I'm sorry to seemingly be spamming the fanfic board, but this is the newest fic I'm working on. Survival Project is in the editing phase and Flying in the Dark is on hiatus. This is all brand new. Rated PG-13 for swearing, violence, and some mature themes. Any and all reviews are appreciated.
- prologue - in the ice cavern
chapter 1. time to start anew
chapter 2. at first sight
LOVE AND OTHER NIGHTMARES
Find what you love and let it kill you.
– Charles Bukowski
in the ice cavern
At the top of a dying stone cavern, adorned with nothing but eroding pedestals and the sound of dripping icicles, Kyurem waits for her.
Her movements are automatic. She climbs the steps with an unrecognizable, sudden strength that she thinks has come to her out of sheer willpower. Her legs shake due to the tremors echoing in the pervading darkness, and it takes most of her energy to avoid the knee-deep cracks in the rocky floor. Things are not that simple, here. Not only does the presence of a legendary tell her this, but so does the emptiness of her surroundings. A sense of extravagance is missing.
It's cold, too, but it's the kind of cold that's hard to notice unless it's staring you in the face. The exertion forces her breathing to stop being shallow; puffs of freezing air temporarily cloud her vision. The statues on both sides of her are moving now, levitating in front of her and blocking her path. They look like snowflakes, but in their center are gleaming blue eyes. They must be ice-type pokémon. She gets the feeling they don't see humans all that often. One of them is nearing her, and a crystal hanging from their underside reaches out. It's warm to the touch, and it vanishes just as quickly, leaving steam in its wake. The rest of the cryogonal ignore her and float about, growing closer and closer to Kyurem.
It occurs to her that she's dreaming. That would explain why she's unusually calm, but she can't be sure. She's always liked the winter for its dullness. The fleeting, boring moments amidst her eccentricies keep her from going off the deep end. Holidays are a special bonus, and for some reason she's reminded of her little sister begging for a pokémon every year but always opening her presents with clear disdain. Her little sister would be jealous of this dream. She would give anything to trade places with her sibling. She's confident in this decision until Kyurem speaks to her.
"Annie Willems," it says simply. Its voice nearly destroys her balance. Kyurem knows her name, and only then does she realize that she's reached the top. The monster towers over her while standing on two feet, and it looks even more menacing with its bottom teeth jutting out of its mouth. There is no perfect way to describe Kyurem unless you mention its demonic yellow eyes and its wings, spiked with ice on both ends. Its short arms are laughable, and that's what she holds on to, though it's not difficult to stay composed. Kyurem howls, as if it can read her thoughts.
"Here I am!" she says. There goes her wild side again. Her parents always wanted to keep it contained. When they finally got their wish, they couldn't look at her without crying. It feels good to be herself again, but she knows she'll wake up soon and return to normal, whatever that is and whatever that means for her.
"Do you know why you are here, Annie Willems?" it asks, moving its misshaped head around like she's supposed to notice something. She doesn't notice anything in particular, unless you count the other pokémon staring at her with anticipation.
"This is a nightmare disguised as a dream of sorts, I would say."
"I can assure you that that is not true. This is very real." She expected for Kyurem to say as much. "I've brought you here for a special reason," it continues. "I need you, Annie Willems. I need you to do something very, very important for me.”
It seems cliche, too unreasonable to be true. What can she do but laugh? She doesn't laugh because Kyurem has lulled her into a state of passiveness, like she herself is encased in a sheet of ice taken from its massive body, and she's afraid she'll fall if she makes a wrong move. She has no choice but to play along if she doesn't want her sense of well-being to be crushed further.
"And what is this important task you have for me, may I ask?" she says, trying for a hint of sarcasm. It feels unnatural and real at the same time, and she's not sure what to make of it. The cryogonal around her are now emanating with a buzzing noise that grounds her to the present moment. The tremors cease, and it's as if it's just the two of them now.
"Tell me you're paying attention, if you would." Kyurem sounds surprisingly quiet, now. If she were a legendary pokémon, she would appreciate her antics in the middle of a serious situation.
"Of course I'm paying attention. Can't you tell? Aren't you supposed to have great powers or something?"
"My powers grow weaker. Do you know anything about my kind?"
"Is there more than one of you?" She shivers at the idea, but then maybe her little sister could have her own version of this dream.
"There should be. I am a pokémon that values truth and ideals above all else. I never wanted it to come to this, but the world is full of dishonesty. Humans and pokémon alike go out of their way to do what is easiest for them rather than what is right."
She thinks about this using examples from her own life, but her memory is, at best, a blur. Images merge together with other images and skew her past. She can only remember specific things such as the smell of her favorite pasta, or the color of her mother's hair. No one would believe a story like that if she told it to them a million times. If she were given the choice, she would escape this place and say none of it ever happened.
She nods to Kyurem. With that alone, she can understand, but then it hits her. Before fate twisted her in a different direction, she wanted to be a therapist. She wanted to help people overcome obstacles and make goals they thought were impossible to achieve. She nods again, this time with more effort.
"I have been watching you, Annie Willems. This I will admit. I know you are sick. I know you do not want to go on a pokémon journey as well, but I must ask you to do that for me."
"What does that have to do with anything?" She can't look at it as she says this. Her sickness is something she would have liked to forget. This thought overshadows the pokémon journey idea, though it sounds more appealing.
"I am asking you and many others like you, Annie Willems. You are not inherently special, but you possess certain admirable traits that make you vital to this world. I need you to find and reform a team of pokémon that are extremely dangerous to themselves and everyone around them."
"Reform... pokémon?" It seems absurd. Pokémon are powerful, yes, but she can't imagine them to be the kind of creatures to attack others or be self-destructive.
"But what about—"
"Your life? What about your life? Aren't you working with limited time... and limited abilities?"
Kyurem's tone strikes down like a hammer. She bites her lip. When she wakes up, she will fall asleep again in a matter of minutes, spent and tired after sitting up. She will struggle to speak, eat, read and write. She will look into her family's faces and not have a clue as to what they're feeling, even if it's obvious. She will not go to school anymore, or work toward her future.
It's only a matter of time until she dies.
"True," she says, sighing. There's not much else to add. Kyurem knows where she hurts most.
"If you do this for me, I will promise a reliable, speedy recovery. And if you succeed, I will provide a cure for the overall problem."
"You can really do that?" The words are out of her mouth before she can think them through.
"Yes. I will find a way."
If this is a dream, she will be disappointed when it's over. If not, she has a legitimate chance to start over and pick up where she left off. Kyurem looks at her expectantly. She knows that she needs to answer fast or the chance will slip through her fingers, as dreams often do.
She tries to grin. "Will my first pokémon be a regular starter?"
At this, Kyurem frowns. "A... starter?"
"You're a legend and you don't know? I'm from Sinnoh. Trainers start with, uh, chimchar, a penguin, some grass-type... Pretty standard, really."
"I have chosen you not only for your personality and tactics, but also for your location. You will know the pokémon you must help when you see them. They are pokémon native to Unova, stuck in Sinnoh for varying reasons. Seek them out. Capture them. Redeem them before it's too late. And you will be rewarded splendidly."
"I have nothing to lose, so..." She shrugs, unsure of what to say next.
"It's time to start anew, Annie Willems," Kyurem interrupts. "Best of luck to you."
"Wait! I have a few more questions..."
“We will meet again soon.”
Kyurem takes a deep breath, and in less than a second she's blown away. The cryogonal throw ice beams and create a statue of her, as if they don't want her to leave. Their attacks come toward her soon after and she screams, not from the danger, but from the familiar confusion in her muddled brain. It's the first true physical and emotional act she's portrayed in a long, long time.
She prays that it's just the first of many.