Pyrocomende the Salamence looked like a ghostly spectre as she nursed the Pokemon egg in her lap. It was a cold night, and cool breezes frequently wafted throughout the dark cave that she had come to consider her home, so the to-be mother was on her guard, ceaselessly protecting her child from the cool air currents that got stirred up as a result of some complicated formula her own mother had once taught her in her childhood. It was a widely known fact that heat was essential for Salamence embryos. If even a little bit of cold reached them, it could reduce or even wipe out the ancient Dragon energy residing inside their bodies. And though it is true that this powerful asset continuously swells inside any normal Dragon – Type with a stable diet, having less of it would slow down the production of energy; and if the Dragon possessed none, he wouldn’t even be able to make any of it.
What on earth am I thinking of? Pyrocomende snapped out of her thoughts. She couldn’t afford getting lost in thought that easily; she had to stay alert. Although she was aware that mothers experience aimless mental wandering for a while after laying the egg (usually the phenomenon wore off after the egg hatched), she was still alarmed by the fact that, at any random moment, she could start involuntarily thinking about Pikachu and her neighbours and whatnot. She could already see the more visible effects of post-egg fatigue; the eyes under her fire red eyebrows – which stuck out rigidly – had dark circles, her neck (that had a ring of four long spikes and two short ones arranged geometrically at the neck-to-head joint) had a dull, continuous ache; the wings, shaped like the blades of axes, were getting slightly harder to flap, and she always felt tired. The doctors were a bit baffled about why there was nothing abnormal about her long tail, but still, they assured her that everything was going to go back to normal in a few weeks.
Suddenly Pyre (as the pregnant Salamence was often called) heard noises of activity. The creak of the back door, a series of footsteps. She readied herself for battle, anticipating rouge Pokemon, and then, out of the darkness of the residential hallway, which led to every house in the cave, a large, familiar figure entered.
“Tempicon!” Pyre exclaimed. “Don’t scare me like that!”
Tempicon was the name of Pyre’s life mate, or ‘husband’ as some Pokemon call it, and a proud member of the Salamencian military’s Alpha Force, a collection of some of the world’s best Salamence.
“Sorry, I didn’t know,” Tempicon apologized, then continued, “but that’s not important. I just received an order from General Atmos. He says that our forces are holding their ground against the Ninjask invasion, but there have been too many casualties. He’s sending Beta Force as reinforcements into the battlefield, and since I doubt you’d be able to keep our egg nice and safe while you charge into legions of ninja–bugs that move at the speed of light, he has decided on taking a volunteer from Alpha Force. A volunteer who just happens to be me.” He said all this casually but quickly, as if he wanted to get it over with as fast as he could.
Pyre looked at him reproachfully; she knew from experience that going out there could be fatal, and anyways, she wouldn’t mind some company in the loneliness of the cave.
Tempicon sighed. “Don’t blame me, you should have seen the speech he gave before he asked us if any of us at Alpha wanted to take your place! It was simply impossible to refuse!” He marveled for a moment about the massive amount of energy that went into laying and taking care of a Pokemon egg, for the sole cause of Pyre’s immaturity was fatigue.
“It’s all right, I didn’t mean to make you upset! I forgive you.” Pyre said.
“Wow, the great Pyrocomende finally forgives and forgets,” Tempicon teased. “You got disoriented by my good looks, didn’t you?”
Pyre smiled. This was what she loved the most about her life partner, the fact that no matter what situation, he would never completely lose his exuberance.
“Anyways, I have a lot to do and very little time, so, if you’ll excuse me, Your Highness…” Tempicon trailed off, then strode back out of the residence.
“Good luck in the battle!” Pyre called.
“Thanks!” shouted a faint voice from the other end of the hallway.
Pyre settled back down into her seat. She truly worried for Tempicon. He had gone to fight a very dangerous battle, as was often the case if you picked a fight with a horde of Ninjask. But the Salamence army hadn’t done that; the Ninjask had come to the cave on their own. No one (save for the Ninjask themselves) knew why they did it, but two days ago there had been six Ninjask trying to enter the cave. When they were refused, they attacked Delta Force. While Delta Force called for reinforcements, more and more Ninjask started appearing from seemingly nowhere, until it was full-scale war. She tried asking around, but no one seemed to know why the Ninjask were so keen on getting inside the cave – and why had she been calling it ‘the cave’ so much? She very well knew that it was called Serafoculaton! Worried both about the situation outside Serafoculaton and the condition of areas inside herself, Pyre shifted in her chair and hoped the battle would continue smoothly. It was going to be a very long night.
Fen was bored. Very bored. He had been waiting inside an alcove – no, a niche – on the inner wall of that godforsaken cave for Weng knew how long, and that too cramped in with his annoying partner-in-war, who couldn’t help but keep his mouth in motion – no matter what sound came out. Trying to cover Fong’s mouth with his wings but only succeeding in amplifying his partner’s whispered hisses of I’m-so-bored-I’m-so-bored-I’m-so-bored and so on, he wondered when the guards at the main entrance would get called into battle so the duo could slip into the inner rooms.
A few hours later, Pyre woke up to the sounds of movement. She heard the distinct rustle of wings, a rustle that was so silent and rapidly beating that it would be inaudible to most Pokemon, but to Pyre, it was as clear as day. She pondered over what the creature could be until she heard what was unmistakably a whisper.
“Can we come in now, Fen?” said the voice.
“Be quiet, Fong, or she’ll hear us!” hissed another. Apparently there were two.
“I think she already did!”
“Don’t be stupider than you already are, and stop speaking!”
“Why do we have to hide like this? It’s cramped!” wailed the first voice.
“I’m telling you, shut your mouth! We need to have the element of surprise!”
“So if we find she’s not the one, we can make a smooth exit, idiot!”
“Oh, I see.”
“Yeah, you see. You see nothing! I’m not supposed to have to tell you that this is the right time to come out!"
“No time for sorries, we’re coming out on one! Three-“
“Well, how else could I say I’m sorry?”
“Just leave it! Two-“ He was getting quite loud now.
“Oh, all right.”
“ONE! AND ACTUALLY DO IT RIGHT THIS TIME!”
Two Ninjask burst into the room, their golden stripes gleaming in the dim firelight.
“Hi, I’m Fen!” said Fen.
“And I’m Fong!” exclaimed Fong.
“And we’re Duo No. 600!” they chorused.
“Man, we really need to get a better introduction,” Fen groaned.
“Not to mention a cooler duo name,” added Fong.
Pyre interrupted their conversation. “What do you want?”
They ignored her. “Fen, can you see the egg? Oh, wow, it’s right there. And it’s so shiny! Let’s get it and get out of here!” Fong blathered on.
“Idiot! That’s what I’m doing! Let me concentrate so I can do a good Focus Energy!” replied Fen.
“Oh, okay. But why are you starting to glow red? It’s scaring me!”
“That is the Focus Energy, dimwit! Now shut it so that I can Slash really good!”
Pyre felt a pang of indignity. That was her egg, the future victim of Fen’s Slash! She couldn’t let this happen!
As Fen delivered the striking blow, a blur of red and blue appeared in front of him, and before he could do anything to stop himself, he felt his clawed arms hitting toughened Salamence skin.
The attack didn’t even leave a scratch.
Then, out of nowhere, another Ninjask came into being. It was a perfect copy of Fen, but it was translucent, as if it were a ghost. The Fen-ghost raised its arm, its body radiating a sort of phantom energy, and Slashed Fen in a ground-quaking Counter attack, sending him tumbling into the opposite wall. Enraged, he started darting around the room, stopping for only a moment at one of four points on the room before moving again to the next one, and continuously increasing his speed – until it seemed like there were four copies of him circling Pyre.
The very same Salamence Fen was using Double Team (or Quadruple Team) on was baffled at what attack to use. She tried to shoot Flamethrowers at the Fens, but most of the time they simply dodged it, and in the other times her attack actually went through them. Throughout her efforts, her skin grew more and more irritated, as if she had a growing rash. She ignored it though, and continued trying attacks at the copies, but to no avail. The irritation increased until it was painful and almost unbearable, and only then did she figure out what it was.
Fen was very pleased. He had started a Fury Cutter Flurry, a technique he had invented himself. That move, coupled with Double Team, was almost foolproof, unless he was subdued or Knocked Out before he could finish it, and since Pyre neither showed any signs of using a decent move nor looked like she could take much more of his attack, he was almost certain he would win the battle.
Then, Pyre was struck with an idea. She knew she could perform it, and it would be just the thing she needed to gain the upper hand and possibly win the battle. It was fixed – she would do a Lock On, a move which she had been neglecting for a while because of the uselessness of it, but was now starting to seem very useful. Determined to protect her child no matter what, she reared back her head and sent an almost invisible chain of ectoplasm at the Fen in front of her. It passed straight through the duplicate and disintegrated. She was not surprised; out of the four copies, three could attack but not be attacked, and one physically existed. It was that one copy that she needed to attack in order to attack Fen, and it was probably the key to defeating him. Every fibre of her being screaming in pain, she tried Lock On again.
It was her third try when she hit gold.
The third chain connected with the real Fen and latched on, having no plans to release its bond until the next move was played. And it did. Pyre made no hesitation in sending a Hyper Beam after the Lock On. The attack swerved as Fen tried to dodge it, the phantom chain its guideline, and struck Fen straight on, making him fall to the floor, unconscious.
However, the Hyper Beam exhausted whatever little energy Pyre had remaining and left her on the edge of consciousness. Barely able to stay awake, she saw Fong coming out of the little crack in the wall he had been hiding in for the duration of the battle, walk across the room until he reached the egg, stop to do a war chant that went something along the lines of I did it, I did it, I’m a hero, I’m a hero, and start a Headbutt on the egg. He stopped again, then muttered, “Hey, that feels weird,” and abruptly went completely rigid. He then said, “What’s… happening to me?”
Pyre could see what Fong meant. His eyes were starting to become hazy, and he stopped flapping his wings, struggling as if unable to. All of a sudden, the whole cave was filled with a female voice. It was alluring yet repulsive. Beautiful yet disgusting. It started speaking in ancient Alakazam about life and death, male and female, about the dualistic world all living things lived in and the perfect, harmonious balance it symbolized, and then it started singing.
“If ever the world should come to harm,
And everyone have to come to arm,
The Protector will make Hope flags unfurled
And resolve & restore peace to the world.
“If The Protector should come to harm,
Perhaps some noble deed gone wrong,
Into activation will come a charm,
A charm that conquers… Fen and Fong!”
Even before the last strains of singing had died out, a shadow figure appeared above them. Disguised by the darkness of the room, it was difficult even for Pyre to see. While Fong hazily returned to consciousness, Pyre squinted up, trying to discern the shape of the figure. But, as hard as she tried, the Salamence’s eyes just couldn’t comprehend it. It seemed that the creature – could it be called a creature? It was so shapeless – was simply beyond the scope of seeing, hearing or smelling, as she soon figured out. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, it dived headfirst into the two Ninjask, gruesomely but cleanly hacking them into two equal halves. But the Ninjask did not bleed – they did not bleed like normal creatures did, anyways – they seemed to bleed a blinding light, which quickly engulfed them and made it impossible to see – anything. When the light died down, there was nothing there – just an empty block of air where Ninjask used to be.
The creature then turned to Pyre.
“Are you from the Atmocomende clan?” It spoke without a voice, as if it was not a living thing that was saying these words. “Born of the couple that seemed to die twice and be reborn again? Did the song that just played talk about a charm or spell and speak the names of the ones who put your egg in danger?”
“Everything you said is true, but why do you want to know?” Pyre asked wearily through half-closed eyes. She wasn’t lying; it was physically impossible for Pokemon to forget their own clan, her parents did experience all that (although she would rather not think about that, those times had not been very pleasurable), and she definitely hadn’t imagined the events that had just happened.
“I am bound by duty to keep the information you seek secret, but if I truly am right, then I’ve finally found the answer to the prophecy. After your egg hatches, send him as farther up the Path as you can, then, on the dawning of his Almicon Pahos, come to my home in Desert Island, immediately south of Virc-Dho and east of the Volcano Sea – Salamence! Salamence! Don’t go yet, I have matters to discuss with you!”
Pyre didn’t care. She was about to faint and escape her pains for the amount of time it took to find and revive her, and she was more than willing to. But just as the comfort numbed her injuries, she felt a Sitrus berry being forced into her mouth, and she was roughly thrown back into consciousness.
“As I was saying,” the creature continued, “at the evolution before Almicon Pahos, give him three Enigma berries. Bear in mind, the only way to keep his growth proper is to follow what I said. If you ever fail to, and you see the consequences of your actions, get him directly to me. Only I will be able to help him.”
It started to turn back into the shadows.
“Remember, three Enigma berries at Betalcon Pahos and a visit to Desert Island at Almicon Pahos. If you do not follow my instructions, you and your son will have to come to me or pay for your ignorance.”
“Wait! Don’t go! There are so many questions left unanswered!” Pyre called, but the creature paid no attention. Within a moment, he was gone, seemingly having melted into the wall, leaving Pyre with only a memory and an uneasy sense of foreboding as she drifted into unconsciousness.