as he leaves its foul source behind once and for all and moves into a blackness far less dark than what he has left.

    And everything is right for the moment as he begins to remember himself again.

    * * *

    Frosti knew what the room was like before opening his eyes. There was the soothing touch of warm sunlight on his body, illuminating his eyelids like fire. He shifted slightly at the slightly scratchy blanket irritating his back, and a pillow that felt strange beneath his head. A faint drip, drip, drip of water against porcelain gave rhythm to the silence. His nostrils flared at the tantalizing scent of something fruity, masking the musky odor of fur and the bitter smell of an unfamiliar herb. He’d never really appreciated the sense of smell before. It was nice, he decided. Really nice.

    Very slowly, he eased his heavy eyelids open.

    Cheri stood above him, gazing down. Vaguely surprised, he wondered for a moment why he couldn’t catch a scent from her. He watched, as if from a distance, as she lifted her stingers, then brought them down swiftly towards him, feeling no shock or terror, knowing that whatever he’d done, he’d deserved it and would take the blame accordingly. If redemption meant his last heartbeat, he would take it without a fight.

    He had defeated the monster, he knew, quietly watching those spears descend. And that was enough.

    Cheri’s wiry arms swooped over his body, hooked around his head, and swiftly pulled herself towards him in a crushing hug.

    The room lurched upwards, making him suddenly aware of how lightheaded he felt – but compared to the sudden glowing sensation in his chest, it was nothing at all. He opened his mouth, trying to voice his surprise, but to no avail; he could only stare wide-eyed at the ceiling, forgetting to breathe for several moments as the insect’s arms constricted tightly around his chest, as if she had vowed to never let go.

    It was only when he painstakingly reached up to return her embrace that he realized they were both trembling.

    Closing his eyes to alleviate the stinging, he held onto his friend as if she were the only other Pokemon left in the world.

    <If you only ever remember one thing, Frosti,> Cheri stated, with just a hint of unsteadiness in her voice, <let it be the fact that I am proud of you.>

    It was then that Frost realized he couldn’t hold back the sobs of relief anymore.

    * * *

    “It was the Twins,” Fystor said flatly, voice sounding mechanical through the Pokedex’s speakers. “Only they could’ve pulled something like this in the nick of time.”

    Leaf stared at the machine’s blank screen, a square of black in the growing darkness. The old couch beneath her groaned quietly in protest as she shifted slightly, trying not to dislodge a sleeping Lightning’s head from her shoulder. Peach, curled up in her trainer’s lap, twitched a long ear, but otherwise the two of them remained fast asleep. “But how would that work?” the girl asked softly, rubbing her foot to prevent it from falling asleep.

    “You said you were talking to him while he was thrashing around like a Scyther seeing red, right? Nothing happens, nothing happens, nothing happens, he obviously can’t hear you. Say something super tender that could only come from your heart, and BAM! He stops moving, just like that. Since he couldn’t hear you before, something must have changed for that brief space of time in order for him to calm down and overcome the Beast. Hence the Twins.”

    “Okay, all right,” the girl agreed, stifling a yawn. “You didn’t have to make it all expository.”

    “Whatever. Cheri still keeping an eye on him?”

    “You’d better believe it. I don’t think she’s slept at all since he almost snapped the other day.” Her eyes roved upwards to the door across the room, still shut tight. “If she’s still up by tomorrow morning, I’m going to shove her back in her Ball and stand watch myself. How the hell can she even manage it, anyway?”

    “Because friends care about each other, no matter how fricking cliché that sounds.”

    <It
    is cliché. Who are you talking to anyway?>

    “Allies. Now get back on patrol, Rinka.”

    <But Wes and Rui are our allies. Or … not? Fystor, can you stop doing that thing where you hit your face? It makes me feel weirdly uncomfortable.>

    “I can do ‘that thing where I hit my face’ if I want,”
    Fystor retorted, causing Leaf to sweatdrop. “Just let me wrap this up. Now look, Leaf, I know you’re nervous about Frosti, unless you’ve been lying to me for whatever reason and turning into an even bigger ******* in the meantime. But the fact is he’s just recovering, not going crazy or dropping into a coma or whatever. He heard you in his subconscious, and he’ll probably remember what you said. He’s got a fairly good memory, really. Unlike some buggers …”

    “What the hell?” Leaf blurted, flushing for an audience of zero. “I said I was sorry, okay?”

    “Doesn’t change the fact that asking Bill about where the Shadows are didn’t even cross your mind. You’re lucky I’m smarter than you. You remember where I told you he told me the Rockets told each other about where they’d be?”

    “… I wrote them down,” she said, slightly dizzy after the unexpected, convoluted rhyming.

    “Good. Now look, I’m going to have to go soon, Rinka’s starting to get overly nervous and Rui wants to use the Snag Machine’s batteries, for whatever ungodly reason. So please, for the love of everything that’s holy, try and stay out of trouble for more than a day for once. Kanto’s a freaking wacky region, but Orre’s the one with guerilla squads all over the place, so I need to stick around over here to keep bombs from evaporating these buggers. Plus I need to train Rinka, the poor thing has no clue how to be an angel.”

    <I do too, it’s not like it’s hard or anything. Really, if you want to know how to be an angel, just be born an angel, ta-da, problem solved.>

    “Thank you for the literal-mindedness. Eh, see you later, Leaf. Try not to die.”


    There was a click, and the Pokedex was silent. For once.

    Leaf set it down, letting her anxious thoughts gradually settle. He’ll be okay, she assured herself. He’ll be okay, damn it, he has to be okay, Fystor said so. She slumped back a little, willing herself to relax. And I’ll have to pay attention to him more. Or else … She shuddered at the memory of Frosti’s nightmarishly contorted face, fangs dripping with spittle and flame. Or else it might get even worse.

    The sight of Frosti the previous day, bright eyes twinkling with sadness during training, flitted across her mind. She shivered and hugged herself against a brief, inexplicable chill, wishing that Frosti were awake so she could scoop him up and hold him tight, regardless of what had happened.

    If he can forgive me, she reminded herself, an ache of sadness burning in her chest.

    With a small sigh, she closed her eyes and sank into a world of uneasy dreaming.

    * * *

    <The Day Care?> Frosti repeated, wrinkling his brow in a slight frown.

    Cheri nodded, her antennae bobbing slightly. <We were rather lucky, I believe … I doubt we could have reached Cerulean or Saffron City in time. But the humans who run this place were kind enough to take us in. They seem to have an aptitude for healing as well as breeding, though of course not as extensively as Nurse Joy … still, they have done quite a job in restoring your health.>

    <And how,> an unexpected voice agreed, making Frosti stiffen in surprise. <You’re pretty lucky I’m a Pokemon, Frosti, or otherwise I’d sue you. But I can still punch your ugly face.>

    Swiveling his head towards the speaker, his eyes widened slightly at the sight of none other than Abigail. The Abra was leaning back in a decrepit-looking chair, covered in multiple bandages from head to toe. She peered at him past her upturned nose, giving him the uncomfortable sensation of being looked down on.

    The briefest stirrings of anger sparked in Frosti’s stomach. Then he remembered staring down at her charred body, and a sense of uneasy guilt took its place.

    <I’ll never forgive you,> she was saying, her green eyes narrowing malevolently. <Such an uncontrollable thing. Stupid Grovyle was lucky, only some broken ribs—>

    <I’m sorry.>

    She blinked twice, mouth still open in surprise. <Uh … what was that again?>

    <I’m sorry,> Frosti repeated, a little in awe at himself. <I really mean it. I mean, it’s not like you weren’t being a complete jerk, but … but I really shouldn’t have gone so far.> He glanced instinctively at Cheri, who was still looking inordinately proud of him. <I was having a hard time, but you probably won’t think that’s a good excuse so … I’m sorry.>

    Silence. She stared at him, eyebrow raised as if examining him for the first time. He stared right back, well aware that she probably wouldn’t think much of it – but it wasn’t as if he could’ve ignored it.

    <Well,> Abigail said at length, still looking rather taken aback, <that’s, uh, very gracious of you. I’m surprised, lizard; that’s more in depth than I would’ve expected of you … but it still hurt like hell, so I’m only going to forgive you because of that Beast problem. And not very much at that.>

    <Okay—> He blinked, repeating her words in her head. <Wait … how do you know about Beasts?>

    She rolled her eyes. <All psychics can sense Beasts a little. Internal darkness thing, duh. And yours was half awake, so obviously I was going to notice it going all pseudo-crazy in your psyche or whatever. That was pretty freaking scary, actually. Which is why I really got scared in the first place, you dumb muscle, not because of your mouth twisting around or your face turning into a demon or anything like that! Seriously! … Fighters don’t have to deal with that, though, lucky bastards …> Trailing off, she glared down at her clenched fists, then relaxed her stare and idly examined her fingernails. <So that’s that. I guess this is the part where I say congratulations, lizard.>

    Frosti tilted his head slightly in confusion. <Congratulations for what? Locking my Beast up?>

    <Well, that too, I suppose … not exactly easy to do, or so I heard. But I meant your other change.>

    <… Other … change?>

    She raised an eyebrow, and though she didn’t look up at him, her eyes twinkled with sudden amusement. <You haven’t noticed yet? Ha, I should’ve figured you wouldn’t. All hugging your Beedrill friend and whatever … dramatic stupidity, I guess that’s why. Probably got a bump on your head.> She snickered to herself, as if she had just something clever and funny.

    Scowling slightly, he turned to Cheri for support, and was surprised to see her eyes filled with sudden worry. <What?> he asked, quickly growing nervous. Bringing a paw up towards his head instinctively, he watched his friend’s eyes grow a little wide. <I didn’t really fall on my head, did I? If I had, wouldn’t I be—?>

    His claws brushed the back of his head, and he froze in shock.

    Very lightly, he pinched the horn growing there, as if uncertain if he were dreaming.

    He stared down at his body for the first time, realizing that his once-orange scales were now a deep, vibrant crimson.

    Dear Arceus …

    * * *

    <You fainted, didn’t you.>

    Roark didn’t reply, opting instead to keep his tired gaze fixed on the huge, craggy shape looming up ahead, inching just a little closer with every step he took. Rock Tunnel – Kanto’s most extensive tunnel network, stretching further underground than most spelunkers would care to explore. It was safety, tantalizingly out of reach.

    Evening was drawing to a close; the setting sun cast long, thin shadows ahead of them, stretching for several yards over the tough earth. The plants were greener here, and more abundant: the grass grew somewhat thicker and taller, the trees spaced apart slightly closer. Most likely there was an underground spring near the Tunnel, preventing the area from shriveling into a dry wasteland.

    <You know how I know? You’ve got dust all down your front, which is pretty fricking hilarious by the way. Plus your arm’s all bruised, so you either fell on it or you punched out an eldritch abomination. Which would make a damn good story. Hm. “You will not devour my sanity!” the redheaded Yoda exclaimed heroically, and without further ado smashed his fist into the tentacle-y face of Arrrggmaneater. And it died, and the world was saved, except for the hero because his arm fell off. So he died. The end. Damn, how long have we been walking?>

    Still he didn’t answer, focusing his energy on keeping up his tired walk, shakily inhaling and exhaling warm, dusty air. They needed to keep moving. They couldn’t slow down or stop no matter how long the blistering day had felt, not when they were so close to a safe haven, where they could get their backs to a wall and pretend the things lurking in shadows were the only monsters.

    Overhead, a lone Murkrow flitted across the sky, its harsh caw creating a harsh sound of something breaking, bending, twisting—

    Something hard as iron knocked against his back, sending him falling forwards and skidding across the ground, hitting the scratchy undergrowth, the jutting branches cutting into his skin, drawing blood that ran as freely as the sweat—

    Low, monstrous breathing rasped above him, washing him in hot air as he curled up, shuddering uncontrollably, well aware that he would die, right here, right now, and his body shook with hitching breaths as if it knew instinctively it would never move again after this—

    <Get up.>

    He remained there on the ground, waiting for it to be over and done with and dreading the moment the blow came and wishing none of this had ever happened, that this was all a horrific nightmare—

    <You have to get up.>

    He barely heard the deep, gruff words. Choking sobs rattled in his throat.

    There was an impatient, gusty sigh. <Take this,> the voice stated, and something dropped onto the grass with a light thump. <You’ll need it wherever you’re going. Don't worry, there’s not a tracking device in it or anything. Look … you have to go. We’re not … I’m not sure how this is going to play out. But you need to get as far from here as you can. I’ll tell him I lost you. Don’t tell me where you’re going, just go.>

    The words echoed vaguely in his wildly terrified mind. They would remain meaningless for a good while.

    Something metallic nudged him gently. <Good luck,> the voice rumbled, sounding rueful. <Wish I could keep in touch.>

    And its owner turned and resumed its crashing through the forest, chasing imaginary prey.

    A full hour passed, quiet horror still numbing him to the uncomfortable position, that he squinted through lashes clumped with blood and sweat and tears, staring at the small dark pack Bastiodon had left behind—


    —at his feet. He blinked at it in confusion for a moment, before glancing up at Anni, who was smirking at him.

    “You’re a riot,” he remarked dryly, leaning down and grabbing the pack again. “Calm down, we’re almost there.”

    <You said that six hours ago,> she muttered darkly.

    “I could’ve recalled you if you asked, you know.”

    The Cranidos snorted, folding her arms at him. <What, and let you bash your head against a rock or something? Yes, I know there’s a helmet there, I’m not fricking blind.>

    He only gave a tired sigh in response, and with that they resumed their trek towards safety, silently pondering their hidden thoughts once again.

    * * *

    “Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid …”

    The evening sun had long since fallen, throwing the streets of Cerulean into shadow, when a lean woman, half staggering from exhaustion, paused on the sidewalk to peer at a shabby-looking building. Her eyes narrowed in thought, and she stared at it for a good minute or so before finally shrugging and approaching it. She brought her fist down sharply against the peeling door, once, twice, three times, before slumping against the doorframe, mumbling curses.

    There was a muffled, arrhythmic thumping from within, and after several moments the door slowly squeaked open. On the threshold, still holding the doorknob, stood a slouching human body that might have been alive and well once, if the unnatural level of paleness and bagginess of its skin was anything to go by.

    “About time,” it grumbled.

    The woman seemed to relax. “Finally.”

    “Couldn’t even find them?” the body asked, tilting its head a little to the side in an animalistic manner.

    “Nice to see you too, Drone.” Golden eyes ran up and down the length of the figure. “Got yourself a new victim already, then?”

    “The last one had leukemia.” One colorless lip twitched in disgust. “Wasn’t worth the blood, and at the risk of making a horrible pun, it sucked. But that’s not the point. What took you so long?”

    “Run-in with Mom,” the woman muttered darkly. “Almost got to the kids when she found me out, and then she went wreaking havoc on my aura. It’s like being dead, only worse.”

    “You should have brought us,” the body said, ignoring the jibe. “We might have been there to finish them off.”

    She rolled her eyes. “Look, it’s not like Mom should’ve been there. If she hadn’t played the god in the fricking machine, I could’ve just wiped them out with a snap of the fingers. Come on, Drone, who do you think would’ve won in ‘angel versus two kids and their runts’? And besides, two and a half extra mortal Pokemon aren’t going to be much use against a bona fide legendary.”

    “Better than being with Nan for five days straight.”

    The woman blanched. “Ah, forgot about that.”

    “Thanks so much.” The body half-turned, stepping out of the way. “But hurry up, come in already.”

    “Whatever.” She brushed past it, reaching out to idly pat the small, furry body attached to the back of its neck.

    Inside, as the door was pushed closed again, Vember spent about half a second letting her eyes adjust to the glow of the wall lanterns and her nose to the stenches of sweat and cheap cocaine, before striding down the hall, her soft footsteps inaudible beneath the stomps of the body behind her. There was no front desk or lobby, simply a passage lined with doors and lanterns and ancient, powdery paint. She still refused to call it a hotel, no matter how convenient the free and anonymous the stay was.

    Moving through the shadowy space, she felt no change in tension at all. Finally she was hidden once again from her mother’s stupid allies, able to finally get a good night’s sleep and even complete aura recovery, but …

    Well, sometimes “with friends like these” just doesn’t cover it.

    Something thumped behind a door a short way ahead. As they passed it, Vember thought she noticed a dark stain begin to trickle out from the crack underneath.

    “Nan used a couple of guests while you were gone,” the body stated, with just a hint of revulsion in its otherwise flat voice.

    She snorted in distaste. “Like that’s anything new.”

    “One of them was that stupid leukemia body, though. Wasn’t really sad to see that one go. Lecter and Bernie were making fun of me again.”

    “They’ve been making fun of you since the first time you were all let out of your Poke Balls at the same time.”

    “Doesn’t mean I like it.”

    “Suck it up, it’s what you’re best at.”

    They reached a narrow, rickety stairway at the end of the hall, leading up into a gloom that remained impenetrable even as Vember instinctively attempted to read aura for the umpteenth time. Mumbling another curse at her failure, she began to climb, not touching the handrail. Previously, her aura sight had told her it looked almost as bad as the Salamence Nan had “played” with a couple of months ago.

    “Apollo’s pissed,” the body commented offhandedly from behind.

    “Apollo’s always pissed.”

    “More so than usual. He found another angel while you were gone and incapacitated him, and while his back was turned Nan decided to … well … she probably hasn’t killed him yet.”

    “Very mature of her,” the angel remarked dryly, stepping out onto the equally dark landing and stopping just in front of where she remembered the door would be. It helped that there was a sick gurgling.

    “Indeed.”

    The second floor of the building that was clearly not a hotel seemed to pride itself in having superior accommodations for superior guests, in a similar vein to anything that has to do with money. While the floor below contained over thirty tiny rooms, this floor used the same amount of area to form one single room. As there was never any payment, the lodgings were typically decided by mindless brawling with the second floor’s current occupants, leading to tougher and tougher guys living there for longer and longer periods of time. Until, of course, the toughest ones were outsmarted by some weedy kid or scientist down on his luck, at which point the general period of tenancy abruptly shrank again.

    The last occupants had consisted of approximately twenty tattooed, muscular, gang-raised, prison-hardened thugs. They hadn’t stood a chance.

    Vember had barely raised her hand when the doorknob turned, seemingly on its own. “Oh,” a serene voice stated, somewhat muffled behind the door. “I was wondering when you’d make your way back, Vember lovely. Let me get the door for you, won’t you? You must be so tired …”

    And it swung open on squealing hinges, revealing the room within.

    Now that it was too dark for the sun to cast its rays through a small window set in the wall, the only source of light was the dim bare light bulb hanging from the cracked ceiling. Aside from a table and decent-sized bed, the room, was completely devoid of furniture, leaving much of the grimy, dusty floor exposed. A terrible stench ravaged Vember’s nostrils, and as usual she forced herself not to heave.

    There were three and a half people in the room.

    “Damn it, Vember!” growled a muscular man, his sudden curse causing the other man sitting at the table to glance at him a bit nervously. “You can’t just screw around like whatever the hell you’ve been doing! We cannot waste time while the enemies might still throw a wrench into Lord Apolydon’s plans—”

    “Shut your piehole, Apollo.” Fury flashed in her silvery eyes; she did not want to deal with this right now. “You have no idea what I’ve been through—”

    “Like hell I don’t! You were probably off blowing our funds on Pac-man or something!” Sweat gleamed faintly in his bright orange buzz cut. “What other excuse would there be, you little mink?”

    “M-minx,” the slender young man beside him corrected quietly.

    “Shut the hell up, Lotus!”

    “Oh, I don’t know,” the Fystor snapped sarcastically, “maybe I got this close to finishing the fricking brats off, only for dear old Mom to swoop out of nowhere and save the day, forcing me to wander the stupid fricking city for days looking for you bastards! Maybe I haven’t been just sitting around twiddling my thumbs, you ever think of that? Huh? Did you?”

    “Would you mind raising your voices a little?” the serene voice called from the bed. “It may help our guest fall into hallucinations faster.”

    At the sound of the voice, Vember’s eyes involuntarily flickered over to where an angel sat cross-legged, long hair the color of cherry blossoms draping over her shoulders. The angel was hunching forward attentively towards the pitiful shape curled up before her, probably another angel, whose hair might have been emerald green before being soaked in blood. Flecks of blood were splattered across the female angel’s body, but there was nevertheless a calm smile on her face as she kept the male’s violently jerking pinned down with one hand, moving a finger on the other quickly up and down within his bloodstained mouth.

    There were odd little dark lumps scattered across the blanket beneath them, and Vember’s revulsion tripled when she realized that the small white thing sticking out from each one was a tooth.

    “Vember lovely!” The tormentor tossed her head back to flash the Fystor that peaceful smile, never slowing that nauseating sawing movement. “I’m so delighted to see you.”

    “Likewise, Nan.”

    It seemed that the pink-haired woman was utterly unaware of the definition of sarcasm, for she turned back to her gory work, still smiling. “Apollo dear found this guest of ours a while ago. He’s very fun.”

    “He’s mine to deal with,” Apollo grumbled, keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the warped tabletop.

    “It’s not nice not to share, Apollo dear,” Nan replied airily. “How have you been, Vember lovely? I couldn’t find any indication that you had hallucinated. It saddened me a little.”

    “I … I’m sure it did,” Vember half choked.

    “But I suppose it’s all right,” Nan went on a little more cheerily, as though she had merely discovered a new favorite color. “Our guest here works just as well. He told me his name, it’s Drew, isn’t that nice? He won’t tell me his species, though. And he hasn’t completely cracked yet, which bothers me … just a little … but his mouth looks very nice when it’s full of blood. Very pretty. That may need to do …”

    “Whaugh?” Drew gurgled, blood bubbling up between his lips and around her finger. “Whaa-aaugh?”

    “Why?” Nan repeated, gazing serenely down at him. “I already told you, Drew sweetheart. But maybe you’ve forgotten already in all the fun … dreams are wonderful things, you know. Showing what the mind can conjure: visions and scenes beyond the lucid imagination … but dreams can make them muddled, distorted. It would be so much nicer if they could be experienced while awake, wouldn’t it?” Her smile broadened a little, twinkling blue eyes gazing down into emerald ones crusted with dried tears. “It’s these games we play, Drew sweetheart. Oh, it might sting just a little, but …”

    She jabbed particularly hard, and a bloodcurdling shriek pierced the room.

    “… the sweet, sweet, hallucinations are worth it.”

    Still smiling, she retracted both hands from him, raising them above her head, not seeming to care that one was dripping stringy blood and saliva; her body abruptly exploded with light, concealing her form as it began to shift, stretch, expand into something inhuman. When the light had finally dimmed, Vember squinted her watering eyes at what had taken the place of a human shape.

    <Twinkle, twinkle, little star,> the blue swan trilled lightly, spreading pale pink wings the shape of rings. <Won’t you tell me what you are?>

    Perhaps this sudden change was the last straw for the hapless victim’s sanity, for at this point he began to writhe uncontrollably, presumably kept in place only by some sort of psychic hold. The room was suddenly filled with a sickening sound that the human throat was not meant to produce, vibrating the floor and the window with the resonance of growing madness.

    Lotus swallowed hard, moving trembling fingers to produce a pack of cards. “Um, p-poker a-anyone?” he asked, barely heard over the noise.

    “You kidding?” Apollo hollered back, tossing everyone a pair of earplugs, seemingly from nowhere. “We can’t play if we can’t hear, pal!”

    Vember shrugged. “Might as well try,” she shouted, managing to rip her eyes from the grisly scene.

    Glancing amongst each other, the other three shrugged as well, then hastily stuffed their ears. The plugs couldn’t block out all of the noise, but it helped. It really, really helped.

    She turned to pull up a couple of chairs for herself and the body beside her, while Lotus began to shuffle cards, dropping several as his hands shook. The body’s mouth twitched sardonically.

    And all the while their guest continued to scream and scream and scream under a blissful smile.

    * * *

    Cobalt’s eyes flew open at the sound of a distorted feminine voice, cool and mechanical. His head throbbed at the harsh sound.

    “Mister Cobalt, the Boss requests your presence immediately.”

    * * *
    FF.Net profile | Blazing Frost | Project Valentine | River Styx | Hexachromalurgy | Fizzy Bubbles

    Latest PV pair: Green/Yellow - I guess you could call it accidental.

  11. #186
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    Well, look at that! I got a chapter posted on this fic's third birthday! Yay for me BF. *hands out cake and confetti*

    In other news, I now have another fic up called River Styx, which, in case you're curious, is a PMD/Harry Potter crossover involving a confused Houndour, a snarky Florauna Deerling, and plenty of eldritch abominations. So I have three chaptered fics I'm working on now, including the shipping one. Before you rightfully insult me for my crazy undertaking, remember that I actually managed to post two BF chapters in 2011. Which is an average of 2/3 chapter per month so far, as opposed to the 1/3 chapter per month for all of 2010. So yeah.

    And no, the chapter title does not have a spelling error.

    * * *

    Chapter Twenty-Four: Watermeleon (Some Type of Revelation!! Frosti’s Decision!)

    He stared at the occupied Poke Ball in his hand, ignoring the first falling wet drops as they splattered against his spiked hair.

    The Pokemon inside was blue. It had to be blue, he’d seen it with his own eyes, and it was the most beautiful color he had ever seen. He liked blue, it came with his name. It came with the Pokemon, too, such a pretty Pokemon so blue, so wonderfully blue. He liked the Pokemon. He liked it very much. Only a stupid, selfish person would be so cruel and heartless as to give it up. But he wouldn’t. He would cherish it forever, give it a special place in his collection and shine its Poke Ball every day until it gleamed in the light of a laughing sun.

    It was blue. Blue like sapphires, more valuable and enigmatic than anything else he’d ever encounter, worth more than any foolish trader might be willing to pay. Blue like the bottomless depths of the Arctic Sea from which its relatives would crawl, and to which they would sadly return to, lost to him forever. Blue like the eyes of one of his parents before the green car had smashed them into a red brick wall that had broken like their bones, shattered like their skulls, scattering gray cement like the mush dripping from their cracked skulls and onto his brand-new tennis shoes they had bought him, the ones with Batman swooping down on them as if he could transcend dimensions and save the day.

    It wasn’t red. Of course it wasn’t red, that was only a trick, because only a blue Pokemon could be so beautiful and desirable. Red would imply fire, something so unlike the true blue of the Pokemon, as graceful as the dancing ocean waves from which its mother had surfaced from at some point. He wouldn’t have caught it if it were red, would he? It was blue, not red. If it really had been red, he would have just let it go, and continued his hunt for the blue Pokemon.

    Yes, it was a beautiful, beautiful blue. So unlike the ugly red it pretended to be. Red like the color flashing before his vision, remembering someone crushing a red and white Ball that looked all too similar to a pair of red and white ribcages glistening with blood and acid and shards of glass and metal who knew what else as he stared into the faces with the broken frozen grins for a while until the pain kicked in and he screamed and screamed until his throat burned and his voice died and there was no longer any way for his pain to express itself. No, of course it wasn’t red. It couldn’t be red. It wasn’t red, no matter what it appeared to be. It wasn’t red. It wasn’t red. It wasn’t red.

    It was red.

    “How could you,” he whispered.

    He dropped the Poke Ball and crushed it beneath his foot, and a smile twitched across his face as a red mist wafted from its shards and turned to blue before dissipating in the oncoming rain.

    * * *

    <You may all be unintelligent,> Maggie remarked, skipping from puddle to puddle like a Mantine, <but at least you can appreciate decent weather when you see it.>

    Early that morning, Lightning had decided to actually practice for the upcoming Contest in Saffron City, and had gone outside so as not to make a horrible mess of the nice Day Care couple’s lobby. Peter had been understandably anxious about this, until Lightning assured him that Cheri was still occupied with keeping an eye on Frosti, so the Butterfree quickly became just as excited about it as his fellow Pokemon. Most of them, anyway, though by the time the clouds had rolled in and unleashed their much-welcomed rain, even Maggie had to enjoy it a little.

    And now Leaf and Lightning sat on the steps of a small, plain pagoda situated not far from the Day Care’s breeding pen, half listening to the insistent tapping of water striking the wooden roof above their heads. Leaf hadn’t particularly wanted to come, but Lightning had pointed out that it’d do her no good moping about on the couch while waiting for Frosti to recover, so she had allowed herself to be dragged outside, watching Lightning’s Pokemon take turns practicing possible appeals in the rain.

    “Nice job, Maggie!” Lightning called encouragingly, unaware that she had practically called him an idiot. “Try striking the water a bit harder as you go, though. Add a bit more oomph to your splash.”

    <“Oomph” isn’t a word,> the fish remarked, though she followed his advice anyway.

    <“Ooomph” is a word, fishy foo’,> Peter replied, clinging to one of the pagoda’s wooden columns as he nervously glanced around, half expecting Cheri to pop out of nowhere and smash his brains out. <It’s dat word ya say when ya finally get ya sexy girlfriend ta come ta ya tree an’ tie her up in String Shots an’—>

    <Hey, Leaf!> a voice exclaimed excitedly. Turning a little from Maggie’s splashing around, the girl found that Parvati had padded back up to her side, beaming proudly around some objects in her mouth. Her fur was completely drenched, with water dripping from her whiskers and tail, yet she still looked as perky as ever, her black ears standing at attention.

    Not for the first time, Leaf wondered if Frosti could have ever acted like that if given the chance.

    <Ptttooey!> The Meowth spat the things she carried onto the pagoda floor, licking her chops for a moment to clear it of the taste. <I found more stuff, Leaf! All over the place, I found them all by myself!> She beamed up at her trainer, the coin on her forehead gleaming.

    Leaf forced herself to fake a smile. “Nice job, Parvati, nice job,” she said, ruffling the cat’s ears.

    She waited until the cat had turned and bounded into the rain again before tossing the dirty junk items onto the pile that had been steadily increasing since they’d come outside.

    Lightning glanced at the pile. “You sure you don’t want any—”

    “I already said yes, Lightning.” She rolled her eyes. “It’s not like she picked up some magical thing that’ll actually be useful, like a Poke Ball some idiot dropped or whatever.”

    “… Okay, if you’re sure,” he said, reaching out with one hand to poke through the newest items. Peach, who was being patted with his other hand, glanced up for a moment to see what he was doing, before resting her head on her forepaws again, yawning in an overly cute manner.

    “So anyway,” the Pokedex piped up, annoying as usual, “have I caught up with all the entries I should’ve made up yet? ‘Cause you haven’t done anything for, what, two entire days? Which is probably a record for not getting blown up, by the way, and I think my CPU is probably going to explode from boredom instead. So give me something to do, or else I’ll radiate you all to death.”

    “Shut up, Pokedex.”

    “You’re such a killjoy, Naaaarrrrrrrgh. Come on, at least let me give that lizard’s new entry—”

    “I already said no.”

    ”Yeah, but who gives a damn about respect, anyway? Especially behind peoples’ backs. Why would you do that, when you can just shoot them in the back and laugh at them when they start doing that twitchy dance thing like in that one music video? Seriously. Look, I’m going to give it, I’m sick of waiting and I want to inject some conflict into this drab little life you’ve thrown us into, and who the hell cares about how it's more like a normal journey anyway. Charmeleon, the—”

    “Pokedex,” Leaf growled, gripping the machine so hard that Lightning worried she’d snap it in two, “Frosti doesn’t need to have you being an ******* about him. So you need to shut up.”

    “Tee hee, you’re so funny when you’re angry. Charmeleon, the BLOOOOODRED Pokemon. Gender is Male, duh. Height is ARRRRRGH RRAAUU—”

    Leaf smashed the mute button.

    Everyone paused to stare, not quite believing that she’d actually shut the machine up. The rhythm of the rain seemed rather loud in the absence of its mechanical voice and Maggie’s rhythmic splashes.

    “Er … Leaf,” Lightning muttered, tapping her shoulder. He pointed with an uncertain finger, then recalled a surprised Peter while Leaf turned to see what was up.

    Frosti stood at her side, staring back at her.

    She couldn’t help but let out a gasp, jumping backwards in shock and only barely avoiding falling into the pile of Parvati’s garbage collection. She hadn’t expected to see him so suddenly, so alive and healthy and … Well, she’d seen him before as a Charmeleon, having evolved while thrashing about a couple of days ago. But he’d been newly changed then, bloody and mindlessly screeching. He seemed somewhat taller now that he was awake, and as she collected herself from the surprise she found she could better appreciate the differences evolution had wrought in him.

    He had nearly doubled in height, easily able to gaze down on her as she sat. Orange scales had become crimson, providing a greater contrast with his pale belly. Long, gangly arms hung almost to his knees, at about the height of the tail-flame idly waving back and forth, seemingly unbothered by the moisture in the air. Thinking back to Oak’s lab, when she had first chosen him as her starter, she tried to juxtapose the image of the short orange lizard with this tall red reptile, and found it difficult to visualize. How did I miss all this potential in him? she wondered briefly, before a Lapras swam across her mind to sweep in a wave of guilt.

    When she met his black eyes, though, she couldn’t find any blame lurking in them, though a bit of a hurt look flashed across his draconic face.

    <… But I don’t feel like a monster,> he mumbled as if to himself, staring at the huge claws on his hands and feet.

    She blinked, wondering a little at how his voice hadn’t changed at all. “… A monster?” she repeated, before realization set in and she gasped again. “Oh! No, no, Frosti, I wasn’t afraid. Well, no more afraid than I’d be around any other Charmeleon. I was just, you know, a bit startled that you snuck up on me, that’s all.”

    He shook his head. <It’s all right if you are. I mean … I mean I was afraid of myself the other night, at first. Seeing myself in the mirror … it was like … like I’d let out the Beast after all.>

    His squinting eyes reflected the glare of the storm clouds, but not much inner light could be seen in them. Leaf’s heart sank even further, an action which she had thought impossible. At her sides, her hands clenched into quivering fists without her knowing it.

    <But it really is all right,> he repeated, a falsely cheery tone creeping into his voice. <It’s what I deserve, isn’t it? So I might as well get used to it. Being a monster and all—>

    “DON’T SAY THAT!”

    Both of them were shocked as Leaf seized Frosti’s shoulders, practically shaking him. Some part of her brain that was still rational asked timidly what she was doing. She could see his eyes widening, though whether that was from shock or fear or disbelief was a mystery. Swallowing hard, she forced herself to try and calm down, and addressed him in a slightly quieter, but no less furious voice.

    “Why … why the hell would you say that, Frosti?” she growled, pulling him a little closer to her. “Do you honestly look in the mirror and see a demon staring back at you? Do you think these jaws—” She took hold of his snout in one hand, less violently than her tone would suggest, and he, being surprised, only blinked in response. “—these jaws would tear our throats out? Do you think these claws would rip us to bloody shreds?” She grabbed his hands this time, feeling his warm scales against each palm.

    He blinked and opened his mouth, but she cut him off before he’d even begun to make a sound.

    “Is all that what you saw in the mirror, Frosti?” Her voice was quieter now, as sad as the light sparkling in her eyes. “Because all I see … all I see is a mouth made to smile and hands made to hold.” She reached up with one hand, gently lifting the corners of his mouth into an artificial grin, while squeezing his hand with the other. They stared at each other for a few long moments, with the beating of rain filling the silence, before her gaze turned a little watery and she glanced away. “You aren’t going to blame your Beast’s faults on yourself. And if you're not going to stop, maybe you should ... maybe you should just leave. Call me stupid if you want, Frosti, because that’s what I am. Some stupid girl with crap for brains who couldn’t look past her own fricking ego until it was too late. Call me stupid, call me cruel, call me anything you want. Anything at all. But I WILL NOT tolerate you calling yourself a monster.”

    There. She'd said it.

    She turned away then, sharply and quickly, but she was sure he had managed to catch a glimpse of the tear rolling down her face.

    They were all staring at her. She knew there could be no other reason for the relative quiet, but she felt no resentment about it. Hell, embarrassment was the least she deserved after what she had done to him. Staring off unseeingly into the fields beyond, she drew her knees up close to her chest. And she waited for the sound of his footsteps to begin, as he would turn and walk off unflinchingly into the rain, never pausing, never looking back, never turning around for even one last look at his selfish, foolish trainer, only giving her memory a passing good riddance before his mind would be wiped clean of thoughts about her. He deserved a better trainer than her – a better friend than her – and she wasn’t about to stop him from getting one.

    His claws clicked against the pagoda’s floor. Forcing herself not to sigh, she half wished she could build up the courage to turn and watch him go. But no – she didn’t deserve to see him again even once. Staring after him as he walked into the rain? Too selfish, too cliché. Let her suffer, alone in the midst of Pokemon someone else had actually truly cared for from the beginning.

    She stiffened when something warm touched her shoulder.

    <Why are you slouching?> Frosti’s voice seemed to lilt, as if half remembering an old song he’d once heard. <Is this what you see yourself as, Leaf? Because …> His breath hitched a little, and he paused for a few seconds to control himself. <Because all I see are a pair of shoulders made to hold your head high.>

    Her mind felt frozen. Slowly she turned her head towards him, just enough to see him standing behind her, staring back.

    <I think,> he said quietly, <we both made a lot of mistakes here.> His mouth twitched into a smile – a tiny smile, but genuine.

    Without warning, she scooped the surprised Charmeleon up in her arms, hugging him close to her and as tightly as was humanly possible. “Frosti,” she whispered, squeezing her eyes shut, “I’m sorry.”

    She felt his warm arms return her embrace, resting his head on her shoulder. <I’m sorry too.>

    More rain, splashing insistently against ground and grass and wood and puddles. Tears fell from her closed eyes, streaming down her face and chin; from the sniffles near her ear, it was safe to assume that Frosti was crying too.

    After what seemed like hours – long, wonderful, golden hours spent simply being together – they finally broke apart, though still holding each others’ shoulders, as they tentatively locked red-eyed gazes. “<Forgive me?>” they asked in unison, then chuckled at the moment and hugged again.

    As Leaf sighed, deeply and happily, Cheri caught her eye; the Beedrill was standing out in the rain. After several seconds, the bug inclined her head forward, red eyes twinkling with something like pride.

    This wasn’t going to be easy, Leaf understood that. She couldn’t turn into Mother Teresa overnight, anymore than Frosti would be able to completely get over his trauma within the week. Lessons would need to be learned, attention paid, questions asked and answers given, with the world still giving them hell in the form of hard travel and Shadows and psychotic angels and angst-ridden miners.

    But this was a chance at a new beginning, and they were going to take it, damn it.

    * * *

    <… I don’t think I get it,> Frosti remarked, slightly cross-eyed.

    The group still sat in the pagoda; even though the rain had stopped a while ago, the ground was still muddy enough to punish anyone who dared to sit in it with a rather embarrassing souvenir on their rear. Leaf had scrawled several illegible letters, numbers, and other various figures into the mud with a random stick, and was currently laying out a vague plan for the rest of their journey.

    The girl rolled her eyes, which were still red-rimmed from crying. “It’s a vague plan for the rest of our journey,” she said redundantly. “And Frosti, I haven’t even explained it yet. Now listen up, all of you.” She tapped the chart with the stick, narrowly avoiding transforming a one into a seven. “There’s some conflict of interest going on this summer. For one, Fystor wants us to take out the Shadows. On the other hand, Lightning has this Grand Festival thing he wants to do. But most importantly, I need to qualify for the Indigo Conference by September.”

    “Couldn’t you technically wait until the next one starts a couple months after that?” Lightning piped up.

    “Well, I could, but would you want to wait three extra months for the Grand Festival?”

    “… Not really, no—”

    “And my point stands. Now, let’s break this down, right?” She drew a lopsided circle around one cluster of markings that were probably supposed to mean something. “The League requires a minimum of four badges for trainers who want to be part of the Conference, so I need to get at least two more. But what I’d rather do is get even more badges than that – as many as possible, actually. We could run into more gym leaders that way, which Fystor wanted us to do. And if I get eight, then I can even challenge the Elite Four and Champion – although if I place in one of the top four spots in the Conference, I can go against them anyway.”

    Everyone nodded absentmindedly, just as cross-eyed as Frosti.

    “Meanwhile, Lightning’s Festival thing requires a minimum of five ribbons, so he needs four more. Since that’s not connected with either of the other quest thingies, I think we can safely ignore that part if worst comes to worst, but knowing those Twin guys we’ll just manage to get everything taken care of.

    “As for those Shadow Pokemon, there’re quite a bit more of them, so pay attention Lightning. According to Bill, Cipher sent eight Shadows over here. He already has the Shadow Clefairy, so now we just need to be on the lookout for an Ambiveli, Bagon, Clamperl, Kricketot, Mienfoo, Shroomish, or Zigzagoon that’s acting psychotic as hell, and I don’t even know what half of those are. Obviously we won’t be able to have all of them on us at once, so Fystor’s working on setting up a joint box account for us, that’ll send Pokemon right to Bill instead of the Professor. He’ll work on taking care of them, she said. Apparently he has a fricking huge dragon or something in case they decide to rip his head off.

    “The Conference starts September fourteenth, a week before Autumn Equinox. But the Professor’s probably going to drag me back to Pallet for when high school starts, so we really only have about …” She squinted at the chart, as if that could magically make her able to see through all the scribbles and find the answer. “Eight weeks, give or take a couple days. So I need to get one badge for every four weeks, probably more than that. Now, the Grand Festival starts on the first of October, meaning Lightning’s got a lot more time to get his ribbon things if we take weekends into consideration – two weeks or so between winning each Contest should do it. As for the Shadows, Fystor said we need to snatch them as soon as possible to make sure Team Rocket doesn’t figure out how to make even more of the buggers. Since we got split in two groups, one’ll most likely be finding three while the other finds four. You and I’ll probably be the ones finding the four, since Roark’s probably just going to sulk around in a stupidly angsty way, which lowers the average of three and a half down to three for him. Meaning that, assuming we’re going to be dragged back home for school kicking and screaming, we’ve got two weeks to find each Shadow, while Roark can take as long as he needs instead, even though he has less to find than we do, the lucky bastard.

    “Any questions?”

    <I have a question, actually,> Cheri remarked, flexing a skinny arm. <What are you trying to tell us, exactly?>

    Leaf facepalmed.

    * * *

    <Thank Arceus,> Anni sighed, collapsing the second she had set foot in the cavern’s shadowy interior. <Made it here before the damn rain.>

    Roark automatically glanced behind them, looking over the miles of nondescript land they had spent so long trekking. Although the sky was still a blindingly brilliant blue above them, it was impossible to miss the iron-gray clouds broiling over the far-off horizon. He could hear the rumbling thunder already, crackling in the air, easily heard under the harsh caw of a Murkrow. “Yeah,” he agreed, shivering at the memory of a similar roar reverberating through towering trees. “Thank Arceus.”

    <Hey, look! A Sandshrew.> The Cranidos pointed at a pangolin creature, which had just scampered out from behind a nearby boulder. <Man, you guys are so easy to beat, I hate you for it.>

    <Hey!> it exclaimed indignantly. It crouched for a moment against the dusty stone floor, then leapt into the air, curling into a ball as its body began to spin quickly.

    Anni yawned, waiting for it to get close before lazily bouncing up a couple of inches, crashing her head into its body and sending it flying.

    <H-heyyyyyyyy!> Its yelp continued to echo long after it had vanished in the tunnel’s depths.

    “Nice one,” Roark told her, nodding.

    She rolled her eyes. <Whatever. Like I said, easy.>

    He shrugged, then cast his eyes towards the tunnel ceiling, noticing the several flat lights strung along, seeming to grow brighter the darker the shadows beneath them were. “They have electricity here?” he asked nobody in particular, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. “Interesting …”

    <Sure, but knowing us we’ll regret finding out what causes it.> She walked a couple of feet forward, paused, then turned around to roll her eyes at him. <Well? You coming or what?>

    Allowing himself a tired grin, the miner nodded again and entered into the darkness and safety of Rock Tunnel.

    Outside, the storm drew ever closer over the emptiness of the plains.

    * * *

    Cobalt had seldom been to the Boss’s video conference room before.

    Not that he couldn’t easily make his way there, of course. Somehow every corridor in Rocket Headquarters led to it one way or another. It was almost as if he could step into a hallway, any hallway, and hear whispers of instinct and faint memory pointing out the way. Of course, the fact that the guards standing watch outside were slightly more competent than usual wasn’t a bad tipoff, either. They actually managed to jump to attention before he came within two yards of them.

    “Name and business?” one of the guards asked, automatically reaching down to finger a Poke Ball on his belt. Well, their recognition abilities were abysmally low, Cobalt decided. Probably only good at jumping to attention. That was probably the main test to be a guard, anyway.

    “Well, let’s see.” Cobalt tapped his chin as if trying to remember something elusive and important. “Oh, I know now. I’m obviously Arceus, here to bless the Boss and turn him into an all-powerful yet dangerously egomaniacal god-like figure who will raise Team Rocket to unlimited heights of power before inadvertently destroying it in his supernaturally-induced madness.”

    The guards gaped at him.

    “Oh, come on,” he snapped, not even bothering to stop himself from rolling his eyes. “Who else would wear something like this?” He pointed to the tall mass of shockingly red hair on his head, resembling on odd cross between a crescent moon and a pair of devil horns.

    A guard blinked. “… Cobalt?” he tried.

    “A spark of intelligence! Congratulations.”

    “Mister Cobalt, the Boss has been exp—…”

    He brushed past them through the stainless steel door, ignoring the guard’s sentence as it trailed off weakly. Obviously the Boss had to be expecting him. He’d summoned him right out of the hospital wing, for crying out loud.

    As the door shut behind him, he simply stood there for a moment, eyes adjusting to the relative darkness. A long room stretched out before him, containing a table almost as long, its dark surface illuminated by the small, bright red lights lined up along the ceiling. A broad screen stretched across the far wall, displaying mere static; three other figures sat before it, silhouetted against the blinding mess of black and white and gray.

    “Ah, Cobalt!” the Boss exclaimed, as if the admin had simply dropped by for a casual visit. “Glad you could join us! Pull up a chair, don’t be shy.”

    Unable to come up with a good response for that, he made his way towards the light of the static, vaguely surprised when he realized that he wasn’t bumping up against any chairs. Automatically he reached to the side, feeling their smooth wooden backs brush against his fingers, and realized that they hadn’t simply been removed. He wasn’t sure what this meant, having expected beforehand to be tripping over them comically.

    “We were recently contacted by another organization,” the Boss went on. “From the Sinnoh region, I believe. They seem to be relatively new, since I haven’t heard of them before … Think they want to pick something up from the best, eh?”

    “It’s a possibility,” Cobalt replied diplomatically, swallowing his sudden unease as he sat himself before the screen. One of the figures to his side snorted quietly, but was otherwise silent.

    “We’ve been waiting a full fifteen minutes by now, but they haven’t responded yet.” The Boss shifted, his face covered in shadow. “And speaking of response … Severus has yet to contact us. He broke out of prison a couple days ago, you know.”

    Cobalt’s mouth went dry. “He has?”

    “Yes. And he seems to be simply going around slaughtering people, if my informants are to be believed.” A shake of the head, disbelieving. “He has become a wild card. We cannot continue to rely on him if he keeps up this rampage. Cobalt, you’re promoted to executive.”

    “I didn’t …!” Cobalt blinked. He ran those words through his head, more slowly than before, and blinked again. “… Executive?” he repeated, once he had stopped gaping like an idiot fish.

    “Well, of course,” one of the others spoke up. “We can’t be a proper trio if there isn’t a Dick.” His companion snickered quite audibly at this.

    “That will do, Harry,” the Boss stated. “Have you met these two yet, Cobalt? No? Well, these are my other two Kanto executives, Tom and Harry, whom I’ve also called back from their missions. After all, it is highly likely that contact with this new organization will be more important to us in the long run.”

    Cobalt nodded towards them thoughtlessly, for he suddenly felt as if he were no longer in the room. Instead, he stood on a warm beach of golden sand, feeling the delightfully cold ocean water lap around his bare ankles. Warm sunlight and a crooning voice permeated the clear, light air.

    “Somewhere … beyond the seeeeea, somewhere waiting for meee …”

    He closed his eyes, inhaled deeply through his nose, and sighed in contentment. When a faint noise caught his ear, though, he slowly reopened them, looking off to the side … and to his surprise and utter delight, he saw that perhaps twenty yards away was an Executive shirt, its red only broken by its black letter R and Honchkrow silhouette. Surely the most beautiful shirt in the world, he decided, and felt his heartbeat accelerate in anticipation.

    ”My lover stands on golden saaaaaaaaaaands, and watches the ships – that go saiiiiiilin’ …”

    The shirt was running towards him along the beach. He had no idea how the hell a shirt was able to run, and he honestly didn’t care. He simply wanted to be with that gorgeous shirt! His legs seemed to notice this thought, for they soon moved almost on their own, kicking up sand and sal****er as they carried him closer to that beloved shirt.

    ”Somewhere … beyond the seeeeea, she’s there watchin’ for meee …”

    Everything seemed to be in slow motion: himself, the shirt, the water moving beneath him … it was as if time itself refused to let them be together, purely out of spite. But he would not let the seemingly ridiculously impossible distance deter him. He had to be with his beloved, for it had not given up on him, and he was loathe to let it down.

    ”If I could fly like birds on hiiiiiiigh—”

    “Cobalt.”

    He was so close … his panting mouth formed into a big, goofy grin …

    ”Then straight to her arms – that go saiiiiii—”

    “COBALT!”

    “Huh?” He jerked upright, confused at the abrupt change in environment. Why was he sitting down, and in the dark? Wasn’t he on vacation with his beloved shirt?

    “I am glad to see you relaxing after your latest assignment,” the Boss remarked dryly, over the sound of Tom’s and Harry’s snickers, “but I believe we were discussing something.”

    “Oh.” As the past few minutes rushed back to him, Cobalt was suddenly glad the darkness could cover up his flushing face. “When do I get my shirt?”

    “After this conference.” The Boss shifted again; the eerie light from the static showed that he seemed to be checking his likely expensive watch. “… Whenever it begins, at any rate. Rest assured you will be admitted to new quarters, where you will be able to more fully recover your injuries before your next assignment.”

    “Exce— …” Cobalt blinked. “Injuries? But I feel perfectly well, Boss.”

    “I am certain that you do. However, a report from Rocket Joy indicates that you very likely have a few minor internal injuries – nothing serious, provided you don’t strain yourself for a while. You see, she determined that you were attacked by an odd combination of Stealth Rock and Pursuit, which—”

    “—means you got hit with more force than you would have if the attacks had come separately,” Harry finished; Cobalt shot a wary glance at the Boss, who didn’t seem particularly perturbed by the fact that the words had just been taken out of his mouth. “So I would suggest you rest up, Dick, because this is where the rubber meets the road.”

    “Although your privileges and access of the Base will of course be expanded,” the Boss added. “Not that you didn’t let yourself into any wing you wanted before …”

    “Excellent!” Cobalt practically gushed, still a bit lightheaded. “So does this mean I can ask why you and the Team Magma guy were playing so many rounds of checkers—?”

    “No,” the Boss replied, keeping his gaze fixed on the screen.

    Cobalt sighed, returning his gaze to the static as it remained resolutely put. He’d wanted to know the answer to that question more than almost anything …

    Though, now he had even more resources to track It down …

    He smirked in the dark, folding his arms as if the entire world could see him. Life could only get better from here.

    * * *
    FF.Net profile | Blazing Frost | Project Valentine | River Styx | Hexachromalurgy | Fizzy Bubbles

    Latest PV pair: Green/Yellow - I guess you could call it accidental.

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