Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: Vaira

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    215

    Default Vaira

    Synopsis: When the world careens towards destruction, Arceus brings together a revolutionary from the future, a sociopath from the edges of the universe, and the hero of another dimension to prevent the apocalypse.

    Content warnings: Some sexual content, but nothing explicit. Psychological torture sequences. Strong language. Political science that may be unsuitable for optimists and small children.

    Awards:

    Best Story: Bulbagarden, Summer 2015
    Best Dark Fic: Bulbagarden, Summer 2015
    Best Supporting Character: Bulbagarden, Summer 2015

    PM List: N/A

    Chapter List:

    Prologue

    Part One: Mountains and Molehills

    Chapter One
    Chapter Two

    Other Notes: I try to return reviews, although i keep this promise across multiple sites so it might take a while for me to do so.
    Last edited by Rediamond; 24th October 2015 at 10:26 PM.
    In the shadows, you will find truth.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    215

    Default

    “My soul would sing of metamorphoses.
    But since, o gods, you were the source of these
    bodies becoming other bodies, breathe
    your breath into my book of changes: may
    the song I sing be seamless as its way
    weaves from the world's beginning to our day.”
    -Ovid, Metamorphoses

    “Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other…”
    -Karl Marx, “The Communist Manifesto”

    “It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.”
    -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

    “Very well! Do what you will! Rather than repairing the world, you're going to destroy it for me! Do it. You inherit my legacy."
    -Cyrus, Pokémon Platinum


    Vaira

    Veilstone City: December 1999

    “At its core, humanity yearns to be complete… it longs to reach a final state. Perfection. Wholeness. We see it every time a crisis arises and a visionary comes forward with a new, bold plan. Marx sought the end of history, the completion of humanity. In their own ways, so did Hitler, Mao, Reagan, Ghandi, and Tupuhi. None succeeded. They passed, taking their visions with them, and humanity remains incomplete. Why?

    I have pondered the subject for years and come to one inescapable conclusion… Spirit. Emotion. Knowledge. Willpower. These forces that philosophers across time and space have hailed as the foundation of our humanity… they hold us back. The public believes they want peace. Every leader professes their desire for it. Yet on a daily basis on scales vast and small humans come into conflict. They clash and compete and leave humanity worse off because of it. Strife arises whenever peace sets in for a fleeting moment… How does it end? How do we overcome the barriers that mankind has so long desired to break?

    “The answer is simple. We cannot. Humanity is incapable of doing so. At the core of the human condition lies a weak and impotent spirit that undermines all we strive towards. We desire petty things and act irrationally. We hate when others interfere, inadvertently or otherwise, with our own foolish schemes. The only way to fix humanity would be to change it… To destroy this spirit which cripples us.”

    Cyrus gazed across the assembled crowd of men and women in faux spacesuits to gauge their reaction. It seemed to be enthusiastically sympathetic. That was good.

    “Yet spirit remains etched deep into the essence of the planet. The ancients worshipped the embodiments of it as atuas… immortal spirits to be praised and feared. We live in an age where mankind has split atoms and landed upon the Moon, where space has faded to nothingness in the face of electric transmissions. Why should we remain afraid? Why should we be in awe of ancient deities?

    “The world still has gods, beings that can create and destroy and change the world around them at will. But those gods are no longer incomprehensible forces beyond our understanding. Indeed, they are more familiar than they have ever been. We, humans, have learned the secrets of the universe and how to make the power of the cosmos our own. Why should we be kept weak by the gods of old? Why should spirit bind us? I… I seek a world without spirit… a new world of reason where mankind has transcended its limits.

    “I thank you for your assistance thus far. I invite you to join me on the last stretch of my quest… the last quest that shall ever be undertaken. Together we can erase this imperfect universe, this prison of spirit. Together we can elevate humanity to a condition we can today scarcely dream of. Our time as incomplete and fragile beings staring at the universe in terror and awe has ended.”

    Cyrus’ eyes hovered over the assembled crowds, the gullible pawns who would propel him to the end of everything… no… the beginning of everything.

    “Now the universe shall fear man.”

    --//|=

    Mount Coronet: November 2063

    On the way to the Hall of Origin, Palkia stopped at Spear Pillar. What he saw utterly surprised him.

    A dark horde was slowly moving up the side of the mountain towards the peak. A few stray attacks or gunshots still rang out, but it looked as if the mountain's defenders had been slaughtered or given up for the most part. Now a powerful and malignant presence was slowly rising to the mountain itself. To be safe Palkia placed a few spacial distortions between the enemy and the top, but he wasn't sure how long they would last. But there was no time to worry about that now. The Old One had summoned him and he could not wait much longer. So with one last glance, Palkia teleported into the Hall of Origin.

    The temple definitely reflected the grim situation outside. The top, normally a moving image of the constellations visible from the South Pacific isles, was now obscured by ominous dark fog. The stone floor periodically shone brighter as thunder rumbled and the veil separating Palkia from The Old One was blowing as if moved by a cosmic wind.

    "Have you checked the situation outside?"

    Palkia turned to see Dialga staring at him, apparently having been summoned as well.

    "I have. It looks... less than ideal."

    Dialga huffed. "The Old One has had me cleaning up timelines as of late so I didn't notice the demon had become that powerful. I tried displacing him temporally but I can't touch it. I can't alter his past either, or his future. He came from a place outside of time and he's going to another one."

    "I've been dealing with some problems elsewhere in the galaxy," Palkia said. "And I can't seem to move him directly, either. He's partially outside of space's reach..."

    "Don't blame me; this isn't my fault for once." The two turned to see Giratina slip through a dark portal on the floor and form out of shadows. "I could probably destroy it, though. I'm very good at destroying things."

    Not this close to my home.

    All three were silenced as they looked at the veil and heard the ancient and mystical voice radiating through it.

    "Then what should we do? Wait for the end?"

    No. That would be unwise.

    "Then, uh, if we can't move it and can't kill it, what are we supposed to do about that thing?" Giratina asked.

    "And you've kept us busy with other things... did you even want us to deal with it?" Palkia added.

    Frankly, no. If it is on Earth I would not have you fight it. And, as you have pointed out, you cannot move it from this planet. So I have been waiting it out and testing it to see its power and limits.

    "For...?"

    For the next time around. Dialga, I discussed the possibility of a temporal reset with you once.

    "Oh, that thing..."

    "That thing where what?" Giratina asked.

    "Well, we would set back time to a certain date with a few variables changed in order to test a different outcome. But that would take a lot of energy. More than I could readily summon..."

    I have been storing power for some time for an event such as this. Combined with your efforts to clean up your realms, it should be doable. As for the variables... I want each of you to pick a proxy warrior from your realms. Humans this time. I believe that this demon's rise can only be averted by humans.

    "How human do they strictly have to be?" Palkia queried.

    Human enough to interact in their society. And Dialga... I shall be picking yours for you.

    "Fine. There are a great many heroes throughout time."

    I was thinking of one in particular. Someone who knows more about the demon than almost anyone else. Someone knowledgeable of the events that led to its rise and the politics of this island as well as this mountain... someone you would be very reluctant to appoint yourself.

    "...you can't be serious."

    And if I am?

    "I wouldn't support her. No. Anyone else."

    If I ordered you to support her, you would.

    "I... I..."

    "He would definitely consider it!" Palkia interjected, unwilling to see his friend stumble and offend The Old One.

    "Yeah, that, maybe."

    Then it is settled. Go and collect your proxies.

    --//|=

    "GOOD MORNING! RISE AND SHINE!"

    "Ugggggggggh. You'd think after seven years that would be less of a shock."

    A vaporeon shook himself and stared at the dim light of morning shining in through the window. Outside the sea was lit up and shining. It was enough to get himself to stand up and get out of bed so that he could stare down at the water below.

    His partner, an infernape, stirred behind him and involuntarily sent a shower of embers flying onto their straw beds. The vaporeon quickly doused them, splashing water on the infernape in the process. That was enough to jolt her out of bed and away from the water.

    "OK, way too early for that, Evyrus."

    "And it's way too early to aim properly, Infernape. But I'm sorry." The water-fox yawned one last time and started waddling to the common area of the Wigglytuff Guild. "So what do you want to do today? Rescue mission? I heard someone got lost in Waterfall Cave."

    "Can't we leave that for some rookies? That was, what, our fourth mission?"

    "...but I like Waterfall Cave. There's water and you can go on missions there."

    Infernape sighed. "Let's just ask Magnezone if anything big has come up. If there's nothing pressing we can go to Waterfall Cave."

    "Thanks."

    They soon joined the main body of apprentices. Even after years at the guild they were still some of the last to get up, which earned them quite a bit of ridicule. It was about the only thing the others could still trash talk the team about.

    After the customary mantras had been said and the teams dismissed, the Chatot who served as second-in-command of the guild flew over to them.

    "*ahem* You two. I have a special task for you today."

    Evyrus' ears involuntarily drooped. "No Waterfall Cave," he muttered.

    "What?"

    "Nothing. Keep going."

    "Yes. Right. Anyway, an old friend of mine has requested to meet me at the bottom of the World Abyss."

    "Great, so what do you want us to do today?" Infernape asked.

    "Well, er, there's no good way to put this but..."

    "You want us to escort you?" Evyrus asked.

    "Yes, that. Now I could absolutely go alone, but the Guildmaster has requested that I go with some protection due to the relatively dangerous nature of the area, and you've been through the dungeon before..."

    "Alright, we understand. Can you give us an hour to prepare?"

    "Yes, yes. Just get on it. I want to be punctual."

    --//|=

    "And that's why if we let the Mexicans in, well, then we have no law! We've already shown that with our failure to impeach the last two presidents, of course, and Mr. Holder still being out of prison—but we can't even keep up the pretense of having law anymore. That's why I'm calling on you, Ms. President, to enforce the law until Congress changes it. That's your job.

    "And that's our time for the night. Tune into The Factor tomorrow to see Dr. Ben Carson help us answer one of the most pressing questions of our time: are the Obamaphones brainwashing the poor?"

    At the edges of the galaxy, Fox News' most distant viewer turned off her television.

    She glanced at the ralts beside her to see it sound asleep. Her species supposedly did that a lot. The girl wasn't sure how much Earthlings actually slept, since they almost never did it on her screen whatever time it was on Earth. But she slept a lot more than she thought the humans did and she was getting tired. Hannity was on next and she could probably collect that broadcast, although that show sometimes got a little fuzzy. The girl mentally scanned the rest of the planet and found that there were a lot of people just outside of her room watching her. That was normal, though. She could've made psychic connection and talked to them but they were afraid of each other and thus preferred not to.

    So she decided to just sleep for a while. She was always receiving broadcasts from Earth. They wouldn't be gone when she woke.

    In fact, she would be a lot closer to the source.

    --//|=

    As for the Heroine of Time, I'll let her introduce herself.
    In the shadows, you will find truth.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    215

    Default

    Aracai Rangan

    Chapter One: Psychedelic Death Threats

    --//|=

    Celestic Town, September 2046

    I want to start this story with a simple truth: Not everyone wants to be evil, but they don’t understand how to be good. They need someone to show them that.

    For example: occupants of the Awa Hotel seemed utterly incapable of grasping the fact that there was a global water crisis from the way they kept sending their almost spotless towels to be cleaned. I was quickly remembering that as I prepared another load of laundry in the hotel’s basement under the light of horribly inefficient light bulbs.

    It was rather monotonous work by any standard. Take pile of towels made by exploited labor in Africa. Put into washing machine made by exploited labor in Asia. Turn to clean pile of towels. Stack. Send to someone else in the basement. Repeat for hours. Break. Resume.

    I had worked the front desk for a year or so in the future. Management figured that if they had to have vaira working directly with guests they might as well be pretty. Incidentally, the hotel eventually got some complaints about taking jobs away from sinnoans so they hired some maori to work the front desk. I got moved back behind the scenes in the process. It wasn’t a horrible loss. It was quiet down here and I didn’t have to deal with the half-second of awkwardness people got when the realized they were going to have to talk to me.

    Down here I only had to deal with Nanakia. He would stroll down occasionally in his overly fancy manager’s uniform with flaps and pads that looked like they should have metals hanging from them and a long, white, silk scarf. He’d glance over at what I or some other vaira was doing, Occasionally he’d give some meaningless suggestion to at least give the pretense of authority. Usually he would just encourage us to work faster. There was a lot of work to be done and only three people to do it. He was young, no more than thirty to be sure, and basically ran the hotel since his uncle was rich and had bigger properties to manage. In the years where he could have been going to college he had been an above average coordinator. There were interviews and pictures of him during his days of minor celebrity plastered around the backrooms as a passive aggressive gesture to the vaira. I gave up this to come manage you; you’d best behave well.

    In reality, he hadn’t given it up voluntarily. I had found out in the past-future that he had actually been forced into retirement for five years over a bet with a hated rival. Nanakia had something of a gambling problem. Now the bet had expired. I wasn’t quite sure why he didn’t just go back to coordinating and leave the hotel to someone else. No one really was.

    “Break time. You have thirteen minutes for lunch today for performing well. Use the extra five minutes wisely.” Nanakia’s voice preceded him into the room. Upon entry he glanced around to make sure that the right people were doing the right thing. He smiled at me in a way that wasn’t altogether friendly when we made eye contact. Mercifully, he left almost immediately.

    I sat down on one of the chairs in the room and pulled out my lunch sack. I had three mid-sized berries today. Two oran and a pecha. I hated oran berries, but they were the cheapest and easiest to find so I pretended to like them around my family. I said a prayer before eating the pecha first. It ensured I managed to finish something during the break. When I was halfway through eating the first oran my father entered the room and moved towards me. I pulled up a chair with my left hand and he sat down

    “How has the work been, Shastra?”

    I should probably take a moment to note that at this point I was called Shastra. I prefer Aracai but almost everyone calls me Shastra now.

    “It’s been good. Fast, but good,” I replied while eating the last of the berry. It was rude, sure, but he was almost paranoid about me eating enough. If I had tried to be polite he would have been very nervous.

    “Good, good.”

    He said “good” a lot. I think on some level he believed that if he said it enough it would become true. He slipped me a bag with a colbur berry in it without making eye contact. Colbur berries are literally the best thing about the sinnoh region. I ate it in a matter of seconds.

    “You know, Nanakia and I had a talk earlier.” I looked up. If I needed to know about their talk, it couldn’t be good. But I started eating again after a moment. I was doubtful I could eat four berries in thirteen minutes and hold a conversation if two of the berries were disgusting. “He’s offered us some more money if you take a promotion and start working full time. It was a very good offer.”

    I very much did not want to take that offer. Nanakia was already creepy so I didn’t need him thinking I owed him anything, and I had something else on my schedule lined up for the next few months that conflicted with me doing anything but that. My father probably only had a vague understanding of the first point and no way of knowing about the latter.

    “I, look, I know we could use the money but I want to finish secondary school first. Can we at least wait a couple months?”

    My father frowned. “Why? You can legally drop out. What good will schooling do you anyway?”

    “I, um, look. Look, can you just give me some time, okay? Just a little.”

    “I see.” He stared forward and stroked his beard. His tone was neutral but cold. What good was a nearly adult girl who wasn’t married, dating, engaged, or even accepting full time employment when it was offered to her?

    “Alright, time’s up. Get back to work everybody,” Nanakia said as he entered the hall. He smiled at my father when he saw him, clearly aware of what we had just talked about, and helped him stand up. They walked together as they left the room. It wasn’t altogether uncommon since my dad was officially in charge of managing the vaira, but on this occasion it made me vaguely ill.

    --//|=

    I always took a certain path through Celestic Woods home from work. There was a nice clearing the middle where I could gather thoughts or do some quick reading. I walked and read quickly, so I could usually get away with reading a short chapter or two and still be home before suspicion would be raised.

    A lot of people say that it is horribly unsafe to walk in nature without a pokémon. That is not at all the case. If you aren’t an idiot, pay attention to your surroundings, and carry some pepper spray for good measure you should be fine.

    Which leads to another complication I was facing. I didn’t have a pokémon. I was in a position where I would probably need one rather soon.

    Why? Because I had to save the world.

    No, seriously. Dialga (with whom I have a long and complicated history) appeared to me after I royally screwed up saving the world in the future and told me that Arceus was going to reset time and space to a position from which the world could be saved. Which meant that I got to live life as a vaira teenager again. Of course, he hadn’t bothered elaborating upon how he expected me to be remotely helpful, but I wasn’t really expecting him too. That would have been too easy.

    Giratina and Palkia also had champions. The difference was, they liked their champions. They were (more or less) capable of saving the world and were in a position to do it.

    I met them in the clearing.

    Jane Doe was leaning back against a tree with her eyes closed, as per usual.

    Yes, you read that correctly. Jane. Doe. She was an alien from some far-off planet who looked more or less human, except she couldn’t have been much more than 1.5 meters tall and her understanding of human culture was limited, but somehow existent. I think she unironically named herself Jane Doe to avoid suspicion because that's the kind of half-understanding she held about more or less everything. Her ralts was sitting beside her, eyes peacefully closed and body slumped. I wasn’t quite sure how an alien had a ralts, but I had learned that it was easier not to ask questions.

    Evyrus, the lone male on our team, was working through a children’s reader when I entered the clearing.

    Please note that, whatever his reading level, he actually was a little older than me. Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen tops. Jane was hard to read since she wasn’t fully human, but she looked most like an older teenager as well. Neither actually knew their age. Jane had mentioned that she wasn’t good with time, and Evyrus was… complicated.

    As near as I could tell from his story, he had once been a fairly normal boy living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where time didn’t flow, humans were basically decimated, and the few pokémon that weren’t mindless slaves of a tyrannical Dialga formed the basis of society. Anyway, some stuff happened and he ended up as a pokémon in his world’s past, saved the world, and then ended up getting dragged here by Giratina.

    I began the conversation the only way you can in a group consisting of members that strange.

    “So, how was everyone’s day?”

    Jane opened her eyes and blinked as her metallic irises slowly faded to a more normal blue. “Oh, fine, I guess. We kind of hung out around the center. I watched some television. He read. I have no idea what you were doing because I was a good girl today and didn’t psychically stalk you like you asked. Happy?”

    “Reasonably so,” I replied.

    “I’m making some progress,” Evyrus said as he closed his book. The bookmark was on a page about an obese feline sitting. “I should have the hang of it soon enough."

    “So, um, about that plan you said you would have a week ago, do you have it yet, because I’m getting kind of bored,” Jane asked while she fidgeted in place as if to show just how bored she was. “Celestic’s nice and the ruins are pretty and old, but I want to see more of this place.”


    “Surprisingly, yes. I might have something of a plan. You did bring the documents I asked for, correct?”

    “Yes,” Evyrus answered as he pulled a book and a reasonably thick stack of printed pages from his backpack. “We got some weird looks at the library when we wanted to check this out. What exactly is it?”

    “Legal stuff,” I replied as I took the material. “Labor law stuff. I want to figure out if there are any loopholes I could use to go on this journey, since at the moment there aren’t any great options for me getting out of here. Which brings me to the plan. I find a way to get out of here legally. You two do the gym challenge, enter the tournament next winter and try to win or do well. That should get you enough recognition and credibility that when we do need help, real help, we can get it. Or we get more information about the demon from knowing people higher up the ladder. You’d get stronger in the process. That would help.”

    Evyrus nodded. “What about you? Aren’t you going to do anything?”

    “I’ll be your guide. I couldn’t beat the demon before the reset and I definitely couldn’t go from having no pokémon to going toe to toe with that monster in a matter of months, if it came down to it. I’ll just focus on learning more about the demon and keeping a low profile.”

    “Still, you could help us. And it’d be more fun if you joined!” Jane interjected.

    “Well, uh, I’d love to. But it’s safer if I don’t, Jane. High power vaira tend not to get on the bad side of people you don’t want to be on the bad side of here. Like Nazis.”

    Jane blinked. It was an odd sight, since her eyes rippled across all their possible colors when she did it. “Nazis? I thought they died in Germany?”

    “Not literal Nazis,” I responded. “Just people very much like them. Bad, bad people. People who can do basically do whatever they want.”

    Evyrus shifted uncomfortably. He probably didn’t have any idea what we were talking about but he didn’t like the feeling of it. He had some experience with tyrants.

    “Well, what about the Frontier?” Jane asked. “If Evyrus and I are really good, wouldn’t it just be more challenging to do that and wouldn’t it make us more famous?”

    How the heck did she learn about that? The Battle Frontier was something that very few people thought about because only a few of the brains made their battles public, there were never more than six people challenging at a time (most of whose identities were secret), and even though it only took the very best applicants no one ever won. Whether it was corruption or the sheer power of those who worked for it, the organization had long been dismissed as a closeted and elitist pipe dream. The real attention in the region was on the gyms.

    “It has notability requirements. You can’t just challenge the Frontier. And also I think ‘more challenging’ things aren’t really needed right now. Besides, you only have a ralts."

    The ralts opened her eyes at that and glared at me. I felt psychic waves bombarding my body and mind from every direction. I warded it off, of course. I had training. But it felt more like a warning than an actual attack. She might be just a ralts, but she packed some serious ESP.

    I shook myself off slightly and nonchalantly bushed a strand of hair out of my eye. The ralts was empathetic, but I could at least keep looking stoic on the outside. Jane laughed. I didn’t quite know how extensive her psychic powers were, but they were really, really powerful. She was definitely capable of getting around my standard mental blocks. It was not unreasonable to believe she was empathetic, too.

    “Anyway,” I said while frowning, hoping she would get the hint, “it’s not really possible at this point. If the demon doesn’t surface by the tournament I suppose you could do the Frontier next year.”

    “Who determines notability?” Jane asked. “Frontier Brains themselves? Could one of them let me challenge?”

    “I have no idea. Why, do you know one?”

    “I can convince most anyone to do most anything here, if I really wanted. Humans have much weaker minds than I was expecting.”

    “No mind control,” Evyrus said. “Just don’t. It’s not right.”

    “Even a little?” Jane pouted.

    “No,” I said. “None.”

    “But if I hypothetically did-“

    “You would be caught. Someone would realize that you didn’t have any credentials to challenge the Frontier with and your challenge would be suspended. Do it enough and you’d probably get us all arrested or discredited, which goes against the entire point of the plan.”

    Jane rolled here eyes as another flourish of color flashed through them. “Fine,” she conceded. She looked far more annoyed than fine.

    “Well, if that’s settled, meet me here again Monday at the same time. I should have made some progress on my end of the plan by then.”

    --//|=

    My father could try to guilt trip me into doing something I didn’t want to do all he wanted, but I was much better at passive aggressive warfare. I also did the cooking. Incidentally, I had a far higher tolerance for spicy food than he did. That night I served some of the spiciest sambar I could make. I liked it and his taste buds got the point. He stopped bugging me about the offer for the time being.

    --//|=

    That night I stayed up late reading through the documents that Evyrus and Jane had given me earlier in the day. I shared a rather small room with two of my siblings, sleeping on the highest bunk of a bed quite obviously meant for children. Reading was only possible due to a window letting in the light of the full moon.

    I hadn’t lied. They were legal documents. That made it somewhat harder to stay awake.

    I should probably take this space to further elaborate on the context of the word “vaira” in this narrative, for the benefit of those living outside of Sinnoh.

    For roughly three decades before this story begins, the Neoliberals had used means legal and illegal to maintain power. Meaningful elections had been suspended at some point well before I came here. They had only recently been promised again after a particularly violent wave of attempted coups from the right-wing militias.

    The Neolibs were rather famous for their attempts to modernize Sinnoh, partially through reliance upon the inventions, designs, or concepts that Team Galactic, now Galactic Enterprises, had left behind. While some of their plans brought prosperity and modernity to the urban areas of Sinnoh, others weren’t quite as glamorous.

    After a nasty independence war, Sinnoh needed people. Young people. Because almost all of theirs were wounded or dead. So they started importing them from abroad. India, South America, Africa—wherever people whose idea of "a lot of money" was equal to or less than ten USD a day lived. It was cheap, they could be deported for anything since they weren't citizens, and because they were desperate and isolated they could be treated as subhumans to be exploited at every opportunity.

    This was compounded by the reality that, even though Sinnoh didn't have enough native, ethnically Maori workers to provide its own labor they still hated anyone from outside of the South Pacific islands as a threat and an invader. They labeled us "vaira," or outsiders. We clearly didn't belong in their perfectly unrealistic order.

    My family was given far more permanent residence than most since my father had learned Maori in university, which had been the primary language on the island since the seafaring invaders had marginalized or killed off the natives a couple centuries ago. He also knew enough about business to be justifiable as “necessary labor,” meaning that he could stay here until the company either agreed to sponsor his permanent residence or until they decided they didn’t want him anymore. Then he would get a 48-hour notice to be out of the country.

    My problem: finding a legal way out so I could get on the road and start saving the world without getting my family or myself deported. On my twelfth birthday I signed a part-time contract, since that was the only way a non-citizen could really get employment in this country and my family needed it. Violating that by walking out would put my family, and myself, in some legal hot water. So I needed some way to get either dismissed from work for an indefinite period of time or, ideally, get Nanika to sponsor me for permanent residency. Neither was terribly likely. So there I was awake at almost midnight, reading legal documents to figure out what loopholes I could abuse or what I could offer my boss to make it worth his while to let me go.

    --//|=

    The next morning on my way to work, I met a ralts in my favorite clearing. Her comically large head tilted up a little to meet my gaze when I walked in. I think I had woken her up, but she seemed to be expecting me from the look in her eyes.

    “Hey.” I bent down. “Are you Jane’s? I’ve never really dealt with-“

    At about that point everything turned white. When color returned, I was somewhere else entirely.

    --//|=

    “Greetings, Miss Rangan.”

    I looked around me to see a field of multicolored flowers, some of which were shades that should not have existed in nature. Others were glowing. Some were both. The clouds were shades of red and blue and the sky was faintly orange. I turned to see a girl only slightly younger than me (physically) sitting high up on the stump of a redwood. She was barefoot and wearing jeans with the legs cut about thirty centimeters short and a tie-die t-shirt. Her hair was barely kept, with sprigs of an unknown plant in it. Her eyes were composed of several colors and patterns all at once, like they were kaleidoscopes I was looking through.

    It was more or less how I had always imagined the world would look under hallucinogens.

    “Miss, Rangan, I’m talking to you.”

    I blinked and looked back up at the girl. The sunlight shone behind her and the entire field was already disorienting.

    “Oh, hi. Are you a hippy or something?”

    It was an idiotic reply. But how else do you reply to that kind of situation? Seriously.

    The girl smiled. “Something to that effect. I’ve always admired that part of your culture. Peace, harmony, The Beatles. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.”

    Your culture? So you are Jane’s ralts. An alien, right?”

    “Yes, yes I am. I merely wished to communicate with you in a form you would be at ease around. Talking to pokémon is not standard on Earth, I believe.”

    I glanced around at the multicolor land, noticing new distortions. The clouds were rising and falling like wax in a lava lamp.

    “Not really, but this definitely isn’t standard on Earth.”

    “Well, of course not, but it’s a metaphor or something. You are familiar with the concept. It is meant to be relaxing and portray my own ideals for life in the world. You understand, yes?”

    “Nope. Can ralts even get high?”

    The girl glared down at me. “I don’t know. I haven’t had the chance. Why?”

    “I, uh, no reason.”

    “You haven’t even asked for my name. That’s the first step of basic politeness, is it not?”

    “Usually,” I replied. The ralts-girl continued to glare at me. “Fine. What’s your name?”

    She relaxed only slightly. “Jewel. I trust you know what those are, earthling.”

    I couldn’t tell how much of an insult that was meant to be, but my facial expression must have given away my irritation. Jewel giggled, but continued to look deadly serous for a hippy.

    “Well, this has been a nice talk. Did you actually have any reason to psychically kidnap me beyond telling me your name?”

    “Of course,” Jewel scoffed. “I wanted to give you a stern warning not to harm my mother. It might be inevitable, but it will at least mean that you know what’s coming when I crush your skull down to the size of a soda can.”

    I rolled my eyes. I was unfortunately quite used to death threats. Even really weird ones.

    “Right. Can we go back to the part of the conversation where you talked about peace and harmony? Or where you decided you wanted to be a hippy? Do you actually know what any of that means?”

    “Of course I do,” she pouted.

    “Threatening to crush someone’s head generally isn’t viewed as peaceful or harmonious.”

    “You lie.”

    I continued to stare at Jewel’s dream projection. An odd thought popped into my head that I probably shouldn’t have said aloud. But I figured that she was probably already tracking my mind. If ‘peace’ was too hard of a concept to grasp, I doubted she would do much better with ‘mental privacy.’

    “For a baby pokémon, isn’t your human form pretty old? Baby humans don’t look like that.”

    “I know what baby humans look like. I am older than my evolutionary stage suggests. And far more powerful.”

    To prove her point she shook the ground. The lucid sky turned green as if a tornado were imminent and Jewel’s eyes turned red with black patterns spiraling within them.

    “So tell me, puny girl: do you want to fight me?” she asked.

    Then I watched as the world became taller, or rather I became smaller. I wanted to make some snarky response but found that it only came out as “goo gah?” The newly giant Jewel stood above me as her clothes morphed into the translucent dress of a ralts.

    “Who’s a baby now, earthling?”

    Then the world faded once more.

    --//|=


    Talking to Jewel had at least one positive effect: it made the inevitable confrontation with Nanakia much less intimidating. He had the ability to keep me in Celestic indefinitely and deport my entire family with no reason, but he wasn’t the hippy Freddy Krueger.

    “Hey, can we talk for a second?”

    They were the last words I had ever expected myself to say to Nanakia the first time I was this age, but here I was saying them. He smiled.

    “Of course. Let’s just go to my office. It’s quieter there.”

    I paused. I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to be alone with him, but it also didn’t want my plans to become common knowledge just yet and really didn’t want my father finding out through the rumor mill.

    “Sure,” I agreed. If nothing else I had picked up some hand-to-hand combat training in the future.

    We walked up the staircases to the fifth floor. I honestly thought he would take an elevator. He wasn’t fat or anything, but he had never struck me as a man who cared much for fitness. Along the way we passed by several old magazine pictures of him with his froslass and weavile, either holding a ribbon or executing moves that would win him one.

    “How many contests did you win?’

    I didn’t really care. I had probably known at one point, given his pride in them.

    “Thirty-one in seven years,” he replied almost instantly. “I started when I was about your age with just an eevee. Went on to become one of the greatest ice-themed coordinators the world had ever seen. Fantastic career.” He frowned slightly then and stopped walking. “Do they have contests in India?”

    “I, uh, wouldn’t know. I’m not from there.” Because all people of Indian descent were from India of course.

    “Oh, right. Prak is from… Guinea, right?”

    “Guyana,” I corrected.

    “Right, right.” Nanakia stood there for a moment and mouthed ‘Guyana’ a few times before nodding, content he had committed the information to memory. “Sorry about that. I’m just a busy guy.”

    “I’m sure you are.”

    He opened the door to his office and walked in. There was a desk for a secretary that was currently vacant after the last one had quit. I didn’t quite remember that story; I would need to ask someone about it. He kept walking into his inner office and sat behind his desk. He invited me to pull up a chair.

    The room had a few very large posters of his pokémon on the walls. Glaceon, weavile, froslass, abomasnow, mamoswine… he wasn’t kidding when he said he liked ice types. The rest of the office was surprisingly bare for belonging to an ex-coordinator. There were a few pictures of his family on a nearby filing cabinet and a stack of papers on the desk. His glaceon sat on a padded circle on the floor. It stirred when I sat down and stared at me as ice crystals spread across its bed. Then it went back to sleep.

    “I suppose you’re here about the promotion,” Nanakia said.

    “I, uh, no. Not really. I was actually here about the opposite sort of thing.” Nanakia raised an eyebrow but didn’t comment. “I would really, really like it if you could sponsor permanent residence for me or at least void our contract.”

    He laughed. It was the boisterous laugh of someone trying to enjoy a joke they don’t find funny.

    “Right, right. Interesting. So, about the job-“

    “I’m serious.” I made eye contact and straightened my posture. At one point I had a rather impressive death glare. I suspect the blood red contact lenses had something to do with that.

    Nanakia shifted uncomfortably. “Can I ask why?”

    A rather long moment passed before I answered. He probably thought I was just trying to make up more of a bad, impulsive joke on the spot. In reality I was trying to think of something more plausible than the truth.

    “University, really. I’m going to graduate soon enough. There’s nothing technically prohibiting me from going to school here if I’m a permanent resident. After I get job training and such I could come back here with more human capital and be a bigger asset.”

    He drummed his fingers on the table. “And why would you come back?”

    “My family, of course.”

    “And what would I gain from having you as a general manager over your father? I can deport him any time I want. Makes it kind of hard for him to negotiate on terms. Let’s be real: I’m not used to the hotel business, but I’m not stupid. You’ll have to make me a better offer than that now.”

    I exhaled slowly. When the carrot fails, blackmail is often usable.

    “I could always go to the press, you know. Talk about the plight of underaged girls being forced to labor without citizenship in borderline illegal conditions.”

    Nanakia took that much better than I thought he would. He frowned and glared, but otherwise remained calm.

    “The working conditions here are quite legal. The pay is better than what any of you could make back home. I don’t deport without reason and don’t really threaten it. I’m one of the best bosses this side of Coronet. And you turned sixteen two months ago. You’re legally of age.”

    “In most of the world I wouldn’t be.”

    “And in Ancient India you would be expecting your third kid or something. It’s all relative. Who would you report this to, anyway? No one with power really cares?"

    I shook my head. I would need to go back to the drawing board. I think a tear or two accidentally ran down my cheek. I wasn’t sad, really. Just frustrated. I occasionally cried when I was frustrated.

    “Wait,” he called before I could leave the room. “There’s something you can give me that I want, but you won’t do it. There’s something you want that I won’t give you.”

    I wasn’t sure what ‘something’ he was referring to, but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it was the job.

    “This isn’t really a case where we can trade.”

    “Right, but it is something where we can compete.” He smiled. “How do you feel about a wager?”
    In the shadows, you will find truth.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    215

    Default

    Chapter Two: Seeing Red And White


    “What do you mean we still can’t leave?” Jane whined.

    “I mean that I need more time to work things out,” I replied. “My initial plan failed so now I need to think of another one. That’s all.”

    “We’ve been here over a week. Have you even talked to your boss yet? I can talk to him if you want. I can be quite convincing,” Jane said.

    I ignored her offer.

    “Yes, I’ve talked to him. He declined my initial proposition.”

    “And? Anything else?” Jane asked.

    “He offered to made a bet with impossible terms. Taking it would all but guarantee failure. I’ll need to think of something better.”

    “What was the bet?” Evyrus asked, marking his first question in the entire exchange.

    “He’s a former coordinator. He said he’ll let me go if I can win the contest on the eighteenth.”

    “And why is that hard? Evyrus and I are going to have to crush gym leaders or frontier brains or whatever. Contests aren’t even real battling.”

    “Just gym leaders,” I corrected. “Frontier is probably unviable right now.”

    “Whatever,” she pouted.

    “Anyway, it’s impossible because I don’t have any pokémon. Most of the people who enter Celestic contests aren’t even that good, but they’re certainly better than a girl who’s had her team for a little over a week. Losing the bet would effectively kill any chance I have of leaving. So, it looks like we’re back to the drawing board.”

    “You don’t have any pokémon?” Jane asked.

    “I’ve said that before.”

    “Still sticking with that story?”

    I looked at Evyrus. His expression didn’t make it clear if he knew why Jane was suddenly curious about this topic. “Yes, it’s the truth.”

    She glared at me as her eyes flashed metallic. “People don’t lie on Ek. You’re one of the first liars I’ve met. I hate liars. I want the truth.”

    I felt her mental offenses pressing against my safeguards and made a strong effort to fight back. If she was anywhere near as strong as her ralts it was hopeless. But symbolic defiance can be important when it’s the only kind you have.

    “I thought we had rules about mental boundaries,” I said.

    “Yes, yes we do,” Evyrus agreed. “Jane, if you’re attacking Aracai, please stop. We’re going to need trust if we can get through this.”

    “I can’t trust liars,” she said. “I want the truth.”

    We kept glaring at each other and she kept prodding my mind. But she never made a serious attempt to break in. She was putting up a symbolic offense at that point. Those could be important, too.

    “If that’s settled,” Evyrus said, “let’s talk about some other options. I think Jane and I would like at least a little input on this, or at least would like to know what your thought processes are.”

    “Alright,” I said, reluctantly. It was my choice to make. But I didn't want to fight both of them.

    “Sounds good,” Jane agreed.

    “Something I’ve been wondering, Aracai: why can’t we help? You might not like it but Jane could just do some psychic work and we could be done with the whole mess.”

    “Because of the message it sends,” I replied without hesitation. “I don’t need some outsider to come in and swoop me out of the situation that the maori have conned me into taking. I want to do it myself. Need to do it myself. It’s how I operate and how I made my reputation.”

    “I, um, I don’t really get it,” Evyrus replied.

    I sighed in exasperation. “Were there systemically oppressed minority groups where you lived?” I asked.

    “Dialga didn’t like the people trying to overthrow him. I think what he did qualified as oppression.”

    “Were there people not actively trying to overthrow Dialga that Dialga persecuted anyway?” I clarified.

    “Kind of everyone.”

    “Well, you probably wouldn’t get it. Jane? Any reference point for you?”

    She was silent and still. Both were unusual for her.

    Yes, Jewel said for her. She has a reference point.

    I was now curious, but it was clear I wasn’t going to get an answer from her then. “So she gets it. I can’t just rely on outside help to get me out of it. It’s something I’ve got to do myself.”

    “I need to get going. Bye,” Jane said before disappearing in a teleportation flash with Jewel.

    I frowned. “She can teleport?”

    “I just kind of assume that she can do everything a psychic type can do and then some,” Evyrus said.

    “You still want to talk about options, or would you rather go and deal with her?”

    “You scare me much less than she does. I think I’ll stay with you. Besides, who knows where she’s actually at now.”

    “Alright, I don’t have much longer to talk, but we can talk about a few things. You wanted to know about options, right? Other things we can do if this spectacularly fails?”

    “I actually wanted to know what your current plan—“

    “I don’t have one.” I looked him straight in the eyes. “I don’t have one. I never really did. I figure I’ll come up with something eventually, but…” I trailed off and brushed my bangs aside as my gaze fell to the ground. “I don’t think I will right now. What’s probably going to happen is that you’ll have to go on with Jane and occasionally call back to me if you need to know something.”

    “Please don’t do that,” Evyrus said. “Please don’t. I have no idea what I’m doing here and Jane, well, she thinks she knows things much better than she does. We’d probably both get hopelessly lost or violate every social taboo there is within a week"—I clamped my mouth shut instead of asking if that included public indecency—"Then we’d be arrested or mocked or something else that would keep us from ever saving the world. We need you. We’ll need you with us.”

    I met his gaze. “I’m not letting Jane solve my problems for me.”

    “What if it was that or the end of the universe?”

    We sat in silence for nearly two minutes before I stood to leave. As I walked away, I finally answered.

    “I’d think about it, maybe.”

    --//|=

    My father enjoyed his dinner far too much to provoke me about the promotion. Maybe he knew about the bet. Maybe he didn’t. Either way, for his stomach’s sake he didn’t confront me until it was almost impossible not to. I played nicely. The curry that night wasn’t even all that hot by my standards.

    “Dinner’s good, Shastra,” my mother said. “Good job.”

    Which likely meant: thank you for not doing that thing you did yesterday again.

    “Very much so,” my sister Maya added. “I do like some of your spicier food though.”

    “I don’t,” my father said between bites. “There’s a limit to how hot even Indian food should be. What’d you even use last night, ghost pepper?”

    “Only a little,” I answered. “They aren’t cheap so I can’t use much. I still have a couple more stowed away if you want to try them again.”

    That was about the end of complaints about my cooking. It’s how I learned soft power. You don’t have to be stronger than your opponent if they are utterly dependent on you for the essentials of life. Usually the people providing the essentials just don’t realize how much power they have.

    “How was your day, dear?” My father asked my mother.

    “Aadi’s doing well for the most part. I spent a few hours with him and Dhwani at their home. They’re almost settled in.” She paused. “There are a few legal issues for them. She might lose her job and since she’s from India and Aadi’s Guyanan there could be some problems. They hope everything will turn out alright.”

    In case you didn’t pick it up there: Aadi is my oldest brother. Total straight edge, suck up, honor-your-parents-and-traditions-above-all-else type of guy. He is married to another more or less permanent vaira. Of course, since neither of them had citizenship or a easy pathway to legal residency in the other’s country things could get tricky if one of them got deported. Their employers knew it. Aadi might have been working for less than I was. Not that he would complain, of course.

    My father nodded. If he had an emotional reply to give he would do so later in private, ideally when his children were away. The apartment we shared was really too small to get emotional in secret.

    “And your day, Jayu?”

    “Alright, I guess.”

    “Good, good.” The conversation turned to cricket, which almost made me feel bad. He never asked Maya how her day was because he kind of hated her, so excluding me was definitely not a sign of endearment.

    --//|=

    “Anything bothering you?” Jayu asked as he finished setting up a chessboard.

    We were in a run-down park near the apartment. It was usually deserted, largely because the swing set was rusty and would probably break if anyone actually tried to use it. The table was functional and it was a quiet place, so Jayu preferred to play chess here.

    “You could say that,” I replied as I eyed the board. He challenged me to a game of chess every day. There’s a stereotype that intelligent people are very good at that game. Some probably are. I’m not. I couldn’t have been any fun to play, but for some reason he kept challenging me. I kept playing because I liked talking to him and it was the best way of doing so.

    “Nan told me about the bet,” he said. “Why the hell did you take it?”

    “I didn’t,” I blurted out. For a minute my mind shut down in shock. Was Nanakia not even letting me decline his deals? “It was stupid and impossible so I didn’t. Did he say otherwise?”

    “No, he didn’t clarify. I just thought you’d take any challenge thrown at you.” He laughed to himself before his expression turned serious again. “Why the hell did you make it, then?”

    “He did. Can we get to playing?”

    Jayu shook his head. “Can we talk first? This is big.”

    “Fine.”

    “Why did you let him make it? Why do you want to leave?”

    “Jayu, I…” Much to his credit, I contemplated telling him the truth. “It’s complicated. I have reasons that I really want to tell you about, but can’t?”

    “You pregnant?” He asked. “****, you’re pregnant, aren’t you? That’s why you want to get away. I swear if that bastard—“

    “No, no. Definitely not pregnant. Nothing like that,” I interjected. “I, uh, you know I wouldn’t let him do that, right?”

    Jayu smiled a little. “Of course, sorry about that. But seriously, why do you want to leave?”

    “It’s just something I have to do now,” I said. “Can we leave it at that?”

    He moved his hand towards the board as if he wanted to motion for me to move. For a moment he held it there before he pulled it back.

    “What do you want?” he asked.

    “I thought we just went over that. It’s complicated.”

    “No, bigger than that. What do you want out of life? What do you want to do here,” he motioned broadly upon saying the word ‘here.'

    “My answer to a specific question is too complicated to tell you, so ask me a bigger question and expect an answer?”

    He laughed. “Basically.”

    I stared at the board and lifted a pawn after a minute of feigned consideration. I had no idea what I was doing.

    “No, seriously. What do you want?”

    “I don’t know, probably the same thing as everybody else,” I said.

    “And that is?”

    “To leave this place better than I found it.”

    “And you think that everyone wants that?”

    “Yes, yes I do.”

    “Cyrus?”

    “I think in his view of the world, he was trying to make the world better. That just happened to mean destroying it for him.”

    “Hitler?”

    “Why does everyone always invoke Hitler?” I complained.

    “He’s a pretty well agreed upon definition of evil.”

    “He didn’t kill puppies,” I said. “So if he’s the definition of evil, then killing puppies can’t be evil. And all vegetarians must be evil. He was vegetarian. So both of us are monsters.”

    “You know you’re defending Hitler, right?”

    “I’m not. I’m just objecting to your statement.”

    “Alright, alright. But my question still stands. Did Hitler really just want to make the world better?”

    I sighed. “Look, probably. He might have done some bad things to do it, but in his mind I think he wanted to make things better. He just wasn’t terribly good at it and his view of ‘the world’ was rather limited.”

    “So which world do you want to make better?” Jayu asked.

    I rolled my eyes. “This one. It will inevitably get better. It just needs people to guide it along.”

    “So you want to leave to guide things along?”

    “I, um, no. That’s not quite the whole reason.” I had forgotten that he was at least my equal in manipulating conversations and people. “It’s complicated and not that personal. But what do you want, anyway, while we're asking?

    “Eh. I’m not sure I have some big want yet. I think too many people rush into it and by the time they find out that it doesn’t bring them happiness it’s too late. So I just want to talk to people. Figure out what they want and try to help them with it. Maybe when I’ve worked things out they’ll return the favor. I figured I might as well start with you.”

    I nodded and looked back at the board, more out of courtesy than understanding.

    “If we’re still going to play, it’s your turn.”

    --//|=

    By the end of the next school day I had been praying on and off for roughly eight hours and still had nothing close to an answer. I had prayed to Shiva, Saraswati, Kali, Murugan and many, many others. Just as the last bell rang and I had to make one final trip to my locker and then head off to work, a strange thought occurred to me:

    Why not try Dialga?

    It made sense. She was technically my patron, even if we’d had a rough history. Besides, she obviously had something of an interest in not letting Coronet get overrun again.

    I didn't have any relevant prayers memorized, so I had to improvise. I am bad at improvised prayer. It ended up roughly like this:

    Hey, Dialga. Look, I get that we’ve had some issues in the past. I’ll be the first to apologize. I’m sorry for blowing up your temple that one time. To my credit, I haven’t even done it yet! It was an accident anyway, more or less. There just happened to be people in there I needed to take care of and my orders got a little muddled. Point is, I’m sorry. Now, if you could give me some help with saving the world like I’m supposed to do, and more specifically getting me out of Celestic so I can save the world, it would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

    --//|=

    Dialga must have hated me a lot more than I expected. She answered.

    --//|=

    When I walked out of school, I saw Evyrus standing near the entrance. He looked really uncomfortable. That was normal. I don’t think he had ever seen a settlement of humans nearly as large as Celestic City, which wasn’t even large by Sinnoh standards. He saw me walking towards him and smiled. His chatot fluttered off of his shoulder when he started to move and his infernape began to walk towards me on her knuckles.

    “Hey,” I called. “Any reason you decided to meet me today?”

    Especially at a place where we would be seen together. News traveled fast in vaira communities. I doubted it would be taken well if I was seen walking with a slightly older man that my parents didn’t know. If nothing else, I would have to add it to the increasingly long list of things I needed to explain.

    “I just wanted to talk without Jane present,” he said. “I can talk to her without you a lot, and, no offense to her or anything, I need a break sometimes.”

    “I can identify with that,” I said.

    We walked into the tree line to go along my favorite path in the woods. I briefly considered if that would make the inevitable talk at home even worse, but figured that I was probably in for much worse when I had to break the news I was leaving anyway. I might as well get a preview.

    “Has Jewel talked to you yet?” he asked.

    “Ugh, yes. I thought her trainer was bad, but at least she isn’t psychotic magic hippy.”

    “Is that what you call people like her?” Evyrus asked.

    “It refers more to people like her who are way too high to bother with killing you.”

    “High? Like, mountains?”

    “Add it to the list of Earth-things I need to explain to you,” I replied.

    “OK.” A pause settled in as we walked over the wet grass. It had rained earlier that day. It often rained in spring. “What did Jewel say to you?”

    “She assumed I was hellbent on killing Jane and threatened to further de-age me, or just outright kill me. I don’t think ralts actually have time powers, so probably the latter.”

    “Kirlia,” he said. “The damn thing evolved. Flaunts her body constantly to my partners. If she was smug before, you can’t even imagine her now.”

    “Oh. Wow. Sorry you have to live with her.”

    Evyrus’ chatot loudly screeched at a nearby pachirisu before flying after it, chattering incessantly.

    “Chatot! You don’t have to pay back every insult,” Evyrus yelled.

    As he rushed forward and alternated between lecturing his chatot and apologizing to the pachirisu, an interesting thought occurred to me.

    “You can speak to all pokémon?” I asked. “Not just yours?”

    “I spent long enough surrounded by the language to pick it up,” he said.

    “So you can actually speak it?”

    “A little. It’s hard to do with a human mouth. Most of the pokémon here seem to get the basics of the local human language as well, even though the species don’t seem to get along as well as they did at home.”

    “It makes sense. The maori hunted pokémon for a long time here before, allegedly, the local legendaries took action against it. They probably learned as a survival tactic.”

    Evyrus looked appalled as he stared at me with a half-open mouth, his hand almost clenching at his side.

    “That was a very long time ago,” I clarified. “A couple hundred years before I was born. And it also wasn’t my ancestors, mind you. Indians had much more respect for the animals and pokémon of our lands.”

    Another pause, this one far more awkward, filled the void in our conversation. Eventually Evyrus filled the gap with the aspect of the human experience most intricately linked to senseless violence:

    “So, uh, in the past, future, whatever thing—“

    “Just the future,” I corrected.

    “Right, that. Anyway, in the future, were you married or anything?”

    “Engaged,” I said. “Had been engaged for a few years. We wanted to put off the ceremony until the demon was defeated. By the time it became clear that wasn’t happening, well, it seemed altogether too depressing to actually get married and we had much bigger things to deal with.”

    “Oh,” he said. “So, did he die?”

    “I take it your culture is rather heteronormative,” I said.

    “What?”

    “It means that the cultural values reflect straight relationships. Huge problem here in Sinnoh, at least in the parts where the Brigadiers are popular. You just assumed I was dating a guy.”

    Evyrus blinked. “You were engaged to another girl?”

    “If I was what difference would it make? In any case, I was bleeding out when the world ended so I was actually more dead than my partner.”

    “So you were dying?”

    “If you want to be technical I still am. And so are you. But at that point I was dying a lot faster than I am now.”

    He dropped the conversation. We were close enough to my workplace. He said goodbye and left. He didn’t shake hands or hug or anything like that. He didn’t seem to like touch very much at all. It made him even more uncomfortable than normal.

    --//|=

    Hey, you. I want to talk.

    I looked around the laundry room to figure out where the voice was coming from.

    I’m not there. I’m back at the Center.


    “Jane?” I asked, mentally.

    Yes, she replied.

    I thought we had an agreement about mental privacy?

    How is basic telepathy violating your privacy?

    You knew I was looking around.

    She didn’t reply for a moment.

    Fine, I’ll stick to telepathy.

    So, what do you want to talk about? I asked.

    Evyrus is out and, while you’re still a liar and I might hate you, you’re the only person I can talk to outside of Jewel. I could talk to people in the lobby, I guess.

    Don’t do that.

    Alright, then I’m talking to you, liar.

    Why am I a liar? I asked.

    Because you lied to me, she responded.

    About what?

    You know what.

    No, I really don’t. Please tell me.

    You’re lying again.

    I shifted my attention back to work. This was a pointless conversation. Then my hands stopped folding towels. Trying to do so just made my arm muscles strain against themselves until I felt like I might tear my body apart.

    Jane, bodily possession is most definitely a violation of privacy and I suggest you drop it right now.

    Then talk to me.

    I have some serious psychological issues with possession. It would hurt our cause if I had a breakdown in the middle of work.

    Why? How’d you get those?


    I don’t like talking about it and if you probe my memory for it, I will kill you. No mercy. No regrets.

    She was silent for a minute.

    How would you do that?

    I chose to ignore the question. I already had enough things I was dealing with that I needed to do and had no way of doing.

    I’m starting to panic a little. Please let me go.

    She complied, mercifully.

    So are you going to tell your boss no today?

    I already did. I don’t need to again.

    Meet with him at all?

    He might come down to check on me and/or check me out. That would be it.

    I see.

    She was silent for another hour and a half.

    --//|=

    I decided to eat lunch alone in a corner of the hotel’s basement that was old enough most people had never encountered it or didn’t give it much thought. The hotel was old, even by Sinnoh standards. Portions of the underground were still earthen, even as the rest was updated so that it only looked like a relic. Tourists liked the idea of old things, but they didn’t want to live in one.

    Unfortunately, solitude can only be chosen if all other parties agree to respect it.

    “Hello, Shastra. Odd seeing you down here.”

    Nanakia strolled into the dank room, looking extremely out of place in his elaborate jacket surrounded by the smells and sights of the mud that humanity had used with before we found less natural, more desirable diversions.

    “Just eating alone. Why are you here?” I asked.

    I had left my pepper spray in my backpack in the laundry room. This was going to be resolved by talking alone.

    As he began to reply, Nanakia’s glaceon walked into the room and the temperature instantly dropped. The fox grimaced as she stained her perfect white fur brown with an unfortunate brush against the wall.

    He picked his pokémon up, letting some of the mud rub against his jacket, but didn’t seem to mind. For a moment I wondered if he might get frostbite.

    “I had to inspect the facilities from time to time for the bureaucrat’s sake. The hotel’s older than their grandparents and they still question its safety.”

    “I see,” I said. “They obviously don’t respect tradition."

    “Not in the slightest, no one in government does. We’ve run this land our own way for centuries but the damn Enterprisers wonder how we ever survived without regulation and free trade. As long as they make a buck, well, to hell with Sinnoh.”

    “I see.”

    “As you should. So, you thought over the wager anymore?”

    Yes, yes I had as a matter of fact. And I still wasn’t willing to take it. I’m sorry.

    “Yes, yes I have as a matter of fact. And I’ve changed my mind.”

    You can guess which one I meant to say.

    JANE! It is possible to mentally yell. I was doing it.

    “Really?” Nanakia asked.

    “Yes,” my mouth said. “You’re on.”

    I swear, if you don’t let me take back control of my body right now, I will rip you limb from limb and leave you for the staraptor.

    You can try
    , she replied.

    “Well, then, I suppose you won’t mind if Snowflake and I get into the action ourselves? Since you have agreed, and I have a vested interest in the outcome, it only makes sense that I be allowed to participate.”

    Three thoughts popped into my head: 1) That was the absolute least original name I had ever heard for a glaceon. 2) Jane, please don’t make this any worse. 3) Dialga, if you are in any way responsible for this please know that I can now blow up your temple a second time, this time around for actual vengeance.

    I wouldn’t threaten beings far more powerful than me if even I can do this to you, Jane said.

    You are the single most despicable ***** I’ve ever met, and I have known more genocidal maniacs than any person ever should.

    “Fine by me, if you’re fine returning to a loss.”

    “Well, then. If you’re so cocky about it this should be a great match. I look forward to seeing what you bring next Saturday.”

    Please renegotiate to the next Saturday, if at all possible. Please. Please. Please. Please.

    Thanks for using the magic word.

    “Wait, if you’re going to enter can we push back the contest a week?”

    “Not quite so confident now, are you?”

    “Well, I need something to beat ice types. I was more prepared for the usual trainers.”

    Nanakia chuckled. “Fine, fine. But that’s as far as I’ll push it back. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have more of the hotel to inspect.”

    He left me alone in the moist, earthy cavern. I found myself staring at his retreating form, watching as his immaculate clothes disappeared into the darkness.

    Jane, I asked, [I]What could have possibly given you the impression that was a good idea?"

    You have a pokémon.

    I paused for a long time.

    You think I’m a liar because of that?!

    You do own one.

    Only… no. I’m not having this argument now. Let me go. I need to be let go.

    What’s the magic word?

    I gave her two. They served their intended purposes.

    --//|=

    When I got out of work I ran to the Pokémon Centre, utterly oblivious to the misshapen paths and the Brigadiers and the pedestrians and the other vaira. They didn’t matter.

    Long before I reached my destination my vision was already filled with red.

    --//|=

    When I got close to the Centre itself I saw Evyrus standing outside with his infernape. He saw me and moved to block my path. I didn’t slow down. He visibly sighed and started walking towards me, his infernape moving beside him. I tried changing paths a little, but his infernape easily outmaneuvered me. I came to a stop. There was going to be a confrontation and, while I might be able to overpower Evyrus despite his considerable size advantage, I knew from personal experience that a trained infernape was more than a match for any human.

    “What do you want?” I called out to him as he finished walking to me.

    “What happened with you and Jane? She didn’t say much about it when I got back.”

    “She possessed me and made me take the bet. Can you step aside now?”

    “I thought we had a ‘no possession’ agreement?”

    “As did I.”

    Evyrus exhaled and closed his eyes as he analyzed the situation. “I will definitely talk to Jane about that.”

    “I don’t think she understands what privacy means, and at this point I doubt she’ll learn before she violates both of ours completely.”

    “No, no she gets what privacy means. She just doesn’t get that most humans aren’t psychic.”

    “What?”

    “When I came in and talked to her about what she did, she justified herself by saying that you would have fought back if you were actually uncomfortable. She thought she was doing you a favor.”

    “I was fighting back. I’m a black belt at two mental defense arts. I was fighting back as hard as nearly anyone can.”

    “But it still barely even registered to her. Think about that. Barely registered.”

    “I think I can make an impact that registers with her. Let me. Step aside.”

    Evyrus raised a hand as if he was going to put it on my shoulder in some fraternal, condescending gesture. Then he withdrew at the last moment.

    “If she can override your body, how do you plan on hurting her?”

    “She caught me by surprise. I’m angry now. Very angry. I can take her.”

    “Maybe so. But what about Jewel? If she sees you trying to kill her trainer… I wouldn’t want to be in Celestic. Mew knows what she would do. You can’t talk to her now, much less try to attack her.”

    “And does that justify her actions? I spent almost two decades laboring in conditions far beneath me because I was afraid of people. Then I decided to fight back and my fears weren’t justified. They were reversed. I might be sixteen again, but I swear that I will not again be controlled by power alone.”

    “Aracai, you’re yelling. You might want to quiet down if you want to avoid attention.”

    “Do I look like I care?”

    “No.”

    “It was a rhetorical question.”

    “I figured as much. What I’m trying to say is that if you really, really want to do it, I would wait. Just ride the journey out. You can't just let billions of people die because you two don't get along. We need her power and your knowledge to get through this.”

    I grimaced. I didn’t like it. Jane needed to die painfully and soon. But he had a point.

    “Fine. I’ll hold back for now. You still might not get to see me on the journey if, no, when I lose to Nanakia.”

    “You think I’d let that happen? Or Jane, for that matter?”

    “I expect you to respect my wishes and stay out of my business.”

    Evyrus shrugged. “If you lose, I’m not sure I can stop Jane from pulling some strings. She’s already anxious to leave and now she’ll have to wait a few more days at best.”

    “Weeks,” I corrected. “I got her to push it back a week.”

    “Well, then, if you won’t be too busy training Friday night, there’s someone coming into town. He sounds like he’s stirring up unrest. Could be bad news for us.”

    “Did you get a name?”

    “Urayu.”

    “Oh… no."

    I smiled a little, rage lessening. Urayu... I'd never met the man. He'd died before I had gotten involved in revolutionary politics, but he was a legend still. As Sinnoh started to fall apart he had always been there, keeping the most vulnerable safe from the wrath of the demagogues. He had built them a safe haven in the Pacific and paid the ultimate price for it... huh. It hadn't occurred to me before that he, and others I had only heard honored as martyrs were still walking around with flesh and blood.

    "Urayu's not a threat. He’s on our side.”

    “OK then, I guess. I guess I can’t complain about being allied with troublemakers. It’s happened before.”

    He sighed, off in some distant memory as a strange mix of sadness and happiness flowed from his person. He was content. I was tolerant. Jane would avoid her death for a little while longer. I saw clearly now the path ahead on that front. I would bide my time. Regrow my own powers and learn the limits of Jane's. And then, when the world was safe, I would watch her lifeless corpse fall down to Earth. I was damned anyway. What was one more body on the pile?

    But Evyrus didn't need to know that. It made no difference to the safety of the planet and thus was none of his concern.

    "Well, then, I still need supplies. I've got a vague plan on how to do this, if not a good one."

    I stepped forward towards the center and Evyrus, perhaps noticing the shift in my mood or perhaps lost in his own reflections, stepped a little bit aside to let me pass. Our fingers just barely brushed as I moved.

    Right as I stepped passed him, he fell to the ground unconscious.
    Last edited by Rediamond; 24th October 2015 at 10:04 PM.
    In the shadows, you will find truth.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •