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Pokémon 2/3

kintsugi

golden scars | pfp by sun
Location
the warmth of summer in the songs you write
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. silvally-grass
  2. lapras
  3. golurk
  4. custom/booper-kintsugi
  5. custom/meloetta-kint-muse
  6. custom/meloetta-kint-dancer
hiya Raggy! Here for chapters 1-3 + for your Blacklight prize!

I noticed that Negrek did some grammar/line edits for you, and she did a great job of hashing out my main comments there so I'll just throw a general "seconding this" on those! Looks like the prose cleans up gradually over the chapters but you're aware of some of the earlier bits. You mention mostly not wanting to go back and edit these early chapters anyhow so I didn't really want to harp on anything in particular/kept things big picture, but I'm happy to go into more detail if you'd like!

The overarching plot of this story is really interesting--what is an Arceus and why is the answer "no"? I'm reminded of some absurdist stories ala Douglas Adams where the story takes its time poking at the strangeness of the world around it, but there's still a really heartfelt narrative in here. I liked the bits of humor with Arceus bumping into walls and not being able to find a comfortable position to sleep in--like, of course he would, haha, he's a giant wheel. This was a really fun flavor of grounding semi-fantastical things in a more realistic setting, but the realism doesn't result in "woe is me and this is my mortal coil" or anything; it's just, lol, maybe Arceus likes cold donuts because the donuts, like him, are also ring-shaped.

I really liked Arceus and Mallys' relationship in these early chapters. Characterizing Arceus as this somewhat timid, curious, kind-hearted fellow and then pairing him off with another friend who just wants to help him out and teaches him the meaning of trust--it's a really gentle lesson here and my 2020 self is absolutely here for stories that are just two friends doing some spleunking and having nothing bad happen to them. and of course now that I've mentioned it, shit will hit the fan in chapter 4 I'm sure I'm sort of reminded of those parent/surrogate child relationships that you see in like, Up or God of War 4 or The Last of Us, but again, with a much lighter bend to it and more room for the characters to just putz around. I like that it's mostly low-stakes right now, since we get to explore the world and the characters without a ton of drama weighing down every interaction, but it does seem like things are slowly picking up here! Really sweet stuff.

Mel is interesting! At first I thought she'd be the sort of the first character-antagonist (given that the rest of the things in Arceus/Mallys' way more abstract concepts like amnesia and not knowing what's going on), but she doesn't seem overtly out to stop anyone just yet (or she's a good liar!). I liked the moment where she casually tries to hookshot god and then it gets negated and she's like, hmmm, strange--again, this ties back into the idea that not everything needs to have world-ending consequences, and I loved that she's just casually going to try to juke god and then readjust her plan when that doesn't fail. You get a lot about her across in that one interaction!

So what is an Arceus? This sort of feels like an alternate PMD timeline--a mostly-foreign entity arrives with amnesia, makes a friend, and they get to derp around trying to figure out the source of the friend's memories/amnesia, maybe figure out some universal Truths along the way and save the world a few times, but I'm not sure yet! Pretty curious about where they're going.

I like the worldbuilding here; things feel sparsely populated but not in a way that makes it feel empty. The lore on Darkrai's shrine and the Ho-oh worship is really interesting to me--are there other legendaries in the world? did they meet similar fates to Arceus?--and I like this latest development about the mountain pokemon residents being suspicious, and kinda rightfully so! Just who are these strangers and why do they care so much?? The scene-setting is also a really nice part, with little bits like the glint of the water that Mallys is swimming in, or the mushrooms that Mel walks past. The focus on the care with which Mallys polishes the Ho-oh statue and the description of that statue are really great as well imo. These little details were great for helping me immerse myself in the scenes, and it also makes it feel like there's a world beyond just what the characters are seeing.

And tbh I'm always here for existential questions about godhood and humanity 👀 This is a super unique direction to take things in and I'm interested to see where it ends up going! Fingers crossed for Arceus and Mallys in their journey ahead.
 

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Yay! Thanks for review. Uh, I haven't read the first 3 chapters in like over a year, so I'm almost as much in the dark as you are and I wrote the thing. I don't even remember when I said I was not in favor of editing, sure I'm not particularly excited by the prospect, but I'm not ruling it out.

As far as PMD - well there's no dungeons here (fact), and there's not many mysteries (debatable). I just made this a pokemon world for pokemon, so I suppose this story occupies the same niche one would file a car phone into.

two friends doing some spleunking and having nothing bad happen to them.
say.jpg


Uh, thanks for reading! If you do happen to come back sometime, I hope it isn't too much of a chore to read, lol.
 
Chapter 16

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
A succinct way to describe this post would be 2/3C.16P.2
And don't forget! Based on multiple trials, increasing dB by +10 roughly equals a 2x increase in subjective loudness.


Chapter 1 6 ~ Syocho Syocho A song for you!

Arceus lay still. His eyes were shut, but he could still hear the ferocious beating nearby, dull thuds mixing with cries of elation . When the Aggron awoke some time earlier, he had left in a huff before returning with a group of pokemon. Arceus, Mel, and Mallys had laid themselves out across the floor, pretending to be unconscious as per the plan, but this proved unnecessary as the assembled pokemon began railing on them anyway. Mel and Arceus were kicked around a few times before the Aggron directed the group’s ire towards the Haxorus who they surrounded, attacking him in earnest.

Arceus decided to try and see what was happening. He opened one eye slightly, spotting three figures.

“Nice sucker punch punk,” the Aggron spat, emphasizing the last word as he aimed a kick at Mallys’ ribs.

“Who are these guys again?” a Samurott asked, looking down at the Haxorus, his gaze trailing along Mally’s plates.

“Some guys one of the riders picked up,” the Aggron replied, rolling his eyes.

“Again?” a Maractus exclaimed from behind the two. “Why is this the weirdo train?” The Maractus sighed before perking up, tapping the Aggron on the shoulder. “Remember that Gengar that kept stopping the train to pick flowers?”

“The one you dangled out the window?” the Aggron asked, scowling, “Yes, we received a few complaints for that one.”

“He kind of deserved it though,” the Samurott remarked, turning Mally’s arm over with his foot.

The Aggron grunted. “That Gengar has a lot more money than you do, so you don’t get to think like that whether it’s true or not.”

The Maractus waved him off. “Yeah, I know I was in the wrong. But it was worth it.”

On the floor, Mallys stirred, prompting the Aggron to give the Haxorus another swift kick, this one aimed at his mouth. However, as it connected, the Aggron yelped, hopping backwards.

“What happened?” the Maractus asked, looking at him with wide eyes.

The Aggron grimaced. “I kicked the blades.”

“Wow, that’s sharp,” the Samurott said admiringly. He glanced up to see the Aggron glaring at him. “Uh, are you alright?” he added.

The Aggron nodded. “I’ll be fine when you stop whatever it is you’re doing,” he growled.

The Samurott looked away. “I just- like scales.”

The Maractus tried and failed to suppress a giggle. “Do you wish you were born a dragon or something?”

“Kind of,” the Samurott admitted, his face blank.

“I don’t really care,” the Aggron interrupted, waving away the Maractus, who looked poised to reply. “Let’s just get rid of them.”

The other two nodded and moved into action. Arceus pretended to be unconscious again as the Samurott dragged him along the floor by the severed chain still hanging from the collar around his neck.

“This one is busted,” the Samurott said, ostensibly referring to the chain.

“Cut it off then,” the Aggron replied brusquely, “I have something that’ll work better.”

Arceus felt a new collar being secured around his neck. It shut with a sharp click, two similar clicking sounds emanating from nearby. His mind raced, a mixture of fear over their situation and frustration that the plan hadn’t worked out as he had hoped.

The screeching protests of one of the train car’s doors being opened interrupted his thoughts. A frigid breeze swept through and Arceus inadvertently opened his eyes in confusion.

While they had been occupied, the forest had long since vanished. In its place, the train chugged alongside a vast mountain range covered in snow.

Arceus stared in wonder for a moment before noticing the Samurott looking at him.

“Hey- no hard feelings. You know what they say, just business and all that,” the Samurott said apologetically, his eyes flickering to Arceus’ neck.

Following the Samurott’s gaze, Arceus felt his stomach drop. The collar was affixed around his neck, thicker than the last with a chain extending out connecting to another similar collar, this one locked around Mel’s thin neck. A second chain extended from the other side, and Arceus did not have to guess it’s destination.

“Didn’t they used to do this kind of thing with slaves?” the Maractus asked, looking uncomfortable. “Chaining them together... or whatever.”

The Aggron shrugged. “There’s still slavery, just not on this continent. Go see for yourself with all those vacation days you’ve saved up. Anyway-” the Aggron yawned as he idly examined Arceus, stretching, “-good luck. As my associate said, it’s just business.” There was a pause. “Well, not really. I hate your friend over there, and you by extension.”

Without warning, the Aggron kicked Mallys out of the train car, the dragon’s weight dragging Mel and Arceus out with him into the mountain air.

As Arceus fell out of the same train for the second time, a small part of him thought it kind of funny.

~<<<>>>~<<<>>>~

“So, who is Mel traveling with?” Darkrai asked Pasa, sounding bored.

The Nidoking tapped the side of his head. “One of them was this big guy, a Haxorus. Not very talkative. The other one was uh, hard to describe.” Pasa’s eyes lit up. “Oh wait! He had this big golden yellow circle around his back.”

Darkrai sat up. “Was his name Arceus?”

“Actually, yes,” Pasa said. “Do you know him?”

“Uh,” Darkrai’s face fell. “Kind of.”

Mae came up behind Darkrai. “Don’t listen to him, Pasa, he always says that,” the Lopunny said, rubbing Darkrai’s shoulders. “My poor baby doesn’t like hurting people’s feelings, despite his line of work.”

“That’s not it,” Darkrai protested, “I remember him for real-- better than nearly anyone. It’s just that he’s kind of like us.”

Mae rolled her eyes. “You usually add the ‘for real’ part too. But the last thing you said is new.”

“Let me explain,” Darkrai said. “Arceus said he couldn’t remember who he was right?”

“Are you saying we’re similar because of that?” Mae remarked snidely. “I’m fairly certain I can remember who I am, and I hope that you do too.”

“No, no, not that.” Darkrai sighed. “What I mean is that he’s like a blank slate. And you know, we’re kind of that, or at least that’s what we do.”

Pasa watched them go back and forth with a vague sense that he had been forgotten. “What do you mean blank slate?” the Nidoking interjected.

“I think I understand, but it’s stupid,” Mae said. “We’re what you could call self employed pretenders.”

“Scam artists?” Pasa asked, smiling faintly.

“That’s a crude approximation, and entirely incorrect,” Darkrai said with a huff.

“Anyway, I think what Darkrai is saying is that when we work, we are kind of blank slates ourselves,” Mae continued, “That sounds silly to say. Am I right?”

Darkrai said nothing, but nodded.

“So you’re telling me this why?” Pasa said.

“Because even if you were a cop, you wouldn’t catch us,” Mae said simply. “We’re good at what we do.”

“You’re in luck then, because I’m retired,” Pasa shot back.

Mae looked at the Nidoking in surprise for a moment before bursting into laughter. “Well, you do need luck in this business.” The Lopunny relaxed and started massaging Darkrai’s shoulders again. “Sorry for interrupting honey.”

“It’s ok,” Darkrai said idly. “I know you’re letting off some steam.” He looked at Pasa. “So Arceus is with Mel?”

“Yeah, they left a few weeks ago I think,” Pasa said. “Hey, if you know Arceus, do you know who the other one is?”

“The Haxorus?” Darkrai shrugged, “No idea. I can’t remember if Arceus ever mentioned him. Is something wrong?”

“Just an uncomfortable feeling,” Pasa replied. “I’m not too worried, I have a good sense for when someone is trouble, and they weren’t.”

“Good to know,” Darkrai said. “I mean, I don’t even know if I’ll see Arceus again. But it was nice to know he’s doing well.”

“That was then,” Pasa said, watching the clouds. “They might have already split up by now.”

Darkrai nodded. “I suppose that might be the case.”

After a moment, Mae spoke. “Anyway, why did we stop at this way station?” The Lopunny glanced around at the other passengers who were milling about. “I heard them say something over the intercom, but I wasn’t really paying attention.”

“There’s a large wildfire nearby that’s been going for a few days,” Pasa said. “It’s been mostly contained, but apparently a patch got away from them and it’s over here now.”

Mae’s ears twitched. “That’s a nice way to talk about a fire. So we have to wait until it’s gone?” She groaned, “Maybe if they had actual fire crews outside of the capitol, we wouldn’t have to deal with this.”

“That’s an over exaggeration,” Darkrai commented, “-but not by much.”

“Hey, they’re doing their best,” Pasa retorted, “You wouldn’t believe how political keeping pokemon safe is.”

“I’m not keen on finding out,” Darkrai murmured.

The Nidoking sighed, hanging his head. “Let’s forget about that then.” Pasa leaned against a wall awkwardly. “So uh, how did you two meet? You seem to make a good pair.”

Mae and Darkrai exchanged glances. Darkrai seemed about to answer when the train whistle blew.

Pasa shook his head. “Some other time then,” he said. “After you guys.”

From behind Pasa, a small voice spoke up. “Hey, I want to hear it! Can you tell me?”

“Huh?” The Nidoking whirled around, grunting as he accidentally banged his arm on the wall. A ragged Skarmory was standing there, it’s armored body blackened with soot. As Pasa stared in confusion, the Skarmory smiled.

“Sorry for interrupting. I just heard you talking and thought it was interesting.”

“That’s uh-” Mae raised one arm halfheartedly. “That’s eavesdropping,” she finished, sneaking a glance at the train.

“Ah, I suppose it is. Can I do that?” the Skarmory asked.

“We can’t really stop you,” Darkrai said, slightly taken aback. “But it’s not really eavesdropping if we know you’re listening. But more to the point, we’re about to board that train, so we can’t really talk now.”

The Skarmory looked slightly upset. “Really? That’s too bad. Oh wait, can I come with you?” his expression brightened.

“If you have a ticket, sure,” Mae said. “But it looks like you just came from that fire nearby.”

“I did,” the Skarmory said simply. “So I just need a ticket right? I’ll get one and find you later okay? Don’t start without me!” he turned to leave, but spun back around. “My name is Seyka by the way.” Seyka ran off, before anyone could say anything.

Pasa opened his mouth to say something, but found himself lost for words. Instead, he shrugged.

“You always meet some interesting pokemon on trains,” Darkrai said idly. “I guess we’ll see him again.”

“Something like that,” Mae said. The Lopunny seemed distracted. “Anyway, let’s get out of here.”


[][][][][]<>[][]^^[][][][]


Sprawled facedown in the snow, Arceus remembered the Hippowdon on the train, Avalse. According to him, the world was created by god- Reshiram. But the Hippowdon had been so evasive that Arceus was unsure if anything he said was even worth believing. Nonetheless, the thought nagged at Arceus.

Pulling himself up, he felt a tug on his collar. Arceus looked down, spotting Mel sprawled out on her back and Mallys half buried in snow next to her.

His eyes widened and he dragged them out in a panic. The Lurantis and the Haxorus were both unconscious but alive, though Mallys was much worse off. His breathing was ragged, and as Arceus watched, the dragon shifted slightly, beginning to curl himself into a ball.

At that moment, the realization that he was alone crashed down on Arceus’ head. No one would help them, and if Arceus did nothing, they would all die.

He started by taking stock of where they were. The train tracks were a few hundred meters above them, firmly wedged into the side of a cliff. They had landed on an outcropping, a plateau running a long distance along the mountainside before dropping off into a steep slope. Only by sheer luck had they avoided sliding slightly further off another drop- one that Arceus was afraid to check.

Feeling the collar chafe on his neck again, Arceus decided that he needed to carry Mel and Mallys. The wind had started to pick up, the surrounding air cooling considerably as he looked for a means to move the two onto his back. Spotting a middling incline, Arceus walked slowly to it, ignoring the growing pain. Dragging Mel and Mallys slightly up the hill, he circled back around so they were uphill of him and lowered his head.

Steadying himself, he tugged slightly, widening his stance as he rolled Mallys over his head, across his neck and against his ring. Arceus pitched forward slightly not expecting Mallys’ weight, but after a moment, he managed to stabilize himself and repeat the process with Mel.

Slowly he rose, jerking side to side to settle the extra weight on his back. The wind was gusting now and it was becoming harder to see through the snow. Arceus glanced from side to side. To his left, the mountain stretched upwards into white, while to his right, was an empty chasm. Closing his eyes, he stretched his neck from side to side to try and calm himself.

Okay. Here we go.


Moving along the ridge line, Arceus didn’t want to admit that he had no idea where to go. However, he had no choice but to keep moving; a blizzard had set in by now and Arceus could barely see his front legs moving through the snow.

Trudging forward, Arceus started to withdraw into himself, the weight on his back seeming to disappear as he lost himself in his own thoughts.

I wonder if I had friends that I-

He caught himself, feeling a sinking feeling.

I never wondered if there was anyone who knew me. As Arceus considered this sobering realization, one foot suddenly stepped into open air. Arceus panicked, barely managing to scramble backwards. Mallys started sliding off Arceus’ back, the Haxorus’ tail had fallen to one side, disrupting the balancing act. Backing up while sliding his back legs, Arceus managed to find a wall of rock, pushing up against it to stabilize his cargo.

“A-Arceus?” a weak voice called.

Arceus stopped. There was a lull in the blizzard, and while visibility was still extremely low, it was quiet. “Mel?” Arceus asked, recognizing the voice. “Are you okay?”

“It’s cold,” Mel said, shifting slightly, “Where are we?”

“On a mountain-” Arceus started, before pausing. He didn’t want to tell the Lurantis that he had no idea where they were. “We’re headed towards a... shelter.”

“Huh,” Mel said. “Is this Mallys?”

“Yeah,” Arceus replied. “You’re both on my back. The chain is still connecting all of us, so don’t move.”

“Hey, I can... I can still help,” Mel protested weakly before falling unconscious again.

“Don’t worry Mel,” Arceus said quietly, knowing she wouldn’t hear him. “I’ll get us out of this.”

Arceus steeled himself, then set off again into the blizzard.

<>

Some time later, Arceus got the feeling that they were descending. After several more close calls, his pace had slowed to a crawl, something that Arceus hated. While the cold didn’t particularly affect him, he agonized over his friends on his back, stopping repeatedly to make sure they were still breathing.

Abruptly, he collided with something hard. Taking a moment to compose himself, Arceus found he was face to face with a tree. Past that, Arceus could see indistinct outlines; somehow they had reached a forest. The fact meant little to him as he navigated around the trees, it was just something else in his way.

The blizzard had begun to slow. Tilting his head slightly to get rid of some accumulated snow, Arceus gazed blearily about. The trees in the immediate vicinity were on relatively flat terrain with no drops in sight. The mountain face meanwhile had sharpened to a virtually straight angle, another treeline high above on a plateau.

Somewhere in the distance, a cacophony of roars erupted. Arceus had no idea what pokemon were making the ruckus, and he was not about to find out. He began to move away from the noise, aiming to follow alongside the mountain wall.

“Sorry,” Arceus said quietly, “I got us into another mess.”

His words hung in the air.

“I don’t mind. At least we’re all together this time.” It was Mallys. His voice was papery thin, but Arceus could still hear a barely contained happiness. “How did you know I was awake?”

“I felt you,” Arceus replied simply. “And since you didn’t immediately say anything, I assumed it was you instead of Mel.”

“Mmm, smart,” Mallys said. The Haxorus fell silent for a few minutes before speaking again. “Hey, Arceus? Thanks for- for saving us,” Mallys finished, sounding unusually hesitant.

Arceus didn’t reply. For a moment he felt singularly relieved, forgetting for just a moment the dire straits they were in. He wished he could feel that way all the time.


<><><><><><>


“Normally acid damage is a killer, so you’re lucky that it was a rear storage car that got damaged- are you listening?”

The Aggron nodded, but his head was obviously elsewhere.

“See, that’s the thing,” the Mothim continued, caught up in his explanation. “It’s such an uneven hole that it’s impossible to patch without expensive detail work or a hideous weld- which by the way wouldn’t work with the passenger cars. You know the kind of wood the ceilings are made of right?”

“Uh, battica wood or something,” the Aggron replied halfheartedly.

“You wish it was something that cheap!” the Mothim exclaimed, “Anyway, good work as usual. One note though, have your co-workers be a bit more discreet. A passenger heard some of your- ‘handiwork’.”

“Right, I’ll make sure of that.”

Watching them from nearby on the platform, Goucie listened blankly. The Combusken’s expression was distant and his arms hung loosely to his sides.

“Goucie,” Trumme said sternly from behind him. “I know you’re worried, but from what I’ve seen, Arceus and Mallys are tough.” He shook his head. “I can’t speak for the Lurantis, but if both of them are there, she should be fine too.”

“I’m not a child, Trumme,” Goucie said, turning to the Noctowl. “It’s the Syocho range. A dragon won’t last out there, and neither will Mel. They’re dead; I killed them by bringing them on that train.”

“But you couldn’t predict what happened,” Trumme protested, “We were running from a forest fire!”

Goucie sniffled. “They would have had better odds against a fire.”

Trumme cursed inwardly. The Combusken had a point, as cynical as it was. “Regardless, I am confident they’re fine,” the Noctowl proclaimed, wishing his heart were as strong as his words.

“I want you to be right,” Goucie said, sighing, “But we need to go back there. The entire mountain chain is almost as long as this city is tall. They’re definitely lost.”

Trumme flapped his single wing. “Seeing as I’m essentially unemployed now, I would help, but I’m a bit lacking on the mobility front.”

“You need to go get that checked out.” Goucie looked over Trumme’s stump, which was covered in ugly scabs. “I think I know what to do though.”

“Oh? Let’s make a plan now in case we get separated,” Trumme said, glancing at the thronging crowds outside the station.

“Mel wanted to send a letter,” Goucie said, looking down. “Uh, she’s the Lurantis, in case you didn’t know. She wanted to send it to someone in the HCU to let them know she was okay.”

Trumme shook his head. “Unfortunately that doesn’t help too much. But I do know someone who could help.”

“You know someone in the HCU?” Goucie asked, sounding hopeful.

“Not quite,” Trumme replied, “They’ve done contract work for them before, but they owe me a favor, so let me see what I can do.” The Noctowl looked around. “If I can get something, how can we get in contact again.”

“I’ll figure it out,” Goucie said quickly, “I can find you when you figure it out.”

Trumme nodded slowly. “If you say so. Ergh, I guess I have to go.” He grimaced. “It still hurts some.”

“We’ll meet again soon then,” Goucie said. The Combusken seemed to want to say something else, but he stopped, turning and walking away.

“He’s still beating himself up over it,” Trumme said to himself.

“Do you need help?” a new voice called. Trumme turned to find a Hippowdon looking at him with a mixture of curiosity and pity. “Ahah, I couldn’t help but overhear that you needed to get help with- that.” The Hippowdon gestured vaguely towards the Noctowl’s missing wing.

Lost for words for a moment, Trumme fumbled to respond. “I er, yes! That’s nice of you to offer. My name is Trumme. Yours?”

“A pleasure to meet you Trumme. My name is Al- ack- ough-” The Hippowdon coughed in such a way that Trumme was uncertain if it was actually real. “I’m Bolero. Sorry about that, lunch didn’t agree with me. Shall we be off?”

Trumme unceremoniously clambered onto Bolero’s back, a few passersby stopping to stare. The Noctowl shot a strained smile at them and they moved on, embarrassed.

“Not to take your kindness for granted, but arriving as soon as possible would be nice,” Trumme said, experimentally shuffling around on Bolero’s rough back for a good perch. “There are some important things I have to get to.”

“No problem at all,” Bolero said. “I’m sure you have some interesting things to deal with,” he added under his breath.

His passenger secured, the Hippowdon ferried him away in the crowd.


:::::;:::::;::::;;:::;:
‘’’’’’’”””’’’””’’””’’”””’


Darkrai poked at the bag he held in one hand. Supposedly, it contained an assortment of hard tree nuts, but whatever was inside disagreed. “This is disgusting,” he said after a moment.

Next to him, Mae was munching on a similar snack. “You get what you pay for. The texture is not great, but the taste is pretty good.”

“I want to believe it Mae, but really? Look at this, hard as a rock! Pasa, you try some.” Darkrai offered some of the nuts to the Nidoking who accepted them, turning the nuts over in his claw idly.

“I see what you mean,” Pasa said, eyeing the nuts before eating the entire handful. “Huh, not bad.”

“Seriously?” Darkrai looked between them horrified. “Ugh, I guess I’ll try some.” Hesitantly, he ate a few. “Alright... they’re okay.”

“Would you look at that,” Mae said, the Lopunny triumphantly elbowing Darkrai. “Not so bad, eh?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Darkrai muttered.

“I’m back!” Seyka appeared, immediately sitting in the seats across from the group. “I didn’t get a ticket, but they said it was fine.”

“Fine?” Mae narrowed her eyes at the Skarmory. “What did you do? Beat them up or something?”

“Kind of,” Seyka replied without missing a beat. “They’ll be fine though.”

Mae burst into laughter while Darkrai and Pasa stared at the Skarmory incredulously.

“You’re serious aren’t you?” Darkrai said, looking around nervously.

“What a handful,” Pasa mused, shaking his head.

“Ahah, don’t worry about it,” Seyka said. “I know they’re probably going to try and arrest me, but I’ll leave before then. Besides, it was my birthday recently, so can’t I have some fun.”

“Strange justification, but if you’re going to handle it yourself I don’t mind,” Pasa replied dryly.

“Your birthday?” Mae asked. “Do you mean hatchday?”

“It’s the same difference,” Darkrai interjected, “Both terms work, but it’s preference.”

“The former just sounds weird though,” Mae said. “Don’t you think so Pasa.”

The Nidoking shrugged, “I don’t really care.”

“I just think it’s fun to switch things up!” Seyka chirped.

“Alright, alright!” Mae said, throwing her arms up. “Whatever you guys want to say. Anyway, uh Seyka was it? You said you were at the fire- and you look the part- do you know what caused it?”

Seyka shook his head. “Not a clue. It wasn’t a regular fire though, I think it was dragon fire.”

“That explains the delays,” Darkrai said. “That stuff is a nightmare to put out.”

The Lopunny glanced out the window of the cabin. “That makes sense. Why did you run all the way here though?”

“I decided to run away from home,” Seyka replied. “No real reason.”

Pasa looked at Seyka. “I’m not questioning what you’re doing, but running away is usually something children do. You don’t seem like a kid to me.”

“I guess not,” Seyka said. “I think I’m not using the right terminology.”

“Well, don’t worry about it,” Pasa said gently, shooting a sidelong glance at Darkrai and Mae. “Er, do you know where this train is headed?”

“Not at all,” Seyka said, smiling. “But that’s not important to me.”

Pasa smiled back. “So you’re a kind of free spirit. Ha, kind of like my daughter.” The Nidoking shifted in his seat, relaxing. “We’re headed to the capitol.”

“Carigara.” Seyka looked thoughtful for a moment. “I haven’t been there in... a long time.”

“I don’t think any of us have,” Darkrai said. “But I’m sure it’ll be a good time.”

“Can I stay with you guys when we get there?” Seyka asked.

“As long as you don’t get us arrested,” Mae said, smirking.

“No promises,” Seyka replied happily, “But I’ll do my best.”


&&_&__&__&___&_&_&_&&_&__&__&_
&__&&_&__&_&&&_&_&__&_&_&__&__
__&__&_&&&_&__&__&_&_&&_&&&&__



“Syocho. Syocho. Get it? Now you try it.”

Arceus let the word sit for a moment before speaking. “Syocho?”

“That’s it,” Mallys said. “I read that it was named after a famous politician.”

“A politician?”

The Haxorus coughed. “Don’t ask me, that’s what it is.” He was quiet for a moment. “Another blizzard is coming.”

“I know,” Arceus said. “I’m- I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

“What about that thing you can do. That Noctowl mentioned it, the orb? I think it was the same thing you did when you were surrounded in the forest.”

“Right, that.” Arceus had forgotten about his ability in the recent chaos. “How can that help?” It took a moment for the rest of Mallys’ words to register. “Wait, you were watching that?”

“Yes, I’ll tell you later. Anyway can you make it bigger?” Mallys asked. “Right now, the best thing we can do is find some place to shelter. I was thinking you could maybe carve out a hole in the side of the mountain.”

“Okay, I’ll try.” Arceus pushed the rest of his thoughts out of his head and focused. Just as the last time, the sounds of the wind became muted, but somehow Arceus was able to focus more intently even with his eyes open. This time the black sphere formed right in front of him. He could easily direct it and found himself caught up in its fluid movement.

“Arceus,” Mallys warned, “I think it’s nice too, but we’re running out of time.”

“Sorry, sorry.” Arceus focused again, envisioning the sphere becoming larger. He felt a small surge of relief as it did exactly that. Locking his eyes on it, he continued until it was a large sphere that he could probably fit in. “Is that good?”

“That should be fine,” Mallys said, straining to lift his head to see it. “Now, I don’t have any advice for this part, just try to make a space big enough for us to fit in, but keep the entrance small.”

Arceus nodded, sending the sphere forward. Unlike when he used it to cut the rock, this orb entered the rock silently and smoothly, the face it collided with simply vanishing. As he moved it back and forth, he occasionally navigated the sphere back out the hole so he could inspect his progress.

After a few minutes of this, Mallys poked Arceus from his position on his back.

“That should be good. But you know, the size isn’t that important. You could be a bit- faster.”

“Ah, oops,” Arceus said, slightly embarrassed.

Arceus entered the space he had made. Slightly higher than Arceus’ head, it stretched 5 meters backwards. The walls curved outwards slightly, and the entire space was unnaturally smooth.

Arceus lowered himself and allowed Mallys to slide off, the Haxorus holding Mel in one arm. Mallys’ armor was cracked in places, splotched with dried blood. The blades on his head were chipped in spots, the left one slightly bent.

“We should be fine here. We’ll figure out what to do next after a-” Mallys sighed, exhausted, “-a short break.” He leaned back and closed his eyes.

“That’s a good idea.” Arceus barely finished saying this before he lurched sideways, losing consciousness.
 
Chapter 17

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
After previously taking 2-3 months (2/3, Ha) to write a chapter at minimum, I have somehow come to life and written an entire new one in a week. Does it suck? No more than usual in my opinion, lol.
Hold up, this story is over two years old??? Damn


Chapter 17 ~ Our friends


“I wonder. Is it still a clean bill of health if you need an amputation?”

“Think of it literally,” Bolero said. “Do you feel clean?”

Trumme looked at the Hippowdon, considering the question. “All things considered, yes. I was afraid I’d feel my wing still, like a phantom limb.”

“Fair enough, but I wouldn’t write it off,” Bolero replied, examining the Noctowl’s bandaged stump. “Maybe it’ll happen in the future.”

“I’ll leave that for when it happens.” Trumme glanced skywards. “Oh well. I hate to impose, but do you think you could take me somewhere else?”

“Of course,” Bolero said, smiling, “I don’t have much else to do today. Where are you thinking of?”

“The Cathedral. It’s a few hours from here on the west side of town, do you know it?”

“Can’t say I do,” Bolero confided. “But it must be hard to miss if it’s just called the ‘Cathedral’.”

“It’s the headquarters of the Ministry of Flame. Never heard of Reshiram?” Trumme asked.

“I uh- no, no I haven’t,” Bolero said, stumbling on his words a bit.

Trumme didn’t seem to notice. “Well, I happen to know the head minister. We go back a bit and he owes me. And right now-” Trumme’s expression grew serious, “I need to call in that favor.”

“Fair enough. If it’s a few hours, you should settle in a bit. Er, don’t know if you’d want to try it, but you could try fitting yourself in one of the holes on my back. I know it sounds weird, but I bet it’s kind of comfy.”

“Thanks, but I’ll pass,” Trumme replied, slightly nonplussed.



{{}}}}{{{{}}{}{}}}}{}{}{}{



If it can be bigger, then...

Arceus felt confident and scared at the same time. He stared at the chain connecting his collar to Mel’s and imagined it breaking.

I can control it.

The Lurantis was sprawled across Mallys chest, snoozing lightly. The Haxorus was similarly asleep, his breathing slow and deep. Nonetheless, Arceus watched him carefully as he inched backwards, extending the chain as far as possible without pulling it. He blinked and in an instant, the black orb was beside his head.

I wonder what this is called? It’s not fire or water. It’s just- something.

Silently, Arceus stared at his orb, shrinking it until it was the size of a tree nut. Guiding it carefully, he passed it through his end of the chain, disintegrating the iron and leaving Arceus free, albeit still collared. He wasn’t confident enough to bring it that close to his neck.

Standing outside, Arceus took in the mountain again. Snow was still falling, but there was a peaceful quiet. It felt as if the mountain had conceded that Arceus and Co. had survived and was acknowledging them.

Okay, what now, Arceus thought, looking back towards where his friends were. Mallys’ injuries were still uncertain; Arceus didn’t want to risk moving him around without having a clear idea of where to go. He started to walk along the cliff face again before he was struck by a nagging worry that it was dangerous to leave Mel and Mallys alone. At the same time, he thought that it wouldn’t be helpful to sit idly, so Arceus went for the middle ground.

The more he used it, the more creative he was. Arceus formed a few different shapes with the black sphere before settling on a thin, slightly concave circle. Aiming at a section of wall, Arceus slipped it through the face and behind a section of rock, cutting around it to detach a section of rock that he bodily pushed in front of the hole. Standing back, he inspected his handiwork, feeling a little better.

I hope they won’t be upset with me.

|||

A thin waterfall snaked down the side of the mountain. Cut almost exactly in the middle by a jagged rock a ways up the rock face, it flowed into a similarly small river that disappeared into the trees. A series of boulders had been placed by someone in the stream, forming a crossing. Nestled snugly between two of the rocks was a Claydol, staring at Arceus intently.

“If you could spare a little help?” the Claydol inquired, it’s voice bouncing around the inside of Arceus’ head.

Caught off guard by the sudden psychic intrusion, Arceus inadvertently hopped back. Recovering, he looked closely at the Claydol. Its body was wedged tightly into a small space, little scratch marks running across it.

“I’ll help, but can’t you get out yourself?” Arceus asked.

The Claydol blinked. “I don’t know. Do you want to wait and make me suffer in the meantime while I find out?”

Arceus was shocked into silence. “Er I- I’ll help you, just give me a moment.” He created his sphere again, sending it into the water. The Claydol watched with interest as Arceus guided it around the base of one of the rocks trapping the other pokemon in place, shaving away the edge until it began to drift downstream.

The Claydol floated out of the water, affixing Arceus with one of its eyes. “Interesting trick you got there. It even displaced the water.”

“Something like that,” Arceus replied, looking away.

“What do you call it?”

“That thing? I don’t have a name for it actually.” Arceus hesitated. “I was- I was just thinking about that earlier too,” he added.

“It certainly looks interesting,” the Claydol said, a strange tone in its voice. “Why don’t you call it judgement?”

“Huh?” Arceus tilted his head. “I don’t understand. What’s it judging?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t know,” the Claydol said. “I’d imagine it’s for you to decide.”

“Okay,” Arceus said uncertainly. “Um, have we met before?”

“Not in a way that matters,” the Claydol replied. “But to answer the question, it was a few days ago on the train.”

“Right! On the...” Arceus trailed off. “You were there when that Weezing pushed me off.”

“Sorry. I didn’t know he would do that.” The Claydol seemed genuinely apologetic. “You aren’t too badly injured no?”

“I’m not- but my friends are. Why do you care anyway?” Arceus asked suspiciously, “How is it that someone I don’t know just pops up again.”

“I thought you would have guessed from the improbability of this coincidence,” the Claydol said impassively, “I’m interested in you and your friends.”

Arceus recoiled, subtly readying another sphere hidden behind his head. “Why? What do you...” Arceus’ felt a shiver run down his back. “Did you know me?”

“Interesting question,” the Claydol said. “And please, I’m harmless, so you can drop that thing behind you.”

Arceus backed up, moving the sphere next to him and increasing its size. “I’m not doing anything unless you answer.”

“Ah ah,” the Claydol said, duly unconcerned. “Unfortunate that we’re off to a bad start. I’ll leave you alone then.”

The wind blew. The waterfall gushed, the stream seemingly happy to have more space to flow.

Arceus blinked, looking around. Something seemed wrong, but he couldn’t tell what. He wasn’t even sure why he had stopped. Mentally chiding himself that he didn’t have the time to look at the scenery, Arceus carefully crossed the stream and moved on along the mountainside.

Sitting idly on a rock, the Claydol watched Arceus walk away.

“Mmmm, I suppose I have to do my part.”


::-;-{:_}:-[;;]-;]-;:_}:_:};];[][-[];-{:_{}:_{}:-[];-{{:_


Rising high into the air, the Cathedral was a landmark of western Carigara. The walls were a sleek platinum white, dotted by huge irregularly spaced tinted windows. The front entrance was a massive arch, several lit braziers hanging overhead. Aside from the massive entry, a huge canal lined by vegetation snaked around the side, and above that, a wide rectangular port allowed for entry by air.

“For a ministry, they’re doing pretty well,” Bolero said in awe, staring at the megastructure. Multiple layers of the city coalesced around the structure, the chaotic layers giving way to a circular zone in which the building was allowed to exist by rules of its own making.

“Not a surprise,” Trumme said. “The flame has become very popular in the last few decades. They have some high powered benefactors.”

The Hippowdon breathed deeply. “Hm- I wonder how powerful that is.”

“The kind you don’t ask about as far as I’m concerned,” Trumme said flippantly, the Noctowl smiling slightly. “Thanks again for doing all this for me Bolero. I should be good from here.”

The Hippowdon shook his head. “It would still be pretty cruel to make you walk through a structure like this. I mean, it’s not a problem for your friend to meet me, is it?”

“Not at all,” Trumme said. “I just didn’t want to bother you anymore.”

“Then don’t bother and just tell me where to go.”

“Okay okay, if you insist,” Trumme said, laughing. “Just find someone who looks like they’re in charge so I can ask.”

“Will do,” Bolero said.

The inside of the Ministry was labyrinthine, obscenely tall corridors connected to a seemingly infinite amount of hallways. A few pokemon flitted about, only briefly glancing at the Hippowdon and the Noctowl.

Eventually, they reached a large chamber. Lined with columns, the far end of the room was taken up by a statue of a regal looking dragon with piercing eyes.

“Ah, I suppose that’s Reshiram,” Bolero said, “What a figure! I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.”

“If it wasn’t, this building wouldn’t be nearly as large, would it?” Trumme replied good naturedly. “Ah, here’s someone who looks like they’re important, let’s talk to them.” Trumme pointed to a Golisopod tending to some plants growing around a column.

“Hm, good idea,” Bolero said, still staring at the statue of Reshiram.

As they made their way over, the Golisopod turned to face them. “Can I help you with anything?”

“Hi, sorry to bother,” Trumme said, smiling widely, “Do you know where the head minister is? I- we need to ask him about something.”

“I’m sorry, but he’s very busy,” the Golisopod said apologetically. “I’m not sure who you would have to talk to to schedule an appointment like that.”

“Oh.” Trumme’s face fell. “Can someone at least pass on a message? It’s really important.”

“Important how?” the Golisopod asked, her face impassive. “I don’t mean to pry like this, but I’m sure you can understand we have to vet these kinds of things often.”

“I know, I know,” Trumme smiled ruefully. “Alright, here’s all I ask for. If someone could just tell him that-” Trumme stopped, looking a little embarrassed. “Tell him, ‘T’s calling it in.’ Just that, if it’s no problem.”

The Golisopod blinked before slowly nodding. “I’ll mention that. Is there anything else you need?”

“No, that’s all,” Trumme replied. “If we somehow get a chance to meet the minister, we’ll be around.”

##

“So, have you lived here before?”

“A few years ago, yeah. I moved away for work, but I guess I’m back now.”

“I have kind of a weird question- are these overpriced?”

Trumme’s eyes flitted down to the pretzel hanging around his wing. “A little. If you’re worried or something, it’s fine. My treat- I have to make up for everything you’ve done for me, if only a little at a time.”

Bolero’s eyes lit up. “That means I can call in a favor from you?”

“If you want sure,” the Noctowl replied, taking a bite. “I can’t guarantee anything, but I’ll try!”

“Ha, I hope you won’t regret that,” Bolero said, the Hippowdon eating his pretzel in a single bite. “I guess it’s a better deal if you have a small mouth.”

Trumme shrugged and was about to say something when a loud shout interrupted him.

“HEY! You don’t send a letter for years, but the first thing you do when you come back is cash in a debt??”

Bolero jumped in surprise, while Trumme barely reacted. A small smile crossed the Noctowl’s beak. “You were complaining about me holding that over your head forever. Shouldn’t you be happy?”

“I am happy!” the voice called again. “I’m really, really happy, but I’m not going to let you see it until you say sorry.”

Trumme sighed deeply. “You’re right, I was- excited for my new job and I should have told you about it sooner.”

“A lot sooner,” the voice chided, “I’m here, above you.”

Trumme and Bolero looked up. One of the windows along the Ministry’s wall was propped open and a sleek black head was sticking out, it’s red eyes focused on the Noctowl.

“Hi Zekrom,” Trumme said. “You got any time for me?”

“Of course, T,” Zekrom said, smiling. “I’ll be right down, I just have to finish some paperwork. I came running when I got your message, but I have to prepare these lists for later.” Zekrom’s head disappeared and the window shut.

“That’s the head minister?” Bolero said, looking at Trumme with a half-smirk. “I uh, don’t know what to say.”

“Hm. Zekrom’s a spiritual leader where it counts. But he’s not a business leader, that’s for sure.” Trumme rubbed his head with his wing. “It’s been a few years since I’ve seen him, so I thought he might be a bit more professional. Not that I’m complaining.”

“Me neither,” Bolero said. “It’s actually nice when things aren’t so serious.”

Trumme stiffened slightly, remembering why he was here in the first place. “Hah, if only.”

<~> <~> <~> <~>
| | | | | | | |
<~> <~> <~> <~>

Arceus kicked the snow in frustration. He had been walking for hours, but the mountain just kept going, endless expanses of white, dotted by trees. A few times, he had spotted other pokemon nearby, but most of them ran when they saw him; the ones that remained yelled and cursed at Arceus until he had moved on. It was difficult to tell the time of day, the ever present cloud cover breaking for only minutes at a time after hours of solid grey.

Groaning, he turned around, ready to head back to the cave. The Claydol followed behind him, both of them walking (or in the Claydol’s case, floating) for a while until Arceus turned to stare at him curiously. For a moment, neither of them said nothing, then Arceus’ eyes widened and he scrambled away.

“Wait, you?! What happened? I- I forgot?” Arceus stammered in confusion.

“That you did,” the Claydol replied. “I believe I mentioned it before, but the one thing I’m good at is making myself unimportant. That is to say, I can remove myself from somewhere and you will, as you just experienced, forget all about it if I choose so. Until later at least. You would have remembered eventually, it’s not like I’m warping reality.”

Arceus tried to take it all in, but found himself lost.

“We didn’t get off to the best start earlier, so I thought I’d wait a bit. Plus, this gives me credibility right? I didn’t take the opportunity to attack you.”

“Well, I can’t take your word on that, so back up,” Arceus said, trying to sound intimidating.

“I get it, I get it, no need to be so scary,” the Claydol said, backing up slightly. “There~ now can we talk?”

“I’m going somewhere,” Arceus said, looking at the Claydol suspiciously, “You can follow me if you want to talk to me, but if I tell you to get lost, then you have to go.”

“I know you’re headed back to your friends,” the Claydol said, earning a disbelieving stare from Arceus. “Hey, I said I’m on your side.”

Arceus wasn’t convinced. “As compared to what?”

“Nothing, nothing at all. It’s incomparable.”

“Okay then, prove it.” More confused than anything, Arceus started to walk away, fully expecting to be attacked from behind. Mentally preparing himself, Arceus was ready to attack with judgement at a moment’s notice.

Do I really want to call it that? he thought to himself. It is a nice name, even if it doesn’t make sense. Ah, I don’t have time to think of this.

But minutes passed, and nothing came. The Claydol floated behind Arceus, silently keeping pace. The sun was peeking through the clouds for once, and eventually, Arceus relaxed a little.

The Claydol spoke. “I’d like to ask something. You don’t have to answer.”

Arceus continued walking silently, but his pace slowed.

“Are you happy?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Arceus stopped and turned to face the Claydol.

“I don’t know!” the Claydol replied, “I just couldn’t think of anything better to ask. Actually, I was thinking of asking...” it suddenly stopped speaking, averting it’s eyes from Arceus.

Arceus looked at the Claydol expectantly.

“I- that’s exactly what I wanted to ask.” The Claydol hung stiffly in the air. A single eye swivelled to look at Arceus. “Not considering the present; are you happy with the friends you’ve made and the things you’ve done?”

“Yes.’ Arceus didn’t hesitate. “For all the good and bad, being with my friends has made me happy. Because... there’s nothing else for me to be happy about.”

“I know.”

The Claydol vanished in front of Arceus’ eyes.

“Wait, where did you go?” Arceus asked, looking around. “You can’t just leave after asking something like that! What is it that you want?”

A stillness descended. The only sound was Arceus’ hoofsteps in the snow. He wasn’t sure what to think about the encounter, but he couldn’t help but feel a strange discomfort.

I don’t...

I want...



<:::::><::::><::::><:::::>


Bolero looked up and down, his mouth slightly agape.

“I didn’t think you’d be this big!” the Hippowdon said.

“Hi,” Zekrom replied lightly, “Are you a friend of Trumme’s?”

“Not really. I’m just a tourist. I was helping out Trumme because he’s a bit handicapped,” Bolero said shyly.

“I got myself in a bit of trouble,” Trumme said, waving what was left of his wing. “Aha, though it is partly my own fault.”

Zekrom rushed over to Trumme, staring at the stump in horror. “When did this happen?”

“A few days ago actually,” Trumme said. “I wanted to talk to you about something related to that.”

Zekrom’s face fell. “No time to catch up, huh?” He nodded sadly, “I understand that though. Lately, I’ve been so busy with work, I need a break.”

“I wish I could give that to you,” Trumme said quietly, “Among other things.”

Zekrom shook his head, smiling. “Hm, we’ll just have to do it some other time right? For now, let me help you, since you think I can.”

“Hey- don’t mean to interrupt,” Bolero said, glancing at the two. “It was nice meeting you guys, but I’ll be heading out now.”

“Oh! Thanks Bolero,” Trumme said, hopping over to the Hippowdon. “Kindness like yours is a rarity.”

“Hah, I guess I have something going for me then,” Bolero said. He smiled back, but his eyes were distant. With that, he walked away, disappearing into the crowd.

Zekrom watched him plod away. “He seems sad about something. I wish I could talk to him more sometime.”

“You still feel like that?” Trumme asked, watching Zekrom. “I’m jealous.”

“Forget that,” Zekrom replied. “So what is it that you came all the way here to ask me?”

Trumme nodded. “You have friends in the HCU right? Can you have them do something for me?”

“I can pull some strings,” Zekrom said. “But you have to tell me everything. Even if this is a favor, it would be nice not to have to worry about something I don’t know about.”

“It’s a long story, I’ll tell you on the way there,” the Noctowl said.

>>

“That’s a lot to ask for,” Zekrom said. Trumme was perched on his shoulder, the pair slowly making their way through a crowded thoroughfare. Occasionally, pokemon would run up, asking for prayers or advice that Zekrom would graciously give, always with a large smile. “The HCU headquarters in town already have subdivisions for different areas of the city, so to ask them to spare some units for a search and rescue would be tough.”

“Argh, I thought it could work out,” Trumme said, his wing trembling in frustration. “And I already told someone that I’d figure something out.”

Zekrom sighed, an unreadable expression on his face. “At the least, they should have maps of the Syocho range at the station. Hmph, I wonder if...”

“You have an idea?” Trumme asked hopefully. They were briefly interrupted by more pokemon excited to meet Zekrom. “You’re really popular aren’t you,” the Noctowl added, smiling.

“I’m not really even a leader,” Zekrom said, glancing at Trumme. “I just want to give pokemon that are lost a direction in life, let them know that we’ve been given purpose by Reshiram, whatever it may be.” Zekrom seemed slightly embarrassed. “Uh, but yeah, I have an idea. What if, I could go rescue those guys.”

Trumme did a double take. “Wait, you? I mean, it’s not a bad idea on its face. How are you going to get back?”

“That’s why we’re getting the maps,” Zekrom replied. “There are some way stations on the mountain staffed by rangers. I’ll go out there and let them know the situation and we’ll bring them back here.”

“But don’t you have to run the Ministry?” Trumme asked, confused.

“It’ll only be a day or two, the staff can manage. They might be a bit angry with me though, oh well!” Zekrom grinned, “I’d ask you to come with me, but since you’re like that, just wait for me okay?”

Trumme was silent. Then, the Noctowl started to laugh. “I can’t stop you, Zekrom. You know, I feel more confident knowing you’re the one to do it.”

Zekrom crossed his arms in satisfaction. “Alright! Remind me who these pokemon are that we’re looking for.”

“Okay, listen carefully.”


0O0O0O0O0O0O0


Carigara was more of a continent in of itself than a city. Throughout the thousands of homes and businesses stacked on top of each other, countless alleys connected everything. So disparate was the nature of the city that getting lost in the maze of paths could lead one to imagine they had traveled to a different world when they chanced upon an exit.

There was a single flickering light hanging high above the empty street. Bolero could hear raucous laughter from somewhere as he walked down the alley, kicking aside a discarded bouquet that lay rotting on the ground. The Hippowdon was utterly lost, annoyed that he felt sorry for himself.

“How are you doing?” a small voice chimed. Bolero turned around. At the end of the alley, a Claydol was watching him.

“Yharmaka...” Bolero said quietly, “I’m okay.”

Yharmaka blinked slowly. “How’s everything on your end?”

The Hippowdon nodded. “Fine. I can tell you about it later.”

“I- I was thinking about her earlier,” Yharmaka said suddenly, the Claydol floating closer to Bolero.

“Huh? You were?” Bolero said. He looked away sadly. “Me too.”

“Are you still using those fake names you like so much?” Yharmaka said. “She always thought it was so funny when you did that.”

Bolero couldn’t help but smile. “Yeah, I am. I feel like I’m going to mess up soon though, I just can’t focus on getting into a role like I used to.”

The Claydol hummed. “Yeah. See you later then.”

“Hey, Yharms,” Bolero called out. “This is what she wanted right?”

“I’m sure of it,” Yharmaka replied. “Why else would we still be here?”


~++~++~++~++~++~++~++~++~++~


Mel sighed deeply, feeling the scales of the Haxorus under her head. “He could have at least broken the chain connecting us too.”

“You know full well he was probably panicking again,” Mallys said. The Haxorus took a single ragged breath, but otherwise was completely still. “Ugh, I can barely move.”

“And I can’t move because you’re attached to me,” Mel added.

Mallys grunted in irritation. “I can’t help it, so you’re going to have to deal with it.”

Mel closed her eyes. “Why are we here? I... I want to go home.”

“Now?” Mallys said, a hint of anger in his tone. “After all this, you want to quit now?”

“I convinced myself that it would help me do what I wanted to do,” the Lurantis said quietly, “I don’t want to die, I- I want to see my pa again.”

“Your pa,” Mallys repeated, the anger completely gone. The Haxorus was silent for a long time. “I understand,” he said finally. “But how do you think Arceus feels? He doesn’t remember who he was, and he’s all alone. He’s hurting too, don’t you think?”

Mel’s breath caught in her throat.

Mallys continued. “I know how you feel. It’s scary, isn’t it? But Arceus doesn’t have anyone to go home to.”

“Mallys,” Mel breathed.

“Even so, he’s out somewhere right now, trying to help us. Because...” The Haxorus struggled to find words. “Because we’re his friends.”

Mel sniffed. “Arceus is doing that...” Mel suddenly wrapped her arms around Mallys. “I’m such a bad friend!” she cried.

In the darkness of the cave, Mallys took a deep breath. “You’re a great friend; better than me certainly.”

“Why would you say that?” Mel asked, closing her eyes. “You were the first to help him. I hurt you both.”

“Haa. It’s because I’m selfish,” Mallys replied. “That’s all there is to it.”

Mel looked up, drying her tears. “I want to help Arceus, I really do. But that’s not why I came with you guys in the first place.”

Mallys looked down at the Lurantis. “Then why?”

“I wanted revenge,” Mel said, hiding her face. “But, the more I thought about it, the more I was afraid. If I got hurt or died, I- I wouldn’t have minded. But Pasa, my dad. He’d...” Mel couldn’t finish.

Mallys smiled slightly. “You’re a good kid, you know that?”

“I really don’t want to hear that from you,” Mel said. “Thanks Mallys,” she added after a moment of hesitation.

“Don’t mention it,” Mallys said. “What’s Arceus going to think if he comes back and finds us sad like this?

Mel sat up, the chain connected to her collar rattling in protest. “Yeah, we can’t be moping around can we? After all, since Arceus is doing all this for us, it’s only right we help him out the best we can.” She smiled. “I won’t die, Pasa! I’ll help Arceus get his memories back and then come straight home,” she declared.

Mallys nodded. “Uh, thanks Mel. I had, well, some things on my mind myself. I feel a bit better now.”

“Now that’s rare,” Mel said. “I suppose we don’t have to agree to disagree anymore huh?”

“Not likely,” Mallys said. “We have some common ground, but only a little. Don’t think that a little heart to heart is gonna fix everything.”

“Fine by me tough guy,” Mel said. “Nice working with you.”

There was a moment of silence. Then they both burst into laughter.
 
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Adamhuarts

Mew specialist
Partners
  1. custom/mew-adam
  2. custom/celebi-shiny
  3. custom/roserade-adam
So, I just read the first chapter of this fic and these are my thoughts about it.

I must admit I didn't expect to find Arceus being the main character in any fic, so seeing him here took me by surprise. It is certainly an interesting choice though. There's also the fact that he has amnesia and doesn't remember how he ended up in some desert location.

There's not really much to say about this first chapter since not a whole lot happened. It was pretty much just Arceus meeting Mally, going to a town, meeting a priest at a temple and then leaving to take a nap.

Regarding the characters though, I'd say I like them. There's a certain charm to how you write your characters. I wouldn't say they necessarily come across as unrealistic, but there are comedic undertones in how they interact as well as some of the dry humor. That alone certainly piqued my interests in this story and kept me reading through it.

Overall I'd say this story had a decent start. Some things could have been done better, but I'll refrain from commenting on those since you've stated you're unlikely to edit the early chapters anyway. In any case, I'll surely be back for more in the future.
 
Chapter 15+3

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Thanks for checking it out Adam! While I will at present readily state on record that the opening of this story kneecaps expectations, one day, I'll try to make it more interesting- and better. If for some strange reason, you actually come back to read more, I hope you enjoy it.

Two chapters in one month??? I must have made a dark pact in my sleep. The tradeoff to this deal with the devil is that I continue to jump around to scenes at a breakneck pace. I'm a fan of it, but I can see how it might be hard to get into it. Oh well :(


Chapter 18 - Selfishly with love


He leveled the sphere with his head, staring intently into the blackness as he walked. Summoning it was as easy as thinking now, and Arceus marveled at the level of control he had over it.

“So how would this be judgement?” he asked himself, trying to ignore the ever present snow which he had started to grow tired of. He thought back to what the Claydol had said. “They said I decided what that meant. But then why come up with the name in the first place?”

Wracking his head for an answer that wasn’t there, he finally admitted defeat when he face planted into a ditch hidden in the snow. Shaking his head to get the snow off, Arceus’ world suddenly tilted. He shut his eyes trying to calm the dizziness, but when he opened them, he found himself somewhere else.

The snow had disappeared, replaced with a flat charcoal black surface. Arceus’ hooves sunk slightly into the strange material, a bright green liquid bubbling up in the depressions they formed. Above him was a black void that stretched as far as he could see in all directions. The landscape was dotted with bizarre angular formations that seemed to be made out of the same material as the ground.

“Hey.”

Hearing the voice, Arceus whipped around, and saw himself. He hopped back, crying out.

It was like looking in a mirror. The other Arceus stared back at him with a blank expression.

“Er,” Arceus spoke uncertainly, trying to gauge the other pokemon. “Are you?”

“You can call me Reecie,” the other Arceus said, shifting slightly.

Arceus looked directly into Reecie’s eyes. “Are you me?”

Something in Reecie’s face shifted. “Maybe,” she said quietly. “Do you remember what I told you the last time you were here?”

Arceus’ eyes widened, thinking back to the first time he had seen the other Arceus a few days ago. “You said you believed in me?”

“That hasn’t changed,” Reecie said. “But what am I supposed to believe in? What do you want?”

“What do I...” Arceus trailed off. “-I don’t know what I want.”

Reecie tilted her head slightly, her gaze suddenly intensifying. “What’s important to you?”

Arceus looked away. The first thing that came to his mind were his friends. He could clearly see Mel and Mallys in his head. They were waiting for him, counting on him. But-

“That’s right,” Reecie said. “You have your friends. Is that all you have though?”

Arceus didn’t answer.

“You can choose not to remember. You can be happy with what you have.” Reecie’s tone wavered slightly. “But is it fair to what you leave behind?”

“I don’t know!” Arceus replied, his voice rising. “How can I answer that when I don’t know what I forgot?”

“You can’t,” Reecie said, shaking her head. “All you can do is ask yourself the same question over and over until the same answer is always the first thing you think of.”

“My friend’s don’t have to hurt for my sake,” Arceus shouted, “Why can’t you just tell me who I was if fairness is so important to you?”

“I wonder why,” Reecie said. Her eyes were sad. “Are you afraid of the answer?”

“N- no,” Arceus said, inwardly cringing at his hesitation.

“Perhaps you don’t have the words for it yourself. Is it that you think remembering who you were would change who you are?”

“If,” Arceus started, “If you are who I used to be. Why did I forget?”

“Figure that out yourself,” Reecie said simply. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

Arceus blinked, and as quickly as he had gone, he was back, the mountain looming overhead. He glanced around, seeing only snow and ice. Arceus’ thoughts were in turmoil. He wanted answers, explanations, reasons. But most of all, he just wanted to be told that everything would be alright. And the only way that could happen was if he was back with Mel and Mallys. His friends.

Shoving his doubts and fears to the back of his mind, Arceus ran.

Nothing else mattered except being with the only pokemon in the world he knew.


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Goucie stared at the clock on the wall, leaning on one of his claws. Trumme had come through like he said, but not in the way the Combusken was expecting.

“Zekrom huh?” Goucie said to himself, sighing. He’d heard stories about the head minister’s impulsiveness, but never really thought about it until now. “It’s only one pokemon. But...”

“Now this is a surprise, Goucho!” A boisterous voice interrupted him. “I’ve missed you lots, and now you’re finally back.” An arm wrapped around Goucie from behind, followed by a second. The Combusken was lifted into the air and spun around. His expression remained the same.

“Hello, Vanet,” he said. “It’s been awhile.” He looked down at the Barbaracle.

“Aw, you didn’t miss me?” Vanet said, lowering Goucie back to the ground. “That’s okay, you probably just forgot since you were having so much fun.”

“Y-yeah, pretty much,” Goucie lied, forcing a smile.

Vanet looked around the room, crossing her arms. “Were you talking to someone?”

Goucie shook his head. “I was just talking to myself. It’s a habit I picked up.”

“Well, isn’t that quirky.”

“Not really,” Goucie replied, looking at the Barbaracle with an annoyed expression. “Quirky is a term only used by pokemon who don’t go outside much.”

“Mm, if you say so Gow,” Vanet said. “I like that one better than Goucho actually.”

Goucie went back to watching the clock. “Why are you here, Vanet? Does Parmon want me?”

“What, I can’t just come and see you?”

“No, not really,” Goucie said, frowning.

Vanet laughed. “You’re very funny. But yes, I have business. I’m sure you remember how to process these?” She handed Goucie a stack of papers. “The latest dissident reports from the Ministry.”

The Combusken skimmed the documents, neatly organized with hundreds of names and species. “Right,” he said, exhaling. “Zekrom’s organization.”

“To a degree,” Vanet replied. “He’s more of a public figurehead. Very useful for us though.” The Barbaracle leaned close to Goucie. “I heard you were requesting information about his movements earlier. You’ve only been back for a few days and you’re already on top of things!” She rubbed his head with a claw.

Goucie flinched, looking away. “I guess I am.”

“Anyway, I have to do some CRM with Mongo today,” Vanet said, a pained expression on her face. “Next time though, let’s do it together! I’ll perform so much better when my partner is so cute.”

“Mmm,” Goucie murmured.

“Tell us next time you want to go somewhere though,” Vanet admonished, “the boss was worried about you, although, not as much as I was.”

“You have work to do,” Goucie said quietly.

“So formal. That’s what will make you a great leader,” Vanet said. “I’ll stop bothering you then, Goucie. If you have any good ideas for a nickname you would like, tell me.” The Barbaracle left, shooting one last furtive glance at the Combusken.

::

Goucie waited until he couldn’t hear Vanet, then leaned back, sighing loudly. He idly picked up one of the reports on the table, his eyes trailing over it.

“Criminal loitering?” He threw the paper aside, rolling his eyes. “It’s the same as it’s always been,” he whispered to himself.

“Even so, you came back. So what does that tell us?”

Goucie stiffened, his breath quickening. “Nothing, Parmon. You’re overthinking things.”

“If the first thing you say to me after five years is the same thing you’ve said since you were a child, then I don’t think so.”

Goucie whirled around to face Parmon. He glared at the rotating mass of steel in front of him. “So what is it then?”

“It seems all that time away did nothing for you,” the Klingklang said. “I seem to distinctly remember you telling me you would never come back here. Has it been that long already?”

Goucie turned away, his claws trembling. He tried to focus on the clock.

“Angry?” Parmon’s gears slowed. “Afraid your piecemeal efforts to save strangers will be meaningless?” The Klingklang floated closer to Goucie. “I’m well aware of your little flights of fancy, your piecemeal attempts to- make friends perhaps? However-” Parmon paused, “-the one thing I can’t figure out is why you would choose to come back here. While it does save us the trouble of having to find you... that I can’t even guess why is intriguing.”

The Klingklang moved to leave.

“You are still a child, Goucie,” Parmon said. “It’s good to take vacations, to let yourself relax. But now you have work to do. I expect great things from my successor after all.”

One of Goucie’s claws sparked, quickly becoming engulfed in a wicked orange flame. With a scream of rage, he launched the fireball at the clock on the wall, shattering the face and setting the hands on fire.

As broken glass fell to the ground, Parmon watched impassively. “We’ll work on your temperament first then. Put that fire out when you’re done. Finish that paperwork by the end of the week too.” The Klingklang left.

Goucie idly inspected a shard of glass lodged in his arm, staring blankly at the wound.

I didn’t come back for any of you.

I came back to punish myself.



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Pasa’s face was drawn, his expression serious. “Do you remember what I said earlier?”

Mae shrugged while Darkrai seemed to think for a moment. “Sorry, Pasa,” he said to the Nidoking. “The question is a bit open ended. Can you elaborate?”

“Oh, uh,” Pasa grimaced in embarrassment. “Back when we were talking on the station platform, I said that I can kind of tell if someone is trouble.”

“I kind of remember that,” Mae said, the Lopunny glancing out the window of the cabin. “What about it?”

Pasa tilted his head, gesturing subtly at the sleeping Skarmory in the seat across from them. “I didn’t want to say anything earlier, but this guy is raising some red flags.”

Neither Mae or Darkrai seemed convinced. “Did you really get a feeling,” Darkrai started, “Or are you saying that in retrospect because he said he intimidated someone to get on the train?”

“I think intuition is important, but treating it as an end all isn’t something I go along with,” Mae added. “Seyka doesn’t seem like a bad pokemon. Yes, I know he could be faking it, but my intuition is that he’s being genuine.” The Lopunny smirked.

“I don’t want to believe it, and I’d be willing to accept how I’m wrong,” Pasa said defensively, “But when I worked in the HCU, my intuition was never wrong.”

“That was then,” Darkrai countered evenly. “You’re retired now, so don’t you think that maybe your intuition might have misfired? No offense intended.”

“I- that is a fair point,” Pasa said, sighing. “I guess I’m just getting old.” The Nidoking smiled. “Sorry for causing trouble, I just couldn’t ignore my gut.”

“It’s fair to be suspicious, given what Seyka’s already done,” Mae said. “But it’s hardly an admission of guilt. He’s just kind of odd. Not to mention, we’ve done the same thing.” She looked at Darkrai who nodded.

“It’s still your intuition though,” Darkrai said thoughtfully. “It’s okay if you’re still not sure, you don’t have to pretend to be for us.”

The Nidoking made an odd noise in protest, but slumped back in his chair. “I don’t care for rocking the boat too much. Not anymore at least. Really though, you do have a point that my senses might be a bit dull.” Pasa shifted uncomfortably. “Let’s drop it. Whether or not the Skarmory is a problem is... well, it’s not my problem anymore.”

“Hey,” Darkrai said sympathetically. Before he could continue, Mae held up one paw to stop him, shaking her head.

“Fair enough,” Mae replied. “Anyway, shouldn’t we wake him up? We’re getting close to the city.”

“That’s a good idea, but you probably shouldn’t let anyone know we’re helping him out,” Pasa said, slightly nervous. “They might arrest us too.”

The Lopunny nodded in agreement, before immediately throwing an apple that was on the table between them at Seyka’s head. It bounced off with a dull clang. “Ugh, that was rotten,” she proclaimed, loud enough for anyone nearby to hear. She flashed a smile at Pasa.

The Nidoking shook his head, but couldn’t hide a slight smile.

Next to them, Seyka sat up, looking around. “Did someone call? I thought I felt something.” He looked over to the group.

Darkrai began miming motions with his hands at the Skarmory, pointing out the window, then at Seyka, and finally at the door of the cabin. He made a closed fist, then raised it into the air before putting his hands together in a V-shape and moving them in and out. The Skarmory nodded along, furtively glancing around occasionally. When he was finished, Darkrai leaned over slightly. “Understand?” he whispered.

Seyka nodded again, winking at the three of them. He stood up, stretching his neck before he walked away- in the direction opposite the one Darkrai had indicated.

Pasa watched the Skarmory disappear into the next cabin. “I don’t think you were clear,” the Nidoking said idly.

“Where is he going?” Darkrai hissed, staring at the door Seyka had left from. “That’s towards the front of the train.”

“Uh, what were you trying to tell him?” Mae said sheepishly, “I didn’t get it.”

Darkrai looked at Mae incredulously. “I was trying to tell him to jump out the back and fly away.” He seemed to deflate. “I thought it was pretty clear.”

“Maybe he did get it,” Mae said, putting one arm around Darkrai. “Maybe one of his wings is broken. Er, Pasa, did you see anything wrong with Seyka’s wings?”

Pasa shook his head. “I wasn’t really paying attention. But I’m pretty sure he kept them closed up the whole time. There’s no way to know.”

A few minutes later, there was the sound of a chime, ringing from the overhead speakers that until now had been silent. “We will be arriving soon at our destination. Please be ready to depart.” There was a pause. “Additionally, if there are any passengers who know how to stop a train, please make your way to the front.”

Darkrai’s eyes widened, while Mae’s mouth hung open. Pasa crossed his arms, exhaling deeply, but his expression didn’t change.

“Rest assured, there are no problems,” Seyka continued over the intercom. “We like to conduct civilian inspections, it keeps our company grounded, so to speak.”

“Yeah...” Mae said slowly, the Lopunny rubbing her paws together. “Maybe your instincts are still sharp.”

“Doesn’t matter either way now,” Pasa said. “I have no clue what he’s doing right now, and it doesn’t fit with anything I’ve seen in all my years of work.”

“He took over the train if we believe what he’s saying,” Darkrai retorted. “How is that not blatantly criminal?”

“I’ve never heard any train robbers talk like that,” Pasa said. “If you guys want to do something, go ahead. I’m just going to let it play out.”

Darkrai and Mae looked at each other.

“What do you want to do?” the Lopunny asked.

Darkrai looked around, scanning the other passengers. “What do we do? The other pokemon here are getting restless.” Darkrai tapped the table impatiently. “Based on what Seyka just said, I suppose we can assume he’s incapacitated the entire crew for some reason, and is insisting on piloting the train himself. None of us know how to do that, so confronting him now would be useless.”

“So if we leave him up there?” Mae asked. “Sooner or later, someone’s going to try to go up there. Either that, or this train crashes into the station and kills someone.”

“I mean, if that’s what happens it’s terrible, but it’s not like we can do anything about it,” Darkrai replied. “As long as you’re not hurt, I’ll manage.”

Mae nodded. “I’m thinking the same. He’s not our responsibility, nor is anything he does. What about your plan; jumping out the back? Think that might be fun?”

“Hmm, we could make it work,” Darkrai said.

Pasa stood up, the table groaning in protest as it was pushed back. “I’ll go get him,” the Nidoking said simply. “Just wait here.”

“But-” Mae started.

“I know a little about trains,” Pasa said. He began to walk away before turning back to the pair. “If you two aren’t here when I’m done-” he paused. “I will find you, so don’t bother.” There was a razor edge to his tone. “Am I clear?”

Mae and Darkrai nodded. “Yes Sir,” they both squeaked.


||\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\||


“Oohh, it’s cold.”

Zekrom glided through the air. The clouds were getting darker and it was hard to see through the snow. Around him, the sky was blanketed in a soft blue color from the electricity emanating from Zekrom’s tail. It hummed softly, small sparks flying out occasionally.

“There should be a beacon from the station,” he said to himself. “The map said it was along the north ridge but,” His face fell. “I can’t find it.”

Realizing he was flying blind, Zekrom descended, landing on a flat plateau of snow. The weather was intensifying and it was a short time until night, it would be nearly impossible to find anything at that point. Zekrom knew he would be fine if he was stuck out on the mountain, but the pokemon he was looking for definitely wouldn’t.

Zekrom peered into the snowstorm. “Hm, maybe I can send a signal.” His tail’s hum deepened into a low roar, brightening significantly. “Please work,” he muttered to himself.

Taking a deep breath, he gathered an orb of energy in his mouth, launching it straight up into the air. Travelling a ways up, it hovered silently for a moment before exploding into a cacophony of electric blue waves of light, shooting outwards in every direction. The rays pierced the clouds, illuminating the sky for miles and revealing the mountainside stretching in all directions.

As the light faded, Zekrom looked around for a sign. Minutes passed, nothing happened. Zekrom sighed, his tail revving up for another pass before he noticed a blinking green light in the distance off to his left. He watched it for a moment, entranced, before he recognized it as a signal and took off running towards it.

++

The ranger station was rather bizarrely positioned at the edge of a cliff, hanging off the side of the mountain. Diagonal steel beams secured it in place, a plethora of monitoring equipment handing from the underside next to the supports. The facade looked like a fortress, hard and stony with tall thin windows spaced evenly throughout. There were only a few lights on inside the building while on the roof, a gigantic green spotlight blinked softly.

The front door was rather plain, almost blending into the wall. It was clearly intended for smaller pokemon, there was no way Zekrom could fit, but out of the corner of his eye, he could see a larger loading dock. Reaching down, he knocked.

The door opened slowly, revealing a Hippowdon. Zekrom looked at it expectantly.

“Uh, do you need something?” the Hippowdon asked, regarding Zekrom suspiciously, “If not, I have work to do.”

“Oh sorry- I just sent out that, er, signal, and this building responded.”

“It did? That must have been my assistant then,” the Hippowdon said, glancing back. “Is there anything we can do to assist you?”

“Can I come in?” Zekrom asked.

“Not unless you break the wall down,” the Hippowdon replied. “Though I suppose you could come through the loading dock- wait here and I’ll get it.”

The Hippowdon disappeared, shutting the door in Zekrom’s face. Zekrom was silent for a moment before he walked over to the shutter. As the Hippowdon opened the overhead door, Zekrom looked him over.

“Is something wrong?” the Hippowdon asked, looking at Zekrom in annoyance. “Is there something on my face you’re interested in?”

“No, nothing like that,” Zekrom said, slightly embarrassed. “I just had to satisfy myself. The thing is uh, I met another Hippowdon a few hours ago, and for some reason, I thought for a second that you were the same guy. I was trying to compare you to him, but I actually don’t remember how he looked.” Zekrom grinned. “Don’t mind me, it’s impossible anyway.”

“I suppose it is if you say so,” Bolero replied. “Anyway, get in already. It’s cold.”

||

“Sorry to interrupt your work,” Zekrom said. They were in a larger room with a gigantic window overlooking the mountainside. Barely anything could be seen outside aside from snow falling in the darkness. “I’m Zekrom. Maybe you’ve heard of the Ministry of Fire?”

“In passing,” Bolero replied coolly, “You can call me Avalse. I would prefer it if you don’t forget it.”

“Right,” Zekrom said, looking around. “So where’s your assistant. I know you’re busy, but I need to talk to someone about something important.”

“I gathered as much,” Bolero said dryly. He turned to a side staircase. “Hey Yams, you have a guest.”

A Claydol entered the room. “A guest?”

Bolero gestured at the Claydol. “This is my assistant, Yams. Yams, this is Zekrom. He’s going on a rescue mission or something.”

Zekrom shot a glance at the Hippowdon before turning to the Claydol. “Hi, you’re the one that saw my signal?”

“The first to respond anyway,” Yharmaka replied. “I’m sure what you did was seen for miles.” The Claydol seemed uncertain. “If you can, head upstairs and wait for me. I need to check something with my... employer.”

“Alright,” Zekrom said. “Sorry if I seem impatient.” He walked to the stairs, disappearing up them.

Yharmaka glared at Bolero. “Assistant? You’re lucky we’ve known each other for so long.” The Claydol paused. “Okay, what name are you using so I don’t mess it up.”

“Avalse,” Bolero said. “But I think I mixed up the personalities a bit. Luckily, he didn’t recognize me.”

“You met him earlier?” Yharmaka levitated a leftover tray sitting on one of the tables and threw it at Bolero’s head. “Idiot. You’ve been making a lot of mistakes recently.”

“I know. But there’s no reason for him to suspect me,” Bolero retorted. “He flew here only an hour or so after I saw him.”

“Hmph, let’s worry about it later then,” Yharmaka said. “Let’s do what we came here to do, okay?” That said, the Claydol floated away up the stairs, leaving the Hippowdon.

Standing alone, Bolero’s eyes widened. “Wait- oh no, I wasn’t keeping track.” The Hippowdon banged his head on the floor in frustration. “I said something I shouldn’t have.”

||

“Yams, was it?” Zekrom asked as the Claydol appeared at the top of the staircase. “How long have you been working here?”

“Not too long,” Yharmaka lied, mentally tracking the fake identity he was creating. “Why do you ask?”

“Have you known uh, Avalse long?” Seeing the Claydol wobble from side to side in some rough approximation of a no, he continued. “I’m not certain, but something bothers me about him.”

“And what is that?” Yharmaka asked, feeling a growing dread.

Zekrom quickly glanced at the staircase. “When he was talking to you, he said I was here on a rescue mission. Which is right- but I never told him that.”

Yharmaka cursed internally, but maintained a blank expression. “Is it not reasonable that he simply assumed that. I personally see no other reason why you would be out here.”

“That makes sense,” Zekrom admitted sheepishly. “I wasn’t thinking. But on that topic, I came out here to rescue a few pokemon.”

“I don’t mean to sound callous, but do you think you have a reasonable time frame to assume that it will be a ‘rescue’?”

“I’m positive,” Zekrom proclaimed proudly. “If you don’t have faith, then you can’t put your best effort into it.”

“I wish I could share your confidence,” Yharmaka said. “But I’m going to have to give you some bad news. If you want to go searching, then you’ll have to wait until the morning.”

“I can manage,” Zekrom protested. “My tail can generate some bright light; you saw it yourself! All I need is some advice on how to navigate the mountain.”

“Even so, I can’t send you out in good faith, no matter the circumstances.” The Claydol hovered close. “Here’s what I can say, if they’re still alive now, they’ll likely still be alive tomorrow, so rest here.”

Zekrom opened his mouth to continue, but stopped, looking frustrated. “I- you’re right. I hate to leave them out there, but I’d probably just get lost.”

Yharmaka looked at Zekrom sympathetically. “I’m sure whoever you’re looking for is fine. They’re lucky you’re out here. Now get some rest. We have a few spare rooms around here, it has been just me and Avalse until you came.”

“Really?” Zekrom stared out a window. “This big of a station and only you guys?”

“We can handle it. Most of the equipment isn’t even in use right now,” Yharmaka replied, relieved that the snow hid the fact that most of the outdoor monitoring equipment had been broken for years.

Zekrom nodded, still looking out the window. “Haa, I’m terrible.”

Yharmaka looked at Zekrom strangely. “What was that?”

“I said I came out here to rescue pokemon, and that’s true. I really do want to help them.” Zekrom sighed. “But as much as I say it, it’s still secondary to why I really came.”

“Really?”

“I really just wanted to go somewhere,” Zekrom admitted, smiling sadly. “I’ve been so busy lately with work that when my friend told me about this, I jumped at the opportunity without thinking. I’ve never actually rescued someone before.”

“That is a problem,” Yharmaka said quietly.

“Actually, when I think about it, I think it’s...” Zekrom trailed off. “I want to help someone on my own terms, without anyone telling me how to do it or what to say in an interview afterwards. Like I used to do.”

“I see.”

Zekrom turned to the Claydol. “Can- can you call the HCU? The pokemon out there, they deserve an actual rescue and not just a pretender like me.” Zekrom’s face fell as he started to tear up. “Sorry for wasting your time.”

“Wait,” Yharmaka said. “From what you’re saying, it was a spur of the moment decision. I understand, but you didn’t just make empty promises. You came all the way out here in a blizzard and were still willing to go back out in the dead of night.” The Claydol’s gaze softened. “I know you probably didn’t think it through until now and you think you’re making a fool of yourself. But I bet- I bet you can do it! Plus, I hate to say it, but the HCU probably won’t help us.”

“Why not?” Zekrom asked, slightly panicked.

“The connection gets really bad out here at times. I doubt we’d be able to get through to them until it’s too late.”

“Oh,” Zekrom muttered. “Yams, did you really mean what you said?”

“One hundred percent,” Yharmaka said. “I don’t know about Bo... Avalse, but I’ll help you as much as I can.”

Zekrom smiled slightly, seemingly having missed the near gaffe. “Th- thanks, Yams. “He wiped his eyes. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

Yharmaka tilted himself forward in acknowledgement. “Great. There’s spare rooms down the hall. You might have to push a few beds together, they’re on the smaller size.”

As Zekrom walked away, the Claydol’s levitation broke, Yharmaka sinking to the floor.

“I have to give Bolero some credit, this is tough.” Several of Yharmaka’s eyes blinked. “Oh well, the sooner this is over, the less I have to worry.”


[]|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||[]
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Mel and Mallys looked up as a harsh scraping sound emanated from the front of the small cave. Slowly, the stone blocking the entrance was moved aside. When the entrance was big enough, Arceus appeared, squeezing his way in.

“You’re back!” Mel said happily. “What happened out there?”

Arceus shook his head. “Nothing really. I walked for awhile, but there’s nothing but more snow.”

“I don’t think we can ask for more than that unfortunately,” Mallys said. “But what’s important is that we have an idea of what’s around us.”

“But what do we do now?” Arceus asked, glancing uncomfortably at Mallys’ wounds.

Mel leaned back. “We’ll figure something out, so don’t worry about us. Although,” Mel’s eyes flickered to the collars they still wore. “Can you break the chain that’s tying us together?”

“Yeah, let me get that.” Arceus summoned a small judgement sphere, carefully passing it between the Haxorus and the Lurantis, disintegrating the chain in the middle.

“So that’s the thing you were talking about,” Mallys said, watching the sphere dissipate into nothing curiously. “What is it?”

“It’s uh, I decided to call it judgement,” Arceus said.

“Judgement? Are you judging something?” Mel said, lying across Mallys’ stomach.

“That’s what I thought too,” Arceus admitted, “But for me, it’s more of a representation of my opinion because of what it can do.”

“You didn’t come up with the name, did you?” Mallys asked dryly.

Arceus was silent for a moment. “Yeah, you’re right. The name still doesn’t make sense to me. But it feels right. Is that good enough?”

“Pokemon come up with strange names for their techniques all the time. If you want to be dramatic, that’s just fine,” Mallys said, smiling.

“I don’t think it’s that dramatic,” Arceus pouted. “It’s just what sounds right.”

“Gotcha, what you say goes,” Mallys conceded. “So you can use judgement pretty well now, right?”

“I think so,” Arceus replied. “It’s easy to use now, it just appears when I want it to.”

“Does it do anything else?” Mel interjected. “Or does it only destroy things that touch it?”

Arceus shook his head. “I don’t know. I hope it can do something else, but if this is what it does, I’m not picky.”

“You can change the size right?” Mallys asked. “Do you think you could make it big enough to just get rid of the mountain?” The Haxorus hid a grin.

“As if,” Mel said, rolling her eyes. “If you could though, that would be amazing.”

“Hm, I’d rather not do something like that,” Arceus said.

Mallys laughed. “I don’t see something like that happening. We’ll get out of here just fine. But first, let’s let the morning come.”

“Fine by me,” Mel said lightly. “You don’t mind if I sleep here, Mallys? Do you?”

The Haxorus looked down at the Lurantis resting on his stomach. “Not at all. What about you Arceus?” He looked over. “I know you’re going to say that you’ll be fine, but-” Mallys’ expression softened. “You deserve a rest just like us.”

“I... yeah, I was going to say something like that,” Arceus replied bashfully. “Having this on my back is just such a hassle, I didn’t want you to worry about it.” He craned his neck back to look at his ring.

“If I could do anything to make you comfortable, I would,” Mallys said. “But for now, why don’t you come over here and lean against me. Maybe lay your head on my chest? I don’t mind.”

“Are you sure?” Arceus asked. He glanced over, Mel was already asleep.

“Don’t make me ask again,” Mallys said good naturedly. “I offered myself as a headrest, so take it, alright?”

Arceus nodded, walking over to Mallys. Slowly, unsteadily, he kneeled down before slowly sliding his frame against the Haxorus. Eventually, Arceus settled in a somewhat awkward, but still comfortable position.

“There, how’s that?” Mallys asked quietly.

“It’s... it’s nice. Thanks Mallys,” Arceus replied.

“Settle in then. And don’t think about what we have to do until we have to do it,” Mallys chided. “You can relax just a bit, can’t you.”

Arceus let out a small noise of satisfaction. “Yes, I can. See you tomorrow Mallys.” That said, Arceus lay his head across Mallys’ chest, closing his eyes.

Mallys looked at his companions sprawled out on top of him and sighed. “I wonder why this of all things had to remind me,” he whispered to himself. “Maybe I’m not allowed to forget. Ha.”

He smiled, but this time, his eyes were sad.


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///////////////////////////////



Pasa stepped over an unconscious Azumarill, stopping briefly to check its body for injuries. There was a rather nasty bruise on its head, but nothing else.

“Same as the others,” the Nidoking said to himself, satisfied. “At least he’s consistent.”

He entered the front car leisurely, noting two more unconscious pokemon with similar head injuries. “It’s dark out now,” he said simply, “Do you know how to turn the lights on?”

At the front of the train, Seyka stared out the window. “I don’t know,” he said without turning around. “Can you tell me?”

“There’s a small lever hanging from the ceiling,” Pasa replied. “It’s yellow.”

“I see it. Thanks.” Seyka extended a wing to reach. As he did so, Pasa’s eyes widened slightly. The Skarmory’s wings were cracked and battered, huge sections simply missing. Seyka glanced over, smiling as he saw Pasa gaping.

“My wings aren’t good for much else these days,” he said. “When you get a chance, can you tell Darkrai that I understood him perfectly- I just couldn’t do that.”

Pasa’s eyes trailed slowly over the pokemon lying around the room. “This was your alternative?”

Seyka turned to face Pasa. “Disappointing, is it? Sorry if you expected something else.” The Skarmory shrugged, his expression blank. “I thought it would be fun.”

“Seyka,” Pasa started, his tone low. He pulled over a discarded chair and sat down. “Years ago, I used to work for the HCU. I don’t like to brag, but I was pretty good.”

The Skarmory’s expression was unchanging. “Years ago huh? A long time for you then.” There was a strange gleam in his eyes.

“When I first saw you. I knew you were trouble,” Pasa continued, grimacing, “You’ve been just a bit wrong in all the right ways, so to speak. That being said...” he trailed off, his face screwing up. “Nothing you’ve done here makes any sense.” He gestured to the unconscious pokemon. “By my estimate, you used the absolute bare minimum force necessary to knock all these guys out. You don’t seem to have the slightest idea what you’re doing, nor do you have a sensible plan.” Pasa looked Seyka in the eyes. “You stand to gain nothing from your actions, but you don’t seem bothered at all. In fact- you seem to be trying to enjoy this.”

“Because I am!” Seyka said, smiling slightly. “I guess it doesn’t make much sense, but can’t I do things just for the sake of doing them?”

“Perhaps,” Pasa replied. “However, you’re only trying to have fun.” Pasa looked at him, his expression half pitying, half angered. “One of the few things I think I can do pretty well is recognize a liar.” His expression hardened, “Especially someone who is lying to themselves.”

Seyka’s smile disappeared. “Er, you might be looking into this too much. I just want to know how to stop the train so it doesn’t crash.” The Skarmory shrugged with his broken wings. “I had my fun already, and I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I don’t have time to talk about your theories or whatever.”

Pasa shook his head, laughing softly. “Have it your way. I’m here to stop a train, not to dissect you. Sorry for bothering you, it’s just some of my old habits coming out.”

“I can understand that,” Seyka said. “I can understand that very well.”

Pasa clapped his claws together. “Right then.” He looked past Seyka at the control board at the front of the train. “I see the brake has been ripped out,” he said nonchalantly.

“Oh, that’s what that was?” Seyka said with a sheepish expression. “It got that way when I was- well, beating these guys up.”

“Fair enough, but now we can’t stop this train.” Pasa turned and slung the unconscious pokemon over his shoulder.

Seyka tilted his head, watching the Nidoking curiously. “What are you doing then?”

“The next best thing,” Pasa said. “Once I move all these guys to the next car, I’m going to dissolve the connector between the cars. Hold on a moment.” He disappeared into the next car, returning after a minute. “You have two choices here,” he said, addressing the Skarmory. “You didn’t hurt anyone that bad, and I don’t really have any obligation to hold you until the proper authorities are here. If you want, you can go back to the second cabin. I suppose though that all the pokemon on the train still know you did it, so you’ll have to figure that out yourself.” Pasa grinned slightly. “But if you’re still interested in spontaneity, as you put it, you can stay here with me.”

Seyka smiled again. “You said I was the one who didn’t make any sense.”

“And you said you didn’t care about my theories,” Pasa retorted. “You stop worrying about things always having to make sense when you’re older.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” Pasa replied. “Let’s crash together then.”

“Hey, I’m not going to sit here and die,” Pasa said. “I’m going to be dissolving this car until it falls apart when it stops moving. I haven’t used my acid for stuff like this in a long time. It’s kind of a nostalgia trip for me, okay?”

“Okay, Pasa!” Seyka chirped, his face brightening. “I’ll follow your lead.”
 
Chapter 19

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
I think I figured it out. My pace increased like fourfold because I reached the part where my story becomes absolutely completely unhinged. In my opinion. The plot is getting too complicated for my own good, and I wouldn't have it any other way.


Chapter 19 - Won't Have it Any Other Way

The passengers in first class had finally calmed down. Near pandemonium had erupted when Pasa had started bringing the unconscious crew in, many accusing the Nidoking of being a terrorist among other things. Pasa waited patiently until they had finished, firmly and slowly explaining the situation to them. Then he explained again. And again. The glares disappeared, replaced first with panic, and then relief, as the Nidoking’s repeated assurances sunk in.

“Will we be refunded for this?” a Sandslash asked. Several passengers murmured, looking at Pasa expectantly.

“I’m not an employee, so I wouldn’t know,” Pasa replied, scratching one of his ears. “But if I had to guess, you probably will. There’s going to be enough bad press as it is now, so they should know better than to make it worse.”

An Oranguru piped up from further back. “You got the guy that did this, the Skarmory right? Why don’t you bring him in here so we can teach him a lesson?”

The car erupted in agreement, several pokemon shouting out rather violent ideas. One pokemon mimed grabbing something and vigorously shaking.

Pasa held his hands in the air. “Alright, alright. I know everyone is pretty upset. But this guy is a criminal. You see what he did to the crew right?”

The pokemon in the cabin glanced uncomfortably at the unconscious train crew.

“He could wake up at any time,” Pasa chided gently, “And no one else needs to get hurt today, okay? Just settle down, and let me handle this.” Saying this, he turned and walked back to the front car, shutting the door behind him.

||

“Did everything work out?” Seyka asked. The Skarmory was examining a panel of wiring.

“Well, the passengers want your head,” Pasa replied, shrugging. “And you know what? I defended you- I don’t even know why!”

“Maybe you like me?” Seyka offered. He reached forward, pulling at the wires experimentally with his beak.

“I don’t think so,” the Nidoking said, walking over to Seyka. “And stop doing that!” He pushed the Skarmory away from the panel. “That’s not a toy.”

“I know that,” Seyka said. “It’s just interesting, you know?”

“Wires?” The Nidoking made a face. “Have you been living under a rock?”

“Something like that,” Seyka replied. “Where I lived, there wasn’t much technology like this.”

Pasa placed the cover back over the wires. “You said you ran away from home right?” He looked at Seyka. “Have you lived there your whole life?”

“I went out a lot more when I was young,” Seyka said. “But things were different then.”

The Nidoking frowned. “Different how? Er, more to the point, how old are you, Seyka?”

Seyka nodded. “Since it was just my birthday, that means... I’m five hundred and seventy three now.” He smiled. “I look pretty good for my age huh?”

Pasa reeled. The Skarmory didn’t seem remotely deceptive.

“Does that face mean you don’t believe me?” Seyka’s expression didn’t change. “I can’t prove it to you, but that’s what it is.”

Pasa exhaled deeply, trying to wrap his head around Seyka’s answer. “So uh, sorry if it’s a weird topic, but how did you get that old? Skarmory usually only live to around 130, at least from what I’ve read.”

“No reason,” Seyka said immediately, “I just eat healthy.”

Pasa decided to leave it at that. “That makes sense,” he lied. “So you haven’t left your home in hundreds of years?”

Seyka shook his head. “Haven’t had the time to. That’s why I ran away.”

Pasa was at a loss for words. The only sound in the room was the rumbling of the train, moving ever closer to its demise. Outside, lush fields rushed by in the darkness, the moon shining dimly in the sky.

“It’s time to separate the cars,” Pasa said, looking at a map on the wall. “Any longer and we’ll be out of luck. Wait here, okay?” He turned and rushed out before the Skarmory could answer.

The front of the train was connected to the second cabin with a short antechamber made of sheet metal. Ostentatiously an effort to provide an element of decorative flair, it obscured the actual coupling holding the cars together underneath. Examining the walls, Pasa found that the only way to detach the passage was from the outside; he would have to melt through the entire thing.

Seyka poked his head through the doorway. “Anything I can do to help?”

“Actually, yes,” Pasa said, glancing at the Skarmory out of the corner of his eye. “I need to make this a clean cut, so can you watch the door and make sure no one tries to come in?”

“Okaaay!” Seyka hopped over to the door and braced himself against it, watching Pasa. “You can use poison or whatever, right?”

“Yes,” Pasa said. “You don’t have to worry about it though, you’re made of steel.”

Seyka frowned. “It won’t affect me?”

Pasa looked up at the Skarmory. “You’re over 500 years old and you didn’t know that? Well, I suppose anything is possible.” On the Nidoking’s right hand, a sickly black substance had started oozing from his skin. “Yeah, this won’t hurt you any. Poison generally doesn’t unless you’re dealing with someone who really knows what they’re doing.”

“I didn’t know that!” Seyka exclaimed. “That’s really cool.”

Pasa tilted his claw forward, the acid running in rivulets until it coalesced around the tips. With a single motion, he thrust his claw into the floor. It slid cleanly through the metal without even a single stray drop.

Seyka watched in awe as the Nidoking drew his claw across the floor, leaving a clean break. Reaching the side, he slowly stood up, dissolving the left wall before he started on the ceiling.

Pasa’s eyes widened. “Ah, oops.” His other claw shot up, catching a bit of acid that had started to run down his claw. “I’m losing my touch. I would have gotten a write up for that for sure.” He moved his claw faster along the top, leaving an uneven tear. “This is embarrassing,” he said, groaning as he finished the right wall.

“That’s ok,” Seyka said. “As long as you cut it, it’s fine!”

Pasa sighed, smiling slightly. “Right, right.” He connected the cut, a thin hole now running through the small area. Wind rushed in through the hole and a thick iron connector could be seen below them. “Alright, now for the big one. You can stop holding the door now, Seyka.”

Seyka nodded and moved away from the door, just as someone knocked twice. The Skarmory froze, glancing quickly at Pasa, then back to the door.

The Nidoking stared at the door for a moment in silence. “Yes? What is it?” he called, not sure what to expect.

“It’s us, Pasa.” Darkrai sounded nervous. “We’re- uh, we’re sorry. Can we come in?”

The Nidoking hid a small smile. “Yes, you may. Come through quickly though so no one can see in, alright?”

The door slowly opened, Darkrai and Mae shuffling in. Darkrai nodded at Pasa and Seyka sheepishly while Mae waved at them, flashing a peace sign.

“So, what did you do?” Mae asked Seyka, examining the cut Pasa had made. “And uh, what are you guys doing now?”

“We’re separating the front car from the rest of the train so only we crash,” Seyka said proudly. “I’m helping!”

“What he said,” Pasa added. He knelt down, poking at the connector. “Ask Seyka to explain why he did what he did, because I’m not going over that again.”

“Wait,” Darkrai interrupted. “You’re going to stay on the front once you separate it? Why?”

Pasa shrugged. “Just because the rest of the train stops doesn’t mean everything is fine. It might be the middle of the night, but you can’t say what a speeding train car will do, can you? I just want to cover all the angles.” He pointed a claw at Seyka. “And he just wants to be along for the ride.”

“Is there something we can do to help?” Mae asked.

Pasa looked at them. “You guys too? I uh, can’t really think of anything.”

“You can be support,” Seyka said. “I think Pasa would appreciate it.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Pasa said. “Look, if you want to come for some odd reason, you can. But I’m not responsible for what happens if you do. All those passengers saw you come up here right? What did you tell them?”

“We said we were with you,” Darkrai said, shooting a glance back towards the door.

“Right, I can work with that,” the Nidoking replied. He turned to Seyka. “Just to be sure though. If you stay here, I will be obligated to take you in. You’re really ok with us treating you like a criminal?”

“I’ll be fine,” Seyka said idly. “I’m basically a criminal anyway.”

Pasa laughed. “Conventionally, yes. But you don’t really follow through.”

Seyka smiled. “That just makes it worse.”

“When did you guys start getting along so well?” Mae said, the Lopunny crossing over to the other side of the cut. “Great to see it, but wow, what a turnaround.”

“Hey, Pasa?” Darkrai said suddenly, looking at him with a serious expression. “I’ve been thinking about earlier.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Pasa said, waving him off. “I just let my own feelings get in the way. I’m not going to blame anyone for caring more about the wellbeing of themselves and those close to them than strangers.”

“But I feel bad anyway,” Darkrai protested. “I don’t want to be so callous. Not anymore.”

“Then talk to someone qualified about that, okay?” The Nidoking shook his head. “It’s nice that you had an epiphany, but hold onto that thought until later.”

“Ah, o-okay,” Darkrai muttered softly, stepping over to join Mae.

Pasa coated his claw in the black acid again. “Alright everyone, here we go. If you’re all going through with this, then get up front so you don’t fall out when I sever the cars.” He sat down, waiting until Seyka, Mae, and Darkrai had entered the front cabin, taking a deep breath.

“Well,” he said to himself. “What happens, happens. Not like I’m getting graded.”

He slammed his claw down on the connector.


|\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/|
200 ohm inductor
|\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/|


It was morning. The sun glinting off the mountainside made it almost impossible to see out the window. Yharmaka and Zekrom were looking over a table covered in a spread of equipment while Bolero was nearby, eating something loudly.

“Looks like you’re pretty lucky,” Yharmaka said. “It’s going to be a nice day today, not much snowfall.”

Zekrom pumped a fist. “Yesss, I can do this!” He picked up a round object, strung with rope. “What’s this thing?”

“Those are snow shoes,” Yharmaka replied. “I know you can fly, but just in case you have to squeeze in somewhere, you should keep them on hand.”

“Okay, what else do you have?” Zekrom asked, holding the snow shoes under his arm.

Yharmaka stared at the equipment. “Honestly, most of this stuff is suited for smaller pokemon. Generally speaking, I imagine you could force your way through most obstacles, maybe except for an extreme cold spike.”

Zekrom shivered involuntarily at the thought. “Got anything for that?”

“I have a scarf,” Yharmaka offered helpfully.

“Good enough for me,” Zekrom said, nodding.

“I think that’s about it.” Yharmaka’s eyes glowed, the rest of the junk on the table telekinetically sliding off to the ground. Bolero looked over, rolling his eyes upon seeing the mess. “Next up- you’ve been to the mountain before right?” the Claydol continued, floating over to the window.

“In the past, but not like this,” Zekrom said, joining Yharmaka by the window. “It was a part of a wellness retreat, so it was the plateau a little to the east of here that’s a tourist resort.”

Yharmaka spun slowly. “Mmm, close enough. I suppose you know the standard advice then, respect the mountain and all that.”

“Of course,” Zekrom replied. “Do you know some specialized tips?”

“Not at all. I don’t know the first thing about mountaineering,” Yharmaka said. “Just hope you get lucky.”

Zekrom stared at the Claydol. “Thanks? Aren’t you guys gonna help?”

“I wish I could, but I’d just get in the way. Bolero feels the same way.” Yharmaka was silent for a second before his eyes shrunk the pinpricks. “Uh-”

“Wait, what did you say?” Zekrom glanced over at the Hippowdon then back to Yharmaka. “You just said-”

Yharmaka’s eyes flashed and Zekrom fell backwards, unconscious.

“There it is!” Bolero cried, leaping onto the table. “You’re always getting on me about that stuff, but I knew you would mess up sooner or later. You got anything to say?”

“I messed up, I get it,” Yharmaka said angrily, glaring at the Hippowdon. “I fucked up, is that what you want to hear?”

“Yeah, yeah, it is.” Bolero’s expression softened. “Er, I just don’t like when you criticize me like that. Sorry, it’s just a bit cathartic.”

“No, I deserve it. I haven’t been thinking straight recently with how stressful everything has been. Sorry partner.”

A hint of a smile crossed Bolero’s face. “Let’s just do this over again, okay?”

Yharmaka’s eyes started glowing again. “You got that right.”

||

“These-” Yharmaka started, feeling slightly guilty. “-are snow shoes. They’ll help, trust me.”

“You’re the expert, so I will,” Zekrom replied. Something was off about the Claydol’s tone, but Zekrom decided to ignore it.

Yharmaka levitated the same scarf up, glad he didn’t have a face that could betray emotion. “Take this too, and don’t worry about giving it back.” He cursed internally. “Anyway, remind me who you’re rescuing again?”

“Oh, um- a Haxorus, a Lurantis, and a... I don’t know the last one.”

“Well, it’s a start,” the Claydol said. “Better than going in blind and having to bring home a Steelix. How much do you think you can carry while flying?”

“I’ve never really tested, but I feel like I could carry a Steelix if I had to!” Zekrom said, brimming with confidence.

“Ha, I’d like to see that,” Yharmaka replied. “So, provided you can find them, what next? Going to fly them all the way back to the city?”

“If I can,” Zekrom said. “But if not, you don’t mind them coming here, do you?”

The Claydol lowered it’s gaze. “You can do that, but sorry to say, we’ll be out of here by then. We have some business to attend to, but we’ll leave the door unlocked just in case.”

“Thanks, Yams.” Zekrom breathed deeply. “Time to get going.” He stopped. “Actually, do you have any idea where I should look first?”

“I’d like to think I have a few good guesses.” The Claydol levitated a map in front of Zekrom. “You know how to read this?”

“I’ll figure it out,” Zekrom replied. “Just point it out to me, er, however you can show it.”

||

As the dragon’s form grew smaller in the distance, Yharmaka sagged, hovering barely a few inches off the ground. “I feel bad now,” he said.

“It’s my fault in the first place for not being consistent,” Bolero commented, squinting in the sunlight. “I guess we ask too much of each other.”

“What choice do we have otherwise?” Yharmaka said quietly. “The only pokemon we can trust are each other.”

Bolero turned, smiling softly. “Even if we only have each other, that still means we have each other right?”

“I guess,” Yharmaka replied. “I wish Raeda were here. He always knew what to do.”

The Hippowdon’s smile faded slightly. “Me too.” Bolero sighed. “Well, it’s out of our hands for now. What do you want to do now?”

“I think I just want to take a break. Sleep in for a few days.” Yharmaka closed all of his eyes. “What about you?”

“I think I’m with you on that one. Let’s go.”


|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Step
UUUUUUUUUUU Up
∩∩∩∩∩∩∩∩∩∩∩ Transformer
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||


“Of all the things that could happen, this might be just about the worst.”

Mallys leaned against Arceus, one claw wrapped around Arceus’ neck. They looked down at Mel, the Lurantis lying flat on the ground. Her breathing was quick and her eyes were tightly shut.

“I can’t say I didn’t see it as a possibility, but her getting sick now complicates things a lot,” the Haxorus mused.

“What are we going to do now?” Arceus said, trying his hardest to stay calm. He jolted, nearly jumping up as Mel coughed loudly.

“Hey, augh!” Mallys almost fell over as Arceus suddenly moved. Regaining his position, he huffed. “We’re going to stay calm for one. It’s a fever, but it’s nothing to worry about as long as we’re not out in the open.”

“Sure, but for how long?” Arceus asked, glancing towards the entrance to the cave. Light spilled through, a frosty breeze blowing in.

“Long enough,” Mallys answered simply. “If we can’t get out of here ourselves, we’ll need to come up with a plan.” He made a face. “Uh, do you remember what we talked about yesterday? About carving out the mountain?”

Arceus blanched. “We’d really have to do that.”

Mallys nodded. “It’s crazy, but it might just be the best option we have. A significant change in the topography is hard to miss.”

“If that’s how we can get out of here, then I’ll do it,” Arceus said, closing his eyes. “I’m scared of hurting someone though.”

“We can sit here and wait for a miracle if you prefer,” Mallys said dryly, “I don’t like the possibilities either, but-”

“Hellllloooooooooooo?” A booming voice called from outside. “Ah, my throat is getting dry. I wish I had brought something to drink. Oooh, poor me!”

Mallys mouth hung open. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“Hmm, what were the names again. Errr, oh! Oh! Maaaalllyyyysss! Are you around here? Please come out if you are! Wait, that sounds weird.”

“That’s our miracle then,” Arceus said happily. “Go out and say hi, Mallys.”

Hesitantly, the Haxorus stepped out of the cave, shielding his eyes from the harsh sun. When his eyes finally adjusted, Zekrom was standing in front of him.

“Hi?” Mallys said uncertainly.

“You’re Mallys, right?” Zekrom asked. “I’m Zekrom, Trumme sent me.”

“Oh!” Mallys eye’s widened, remembering the Noctowl. “He did?”

“He was worried about you guys... er, where are the others?” Zekrom looked around. “I hope I’m not too-”

“They’re right here,” Mallys said, cutting him off. “Hey, Arceus! Come outside.”

Arceus’ head poked out of the cave. “Give me a moment.” He wiggled out, maneuvering his ring around the partially blocked entrance. “Hey, I’m Arceus,” he said, walking over to them.

“I see what he meant now,” Zekrom muttered. “Hello, Arceus. I’ve uh, never seen a pokemon like you before.”

Arceus nodded. “I’ve heard that a lot recently. But don’t ask me, I don’t know what kind of pokemon I am either.”

Zekrom looked at Mallys in confusion, receiving a shrug in reply. “It’s complicated,” the Haxorus said. “So... is it just you?”

Zekrom nodded. “I might not look like much, but I think I can carry all of you. There’s one more right?” He glanced over at the cave. “A Lurantis, wasn’t it? No problem!”

“Maybe,” Mallys said. “But there’s a bit of a problem.”

||

“I don’t think we can move her like this,” Mallys said grimly. The Haxorus held Mel’s limp form in his arms, the Lurantis unconsciously shivering in the cold air. “At least, not by flying.”

“Hmm, that’s not good.” Zekrom crossed his arms. “What’s the alternative?”

“I could wait to see if she gets any better, then carry her myself,” Mallys said, glancing at Arceus.

“No,” Arceus said immediately. “We’re not getting separated again.”

“For once, it’s the best option,” Mallys replied. The Haxorus sighed, “I know you don’t like it; I don’t either. But-” Mallys looked at Arceus with steely eyes. “I promise you that we’ll meet up with you in less than two days.”

“Not good enough!” Arceus retorted. “I’m not moving from here without you two.”

“Uh, if you want, I have a map I brought with me,” Zekrom added nervously.

“That’s perfect. Thanks Zekrom,” Arceus said, before turning back to the Haxorus. “So? We’re all going. Together.” He emphasized the last word.

Mallys looked at the ground, deep in thought. “Okay, you win,” he started slowly, “First things first, can you look after Mel for a moment? I need to check a few things with Zekrom.”

“You can tell me to do anything as long as you don’t make excuses to do things on your own,” Arceus said. Mallys gently deposited the Lurantis across his back and he walked back to the cave, stopping to turn and look at Mallys once.

Mallys watched them until they disappeared inside. “Alright, we’re good.”

“What did you need to check with me?” Zekrom asked, tugging at the scarf around his neck.

“Nothing, I just need to you to bear with me for just a few minutes.” Mallys collapsed to his knees, his breathing labored. “I can put on a brave face for him, but honestly I’m in a pretty bad spot right now.” The Haxorus frowned. “You can’t tell, but there’s a lot of internal bleeding.”

“W-what do you want me to do?” Zekrom stammered, panicking. His eyes trailed over Mallys’ body.

“Nothing,” Mallys grunted, “Realistically, it would have been over for me a long time ago. But I’m fairly tough.”

Zekrom’s eyes shrunk to pinpricks. “You didn’t want them to know you were going to die?”

“I’m not going to die, believe it or not,” Mallys said, struggling to his feet. “I had something I was going to do, but Arceus insisted on sticking together.” He smiled. “That’s why we have to switch to plan B. If we leave him alone in there for too long, he’s going to come charging out to find me, so I have to make this quicker than I anticipated.”

Zekrom steeled himself. “What do you mean by that?”

Mallys’ grimaced. “I hate to get someone I just met involved.” He huffed, staring at Zekrom. “You’re going to have to do everything I say, no matter what. It’s going to be very uncomfortable, but bear with me. You said Trumme sent you right? Then think of this as helping him out too, since he cares so much about us.”

“Okay,” Zekrom replied quietly. He looked at the Haxorus, eyes blazing. “Let’s do it!”


/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
18000 Ohm resistor : )
/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/


“15, 16, 17, 18... 180,000?” The Bolthund looked hopefully at his superior, a Shelgon.

The Shelgon laughed. “Pretty good! Just one thing though, you might want to add two zeros. That’s a bit closer to our preliminary estimate.

“Ack! Where did I go wrong?” the Bolthund asked, frantically looking over the scene again.


Seyka watched the pair curiously from a distance. “What are they doing?” he asked. A pair of metal handcuffs were secured around the Skarmory’s legs, another pair tying him to a lamppost.

“Insurance,” Pasa replied idly. The Nidoking was relaxing on a bench, his eyes closed. “If you listen carefully, you can get an exact price for your ‘fun’.”

The front end of the train was totaled. Though it had slowed considerably by the time it reached the station in the early hours of the morning, it still had careened off the tracks, turning slightly as it plowed through several kiosks before falling over on its side. The platform was empty, however, as soon as the out of control train car stopped, the station came alive, multiple pokemon converging on the car, shouting loudly. Evidently, someone had managed to send word of the impending disaster.

At first, the four of them were dragged from the train, dazed, but somehow unharmed. In the middle of arresting all of them, one of the officers recognized Pasa, who quickly explained the situation, shooting nervous glances at Seyka all the while. The Skarmory was completely unfazed as the Nidoking laid the blame squarely on him, instead making faces the whole time. Darkrai and Mae were taken off to a hospital, while Pasa insisted on staying.

“Are they going to bill me for it?” Seyka asked, looking horrified. “I have no money!”

“No, no. Insurance is a system that ensures reimbursement in... well, special cases.” Pasa looked thoughtful. “Not sure what this falls under, that stuff never interested me. As for you- this’ll translate into more jail time for you.”

“Oh,” the Skarmory frowned, “Can you get me out of that?”

The Nidoking stifled a laugh. “I just indicted you for the whole thing. What do you want me to do? Recant my statement and say it was an accident?”

“If at all possible.”

“Not a chance. I still don’t think you’re really bad per say, but I’m not about to stick my neck out for a stranger.” Pasa groaned. “Having second thoughts about owning up to your actions?”

“No. I was just asking.” Seyka had a strange look on his face. “I don’t care really. I made my choice, so I’m happy.”

“As compared to what? Would you be sad if you didn’t do all this?” Pasa looked at the Skarmory expectantly.

“If I didn’t... I’d probably feel the same way,” Seyka mused.

The Nidoking sighed. “That’s all you need to say then. I’m not going to try and understand whatever complex you have going on.”

“Whaaat,” Seyka pouted, “It’s not a complex, that’s mean of you.”

Pasa smiled. “I pity whoever has to deal with your case.”

Seyka started to reply, but stopped and looked past Pasa. The Nidoking followed his gaze and saw a large mass of rock making its way towards them.

“Train crash involving a former Unit Director,” the Gigalith said, staring at Pasa. “You know, I told them straight up that I thought they were lying. So I come down here and it’s not just any old retiree, but you?”

“Oh, wow,” Pasa said lightly, “If it isn’t Aige, the prodigal daughter.”

“You’ll be happy to know that you can call me Commander Aige now,” the Gigalith replied. “Third division.”

Pasa smirked. “Only now? I had higher hopes for you.”

Aige huffed. “I was promoted over six years ago, old man.”

“I’m happy for you,” Pasa said. “It was always a long time coming though. We would always bet when they’d finally give you the position.”

“Did they? Well, we can talk later.” Aige turned to face Seyka, fixing him with a piercing glare. “So this is our guy huh?” she said. “I’ve read the report, but fill me in, Pasa.”

“I can tell you if you want,” Seyka said, looking at the Gigalith curiously.

“You will remain silent,” Aige growled, her glare intensifying. “Unless you are spoken to.”

The Skarmory nodded, smiling.

Aige scowled. “That demeanor is the kind of disrespect I saw in KBA members.”

“KBA?” Pasa glanced at the Skarmory. “You’re not wrong, but I don’t think so. Their activities were generally inside the city. They also always had a bit more- flair, I guess you could say.”

“You’re right,” Aige replied, “They wouldn’t half ass a job like this either. Zero casualties for an operation would be an embarrassment.”

“Hey, you never know. Maybe they failed because I was there,” Pasa said. When Aige looked away for a moment, Seyka stuck his tongue out at the Nidoking. “Anyway, it’s fairly straightforward. The suspect stormed the front car, incapacitated the crew, and I stopped him. The other two were civilians that got wrapped up in the mess.”

“Fine. I’ll get a statement later. I have to go deal with these claims analysts. It was nice seeing you again though, Pasa.” Aige smiled before walking off, yelling at the pokemon across the tracks. “Hey, HEY! This is an active investigation. You’re not allowed to be here, finish your estimates later!”

“I feel like I’ve heard the term KBA before, but I don’t really remember,” Seyka said, watching the Gigalith. “What is that?”

Pasa’s expression darkened slightly. “Nothing you need to worry about. It’s a relic from the past, something the HCU dealt with.”

Seyka nodded. “Okay. If I remember where I heard it from though, I’ll tell you.” The Skarmory exhaled. “Aw, I wanted to see the city. Oh well, I’ll be out of jail sooner or later.”

“I guess so,” Pasa said, leaning back on the bench again. “You’re already what- 576? An 80 year sentence shouldn’t be anything.”

“Huh? E-eighty?” Seyka froze. “Oooh, I wonder if I can get out of it by pretending to be sick.”


||[][][][][]||

||[][][][][]||


“We’re ready to go!”

Mallys poked his head into the cave, smiling broadly. “Told you it would just be a minute.” The collar that had been around his neck was gone.

Arceus looked up. “Oh, you got yours off?” He craned his neck, catching a glimpse of the collar around his own neck. “I believed you by the way. Do you think it would be best if Mel rides on my back like before?”

The Haxorus shrugged. “Anything works. Figure out what you want to do and let’s head out.”

Arceus noted that the Haxorus seemed unusually cheerful. Not that he minded. “I’ll be happy when we’re done with all this. It’s just been one thing after another.”

Mallys hummed. “I’m looking forward to some downtime too.”

Outside, the sun was clear in the cloudless sky. Zekrom was standing a ways away, staring into the distance.

“Hey, Zekrom,” Arceus shouted. “Are you going to come with us or fly back?”

“I’ll stay with you guys, just to be safe,” Zekrom said. He smiled at Arceus, but it was strained.

“Thanks! Uh, is something wrong?” Arceus asked.

Zekrom stretched his arms, looking away. “It’s just the weather getting to me a bit. My wings are getting a bit stiff, ahahh.” His laughter was bizarrely forced.

“We’ll go fast then so your wings can warm up,” Arceus said, feeling slightly uncomfortable. “Lead the way, Mallys!”

||

“I hate the cold. I don’t want to come back here ever again,” Mel said, hugging Arceus’ body tighter.

“I think we all agree on that one,” Mallys said, exasperated. “We heard you the first time too.”

The Lurantis had woken up a little while after they had left the cave. She immediately flailed about in a panic, falling off Arceus before they could explain the situation to her. After a quick introduction to Zekrom, she buried her face in Arceus’ back, complaining incessantly.

“I personally think I’d be fine if we flew. Like, I’m starting to feel better already, honest,” Mel pouted, glaring at the back of Mallys’ head. “You don’t know how my body works, so you can’t make that call in good faith.”

“I’m sorry, Mel,” Mallys said. “I was just being careful. I think Arceus appreciates erring to the side of caution too.”

Mel’s retort died in her throat and she pressed her face back against Arceus’ back, mumbling something about the Haxorus having a point.

“So uh, how long have you guys known Trumme?” Zekrom asked. The dragon walked a little ways in front of the group, tamping down the snow with his large snowshoes. Occasionally he would look back, checking on Arceus. Zekrom seemed to be making a conscious effort not to look at Mallys.

“Only a few days ago actually,” Arceus replied. “That’s when he lost his wing.”

Zekrom nodded grimly. “If you don’t mind, can you tell me what happened?”

“Well, we got lost in this forest, where it’s all pink,” Arceus said, looking at the ground. “I met Trumme there.”

“Ah,” Zekrom’s eyes widened. “You were in the Blue forest. That explains a few things,” he said, his expression darkening.

“Like what?” Arceus asked.

“The brand on your neck,” Zekrom said flatly. “Sorry if that was a bit sudden,” he added, seeing Arceus flinch. “There’s this cult that’s been operating out of that forest for longer than I can remember. They call themselves ‘The Faithful’. Hmph, as if.” Zekrom opened and closed his claws, his breathing speeding up a little. “They’re just a bunch of murderers.”

Arceus tried not to look, but found his eyes drawn down to the symbol. “What does it mean anyway?”

“It’s an indicator,” Zekrom said quietly. “They were going to ritually sacrifice you. For what, I don’t know.”

“For whatever garbage they justify themselves with,” Mallys interjected furiously. The Haxorus stared at the symbol on Arceus’ neck, his eyes filled with rage. Arceus remained silent, while Mel simply hugged Arceus tighter.

“I don’t disagree with the sentiment,” Zekrom continued, “But if I could help them see the errors of their ways, I would.”

“Hmph,” Mallys grunted, looking away.

“Um, so you escaped from that,” Zekrom said. “Where did the collars come from?”

“Oh, I forgot with everything going on, I think I can get those off,” Mallys exclaimed. He walked over, carefully sliding one of his claws through Arceus’ collar. His arm tensed, and the collar snapped off in pieces. He repeated the process with Mel, leaving the remains of both collars in the snow.

“That’s a lot better,” Arceus said, relieved. “Those collars came from the train we were on. We got into some trouble.”

“Right, I won’t ask,” Zekrom replied. “That’s just barbaric though. Do you know what company was operating the train?”

“No, why?”

“Back home, I have a little bit of influence,” Zekrom said. “I’d go after them for you.”

“No need,” Mallys said brusquely. “It happened, all that matters is that it doesn’t happen again.”

“I- I agree,” Arceus said. “I don’t want any more trouble.”

“Your call,” Zekrom conceded, “Even so, that is concerning. I won’t mention you guys any, but I’m going to look into it.”

Mallys shrugged. “Do whatever you want. Just don’t drag us into anything.”

“Right... you three have been through a lot lately.” Zekrom trailed off, his eyes sad. “If you ever need anything, the Ministry of Flame will do what it can to help you. I don’t believe I mentioned it before, but I’m the head minister.”

Arceus looked up. “Is that- Reshiram? God?”

“Yep. Reshiram created the world, and it’s up to us to take care of it. At least, that’s what I believe.” Zekrom’s tone softened. “I know everyone thinks differently. But even if our beliefs differ, we can still help each other.”

“Very optimistic,” Mallys said. “Maybe too optimistic. But-” he paused, “-I kind of envy that.”

Zekrom nodded. “I don’t think I could do what I do if I didn’t have faith in those around me. If any of you want to talk, I can always make time.”

“If that’s an invitation, I’ll have to pass,” Mallys said.

“Not interested,” Mel said, her voice muffled.

Arceus looked at his friends, then back to Zekrom. “I have some questions, but I’ll hold on to them until later.”

“If it’s a question you’ve got, then I’m all ears! But yes, save them until we’re back in the city.” Zekrom frowned. “I suppose I’ll get a reprimand from the board for running off like this though.”

“Huh, thanks for putting up with this then,” Mallys said, the Haxorus smiling softly.

“I’m just doing what I think is right,” Zekrom replied. He hesitated, glancing back at Mallys. “You’re welcome.”

“Alright, talking is slowing us down,” Mallys declared. “Let’s pick up the pace! If this map’s shortcuts are the real deal, we’ll make it to Carigara by the end of the day! We’ll figure out what to do next when we get there.”


|||>>>|||

|||<<<|||


“I used to live here. Being back brings back a lot of memories.”

“That must have been pretty miserable for you right?”

“Hah, something like that.”

“That’s not really an answer...”

“Honestly... it’s not like it was horrible. But it was empty. Unfulfilling.”

“So you left, and this is the first time you’ve come back?”

“Yeah. Did you know, lately they’ve taken to calling us ‘The Faithful’?”

“Whaat. That’s a really lame name.”

“That’s what I thought when I heard it!”

The Sudowoodo turned sharply. “We’re in public. Will you two shut up?”

The Anorith sighed. “Ah, you’ll have to forgive me, Tayama. I can’t help reminiscing just a little.”

“Hey, don’t let him talk to you like that, Lozow,” the Froslass protested. “You’re older than him, so he should be the one listening to you.”

“Seniority means nothing in the face of truth,” Lozow responded. “I was speaking a bit freely, Ziya, and that could lead to any number of problems.”

The Froslass huffed. “It’s one word. What are the chances that someone who just happened to hear would know?”

The Darmanitan walked alongside them interjected. “I think what Tayama is saying is that even if that’s true, it’s not a zero percent chance.”

“Why are you taking his side, Fyco?” Ziya growled, the air chilling slightly. “Tayama is always mean like this. Why did he even come with us?”

“Hey now,” Lozow said, the Anorith shooting a worried glance at the Froslass carrying him. “Let’s not start something now.”

“Hmph, regardless of why, I’m here,” the Sudowoodo said idly. “Maybe it’s to have an extra hand in case our loose cannon messes everything up.” He smirked at Ziya as he said this.

“Come over here right now and I’ll show you,” Ziya replied, glaring as small crystals of ice formed around her head.

“Woah, Ziya, calm down,” Fyco said, the Darmanitan backing away.

“Ziya,” Lozow pleaded, squirming in her grip. “Please don’t-”

“All of you, quiet,” a soft but firm voice said.

Immediately, the group fell silent, looking at the speaker. The ice around Ziya dissolved into the air, all the anger draining from the Froslass’ face.

“Ahh, what cute subordinates my brother has,” the Archeops said, fixing them with a piercing stare. “But so undisciplined. I’ll have to talk to him about that later.”

“Inno,” Tayama said, walking up to the Archeops. “We’ve been asking around. It looks like Seyka was here, however he was arrested and booked into the central prison.”

Inno’s gaze sharpened. “Did all of you contribute, or was it just Tayama? Hmph, I suppose it doesn’t matter now.” The Archeops held up a claw, signalling the group to stop. “A test then. You all know my brother, Seyka, very well. That’s why I brought you.” He smiled. “I want to see what you can do. Get him out of there. By tonight.”

“Thank you for your graciousness,” Lozow said, the Anorith’s singular eye blinking slowly.

“Good as done,” Fyco murmured.

Ziya turned to Tayama. “I bet I could get him all by myself. You don’t have to do anything.”

“Mmm, if you insist, then go right ahead,” Tayama replied.

Inno sighed. “A team effort would be nice.”

“Sorry, Inno,” Lozow said. “I’ll keep them in line.”

“I’m sure you will,” Inno said, not looking at the Anorith. “By the way, you’re much older than them, but you’re still like that.” He vaguely gestured. “Why is that?”

“Nothing important,” Lozow replied. “I suppose you could say sentimental reasons.”

“Well, knock it off,” Inno said, “Unless you can show me that you can perform reasonably well like that.”

Lozow felt Ziya’s grip around him tighten, but she said nothing.

“Right, I have some things I need to do. Don’t let me down.” That said, Inno nodded at them and walked off, disappearing into the crowd.

“Seems like you’re smart enough to know when to keep your mouth shut,” Tayama said, shrugging when Fyco glared at him.

Ziya ignored the jab. “Let’s go Lozow. Let’s get this done quickly so we can go out somewhere and eat.”

Lozow breathed deeply. “I’m glad you’re so eager, but let’s try to be careful, okay?”

“I’ll try, Lozow,” Ziya replied. “But only because you asked.”
 
Twenty

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Whatever man, we updating at 2:30 AM
I have to learn an entire baritone part in like 1 day, but hey singing is one of the few things I'm good at, so we smooth

CW: blood and some torture

Chapter 20 - Mercy and backbiting


A breeze from somewhere ruffled the feathers on Goucie’s head. The Combusken wasn’t happy, but he tried to hide it.

“I was barely through one stack,” he complained, “What was so important that you had to drag me out of the office?”

“Yeah, I’m really sorry for interrupting your paperwork,” Vanet replied sarcastically, “I’m sure most anything is more important than writing your signature a few hundred times.”

“Just tell me what it is already,” the Combusken said. He was riding atop the Barbaracle’s shoulders, staring at the passing advertisements pasted to storefronts.

“Well~” Vanet drew out the word playfully, “We got a nice tip that some trouble is about to go down at the Carigara Central Prison.”

Goucie scowled. “That underfunded garbage heap is still operating? And uh, isn’t a breakout not really something worth out time?”

“This is a special case,” the Barbaracle replied, reaching up to ruffle Goucie’s feathers. “Parmon mentioned something about ‘setting an example’.”

The Combusken was confused. “Not unusual for him, but why send us?”

“That’s what makes it special,” Vanet said. “Do you really expect me to know the answer?”

“Sorry,” Goucie said. “It’s just, I’m a bit stressed.”

Vanet shrugged. “I know your job is stressful. So is mine.” The Barbaracle had the barest hint of a frown. “Sometimes too much.”

“It’s more than that. I don’t think Parmon would have told you, but when I was coming back, I met some other pokemon.” The Combusken hesitated. “Like- I got to know them and we were... were kind of friends almost.”

“Uh huh,” Vanet said, unconvinced. “Go on.”

Goucie struggled to find words, crossing his claws over his beak. “But something I did caused them to get hurt. Not on purpose or anything! It was just something that happened that I didn’t expect. And I don’t know if they’re alright or not,” he stammered. “I’m supposed to hear back that they’re okay, but I haven’t and I’m worried.”

“Mm, you must really care if you’re telling me all about it,” Vanet said.

“Ah!” Goucie looked away sheepishly.

“Look, I know you don’t really like me that much,” Vanet said, her pace slowing. “I know you don’t really like the bureau as a whole. But you know,” the Barbaracle looked up at the Combusken on her shoulders. “I really think you’d be a good leader- better than Parmon.”

The Combusken faintly smiled. “You’re probably the only one who thinks so.” He crossed his arms, leaning on the top of Vanet’s head. “I don’t even think they thought of me as anything but a passing stranger. But I can’t help thinking about them.”

“Why is that?”

Goucie frowned. “I don’t know. I guess... I guess it’s because I liked them.”

The Barbaracle narrowed her eyes. “How many friends do you have Goucie?”

“None,” the Combusken replied quietly.

Vanet sighed. “We’ll talk about that later, okay? For now, focus on what we have to do.”

Goucie groaned. “Are we going to have to fight?”

“Probably, but you’ll be fine,” Vanet said reassuringly. “I know you can handle yourself.”

“I’m out of practice,” Goucie said. “I mean, I did get in a small fight recently, but I only kind of helped.”

Vanet turned into an alley. Coming to a stop, she reached up, lifting Goucie and gently setting him down. “It’ll come back once you get going. For now though, we’re here.” The Barbaracle stretched, her hand shaped head curling and flexing. “Let’s go over what we’re up against.”

“Really? Our info is a lot more than a tip if we know this much,” the Combusken said, rubbing one shoulder. “Not that I’m complaining,” he added quickly.

“Aw, afraid of a challenge?” Vanet said jokingly. “Anyway, there’s four of them. There’s a Darmanitan, a Sudowoodo, a Froslass, and uhh, fuck I forgot the last one- no wait, Anorith that’s it!” The Barbaracle glanced at Goucie. “You remember what all those look like right?”

The Combusken stiffened when he heard the last two, but nodded. “Yeah, I know. I hope this isn’t some kind of cosmic coincidence though.”

Vanet stared at him for a moment. “Are you going to explain that?”

“O-oh right, sorry.” Goucie yawned. “I ran into a Froslass and an Anorith a few days ago. Really nasty stuff. I mean, I doubt they’re the same, but the exact same two species?”

The Barbaracle shrugged. “One way or the other, we have to deal with them. Parmon didn’t say if we had to kill them, so I’m not going to bother. We’re going to be in a jail anyway, just knock them out and put ‘em in a cell. Convenient!”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Goucie said, feeling some of the tension leave his body. “We’ll be just fine.”

“Now that’s more like it,” Vanet said, pumping a fist.

“Um,” Goucie was suddenly quiet. “Vanet, I- I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you. Now and in the past.” The Combusken seemed to struggle finding the right words. “I hate the CTB, not you.”

“Huh...” Vanet was quiet. “Hearing that felt a lot better than I thought it would. I’m glad to hear it though, Goucie.”

“Yeah... you want something to eat?” Goucie looked at Vanet. “I can put it on the company tab.”

The Barbaracle stared at Goucie. “I never thought you’d offer. How sweet.”


[][][][][][[][][][][]][]][][][[][


Zekrom looked back, weary, but smiling. “Is this your first time in the city, Arceus?”

Arceus nodded. “I’ve been to a few smaller towns, but this is-” he trailed off, looking up. Above them, a monolithic ceiling stretched outwards, dotted with huge towers extending downwards.

“Then I hope you enjoy it, or at least try to,” Zekrom said. “And my offer still stands if any of you are interested. Just look for the big cathedral on the west side of town, in the midrange.”

Arceus was confused. “Midrange?”

“I’ll explain later,” Mallys said from behind them. The Haxorus was uneasy, glancing around. “For now, we need to find a place to stay.”

“I can help with that,” Zekrom replied. “I’ll set you up at the Yellowtail. It’s a really nice place on the east side.” Zekrom sighed. “I don’t know how long I can do it for though. The board is going to find out if they do a review.”

“That’s a relief, thanks, Zekrom,” Mallys said.

Zekrom smiled nervously. “Oh uh, no problem. By the way-” He turned to Mel. “Are you sure you should be moving around?”

“I’m better already,” the Lurantis proclaimed, “Besides, I can’t let you guys carry me around all the time, it’s weird.”

Zekrom didn’t look like he was buying it. “You should rest for the next few days regardless. That goes for all of you.” He glanced at Mallys and Arceus. “Don’t do anything strenuous, please?”

“I can’t promise that,” the Haxorus said. “And neither can he, no matter what he says.” Mallys smiled faintly at Arceus.

“Trying is good enough for me,” Zekrom replied. “I have to go tell Trumme you guys are alright. Everything should be ready for you by the time you reach the Yellowtail though, so make your way there. Er, it was nice to meet you guys- and I hope I see you again sometime.”

||

A short subway ride later, Mel, Arceus, and Mallys found the Yellowtail. The facade of the building leaned outwards at a steep angle, brick walls dotted with reinforced windows. It formed an overhang that was both the entrance and the center of the building. The rest of the Yellowtail curved upwards and around this, supported by huge columns painted a reddish orange.

“You could be a decoration here, Arceus,” Mallys said. “Just pretend to be a statue and no one would notice.”

Arceus shook his head. “I think I’ll pass.”

The lobby had a domed ceiling, a series of hanging lights softly illuminating the space. The front desk had told them they had to prepare the room, leaving Arceus and Co. to wait.

“This is just too much,” Mel said, scowling at abstract paintings lining the walls. “Think of all the things you could do with the money they spent on this place.”

“It is what it is,” Mallys replied. “They had the money and they spent it how they wanted, not much point in complaining about it now.”

“It’s still a waste,” Mel muttered. “What do you think, Arceus?”

Arceus let his gaze trail over the decor. “I don’t really care either way. I’m just glad we’re safe.”

The Lurantis shrugged. “I get that. We get to finally relax.”

“Everything that’s happened has been distracting us from what we’re trying to do in the first place,” Mallys said, lightly knocking on Arceus’ head. “Figuring out what happened to you. Anyway, we’ll get everything together once we get our room.”

“One thing to another,” Mel mused, “That’s fine by me! Not like I have any plans anymore.”

“What do you mean, ‘anymore’?” Arceus asked.

“I’ll tell you in a bit,” Mel said awkwardly, “It’s not a big deal.”

||

Their room turned out to be on the 40th floor, facing the inner side of the city. There were two mattresses, which they had pushed close together, leaving a slight space in between. In the distance, a huge wall loomed menacingly.

“Carigara is kind of a strange place,” Arceus said. He was standing on the balcony, Mallys next to him.

“That’s modernity for you, if that’s the right word for it,” the Haxorus said. “I don’t know who came up with the idea for this city, but at the very least, they’re creative.”

Arceus looked up at the metal ceiling high above them. “How big is this place?”

Mallys shook his head. “I wouldn’t know. Originally this was just like any other place. But someone decided building up instead of out was more efficient, and now here we are.” He leaned on the railing of the balcony in thought. “There are thousands of individual divisions throughout the city, but for the most part Carigara is divided into three main parts, the midrange where we are, the high end, and the deep range.”

“Wouldn’t the deep range be at the bottom? Why are we at the midrange?”

“The zones are all expanding at different rates,” Mallys replied. “The deep range used to be the bottom, but someone wasn’t paying attention when they kept building up and the weight of the entire city has pushed the lower levels underground.”

“So it’s sinking?” Arceus asked, slightly concerned.

“Essentially. At the same time, there’s constant construction deep underground to reinforce it. Of course, since they keep building up, they have to keep adding on at the bottom.”

“They can’t do that forever though,” Arceus said. “It’ll all fall down eventually. It has to.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Mallys walked back from the railing. “Even if this entire city collapses in on itself, the pokemon who don’t die will just dig tunnels through the rubble and make a new city in the leftovers. It’s... industrious, but I wouldn’t want to live here.”

A noise back in the room drew their attention away from the city. Mel walked in, two bags hanging off her scythes. “I got what you wanted, Mallys,” she said, letting the bags slide off onto one of the beds.

“Oh great! Thanks, Mel,” Mallys said, making his way over. “I only hope you don’t get me sick.”

“Yeah, sure,” Mel said sarcastically, “I said I was fine earlier.” The Lurantis reached in one of the bags, pulling out a muffin. “These are really good.”

“Well, did you get me one?” Mallys asked, rooting around in the bag closest to him. “Ah, here’s one.” He pulled another one out, eating it in a single bite. “Mm, that is good. It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve eaten anything.”

“Me too,” Mel agreed. She started devouring a series of pastries before stopping suddenly. “Uhh...” She glanced at Arceus.

“I know you guys haven’t eaten any, don’t worry about me,” Arceus said. He couldn’t help but stare enviously at the food.

“I guess on the flipside, you don’t get hungry,” Mallys said, slightly guilty. “Sorry, Arceus.”

Arceus shook his head. “What are you sorry for? I can’t eat anything, but it’s not like you can do anything about it.”

“It still feels like we’re leaving you out,” Mallys replied.

“There’s nothing we can do though. Let’s- let’s talk about something else,” Arceus said sheepishly. “We were going to make a plan or something?”

“Mmm,” Mallys replied, his mouth full. “First things first, we have to have a solid idea of what we’re doing and why.” He turned to Mel. “From the top! Our friend, Arceus, doesn’t remember anything about himself. Who he was, what he did, all a mystery.” The Haxorus looked at Arceus. “Unless you’ve happened to remember anything over the past few days.”

“Actually, there was something,” Arceus said.

Mallys eyes widened. “And?”

Arceus explained his two encounters with Reecie. As he went into detail, the Haxorus and the Lurantis seemed to only get more confused.

“So was it you or not?” Mel asked.

“I don’t think this ‘Reecie’ made it obvious,” Mallys said, sighing. “Arceus, do you have any way of knowing that it wasn’t just another member of your species talking to you, or you know, someone pretending to look like you?”

Arceus hung his head. “I don’t... but why would anyone pretend to be me?”

“Maybe that’s something we can find out if you can remember things,” Mallys replied, “My advice is, don’t trust this doppelganger, we don’t know anything about them.”

“If you see them again though, try to ask more questions,” Mel added, “And be direct about it!”

“I’ll try,” Arceus said, groaning, “But I don’t know when that’ll happen, so what will we do in the meantime?”

“I think it’s best to start from a blank slate,” Mallys said thoughtfully, “My original theory seems like a bust at this point, so I’m thinking we need to look around town.” The Haxorus downed another muffin. “There has to be psychics that specialize in this kind of stuff.”

“Sure, for a price,” Mel replied, “We’re already living off the generosity of others here.”

Mallys sighed. “We’ll figure that part out once we find something to focus our efforts on. Tomorrow though, let’s rest, maybe look around the city a bit. Are you two fine with that?”

“No complaints here,” Arceus said.

“I wonder what the city is like?” Mel mused.

The Haxorus shrugged. “If anything, probably better during the daytime. That is, if you’re in a part of the city that gets natural light.”

Arceus glanced out at the balcony nervously. “I don’t like how you put it like that.”

“Put it like what?” Mallys closed his eyes. “It’s a natural consequence of this city’s insistence on growth. But I guess you mean me implying that it’s worse at night.” He shrugged. “I admit, I don’t know, I’m just assuming.”

“Yeah...” Arceus trailed off. “I’m tired.”

“Hah, I bet everything from the last few days is going to hit us all at once,” Mallys said softly, “We might not even go out tomorrow, you know? We’ll just sleep in and lounge around all day.”

“That sounds even better,” Mel said, laying back next to Arceus. “I’ll follow your lead though, Arceus.”

“I’ll decide tomorrow then.”


[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]


“Have you ever wondered if all this is pointless?”

The Sudowoodo looked down at the bruised and bloody Flareon who was glaring back at him.

“Fyco. I asked a question.”

“Hnng?” The Darmanitan turned to the Sudowoodo, one hand halfway in a fridge. “You know I don’t do that philosophy stuff, Tayama. Just say it straight.”

Tayama’s expression remained unchanged. He wrapped the green bulbs that were essentially his fingers around one of the Flareon’s legs.

“What I meant to ask was, will our faith get us anywhere?”

There was a loud crack. The Flareon screamed out in pain.

“I just wonder sometimes,” Tayama continued.

“Hey, I don’t know,” the Darmanitan said, going back to rooting around in the fridge. “If you’re having doubts, shouldn’t you ask Seyka?”

“I’ve been meaning to,” Tayama said idly. “But I keep forgetting.”

Another crack. The Flareon’s hind legs were mangled.

Fyco pulled out a package of crackers, staring at Tayama incredulously. “Wow, I thought you didn’t forget anything.” He looked at the food in his hand. “Who puts crackers in the fridge?”

“Mmm, pokemon will always surprise you,” Tayama replied. He moved over, eyeing the Flareon’s front legs.

“Hey,” Fyco said, looking away. “Do you have to keep doing that?”

One more time. The Flareon weakly cried out, tears streaming down it’s face.

“We’re not about to leave loose ends that can come back and bite us,” the Sudowoodo said, matter-of-factly. “I’m being generous too, I’m certain Inno would have killed most of the guards here outright.”

“Yeah- he’s kind of scary,” Fyco said. “Don’t tell him, but I like Seyka better.”

“Your secret is safe with me. Let’s meet up with the others.” Tayama scowled, “I hope Lozow has been keeping the wild one in check.”

“Uh, maybe,” Fyco said, glancing at the whimpering Flareon as they left the room.

||

“All done!” Ziya floated back to examine her work. Several pokemon were plastered to the wall, frozen in place except for their heads. “They should be fine by tomorrow.” She looked at the Anorith sitting on a nearby table.

“Good,” Lozow said, nodding at the Froslass. “There’s no reason to beat up on them too much. We’re going to get out of here soon anyway.”

“I wonder what’s taking them,” Ziya said. “Tayama probably messed something up. Or he’s probably torturing someone again.”

Lozow shuddered involuntarily. “I know he can get carried away,” the Anorith paused, “-but he should know better, especially now.”

As he said this, the Sudowoodo himself walked in, Fyco by his side.

“There you are,” Lozow said, fixing the Sudowoodo with his single eye. “Did you find out where he is?”

“Seyka’s in the D block,” Tayama replied, “Solitary, it should be easy.”

“Easier than now?” Ziya exclaimed, “It’s too easy. Shouldn’t there be more guards?”

Tayama shrugged. “It’s the middle of the night, I don’t know what we can expect.”

Fyco shook his head. “If it’s easier for us, then don’t ask.” The Darmanitan smiled slightly. “I’d rather there be less trouble anyway.”

“I agree with that,” Lozow said. “But it is strange. For a prison of this size, I’d expect more.”

Tayama sighed. “Worry about it later. The alarm is going to go off sooner or later.”

||

“Wheeee, I’m in the city,” Sekya said, his eyes half closed. The Skarmory was lying on the ground, staring at the ceiling. “I’m having fun.”

“You don’t sound like it,” Lozow called, the Anorith riding atop Fyco’s back as the group entered.

“Huh?” Seyka looked over, spotting them. He jumped to his feet. “You guys? Why are you here?”

“We came to rescue you,” Ziya said, waving. “Inno told us you were arrested, and here you are.”

Seyka seemed to recoil slightly. “Inno’s told you? I-is he here?”

“He went off on business,” Tayama said. “I’m sure he’ll meet with you soon though. You are his brother after all.”

“Aha, right.” The Skarmory smiled slightly. “Thanks everyone.”

Fyco grabbed the bars of the cell, the metal melting as his hands glowed red hot. “So uh, we were wondering, how did you end up all the way over here?”

Seyka glanced at Lozow, the Anorith nodding. “I was looking for help after the forest caught on fire. I accidentally got on a train and ended up here.”

“That- sounds like something you would do,” Ziya murmured. “Well, once we’re out of here and Inno is done, we can go home. This place is weird.”

“Yeah,” Seyka replied quietly, “It’s something like that.”

Tayama turned to the rest of the group as Seyka stepped out of the cell. “We should split up to be safe. I’ll take Seyka, all of you go the other way. We’ll meet up.”

“Why do you get to decide that?” Ziya said angrily. “Why don’t you go with Fyco and we’ll take Seyka.”

“It was just a suggestion,” Tayama said plaintively, rolling his eyes. “It really doesn’t matter.”

“Ziya, don’t argue about this now,” Lozow said. “Let’s just go.”

“Alright, whatever,” Ziya conceded, “Don’t mess up, Tayama.”

“I won’t,” the Sudowoodo said cooly, “Focus on yourself.”

As the rest of the group left back the way they came, Tayama looked at Seyka. The Skarmory seemed unharmed, the Sudowoodo unable to tell if any of the dents in his armor were new or had already been there.

“Are you okay?” he asked. The Sudowoodo leaned against a wall, taking a moment to catch his breath.

The Skarmory nodded. “I’m pretty good. This is my first time going to jail, you know? I feel like I learned something.”

“I see,” Tayama replied curtly, “Follow my lead.”

As he said this, two claws burst out of the wall he was leaning against, wrapping around the Sudowoodo. Tayama reacted, wrapping his arms around the protruding claws. He braced one leg against the wall and pushed outwards, dragging the claws forward with him. The wall gave way, a Barbaracle tumbling through the hole, it’s claws still wrapped around Tayama.

Tayama wrenched the claws off of him as he fell forward, using the rest of his forward momentum to throw the Barbaracle over his head. The pokemon flew across the room, impacting the opposite wall.

Seyka could barely process this before the Sudowoodo shoved him roughly away.

“Get out of here!” Tayama whispered urgently, “I’ll take care of this one.”

“But what about the others,” Seyka replied. “What if they were attacked too?”

“Not your problem,” Tayama said, shaking his head. “We all came here to rescue you, so finish the job!”

“You should listen to him.”

Seyka and Tayama looked over to see the Barbaracle standing nearby, their arms crossed. “I never received explicit orders on what to do with you,” she said, pointing at Seyka. “So do as he says and get out of here. I like a guy who can roll with the punches.” She winked at Tayama.

“Urgh.” Seyka recoiled. “You better win, Tayama.” The Skarmory turned and ran off.

“Well that was nice of him,” the Barbaracle said, watching Seyka. “I’m Vanet by the way. I don’t believe in ‘names are for friends’ professionalism.”

The Sudowoodo sighed. “That is something I believe in, so let’s get to the point.”

“Tough guy, I like that,” Vanet replied. “But yeah, your friend was right. My- associate is handling the other group.”

“I’m not concerned with that,” Tayama said. “That’s their problem.”

The Barbaracle stared at him. “Mmm, you’re a real professional.”

The Sudowoodo leaned forward slightly, adjusting his center of gravity. “Whatever you say. Let’s get this over with.”

||

There was a pit in Goucie’s stomach as he watched the courtyard. Exactly as Vanet had said, a Froslass, an Anorith, and a Darmanitan were carefully making their way to the front door of the complex.

“That means Vanet must be dealing with the Sudowoodo,” the Combusken said to himself. He looked closely at them to make sure he was seeing things right, feeling a chill as he saw the Anorith with only one eye. “It’s them, the ones we met before.” He briefly thought of Mallys, but pushed the thought out of his head. “I have to focus.”

||

“Ziya, I- I’m sorry,” Lozow said quietly.

Ziya looked down at the Anorith in her arms. “For what?”

“I didn’t help very much, actually, I didn’t help at all,” Lozow continued, “I feel bad making you do all this work.”

“That’s okay, Lozow!” Ziya said, tightening her grip. “I don’t care if you’re helpful or not, I always feel safe when you’re here. You’re like my lucky charm.”

“Hah, I’m still holding you guys back,” Lozow said. “I’m thinking that I really do need to evolve.”

“You don’t have to,” the Froslass said quickly, “I know you never evolved for certain reasons, and if you want to stay that way it’s okay.” Ziya smiled. “I’ll protect you.”

“I think Lozow feels that it has to be the other way around,” Fyco added from next to them. “He is a lot older than us after all.”

“I owe it to you, Ziya,” Lozow said, a note of sadness in his tone. “I promised your-”

A Combusken fell from above, one leg ablaze. He plowed into Fyco’s head, the Darmanitan slumping forward from the impact.

Lozow could barely process what had happened. “Huh?”

Launching off of the unconscious Fyco, Goucie landed gracefully in front of the pair, assuming a fighting stance.

“Chk!” Ziya’s eyes widened with recognition. “You’re!” The Froslass roared in rage, icicles forming from thin air and launching directly at the Combusken.

Goucie ran directly towards Ziya and Lozow, swatting some of the icicles out of the air as he went. Right before he reached them, he jumped at a slight angle, grabbing one of the projectiles out of the air with a claw.

“Ah!” Ziya panicked as Goucie closed the distance. Unable to react in time, she braced herself for the Combusken’s attack which never came.

Without hesitation, Goucie immediately slammed the icicle between Ziya’s arms, directly onto Lozow’s head. As the ice shattered, he jumped backwards, retreating to a safe distance.

Ziya was jolted by the impact, inadvertently dropping the unconscious Anorith, who flopped on the ground. Time seemed to stop for the Froslass as she stared, horrified, at the bleeding Anorith. Slowly, she looked up at the Combusken. “I’m going to kill you,” she said softly.

“I expected as much,” Goucie replied, “Now cut the drama.” He flicked his wrist, a fireball appearing around his claws. He launched it directly at Lozow, his gaze flickering to the Froslass to gauge her reaction.

“Ah! NO!” Ziya dived in front of the Anorith, taking the fireball directly in her face.

Goucie prepared a second fireball, but before he was able to launch it he was blindsided by Fyco tackling him from the side. The Darmanitan and the Combusken rolled in a heap, punching each other.

“Ziya! Are you- ough, alright?” Fyco shouted in between punches. Goucie seized his lapse in focus and viciously drove his knee into the Darmanitan. Gasping for air, Fyco fell backwards as Goucie leapt upward, following with a swift kick to Fyco’s head.

Ziya floated back into the air, looking none the worse for wear. “I’m fine,” she said darkly, glaring at Goucie.

Goucie stumbled backwards, shocked by the Froslass’ appearance. “What? I hit her!” He tried to create another fireball, but a large ball of ice collided with the back of his head, sending him sprawling forward. Ziya rushed up to the Combusken, the air around her starting to freeze. Before she could attack again, Goucie rolled onto his back and launched a fiery kick directly towards her. Throwing up one arm to block, Ziya felt a crunch as the kick connected. Reeling backwards, she glanced at her left arm flopping uselessly before she whipped back to the Combusken, her eyes glowing.

Goucie jumped up, sidestepping a column of ice that sprouted from the ground. Raking one claw across the pillar, he sent a flurry of shavings at Ziya, obscuring her vision. The Froslass ignored the onslaught and focused, the temperature of the area dropping drastically. Goucie looked up in alarm, but before he could move, Fyco appeared behind him and wrapped both arms around the Combusken, restraining him in place.

As Goucie cursed and struggled, Fyco screamed at Ziya. “Do it! Don’t worry about me.”

The Froslass raised her remaining arm, but hesitated for a moment, looking at Fyco. In that second, Goucie opened his beak wide, shooting a jet of flame directly at Ziya. She wasn’t able to dodge in time and was engulfed by the flames, the Froslass crying out in pain.

“Ziya!” Fyco called in a panic, unwittingly loosening his grip for a moment. Goucie immediately raised his arm, and elbowed the Darmanitan in the face. Fyco released his grip, grabbing his face with his hands. Turning to face him, Goucie ran at him, knocking him sideways with a single kick. Fyco collided with a wall and collapsed.

Glancing back at the Froslass who was rolling on the ground, Goucie prepared another fireball. He aimed carefully, focusing on ensuring the Froslass would go down.

This turned out to be a critical mistake.

From behind, Seyka appeared, the Skarmory kicking the back of Goucie’s head with one foot. Not expecting the hard steel impact, the Combusken fell forward, the Skarmory immediately stomping him into the ground. He rained down on the Combusken again and again, his breath growing ragged.

“Seyka! Stop!” The Skarmory stopped in surprise. He turned to see Lozow crawling weakly towards him. “It’s over, we’re done.”

“But he almost killed you guys,” Seyka growled, his eyes ablaze. “I’m going to get rid of him now so we don’t have to worry.”

“Seyka! Do NOT kill him.” The Anorith’s voice cut through air, stopping the Skarmory in his tracks. “He was only doing his job, protecting this space which we intruded on. You’re free alright, let’s leave it at that and go.”

Ziya rose unsteadily, eyes fixed on the Combusken. “It’s not just that, Lozow. This is the same guy who ripped off your eye.”

Lozow looked closely at Goucie, his expression momentarily darkening. “That- that doesn’t matter now.”

“What do you mean it doesn’t matter?” Ziya roared. An alarm blared, red light filling the courtyard.

Lozow glanced at the strobing lights overhead. “An eye is an eye. I’m not bitter about it, and I’m not going to let you take revenge on my behalf. Am I clear?”

“But he attacked us,” Ziya complained weakly, faltering under Lozow’s tone.

“No buts, we are leaving,” Lozow declared, “Seyka, wake up Fyco and let’s go.” He glanced back at the prison. “Tayama can handle himself.”

||

Vanet looked up when the alarms started. “Oops, time’s up.” She deftly sidestepped a rock that went flying past her head. “Haha, that was a cheap one.”

“Cheap and fair are irrelevant concepts,” Tayama replied breathlessly. The two rock types were largely evenly matched, neither one managing to land any serious blows.

“Ah, whatever,” Vanet said, shrugging. “For some reason I have a bad feeling about my partner, so we’ll pick this up later.”

“Hmph, this is a joke to you?” Tayama scowled.

Vanet shook her head. “It’s just a job, nothing personal. You’re lucky I didn’t use any water though.”

“I’ll consider myself spared,” Tayama said dryly. He turned away. “I’m sure we’ll meet again soon enough.”


Outside the prison, Vanet peeled the unconscious Combusken off the ground, unimpressed.

“I guess they had the numerical advantage, but I’m pretty sure you used to be a lot better,” she said idly. “Oh well, let’s get you back, they really put you through the wringer. She slung Goucie around her head, her shoulder arms wrapping around him. “Mission accomplished I guess.”


[][][][][][][][][[][][][]][][
][][]]][][[[][][][[[[][][][]]


“So that’s that, I’m going home now,” Vanet said, the arms on her shoulders waving.

“Yes, yes, you are excused,” Parmon said. The Klingklang was examining Goucie, who lay asleep. A nearby machine monitored the Combusken. “Good work.”

After the Barbaracle left, the Klingklang floated in silence, deep in thought. A knock at the door distracted him. “Yes?” he called.

“It’s me, you fucker.”

Parmon twitched in annoyance. “Come in.”

An Archeops burst through the door, walking with an exaggerated gait. “What are you playing at, having your guys beat up mine?”

“I apologize, Inno,” Parmon said. “It’s a matter of keeping up appearances.”

“Mmm, if only that were true,” the Archeops replied mockingly, “You don’t have to worry about establishing yourself as the big cheese in this business relationship. Just say the word, and I’ll get out of your way.” Inno paused, grinning. “Or are you trying to intimidate me because you’re scared?”

“Assume what you will, the fact remains that our subordinates have clashed. I must say though, they performed well.” He glanced down at Goucie.

“Is that the one who beat up mine?” Inno asked. “Ha, wow, you should have seen them. This Froslass, her head is charred black.”

Parmon was silent for a moment. “Do you not know their name?”

Inno shrugged. “It’s never mattered to me before, so why start now?

Parmon decided to drop the matter. “It was surprising that you returned so suddenly. It’s been a few years since you worked here.”

“Well, it’s not like I came back to see you again,” Inno said. “I came to rescue my brother.”

“As usual, your lies are terrible,” Parmon said, the Klingklang turning slowly to face Inno. “If I recall, you have always been planning something rather large.”

Inno stiffened for a moment, the Archeops frowning. “Nothing gets by you. As it happens, my brother’s capture had pretty good timing, I was about ready to return anyway. I suppose this puts me behind on a few fronts, but nothing I can’t manage.”

“I look forward to it then.” Parmon started to float away, but stopped. “By the way, are you aware the KBA is active again?”

“Why would I care about those losers?” Inno asked.

“Just letting you know. They might not appreciate your- penchant for flair,” Parmon said.

Inno smiled. “I’d like to see them try and kill me.” Inno exhaled. “One more question before I go, can you let me know if any Haxorus have entered the city recently. I’ll owe you one.”

“I’ll get it to you by tomorrow. Oh, and Inno? It’s a pleasure to have you working with us again.”

“Yeah, yeah, real honor. I’ll keep in touch.” The Archeops left.

Parmon was silent, his gears spinning slower. Electricity crackled around the Klingklang and he fired a tiny bolt into Goucie. “Get up,” he said quietly.

The Combusken jolted upright from the shock, gasping. He looked around, disoriented.

“Parmon? I- uh.” Goucie’s face fell, the Combusken averting his eyes.

“Don’t act like that,” Parmon reprimanded. “Failure is an inevitability past a point, I only expect that if you underperform, you improve your performance for next time.” The Klingklang floated closer. “That said, you did well. Victory was not the goal here. Things are progressing as planned.”

“So me getting beaten half to death is an acceptable outcome?” Goucie said under his breath. “Whatever, just tell me in advance next time you plan something like this.”

“I assure you, it was on very short notice,” Parmon replied. “I would have let you know well ahead of time in normal circumstances.”

“Sure- I’ll hold you to that,” Goucie said, laying back. He felt miserable, his body aching all over. “Can you leave me alone for awhile?”

“Certainly. Feel free to take the day off tomorrow.” The Klingklang left Goucie alone.

Goucie stared at the ceiling, sighing deeply.

“I was listening.” Vanet reentered the room, glancing around surreptitiously. “How are you feeling? I honestly wasn’t sure if you would die while I was bringing you back.”

“I’m okay...” Goucie said, not meeting Vanet’s gaze. “Sorry I messed up.”

“You’re fine,” Vanet replied, “I shouldn’t have let my hopes get so high. Next time, we’ll stick together.”

The Combusken grimaced. “I’m not excited for a next time, but I’ll keep that in mind.”

“I don’t like that other guy the boss was talking to,” Vanet said offhandedly, “You didn’t see him cause you were still asleep, but Parmon was talking to this Archeops. I didn’t hear what they were talking about, but I’d keep an eye out for him in the future.”

“Right, thanks for the heads up,” Goucie replied, wondering who it could have been.

“Anyway, I managed to get the city checkpoint statistics for the day.” The Barbaracle excitedly waved a stack of papers. “Usually it takes a week for the reports to be processed, but since that incident with the train earlier, they kicked it up a notch. I know you said you were waiting to hear about someone. I don’t know if these will really help, but I thought you might like it.”

Goucie took the papers, frowning at the size of the stack. “I forgot it was this much. Thanks, Vanet.”

“Why don’t you look through?” Vanet suggested, “The way you talked about it earlier, I kind of want to know about it now.”

“Alright, let’s look,” the Combusken said, smiling slightly. He flipped through the sheets, reading over the list of species entering Carigara. After a few minutes, he stopped, staring closely at a page. “Number of entrants, four,” he said, reading aloud. “One Haxorus, one Lurantis, two unidentified. Names provided, Zekrom and Arceus.” He looked at Vanet, his expression brightening. “That’s them!”

“Zekrom? From the ministry?” Vanet took the sheet from Goucie, examining it. “You met him while you were out?”

Goucie shook his head. “No, I don’t know why his name was included. I know the other three though. I guess Zekrom was the one who rescued them.”

“Huh, that sounds like an interesting story,” Vanet replied. “If you meet up with them again sometime, you’ll have to tell me about it.”

Goucie relaxed, feeling some of the stress leave his body. “I don’t know if I’ll see them again. I don’t know if Parmon would appreciate me wandering the city.”

“Screw him,” Vanet said. “He’s your boss, not your parent. If you want to go out sometime, I’ll cover for you- if it’s something other than paperwork.”

“You would?” Goucie asked. “I- I’ll have to think about it. They probably blame me for what happened.”

The Barbaracle shook her head. “You don’t know that, so you’ll have to go ask them yourself.”

“Right, right.” Goucie closed his eyes. “Thanks again. I feel a lot better now.”

“Nice! See you later G.”

“Ha, right back at you.”
 
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21

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Where were you when you realized the entire month of February passed without hearing about 5 dollar footlongs?
Casting a spell now so that when I go get sushi tomorrow, it's really good.


21 - Arceus Dreams of Green


Zekrom picked at his teeth with one claw. “So uh, where did you meet Arceus and them again?”

“The Blue forest, albeit, they definitely weren’t from there.” Trumme was perched on the edge of the desk that Zekrom sat at, the Noctowl looking like he hadn’t slept. “Arceus literally fell from the sky- that is, he fell out of a passing train. At least, that’s what it seemed like.”

“Sounds like something out of a movie,” Zekrom replied dryly. “Hold on, then how did you all get from the forest to the Syocho?”

“We got back on a train. I don’t know if it was the same one or a different one, but then...” Trumme sighed. “They uh, got knocked out again.”

“How do you fall out of a train twice?” Zekrom said in disbelief. “Er, anyway, how did Mallys and Mel get there? Did they fall out of the train too?”

“I have no idea,” Trumme admitted, “I ran into them running around in the forest. I guess they followed Arceus.”

Zekrom crossed his arms on top of the desk, laying his head down. “This entire affair is wild. Especially Mallys.”

“I know right?” Goucie exclaimed. “Back in the forest, Mel and Arceus were in trouble, and they were surrounded by hostile pokemon. Mallys charged right in and beat them all up. He barely got hurt either.”

“Did- did he show you the other thing?” Zekrom said quietly.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing,” Zekrom said quickly. “He’s just... different.”

Trumme shrugged. “I don’t disagree. But, he’s still nice though.”

Zekrom was silent for a moment, his eyes half closed. “So, what now? You don’t have a job anymore?”

“Honestly? I was barely teaching anything in the first place. I just wrote progress reports and never got a reply. I’d say they forgot about me, but I was still getting paid.” Trumme looked wistful. “I’ve saved up a lot, but I’d rather not sit around doing nothing.”

“How about you work for me?” Zekrom suggested. “There’s always openings here, and if you want, you can live at my place.”

Trumme laughed. “Wow, just like old times.” He breathed deeply. “I think- I think I’ll take you up on that. First though, I have to go tell Goucie that you all got back okay. It’s just...” Trumme scrunched his beak up. “I have no idea where to find him.”

“Who is that?” Zekrom asked.

“Oh, Goucie was with us on the train. In fact, I think he was the reason we were able to get on it in the first place.”

“Huh, that was nice of him. Uh, I don’t really know either, but I can ask someone. What kind of pokemon was he?”

“He’s a Combusken.”

“Mmm, well, no promises, but I’ll try and help.”

“You don’t need to, you’ve done enough already,” Trumme said. “Just take it easy. Also, could you write down your address so I can find it later?”

||

Trumme’s eyes widened as he looked at the address. “Whaaat! This is a really expensive neighborhood.”

“Yeah, it is,” Zekrom said sheepishly, “I’d rather have a nice simple place, but the board said it would be safer given my status.”

“You don’t like the board too much, do you?” Trumme said sympathetically.

Zekrom spoke quietly, his eyes darting around. “It’s not that I don’t like them- they help make all the big decisions around here. Sometimes though I wish they’d let me make some decisions for myself.”

Trumme was indignant. “A board is good for businesses, but I would think it’s a bit out of line for them to dictate where you live.”

“They had good intentions,” Zekrom protested, “I know they didn’t mean anything by it. It’s okay, really!”

Trumme looked away, hiding his anger. “I... understand. Sorry for making a big deal out of this.”

“I know you’re just looking out for me,” Zekrom said, smiling. “I appreciate it, Trumme. But I’m fine.”

Trumme took a moment to make sure his face was neutral before turning back around. “Will they be okay with me living there? I mean, it’s been years since I lived in the city, I don’t know how many of my old connections are still around.”

Zekrom waved him off. “It’ll be fine. I’ll tell them later. But now I have to get ready for a meeting. See you at home, Trumme.”

“Yeah. See you at home.” Trumme couldn’t help but feel sad. “You haven’t changed,” he said, quietly enough that Zekrom wouldn’t hear.


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“Let’s start with the obvious.” The Gigalith eyed the pockmarks in the ground. “Where were half your staff?”

“This lawsuit is going to be killer,” the Octillery said, ignoring the question. “We’re already on the hook for the physical therapy and counselling, not to mention the hospital bill.”

The Gigalith looked at the Octillery impatiently, but remained silent.

“I’m not worried about turnover, we can get an easy fifty applicants in one day.” The Octillery was completely oblivious. “A few million in damages to the facility, but only one escapee. But all surveillance from last night is gone.” The Octillery finally seemed to notice the Gigalith. “Oh, you’re from the HCU right?”

“Yes, I am Commander Aige. I have some questions for you when you have a moment.”

The Octillery nodded. “I’ll answer to the best of my ability, but try to keep it short, I have several matters to attend to.”

Aige hid a frown. “Of course. I’ll keep it short. Reports say only a fraction of your staff were on duty last night. Why is that?”

“There was a rather sudden invitation to a company party,” the Octillery said thoughtfully. “As for my staff, I uh- dismissed most of them early. As a... treat.”

“I can understand taking care of your staff, but given your line of work, is that really a call you can make in good faith?” Aige sighed, wondering if the Octillery actually had any experience running a prison.

“We pride our facilities on efficiency,” the Octillery replied nonchalantly, “This is the first breach of our facilities since we first opened several years ago. However, this is not an issue of security so much as it was-” the Octillery paused, searching for the right words. “A case of very bad timing.”

Aige narrowed her eyes. “Is this what you told your employee who had three of their limbs shattered? Regardless of the scope of the incident, the perpetrators were clearly very dangerous and possibly connected to organized terrorism.”

The Octillery froze, a horrified expression on its face. “Terrorism?”

“We’re still investigating,” Aige said gravely. The Gigalith couldn’t help enjoying the Octillery’s shock. “I’ll let you go now, but our investigators will be in and out for the rest of the day. Make sure to let your staff know we’ll be working.”

“R-right. Thank you for your assistance in this delicate situation,” the Octillery said.

Aige resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “It’s our job. You’re lucky this wasn’t worse. Now get out of here so we can work.”

As the Gigalith shooed the Octillery away, a Diglett emerged from the ground. “Aige, Aige, the witness statements are ready.”

The Gigalith turned sharply. “Eikeva, be more careful! You could have ruined the scene.”

“Ack, oops. Sorry Aige,” the Diglett replied, sinking slightly into the ground.

“Just be more careful next time,” Aige replied. “I have to get something to mark this spot so the investigation unit doesn’t think it’s an escape tunnel or something.”

“Ehehe, my bad,” Eikeva said, looking down at the hole she made. “Anyway, the guards on duty last night as well as some of the inmates reported seeing a group of pokemon. There’s a bit of confusion, some say there were three and some are saying four.”

Aige started pacing in a circle. “What’s causing the discrepancy.”

“One of them was carrying another. Easy to mistake.”

“Were they acting as a group?”

“Seems like it.”

The Gigalith lightly scraped the ground with one foot. “I guess that explains this then.”

Eikeva wavered. “Well... that’s the thing. All the guards that were on patrol last night reported being taken by surprise, with no prolonged conflicts. We uh, don’t know how this happened, not to mention the damage in D block.”

“What do you mean, ‘don’t know’?” Aige was stunned. “Are you suggesting there was a third party that we know nothing about?”

“Not necessarily,” Eikeva squeaked, “But it- it is a possibility?”

Aige sighed. “It’s fine, Eikeva. All this right before the annual conference though, I’m going to be working overtime for months.”

“You can always send some of the paperwork to my desk,” the Diglett offered.

“I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” Aige replied, smiling. “You just keep doing what you’re doing, and we’ll be just fine.”

“Will do!” Eikeva looked at the ground. “So what are you doing the rest of the week? A-aside from closing this case and such.” The Diglett laughed nervously.

“Mmmm, a bunch of different things. I’m still waiting for a final report on that train crash, plus we’ve been getting a lot of tips lately. Most of them are probably nothing, but due diligence you know. Why do you ask?”

“Just wondering. Like to keep on top of things, you know.”

“Ha! That’s definitely you. It’s good to have such a reliable second in command. And- it’s nice to have someone to talk frankly to.” Aige spoke softly.

Eikeva nodded. “I feel the same way.”

“Like the upcoming meetings,” Aige continued, a look of disgust crossing her face. “That means all the division heads will be in town. Including Hyaeya.”

Eikeva shuddered at the thought. “It’ll pass quickly if we just focus on work.”

“Ahah, I’m so lucky to have you, Eikeva!” Aige exclaimed loudly, “Hey, I have to introduce you to a friend later. He’s... kind of my role model.”

“Alright! Looking forward to it.”


---------------------------------------------
-----------------<--------------------------


“Eheheh, they’re going to be upset with me.”

Arceus wandered from one side of the road to the other, examining storefronts. He felt a combination of giddiness and apprehension, excitedly trying to commit everything he saw to memory.

Arceus stared longingly at a colorful scarf. “I wish I had money. Then I could get anything I want!” He shook his head. “No, I’d rather get something for Mel and Mallys first.”

“Ah, excuse me.” Arceus turned to see a Porygon 2. “Apologies for bothering, but could you try to keep to one side of the road?” it asked.

Arceus unconsciously stepped back. “Huh? Did I do something wrong?”

“Not really,” the Porygon 2 replied, “But you keep walking back and forth, which is unfortunately somewhat disruptive due to your... size.” The Porygon 2 looked embarrassed.

“Oh, oops, I didn’t realize,” Arceus said, glancing back at his ring. “I forget that I have this thing attached to me sometimes.”

“By all means, feel free to continue as you have been,” the Porygon 2 said. “Just, consider crossing from side to side less frequently, or at least walking in a more diagonal line.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that, thanks!” Arceus said.

“Great! And uh, I should let you know, there’s another reason you shouldn’t walk like that.” The Porygon 2’s expression darkened.

Arceus froze.

“Recently, you might have noticed increased foot patrols around town,” the Porygon 2 explained, “I’d like to think I know better, but regardless, the way you move around plus your figure is easy to construe as suspicious.”

“I... will keep that in mind,” Arceus replied slowly, processing the Porygon 2’s words.

“Ah, don’t worry about it too much,” the Porygon 2 said, shaking its head. “Pokemon have been a bit more on edge lately, but we’ll make sure the city is safe.”

“We? Who are you with?”

“Sorry, I assumed you knew that. I’m an officer with the HCU,” the Porygon 2 said proudly, “In retrospect, you seem like you’re new to town. Rest assured though, this city is completely safe!” The Porygon 2 paused. “Uh, forget what I said before that.”

“Wow!” Arceus inadvertently did a tiny hop. “I’ll leave it to you then.”

The Porygon 2 laughed slightly, seeing Arceus’ enthusiasm. “It can honestly be more of a thankless job than it’s worth, but talking to you just made it all worth it. Have a great day, sir.”

“You too!” Arceus watched the Porygon 2 float away. “This place isn’t that bad. Maybe Mallys was wrong.” He shook his head. “Wait, he meant only at night though.”

Arceus continued window shopping, but he was thinking about what the Porygon 2 had said. Arceus didn’t feel like he looked suspicious; he didn’t want to be either.

“Whatever. If I’m suspect, then that’s how it is,” Arceus muttered to himself. “I don’t care.”

Passing a restaurant, Arceus stopped. For a moment, he resisted looking over, but ultimately he couldn’t help himself. Arceus pressed his face against the glass, his gaze longingly trailing over an assortment of dishes laid out across a table. It took him a few moments to realize that some of the pokemon inside were looking back at him strangely. He snapped back, feeling pinpricks spread across his body in embarrassment.

“Sorry!” he called, running away. As he ran, Arceus only became more panicked as his rings bumped into pokemon left and right. Spotting a turn, he ducked off onto a quiet side street, leaning against the wall.

“I should be more careful,” he said quietly. Arceus thought back to when he and Mallys visited Aibai. The crowds were probably worse here. He pushed the unsettling thought out of his head, instead thinking back to the dishes he saw.

“Mister, do you want a salad?”

“Eh?” Arceus was startled out of his thoughts. He looked from side to side, seeing no one. “Who said that?”

“I did! I’m right here.”

Arceus looked down. A Spoink was staring back up at him, it’s eyes wide. “Salad?” Arceus asked, “What’s that?”

The Spoink looked at Arceus strangely. “It’s what you were thinking about, dummy!”

“I uh, was that?” Arceus grew concerned. “Wait, you know what I was thinking about?”

“I- I didn’t mean to,” the Spoink said in a tiny voice, hopping back. “I couldn’t help it, your thoughts were really loud.”

“Loud??” Arceus stared at the Spoink, bewildered.

The Spoink cowered, starting to tear up. “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.”

“Uh.” Arceus immediately felt guilty. “I didn’t mean it like that,” he said quickly. “You can... you can read my thoughts all you want!”

The Spoink sniffled. “Papa told me never to read minds. It- it erodes trust.”

“It’s not your fault,” Arceus said, craning his head down to the Spoink. “I was just thinking too loud, alright? My mistake.”

The Spoink rubbed the tears from its eyes. “I don’t even know what ‘erodes’ means.”

“I’m sure your father means well,” Arceus replied, not quite sure himself what the word meant. “So I was thinking about salad?”

“Y-yeah, you were. It looked good,” the Spoink said softly, “I’m hungry now.”

Arceus’ face turned somber. “Ha, I see,” he said, trying to sound upbeat. “Where would you get a really good one?” Arceus hesitated. “A- a salad, I mean.”

“I would ask Chromako to make one,” the Spoink said thoughtfully, “But she’s back at home.”

“Any other places?” Arceus asked. “Like a restaurant?”

The Spoink’s bouncing slowed. “This is my first time here! I don’t know where anything is.” The Spoink looked crestfallen. “Sorry.”

“No, no it’s fine.” Arceus tilted his neck from side to side, stretching. “This is the first time I’ve been to the city too. It’s a lot to take in.”

“Where I live, it’s different,” the Spoink continued, “It’s a lot scarier.”

“Really? I hope you don’t mind me asking- where do you live?” Arceus tried to imagine what kind of place the Spoink was from. For a moment, his thoughts settled on the forest and he shuddered.

The Spoink pointed up. “I live on the plate above us.”

“Above?” Arceus looked up. “You live up there? And it’s... scarier?”

“Everyone I’ve met down here is so nice,” the Spoink said, glancing sidelong at Arceus.

Arceus looked back at the Spoink for a moment. “Um, I’m Arceus.” He paused. “I... don’t know how to spell that.”

“Huh? What do you mean?” The Spoink stopped bouncing, coiling her spring tightly.

“A friend once told me that if someone can’t spell their own name, it’s not their name.” Arceus laughed. “I was pretty sure of myself a while ago. But- I haven’t been sure of a lot of things about myself recently.”

The Spoink nodded sympathetically. “I hope you get better then! I don’t really understand it though.”

“Ha, don’t worry about it.” Arceus leaned to one side. “What’s your name?”

The Spoink pointed at herself. “I’m Serrano, do you want me to spell that?”

Arceus hesitated, then nodded. “Why not? Go ahead.”

Serrano crossed her arms. “S-E-R-R-A-N-O. I have to write my name every day at school, so it would be weird if I didn’t know that.”

“Oh. That makes sense.” Arceus looked down, unsure of what to say. “It was nice meeting you, Serrano. Sorry about the salad thing.”

“Hehe, it’s fine,” Serrano said, smiling, “I can’t wait to tell all my friends about the salad pokemon now.”

“I’m sure they’ll like it,” Arceus said, embarrassed.

“Are you going to go find a nice salad now?”

“Hmm? No, not really.” Arceus shook his head, his posture faltering. “I... don’t actually have a mouth to eat anything with. I was probably thinking about food so loud because- I want to eat something, anything!”

“You don’t have a mouth?” Serrano’s gaze trailed across Arceus’ face. “I thought you had one between those lines on your head.”

“I wish I did, but I don’t,” Arceus said. “I guess I’m just unlucky like that.”

“Then...” Serrano started, “Why don’t you help me find one? Talking about food made me hungry.”

Arceus considered the request for a moment. “I’m not really doing anything better right now. Let’s look.”

Serrano immediately cheered up. “Yaay, that means I can ride on your back!” The Spoink sprung into the air with a powerful hop, landing on Arceus. She clung onto his ring, looking at him happily.

Seeing the Spoink’s face, Arceus felt any protests he had melt away. “Uh, just want to let you know; I don’t have any money on me.”

“That’s fine. I have lots of money!” Serrano said nonchalantly. “Now, onwards!”


~~~~~~~
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~~~~~~~


Darkrai stared out the window thoughtfully. “Hey, did you get rid of the hospital bill?”

Mae nodded. “Of course. Not like we have any way to pay it anyway.” The Lopunny frowned. “It’s real cruel of them to saddle us with that when we just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“In any case, better they think that than know what really happened,” Darkrai said. “I wonder if we should meet up with Pasa again.”

“Why?” Mae grabbed a piece of bread off the table and took a bite. “He’s just someone we happened to meet. Wait...” Mae smiled slightly. “You just want to know what happened, don’t you?”

“Don’t you?”

The Lopunny leaned back in her chair. “I can go without knowing what that Skarmory’s deal was. It just doesn’t seem like something I want to involve myself with.”

Darkrai nodded. “I get it, but personally I’m curious. Seyka didn’t seem all that bad.”

“As compared to what?” Mae replied, “I mean, if you really want to, we can go find him. We do have some spare time.”

“No, if you don’t want to, then I’m fine,” Darkrai said.

The Lopunny leaned forward. She grabbed a fork and pointed it at Darkrai. “It’s not that big of a deal. Plus, aren’t couples supposed to make these sorts of concessions for each other?”

Darkrai laughed. “Did you read that in a magazine? I suppose that means I have to do something in return.”

Mae slammed the fork into the table, burying it in the wood. “Exactly!” She looked down. “Oh shoot-” She pulled the fork out, embarrassed.

Darkrai pondered the proposition for a moment. “Sounds fair to me. Thanks I guess.”

“I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t love you,” Mae said, smirking. “You want some of my salad when it gets here?”

“Sure. What kind did you get?”

Mae shrugged. “Something with mixed berries, I just picked something random. I’m not picky with what I eat unlike someone I know.” She made a face at Darkrai.

“It’s not being picky,” Darkrai protested, “I just have standards.”

“Yeah, sure,” the Lopunny replied.

They both looked up as a sharp ding echoed from nearby. “That’s probably ours,” Darkrai said. “Wait here, I’ll get it.” He was gone for a moment, reappearing with a salad in one hand and a coffee in the other. “You picked out a good one, Mae. Hope you don’t mind if I took a bite already.”

“Have as much as you want,” the Lopunny said, waving one hand. “Or you know, get your own.”

“I just might,” Darkrai responded playfully, setting the salad down. “So, I guess it’s time to ask, what now?” He sat down.

“After we meet with Pasa again? No idea.” Mae shook her head, sighing. “We’ll have to come up with some new business ideas.”

Darkrai looked away. “Yeah, the usual I guess.” He seemed to want to say something else, but instead took a long drink of his coffee.

“This is the city...” Mae mused, “Nearly anything will work.”

“Let’s think about that later then,” Darkrai said somewhat weakly. “Just focus on enjoying ourselves for once.”

They sat in silence. Mae reached across the table with her fork, offering some salad to Darkrai who ate it.

“Look, look! There it is.” A muffled voice stirred them from their reverie. “It’s a salad, Arceus!”

Mae and Darkrai turned to see Arceus and Serrano staring at Mae’s salad, their faces pressed against the window of the cafe. Darkrai stared in befuddlement while Mae’s eyes widened, seeing the pair.

“Hey-” Mae said quietly to Darkrai. “Haven’t we met Arceus somewhere?”

Darkrai studied Arceus for a moment. “I think... he lost his memories right?”

“You know better than me,” Mae said, shrugging.

Darkrai reached out and knocked on the glass. “Hey you guys, come in here.”

||

“We met, uhhh, was it a month or so ago?”

Arceus looked at Darkrai strangely. “I think? But something was different.”

Darkrai looked down at his coffee, slightly mortified. “Aha, I was speaking a bit more eloquently back then, wasn’t I. Sorry if I confused you, it’s keeping up appearances, you know?”

“Not really?” Arceus was frank.

“Forget it then,” Darkrai said, stifling laughter.

Mae waved. “I told you my name before, but I don’t count that as an introduction. I’m Mae, and this guy is all mine.” The Lopunny wrapped her arms around Darkrai as she spoke.

“I’m Serrano!” the Spoink proclaimed loudly, “We’re here for the salad.” She glanced at Arceus. “I don’t have to spell my name for them, right?”

Arceus shook his head. “You don’t have to do that, Serrano.” He looked at Mae and Darkrai nervously. “Er, sorry for interrupting your meal. We got kind of caught up in what we were doing.”

“And what exactly were you two doing?” Darkrai asked, slightly amused. “Nice to see you again by the way.”

“We were looking for salad, like I just said,” Serrano interrupted, the Spoink laser focused on Mae’s salad. “I want one because I’m hungry.” She pointed at Arceus. “He wants one too, but he can’t eat it because he doesn’t have a mouth.”

Arceus seemed to shrink from embarrassment. “That’s- that’s the gist of it.”

“Well I can’t share with everyone,” Mae said. The Lopunny stood up. “Hold on, I’ll go order two more.”

Serrano bounced excitedly. “Yaay, thanks!” Her expression clouded slightly as she looked over at Arceus. “I wish you could have some.”

“It’s fine, really,” Arceus muttered.

Darkrai leaned forwards. “While we’re waiting, I wanted to ask, are you still dealing with that problem you had?”

“Right now, yes,” Arceus replied, “But I’m working on something with my friends.”

Darkrai nodded. “Well, I don’t know your friends, but you sound confident enough. I don’t know if you remember, but unfortunately I can’t offer the same assistance I extended before. Some unexpected difficulties have come up.”

“That’s fine!” Arceus said confidently, “We’ll manage. Anyway, what are you two doing here?”

“A little vacation, that’s all,” Darkrai said. Something about his tone seemed off, but Arceus decided to ignore it. “Actually now that I think about it, we met someone who was looking for one of your friends. Pasa, a Nidoking. Do you know him?”

Arceus vaguely recalled the Nidoking that had been with Mel. “I think so? Does he want to see Mel?”

“He did,” Darkrai replied, looking up as Mae returned with the salads. “We don’t know where he is right now, but I just wanted to let you know.”

“I’ll have to tell her later,” Arceus said. “Ooh, I’ve been gone for awhile. I hope they aren’t worried about me.”

Darkrai held his coffee idly in one hand. “Hmm? If you have to go, it’s fine. We can talk more later.”

“I don’t know if I can leave her,” Arceus said, gesturing at Serrano. The Spoink was attacking the salad, Mae watching with wonder as Serrano devoured the meal. “I met her while I was wandering, so I’m not sure where her parents are.”

“What kind of parent would let their kid wander around a place like this,” Darkrai murmured, disconcerted. He waved at the Spoink. “Hey, Serrano. Where are your parents?”

“Mom’s out on business,” Serrano replied, between bites. “Dad’s at work. I skipped school to come here.”

Everyone stared at the Spoink in stunned silence.

“Not a fan of school, are you?” Mae asked, tapping her fork on the edge of her bowl.

“No, I like school!” Serrano said brightly, “I just wanted to come here because my friend told me it was really cool. But now that you mention it, I should probably go. They might call my father, and he’ll get worried.” The Spoink looked at Arceus. “We’re friends now, so you have to come to my house sometime, okay?”

“Of course,” Arceus said, unsure of what to expect. “How will I find that?”

“I’ll send someone!” Serrano waved and hopped away before anyone could say anything else.

Darkrai watched the Spoink through the window. “I think she’ll be alright.”

“Tough kid. I’m a fan,” Mae said thoughtfully.

“So what have you been up to lately?” Darkrai asked, turning to Arceus. “From what I’ve heard, you’ve been travelling a lot.”

Arceus nodded. “Yeah, it’s been a lot.”

“Tell us, tell us!” Mae said. The Lopunny stared at Arceus expectantly.

“You don’t have to if it wasn’t pleasant,” Darkrai added.

“I’m fine talking about it, but it wasn’t great,” Arceus said, shuddering, “I’ll start from right after I left you.”


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Seyka laid on his back, staring upwards. His wings were spread on both sides, gleaming and razor sharp. The Skarmory was crying.

The Archeops standing over him groaned. “Your wing is better. You’ll be able to fly for the first time in hundreds of years and you’re crying?”

“I- I...” Seyka could barely speak in between sobs. “I hate you, Inno. I hate you. I hate you.”

“Whatever you say,” Inno replied, rolling his eyes. “I was upset that you ran away, but this is actually a good opportunity. I have some errands to run, so we’ll be here for awhile, okay?”

The Skarmory didn’t reply. His breathing was ragged, and he seemed terrified of something.

“Hey, I asked if it was okay.” The Archeops viciously kicked Seyka in the head. “You wouldn’t leave your big brother hanging, would you.”

“No,” Seyka replied quietly, “Whatever you want is fine.”

Inno sighed, reaching down and grabbing Seyka. He lifted the Skarmory off the ground, setting him down. “I know it’s stressful. But when we’re finished here, we won’t have to worry about anything again.”

Seyka sniffled, staring at Inno. “Do you promise?”

“I can’t do that,” the Archeops replied, “Promises are nothing but investments in disappointment. You know that.”

The Skarmory looked away before nodding slowly. “Sorry.”

Inno gripped Seyka’s head between his claws. “Don’t be. You’re my brother, the only thing I have left.” His expression didn’t change. “I didn’t mean to hit you like that, I’ve been frustrated, you know?”

“Yeah, I wasn’t thinking,” Seyka said meekly.

“I love you, Seyka,” Inno said, smiling slightly too wide.

“I...” Seyka hesitated, “I love you too.”

“I have to do some work by myself, but I have a place for you and everyone else to stay,” Inno said. “I’ll call you when I need you, for now, just have fun.” The Archeops pointed at Seyka’s wings. “And learn how to use those again, alright?”

Inno waved and walked off, leaving the Skarmory alone in the alley. Seyka took a deep breath and left in the opposite direction.

“Hey... Seyka,” a small voice called as he entered back onto the main thoroughfare. He looked to see a one-eyed Anorith waiting on top of a trash bin.

“Lozow!” Seyka immediately brightened. “Thanks for saving me. Where is everyone else?”

“They’re at the place Inno got,” Lozow replied. The Anorith seemed distracted by something. “How are you.”

“I’m great!” Seyka replied, flashing his wings. “Look! My wings are better now.”

“That’s good,” Lozow said quietly, “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Um, yeah? Are you having trouble believing me?” Seyka asked.

Lozow scraped the lid of the can with a claw. “Something like that I guess.” Suddenly, he slammed a claw against the trash can. “Why?” The Anorith closed his eye, his claws trembling. “Why do you let him treat you like that?”

Seyka tilted his head. “What are you talking about?”

“I saw that whole conversation,” Lozow said, enraged, “How can your brother do that to you?”

Seyka stared at the Anorith blankly.

“Are you scared of him? We’re in the city, you- you can run away again. He’ll never find you,” Lozow pleaded desperately, “At least tell me what you’re thinking. Please, Seyka!”

“Where are we staying again?” Seyka asked. He was looking at Lozow, but the Anorith felt as if the Skarmory were looking straight through him.

Lozow fell silent, all the strength leaving his body. “There’s a little hardware store nearby. We have a room over it.” The Anorith struggled to hold back tears. “If you don’t mind, can you carry me?”

“Of course!” Seyka had a gentle smile. Lozow couldn’t tell if it was real.
 
22 Chapter

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Oops. I was doing well and then got busy. Hahah
Time for another entry in my convoluted fraction story. I wouldn't have it any other way.


Chapter 22 - Reading our Fortunes over the Phone


Bowls and forks lay forgotten across the tabletop. Mae and Darkrai sat silently, enraptured by Arceus’ recollection of the past few weeks.

“-so now, we’re here,” Arceus finished, relaxing, “All in all, I guess it hasn’t been too bad.”

“Your standards are way too low then,” Mae replied, still processing the entire story. “That whole thing was a horror story. Like, I’m impressed all of you are still alive.”

Darkrai seemed to struggle to find words. “It’s unbelievable, but I can’t see you lying about all that. Even the worst liar would at least think twice before saying they fell off the same train two times. It’s almost funny.”

“It is funny,” Mae said, the Lopunny trying to hide a grin. “Sorry you had to experience all that, but it’s funny.”

“Very subtle, Mae” Darkrai said dryly.

“You’re thinking the same thing though,” Mae protested.

Darkrai shrugged. “Maybe I am, but I’m not saying it.”

“Now that it’s over, I guess it kind of is,” Arceus said, sounding defeated and relieved at the same time. “I’m not going to dwell on it though.”

“So what are you going to do now?” Darkrai asked.

“We think that a psychic might be able to help me, so we’re all going to work to save money for one,” Arceus replied, “I’m kind of nervous, I don’t know what a job is like.”

Darkrai nodded. “It’s always hard when you start. But you get used to it. If you need someone to vouch for you, we can help you out!”

“We don’t really have any credentials ourselves though,” Mae interjected, “If Darkrai was fine with it, I’d try to convince employers you were a god or something, but we don’t really have anything going for us either.”

“I don’t think Arceus is going to apply for a law firm or run in any political circles, so I wouldn’t think we have to worry about being spot checked,” Darkrai countered, “But you do have a point.” He looked at Arceus. “Just ask if you want our help. We have had a few jobs between us after all.”

“I’ll keep it in mind, thanks, Darkrai.” Arceus said happily. “So how long are you two on vacation here?”

“We don’t have a schedule,” Mae said. “We’re keeping our options open, it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to relax like this.”

“That’s good- I think.” Arceus looked around the room idly, eventually staring at the empty bowls. “I should get back, Mallys might be worried about me. Um, how can I contact you in the future?”

“The easiest way would be to get one of these.” Darkrai held out a small orange pyramid in his hand. “This is the GSEL. Weird name, I know. Anyway, this little thing allows anyone to communicate over almost any distance, like a psychic!”

“Like a psychic? More like you are a psychic when you use it,” Mae said, staring uneasily at the pyramid. “I don’t know what it does, but you can think at it and it- it ‘hears’ you.” The Lopunny shuddered. “I got one for myself, but I really can’t stand it.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of the problem a lot of pokemon have with it,” Darkrai said, looking pained, “I’m fine with it personally, but I can see what might be unsettling about it.” He looked over Arceus. “Especially in your case.”

“What do you mean?” Arceus asked, already preparing himself for the answer.

Darkrai sighed. “It’s easier for pokemon with arms to manipulate the GSEL, turn it on and off and the like. With only legs in your case, or nothing at all for others, the solution is a bit more intimate. For the sake of efficiency.”

Arceus felt a chill run through his body. “Intimate?”

“It’s an implant,” Mae said, ignoring a sharp glare from Darkrai. “So you can tell it what to do without touching it.”

“That’s uh...” Arceus looked away, imagining a pyramid stuck to his body. “If you can talk with anyone, I guess it’s not too bad?”

“I think I’ll stick to writing letters until I’m threatened with death,” Mae muttered, frowning.

“It’s up to you what you want to do,” Darkrai said, shrugging, “If you do get it though, it works by assigning everyone a special identification. I can tell you mine if you want, though it’s kind of hard to remember.”

Arceus nodded. “I can try. Tell me.”

Mae stood up. “You’ll forget, so let’s not leave this to chance.” She walked away, leaving Darkrai and Arceus confused before she returned, holding a pen. “I’ll write it down, is it fine if I put it on your ring or whatever?”

Arceus was slightly indignant, but more so relieved, knowing in the back of his head that he probably would have forgotten. “That’s fine. Thanks, Mae.”

The Lopunny leaned over Arceus, taking a moment to pick a spot before starting to write. “Sorry if it’s a sensitive topic, but what’s this made out of anyway?” She poked one of the dull green gems embedded in Arceus’ ring. “Were you uh, born with this thing?”

“I don’t know,” Arceus replied.

“Right, you don’t remember,” Mae said, smacking her forehead lightly. “Anyway, the number’s there. Have someone else write it down for you later.”

Arceus strained his neck trying to spot the writing. “If I get GSEL, how do I put in the number?”

“Once you have one and it... syncs with your head, it will automatically recognize it.” Darkrai grimaced. “It does sound really bad when I say it like that.”

“So if I remembered the number wrong, then I would just have someone else’s address?”

“They say that having it be such a hassle to exchange numbers makes the system safer overall,” Mae said. “I think in addition to the number, you have to know whose it is.”

“That’s true, I forgot about that,” Darkrai mused, “We only got these ourselves about a week ago, so we’re learning too.”

Arceus stared at the pyramid for a long time. “So pokemon don’t like it because it’s kind of intrusive?”

“The company that handles the whole system keeps everything secretive, ostensibly for safety, but I don’t see how they could make it palatable for everyone either way,” Darkrai said, leaning forward on the table. “The IGA has been pushing pretty hard for more widespread adoption, but outside of the city, hardly anyone is really biting. Plus it’s fairly new.”

Mae rolled her eyes. “You can tell he’s interested in it.”

“I’ll think about it,” Arceus said slowly, still processing the whole conversation. “There’s a lot to think about for something we use just to talk to each other with.”

“If you think about it for too long, communication is a lot more nuanced than it needs to be,” Darkrai said, putting the pyramid away. “Maybe we can talk about it some other time, I don’t want to keep you here.”

“You do, but you’re nice enough to know that you shouldn’t,” Mae added mockingly.

Darkrai looked at Arceus plainly. “She’s not wrong. Until next time?”

Arceus nodded. “Sure! But uh, if I decide not to get the GSEL, is it okay if we meet here again?”

“That’s fair,” Darkrai acknowledged, “If I don’t hear from you before then, let’s meet back a week from now.”

“Mae flashed a grin. “That’s a date then. Don’t forget, Arceus, I’ll be mad at you if you let my man down.”


[][][][][][][][][][][][][][]][][][]]
][][][][][[[][][][][][][][][][[[][][


There was a grinding noise coming from somewhere.

“I take it you have fought very little, if at all, the past few years.” Parmon looked down at Goucie. “You’ll have to train twice as hard to make up for it.”

“Whatever.” Goucie looked down at his arms, frowning. “What did you do? I was supposed to be out for nearly a month with the injuries I had, but it feels like nothing happened.”

Parmon floated away, idly looking out a window. “Electrostimulation of a sort. You’ve had more than enough time to rest, so I’ve made it so that you don’t have to worry about your injuries.”

“I guess that electricity you have stops pain too?”

“High dosage painkillers,” Parmon replied simply. The Klingklang turned to face Goucie. “Tasks that the HCU cannot do are assigned to us. The nature of our agency however, means that we are particularly short staffed.” The Klingklang’s gaze bored into Goucie. “I cannot have my subordinates indisposed when there is work to do.”

The Combusken scowled. “So what? Work until I die?”

“Preferably.”

Goucie had another retort prepared, but it died in his throat. “Right. I- I understand.”

The Klingklang’s gears stopped momentarily before beginning to rotate in the opposite direction. “Going forward, it would be more efficient if you didn’t get hurt like this. So, as I said, you’ll have to train harder.”

“Yeah, I’ll do that,” Goucie replied, waving him off. “Just let me get used to this first.”

“The way you’re moving around is proof that you are already used to it.” The Klingklang ominously hovered in place. “Let me make myself clear, I’m going to train you myself so you won’t make mistakes again.”

Goucie felt a tingle run through his body. The Combusken’s eyes widened and he stumbled backwards, his claws frantically combing over his body until they settled on the back of his head. “I see,” he said quietly.

“You should already be familiar with GSEL,” Parmon continued, watching Goucie’s flailing, “You have been given a modified unit that allows me to assist you.”

Goucie rubbed his claws over the oval protruding from the back of his head. “So you can send electricity through this anytime?”

“Essentially.”

Goucie sighed, making an exaggerated face to hide his fear. “Thanks.” The Combusken’s arms dropped to his sides as he resigned himself to his circumstances. “So how are you going to train me?”

“Positive reinforcement! If I hit you, you get shocked. If you dodge it, then I shock you anyway, just to keep you on your toes.” For an instant, there was the slightest hint of excitement in the Klingklang’s normally emotionless tone.

Goucie blanched, inadvertently stepping back.

Parmon stared blankly at Goucie. “The notion of positive reinforcement was humor on my part. It’s actually so that your body will become accustomed to it.”

“O-oh. You fooled me,” Goucie said unsteadily, his muscles tensing.

“You understand then,” Parmon replied. “We will begin then.”


[~][~][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][~][~]


“I want to ask a question. What is a memory to you?”

Mel narrowed her eyes at the Eiscue. “This is a trick question.”

The Eiscue stared at the Lurantis. “I didn’t intend it to sound like that. Let me rephrase.” She didn’t seem fazed by Mel’s outburst. “Do you think memories are things you can hold, or maybe see?”

“Yeah, I can see memories. It’s called remembering.”

Mallys looked up from a stack of books he was examining nearby. “I think it’s rhetorical, Mel. Just let her talk.”

Mel relented, waving at the Eiscue. “Sorry.” She hesitated. “Continue- please.”

The Eiscue smiled slightly. “Don’t fret, I’m not offended. I ask this question expecting to have to explain myself.” She breathed deeply. “Your- ‘friend’ as you say, has lost their memory. Where do you lose your memory? At the store? What’s stopping you from going back to get it?”

Politely nodding, Mel shot a glance at Mallys. The Haxorus shrugged.

“Jokes aside, my point is that memories aren’t something you physically leave behind. At least to my knowledge.” The Eiscue frowned. “It’s not a safe bet to write it off as an impossibility. Anyway, there’s no reason to say that the memories have gone anywhere. They’re still there, but they can’t be seen.”

Mel nodded halfheartedly. “I get what you’re saying,” she muttered, “But that’s just what we already know phrased differently.”

Mallys walked over to them. “Are you telling us to look at it from a different perspective?”

“I guess,” the Eiscue said. “I have to be honest though, matters of the mind are not my purview. I specialize in portfolio advice and personal finance. Psychically that is.”

Mallys was silent for a moment before leaning over to Mel. “I’ll be outside,” he said simply, walking away.

“Did I say something wrong?” the Eiscue asked, looking confused.

Mel shook her head. “You’re fine, he’s just like that sometimes.” She rubbed her scythes together, awkwardly looking away. “Just to ask though, do you have any bits of advice for making money? Something small, I don’t have any money myself.”

The Eiscue was about to answer when another voice interrupted them.

“Hey, anyone home?” A Simisage poked its head in, glancing around before noticing Mel and the Eiscue. “Oh damn, didn’t mean to interrupt. I’ll wait outside.” He ducked out, but his voice could still be heard, obnoxiously loud. “Is this where the line starts?”

“No, I’m waiting for them to be done inside.” Mallys’ voice answered, sounding irritated. “Don’t mind me.”

“Sure thing pal.”

The Eiscue sat quietly, staring down at the table. Mel waited nervously, regretting her question.

“You know what. It’s a great day, I’ll tell you all the best tips on the house.” The Eiscue winked at Mel. “No time like the present, right?”


~~~~~~~~~~~<>


“Would you like to stop?” Parmon asked, staring impassively at the Combusken lying facedown on the floor.

“Yes,” Goucie replied weakly, too exhausted to say anything else. His entire body was sore, both arms trembling uncontrollably.

“I have to admit that I am at fault here somewhat,” the Klingklang continued, “I have been unusually frustrated as of late, and that has transferred to you. My apologies.”

Goucie rose unsteadily and staggered to the door, leaving without a word. As the door closed behind him, he stumbled forwards colliding with the opposite wall.

“I wonder if I should really even bother,” Goucie said to himself.

Someone spoke up from nearby, “In your case, I’d say you should.”

“You don’t even know what I’m talking about Mongo,” the Combusken said, turning to look. Down the hall, a Bastiodon was watching him.

“I don’t need to,” the Bastiodon replied. “You don’t seem to have changed much since the last time I saw you.”

Goucie scowled. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Mongo blinked slowly. “Something or other, I don’t really care. I have some reports for you to process.” The Bastiodon’s gaze trailed over Goucie. “Would you like me to leave them on your desk?”

“I’d like that,” Goucie said, standing upright. “Can you summarize what you have though?”

“Certainly.” Mongo hesitated for a moment, seeming to organize his thoughts. “The Ministry released a new advertising campaign. There are no results on its effectiveness yet, but it is expected to boost their profile significantly.”

“Mmm, I see,” Goucie said, uninterested, “What else?”

“Masahaybu is likely going to file for bankruptcy soon,” the Bastiodon continued, “Several companies are preparing bids in advance.”

Goucie frowned. “The candy company? Huh, I thought they were doing really well.” The Combusken noticed Mongo looking at him expectantly. “Uh, continue.”

“There’s only one other thing,” Mongo said, sounding concerned. “Do you remember the Eiscue, Novegra?”

“One specific Eiscue? You’re asking a lot of me...” Goucie stopped, looking down thoughtfully. “Wait- are you talking about the KBA accountant?”

Mongo nodded. “The same. Our intel indicates that she will probably die. Today.”

“Alright,” Goucie said, registering the Bastiodon’s words a second later. “Wait, huh? Explain! Was it sanctioned?”

“If it was, would I be telling you?” Mongo asked, irritated. “There are already enough rumors floating around about this.”

“Seriously?” Goucie sighed, “Does this mean they’re back?”

“Considering that there hasn’t been a sharp increase in the death rate, I’d say wait for official confirmation.” Mongo smiled grimly, “Now that I think about it, you’re responsible for issuing those kinds of things, aren’t you?”

The Combusken nodded. “I’ll... send something out if you can confirm it. I mean, having advance notice of this sort of thing implies a lot. Do you know any more specifics?”

“We only heard some talk about it through gossip channels. Hence why we were only able to establish the validity of it at the last moment.”

“Ugh, alright.” Goucie looked away. “Thanks, Mongo. I’ll handle it from here.”

“I’ll keep you updated, as per usual,” the Bastiodon replied, lumbering away. “By the way, glad to have you back.”


<>~~~~~~~~~~~


“Sorry, I... I don’t know what this means.” Mel’s eyes trailed over the list of names, dates, and numbers the Eiscue had written across the page. Some were heavily underlined with multiple exclamation points at the end, many more squeezed awkwardly in the margins of the page.

“It’s the latest tips for investment!” the Eiscue said proudly, “These are all companies that will be holding funding rounds, you know, private equity!”

The Lurantis smiled back awkwardly. “Ahah, I don’t know what that is.”

The Eiscue shrugged. “That’s fine too, take these too then.” She ran over to a shelf, returning with a pair of heavy books. “Just read them.”

Mel looked at the cover dubiously. “Principles of investment?” She looked at the Eiscue apologetically. “Thanks, but I never went to school or anything, so I doubt I would get it.”

“You’ll be fine.” The Eiscue was undeterred. “This is for you!” She handed Mel a flat slate made of some kind of stone. “It’s a hot collectors item, not sure why. Start by selling this and then invest that based on the tips I gave you.”

Mel nodded uncertainly, clutching the slate between her scythes. “How do I invest?”

“I wrote some addresses on the back,” the Eiscue continued, pointing at the investment list. “Ask any one of them for a Platinum card- and make sure to say Novegra sent you. That’s me. You should be able to get pretty much anywhere with that card.”

“Alright, I think I can figure it out.” The Lurantis looked at Novegra with a determined expression. “So this will get me a lot of money?”

“I guarantee it!” Novegra exclaimed, “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to call myself a fortune teller.”

“Can I come back if I have questions?” Mel asked.

Novegra was silent. She still smiled, but there was something subdued about her expression. “You can come back whenever you want,” she said softly.

“I have one last question,” the Lurantis said, trying to gather all the things she had been given into a neat pile. “Do you know where we can find other psychics? Ones that specialize in things like the mind?”

Novegra shook her head apologetically. “Can’t help you there. But once you start making connections through your investments, you’ll be able to find anyone.”

The Eiscue waited patiently as Mel flipped through the books. The Lurantis looked up and nodded, flashing a small smile at Novegra. Without saying another word, Mel waved and walked out slowly. She looked back once as if to say something, but seemed to change her mind.

As she exited though, she was nearly bowled over by the Simisage who entered roughly. “Sorry ‘bout that,” he said, glancing at Mel for a moment, the Lurantis shooting a glare at him before leaving. “So uh, you free now?” he asked, staring intently at Novegra.

“You’re very eager,” Novegra said, smiling as she moved some junk off her table. “Would you like a fortune too? Before you do what you were sent here to do that is.”

The Simisage crossed his arms. “I came here for a fortune.”

The Eiscue laughed. “Of course.” She suddenly looked wistful. “Sachozume, right? You used to be so small. I always thought that you were too young for our line of work.”

The Simisage paused, caught off guard. “Do- do you still think that?” he asked quietly.

“That you were too young? Yes, but I understand why you did it- and I agree with you.”

Sachozume looked at the floor, his arms awkwardly hanging at his side. “Wow. Now I kind of feel like a jerk.”

Novegra shook her head. “Honey, it’s your job to kill me, and I’ve made peace with that. At least I think so.” The Eiscue shrugged. “Maybe I’m just old.”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Sachozume murmured as he closed and locked the front door. “Why didn’t you leave the city or change your name?”

“I love this city, I couldn’t bear to leave.” Novegra sighed. “As for the second point... well, I’ve expected something like this for a long time. To put it bluntly, I deserve this.”

The Simisage said nothing, cocking one eyebrow.

The Eiscue smiled slightly. “A long time ago, it seemed like the boss could do no wrong. But you know, he deserves to die too. We all do.”

“Even me?” the Simisage asked, leaning against the door.

“I’ll beg off answering that one. There might be hope yet for the youth, so to speak.” Novegra cleared her throat, adjusting herself in her seat. “Oh well, I’ve already played my last card, so do your thing, Sachozume.”

“Do you want a quick death? I mean-” Sachozume stuttered, “Of course I’ll make it painless, it’s not like you want a painful death. So I guess that means quick too.”

Novegra made a face. “For a killer, you’re easily flustered.”

“Usually, pokemon are scared,” the Simisage protested, looking away.

“Ah, so a power trip,” the Eiscue replied, grinning, “Alright then, I got some advice for you before I go. Don’t let anyone push you into making stupid decisions.”

“Yeah, yeah, I can handle myself,” Sachozume said hotly, “Let’s just get this over with.”

“Show me what you got,” Novegra said, leaning back. “If you can’t do it in one shot, then I’ll be disappointed.”


[][][][][][][]::::[][][][][][][][]
| |
[][][][][][][]::::[][][][][][][][]


“Where’d you get off to this morning?” Mallys asked, leaning on the balcony railing.

Arceus laid on his side. He looked at the Haxorus sheepishly. “I wanted to explore. Sorry I didn’t tell you.”

“At this point, we’ve established you can take care of yourself,” Mallys replied, waving a claw in the air. “Mel expected you to do something like this too.”

“I wasn’t positive,” Mel interjected, “But I had a feeling.”

Mallys shrugged. “Anyway, what did you find?”

Arceus thought for a second before his expression brightened. “I met Darkrai again. We talked about this communication system, errr, oh- GSEL! Do you know what that is?”

“No idea,” Mallys replied, looking over at Mel.

“I don’t know either,” the Lurantis said, flipping through her economics guide. “But now that you mention it, it’s on my list here.”

“List? For what?” Arceus asked, glancing over curiously.

“We were looking for a psychic, for- you know,” Mallys said, gesturing vaguely at Arceus. “But found basically nothing. None of these psychics even know each other; you would at least expect a business network or something. The last one was a bit different though.”

“She said she could read our financial future,” Mel added, “Though she never actually gave me a fortune. I did get all this though!” She pointed a scythe at the pile of junk on the table nearby. “I’m going to start investing money to help us get your memories back.”

“It’s funny though,” Mallys muttered, “We’re assuming it’ll cost money. It could be free, or just really cheap.”

“Sure, but what after?” Mel asked. “What if Arceus used to live on another continent and we need to pay for travel? Or you know, if we all go our separate ways after this, some money to see each other would be nice.” Mel looked away. “If you guys would be fine with that.”

Everyone was silent for a moment.

“Hey, Arceus,” Mallys started, his tone somber. “Wh- when you remember everything about who you were, you wouldn’t mind if I stuck around and travelled with you more, would you?”

“No way!” Arceus exclaimed. “I don’t know what I’ll remember, but it’s not like I’ll forget that you’re my friend.”

“Ha, right,” Mallys replied, “What about you Mel? What are you going to do after this?”

“I want to use the leftover money to make a nice house for my Pa and everyone else back home,” Mel stated proudly, “But I’d also still like to hang out with you two.” The Lurantis smiled.

“I wouldn’t have it otherwise,” Arceus said. “So what were you saying about finance?”

Mel held up a book. “The fortune teller gave me a bunch of books on how to make money and a list of companies to invest in. GSEL Inc. is on that list, so I guess we’ll make money from that. But first, I have to sell this.” She held up the reddish orange slate.

Arceus eyed it, unimpressed. “What is it?”

Mel shook her head. “I don’t know, take a look at it.” She thrust the object towards Arceus.

Arceus stared at the plate on the ground. He experimentally kicked it. “It’s just a rock,” he commented after a few seconds had passed.

“What did you do, Arceus?” Mallys said, staring wide eyed at him.

“Hey that’s cool, like a Kecleon,” Mel murmured, “Look, even your ring is different.”

Arceus craned his neck back and was stunned by what he saw. His ring had changed color from gold to reddish-brown. He looked down and saw his hooves had similarly changed.

“Do you feel any different?” Mallys asked, walking over and running a claw over Arceus’ ring. “Or do you remember anything?”

Arceus was mystified, but felt no different from before. “Nothing. I guess I just change colors sometimes?”

Mallys nodded slowly. “Wow, even your eyes changed color.”

Arceus looked himself over again, then reached out to poke the plate again. His body remained the same. Staring at it for a moment, he then slid it across the floor over to Mallys, who picked it up. They waited a moment, but the Haxorus’ body didn’t change.

“Looks like it only works for certain pokemon,” Mallys said. “You’re lucky enough to be in that category. I can see why it might be a high value item now, it’s certainly a novelty.”

“I guess I’m orange now,” Arceus said blithely, “So how are you going to sell this, Mel?”

The Lurantis scooped the plate back up and tossed it back in the pile. “First I think I have to get a Platinum card. I’ll get on that tomorrow, we’ve been out all day.”

Mallys nodded. “While you do that, I’ll go look for... gainful employment.” He turned. “What are you going to do Arceus?”

“I think I’m going to look into GSEL more,” Arceus replied, “I might get one. Oh, Mallys, can you write down the numbers written on my ring? I hope that it’s still there, with the color change and all.”

Mallys leaned over, examining Arceus. “I see it. Is this for GSEL? A contact number?”

“It’s Darkrai’s,” Arceus said. “I’m going to keep in touch with him.”

“Alright, I’ll write it down. Do you want me to wash it off you after?”

“Just leave it for now, just in case!”
 
Chapter 23

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
That's a lot of 2s and 3s. You sure you're okay?
A time for conversation, as usual : )



Chapter 23 - Imaginary Gestures of Affection



“You two could have left a note for me where you would be.” The Nidoking crossed his arms, sighing. “I was slightly worried.”

“That’s our fault, we weren’t thinking,” Darkrai replied. Next to him, Mae nodded, but said nothing.

Pasa waved them off. “It’s fine. You’re both okay, and that’s what matters.”

Darkrai nodded. “What about Seyka? Is he alright?”

“He was arrested,” Pasa stated simply. “I don’t know where they took him, but I’m going to try and find out.”

“Are you going to try and free him?” Mae asked, the Lopunny looking around.

Pasa gestured to the pair to follow him as he began to walk down the road they were standing on. “Not at all. I’m sure he did what he did knowing there would be consequences. I just want to talk to him some more. There just seems to be something inconsistent about how he handles himself, and it’s bugging me.”

“What about your daughter?” Darkrai asked.

“I’m not too worried yet about her,” Pasa said. “She has a lot of energy, but nothing to direct it towards.”

“Where are you off to now?” Mae asked.

“HCU headquarters. I know some pokemon there that can probably help me find Seyka.” Pasa breathed deeply, stretching. “You two can come if you want, though I know you aren’t exactly keen on law enforcement.”

“Yeah, that’s the thing,” Darkrai said, shrugging, “Thanks for the offer, but we’ll have to pass. Do you happen to have a GSEL though? So you can contact us?”

Pasa shook his head. “I’ve heard of it, but I don’t personally have one. I can probably get one later though, could you write down your number so I can have it for later?”

Darkrai nodded and turned to Mae expectantly.

“Do it yourself,” the Lopunny chided, making a face. “I already did it for you yesterday.”

“Right, I can do it.” Darkrai turned to the Nidoking. “Do you happen to have something to write with?”

--

“Renovations.” Pasa smiled. “I like it.”

The HCU headquarters was a brutish slate-grey building shaped like a series of sloped plateaus. The facade was lined with diagonal windows tinted a dark green that made it impossible to see in from the outside. Stringy vegetation trailed down the smeared glass and along the sides of the building.

“It looks better than it used to,” Pasa murmured, before noticing a commotion near the front entrance.

“Look, at least help me out here!” a strange Anorith protested. Pasa noticed that the bug was missing one eye. “Don’t you know anywhere you can direct me to?”

The Magmar carrying him shook its head. “We’re a government agency, not a business. I know there are some places around town that could help you, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.”

The Anorith sagged, his claws falling limp to the ground. “Urgh, I’ll do that then- thanks anyway.”

As the Anorith trudged away, Pasa approached him. “Hi, I have a bad habit of eavesdropping. It sounded like you needed help with something?” The Nidoking smiled awkwardly.

“Yeah, I was just looking around,” the Anorith replied somewhat reluctantly, “I thought this place might help, it didn’t look like a regular office or what have you.”

“No, I suppose not.” Pasa stared at the HCU headquarters thoughtfully. “What kind of thing are you looking for that this place couldn’t help you with?”

“Nothing much, I just want to-” The Anorith trailed off, waving a claw in a circular motion. “I want to find a personal trainer or something similar.”

Pasa nodded. “I see why this place wouldn’t be able to help you.”

The Anorith looked confused. “How would you know that?”

“Because I used to work here,” Pasa replied, “It’s been a few years, but I’m still pretty fond of the place.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” the Anorith said blankly, “Well, if you heard me, do you know anywhere I can go?”

The Nidoking ignored the Anorith’s blunt tone. “Unfortunately, I’m in the same boat as the guy you just talked to, this is my first time back in awhile.” The Nidoking thought for a moment. “But- I’m not really busy now. Maybe I could help you?”

“You’d do that for me?” The Anorith looked up in surprise. “Just like that?”

Pasa laughed. “I’ve been told I’m too nice. I just like to help; it’s a bad habit of mine. I’m Pasa, by the way.”

“My name is Lozow,” the Anorith replied quietly, “I’ll pay you whatever you want, I just need a day to get the money.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Pasa said, waving him off. “Anyway, I’m heading in for a bit.” He tilted his head towards the HCU. “Catch up with old friends, you know? Unless you need to start training now.”

“No, no, I’m not in a rush,” Lozow said. The Anorith clicked his claws together. “I can wait here for you.”

Pasa looked down at the Anorith for a moment before reaching over and plucking Lozow off the ground. “Just come in with me. It’s a lot better than this dreary part of town.”

Lozow nodded glumly, offering no resistance.

The Nidoking gently placed Lozow on his head as he walked around the side of the building. “I do have a question though. Why are you looking for someone to train you?” The Nidoking hesitated. “You don’t have to say.”

The Anorith was silent.

Pasa waited a moment longer before shrugging.

Behind the HCU headquarters was an extensive greenway, lined with trees and flowers. Partially enclosed by a wall, the only sounds were indistinct chatter drifting from somewhere nearby. Walking through, the Nidoking stopped under an old and gnarled tree, brushing the low hanging leaves away from his face.

“When I was younger, I was a slow eater,” Pasa said, kicking the dirt on the ground. “They got on me for that a lot. So I came up with a solution.”

Lozow looked at the Nidoking, bewildered. “And?” he asked.

“I made my own hideout,” Pasa said proudly. He got on his knees and started raking the dirt out of the way with his claws, revealing a hatch hidden in the ground. “I never told anyone where it was, and it looks like no one found it.”

Lozow stared down from atop Pasa’s head. “You made a bunker to eat your lunch in?”

“You would get it if you were there,” Pasa replied lightly, “We had a director who was a huge stickler for decorum and such. He’d always say that eating on the job was ‘unprofessional’.”

“Even if you’re in a building where no one can see you?” Lozow asked.

“I wouldn’t know about that,” Pasa said. “I meant when we were out on patrol, you know, the beat?”

The Anorith was unconvinced. “Was it really that bad that you made something like this?”

Pasa nodded. “One time, he started paying pokemon to come in and report officers.”

“For eating?” Lozow was aghast.

“He was kind of out there,” Pasa said, making a face. He hefted the hatch to the side, peering into the dark hole that was underneath. “But that was then. Having been a director myself, I feel like I understand some of the things he did a little better.” The Nidoking chuckled. “Not that I agree. Oh well.”

“Mmm.”

Pasa sat in front of the hole and slid in feet first. The hole extended downwards a short distance before reaching a floor of packed soil. A dark tunnel stretched out in front of them, just large enough to fit the Nidoking and the Anorith on his head.

“Just like I remember it!” Pasa exclaimed happily, “Wow, I really am getting old.”

“What is this place anyway?” Lozow asked. “A private security company?”

“I thought you came here for help because you knew what this was,” Pasa replied.

“I made an assumption based on what I saw,” Lozow said, shaking his head. “Let’s leave it at that.”

They came to a fork in the tunnel. Pasa turned left, not even glancing the other way. “Fair enough,” he said. “To answer your question, this is the headquarters of the HCU, short for Heinous Crimes Unit. We work in tandem with the police, but our scope is wider than the city.”

“Oh.” Lozow was suddenly aware of how cramped the tunnel was.

Pasa stifled a laugh. “You don’t sound excited about that. Look, I said I’m retired already, so I’m not going to try and arrest you if you’ve broken the law.”

Lozow blinked. “Are you implying that?”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to.” Pasa sighed. “Whenever I bring up my work in conversation, pokemon seem to think it means I’m not very fun to be around.” The Nidoking shrugged. “Everyone tells me to stop bringing it up, but I just can’t help it.”

Lozow was quiet for a moment. “You’re very... you know.”

“Spontaneous? Maybe.”

“I was actually thinking sociable,” the Anorith said. “And a bit of an oversharer.”

The Nidoking nodded, picking at his armor. “I’m okay with that,” Pasa said. “But as I was saying, I’m just here to visit friends. No arresting, no accusing, none of anything. If you have committed any crimes-” he paused, “theoretically that is, then keep it to yourself.”

“Will do,” Lozow replied dryly.


][][][][][][][][
i dislike sweet potator
------..,.,.<><><><><><><


“So by implant, what do you mean?” The Lurantis seemed hesitant, staring at Arceus expectantly.

Arceus had trouble finding the right words. “The way Darkrai described it... it’s like they attach it to you.”

Mel recoiled. “Does that mean they could nail it to your body?”

“I don’t think it’s like that,” Arceus said, trying to sound confident. The possibility unnerved him, but he didn’t show it. “Just watch me, okay? I’ll get it first, then you can decide if you want it.”

Mel was unconvinced but nodded regardless. “Alright. By the way, why is it called GSEL anyway?”

“I don’t know,” Arceus admitted, “But it does have a ring to it.”

Since earlier in the morning, Arceus and Mel had been searching for any storefronts that sold GSEL. Arceus was beginning to regret not asking Darkrai where exactly to go when they found an advertisement pointing them down the street to what could only charitably be described as a hole in the wall. Sandwiched between two larger buildings was a squat brick facade, topped with a forward sloping roof that was missing tiles in spots.

Ducking inside, the two were surprised to find that it was fairly clean and orderly. A countertop stretched across the room, the right half stacked unevenly with papers, bits, and bobs.

“Gooood Morning!” An Excadrill popped up from behind the desk. It was fairly obvious that he had been asleep. “Do you two need anything?”

Arceus stepped forwards. “We heard you had GSEL here? We were interested.”

The Excadrill’s face was blank for a moment. “Huah? Yes, I have that?”

“Do you... sell it?” Mel asked, shooting an annoyed look at Arceus.

The Excadrill slammed his balled up claw on the counter, cracking the glass. “Yes, yes! I do!” He glanced down at the damage briefly before looking back at Arceus and Mel. The two of them were staring at him in bewilderment. “Sorry about that. It took me a moment to realize what you were asking for. You see, it’s been a bit difficult to get the word out about GSEL around these parts.” The Excadrill sank slightly in embarrassment behind the counter. “Well, you two are the first ones to ask. At this location at least. Sales in the upper platforms are sky high!”

“Oh, okay,” Arceus replied awkwardly, unsure of how to respond. “That’s too bad.”

The Excadrill sighed, smiling. “It’ll get better, I’m sure. We just need to find a better way to advertise. But that’s my problem, what matters now is that you’re here.” He looked over Arceus appraisingly. “Have you heard about our options for GSEL?”

Arceus thought back to Darkrai’s explanation. “You can get something portable or an implant, right?”

“More or less. But this place isn’t really equipped for deeper inserts,” the Excadrill explained. “You know, I heard someone got one connected to their heart! Just a rumor though. Anyway, I can do only surface level attachments. Bracelets, rings, you know.” The Excadrill paused. “Those aren’t really attachments, but hey.”

“What would you recommend?” Arceus asked, trying not to think about the heart implant.

The Excadrill reached under the counter, holding a few objects in his claws. “I was thinking about a few choices, why don’t you come to the back with me?”

Arceus looked over at Mel, who nodded back at him. “Okay, show me what you have.” Walking behind the counter, he followed the Excadrill into a back room, leaving the Lurantis alone.

Standing awkwardly, Mel tried to imagine how anyone would get an implant. Images flashed through her head of her chest being violently opened as a device was placed inside before the wound closed automatically as if nothing had happened. She shuddered, leaning back against the wall.


A little while later, Arceus emerged from the back. The Excadrill came out a moment later, looking pleased.

“This is pretty cool, Mel,” Arceus said. “I don’t know why, but I’m kind of excited! Look, look, it’s on my head.”

On Arceus’ right ear, there were three rounded gem-like objects embedded in a line. They were colored a deep orange that complimented the reddish coloring of his ring.

“You got earrings?” Mel said, amused, “They look good on you. Uh, those are your ears, right?”

“I’m pretty sure they are,” Arceus said, the other ear twitching as if on cue.

Mel stared at Arceus’ ear, squinting at the earrings. “So that’s a GSEL. GSELs? Eugh, there should be a better name for that. Why do you need three of them though?”

“It’s three pieces, but all part of one unit,” the Excadrill interjected, placing another three earrings on the counter. “You could put it all in one, but three tends to look nicer.”

“So you wanted to look more stylish?” Mel asked Arceus.

Arceus hesitated. “...yes,” he replied.

“Right,” Mel said simply, “I’m not interested in anything like that.” She turned to the Excadrill. “You said you had bracelets?”

“Certainly,” the Excadrill said. “Where are you thinking of wearing it?”

Mel gestured at her upper arm. “Around here. It doesn’t need to be tight or anything, since my scythes will stop it from falling off.”

“Sounds easy enough. Let me get some different ones.”

Disappearing into the back room again, the Excadrill returned, his arms full of a collection of bracelets in varying colors. He dumped them unceremoniously on the table and started untangling the pile, while talking about some minute difference in styles.

Mel glanced at the pile and immediately reached down to separate a light blue one. “This one,” she said, interrupting the Excadrill.

“Ah, good choice!” The Excadrill shoved the rest of the pile off to the side with a look of relief. “Are you able to put it on yourself?”

Mel looked down at her arms. “I could mess with it. But we are on a bit of a schedule, so if you could please.” She held out a scythe to the Excadrill expectantly.

“Of course,” the Excadrill said as he affixed the bracelet. “Would you like to hear the payment plans we have?”

“We’ll both do the monthly rate of seven,” Mel said quickly, curiously examining her new armlet. “I can handle the rest from here, Arceus. Why don’t you go set yours up and call your friend? I have the number here if you don’t remember.”

Arceus craned his neck back. “Actually, since we decided to come here so quickly, I can still see it written here. It’s a bit harder to read because my ring changed color though.”

Mel nodded. “I’ll meet up with you in a second.”

Arceus turned to leave, but stopped to look back at the Excadrill. “Thanks!” he said.

“My pleasure,” the Excadrill replied.


---+++----++++----+++++----


“You know, I was content to write this off a property damage case since no one got hurt, but then that whole thing happened at Central. Now it’s top priority and someone let the newspapers know. Argghh.”

“If- if you want to take a little break, I can handle everything for you, Aige,” the Diglett said hopefully, trying to calm the Gigalith. “You can leave it to me.”

“I know I could,” Aige said, sighing heavily, “But that really wouldn’t look good for us. It would be easier if CCP was owned by the city, but it just had to be a private prison huh.”

Eikeva didn’t have a good reply. “A-ah, yeah.”

“Thanks for the offer though!” Aige smiled, “Let’s go out and see a movie later, okay?”

“That sounds nice,” Eikeva said quietly.

“Can we come too? It’s been a long time since we’ve had a break like that.”

In the doorway, a Slowking appeared, ducking slightly so the horns of her crown wouldn’t catch on the frame. She gave a small wave to the two, shooting a lopsided smile.

“Nea? Is that you?” Aige asked, straining to look past the Slowking. “I don’t know if I want to know, but where’s Chocolate?”

“What do you think?” the Slowking replied, rolling her eyes. “As soon as we got here, he jumped in with the homicide division. He’ll stop by and say hello later.”

“That’s that then,” the Gigalith replied, “Eikeva, this is Nea, she’s the Deputy of the 5th division.”

“I think we met once...” Nea murmured, smiling at the Diglett.

“Oh! Nice to meet you,” Eikeva said, feeling a bit small. “Unless we met before, which in that case, sorry for not remembering. Ehehe.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Nea said. She turned to Aige, smirking, “So what do you want, huh?” Full course meal? Deluxe polishing?”

“Mmm, I’ll think about it,” the Gigalith said.

“Think about what?” Eikeva said, more than a little left out.

“Ah, sorry Eikeva, it’s a little bet we’ve had,” Aige explained, “Whoever is promoted to a Commander first wins. And while Nea got to Deputy Commander first, well...” Aige grinned.

“Yeah, that was a rigged bet,” Nea protested, “Chocolate isn’t going to stop working until he dies.” She paused. “I mean, it’s not like I want him to die, I like working as his Deputy-” she added quickly.

Aige nodded. “I wish that I’d have been a Deputy longer. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing sometimes, even when I just... do know.”

Nea eyed the Gigalith quietly. “I get that too,” she said eventually.

“What do you think, Eikeva?” Aige asked, “Do you feel like I’m actually doing my job?”

“Of cou-course!” the Diglett stammered, “I wouldn’t have said yes to being your Deputy otherwise.”

The Gigalith laughed. “Thanks for the confidence.” She leaned over to Nea. “Honestly, Eikeva would probably make a better Commander than me. She’s probably the only reason I can keep track of everything around here.”

“I don’t think I’d be a good Commander,” Eikeva said. “I just do what I have to.”

“Hey, you never know,” Nea said. “The HCU has had some pretty weird Commanders. Like the 4th division.”

Eikeva and Aige flinched at Nea’s words.

“Don’t remind us,” Aige said, disgust written across her face. “We had a joint operation with them recently. Never again if I can help it.”

“Ooh, rough. Sorry that I brought it up,” Nea murmured sympathetically.

Aige shook her head. “It’s not like you knew. Anyway, we’ll have to catch up more later, I have some work to finish. Eikeva, I got this handled, why don’t you take the rest of the day off. We’ll catch that movie later.”

“You sure you okay here?” Eikeva asked.

“I like to bitch about work, but it’s not going anywhere,” Aige replied, “I don’t want to rely on you forever.”

“Ah- okay.”

“Hey, Eikeva,” Nea interjected, “Do you want to go get something to eat while we wait for Aige? I don’t come to the city often, so I don’t know what’s good.”

Eikeva jumped at the chance. “Sure! Uh, depending on where we go, you might need to carry me around, is that okay?”

“I can do that,” Nea said. “Now that you say it though, is it tough for you to live here?”

The Diglett sighed. “At least someone thought of burrowing Pokemon when they designed this city. No one ever though to account for population though, so a single Steelix can block up the passage for hours. It’s just something to get used to. I have to file some things away before we go, I’ll meet you downstairs.” As she finished, Eikeva disappeared into the floor, leaving bits of dirt.

“If I were her, I would have given up years ago,” Aige said, staring at the disturbed ground where the Diglett had been. “I’ll see you later Nea. Nice to see you again.”

“Yeah, me too,” the Slowking replied.

---

The record room was dark, heavy blinds pulled over the windows. A boxy machine sat in the corner, humming along as it blinked on and off. A solitary lamp stood in the opposite corner, slightly bent at the middle.

“Oh, Nea. Can you help me out?” Eikeva looked at the Slowking. “The filing manager isn’t here and I need someone to get mine.”

Nea picked up the sheaf of papers. “Of course. I bet you’re looking forward to the system being fully digitized.”

“Definitely,” the Diglett replied, “I have to rely on pokemon with hands enough already.”

Nea rubbed the top of the sleek scanner enviously. “We won’t get something like this for years. Does it always move this much?”

“Huh? It doesn’t move,” Eikeva said, glancing over. “Why is it moving?”

The Slowking stepped back as the machine began swaying slightly. After a moment, they realized that it wasn’t the machine moving, but the floor under it, the tile slightly edging upwards. As it moved further, the machine began to slide forward into Nea, the Slowking gently catching it and dragging it away from the spot. As the two continued to watch, the tile slid to the side, a voice emanating from the hole.

“If I remember correctly, this comes out in the record room. It was perfect because no one ever filled out their paperwork back in the day!” A Nidoking popped out, looking around before spotting Nea. “Why hello there! Didn’t expect to see you today, Nea.”

The Slowking gaped at the sudden intrusion. “Pasa?! What are you doing here? And what is that hole?”

“Wait, you know him?” Eikeva said, eyeing the Nidoking suspiciously, “What’s going on?”

“I guess you don’t know him,” Nea said thoughtfully, “That’s Pasa, a former Director. As for why he’s coming out of a hole in the floor, I have no idea.”

Pasa pulled himself fully out of the hole. Nea noticed an Anorith clinging to his back, looking miserable. It glanced at her forlornly, giving a half-hearted wave.

“To tell the truth, I was banking on someone recognizing me,” Pasa said, grinning, “If not, then I guess we would have been arrested! My friend here is Lozow, he’s a great guy. Who’s your friend Nea?”

“I’m Eikeva, Deputy Commander- 3rd division,” the Diglett interjected, “It’s an honor to meet a former director Sir, but I have to know what that hole is.”

“If a Diglett like you didn’t even know that it was there, then I must have done a good job,” Pasa said, self-satisfied. “It’s a security risk, I know. I dug this tunnel years ago so I could sneak out of work.”

Nea stared at the Nidoking. “Really? You?”

“Believe it or not, I didn’t have much of a sense of responsibility until I was a Deputy Commander myself,” Pasa said. “Anyway, this tunnel comes out in the back. Make it a fire escape or something if you have to.”

“I... I see,” Eikeva said, calming down. “I’ll report it later.” She sighed. “I was scared for a moment.”

“So back to my first question,” Nea said. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you retired?”

“Of course. I’m here because Mel’s been travelling with some friends and I wanted to make sure she’s okay.”

Nea’s eyes widened, her breath catching in her throat. “You don’t mean... I- I actually ran into Mel a little while ago. I didn’t recognize her until after the fact though, I haven’t seen her since she was a Fomantis. And uh, I didn’t know she shortened her name like that.”

Pasa glanced up in surprise. “Really? Where?”

“Somehow, Mel and the pokemon she was with got in trouble in the Blue forest. I heard they got out okay though and were on a train, probably headed here.” Nea shook her head. “I don’t know about them being her friends though.”

On Pasa’s back, Lozow was deathly still, feeling a growing sense of dread as he connected the chain of events to each other.

“You mean Arceus and Mallys?” Pasa asked, “How do you suppose?”

“I don’t know about the other one, but that Haxorus is dangerous.” Nea shuddered remembering what happened at the train station.

Lozow felt a tingling sensation where his other eye had been.

“I never got a good chance to check him out,” Pasa mused, frowning, “What did he do?”

“I’ll explain later, it’s a long story.” Nea shook her head. “Sorry about getting sidetracked, Eikeva. Let’s finish up here.”

“It’s no problem,” the Diglett said, looking between the Slowking and the Nidoking. “It was nice to meet you, Pasa.”

“Yeah, I feel the same,” Pasa replied. The Nidoking seemed distracted by something. “I have to go. Sorry for dragging you along Lozow.” He pulled the Anorith off his back and set him on the floor. “These two will take care of you, I’ll get back to you about training later. Sorry!”

Pasa disappeared back into the hole as quickly as he had appeared, leaving the Anorith slightly bewildered. “Uh- hello,” he said hesitantly.

“Hey,” Nea said, waving, “Sorry you had to hear all that. I’ll show you the exit in a moment.”

Lozow nodded slowly, trying to keep a neutral expression. “Thank you.”


:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
><><><><><><><><><><><


“Hello hello! Can you hear me?”

Arceus’ voice bounced around in Mel’s head. It sounded as if he was right next to the Lurantis, even as she could see him standing several meters away.

“I can. Ogh, this is weird. Can you hear me?” Mel replied.

“Yeah, but you don’t need to say it out loud, I can see your mouth moving from here,” Arceus said. “Pokemon around you might think you’re weird.”

Mel rolled her eyes. “I don’t care if they do,” she said. “You said you were going to meet Darkrai, right?”

“Yeah. Where are you going?”

Mel held up the plate with one scythe. “I’m going to figure out where to sell this. I’ll see you tonight.”

“Alright. Good luck, Mel!” Arceus waved at her with one hoof.

Mel nodded. “Thanks. I’ll call you if anything comes up. So how do you hang up? Do you just think about it and-”

Arceus waited a moment, watching Mel look around as if confused. “Yeah, that’s right!” he shouted.

He wasn’t sure if Mel heard him, but the Lurantis nodded and waved nonetheless, walking away down an adjacent street.

“Hm, where was that place I met Darkrai at again?” Arceus said to himself. “Ehh, I’ll know it when I see it.”

---

Five restaurants later, Arceus conceded that he didn’t know. As he called Darkrai on the GSEL, he stared upwards and avoided looking at the pokemon walking near him.

“I get it. We get lost a lot too, so don’t feel bad,” Darkrai said after Arceus explained his situation to him. “You’re actually pretty close, so I’ll come get you. By the way, we have another friend here. He’s a bit strange, but I’m sure you’ll like him.”

Within a few minutes, they met up and made their way to the same cafe they had met in before. As Darkrai showed Arceus to their table, Mae was in an animated conversation with a Skarmory.

“So if you’re a criminal, how much do you think I’d get for turning you in right now?” The Lopunny smiled.

“What do you want me to say?” the Skarmory replied, making a face. “If I put a low value on myself, then you’ll think I’m lying and you’ll turn me in. But if I give myself a high value, then I feel bad because it’s not true.”

Mae leaned close. “Does that mean you’re saying that you aren’t worth much? Personally Seyka, I would put you somewhere in the middle.”

Seyka seemed confused by this. “Is that a good thing?”

“That depends on the price range,” Mae replied breezily, “I wouldn’t turn you in though. I’d feel bad for you.”

“Ahah, that’s nice of you,” the Skarmory said. “I’m sure turning me in would be a net positive any way you look at it.”

Mae shook her head, laughing under her breath. “Whatever you say.” She turned to Darkrai and Arceus. “Hey you two.” She tapped one of her ears, pointing at Arceus. “Nice earrings.”

“Thanks,” Arceus said before turning to Seyka. “Hi, I’m Arceus.”

The Skarmory stared blankly at Arceus, his eyes trailing down Arceus’ neck. “Are you here to arrest me?”

Caught off guard, Arceus took a moment to process the question. “Huh? N-no, I’m not going to do that.”

“Everyone says that,” Seyka muttered.

“This is Seyka,” Darkrai said, gesturing at the Skarmory. “He might bite you as a way of saying hello, but he’s generally harmless.”

“Nice to meet...” Arceus was cut off as Seyka reached out with his mouth open, gently biting his head. “-you?”

Darkrai gaped at Seyka, bewildered. “That was a joke,” he said weakly.

Seyka chewed on Arceus’ head for a moment before letting go. “I can’t be sure of that,” the Skarmory said lightly, “I wanted to err on the side of caution, so you don’t seem like a liar.”

Mae burst into laughter, nearly falling backwards out of her chair. “He got you there,” the Lopunny exclaimed.

Seyka nodded. “It’s not like it’s not what he said it was. It can be whatever you want it to be if that’s the way you want to see it. Know what I mean?”

Arceus thought for a moment. “No. I don’t.”

“Mmmm, close enough,” the Skarmory said, shrugging with his wings.

“So uh,” Darkrai started, changing the subject. “GSEL is convenient isn’t it, Arceus?”

“Yep! There’s a lot less to worry about when you can talk with others pretty much instantaneously.” Arceus looked at Seyka. “Do you have one?” he asked nervously, trying to include the Skarmory.

“Maybe,” Seyka replied, “I’ve had a lot of time to collect things. Remind me what it is.”

“It’s a long range communication system,” Darkrai said. “It allows you to easily talk to other pokemon as if you were right next to them.”

Seyka shook his head. “I don’t think I have that.” His expression grew thoughtful. “I can see pokemon from far away, but I can’t talk to them.”

“That’s the opposite, how do you do that?” Arceus asked.

“Easy, I just use my feathers as extra eyes,” Seyka said. “You want to see?”

Arceus was taken aback. “Erm.”

“What do you... mean?” Darkrai asked, looking at Seyka like the Skarmory’s head was missing.

Mae jumped in. “That sounds weird, let me try it.”

Seyka grinned, a glint in his eye as he extended one of his wings outwards. He craned his neck down and with a flourish, plucked one of his steely feathers with his beak. He held it out to the Lopunny expectantly.

Gingerly accepting the large blade, Mae looked at Seyka. “So uh- what now?”

“Go somewhere I can’t see you.” The Skarmory pointed at a nearby doorway. “Go behind that wall and do something, anything. I’ll tell you what you did.”

Mae nodded slowly, unconvinced. “Alright, here I go.” She walked out of the room, casting a glance back at Darkrai, who shrugged in response. “Oh hi, sorry to interrupt,” she said to someone. “I’ll be done in a second.”

Arceus and Darkrai watched Seyka, unsure of what to expect. For a moment, the Skarmory was completely still, concentrating. Then he tilted his head to one side.

“Ehhm, you’re posing?” Seyka called, looking in the direction that Mae had gone. “You’re lifting one leg up and you have your arms up. I don’t know what that is.”

“It’s called the tree pose,” Mae shouted back. “Do you not know what yoga is?”

“No, I don’t,” Seyka replied, “But you see how I could tell?”

Mae was silent. “Alright, that’s kind of creepy,” she admitted. A moment later, she walked back into the room, holding Seyka’s feather. “Here, you hold it,” she said, thrusting it into Darkrai’s arms. “That’s interesting and all, Seyka, but honestly I’m kind of freaked out.”

“Ah, sorry,” Seyka said apologetically. He turned to Arceus. “GSEL sounds nice though. I might get it.”

“That’s great, we can exchange numbers,” Arceus said, trying not to think about Seyka’s odd ability.

“Mmm, I’ll hold you to that,” Seyka said. “By the way, I didn’t get to say earlier, but nice tattoo, or whatever that drawing is on your neck.

“Oh that?” Arceus laughed uncomfortably. “It’s just a little thing I got a while back. Nothing too special.”

Seyka’s expression was unreadable. “I see. If you say so.”
 
Last edited:
24

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Now that I've edited the first 8 or so chapters, I feel better! Speaking of which, if for some reason there is someone keeping track of this, this chapter includes characters first introduced in the revisions, so it might be a bit confusing contextually.

That's my fault. Haha


Chapter 24 - Idiot
24Crop2.JPG
doodle by me :)


Mel double-checked the address she had written on her scythe, then looked back at the dilapidated storefront. A large rusted sign on the front read ‘Jaruzaya Brokerage’ backlit by a bright green light. The windows were grimy and one of the front doors was missing. Mel could make out the back of a pokemon’s head, laying slightly to the side of the open doorway.

“Uh, hello?” Mel called out hopefully. “Are you open?”

The pokemon shifted, turning it’s head to look at Mel. “I guess. Do you have an appointment?”

Mel stared at the mangy Furfrou, wondering if she could get away with lying.

The Furfrou spoke again before Mel could reply. “Trick question, I don’t care. Sit down and wait if you want to see Jaruzaya.” She motioned to the Lurantis with her head. “Come on- you might lose your spot if you stand out there gawking.”

Caught off guard by the Furfrou’s urging, Mel hurried inside, gingerly stepping around the other pokemon. Letting her eyes adjust to the dim room, Mel saw rows of beaten up and broken chairs, along with a single door at the back of the room. A paint-streaked chandelier hung from overhead, ringed with lights except for one broken holder where a lit candle had been inserted. Aside from Mel and the Furfrou, the place was deserted.

“You said I would lose my spot,” Mel said, with a twinge of irritation. She looked down at the Furfrou, who idly glanced back up at her.

“I said ‘might’,” the Furfrou said. “Do you want something to eat while you wait?”

Mel hesitated, expecting another smart answer. “That would be nice,” she finally answered.

The Furfrou laid back down on her side. “Yeah, I’d like something to eat too.”

Mel scowled, sinking into a chair in frustration. To distract herself, she idly stared at a broken clock on the wall opposite of her. The face had been shattered, the numbers rearranged seemingly at random.

“What do you think?” The Furfrou suddenly spoke up, Mel turning back to her. “It’s an art piece I made.” The Furfrou walked over, her expression wistful. “It represents forgotten time.”

Mel examined the clock closer. The numbers were askew, some missing entirely. “I think I get it.”

The Furfrou shuffled around the room, avoiding Mel's gaze. “A-actually, the whole room is an art piece. The uh, the junk is deliberate.”

Mel looked around the room. “That’s actually kind of cool,” the Lurantis said, glancing at the Furfrou. “Sorry, I don’t know much about art.”

“That’s okay!” the Furfrou stammered, “I’m just happy you like it.” The Furfrou paused, staring off into space. “I’m Shogo.” She smiled sheepishly at Mel. “Sorry for being a prick earlier, I’m just used to short tempered business types.”

“Oh. Well, I am here to do business.” Mel shrugged apologetically. “Though I was told to come here.”

“Really?” Shogo looked unconvinced. “You don’t look like much of an entrepreneur.”

“Not yet,” Mel replied. “That’s why I’m here.” She smiled defiantly at Shogo. “I’m Mel by the way.”

Shogo squinted at Mel, unconvinced. “Are you sure you’re in the right place, Mel?”

“I’m-” Mel hesitated.

Why am I even doing this, she thought to herself. Novegra told me to come here and I just... did. No- I’m not doing this for her, I’m doing it for Arceus.

Shogo tilted her head, watching Mel curiously.

“I’m definitely in the right place,” Mel declared. “So I’ll wait here until Jaruzaya is available.”

Shogo involuntarily stepped back. “I understand,” she replied. Something crossed her face. “Actually, there’s something you should know. Jaruzaya is... he’s not busy at all.”

“What?” Mel briefly glanced over at the door on the other side of the room. “He doesn’t want to see anyone?”

“Not quite,” Shogo said. “Jaruzaya is very- peculiar about his clientele. You’ll understand when you meet him.”

“Right,” Mel said. She processed Shogo’s words a moment later. “Wait, I can go see him?”

“Sure, go on in.” The Furfrou grimaced. “Good luck in there.”

Already walking to the door, Mel stopped in place. “What does that mean?” she asked warily.

Shogo shook her head. “What do you think? The guy is a pain in the neck, so try to stay on his good side.”

“Thanks for the advice.” Mel sighed to herself and passed through the doorway.

>>

The hallways through the door were deceptively long, dimly lit and even more shabby than the entrance. Eventually, Mel came to a large dark room. She couldn’t make out the far end, but she could hear running water from somewhere.

Mel was unnerved, but put on a brave face. “Hello? Jaruzaya? I’m here to uh-” Mel looked at the plate she had been carrying under her arm. “-sell something?”

There was a moment of silence before Mel heard a rumbling.

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you that relationships are built on respect?” A deep voice emanated from somewhere. “You could have addressed me as ‘Mr’. Anyway, hold on a moment while I turn these lights on.”

One after another, large overhead lamps clicked on. The room was even larger than Mel had thought. A huge pool stretched along one side, connected to a massive tank at the end. Square pillars ran along the edge of the room, and the floor was immaculately tiled. From the tank, a large Huntail looked over Mel appraisingly.

“I don’t know you,” Jaruzaya said dismissively, “Regardless, you’re here, so you’ve done something right at least.”

“Oh? Care to tell me what that is?” Mel responded, staring confidently back at the Huntail.

Jaruzaya smiled. “Money is impatient, and so am I. Anyone who is kind or thoughtful enough to wait on me generally isn’t fit for this kind of work.” His tail flicked. “Not to say that that sort of attitude isn’t appreciated. It’s just not someone worth working with.”

Keeping her face carefully blank, Mel nodded. “Your secretary implied this was kind of the case.”

“Ah, Shogo.” Jaruzaya’s expression was pained. “My faithful assistant. She is helpful, but doubtless I wouldn’t need her if I wasn’t-” He gestured at the tank around him. “-so indisposed. Life grants few boons greater than arms and legs. Enough of the chatter though, you have something for me?”

Mel showed Jaruzaya the plate. “How about this.”

“Oh?” His expression was unchanged, but there was an edge to his tone. “And what is that?”

Mel froze in place. I have no idea what this is. I’ll have to fake it, she thought.

“Do I even need to elaborate?” Mel replied casually, forcing a smile. “I thought you would be too impatient for jokes.”

“Mmm, you’re right,” Jaruzaya said lightly, “What’s your price then?”

Seriously?! Mel was starting to panic, but steeled herself. I can just come up with a really high price and claim it’s my personal evaluation if he refuses.

“How about- thirteen million?” Mel asked, keeping her expression neutral.

The Huntail was silent. “How would you like it?” he asked eventually. “Direct transfer or tokens?”

Mel nearly fell backwards in surprise from Jaruzaya’s nonchalance. “Tokens if you would,” she said, trying to contain her excitement. That much money would be more than enough to take care of Arceus and then some.

“Right then,” Jaruzaya said, gliding over to the side of the tank to a panel. On the wall next to Mel, a panel opened, revealing a chute. “Just put it in there,” he continued, making a face. “Unwieldy, I know. Another reason for me to curse my watery existence.”

Mel hesitated, then placed the plate in the chute. As it clattered off somewhere, a second panel opened next to it, this one containing a large plate with thirteen coins on it. They were thick and black, with an inscrutable design on them. Mel picked them up, holding them tightly.

“So, as you might have guessed, each one of those is worth a million Cohls,” Jaruzaya said, looking back at Mel. “Isn’t that exciting?”

Mel paused, hearing something odd about the Huntail’s tone. She turned back to see the Huntail close to her, his face nearly pressed against the glass.

“Not bad for what I assume is your first try. But I’d like to offer a few pointers for the future- so you don’t get screwed.”

Mel felt her heart drop. He knew the entire time, she thought to herself, unable to reply to Jaruzaya.

“So, you started a bit weak, not a very forceful opening,” Jaruzaya said, grinning, “But you made up for it with your attitude. I liked that.” He swam away, making circles in the water. “Then you fell apart making the sale.”

“Yeah?” Mel felt her momentary fear replaced with irritation bordering on anger. “How so?”

“I don’t blame you for your approach, it’s a good fit for informal transactions.” Jaruzaya closed his eyes. “But sometimes you have to know exactly what you’re selling, most importantly of course, for the price.”

Mel’s breath caught in her throat.

“I’d have paid twenty million if you asked,” Jaruzaya said. “Better luck next time! Haha.”

Mel glared at him furiously. “Alright, I admit it, I don’t know exactly what that plate was,” she said, barely suppressing the urge to walk away. “Tell me about it.”

“Sure. But it’ll cost you,” Jaruzaya said. “Just kidding, you’ve helped me out enough already,” he added, seeing Mel’s expression. “This plate is one of many, no one knows the exact number.” He moved closer. “They’re old- extremely old. And they have these... powers? From what I’ve heard, each one is a little different.”

Mel thought back to Arceus changing colors. “I see. So it’s really valuable.”

Jaruzaya looked at Mel curiously. “You really don’t know that much, do you?” He waved his tail. “Anyway, they’re made of an unknown material, and if you know what you’re looking for, you can spot one immediately.”

“How?” Mel asked.

“The plates are practically indestructible,” the Huntail replied, “You can’t even scratch them. But on the front of each is three lines. Very distinct.”

The Lurantis looked at him suspiciously. “What if I just cut a plate and made a forgery?”

Jaruzaya smiled. “They’re more than just rare gemstones. Most of the information I just told you is passed around in exclusive circles.” His expression darkened slightly. “And though it’s been theorized that there’s a whole set, only nine have ever been confirmed, of which three are here in the city.”

Mel felt a chill run through her body.

“How can a nobody like you find someone like me, carrying something like that?” Jaruzaya’s eyes bored into Mel. “Who sent you?”

Mel stared back at the Huntail. “Someone I met recently named Novegra,” she said simply. “She said she wanted to help me and told me to come sell the plate here.”

“The Witch?” Jaruzaya seemed confused. “Why would she give you-” He abruptly turned away from Mel, muttering softly.

Mel looked at the chips she had been given. “I’ll be leaving now,” she said, turning towards the entrance. “Thank you for your... advice.”

“Wait-” Jaruzaya called.

Mel stopped, but didn’t turn to face him. “What?”

The Huntail floated close to the glass, staring at Mel intently. “I’m ignorant as to what circumstances brought you here. But...” The Huntail grinned. “You’re a lot more interesting than most pokemon I deal with. How about you work for me and I teach you about how to make a deal?”

Mel stiffened. Work for this guy? As if, she thought.

“Unsure? You shouldn’t be,” Jaruzaya said. “The money you made just now? If you play your cards right, you can make that much and more every day.”

“That’s a lot to offer,” Mel said, turning back to Jaruzaya. “What if I use that money in the future to ruin you after you messed with me?”

Jaruzaya floated in place, surprised. Then he began to laugh. “I’d love that! Healthy competition is the backbone of this city.” He smirked. “And I never get tired of crushing overconfident losers.”

“Really? Then you might just be disappointed,” Mel shot back. As she spoke however, she was worried. That’s a lot of money, she thought. What would I even do with-

Mel thought of Pasa and everyone else living on the mountain.

“So? Is that a yes or no?” Jaruzaya asked eagerly.

“I’ll do it,” Mel said, positioning herself defiantly in front of the tank. “You’ll regret this.”

“Looking forward to it,” the Huntail replied. “I’ll contact you later to discuss the details.” He looked at Mel’s arm. “I see you have a GSEL. How about sharing numbers?”

“Fine by me,” Mel said. A moment later she heard a ding as her device notified her about Jaruzaya’s information.

“Great, now get out of here,” Jaruzaya said, waving his tail. “I have work to do.”

“Okay,” Mel turned to leave again. “By the way, I’m-”

“Not listening,” the Huntail interrupted, “As I said, relationships are built on respect. As of now, I have none for you. I registered you as ‘Idiot’ in my contacts, you know. Show me what you can do, then we’ll talk.”

Mel suppressed a twinge of anger. “Whatever you say, Mr. Jaruzaya.”

“That’s what I like to hear!”

-------

Mel sighed heavily as she returned to the front room. “I hope I didn’t just get into something I’ll regret,” she murmured to herself.

“You look pretty good,” Shogo said, popping up beside Mel. “Usually whenever someone leaves a meeting with ‘Zaya, they either act like they just won the lottery or they’ve been sentenced to life in prison.”

“I don’t doubt that,” Mel replied, “Thanks for the heads up earlier, Shogo.”

“No problem!” the Furfrou said, beaming. “I usually don’t care, but what did you two talk about?”

“Oh, um-” Mel wasn’t sure how to explain their arrangement.

At that moment however, there was a metallic crackle.

“Shogo? Important changes to note. If you’re not there and you miss this, I’ll dock your pay for next week. Not that you’ll know! Ha.” Jaruzaya’s voice emanated from a speaker somewhere in the ceiling. “I have a new assistant- the Lurantis. She’ll be running the front for part of the week, so work out a schedule between the two of you okay? I know you’ve been asking for days off for a few years now, so here’s your chance! See, I’m not such a bad employer.” There was a pause. “That’s it, be nice to her now!”

There was a click.

Mel shuddered. This guy is not going to be easy to work with. She turned nervously to the Furfrou. “Uh, that’s what we talked about. Sorry for the sudden changes.”

“Mel...” Shogo turned to the Lurantis. The Furfrou was almost tearing up, a huge smile on her face. “Thank you so much!”

“Eh?” Mel inadvertently stepped back.

“You heard him, I’ve been asking for this for years!” Shogo exclaimed, nearly bouncing up and down. “I’m going to use my days off to go to art school- and just enjoy myself for once.”

“That’s great, Shogo,” Mel replied, “I’m happy I could help.”

“You shouldn’t be,” the Furfrou said quickly, “Jaruzaya is a slave driver. The only reason I haven’t killed him myself is because he pays so well.”

I suppose I should have expected that much, Mel thought, slightly annoyed.

“He asks for a lot of unreasonable things,” Shogo continued, “But I’ll teach you everything there is to dealing with him. Do you have GSEL.”

“Yep.” Mel flashed her armlet.

“I’ll contact you later to work out our schedule,” Shogo said. “Thanks again, Mel!”

“Yeah! Looking forward to working with you too, Shogo.” Mel nodded.

“See you later!”


[][][][][][][][][][][][][]


“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this.”

Pasa didn’t bother looking up. His head was buried in his arms. “I quit the HCU to get away from stress,” he said, his voice muffled. “And here I am, stressed. I might be cursed.”

“Hmm, all that time away has made you a bit of a cynic.”

Pasa looked up at the Yanmega hovering in front of him. “I don’t know, Chocolate, you tell me.” He laughed sadly. “Ha, first time we meet in years and it’s like this.”

Chocolate’s wings buzzed. “The only time you were like this was when one of the officers under your command was in trouble. That’s what I know.”

“You got me there. But it’s a bit different from that. It’s my- daughter.” Pasa shook his head. “I heard from Nea that she was travelling, and I’m a little worried.”

“A little?” Chocolate settled on Pasa’s head, quietly contemplating something. “What is your daughter like?”

“She’s not my real- you know. She’s a Lurantis from the mine.” Pasa winced.

“Oh.” The Yanmega was still. “Your daughter assisted in taking my deputy hostage.”

“She what?” Pasa said in disbelief.

“Nea wouldn’t implicate her, but considering the chain of events, it’s the only thing that could have happened.” Chocolate spoke plainly. “She has insisted on letting the incident slide.”

Pasa groaned. “Blunt as usual. But I- I don’t care about that right now. The most important thing is finding Meiulula, but I don’t know if she’s even in the city.” A strange look crossed his face. “Oh, if you meet her, don’t call her that, just use Mel. She doesn’t like her full name.”

“Noted,” Chocolate replied, “Would you like me to call a search, Pasa?”

“No, I don’t want to waste resources.” Pasa said, dispirited. “All I know is that she’ll be here at some point. She might already be here, but I would hardly know it.”

The Yanmega hovered in the air again, watching the Nidoking silently. “If you raised her, I am confident she will be fine. Is there anything else I can say that would comfort you?”

“Not likely,” Pasa said. “I appreciate it though, Chocolate. I know keeping you here is probably interrupting your work.”

“Hmph.” Chocolate sighed. “Despite what everyone says, I do take breaks, and I do enjoy myself occasionally.”

The Nidoking stood up, stretching. “You don’t need to tell me,” he said. Pasa stared at the ground for a moment. “It’s really nice to see you again though.”

“I feel the same. Maybe while we’re here we can do some work together, like old times.” The Yanmega seemed happy.

“Of course!” The Nidoking smiled. “Don’t worry about me or my problems, I’ll take care of them. Then we can reminisce about the past, or whatever old pokemon do.”

“I’ll hold you to that,” Chocolate replied. “If you need help, just ask.”

“Will do, partner.” With a wave, Pasa walked away. Chocolate turned and flew back into the HCU headquarters.

Nearby, another pokemon stalked away, silently running through the conversation it had overheard in it’s head.

[][][][][][][][]

The eavesdropper ducked into an alley, checking over their shoulder briefly. Halfway down the alley, behind a pile of boxes, a Pupitar sat waiting.

“You’re back?” The Pupitar narrowed her eyes at the Watchog.

“Sorry, Postcard. I uh, got too scared to go in.” The Watchog smiled nervously. “I did see some pokemon talking outside though, so I can tell you about that!”

“Come on, Qiyoha,” Postcard said, irritated, “Be serious about this. We’re not just messing around, we’re helping out Una.”

The Watchog shrank under Postcard’s withering gaze. “Urgh, sorry Postcard. I- I don’t want to make Una upset. But those pokemon seemed frightening.”

Postcard’s expression softened. “You’ll be fine, Qiyo. You could beat all of them in a fight if you tried.” The Pupitar rocked from side to side uncomfortably. “You can tell me about the conversation you heard if you want to.”

Qiyoha perked up. “Great! So there were these two talking, and one of them said they were looking for their daughter. But then the other one said that the daughter took someone hostage and they were really confused.”

“Uh huh.” Postcard didn’t seem to be listening.

Qiyoha continued. “Then they talked for a bit about finding her and the Nidoking said he’d go out on his own and-”

“Wait.” Postcard was suddenly alert. “Did you say a Nidoking?”

The Watchog nodded. “There was a Yanmega too! They looked old though.”

“That’s... not good,” Postcard murmured, “Qiyo, do you have Una’s number for those GSEL things we got earlier?”

“Yep! He gave it to me earlier. Here-” Qiyoha leaned over Postcard, holding a little rod. “Where’s yours anyway? I didn’t see where you got it.”

“That’s not important right now, just give me the number!” Postcard said, nearly yelling.

Qiyoha synced the number with Postcard and hurriedly backed away, taking a moment to glance back to make sure no one was watching.

“Did you happen to catch the Nidoking’s name?” Postcard said, looking at Qiyoha.

“Uhh-” the Watchog tapped his chin. “Pasta? No wait, Pasa!”

Postcard cursed loudly, then turned away from Qiyoha to make a call. The Pupitar tried to calm down as a soft ringing sound echoed through her head.

“Hello?” A voice came through.

“Una, it’s me and Qiyoha,” Postcard said. “There’s a problem.”

There was no reply for a moment. “Explain,” Una said simply.

“We were checking the HCU headquarters as you instructed when we saw a Nidoking.” Postcard hesitated. “We were able to confirm that it was Pasa.”

“The Acid Judge...mmmm.” Una spoke slowly. “I always thought that title was overdramatic, even if it’s not undeserved.”

“What do you want us to do?” The Pupitar asked. As she was talking, Qiyoha walked over and began tying her to his back.

“In the past, vengeance would be my order. But such a thing is unnecessary now,” Una said. “He is simply a formidable enemy. Is there anything else you know that could help us?”

“I’m not sure...but-” Postcard put the connection on hold. “Qiyo, which one of them was the one with the daughter?”

“It was the Nidoking,” Qiyoha answered, idly examining a storefront.

Postcard resumed the call. “Pasa has a daughter.”

“Interesting. Do you know the species and their name?”

“Did the Nidoking happen to mention his daughter’s name or species?” Postcard asked the Watchog.

Qiyoha made a face. “Her name was Mel. If I remember correctly, she’s a Lurantis? Not sure what that looks like.”

Postcard relayed the information.

“Good work you two,” Una said, a strange tone in his voice. “I can work with this. I’ll contact you soon with instructions.”

The call ended.

“I thought Una wanted us to raise money,” Qiyoha whined, “Why is he making us run around the city now?”

“Well we probably already have enough money,” Postcard replied, trying to placate the Watchog. “It’s not that bad, Qiyo. Una knows what he’s doing, so we’ll trust him like we always have.”

The Watchog seemed about to protest, but stopped short, nodding. “You’re right. Una always knows what to do.”

“He does,” Postcard said softly. “He does.”


+++++++++++++


Goucie stared at the collection of pictures laid out on the table in front of him. As his eyes flitted between the images, his scowl deepened, until he pushed the pictures away, sighing.

“Heya.” Vanet sauntered up, the Barbaracle slapping the Combusken on the back. “What’s got you worried today, Goucie?” She leaned over him to examine the pictures. “Ooh, efficient. That’s definitely professional work. Who’s the victim?”

“An Eiscue that went by Novegra,” Goucie replied, biting on one of his talons. “She was...a prominent KBA member.”

Vanet frowned. “Ugh, Katabatica? I thought those butchers were long gone.”

The Combusken walked away from the table, laying on the floor. “They were supposed to be. But this isn’t a good sign.”

The Barbaracle laid down next to Goucie on the floor. “What? Did they leave a message or something.”

“Novegra’s death in and of itself is the message,” Goucie said. “Nothing was stolen from the business, and as you saw yourself, it was a professional job.”

Vanet sat up. “What does that mean for us then?”

The Combusken shrugged. “More paperwork. The HCU took care of them last time, so I doubt we’ll do much more than logistical support. I’m just worried about what they’ll do.”

“Did they conclude that KBA was the one who bombed that train station recently?” Vanet asked.

“There wasn’t much to go on from what I’ve heard,” Goucie grumbled, “And I was there when it happened.”

“You were?”

“Well, I was on a train that left as soon as it happened,” Goucie admitted, “And that’s how I...” He stopped, thinking about how he met Arceus and Mallys for the first time and Mel for the second.

“How you met your new friends?” Vanet finished playfully. “I’ve been telling you to go see them, but you keep busying yourself with work.”

“I am busy!” Goucie protested weakly, readjusting himself so he lay on one side. “I wouldn’t imagine that they’d want to see me anyway.”

Vanet walked over and picked the Combusken up, setting him down on his feet. “You don’t know that.” She handed him a slip of paper. “And don’t say you can’t go because you don’t know where they are. I went ahead and asked Mongo, since he owed me a favor.”

“Ngh.” Goucie turned over the paper and read the address. “Fine, I’ll go. Don’t tell anyone I’m out, okay?”

Vanet nodded, grinning. “You got it.”

---

Walking down the street, Goucie idly stared at the ceiling of the city layer above.

I’m pretty sure I saw Vanet ducking into that store, he thought, smiling faintly. Stopping for a snack from a street vendor, the Combusken scanned the street signs, trying to remember where the Yellowtail was.

After some wandering, the looming facade of the hotel came into view. Entering the lobby, he made his way to the staircase. Standing at the bottom, he steeled himself.

They probably don’t remember me. That’s okay, these things happen.


--------------------

“Sooo, you’ll be excited to hear this- I got a job!” Mel exclaimed, smiling proudly.

“Already?!” Arceus bounded forward. “That’s great!”

Mallys nodded in approval. “Good start. How much does it pay though?”

“I’m going to work that out later. But I was able to sell that plate for a bit of money.” Mel grinned deviously.

“A bit?” Mallys looked at Mel suspiciously.

Mel dropped the tokens on the table. Arceus examined them curiously while Mallys leaned back in the chair he was sitting in.

“Er- thirteen?” Arceus said hesitantly.

Mallys made a face. “You’re right, that is a lot.”

“Each token is worth more,” Mel explained. “That’s thirteen million cohls.”

Arceus’ eyes widened. Mallys practically fell out of his chair, the Haxorus scrambling to look at the tokens.

Mel tried to keep a straight face, but burst out laughing. “I’m pretty good, right?” She winked triumphantly at the Haxorus. “How’d you do today.”

Mallys was silent, his face falling. “I’m- sorry about the joke, Mel. You’ve outdone me by a long shot.”

“Yeah? How long?” Mel asked, enjoying the Haxorus’ discomfort.

Mallys sighed. “Truthfully, I’ve never had a job in my life. Today did not go well.”

Mel was about to respond when Arceus interrupted. “You guys both did your best, and that’s good enough for me.” He shot a knowing glance at Mel. “Give him a break, Mel.”

The Lurantis’ exuberance deflated slightly. “Oh um, sorry, Mallys. I got a bit overexcited.”

Mallys smiled faintly. “I would have done the same.”

“I’d rather this not be a competition,” Arceus added, staring at Mel and Mallys disapprovingly. “I won’t have my friends fighting.”

“Sorry, Arceus,” Mel said. “We won’t.” Mallys nodded in agreement.

“I’m watching both of you,” Arceus said, satisfied.

There was a knock at the door. The three of them looked up, no one moving at first. After a few seconds, Mallys walked to the door and opened it. Standing awkwardly in the doorway was Goucie. The Combusken waved.

“Hi,” he said in a small voice. “I just wanted to check in-”

“Hey, Goucie!” Arceus said happily.

“It’s been a few days, hasn’t it,” Mallys said, waving Goucie in with a claw.

Mel waved from behind the two. “Nice to see you,” she called.

Goucie entered the room unsteadily. “It’s great that you guys are alright,” he said. “For a little bit I thought... I thought-” The Combusken turned away, sniffling. “Sorry that I put you all in that situation. It’s all my fault.”

Mallys lowered himself, leaning until he was about at eye level with the Combusken. “You tried to help us, and we got blindsided by circumstances out of our control. I don’t think it’s your fault at all.”

“Plus, it’s over now,” Mel added. “I think it would be better if we all put that behind us.”

“If you want to blame someone, blame Arceus,” Mallys said, pointing behind him. “He’s the one who ran off and ended up on a train in the first place.”

Arceus was about to retort, but stopped in place. “Yeah, it is my fault,” he said sheepishly.

“Ah.” Goucie smiled softly. “Now I feel silly.”

“That happens a lot to all of us,” Arceus said encouragingly, “It’s something you get used to.”

Mallys lifted up the Combusken, setting him down on the bed. “If you’re here, you might as well stay for a while.” He looked up. “We were just talking about Mel’s new job.”

“Really?” Goucie relaxed slightly. “What do you do, if it’s alright for me to ask.”

“Er- I guess I’m kind of an intern and a secretary,” Mel replied uncertainly.

Mallys’ gaze travelled between the tokens on the table and Mel. “Are you sure?” the Haxorus asked. “That seems like a lot of money for something like that.”

Goucie followed the Haxorus’ gaze. “Huh, that is a lot of money.” He thought back to the reports he had been given a few days ago. “Sorry to change the subject, but I heard you guys were brought here by Zekrom?”

“Yep,” Arceus said. “He found us and led us back here. He paid for the room too!”

The Combusken tapped his beak in thought. “So wait, that’s the help Trumme said he would get?”

“How is Trumme?” Arceus asked, wincing as he briefly thought about the Noctowl’s lost wing.

“Last I saw, he was doing well,” Goucie replied. “I didn’t think he’d know someone like Zekrom though.”

Mel shrugged. “I guess we got lucky.”

“Really lucky,” Goucie breathed, “So is this the first time all of you have been to the city?” Receiving nods, he cast a glance at the window. “I hope it’s not too bad. This city can be more trouble than it’s worth sometimes.”

“Hey, Goucie,” Arceus said. “Do you remember when-”

The four of them started reminiscing, laughing and talking over each other excitedly. In the room next door, Vanet stood quietly, her back to the wall. As the group talked, the Barbaracle sighed in relief, walking to the window.

“I told him it would be fine,” she said quietly to herself.
 
25

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Got a burst of inspiration.
Suddenly big action chapter. Very dramatic.

Chapter 25 - Elsewhere, your attention


*Ring, ring*

“Hi, it’s me. Don’t say anything, just do what I tell you.”

A brief pause.

“The Lurantis is staying at the Yellowtail hotel. I need you to go get her- preferably alive. Don’t worry about the Nidoking, someone else is handling it.”

“Okay, Una,” Postcard replied, “We’ll handle it.”

“Say hi to Qiyoha for me.”

The call disconnected.

Postcard shifted around in her position on Qiyoha’s back. “Qiyo, Una says hi. Also, we’re going to the Yellowtail hotel.”

“Oh, okay!” The Watchog stopped. “Where is that?”

“A little ways from here,” the Pupitar replied, “I remember it a bit from when we were last here.”

Qiyoha flexed his claws. “Time for work. Tell me where to go, Postcard!”

---

Nearby on a quiet street, a Simisage stretched his legs, bending from side to side. Whistling to himself, he leaned against a glass window, tapping against it rhythmically.

A few minutes later, the air was disturbed by the flapping of wings. A Tranquill glided through the street, landing on a hanging sign near the Simisage.

“Why did it have to be you?” the Simisage moaned, spotting the bird. “I can already feel my vibe dying.”

“I could say the same thing, Sachozume,” the Tranquill responded, scowling, “Of everyone in the Enforcement division, you are the worst by leaps and bounds.”

Sachozume scoffed. “In terms of what? Your aesthetics? I’m in charge of the division for a reason.”

The Tranquill shrugged. “Your results are enviable. It’s everything else that’s a problem. Your personality, your tastes in art, your style of fighting, all of it is unbearable.”

The Simisage shook his head. “Whatever. Let’s do what we have to do so I don’t have to see your ugly face.” He started to walk, but paused. “Let’s make sure we’re on the same page first. Viytoya, who is the target?”

“Pasa, a Nidoking. Former Director of the HCU and quite possibly one of the best.” Viytoya buried her beak in her wings. “I’m getting shivers thinking about it.”

“What, are you scared?” Sachozume stared at the Tranquill contemptuously.

“I’m-” The Tranquill tittered. “I’m excited.” She looked up at the Simisage, a deranged grin across her beak. “He’s my idol.”

Sachozume recoiled in disgust. “I forgot about your little obsession. This guy is the root of that?”

“You make it sound like a problem,” Viytoya replied haughtily, “My interests are more noble than imitation.”

“Sure, sure.” The Simisage shook his head, turning away. “Anyway, I’m not sure why the boss wants us to delay him instead of just killing him, but orders are orders.”

“If we could take care of him, we would have been asked to,” Viytoya replied.

Sachozume stiffened. “I don’t like what you’re suggesting,” he growled menacingly.

The Tranquill shrugged. “You’re free to try. He was a director for a reason.”

“Tch.” The Simisage leaned against the wall in frustration. “The boss is underestimating me again.”

Viytoya rolled her eyes. “I’d love to kill the target too. But I’m being realistic.”

“Realistic?” Sachozume looked at her in confusion. “I thought you loved him or whatever.”

“And? Taking him out myself would prove I’ve surpassed him.” Viytoya shivered. “There’s hardly a greater sign of devotion than that.”

“Ah, shouldn’t have asked.” The Simisage straightened up, rolling his shoulders. “Let’s get this over with.”

Viytoya beat her wings, hovering above where she had perched. “After you.”

=======================

“So you guys are looking for a psychic?” Goucie tapped his beak. “I know the city pretty well, so I can look around and see what I can find.”

“That would be appreciated,” Mallys said, relaxing. “Aside from getting Mel a job, we haven’t had much luck.”

The Combusken nodded. “I can imagine. Anyway, It’ll take me a day or so to get a list, so hold on until then. What’s the best way to contact you guys?”

“Do you have GSEL?” Arceus asked, flicking one ear.

Goucie hesitated. “Yes... I do.” He turned around and showed the group the device.

“That’s-” Mel trailed off, staring at the implant in shock.

“Huh,” Mallys murmured, the Haxorus sounding offput.

Arceus looked at the implant closely. “Did that- did it hurt?”

“Not really, but maybe I shouldn’t go around showing it to everyone,” Goucie said, frowning. “It’s convenient that you guys have it though.”

“Mel and I do,” Arceus replied, “Mallys doesn’t have it.” He turned to the Haxorus. “Are you going to get one?”

“At some point,” Mallys said noncommittally.

“You must know a lot if it’ll only take you a day,” Mel commented, changing the subject. She walked up to Goucie, focusing on the Combusken for a moment. “There, I got your number.”

“I’m just in a position to be able to get information,” Goucie said, shrugging.

Mallys eyed the Combusken suspiciously for a moment. “If this works out then- we’re almost done.”

“I guess so,” Arceus replied softly. “I feel a bit nervous.”

“What are you all going to do when you get Arceus’ memories back?” Goucie asked.

“We were just talking about this yesterday,” Mallys said, standing up and walking over to the window. “I don’t think we know-”

“I think I’m going to stay here for a while,” Mel said, interrupting Mallys. “I said I wanted to help out everyone back home, but if I can make this much money-” She glanced at the chips on the table. “-I want to go a step further and make sure they’re set for life.”

Mallys nodded, glancing at Goucie. “I’m going to stick around with Arceus. There’s not much else I’m interested in doing.”

“I can’t really say what I’ll want to do until I remember everything,” Arceus said thoughtfully, “So I’ll have to answer you later.”

“That makes sense,” Goucie said. “Well, I should head back now to get started. I’ll contact you guys soon.”

“Let’s meet up again sometime,” Arceus said. “You can tell us more about the city!”

Goucie paused. “I- I can do that.” He smiled faintly.

============

Lying on her side, the Pupitar watched as Qiyoha wrapped his arms as far as he could around a pillar. “Remember Qiyo,” Postcard said. “Lurantis have eye shields like Flygon, but they’re pink all over. Can you work with that?”

The Watchog knocked on the pillar experimentally. “Yep, I can do that. What are you going to do?”

“I’ll hang back so you can move easier,” Postcard replied, “Whether or not you capture the Lurantis, meet at our usual place, got it? I’ll remind you in case you’ve forgotten.”

“Mmhmm,” Qiyoha said. “So this is the Yellowtail?”

The two of them were outside the hotel, loitering in a small patch of grass bordering the front. Qiyoha scanned the upper windows briefly, as Postcard righted herself.

“Very gaudy isn’t it?” Postcard said. “As most things in the middle layer are. Try not to get distracted in there, okay?”

Qiyoha seemed to consider this. “Why bother?” he asked, shaking his head. “There’s an easy way to do this.” As he said this, the Watchog ran one paw along the pillar again.

Seeing this, Postcard groaned. “If that’s really how you want to do it. Una won’t like it if you get hurt, you know that.”

“I know,” Qiyoha replied, “See you in a bit, Postcard.”

The Watchog backed up, spreading his legs apart. Watching from a little ways away, Postcard sighed and braced herself. Qiyoha looked up and down the beam, then glanced over at the hotel. He raised one arm, closing one eye as he flexed his claws.

The Watchog took a deep breath. He pulled back.

“Here!”

Qiyoha punched the pillar. Instantly, a chunk was ripped off, flying forwards through the windows of the front lobby, the rest of the pillar partially crumbling. The building groaned, a few windows cracking from the force.

“There,” Qiyoha said with satisfaction as multiple alarms started to blare throughout the hotel. “Now we can wait here and she should come right out.”

“I swear Qiyo, if I find out you were caught on camera...” Postcard stopped herself. “Ugh, we’ll deal with that later. I hope whoever they sent to take on that Nidoking is doing okay.”

===============

As Mallys was standing in front of the window staring upwards, the glass cracked and shattered, startling the Haxorus.

Mel teetered unsteadily as the building momentarily shook. “What just happened?” she asked, backing against a wall to steady herself.

“I hope it’s not like what happened at the train station,” Arceus said fearfully, edging towards the door. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

“Wait,” Mallys said, striding over to Arceus. “We’re going to take this slow, and we stick together.” He looked back at Mel. “I’ll lead and you bring up the rear.”

“Hey-” Arceus said, slightly annoyed, “I won’t get lost this time. I know how to take care of myself.”

“I believe you, but we’re not going to take a chance if we don’t have to,” Mallys said.

Mel jumped in. “It’s not like we’re hovering over you,” she said, trying to placate Arceus. “Just until we figure out what’s happening.”

Arceus was silent for a moment. “Alright,” he said slowly. “But I’m looking out for you guys just as much as you are for me.”

“Fair enough,” Mallys muttered.

“Good to know,” Mel said, smiling.

With Mallys at the head, the three moved out into the hallway where a number of pokemon were milling around in confusion.

“Hey you guys,” a voice called. A little ways down the hall, Goucie was examining the wall, where a crack had formed. “I guess our meet up was a bit sooner than expected.”

“Do you know what’s going on?” Mallys asked, checking over his shoulder to make sure Arceus and Mel were following.

The Combusken shook his head. “Judging by what happened, the damage seems consistent with an earthquake, but that’s ridiculous.”

Mel appeared behind Mallys, next to Arceus. “Do you think it was some kind of explosive?” the Lurantis asked.

“Mmmm,” Goucie glanced at the crack thoughtfully. “If pokemon explode, they’re liable for property damage provided they don’t die in the act. By and large, there are safeguards in place for that kind of thing too.”

“And if it’s not caused by a pokemon?” Mallys glanced around at the other pokemon.

Goucie shook his head. “A boiler explosion would be a lot more violent. If it were an artificial bomb...” he trailed off. “Then it doesn’t make sense. If they wanted to destroy the building they would have placed it somewhere that the building would collapse in on itself.”

Arceus shuffled nervously. “Er, maybe we’re overthinking this. It could be an accident? A pokemon could cause an earthquake, right?”

“That is a possibility,” Goucie admitted. The Combusken looked uncomfortable. “It’s probably better to think about this when we get out of here.”

“We’re heading down to the lobby,” Mallys said. “Come with us. Since you know the city fairly well, maybe you can give us some ideas for where we can stay since it seems like we’ll have to move.”

Goucie nodded. “I’m not sure I know it that well, but I’ll tell you what I can.”

“Great,” the Haxorus turned around to look at Mel and Arceus. “No more talking, let’s go!”

==============

Turning down another street, Pasa cursed inwardly. Trying to locate the source of the blaring alarms, he instead had gotten lost in a winding series of back streets, seemingly no closer to the source than when he had started.

“It’s been too long,” he mumbled to himself as he walked. The street was deserted, the few stores along the way locked up. As the Nidoking came up to the end of the street he stopped.

Atop an abandoned cart in the middle of the street, a Tranquill sat idly, staring directly at Pasa. The Nidoking noted that the Tranquill’s gaze was particularly intense, and as he returned the look warily, he felt a pit in his stomach. Whirling around, he spotted a Simisage at the other end of the street, slowly walking towards him.

“Can I help you two?” he asked, trying to be diplomatic. In his head however, he was already anticipating how they would attack.

“Ohh,” the Tranquill said. “He’s even more handsome than I imagined.”

Pasa glanced around, wondering who she was talking about. The Simisage scowled and shook his head.

“Shut up, V,” he called from behind Pasa.

Viytoya bristled. “Lay off, Cho, I’ll say whatever I want.”

Great. Those sound like code names, Pasa thought to himself. “I don’t know what you want,” the Nidoking said evenly, addressing both of them. “But I really wouldn’t recommend doing anything rash.”

Sachozume rolled his eyes, a spark of energy appearing in his fists. Likewise, Viytoya took flight and started circling Pasa from above.

Pasa waited another moment, then sighed. “If you insist,” he said, readying himself as the two drew closer.

Argh. I guess whatever’s going on will have to wait.

===============

The lobby was in chaos as a crowd of pokemon jostled to leave the hotel. The front window was in pieces a large chunk of one of the pillars outside resting against the back wall. As Arceus made his way through the crowd, he focused on Mallys’ tail in front of him.

“You seem to know a lot,” Mel said, addressing Goucie, who was walking alongside her. “But you look like you’re younger than I am.”

“Er, really?” The Combusken seemed caught off guard. “I’m about 22. How old are all of you?”

“Ha,” Mel grinned, “I’m 27. That makes me your senior!” The Lurantis’ face grew thoughtful. “As for Mallys, I remember him saying something about not being 1000 years old. So somewhat less than that maybe?”

Goucie blanched. “I have a hard time wrapping my head around that much time.”

“Me too,” Mel nodded. “And Arceus... I don’t think he even knows.” Mel reached forward, tapping Arceus on the back with a scythe. “Hey, Arceus. I know you probably don’t know, but how old do you think you are?”

“Ah, uh,” Arceus considered the question, apologizing as he accidentally jostled some pokemon standing near him. “I guess I feel around the same as you guys.”

“Well, you do have a- a youthful disposition, if you want to call it that,” Goucie said. “But that’s not really a solid indicator of anything.”

“Why don’t we decide on an age in case someone asks,” Mel said. “My vote is for 30.”

“30?” Arceus pondered the number. “I’m fine with that.”

Mel nudged Goucie. “Go ask Mallys if he’s okay with that. He’d get angry at me if I left my spot.”

Goucie nodded and made his way over to the Haxorus. The crowd had stopped moving at this point, the air filled with discontented murmuring as a hotel employee near the door tried to reign in the mass.

“Mallys?” Goucie sidled up to the dragon. “We were talking and we decided that Arceus should have an age to refer to going forward. Is it okay if Arceus says he’s 30?”

Mallys looked at Goucie strangely. “I can see how that might be an issue. Tell him it’s fine, but I don’t think he’d need to ask my permission for that sort of thing.”

“Aha, right,” Goucie shrunk, feeling slightly embarrassed. “Actually, if you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?”

“582,” Mallys replied idly. “Honestly, I’m surprised I can still remember.”

“Hmm, that’s fairly old,” Goucie said, at a loss for words. “I’ll go tell them.” The Combusken made his way back to Mel and Arceus. “He says it’s fine.” Leaning in, Goucie continued, “Mallys says he’s 582. Do you think that sounds right?”

“Uh, I wouldn’t know,” Arceus admitted.

“Me neither,” Mel added.

Goucie shrugged. “I suppose you wouldn’t.” He glanced around the room, spotting a clock on the wall. “I should be going now, for real. I have to finish some work.” He smiled. “It’s nice that we got to talk some more though.”

“Yeah, see you later, Goucie,” Mel said, Arceus nodding in agreement behind her.

Waving to them, the Combusken disappeared into the crowd. Right as he did that, a commotion erupted at the front of the room as pokemon started to exit the building.

“Finally,” Mallys muttered, turning back to Mel and Arceus. “Oh, he left? Alright- anyway, you’d think they would evacuate everyone faster if the building was damaged.”

“Maybe it wasn’t that bad,” Arceus offered.

“Even if it was, it’s not a good idea to take a risk like that,” Mallys replied, “I wonder if something happened out front.”

When they finally exited, the group could see the damage to the outside of the building. Aside from the many broken windows, the hotel was relatively undamaged, save for one of the pillars. It looked like a huge chunk of it had simply vanished, the base partially bulging out from the ground. As the crowd moved away from the building, someone started shouting loudly.

“How could you have let something like this happen?”

A ways in front of them, a shaken Purugly was withering under the glare of a Pupitar.

“I come here for a vacation and this happens?! What am I supposed to do now?” the Pupitar asked angrily.

Ashen-faced, the Purugly struggled to respond. “I’m sorry Ms., we really don’t know what happened. We’ll be issuing full refunds.”

“Hmph, that’s the least you could do,” the Pupitar replied. At this point, most of the crowd was watching the exchange, a few loudly agreeing with the Pupitar.

Arceus watched the affair, caught up in the spectacle before he felt a small brush against his side.

“Oops, excuse me,” a small voice said. Arceus looked down to see a Watchog passing him.

“It’s fine,” Arceus said, looking back up as the Pupitar’s berating continued.

Huh?

Arceus was struck by the indescribable sensation that something was wrong. He stared at the Pupitar and the Purugly, thinking. Ahead of him, Mallys was watching the exchange, looking annoyed.

“You had better put us up at a nice hotel and not some shady place like the Zarigani,” the Pupitar said. At this point the Purugly was silent, looking completely defeated.

“I think you made your point,” someone from the crowd yelled.

Wait. Why was that other pokemon-

Arceus turned around. The Watchog was strolling back towards the hotel. As he passed Mel however, his arm shot out, claws wrapping around the Lurantis’ neck. Mel’s eyes widened and her mouth shot open, but she could only manage a strangled cry, muffled by the noise from the front of the crowd. Dragging her along with him, the Watchog pushed through the rest of the crowd. The other pokemon, distracted, only briefly glanced down at the Watchog, if at all.

“Ah!” Arceus panicked. “What’s happening?” He glanced back at Mallys, weighing his options. Sorry, Mallys, he thought as he started pushing his way through the crowd, following the Watchog.

===

Entering the empty lobby, Qiyoha made his way to the counter, dragging the Lurantis along. Mel squirmed, cutting the Watchog slightly as her scythes flailed. Qiyoha didn’t seem to notice the cuts however, and as he came up to the counter, he slammed Mel’s head against it, the Lurantis immediately going limp.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

Qiyoha whirled to find Arceus standing in the doorway. His eyes blazed with anger as he stared down the Watchog.

“Oops,” Qiyoha said, his eyes wide. “Eheh, sorry to bother. I’ll be out of here in a moment.”

Arceus stepped forward. “Why did you attack Mel?”

The Watchog looked back and forth between Mel and Arceus. “Ah, you know her...” he trailed off. “Shoot, I should probably get rid of you then.” Letting go of Mel, the Watchog sighed deeply before he suddenly took off, closing the distance in a second. Arceus barely had time to react as the Watchog lead with a kick aimed at his neck.

He wasn’t fast enough to dodge. The kick connected with a tremendous force, sending Arceus flying sideways. Colliding with the wall, Arceus frantically tried to move as Qiyoha rushed in for another attack. The Watchog launched a punch directly at Arceus’ head, Arceus barely dodging by letting himself fall forward.

The punch pulverized the wall, the hotel rumbling in protest as debris rained on the two. Momentarily distracted, Qiyoha swatted away some falling rocks, grunting in annoyance. Seeing an opportunity, Arceus lashed out with a kick, catching the Watchog square in the chest.

Qiyoha stumbled backwards, clutching his chest. “Owww, that hurt,” he complained. He looked at Arceus angrily.

Arceus glared back defiantly. Alright! Now’s my chance, he thought. Concentrating as the Watchog prepared to attack again, Arceus summoned a cabbage-sized judgement sphere. Strangely, the orb was a deep orange color instead of the usual black. Arceus didn’t bother thinking about it as he launched it directly at Qiyoha.

Qiyoha looked at the orb curiously, easily sidestepping it. “Huh, weird,” he muttered, turning back as Arceus launched another orb. “Ugh, I hate this kind of stuff,” Qiyoha said in annoyance. Backing away from Arceus, the Watchog scanned the floor. Reaching down, he picked up a piece of rubble, hefting it in one hand.

Ducking under another orb from Arceus, he took a moment to aim before throwing the large projectile at Arceus’ head.

Ack, I can’t-

Arceus’ thought was cut short as the missile slammed into his head, knocking him out with a crack. Before he fell unconscious however, he managed to launch one last judgement. Qiyoha saw and prepared to move. This time though, the orb took off twice as fast as the others. Though he jumped as fast as he could to the side, one of Qiyoha’s claws was engulfed in the orb.

“Erk,” he grunted, falling flat. His claw emerged, looking unscathed, from the orb as it travelled to the opposite wall before dissipating like the others. The Watchog examined his claw flopping uselessly. “Aw, it’s broken,” he said.

Hearing a sound, Qiyoha turned around. Mallys stood in the doorway, staring at the Watchog. The Haxorus was exuding a murderous aura, his face contorted with rage.

“Oh come on,” Qiyoha said plaintively, “She said she’d distract everyone.” He dodged to one side as the Haxorus lunged at him, claws blazing with green fire. “I don’t have any business with you- I’m leaving now!” Slinging Mel under his remaining good arm, Qiyoha jumped at the back wall, kicking open a sizable hole. Mallys took one more swing at the Watchog, his claws releasing a wave of energy. It went wide, flying harmlessly over Qiyoha’s head, the Watchog turning back to stick his tongue out at Mallys before disappearing.

The Haxorus stared at the hole in frustration before rushing over to Arceus.

“Before now, I wouldn’t have been too upset that it was her gone instead of you,” Mallys murmured, looking over Arceus’ injuries. “This time though...” he trailed off, unwilling to finish his sentence.

============

Clapping his hands together, the Simisage launched a volley of thin green bolts at Pasa. The Nidoking made no effort to dodge, the projectiles splashing harmlessly against his chest. He glanced down briefly before looking back at Sachozume.

Viytoya landed on an outcropping next to the Simisage. “Any ideas?” the Tranquill asked bluntly.

“Oh I don’t know, why don’t you help me instead of flying in circles?” Sachozume snapped, not taking his eyes off the Nidoking. “I only came here because I was the closest when the boss put out the call, but this matchup really isn’t in my favor. I can’t do anything about that armor.”

“And you expect me to do something?” Viytoya replied scowling, “I’ve been trying to help. But there’s no openings. Even when he’s looking at you, I can feel him keeping track of me.” The Tranquill shuddered. “He’s as fantastic as I expected.”

The Simisage groaned. “Our division has never really prepared for head on combat. I doubt we could handle this guy even if we ambushed him.”

Viytoya ruffled her wings. “We’re supposed to stall, nothing more. You were the one that was so confident you could beat him.”

“Yeah, I was wrong,” Sachozume begrudgingly admitted. “Hold it against me if you want.”

“Maybe I will,” Viytoya said, shaking her head.

“Are the two of you done talking?” Pasa called from across the street. “I don’t have the authority to arrest you two- and frankly I don’t want the hassle. Why don’t we stop now, I’m sure you two have better ways to spend your time than trying to shake down people.”

The Simisage grit his teeth. “He thinks we’re petty thieves? Rrrrgh.” Sachozume tensed up, his hands glowing with green energy.

Viytoya was about to say something when something caught the Tranquill’s attention. She stared at the ground. “Yes, I understand. We’ll do so immediately,” she said quietly. The Tranquill flew over to the Simisage, pecking him lightly. “The boss called. The other team is finished, we’re pulling out.”

Sachozume whirled on the Tranquill. “Not until I show this guy that I’m serious,” he snarled, turning back to face Pasa.

The Nidoking sighed. “Punks never know when to give up.” He readied himself again, raising his claws. The Simisage charged head on, a green ball forming in his left hand. Jumping in the air, Sachozume slammed the attack down on Pasa, who crossed his arms defensively.

After a few seconds, the energy exploded outwards, unable to break Pasa’s guard. The Simisage skidded backwards, glaring at the Nidoking.

“Huh, that one had some oomph behind it,” Pasa commented, inspecting his arm plates. “Are you trying to kill me or something?”

“Yes,” Sachozume growled, ignoring Viytoya gaping at him.

“Are you an idiot?” Viytoya said. “Let’s go!”

The Simisage slowly backed away, his eyes locked with Pasa. “This isn’t over,” he yelled, before taking off.

Viytoya hesitated, hovering in the air. “See you later, handsome,” she said, shooting an affectionate look at Pasa before flying away.

Alone in the street, Pasa felt more irked than anything. I’ll have to report this to HQ, he thought. Something’s bothering me about the timing of their attack though.

Feeling a sense of foreboding, Pasa hurried in the direction of the still blaring alarms.

=========

Postcard stared at the huge sign above her on which the word ‘Zarigani’ was carefully hand painted and embellished. The colors had faded from time and the paint was chipped at the edges.

“I made it sound worse than it really is,” the Pupitar muttered to herself. She looked around quickly before ducking around the side of the building.

“Can I ask a question, Postcard?” Qiyoha was sitting against the wall, nursing his broken hand. Nearby, Mel was tied up with her scythes behind her, still unconscious. “You said Una was going to send someone to take care of the Nidoking. Why did he want to do that?”

The Pupitar hopped closer to the Watchog, examining his hand. “A few different reasons.” Postcard looked at Qiyoha sternly. “He anticipated you’d make a big mess, as well as that the Nidoking would probably show up there.”

“Ah, he knew I would...” Qiyoha trailed off sheepishly, “How would Una know the second part though?”

“That guy, Pasa, is retired from the HCU. I’d guess that Una thought he’d get there faster and act quicker because he isn’t tied to procedure,” Postcard replied thoughtfully, “I let him know what happened on the way here, but I wasn’t expecting you to get hurt like that. What happened?”

“Uh, right.” Qiyoha held up his broken paw, wincing. “One of her friends noticed me and attacked. It wasn’t a big deal, but I got caught off guard at the last second.”

“Did you get rid of them?” Postcard asked, sounding nervous.

Qiyoha shook his head. “I got one pretty good, but then another pokemon came. I decided to escape because I probably would have attracted more attention otherwise.”

“Mmrgh, that was the right call, Qiyo,” Postcard said. “But we’re definitely going to have some problems. I’ll let Una know later.”

“Ohh,” Qiyoha said despairingly, “I have to tell him I’m sorry.”

Postcard leaned against the Watchog. “Don’t worry, Qiyo. Once we drop this one off, we’ll go visit him, okay? He’s not that busy, we can probably all go out for dinner.”

Qiyoha nodded slowly, a faint smile appearing on his face. “I’d like that.”

The Pupitar straightened. “Alright, I’ll stay here while you take her. Will you be fine with your hand?”

Walking over, Qiyoha slung Mel over his shoulder. “I’m fine! Plus, I remember where the base is too, so you don’t need to tell me.”

“You got it. Be careful out there, Qiyo.” Postcard would have smiled back if she could. “Good job today!”

================

Standing in the center of the destroyed lobby, Pasa surveyed the broken walls with a frown.

“You know, before I retired, I swear there was a push for citywide surveillance,” the Nidoking grumbled.

“Crime rates have been on the decline for a few years now,” replied Chocolate, the Yanmega hovering next to him. “You know how it is, we obviously don’t need such a big budget if there’s no crime.”

Pasa chucked humorlessly. “It’s rare to hear you upset.”

“Bureaucratic incompetence is one of the few things that gets to me,” the Yanmega said darkly. “There’s no point in getting riled up over it though, we’ll just work with what we have. By the way, what have you been doing? You look like you got in a fight.”

“It’s nothing,” Pasa said, brushing off the Yanmega’s concerns. “I’ll tell you later.”

“Report Sir!” A Weepinbell bounded up to the two, saluting with one of its leaves. “We have some witness testimony.”

“Do we know what happened?” Chocolate asked.

“Not exactly. After the guests were evacuated, there was a fight in the lobby.”

“A fight? Did any of the witnesses know more details?” The Yanmega buzzed in agitation.

“None Sir,” the Weepinbell replied, “Two pokemon were spotted heading back into the lobby beforehand. One of indeterminate species, and a Haxorus later.”

Pasa immediately tensed up, striding over to the Weepinbell. “Did they describe the former?” he asked.

The Weepinbell glanced at Chocolate, who nodded. “According to reports, a large white quadruped with a large orange ring around it’s midsection. It’s assumed they left through the hole in the back wall.”

“There was no one else?” Pasa asked, his mind racing.

“No other pokemon were-” Before the Weepinbell could finish, Pasa walked off in a huff.

“Thank you for the report,” Chocolate said, watching Pasa. “Keep me up to date.” He flew over to the Nidoking, who was examining the hole in the wall again.

“Look here,” Pasa said quietly as Chocolate approached, “There’s blood.”

The Yanmega nodded. “We noted as much earlier when we first swept the room. It looks like there’s a trail.”

“Did you send anyone to check it out?” Pasa asked, stepping part way through the hole.

“As of now, this is being treated as a domestic disturbance,” Chocolate replied, “I don’t have anyone to spare just yet.”

“I’ll go then.” Pasa strode through, ignoring the Yanmega’s protests. “I’m not an officer, but I’m sure no one would mind if I go.”

Before Chocolate could reply again, Pasa took off down the street. “I- I suppose not,” he said to no one in particular.

========

Vanet reached out, poking the Combusken lightly. “What did I say, hmm? Everything turned out great.”

Goucie looked at the Barbaracle with exasperation. “I knew you were following me, but were you eavesdropping too?”

“I want to make sure you’re okay,” she replied, “Aside from whatever happened at the end, I think it went well.”

“Yeah, I wonder what happened,” Goucie murmured. His thoughts were interrupted by a curt tone. “Hold on, Vanet, I have a call.”

Accepting the call, Goucie took a deep breath. “Hello?”

“Make your way back as soon as possible.” Parmon’s metallic tone had the slightest sense of urgency.

“Did something happen?” Goucie asked, glancing back the way he had come. It can’t be about the hotel, can it?

“Potentially. Make sure Vanet comes with you. We’re having a staff meeting,” Parmon said.

Before Goucie could reply, the call dropped.

“Who was it?” Vanet asked.

“Parmon,” Goucie replied, “We have to get back for a meeting.”

The Barbaracle grimaced at the mention of the Klingklang. “Ugh, what kind of meeting.”

Goucie sighed. “Everyone apparently.”

“Huh, he never does that.” Vanet shook her head. “Oh well, maybe things will get more exciting.”

“Not sure if I want that,” Goucie said, thinking of the paperwork he had neglected.

======================

Mallys stood silently in the middle of a corridor, staring out a window. Near him, pokemon hurried about, carrying various instruments.

“Sir?” Mallys turned to see a Jumpluff addressing him. “How did you say your friend was attacked again?”

“We were attacked in the street by some thugs,” Mallys said, his expression unchanging. “We... resisted.”

“If that’s the case, are you injured too?” the Jumpluff asked uncertainly. “Please don’t conceal any wounds if you have them. We’re here to help.”

“I’m fine,” Mallys grumbled, “How’s Arceus?”

“Ah, your friend? He’s stable, but his head wound is fairly serious. He’ll probably be out for several days at the least.”

“Mmm, I see.” Mallys felt a small amount of relief. As the Jumpluff excused herself to get back to her work, the Haxorus’ posture sagged.

What do I do now?

“You.”

Mallys turned to see Pasa standing next to him. The Nidoking stared at Mallys stiffly.

“Oh, you’re...” Mallys didn’t finish.

“Where’s Mel?” Pasa asked simply.

Mallys hesitated. Then he shook his head in frustration. “She was... taken by someone,” he said.

“More detail,” the Nidoking said. The atmosphere was tense, pokemon moving through the hall giving the two a wide berth.

“It was a Watchog,” Mallys continued, “I don’t know who or why. I came in late, it looks like Arceus and Mel tried to fight him.”

Pasa was undeterred. “Where is Arceus?”

Mallys gazed at the Nidoking for a moment before motioning for him to follow. Pushing their way through the halls, they came to a series of large windows.

Arceus lay asleep on a large table, connected to a series of machines. The Jumpluff was attending to him, monitoring his condition.

“He’s been pretty thoroughly beaten up before,” Mallys said, staring at Arceus’ prone form. “But whatever that Watchog did to him was different. He’ll be okay, but it’ll be awhile before he wakes up.”

Pasa didn’t speak for a moment. “The more I think about it, the worse it seems. You all- you were staying at the Yellowtail?”

“Yes,” Mallys replied, “What are you getting at?”

The Nidoking blanched, looking at the Haxorus. “This whole thing might be my fault.”

“Huh?” Mallys glared at the Nidoking. “Are you saying you’re the reason one of my friends is half dead and the other missing?”

“Not in the way you might be thinking,” Pasa said sharply, “I’ll explain as we go, but I need to ask something.” His expression grew fierce. “I’m going to get my daughter back by whatever means necessary. Will you help me?”

Mallys looked back at Arceus for a moment. “I was planning on doing it even before you came,” he replied.

“Good.” Pasa glanced around at the pokemon passing by. “Arceus is in good hands here. Let’s go.”

“Where?”

“To the HCU headquarters. First, we have to find out what we’re up against.”
 
Last edited:
26

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Crying and punching the wall as Siri reads out the definition of kudzu plot from tv tropes
Hehehe, I wouldn't have it any other way

Chapter 26 - Invitation


“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Arceus opened his eyes. He stood in the middle of a massive field of unripe corn, the juvenile plants reaching up to his belly. In the distance, a massive tower stretched into the empty blue sky. The structure was decrepit, huge sections missing, and as Arceus stared at it, more pieces broke off, creating huge clouds of dust when they hit the ground.

“Are you ignoring me?”

Arceus turned to see his doppleganger glaring at him. “Reecie?” he asked hesitantly.

“Yes, that’s me,” Reecie replied, the other Arceus narrowing her eyes at him. “I’ve been trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you keep ending up in the worst situations. It’s been less than a month since we last spoke. I’m this close to giving up, seriously!”

Arceus pondered her words for a moment before his eyes widened. “I can’t be here,” he said quickly, “Mel was attacked, and then I-”

“And then you died,” Reecie interjected, finishing Arceus’ sentence. Seeing his shocked expression, she laughed. “Just kidding! So, where did we leave off last time?”

“Eh?” Arceus fumbled for words. “Wait- are you just going to ask me more annoying questions again?” He turned away defiantly. “I’m not listening to you if you don’t give me a straight answer.”

Reecie looked at Arceus closely. “So you want to know the truth then?”

“Yes,” Arceus replied cautiously, preparing himself for disappointment.

“The truth-” Reecie leaned in, the two Arceus face to face. “-is that I’m fucking with you.”

Arceus felt a twinge of anger, but shrugged it off. “I understand,” he said.

Reecie seemed about to speak again, but paused. “Ngh, wait, wait, I can’t be acting like this.” She composed herself. “I’ve... never been good at talking to other pokemon. I usually left that to Yharmaka.”

“Who’s that?” Arceus asked, caught off guard by Reecie’s sudden change in demeanor.

Reecie shook her head. “Just someone I know, you don’t need to worry about it.”

Watching Reecie, Arceus decided to try again. “Do you know the truth?”

The other Arceus looked at him oddly. “You still want to know? Er- actually, I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say.”

“Can I ask a simpler question then?” He asked. Seeing Reecie nod, he continued, “What’s our... species? Like what are we?”

“That’s your question?” Reecie seemed amused.

“It’s something I’ve been wondering about,” Arceus retorted, “And since you’re the only one I’ve ever met that looks like me.”

“Maybe you just haven’t looked hard enough,” Reecie replied snidely. Her expression softened. “I mean, I suppose so, sorry.” She stared at the tilled soil under them. “We don’t have a ‘species’ name, and you won’t find any others like us, on the planet at least.”

Arceus listened carefully. “Then where?”

“Even I don’t know!” Reecie said, somewhat dramatically. “I hope that answers your question,” she added weakly.

“A little.” Truthfully, Arceus still was confused, but it didn’t look like Reecie was the most forthcoming pokemon. “It seems like every time I’ve met you it’s been somewhere different.”

“Think about it,” Reecie replied, “Each time we’ve met, it’s been because you’ve been unconscious. Uh, maybe the second time was a bit of an edge case. Regardless, you understand what I’m saying? It’s all in your head, so the scenery is random.”

Looking at the unripe corn swaying in the air, Arceus blinked. “Why?”

“Why what? Does it really matter?” Reecie abruptly turned away. “I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t know why it’s like this.”

Arceus ignored Reecie’s outburst. “That’s fine. Do you have any idea what that tower is?” He pointed with a hoof at the huge structure in the distance.

“Nope. You want to go find out? I’m getting kind of antsy standing here,” Reecie said.

Arceus shook his head. “I have to save my friend.” He hesitated. “But I’m still here because I’m unconscious right? I’ll go right back when I wake up.”

“The same as the other times,” Reecie answered. “You did get hit pretty hard on the head though. So it’ll take awhile. And I know you’re going to ask, so no, there’s no way to get better faster.”

“I hoped that wasn’t the case,” Arceus said worriedly. “My friend’s in trouble, and I’m stuck here asking stupid questions.” He stomped the ground in irritation. “If I’m in my own head, then there’s got to be a way out.” Arceus looked at Reecie. “And I’m going to find it. Whether you’re me, or just some kind of hallucination- I don’t care anymore.” He stalked off towards the tower, stopping after a few paces. “Ack! With everything that happened, I forgot to tell her that Pasa was looking for her,” Arceus cried out in frustration.

The other Arceus watched him. “Maybe I would have been better off not getting into this,” she said to herself.

===============

Pasa peeled the sticker off and slapped it on Mallys’ chest. “There. Your temporary visitor badge. I’ll work on getting you a better one soon.”

The two of them were back at the HCU headquarters, standing in a dark windowless room. It was crammed full of stacked chairs and old desks, and there was a musty smell. The Nidoking walked over to a pile, dragging a metal desk to the center of the room.

“Have you ever heard of KBA?” Pasa said idly as he brushed dust off the desk.

“Does that have something to do with what happened?” Mallys asked impatiently. The Haxorus was chewing on his tongue.

Fishing out a chair, Pasa sat down. “I’m fairly certain, but I don’t know for sure. That’s why we're here. I can’t ask anyone from the unit for help unless I have definitive proof. So for now, it’s just you and me.”

“I don’t mind,” Mallys said. “You were saying?”

“Right, KBA stands for Katabatica. The name comes from katabatic winds; don’t ask me where that comes from. I would guess they added the ‘a’ at the end to make it more memorable.” Pasa noticed Mallys fidgeting. “In short, they were an organization dedicated to societal reform by any means.”

“Were they really violent?” Mallys asked simply.

The Nidoking sighed. “Their ideas were agreeable, but not their methods, obviously. They were mainly active quite a few years ago, until the HCU wiped out most of their forces, as well as their leader.”

Mallys frowned. “So they came back?”

Pasa nodded gravely. “That’s the conclusion I reached. For one, it just seems too coincidental that I was attacked by some pokemon while on my way to where my daughter was captured. I didn’t know it at the time though, so they were able to figure that out somehow.”

“Why would they do that?” Mallys started looking through the piles for another desk as he listened.

“At the time, I was a Director in the HCU. Truthfully, I was largely responsible for the KBA’s defeat. If they came back, it would make sense to target me first. It’s just horrendously bad luck that I happened to be back in town.”

Mallys seemed to be in thought. He motioned for Pasa to continue.

“Our best bet is that they’re operating out of the lower city. We don’t have the resources for anything big, so it’s up to you to gather information that we can work with. I’m too recognizable to risk anything at the moment.”

“How do you recommend I do that?” Mallys asked. He had his own desk now, right next to Pasa.

Pasa scratched one of his ears. “Start small, find some work, and listen,” the Nidoking said. “You might have to look around, but gossip travels well.” He looked at the Haxorus. “Don’t worry about money, I’ll handle that.”

“I’ll be fine,” Mallys replied, flashing one of the million cohl tokens. “Besides, wouldn’t someone be able to trace the money back to you?”

“If I were an amateur,” Pasa shot back. “But you make a good point. I’m not going to ask where you got that, but in the interest of planning, how much do you have?”

“Six million,” the Haxorus answered, “Should be more than enough, right?”

The Nidoking stood up again, beginning to pace around the room. “Definitely. But you should exchange those for smaller denominations to be safe. We’ll also need a way to stay in touch.”

“GSEL or whatever,” Mallys muttered, “I was thinking about getting one anyway.”

At that moment the door opened, Chocolate flying in. The Yanmega looked at Mallys, then over at Pasa.

“I take it this has something to do with that blood trail you elected to follow?” Chocolate asked, gauging the Haxorus carefully.

Pasa nodded. “Don’t worry about it,” the Nidoking said. “My assistant and I are looking into something. I hope you don’t mind us using this closet.”

The Yanmega sighed. “It’s not a problem, but I would appreciate a straight answer.”

“I’ll give you one when I have one,” Pasa replied, “I know you’re busy, so you can leave me to my ‘hunch’.”

“Certainly. I know how those usually pan out.” Chocolate faced Mallys. “I am Chocolate, HCU commander, division five. You’re lucky you’re not in jail.”

“Mallys,” the Haxorus replied curtly.

The Yanmega nodded, turned back to Pasa. “If-” Chocolate hesitated, “If you get in trouble, let us know immediately.” The Yanmega looked away. “You’re not young enough to do everything yourself anymore.”

“Hence why I have an assistant,” Pasa retorted, patting Mallys on the back. “I’ll be fine, Chocolate. And you know, I could say the same thing about you. When are you going to take a break and let Nea handle things?”

“I never retired, unlike you.” There was a hint of irritation in Chocolate’s tone. “I’ll leave you to it. But be careful.” The Yanmega left, pulling the door with his tail.

Pasa was quiet, staring at the door. He was about to speak when the door opened again, a Slowking poking her head in.

“Hey, Pasa,” Nea said. “I heard you were...” She stopped, spotting Mallys. “Oh.”

“Er,” Mallys shifted uncomfortably under the Slowking’s piercing stare. “About what happened before. I’m sorry.”

Nea entered the room slowly. “Do you remember what I told you?” she asked Pasa.

“I do, and I agree. But dangerous is not bad,” Pasa said quietly, “

“Did you run into him when you left earlier?” the Slowking asked.

“Honestly, I was a bit shaken by what you said- but when I rushed out, I realized I had no idea where to start,” Pasa replied. “Something else came up though.”

Nea nodded. “The incident at the Yellowtail right? I would have gone myself, but I got caught up in something.”

“Anyway, that’s how I ran into this guy.” The Nidoking gestured at Mallys. “You said there were a few things you had to tell me earlier. Why don’t you tell me now?”

“Oh, uh.” Nea glanced at Mallys.

The Haxorus shrugged. “You can tell him everything.” Leaning back in his chair, Mallys took a deep breath. “I didn’t expect to see you again. How do you know Pasa anyway?”

“He’s basically my uncle,” Nea responded, “And I guess I would call myself Mei... Mel’s aunt. I didn’t recognize her when we met at the station.”

Mallys glanced awkwardly between the Slowking and the Nidoking. “Ah, I see.”

“Alright then,” Pasa said, sitting back down. “Let’s hear what happened. I could use a little distraction.”

===============

The room was dark, save for the glowing screen at the head of the conference table. A still image of the Yellowtail was projected on the screen, and in one corner of the shot, a Watchog and a Pupitar could be seen.

Parmon looked across the table. “Mongo, have these two been identified?”

The Bastiodon shifted, looking bored. “They don’t seem to be from the city, though we’ll have to wait for final ID verification. It would be harder if it were just the Watchog, but the Pupitar makes things easier to narrow down- since Pupitar don’t really move that much.”

“Is that true?” A Dhelmise asked, fixing Mongo with a hard stare. “It’s hard to tell when you’re making things up.”

“I only lie when I’m on break,” Mongo replied blankly, “That’s the truth.”

“We’re in a meeting,” Parmon interjected, the Klingklang turning to the Dhelmise. “Wreodyuna, if you have concerns about the conduct of your co-workers, wait until we are done to address them.”

“Right, Sir, my mistake,” the Dhelmise replied, looking away.

Parmon’s gears made a grinding noise. “Thank you. Mongo, continue.”

Mongo yawned. “The Pupitar hasn’t been spotted since then, but we did find the Watchog.” The image on the screen changed to Qiyoha running down a street, carrying Mel over his shoulder. “We were able to trace his movements from the hotel, so we can confirm it’s the same Watchog. However, we don’t know the Lurantis.”

“Any idea what their intent is?” an Arcanine asked, studying the image.

“We don’t have much information yet,” Parmon said, glancing at Mongo. “The brazen nature of this incident cannot be overlooked however. That said-'' The Klingklang paused in thought. “I believe the two of you were nearby at the time?” He stared at Vanet and Goucie near the end of the table. “Do you have anything to report?”

“Er,” Vanet stuttered. The Barbaracle looked awkwardly at Goucie. The Combusken was leaning forward, his face buried in his claws, silent. “Yes, we were in the area. I wanted him to meet a friend of mine. We left after the initial disturbance.”

The Arcanine scowled. “And you didn’t think to investigate?”

The Barbaracle shrugged. “Not our job. The building wasn’t collapsing or anything. It was like a Steelix sneezed too hard or something.”

Next to her, Goucie looked up. She’s lying?

Parmon stared at Vanet silently. “I see,” he said after a moment. “That is unfortunate, but understandable.” The Klingklang scanned the rest of the pokemon at the table. “Regardless of the circumstances of this incident, it reflects badly on our reputation. I’m ordering that this case be assigned top priority until further notice. Use any means necessary to settle this matter.” Parmon turned back to the still image on the screen. “Dismissed.”

As the assembled pokemon started dispersing, Vanet grabbed Goucie by the arm, pulling the Combusken to one corner of the room away from the others. Goucie let himself be dragged along, staring glumly at the floor.

“There, I bought you some time,” Vanet said, standing Goucie up. “So stop being down on yourself and get to it.”

“But, Vanet...” Goucie muttered, trailing off. “I could have-”

Vanet flicked Goucie’s beak with a claw, startling the Combusken. “There was no way you could have known anything that was going to happen.” The Barbaracle’s expression turned serious. “They’re your friends, so the only thing you can do now is help them.”

Faltering under Vanet’s intensity, Goucie looked away. “You’re right. Thanks, Vanet.”

“Save that for later, every second counts,” Vanet said. “It’s only a matter of time before Mongo’s guys start investigating, and then it’ll be harder to get anything done. Not to mention that guy.” The Barbaracle glanced to the other side of the room, where Parmon and the Arcanine from the meeting were talking.

Goucie started to turn to look, but Vanet shook her head, holding up one claw.

“Is it that Arcanine?” Goucie asked, lowering his voice. “I don’t know who he is.”

“You’ve been gone, so you wouldn’t,” Vanet replied, “That’s Cehdomu. He’s been here for only a few years, but he’s definitely got ambitions. He’s been trying to undermine me for awhile now.”

The Combusken tensed up. “You mean he’s after your job?”

“I don’t care much for my position in complete honesty, but that’s not what’s important.” Vanet poked Goucie in the chest with a claw. “Since Parmon is so busy, he’s left me in charge of you in the meantime. In the past he was fairly lenient about it, but since you came back I can tell that he’s impatient.”

“Impatient?” Goucie was confused for a moment, but then his expression darkened. “He wants me to take over now?”

Vanet shrugged. “I don’t think it was his choice. It was a request from... your father.”

“Grr,” Goucie scowled, “It just had to be something like that. As long as I don’t have to hear or talk to him, I can manage though.”

“About that,” the Barbaracle said awkwardly, “Cehdomu was and still is a part of your father’s retinue. Part of why he took this job was so they could keep a tighter leash on us.”

“So that’s it,” Goucie said in frustration. “Install me as the head of the CTB, then have one of his aides as one of my highest ranking officers.” The Combusken sighed deeply.

Nearby, Parmon and Cehdomu seemed to have finished their conversation, the two exiting the room. Vanet cast a sidelong glance at the Klingklang, her expression unreadable. “You could always run away again,” she said softly.

“I wasn’t expecting to have a good time in the first place when I came back here,” Goucie said, smiling sadly, “When I first met Arceus and the others a few days ago, I felt... well, I don’t know how to describe it.”

The Barbaracle was silent.

“I was planning on sneaking out at some point, but I guess I ended up not doing that,” Goucie continued, “Then things went wrong, and they got hurt.”

“And you blamed yourself?” Vanet asked.

Goucie nodded. “I think part of the reason I came back was because I felt that I was punishing myself. Maybe I was being unreasonable.”

“That’s all the more reason to leave then, isn’t it?” Vanet crossed both sets of arms.

“Not when you’ve already lied to Parmon for my sake,” Goucie said. “I don’t like this place, but if I’m going to lead the bureau, I can change that. But first- let’s go see Mongo.”

“If that’s what you want, Goucie, then I’m behind you one hundred percent,” Vanet replied.

The two of them left the room, walking down a corridor lined with strip lights. Save for them, it was empty and silent.

“You look better,” Vanet commented, noting Goucie’s confident stride.

“I feel better,” Goucie said, looking back at Vanet. “But once I help everyone out, I’ll feel great.”

“Mm, I bet. Anyway, don’t let Mongo in on our plan. You’ll probably be on your own from here, it’s too obvious if we’re seen together.” Vanet’s posture sagged. “I wish I could go with you, definitely seems more fun than being here.”

The Combusken laughed. “Sorry,” he said. “I’ll keep you informed.”

“I’ll look forward to it,” Vanet said. The Barbaracle waved and departed, leaving Goucie alone.

The Combusken waited a moment before resuming his brisk pace, coming to a little office in the crook of an L-bend in the hall. Leaning in the widened doorway, he knocked on the wall.

“You can come in,” Mongo said, the Bastiodon appearing from around a corner. “I’m expecting everyone to start piling in here in a bit asking for favors.” He sighed. “I keep telling them to go to the main office instead of coming to me. Just because I’m the head of the department doesn’t mean I know every piece of information coming through.” He paused, a pained expression crossing his face. “Well, I wouldn’t say it’s far fetched that I do know everything, but still.”

“You can say no?” Goucie offered, trying to think of a good way to bring up what he needed.

“I mean, they came all the way to see me, so it can’t be helped,” the Bastiodon replied, “Ahah, oh well.”

“You need to be more forward then,” Goucie said in irritation.

Mongo nodded unconvincingly. “I’ll try, Goucie. Anyway, what do you need from me? That’s the only reason you would be here, right?”

“Err, yeah.” The Combusken was a bit put off by the Bastiodon’s words. “Can I see the surveillance from the incident as well as the surrounding areas?”

“Sure.” The Bastiodon ambled over to a console, messing with it. “Ah, so much,” Mongo muttered, staring at the screen.

Goucie struggled to look around the Bastiodon’s massive head. “Is it hard managing the footage?” he asked.

“It’s tough, but I’m fine with it,” Mongo replied cheerfully, “Aside from myself, Kohubiko is the only one I trust to handle the system.”

Goucie nodded, then jolted in shock registering his words. “The- the whole thing?”

“Yep,” Mongo said blithely, seemingly ignorant of Goucie’s disbelief. “We just rolled out a new batch covering most of the north side of midtown. About 3000 or so- really high quality images.”

“There’s no way you can keep track of all that,” Goucie protested, still reeling. “Even if you made a priority list, there’s only two of you for several thousand cameras.”

Mongo’s expression remained unchanged. “Crime has been on a downward trend for the past few years. The HCU takes care of most of it anyway. We use it mostly to gather population statistics and track a few undesirable elements here and there.”

The Combusken sighed. “You know, you could outsource it to the HCU too.”

“I’d trust those muscleheads even less,” Mongo retorted, “Plus, how do you think they would react to learning that we’ve been running a surveillance net for years without them knowing.”

“I can imagine,” Goucie said, groaning.

The Bastiodon turned back to the monitor. “You know what I always find funny? Despite the fact that HCU stands for heinous crimes unit, they’re more or less the de-facto police here.”

“The name is really just for the divisions stationed outside the city,” Goucie said thoughtfully, “Policing at the community level has kind of just become... a community affair. I mean, I haven’t been around for a few years, but I assume it’s about the same?”

“More or less,” Mongo said, leaning in to examine the screen. “Here you go, this should be good.” He turned and walked back to a desk. “If you find anything interesting, don’t tell me. Whenever I’m not working, I spend my time watching the cameras. You wouldn’t believe how fun it is to pick a random view and sit there for hours.”

“Uh, I can see the appeal,” Goucie said, slightly unsettled.

Mongo laughed. “I know how bad that looks. I promise I’m not stalking anyone, I just like to watch life.” The Bastiodon frowned. “It sounds silly when I put it like that.”

Goucie nodded. “As long as you’re not doing anything weird, I don’t mind. I’ve never liked the whole thing in the first place, but that’s not really for me to worry about.”

Turning his attention to the screen, Goucie looked over several screens. In the center was the Yellowtail, paused a few hours before the whole thing. The other screens around it showed various streets thronged with crowds. The Combusken watched carefully as he slowly turned a dial that advanced time in the video, stopping as he spotted Mallys emerging from the hotel. As the scene played out as he had seen in the conference earlier, Goucie wondered about what happened inside the hotel as Mallys stalked off down the street, carrying Arceus across his shoulder.

“See anything good?” Mongo asked from across the room.

Goucie hesitated. “Nope, nothing,” he said. He stared at the screen in thought. I can guess where Mallys took Arceus. But I have no idea where Mel was taken.

“Oh well, at least you took the initiative,” the Bastiodon replied, “What are you going to do now?”

“I’m gonna head out for awhile,” Goucie said. “Thanks again, Mongo.”

The Bastiodon smiled. “Strangely, this is what I get paid to do. If I can keep doing this until I die, then that’s thanks enough for me.”

==================
==================
As Arceus walked along, Reecie trailed behind him, the other Arceus chattering. “I was never good at taking responsibility for things,” she said. “You know, someone once told me my entire life was a ‘miscalculation’.” She laughed. “I love teasing him- are you listening to me?”

“No,” Arceus replied, not turning back.

“Hehe, you are listening!” Reecie puffed her chest out triumphantly. “Anyway, he would go on and on about that sort of thing, so much so that I started screwing up on purpose to get him angry. I might have taken it a bit far...” She trailed off. “Ah, whatever. That’s the past.”

“What is the past?” Arceus asked quietly, turning on Reecie. “Your past? My past? Our past?” He glared angrily. “Is this a roundabout way of answering my questions or is there something you’re not telling me.”

Reecie gave him an odd look. “Are you getting at something here?”

The two of them stared at each other silently. “What’s in it for you?” Arceus said eventually. “If I remember who I am- or if I don’t. That’s something you’re interested in, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.”

“That’s assuming a lot,” Reecie muttered idly.

“Is it?” Arceus asked, his gaze sharpening. “You’re the one who appeared to me in the first place, encouraging me. You constantly egg me on about things, and you were upset about me just earlier.”

Reecie stopped in thought. After a moment however, she shook her head. Stepping towards Arceus, she pressed her head against his suddenly, locking eyes with him. “Yeah, okay? I’m interested or whatever. I’m not some kind of manipulative mastermind, you’re just confusing me.” The other Arceus’ expression darkened. “There’s something in it for me no matter what you do, but you’ll just have to guess what it is.”

“Then what’s the point of bothering me when you won’t tell me anything?” Arceus protested.

“I guess I’m a bit sentimental,” Reecie replied. “If you don’t like me appearing-” she paused, considering something. “Then just invite me to where you are so that I’m not here anymore?”

“Invite you?”

“Yeah, like if you were hosting a party,” Reecie said, sounding excited. “It would be more fun that way.”

Arceus backed away. “You’re crazy,” he said simply.

Reecie looked at Arceus strangely. “And how does that change anything? Are you going to invite me or not?”

“I’m done talking to you,” Arceus said. “Leave me alone.”

“I will when you invite me,” Reecie taunted, sidling up to him. Both their rings clattered as they knocked against each other.

Shoving her away, Arceus stared at Reecie aghast. “Why are you insisting on this?”

“Do you really think I have an answer? Just do it.” The other Arceus seemed to be mocking him.

Arceus looked away, annoyed. “Fine, I invite you or whatever.”

“Yaay!” Reecie hopped up and down happily. “See you around then, Arceus. Ha, that sounds weird to say.”

Then, Arceus opened his eyes.

He was in a brightly lit room, lying on his side. A few machines sat nearby with darkened screens, and distant chatter could be heard. In front of him was Goucie, the Combusken clearly surprised.

“Ah, uh, hi, Arceus,” he said awkwardly, “I came to check on you.”

A Jumpluff appeared behind the Combusken, looking over Arceus appraisingly. “Ah, you’re awake. We were worried since we’ve never treated a pokemon like you before, but you heal like a Machamp. That said, take it easy, you should stay here for a few more days.” He floated off, leaving the two alone.

“Goucie?” Arceus said quietly. He looked around. “Something bad happened.”

The Combusken nodded. “I know. Mel was taken.”

“I tried to stop that guy, but I...” Arceus looked away miserably.

“Let’s not focus on that now,” Goucie replied, trying to placate Arceus. “We’ll get her back. Anyway, it looks like Mallys left this for you.” He held up a folded note. “I haven’t looked at it yet, may I?”

Arceus nodded silently.

The Combusken opened the note, scanning its contents. “Mallys has gone with someone from the HCU named Pasa. They’re going to look for Mel,” Goucie said. “Oh! He left some of the money from then.” Goucie placed six tokens on a table next to Arceus.

“Pasa... he’s Mel’s father,” Arceus murmured. He shifted, trying to get up. “We have to go help them.” He paused. “How long have I been here?”

“You’ve been here for just over a week,” Goucie said. “I’ve been coming here every day to check.”

Arceus jolted in shock. “That long? Urgh, we need to go meet with Mallys.”

Goucie was about to respond when the double doors to the room flew open. “Ah! I didn’t expect to find you here Goucie.” The Combusken’s eyes grew wide and he whirled around to see a grinning Arcanine standing in the entrance, flanked by a Granbull and a Crawdaunt. “This shows a lot of initiative on your part. Your father will be proud.”

“Cehdomu,” Goucie said, keeping his expression neutral. Arceus looked between the two in confusion. “This is Arceus. I just finished interviewing him about what had happened. Along with his friend, they intervened as concerned citizens. Apart from that, they know nothing about the assailant or his target.” As he spoke, Goucie could feel Arceus’ gaze on him. Take the hint, Arceus, he thought.

The Arcanine sighed. “Is that so?” He looked at Arceus. “It’s unfortunate you had to be involved in such a sordid affair. Rest assured, we will find the one who did this.” He turned to his companions, discussing something for a moment before turning back to the pair. “I think we’ve heard enough. Do you have a moment, Goucie? I’d like to go over a few things with you.”

“Uh, sure,” Goucie said uncertainly. He followed Cehdomu outside the room as Arceus watched.

They know each other? Arceus thought to himself. He shifted his weight, slowly getting to his feet as he waited for Goucie.

Outside the room, the hallway of the hospital was empty. It was the middle of the day, light shining brightly through the windows. A few slightly wilted plants lined the corridor.

Goucie stared at the back of the Arcanine’s head as he walked. “What did you want to talk about Ceh- argh-” he was cut off as the Crawdaunt wrapped it’s claws around him and pulled him into a tight grip. The Combusken struggled uselessly as Cehdomu gazed at him with an easy smile.

“You just finished?” Cehdomu asked. “You just finished interviewing him just as we happened to come in?” The Arcanine’s expression changed to annoyance. “Though, now that I think about it, you were just cluing him in not to talk to us, huh? Oh well, I don’t mind a bit of competition.”

Goucie scowled at him. “Get off my back, and while you’re at it, tell my father that he can stop butting into the CTB’s business.”

“Hahaha, he told me you would be like this,” Cehdomu said, smiling. He gestured to the Crawdaunt, who released Goucie. The Combusken backed away from the group, glaring at them. “Don’t worry, you got here first, so this lead is yours. I suppose we have to get serious too then.”

“Whatever, I’m not here to play games with you,” Goucie growled, storming off before Cehdomu could reply.

“Hmm.” The Arcanine tilted his head. “What do you guys think?”

“Based on how he acted, he probably knows something significant that we don’t,” the Granbull said dryly.

“I agree,” Cehdomu replied, “We can assume Vanet was probably lying at the meeting last week too.”

The Crawdaunt clicked it’s claws together. “Your orders?”

The Arcanine stared down the hallway. “Keep a close watch on the one Goucie was talking to. If you see the two of them together, inform me immediately.”

“Together?” The Crawdaunt glanced at Cehdomu in confusion.

“I asked around when we got here,” Cehdomu replied. “Apparantly, Goucie has been coming here every day since the last week.” He frowned. “Now don’t you find that strange?”

“Perhaps he was just concerned with getting information as soon as possible,” the Granbull offered.

“Unlikely,” Cehdomu murmured. “He would have had the hospital contact him instead.” He turned and began to walk away. “One last thing. Conduct your investigations separately from the information department. As an internal affair, they’re probably more partial to Goucie than us.” The Arcanine chucked. “I’m sure Muontoyo will be happy to hear that his son is doing well.”

==========

Outside the hospital, the streets were full of pokemon going about their business. Off to the side, Arceus and Goucie stood together.

“So that was Cehdomu?” Arceus asked, scanning the crowd nervously. “What kind of place do you work at anyway?”

“It’s hard to explain,” Goucie said. “But he’s definitely not good news. And the fact that he caught us here makes it a lot harder.”

Arceus moved his legs back and forth, still a bit unsteady. “How so?”

Goucie frowned, rubbing his beak. “He’s probably already guessing that we’re up to something, so he’ll be watching us.”

Arceus bent down slightly, panicked. “Should we split up? What if they see us here?”

The Combusken shook his head. “I thought about it, and I concluded that it’s not something we should worry about. He would have figured it out sooner or later.” Goucie’s eyes hardened. “At this point though, they don’t know what we’re trying to do, and that’s the important part.”

“But why is this a problem? It’s not like Cehdomu is trying to stop us from rescuing Mel,” Arceus said.

“It’s not as simple as that,” Goucie said, his claws trembling slightly. “The pokemon I work with... they’re opportunists to the core. If they figured out Mel’s relation to Pasa or us, they could use that.”

“They would do that?” Arceus’ eyes flashed with anger. “Why are you working with pokemon like that, Goucie?”

“It’s not entirely my choice,” the Combusken replied bitterly, “But I can promise you that not everyone there is like that.”

“Still,” Arceus started, “This makes everything a lot more complicated.”

Goucie rested a claw against Arceus’ side, staring at him with a determined look. “I’ll take care of them if they get in our way. We should focus on getting Mel back first.”

Seeing the Combusken’s confidence, some of the tension Arceus had dissipated. “Thanks, Goucie. Let’s go see Mallys and Pasa. We’ll figure it out from there.”

=============

The lowest layer of Carigara was the original city. Built into a hill, the upwards expansion was an ambitious, but ill-planned, resulting in the ground under the city sinking over time from the extreme weight. Eventually, it reached the point where the land had sunken to the point that the surrounding area created a wall, enclosing part of the lower city such that it appeared underground.

Because of the shifting terrain, the lower city was in disarray, constant construction going on to fix buildings damaged in the minor earthquakes that occasionally rocked the area. As a result, the outskirts of the city were little more than large piles of rubble repurposed into houses, huge makeshift forts composed of a patchwork of junk.

On a claustrophobic twisting road, there was an abandoned flowershop. Amazingly, the glass storefront was intact, a sign depicting a bouquet hanging upside-down above the entrance.

“I don’t know how anyone can live like this,” Bolero muttered, the Hippowdon looking around in despair. “How can it get to this point?”

“That might be something we can’t understand,” the Claydol next to him said solemnly. “We came from a place very different to this one after all.”

Bolero shook his head. “Still, it’s not like logic is backward and morality doesn’t exist,” he protested, kicking some scrap on the floor. “This is not right.”

“With all that we’ve seen, this is the one thing that was wrong?” Yharmaka asked, his tone unchanging. “We both know why it’s like this.”

Bolero scowled, but remained silent.

Yharmaka floated over to the window, focusing on something unseen. “How would you change it if you had the chance?”

“I- I don’t know,” the Hippowdon admitted. “I was already uneasy with the... the city above us. But this?”

“It’s pretty exciting, huh!”

In the doorway, a pokemon poked its head in. It looked exactly like Arceus, but it’s eyes and its ring were bright pink.

Bolero and Yharmaka stared in shock. “Reecie?!” the Hippowdon exclaimed, his mouth hanging open. “Why are you-”

“I had a hunch,” Reecie replied, stepping into the room. “And it paid off.”

“How did you find us?” Yharmaka asked.

Reecie playfully bumped her head against Yharmaka, the Claydol wobbling slightly. “I can tell where my friends are easily.” Her expression flickered. “Speaking of which, I noticed Raeda isn’t here.”

“He’s...” Bolero trailed off. “He decided to go off on his own.”

“I see,” Reecie said, looking down. “Anyway, we’ll get him later, for now- let’s pick up where we left off last time.”

Yharmaka’s eyes flashed. “It’s been a long time since then. Will you be alright?”

“I’m fine.” As she said this, the air around Reecie shifted and the Arceus vanished. In her place was a Toxicroak. “I’ll go like this for a while,” she said, stretching her arms.

“It definitely helps if at least one of us has arms,” Bolero said snidely. “Honestly, I was pretty down. But now that you’re here, I feel like we can do anything.”

“Good. I’m counting on you two,” Reecie said. “Give me some time to plan. I want to think of a good way to start.”

Bolero and Yharmaka nodded.

“I’ve been saving my anger for a long time,” the Toxicroak said softly.

She grinned. “It’s finally time to let it all out.”

Behind her, Bolero groaned. “You’re just as dramatic as I remember.”

“Shut up!”
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. charizard
  3. milotic
  4. custom/zoroark-soda
  5. sceptile
Hello Raggy, here for one more Blacklight prize! For this, I read the first few chapters, ending off with Arceus setting off for a town and Darkrai getting beat up.

I have to say, your distinct dialogue style and the way characters behave, especially with my knowledge of Seyka from Blacklight, really shines through here. It's sort of a dry frank quirkiness that seems to permeate the main character in particular, in the way they speak of themselves and others. It sort of reminds me of older literature where the way a lot of characters spoke was somewhere between quick and cutting, but still frank and a little different-minded.

One thing that stood out to me, that still has me perplexed (in a good way) is how Darkrai is portrayed here. He's clearly a Legend in our eyes, but he isn't revered at all, and is just seen as some random priest. Species diversity is quite high, so perhaps nobody thinks anything of someone they've never seen another like him before (or do they...?) but what gets me is that nobody recognizes Arceus, either.

This means one of two things--either the Legends in general are a forgotten presence, or they're simply more mundane. Either answer is an interesting flavor and I'm curious on where it'll go! But I can't shake the feeling that Arceus' amnesia is related to this, somehow. Perhaps the gods were forgotten, and have to be reborn in some way to regain their power and start a new era, like a long cycle of life tied to belief? That's my current, potshot theory with very little information to go with.

I think that's the main sticking point with the first few chapters, and I think it's a good way to subtly introduce intrigue. The most unique part of this story is the two very different scopes meeting up. There's the quirky, slice-of-life plot that's centralized around the main pair, with checking for immeasurable disappointment to be the reason for amnesia (which is definitely not true, at least not in the way they're going about it) combined with the fact tat it's literally a god that's got amnesia. How the two scopes will interact in the future is what I want to see going forward, even if it's a slow burn.

That aside, though, thanks for the read, and good work on the interesting start!
 

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Thanks for reading! I've never considered the dialogue sounding like older literature, you'll have to tell me some examples sometime.

Yes, everything is weird huh. I suppose there's an answer to that somewhere. If you come back for more later, I'm happy to hear what you think!
 
27

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Total anarchy, containers of soy sauce piling up in the fridge, simulated gunfire in ambisonic.
This chapter brought to you by water. Big fan by the way. Of water.

Chapter 27 - What would be Given


Pasa stared at the wall, wishing he could carve a window in the walls to have something interesting to look at. For the most part, the storage room had been cleared out over the past few days, and he now shared the room with a nervous-looking Ledian.

I haven’t heard anything from Mallys yet, he thought, frowning, For now, that’s fine. The fact that we haven’t received any ransom demands yet probably means Mel’s kidnapping wasn’t planned. The Nidoking slumped forward, putting his head in his hands. Well, that and the near destruction of the hotel. Talk about subtlety.

“Um, are you alright?” the Ledian asked, glancing at Pasa with a worried expression from across the room.

Pasa waved her off. “I’m fine. Just a bit stressed is all.”

The Ledian smiled. “Ahah, I know the feeling. Erm- I’m Achagyola, from the Fourth division.”

“Fourth, huh?” Pasa muttered. “I don’t know much about them. Did you get sent here for any particular reason?”

Achagyola shook her head. “No. With all the division heads and part of their staff coming, we’re just running out of room for everyone.”

The Nidoking balked. “Wow, really? From what I remember of the triannual meetings, we never had this problem.”

“Because of the overall reduction in more serious crimes, we’ve been able to leave things to local authorities,” the Ledian replied, “The Unit Directors have been really insistent that as many pokemon as possible come.”

Pasa nodded. “Mmmm.” Something about her statement was bugging him, but he decided to ignore it. “Good to know. By the way, I’m Pasa. Retired now for a few years, but I wanted to come back and see what’s changed.”

“Nice to meet you, Pasa,” Achagyola said.

The Nidoking stood up, sighing. “I’m heading out for a bit. See you around.” He smiled as the Ledian nodded in response.

====

The HCU headquarters were buzzing with activity, pokemon all over the place. As Pasa walked, he spotted Nea and Chocolate poring over a ledger. He made his way over, waving to the Slowking as she noticed him.

“Hi, Pasa,” Nea said. She looked frazzled.

“You look tired,” Pasa noted wryly, “Is Chocolate making you work overtime?”

The Slowking laughed. “I’d knock him out myself if he tried. The only reason he’d ask me to do overtime was if he were about to die and couldn’t do it himself.”

Pasa glanced at the Yanmega, who was still engrossed in the ledger. “I don’t disagree.”

“What about you?” Nea frowned. “Are you still working with that ‘assistant’ of yours? Even after everything I told you?”

“I have my reasons to trust Mallys,” Pasa said quietly, “Besides, you’re the one that decided not to go after him in the first place.”

“Ugh, sure, but that doesn’t mean I like him.” Nea’s expression brightened. “If he’s here though, does that mean Mel is here too? I have to talk to her sometime.”

Pasa’s expression darkened, but he looked away before Nea could notice. “I’ll ask him about that next time I see him.”

“While you’re here Pasa, could I bother you to go get lunch for us?” Chocolate said, not looking up. “If I let Nea go, I know she’ll get distracted.”

Pasa nodded, smiling at the Slowking as she crossed her arms, shaking her head. “Sure,” the Nidoking replied. “Anything specific?”

“I want a sandwich,” Nea said.

Chocolate looked at Nea. “I’ll share with her. I don’t eat that much anyway.”

“Look at this, he doesn’t even ask me,” Nea said, playfully poking the Yanmega. “I can’t believe I’ve worked for this slavedriver for this long.”

Pasa smiled faintly. “You’re certainly determined for doing it this long. I’ll go now.”

The Yanmega buzzed. “Nothing too expensive. It’s already bad enough that we have to ask a senior citizen to do our errands.”

The Nidoking smirked. “If you insist.”

“H-hey, Pasa?”

Pasa turned to see Achagyola. The Ledian seemed relieved to see him. “Hello, Achagyola. Do you need something from me.”

The Ledian nodded. “Well, you see...” She trailed off, spotting Chocolate and Nea. “Oh, oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you were in the middle of something.”

Nea shook her head, holding her hands up. “Don’t worry, we’re finished.” She turned to Pasa. “Take care of business on your end, our lunch can wait.”

Nodding, the Nidoking looked back to the Ledian. “So, what’s up?”

“Some pokemon came looking for you,” Achagyola explained hurriedly, tripping over her words. “Um, they said to say it was about Mallys?”

Pasa perked up. “Ah! Thanks for telling me. I’ll head out now.” He took off, almost bowling the Ledian over. Chocolate and Nea turned to watch, surprised by how fast the Nidoking had run off.

“Huh, something’s got him in a good mood,” Nea said.

“I’m- glad I found him,” Achagyola said, rubbing one set of arms together. “That Combusken was scary.”

Nea took a deep breath. “Not our problem.” She smiled at the Ledian. “Deputy Commander Nea, 3rd division. Nice to meet you.”

“Ah,” the Ledian stumbled, her wings buzzing. “I’m Achagyola. Fourth division lieutenant.”

Chocolate glanced at her. “Fourth? I’ve heard a lot about them.” The Yanmega looked interested. “We’ve never met before, but I hear Commander Hyaeya is a prodigy.”

“Oh yes!” Achagyola nodded excitedly. “He’s the best!”

========

“Mallys is in the lower city now, gathering information.” Pasa slumped back in his chair, scowling. “I’m stuck here so the kidnappers don’t suspect anything.”

“Are you positive you’re being watched?” Goucie asked. He cast a quick glance at Arceus fidgeting impatiently. “We might be able to handle that for you.”

“They’ll probably connect the dots,” Pasa replied, shaking his head. “At this point, I think they’re content to keep me in check here. As long as they have Mel, I can’t move.”

The Combusken nodded. “Just to check, the ones who took her- do you think it’s the KBA?”

“I do,” Pasa said, closing his eyes. “I have to ask though, how do you know? Actually, how did they let you guys in here in the first place?”

Goucie seemed to consider the question. “Because of this,” he said, holding up a hexagonal badge.

Pasa’s eyes widened. “You’re with the Bureau?”

“Yes,” Goucie said, his expression pained. “I know our organizations aren’t on the best of terms.”

The Nidoking waved him off. “If Arceus approves of you, then it means Mel did too. That’s good enough for me.” Pasa sighed. “But this means that they’re involved in this.”

“I’m acting on my own,” the Combusken said. “But there are others right behind me that will probably start coming down on the HCU.”

“Luckily, I’m not bound to their orders,” Pasa said. “That won’t help much though if they lock things down.”

“Then the solution is simple,” Arceus interjected, accidently banging his ring against the desk. “We just need to find Mel before anyone else.”

“Easier said than done, but I agree completely,” Pasa said, smiling faintly. “How are you two going to investigate?”

Goucie leaned against the wall. “I have a few leads we can start with. Mel hasn’t picked up any of the times I’ve tried to contact her through GSEL, but I don’t know enough about it to make a guess why.”

The Nidoking nodded. “She has one? That’s good, I’m planning on getting one myself to keep in contact with Mallys.”

“Oh! If he gets one, we should all be able to talk to each other,” Arceus said. “Then it will be easy to collaborate.”

“For now though, we can probably assume they’re either blocking transmission somehow, or Mel is incapacitated,” Pasa said. The Nidoking stared at the desk, unwilling to consider the other possibilities.

“I guess that makes you our liaison for Mallys and mission control,” Goucie said.

Pasa tapped his claws together. “I’m fine with that. Right now, you two should stay out of trouble until we have a concrete lead to go on. We don’t know our enemies strength, and one wrong move could ruin everything.”

Arceus and Goucie steeled themselves, promising to contact Pasa if anything happened. After they had left, Pasa idly scratched his chestplate.

“Alright, I feel a little better now,” he said to himself. “Now let’s find a sandwich.”

===============

“It’s grocery day!”

The booming call rattled the windows of the apartment, startling Lozow awake from his spot on a ratty couch. The Anorith blinked slowly, then looked up. “What do you mean by that, Seyka?”

The Skarmory appeared with a manic smile, stepping over the trash littering the floor. “Moping around here all day is boring!”

“You just came back,” Lozow said, groaning good-naturedly. “I was sleeping, and everyone else is out. I don’t think anyone was moping.”

“Did you dream of anything?” Seyka asked, craning his neck down to look closely at the Anorith.

Lozow shook his head. “If I did, I don’t remember.”

The Skarmory grinned triumphantly. “Then you could have been moping in your sleep. Since you don’t remember, you can’t disprove that.”

“Fair point,” Lozow replied. “Are you saying then that you could tell I was moping?”

“Maybe!” Seyka made a face. “I gave everyone pieces of my feathers so I can make sure everyone is alright. I meant to tell you earlier, but I forgot.”

The Anorith glanced at the Skarmory’s wings. “It’s a good thing I trust you then. Where did you manage to put one one me?”

Seyka poked Lozow’s back. “I slipped one in between your armor. The smaller the piece is, the harder it is for me to see through it, but I can manage.”

“I’ve never had the chance to ask, but can you see all the pieces you have out?” Lozow cast a glance around the room wondering if there were more pieces lying around.

“Not all at once,” Seyka replied, “There’s a secret to it.” He leaned closer and whispered. “I give every piece a little extra something that connects me to it. Otherwise, it’s junk! That being said, that ‘something’ is a functionally infinite resource.”

Lozow was quiet for a moment. “You know, with that you could easily get a nice job. I know it’s silly, but you could just- leave and go off on your own.”

Seyka stared at the Anorith. “I suppose so,” he said blankly.

=======

“Sorry if that question earlier was weird,” Lozow said from his perch atop Seyka’s head. For some reason the Anorith was tense.

“Mmm,” Seyka mumbled, not paying attention. The Skarmory’s eyes trailed over the piles of fruit lining the tables. “I wish we had markets like this back home.”

Lozow stared into the distance. “What’s keeping you from moving yourself closer to them?”

The Skarmory tilted his head. “Huh? I don’t get it.”

The Anorith rubbed his claws together, looking down at Seyka with his one eye. “Leave the forest, leave your brother, and live here. Or somewhere else you know, anywhere but there.”

“I don’t see why I would do that,” Seyka replied, his tone neutral.

“You’re always brushing me off!” Lozow jumped off the Skarmory, startling Seyka. He landed on the ground, facing away. “I’ve known you for years, but there’s not a single time I can think of when you have been truly happy.”

“Have you seen me sad?” Seyka asked.

“Eh?” The Anorith froze in confusion. “I- Of course I’ve seen you sad.”

“Then you must be lying about not seeing me happy,” the Skarmory concluded, shrugging. “I’m happy right now.” He reached down and gently plucked the Anorith off the ground, placing him on his back as he began to walk down the street. “Though I can respect that our definitions may differ.”

“Tch.” Lozow pressed his head against Seyka’s back in frustration. “Your brother is cruel, manipulative, and violent against you. And you’re telling me you don’t hate him for that?”

“I hate my brother,” Seyka said simply. “But- you’re right, I don’t hate him.”

“Wha-?” The Anorith was at a complete loss for words. Grasping for something, anything, he blurted out the first thing that came to his head. “But doesn’t his actions mean that he hates you?”

Seyka stopped in place. “Can you prove your accusation?”

“I...” Lozow grimaced.

The two were silent, Lozow gazing intently at his claws while Seyka stared at nothing, his expression unreadable.

“It would be nice if we had markets like this back home,” the Anorith said, defeated.

Instantly, Seyka’s face lit up. “I know, right?!”

As the Skarmory began prattling on about fruit, Lozow felt a sickening tide of despair wash over him. What am I supposed to say?, he thought. I can’t get through to him. Without thinking, the Anorith reached out, wrapping his claws around Seyka’s neck. As he pulled himself in, clinging to the Skarmory tightly, Seyka didn’t seem to notice.

====

The street widened into a huge thoroughfare at some point. A large channel of water ran through the center, lined with iron fences. Overhead, a huge pipe of thick glass hung in the air, filled with water. At points, little branching pipes ran off following side streets.

One of the buildings lining the road was a cafe, well known to locals. Half of the facade on the front was covered in tree roots, branches extending out over the road to create a canopy.

Pasa sat by himself at a table, idly stirring a bowl of soup with one claw. On the ground next to him was a small bag. As he watched the crowds, he felt a twinge of irritation.

Mel is who knows where and I’m sitting here doing nothing. The Nidoking leaned back, sighing. I wish I could go right now and get her myself. But there’s too much I don’t know, so I have to... I have to...

Pasa opened and closed his claws, scowling fiercely.

I’m the reason she ended up in this situation anyway. Maybe it would have been better if we just-

“Seyka, if we don’t bring something back for Ziya, she’ll be upset.”

“Wellll, what would she want? A bowl of rice?”

Pasa glanced over, spotting Seyka and Lozow standing near the water. Recognizing the Skarmory and the Anorith, his curiosity was piqued, his worries sliding to the back of his head for a moment.

They know each other? he thought to himself. Wait. What’s Seyka doing here? I thought that he was incarcerated?

The Anorith paused. “Why might Ziya want that?” he asked.

“You never know!” Seyka replied, stretching his wings. “If you’ve never given that to her, you can’t say it’s a certainty that she won’t like it. If it’s from you though, she’ll always accept it, so that means it’s a one hundred percent chance she’ll like it.”

Lozow groaned. “If only by proxy, then yes. But your reasoning is inconsiderate, if technically correct.”

The Skarmory shrugged. “I won’t argue otherwise. But you never answered whether or not she would actually like it.”

“Because I don’t know,” the Anorith snapped, immediately regretting it. “Sorry- I didn’t mean to say it like that,” he added.

“Then it’s a mystery right? That just makes it more fun!” Seyka looked away. “We’ll save that for later. I’ll ask again, what do you suggest we get her?”

“I was thinking a little hat,” Lozow replied. “What do you think?”

“Oh- that’s uh, a really good idea,” Seyka said, blinking. “Better than mine at any rate.”

Pasa walked up to the two cautiously. “Would you like some help with that?” he asked.

Seyka turned. “Oh, hi, Pasa.” He waved idly at the Nidoking.

“Ah,” Lozow stuttered, spotting Pasa. He said nothing else.

“I didn’t know you two knew each other,” Pasa replied, scratching his back. “And uh,” He looked at Seyka strangely. “I thought you were in prison?”

Seyka nodded. “I was, but they let me out for good behavior,” he said, ignoring a pointed look from Lozow. “I met up with Lozow after, cause he happened to be in town! How do you know him though, Pasa?”

Pasa was about to answer, but stopped, feeling that something was off. “We happened to meet recently,” he said finally. “Funny coincidence, huh?”

“Wow! That’s great,” Seyka exclaimed, “You know, I should introduce you to everyone else sometime.”

Lozow stiffened. “We can... do that some other time, Seyka,” he said tersely, trying not to look at Pasa. “We were thinking of looking for a hat, remember? Also um, you said earlier that it was grocery day?”

“Times change, Lozow,” Seyka said solemnly. “To be fair, it was mostly an excuse to go outside.”

The Anorith narrowed his eye. “I don’t recall you needing a reason.”

“It makes me feel better having one,” the Skarmory replied simply.

“Ah... I should have known,” Lozow muttered.

Pasa laughed, relaxing slightly. “I’ll have to tell Mae and Darkrai that you’re fine when I see them.” The Nidoking exhaled. “I wonder what they’re doing now,” he muttered.

The Skarmory perked up hearing Pasa. “Actually, I met with them recently- about a week or so ago. They’re not doing anything.”

Pasa looked at Seyka oddly. “Good to know,” he said, faltering slightly. “Anyway... you two are looking for hats?”

“More or less,” Lozow answered, eyeing the bag Pasa had with him. “We appreciate you offering, but I don’t want to bother you if-” he gestured at the bag, “-you have something you need to do.”

“This?” Pasa looked at his bag. “This is a sandwich. It’ll be fine, I’m just delivering it. No rush!”

Lozow stared at the Nidoking for a moment. “Oh, okay. Well... lead the way then. We’ll be right behind you.”

“Unless you’d like us to go in front,” Seyka added, “I heard that that’s a good way to get to know someone you’re about to kill!”

“In that case, I’ll lead,” Pasa said, rolling his eyes. “And I’ll just have to hope that you’re not going to do that.”

“It’s a promise,” Seyka said happily.


==============


A small rivulet of water trickled down from the open drainage pipe. Through the thin hole, a beam of light streamed down, illuminating stagnant foul water below. Piles of debris floated on top, collecting in the corners as misshapen lumps of garbage.

A half-eaten piece of damp bread appeared at the cusp of the pipe, carried by the water. As it teetered on the edge, one of the piles shifted, the water churning as it was disturbed. Mel shot out as the bread fell, the Lurantis grabbing the soggy bread in her mouth as it fell.

Ding

A chime sounded in the back of her head. Mel flinched, looking around for the source while backing up against the wall. After a moment, she realized it was the sound of her GSEL. She looked down at her armlet, nearly unrecognizable from the dirt and grime it was covered in.

“Wha..? How?” she muttered to herself. Hesitantly, she answered the call. “Hello?”

“Well hey there. About time you answered my calls,” a jovial voice responded, “I was close to writing you off, but Shogo insisted I try one more time.”

“Ja-Jaruzaya?” Mel said, recognizing the Huntail’s voice. “You called? How did... how did you do that?”

“I uh, looked you up on my GSEL and called. You are my second favorite intern, remember?” The Huntail sounded confused. “Have you been in a coma or something?”

“I was-” Mel cut off, trying to get her thoughts in order. “We were leaving the hotel, and then- urgh.”

There was an audible sigh. “Yeah, that’s not gonna cut it. Spare me the frivolous details and keep it short. All I need to know is what happened to you and where you are.”

“I don’t know where I am,” Mel said, irritated, “All I remember is that this pokemon attacked me and now I’m in a drainage ditch.”

“Hey, now that was helpful,” Jaruzaya said. “Carigara doesn’t have those for the most part, so you’re somewhere else.”

“It doesn’t?” Mel asked. She stared at the opposite wall where she had gouged several long marks to keep track of how long she had been there. “Why not?”

“Obviously for one, it’s a multi-layered city,” the Huntail explained, “If the ditch you’re in is what I think it is, then you’d only see those in the lower city.”

Mel frowned. “Then why am I not in the lower city?”

“Because you can see. There’s two whole cities on top of the lowest one, so there’s a few places that are pretty dark. It doesn’t have simul-bulbs like the middle city either.”

“Err, right.” Mel had no idea if the Huntail was telling the truth, but she didn’t have much of a choice either way. “I see what you mean.”

“How do you suppose you ended up there?” Jaruzaya asked, “Do you think you’re a hostage? Or is this more of a gruesome execution?”

Mel grimaced. “I’d like to think I’m a hostage,” she said softly, looking at the walls of the ditch. Along the far wall was a half-submerged door, marked up with countless scratches. “I don’t know why anyone would kidnap me though.”

“Hmm, did you happen to tell anyone you had that tablet you sold me?” Jaruzaya said. “I know a lot of pokemon who would kill for that.”

“No one aside from my friends,” Mel replied.

“Maybe they sold you out,” the Huntail offered.

“Not in the slightest,” Mel retorted angrily, “If you suggest something like that again, I’ll beat you up when I get out of here.”

“”Duly noted,” Jaruzaya said blithely, “Any other ideas then?”

Mel hesitated. “No,” she said. The Lurantis sat in the dark water, the flaps on her head drooping slightly. “I’m tired- and hungry. I wish I could just go find a nice couch to sleep on.”

“Hey...” Jaruzaya wasn’t sure how to respond.

“So, how were you able to call me?” Mel asked quietly, “I’ve been trying to call anyone for days, but it’s never worked.”

“Well, now that you ask, I did just get an upgrade to my GSEL,” Jaruzaya noted thoughtfully, “It’s pretty neat actually. There’s a lot of nuance in the system architecture that-”

Mel scowled. “Hey,” she said, interrupting the Huntail. “Spare me the frivolous details and just tell me what it does,” the Lurantis finished, echoing Jaruzaya’s words.

The Huntail didn’t reply at first. “Ha, good one,” he said, sounding satisfied, “Anyway, it’s basically a signal booster. The current model is pretty good, but it can’t really reach that far. Now, you can call across the ocean! Or at least, I can.”

“That means I was out of signal range of everyone,” Mel replied, nodding. “Right?”

“We can assume as much,” Jaruzaya said. “Which makes it more likely that you’re a hostage. No reason to drag you out somewhere far away if they just wanted to get rid of you- assuming they don’t know about your GSEL. Since it is relatively new technology, it’s easy to forget about as far as risk factors go.”

“Uh-huh,” Mel agreed. She didn’t really understand everything he was going on about, but it made some sense. “Jaruzaya, I need you to do something for me.”

“Hellooooooo?” A loud voice called from above Mel. “They sent me to check on you. Are you still alive down there?”

Mel glanced upwards, spotting the edge of a beak hovering over the hole. She said a quick goodbye to Jaruzaya, hanging up before he could reply.

“Huh... I wonder if she’s dead?” the voice continued. “Does it really matter either way?” A feather appeared, followed by a face, revealing a Tranquill staring down at Mel. “Oh good, you’re fine.”

“Who are you?” Mel asked gruffly, defiantly meeting the Tranquill’s stare.

“Nobody you need to worry about,” Viytoya replied, rolling her eyes. “Anyway, it’s a good thing you’re alright. I was supposed to check in on you every day or so, but I forgot. Hahaha.” She laughed.

“I suppose we both got lucky,” Mel muttered. “Are you going to tell me why you’re keeping me down here?” she asked, not expecting anything.

Viytoya shrugged. “I appreciate your candor in believing you’re entitled to an answer, but I don’t know myself. Count yourself unlucky and leave it at that.”

Mel sighed, backing away from the hole.

“Frustrating? I can understand,” the Tranquill said from above. “Just stay put, okay? If you’re lucky, we’ll come back in a week and kill you.” With that, Viytoya left.

For a moment, Mel was silent. Fuming to herself, she called Jaruzaya back.

The Huntail picked up immediately. “Are you alright?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” Mel said, turning to look at the sealed door on the far wall. “Give me a week, and I’ll be out of here.”

“I would say to not make promises you can’t keep, but...” the Huntail trailed off. “I look forward to hearing from you.”

“About what I was saying earlier, I need you to tell my friends that I’m alright,” Mel said, stretching her scythes. “Look for someone named Arceus.” Mel paused. “Um, imagine Shogo, but bigger, with this huge yellow-gold ring around his midsection. Wait, sorry, the ring is brownish-orange.”

“I’ll see what I can do, but I’m very busy,” Jaruzaya said, only partly apologetic. “Would it be acceptable if I send Shogo out to post some fliers?”

The Lurantis sputtered, dumbfounded by his response.

The Huntail sighed. “I know it’s difficult being a hostage and all, but I have a livelihood I have to maintain. Besides, you’re already getting a deal! I don’t even give the time of day to most pokemon.”

“Don’t you think you can just be nice for once?” Mel protested, “Please?”

“Looking for one or two pokemon in a city of millions is asking a lot,” Jaruzaya said, his tone softening, “Putting out fliers really is the best option, but since you’re so insistent, I’ll see what else I can do.” He paused. “Augh, you really got me this time.”

“What?” Mel was confused.

The Huntail laughed. “One of the rules of success is to never be a sucker,” he said. “And here I am agreeing to help someone I barely know. It’s not like I can tell you’re actually being held hostage.”

Mel frowned. “If I was, don’t you think I would have asked for money or something?”

“Sure,” Jaruzaya replied, “But I’ve dealt with some pokemon who can play the long game for years at a time. You’re very earnest though- you have a trustworthy tone in my opinion. Which leads me to my second point. If I’m going to search for your friend, then I need information to corroborate with them, which means-” There was a loud sigh. “-I’ll need to know your name.”

“Oh.” Mel was taken aback.

“Yes, yes, you can laugh at me. I was going on and on lording myself over you and now I’m the one asking,” Jaruzaya said. “Well, I guess everyone plays the fool sometimes.”

“Mmm,” Mel smiled slightly, “Since you asked so nicely, my name is Mel.”

“Good to hear, Mel,” Jaruzaya replied, “Now, tell me more about your friend so we can get this right.”


================


“How’s this?”

“No.”

“What about this?”

“No.”

“Oh, oh, this one, this one!”

“Definitely not.”

Seyka turned to Pasa. “Don’t you think this one looks good?” he pleaded.

The Nidoking stared at the wide-brimmed hat on the Skarmory’s head. “Sorry, but I’ve never really understood why anyone would put something on their head like that.”

“Aside from fashion, there’s legitimate utility,” Lozow said from nearby. “I’ve noticed Ziya has been a bit uncomfortable lately...” He hesitated before continuing. “She’s a Froslass, and the artificial lighting or whatever it is has been a bit much.”

“That makes sense,” Pasa replied thoughtfully. “It’s meant to simulate sunlight after all. Huh, I’ve never thought about that before.”

“What about this one?” Seyka interjected, wearing a bizarrely squarish hat.

“No,” Lozow said immediately before turning to look at Seyka. “Actually, wait.” He looked it over. “I... I like that one. Sorry, Seyka. I’m an idiot.”

The Skarmory shook his head. “Don’t worry about it! I know you just really care about Ziya. Besides, this is fun.”

Pasa stared at Seyka. “Do you think you’d need a hat for anything, Seyka?”

“Hmmm.” Seyka was thoughtful. “Maybe I’d need one so other pokemon wouldn’t be blinded by the sunlight reflecting off my head?”

“That’s- I never considered that,” Lozow said. The Anorith glanced at the rows of hats on display. “Wouldn’t you need to cover your entire body then?”

The Skarmory looked himself over, fanning his wings. “I suppose so, but my head gets the most sun, right? If light can’t reflect off there, then it won’t reach the rest of my body because it’ll get frustrated and give up.”

Pasa smiled. “Hah, I bet.”

“Oh, I meant to ask! What have you been doing, Pasa?” Seyka asked somewhat excitedly. “I haven’t seen you since the train almost half a month ago.”

The Nidoking shook his head. “Nothing much,” he said, his gaze not quite meeting Seyka’s. “Things have been a bit stressful lately, but I think it’ll be fine.”

“That’s good,” Seyka replied, “Can I ask for a favor then?”

“I’m guessing you want me to pay,” Pasa said, slightly amused. “Sure thing.”

“Wha- Seyka!?” Lozow turned to the Skarmory, aghast.

The Skarmory stuck his tongue out at the Anorith. “He said he’d do it. You should save our money for later.”

“Even if he said, you should have asked me too,” Lozow protested, shaking his head. “It’s just... it doesn’t feel right to impose.”

“Don’t worry about it, it’s my treat,” Pasa said in a gently encouraging tone. “If you two are hard up for money, I can help. It’s not a handout or anything, just acquaintances helping each other out.”

Lozow nodded slowly, giving up .”Fine, if you insist. But we’re in your debt now.” He turned to Seyka, still wearing the hat. “You don’t have to go now, but if you don’t mind, would you take that home with you and give it to Ziya when you see her? I have something I want to talk to Pasa about so I’ll be home later.”

“Oh?” Seyka glanced at Pasa. “I can’t listen?”

“Yeah, it’s private,” Lozow replied dryly, “Go eavesdrop on someone else and tell me about it later, okay?”

The Skarmory smiled. “Alright. Thanks for coming out today by the way. I had fun.”

“I did too,” Lozow said. “Next time, let’s go with Ziya- and Fyco.”

As Seyka left, Pasa made his way over to the counter, paying for the hat. Lozow followed behind him, lagging slightly so he wouldn’t be in danger of being accidentally crushed.

“I don’t want this to be awkward,” Pasa said, not looking at the Anorith. “But I’m wary of Seyka.”

Lozow froze. Racking his head for a reply, he silently waited for the Nidoking to continue.

Pasa scratched one of his ears. “Not like, in a bad way,” he clarified, “I just think he doesn’t seem to understand the effects of what he says and does on other pokemon.”

“Is this about what you said earlier?” Lozow asked, deciding to play dumb. “I only met up with Seyka recently, but he was in prison?”

“I don’t know how long you two have known each other- and I’m sorry if this offends you, but I don’t really believe he was let out,” Pasa said, sounding apologetic.

Well, obviously, Lozow thought, Seyka wasn’t really trying. Still, at least this means we aren’t suspects. The Anorith nodded. “I know he can seem insincere, but it could have really been something small like a littering charge.” Lozow cringed inwardly at the weak justification.

“I can see how that might have been the case, but I was there,” Pasa replied with a pained expression. “He crashed a train. No casualties thankfully, but it might have been worse if I didn’t happen to be there.”

“Oh,” Lozow said simply. He swore internally, I remember him saying he was on a train, but crashing it? Ugh, I never thought to ask.

“Sorry you had to learn about it like this,” the Nidoking said, “If it’s any consolation, he didn’t mean it- I know.”

“Well, are you going to have him arrested?” Lozow asked, stumbling through his words.

Pasa hesitated for a moment, then shook his head. “I think there are more important things to worry about. Plus, as I said, no one died- as far as I know. I don’t know anything about the circumstances behind Seyka getting out of prison.”

“I see,” Lozow said, secretly relieved, “It won’t mean much, but I’ll do my best to make sure he doesn’t get in any more trouble.”

Pasa smiled. “I think that means a lot more than you think it does. Seyka seems to trust you after all.” The Nidoking stretched, groaning. “Anyway, you wanted to talk about training right? If you’re free today, we can start now.”

“Really?” Lozow was caught off guard. “I’m not busy for sure...” The Anorith looked up at Pasa confidently. “Let’s do it!”
 
28

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
My new years resolution should be to like, actually talk about this story in public. Imagine that huh.

This story's direction is fucked from me reading too much of Barbarians at the Gate.
This message was brought to you by Henry Kravis haters.

Ch. 28 - Performance Review

The muted sounds of life floated through the open window as a torn set of drapes hung halfway out, flapping in the wind precariously. Piles of documents and other miscellaneous paper were stacked high, some balancing atop the remains of previous towers which had collapsed into formless mounds.

Holding a pen in his beak, Trumme carefully eyed a sheet of paper, signing it with a flourish before pushing it with one talon onto a nicer stack in the corner of his small desk. The Noctowl glanced around the room, sighing before sliding another document in front of him.

“Zekrom! Are you-” A Golisopod stepped partway into the room, recoiling at the sight of the mass of junk. “Er- what the...” She looked over at the Noctowl. “Trumme, what’s going on? And where’s Zekrom?”

Not looking up, the Noctowl pointed at the other end of the room with his wing. “Check under the papers,” he said.

Hesitantly, the Golisopod made her way across the room, peering over the large desk at the back. Under a mountain of letters and what looked like loan requests, she could make out Zekrom lying flat on his back.

“What are you doing?” she asked, slightly annoyed.

“Mmmmmmphhhhhh, nrrsch mmm” Zekrom replied. He sat up to look at her. “Oh... hi Dynyrsch.”

The Golisopod stared at him oddly. “Someone from the board is here. They want to know why you missed a speaking engagement two days ago.”

Trumme perked up from nearby. “Oh damn it, missed one,” he said, looking apologetically at the two of them. “Sorry, Zekrom.”

“S’ okay,” Zekrom mumbled, slowly getting up. “Mhhhh, who is here, Dynyrsch?”

“It’s Taioro,” the Golisopod replied impassively. “He seems... a little upset.”

“Ohhh nooo,” Zekrom groaned, burying his head in his hands. “Can you tell him I died?”

Dynyrsch looked at Trumme with a worried expression. “What’s wrong with him?”

“He’s been out of it for almost a month,” the Noctowl replied, grimacing. “I’ve tried to figure it out, but I gave up a while ago, now I’m just trying to keep things running.”

“What does that entail?” the Golisopod asked, glancing at Zekrom. He was staring blankly at the wall.

Trumme shrugged. “Being his manager, more or less. If he has to go out and do something, he acts like everything is fine. As soon as he’s done though, he comes right back here and mopes.”

Dynyrsch crossed one of her smaller pairs of arms. “Have you really tried to get him to tell you?” She narrowed her eyes. “I’ve only known you for a little while, but Zekrom trusts you more than anyone. I also know you go easy on him because of it.”

“There’s only so much I can do with one wing,” Trumme joked, waving his stump. “You’re right though, I can’t help it.” His face fell. “I hate seeing him upset like this, but I really don’t know what to say.”

“Even pokemon who love each other have to know when to be a little tough on each other,” the Golisopod replied, “That’s how I’ve always known it. But I understand if it’s hard, so let me do it.”

“Let you...?” Trumme trailed off, the Noctowl looking conflicted.

Dynyrsch made a face. “How do you think I’ve kept him in line for the past few years? Sometimes he needs a little push. First things first though-” she turned back to Zekrom. “-let’s just get it over with, alright? Just tell Taioro what he wants to hear and we’ll figure it out from there.”

Zekrom groaned. “Nnngh, alright.” He stood up and ambled out of the room as Dynyrsch watched.

“Trumme,” Dynyrsch said quietly, “Just follow us from a distance so no one sees you.”

“Hm? Why?” Trumme asked.

“Zekrom hired you on the spot,” the Golisopod said, making a face. “He never really had the- the ‘clearance’ to do that, so to speak. But everyone went along with it because he was so happy.”

“Hmph, the board, right?”

Dynyrsch nodded. “I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that the board likes to... micromanage the pokemon Zekrom is around,” she said. “We never really got around to telling them that you were working here.”

“Working?” Trumme stared at the papers on his desk. “Wasn’t this supposed to be a ministry?”

“You might be using a different definition,” the Golisopod replied, not looking at him.

Trumme was silent. He stepped over to the window, his talons clicking. “If they were really that good at micromanagement, then you wouldn’t be telling me this. You don’t sound like you’re in the board’s pocket.”

Dynyrsch shrugged as she turned to leave. “If that’s how you want to put it, then I am in their pocket. You’ve helped us out, so I don’t see a reason to complain. It would be different if you were a negative influence.” She sighed. “You seemed to be taking care of things, that’s why I haven’t checked in for this long. That was my mistake.”

Trumme whipped around to face the Golisopod, glaring at her back. “What is Zekrom to you?” he asked, grinding his beak.

The Golisopod stopped. “I’ll answer that question however you want if you pay me to,” she said, not turning around. “Now let’s go.”

Trumme stared at the floor. Zekrom...

==================

Dynyrsch caught up with Zekrom as he walked down a wide staircase. He was looking at the ground, muttering to himself.

“Hey. Hey! Talk to me,” the Golisopod said, waving an arm. She slowed her pace to match Zekrom’s. “What’s up?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Zekrom replied, unconvincingly, “Trumme worries too much. He’s been like this since back when we first worked together.”

Dynyrsch frowned. “Right. You’ve never told me how you and Trumme know each other. How did you two meet?” she prodded.

Zekrom smiled slightly. “That was years ago. We were both studying at some university- err what was the name?”

“That long ago?” The Golisopod looked surprised. She tried to imagine a younger Zekrom.

“Not that long,” Zekrom replied, “I didn’t have much education when I was young. This was around... fifteen to seventeen years ago.”

Dynyrsch nodded. “What did you study?”

“Design!” Zekrom said, perking up slightly, “I used to make some advertising material for the HCU.”

“Ah... really?” The Golisopod was dumbfounded. “I didn’t know the HCU even did advertising.”

“It’s- what do you call it- inter-agency advertising. The kind of stuff you’d bring to a trade show,” Zekrom clarified. He sighed, a gloomy look crossing his face again. “It’s been a long time since then, hasn’t it?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Dynyrsch replied. They were at the foot of the stairs, standing next to each other. The Golisopod nudged Zekrom gently. “Alright, enough reminiscing, Taioro is waiting.” She looked behind her, spotting Trumme standing awkwardly a little ways up the stairs. She nodded at him, the Noctowl staring back at her with a blank expression.

As they walked through the halls of the ministry, pokemon stopped to gawk at Zekrom, some bowing. As he smiled broadly, waving to them, Dynyrsch stepped slightly ahead of him, her eyes darting around. At a bend in the hall, she spotted a Swanna and a Beartic watching them. Tugging on Zekrom’s arm, she hurried him forward.

“I brought Zekrom, Sir!” Dynyrsch said, a little out of breath. “I’m very sorry for the wait.”

“No need to worry,” the Swanna said assertively, stepping forward. “I’ve waited longer before. You were pretty close to getting demoted though.” He paused. “That was a joke.”

“Hello, Taioro,” Zekrom said, keeping a neutral expression. “You don’t usually come around here.”

Taioro nodded. “Yes, and I would rather not have a reason to. Would you like to tell me why you missed the speaking engagement we had you booked for? You don’t usually miss these kinds of things.”

“I can explain!” Dynyrsch said, pushing her way between Zekrom and Taioro. “Zekrom was feeling a little under the weather. He decided it would be best to cancel...” The Golisopod trailed off, freezing up. “We did not think to contact the client afterwards regarding this because we were focused on ensuring Zekrom would recover quickly,” she added quietly.

The Swanna didn’t look at her. “Is something wrong, Zekrom? You seem a bit down today.”

It took Dynyrsch a second to realize she had been completely ignored. “Answer him,” she said to Zekrom under her breath, bristling as she stepped to the side. “It’s a slow day, so he’s been a bit tired,” she said to Taioro, forcing a smile.

“Oh- It’s nothing,” Zekrom said, exhaling. “You know, sometimes life can get you down. But you just keep going because that’s the only thing you can do!” He looked off to the side, slightly distressed. “Sorry I wasn’t able to do that. I’ll make it up to them as soon as possible, promise!”

Taioro smiled, ruffling his feathers. “I know you will,” he chirped happily, ignoring Dynyrsch again. “You’re booked two days from now, but until then why don’t you take a break and enjoy yourself.”

Zekrom’s expression brightened. “Aww, thanks Taioro! I’ll work hard to make it up to you.”

“Don’t worry about it at all,” Taioro said, chuckling, “I just want to see you at your best. After all, you can’t help other pokemon be their best if you’re not in top shape, right?”

“You won’t make the board more money either,” Dynyrsch muttered off to the side.

The Swanna looked over at her. “Did you say something?” he asked.

“Nothing sir,” the Golisopod said quickly, shrinking back from the Swanna’s gaze. “I was just trying to remember the work I had to do for today.”

“Ah, great,” Taioro replied, “It’s good to have dedicated workers like you.” He paused. “Whoever you are,” he added quietly. “Anyway!” He turned back to Zekrom. “I’d like to introduce you to someone.” He gestured with one wing at the Beartic, who had been silent up to that point. “This is Sokharmaen. He’s a prominent business leader in this city I had the pleasure of meeting recently. He told me he was very interested in meeting you.”

The Beartic nodded. “I’m honored to meet you,” he said, extending a paw to Zekrom. “You’ve been something of an inspiration to me, and I’ve always wanted to talk to you personally.”

Zekrom took the Beartic’s paw with both of his claws. “I’m glad to hear that,” he said softly, “There’s nothing more important to me than knowing that I’ve helped someone, even if it was small. But it’s not just me you should thank. Reshiram is the one that helped me in the first place. God is always looking out for us even if we don’t know it.”

“Mmmm, I’m envious of your positivity,” Sokharmaen said. “I hate to cut this meeting so short, but I have urgent matters to attend to.” He turned to leave, glancing at Taioro. “Thank you again for this opportunity, I’ll be in touch about the proposal we discussed.” Waving, the Beartic walked away.

Zekrom waved half-heartedly, feeling a pit forming in his stomach. “He seems nice,” he said offhandedly to Taioro.

“Oh certainly,” the Swanna said, “I’m sure he’ll be a great investor.”

“Investor?” Zekrom looked at Taioro.

Taioro nodded, satisfied. “He was very interested in supporting the ministry, and I think him meeting you now sealed the deal.”

“We didn’t exactly talk for long,” Zekrom mused, scratching his neck.

The Swanna was about to reply when he saw Dynyrsch nearby, awkwardly lingering in the same spot she had been in the entire time. “Don’t you have work to do?” he asked, to which the Golisopod nodded meekly, quickly retreating down the other hall. “Sorry about that,” he said, waving a wing idly, “I’m sure Mr. Sokharmaen will want to talk to you more later. This was just a good opportunity to get the ball rolling.”

“Alright,” Zekrom said, looking off to where Dynyrsch had gone. “Is that everything you wanted to talk about?”

“Pretty much,” Taioro said. “One last thing before you go.” He looked around for a moment. “Hey! Wherever you are, get over here,” the Swanna shouted.

From behind a pillar, a Lucario emerged. It stared silently at Taioro, expressionless. On its back was a large object wrapped in a blanket, more than twice the Lucario’s height. It didn’t seem to be unbalanced by it in the slightest.

Taioro nodded approvingly. “This is Lyluoyv, she’ll be your new assistant. The board thought that a more direct line between you and us would be helpful.” The Swanna turned to the Lucario. “You know what to do. Keep us updated.”

“Oh uh, thanks?” Zekrom said hesitantly, smiling awkwardly at the Lucario. She looked at him with a stony expression. “So, I guess-” he stopped- Taioro was already walking away. The Swanna glanced back and waved. Zekrom gave a half-wave in response, feeling lost.

=============

Trudging back up the stairs, Zekrom was met by Dynyrsch. The Golisopod anxiously grasped Zekrom’s hand. “So? What else did he have to say?”

“Nothing really,” Zekrom said, shrugging, “I have an assistant now.”

“An assistant? What do you mean?” Dynyrsch asked, giving him an odd look.

“Taioro said this Lucario, err, Lyluoyv, would help me.” Zekrom pulled his claw out from Dynyrsch’s grip. “I forgot to ask how exactly.”

Dynyrsch’s expression fell. “So that’s how it is. I guess Taioro- guh!”

Lyluoyv appeared out of nowhere, striking Dynyrsch with a kick from above. The Golisopod fell sideways, the Lucario immediately, placing one foot on top of her.

“Huh? What are you doing!” Zekrom cried, frozen in place.

Dynyrsch wiggled fruitlessly under Lyluoyv, who seemed to be effortlessly holding the large bug in place. “No one is allowed near Zekrom except for approved instances,” the Lucario said quietly. Her paw glowed briefly, a swirling blue sphere appearing around it. Dynyrsch’s eyes grew wide.

“Wait! She works here,” Zekrom said, reaching out.

Lyluoyv stared at Dynyrsch for a moment. “Proof of identification?”

The Golisopod continued staring at the Lucario fearfully, slowly reaching down with one claw. She produced a small card, holding it up to Lyluoyv.

The Lucario glanced at it. “Confirmed.” The blue sphere dissipated and she stepped off Dynyrsch, the Golisopod immediately scrambling backwards.

Zekrom bounded forward, grabbing the Lucario by the shoulder. “Why did you do that?” he demanded, shooting a quick glance at Dynyrsch.

“I am obliged to protect you,” Lyluoyv replied, “Any action I take is in service of your wellbeing.”

Zekrom was dumbfounded. “I- I appreciate it, but Dynyrsch is a friend. Plus- can’t you sense hostility and the like with aura?”

Lyluoyv was impassive. “Irrelevant. Protecting you is prioritized over personal feelings.”

“Urk...” Zekrom was unsure of how to respond. “Okay, I understand,” he said slowly.

“Zekrom!” Trumme rounded a corner, eyeing the Lucario curiously, “Done already?”

“More or less,” Zekrom replied, still locked on Lyluoyv. “Trumme, this is Lyluoyv. She’s... my bodyguard.”

“I act in Zekrom’s best interests,” the Lucario said, moving in front of him. She glared at Trumme. “Identification?”

Zekrom groaned. “Trumme is my friend too,” he said, nudging Lyluoyv to the side. “Can you just let it slide because I said so?”

The Lucario shook her head. “A ‘friend’ is a subjective indicator. If an individual is not properly vetted, it presents too much of a risk.” She faced Trumme again. “You will maintain your distance.”

Zekrom angrily strode past her and grasped the Noctowl gently with one claw, placing him on his shoulder. “You can’t decide that for me,” he said, crossing his arms. “Trumme doesn’t need a pass to talk to me.”

One of Lyluoyv’s paws twitched, grasping the large wrapped object on her back. Her gaze flickered briefly to it and she quickly moved her paw back to a neutral position. “You appear to be stressed,” she muttered.

Without warning, she leapt forward, one paw glowing blue. Zekrom didn’t have time to react as she pressed it against his forehead, lashing out with a kick in the same motion that caught Trumme across the chest, sending the Noctowl flying. As Trumme tumbled down the stairs, Zekrom fell forwards, unconscious. The Lucario landed gracefully on a step, catching Zekrom with one arm.

Dynyrsch stared in horror at the Lucario, feeling a cold pit in her stomach. She looked over at Trumme, lying in a crumpled heap further down the stairs for a moment. A few pokemon that had been coming up the stairs looked up in surprise, turning quickly and descending the stairs when they saw Lyluoyv glaring at them.

“You.” The Lucario fixed Dynyrsch with a cold expression. “For future reference, inform me immediately if Zekrom acts strangely as he did just now.”

“Str-strangely?”

Lyluoyv nodded. “I have clear instructions to ensure his safety. Taioro told me that he may tend to act frivolously, just as he did now.”

Dynyrsch nodded blankly, slowly getting to her feet. “Yes... yes, I’ll do that.” Watching as the Lucario started to drag Zekrom away, the Golisopod warily glanced at the bundle on Lyluoyv’s back. “Where are you taking him, if I may ask?”

“To his office,” Lyluoyv replied, “I have already memorized the layout of this building. You may return to work.”

Dynyrsch stood stock still, staring at nothing even after Lyluoyv had left.

“Damn it,” she said weakly, swaying slightly. Walking to the downed Noctowl, she scooped him up in her arms. “Why? Why does this have to happen to me?” She fumed as she walked off, carrying Trumme.

==================

Okay Shogo, what is the security question again?

Umm, ‘What did you do to Mel when you first met her?’

And the answer?

‘Stomped on her head’.

Correct! Now get those fliers out. I have a conference I have to get to.



“Hello?”

Shogo snapped out of her daydream, the Furfrou jolting in surprise. She blinked repeatedly as she slowly breathed in and out.

“Sorry- the copier is available, and you were in line before us. You looked like you were thinking of something.”

She looked to her side to see Mae and Darkrai. The Lopunny waved. “No rush, but we are waiting.”

“Be patient, Mae,” Darkrai muttered, looking at Shogo apologetically.

“Oh, I got distracted,” Shogo said, turning to the copier. “I’ll finish up quickly, sorry.”

“No, no, take all the time you need,” Mae replied, sticking her tongue out at Darkrai who made a heart shape with his hands in response. “We’re entrepreneurs anyway, so we work on our own time.”

Shogo placed the flier on the scanner, stopping to admire her work with pride. “Really?” she asked, half listening. “What do you two do?” The Furfrou pressed the scan button with her nose.

“Big numbers, that’s what,” Mae said, puffing out her chest.

“Wayfinding,” Darkrai said from behind the Lopunny. “We noticed that it’s easy to get lost in this city, so we’re making signs.”

Shogo looked up from the whirring printer. “Huh... that does sound useful. But if it’s just a proof of concept, should you really be telling me?”

“What do you mean?” Mae asked.

“She’s saying she could steal our idea,” Darkrai said dryly, “Not that it’s particularly original or unheard of. I was wondering myself why a city like this didn’t have good directions or maps. The one I have is outdated.”

The Furfrou paused to think. “Someone I know said that having to find your way around is part of the charm.” She grimaced. “I disagree.”

“If you want to compete with us, I don’t mind,” Mae declared, “You know what they say about knowing your enemy.”

“I’ll pass, I’m more of an artist anyway,” Shogo replied, smiling softly.

Mae and Darkrai looked at each other. “Well,” Darkrai started, “We are looking for a designer.”

The three of them stood there awkwardly. Shogo looked away, biting her lip as she considered it while Mae idly watched the copier, trying to catch a glimpse at what the Furfrou was using it for.

“I have a job already,” Shogo said uncertainly, looking at Darkrai. “B- but I could help you out if you want me to make art for you.”

“Sorry for asking out of the blue,” Darkrai said, “If you’re offering though, we’re happy to take it. I’m Darkrai by the way, and this is Mae.” He pointed at the Lopunny, who flashed a peace sign.

“My name is Shogo,” the Furfrou replied, “I’m making posters for my boss right now, but they have some of my art on them. Want to see?”

Mae lightly nudged Darkrai to the side, stepping over to Shogo. “Oh, show me, show me!”

Shogo pulled one of the papers out, presenting it to Mae proudly as her tail wagged excitedly. “I don’t really know what to call it,” she said as Mae took it. “It’s kind of like a wanted poster, but not in a bad way?”

As Mae looked over the flier, her expression grew concerned. “Your boss wanted this?”

The Furfrou nodded. “Yes, but it’s a private matter, so I can’t say anything more than that.”

“What’s wrong Mae?” Darkrai asked, trying to catch a glimpse of the flier.

Turning around, the Lopunny showed him the paper. In the center was a simple message.

Need: Arceus Have: Information


The statement was followed by a long number. Printed on cardstock, the whole thing was ringed with a strange geometric design around the edge. There was what looked like an imprint of a paw in the corner with a signature underneath in the corner.

“Ah...” Darkrai looked over at Shogo. “I know this is a private matter, but we know Arceus, if that’s who you’re looking for.”

“You do?” Shogo looked excited for a moment, but she caught herself and scrunched her face up in a serious expression. “Describe him to me so we’re on the page.”

Darkrai and Mae were silent, running over their mental images of Arceus.

“He’s a big guy, white all over except for his chest and his belly,” Darkrai said.

Mae jumped in. “There’s a big ring around his midsection. Last time we saw him it was orange, but it might be gold.”

“Very long neck,” Darkrai added, “Oh, and he doesn’t have a mouth.”

Mae crossed her arms. “He’s kind of easygoing- takes things in stride.”

Shogo listened to the two of them, nodding. “That sounds about right from what I was told. Uh, can the two of you contact him?”

“Sure,” Mae said, “But you’ll have to trade for it. How about telling us why you’re looking for him?”

“Mae, come on!” Darkrai was exasperated. “She said it was private- plus, Arceus can just tell us later.”

“Maybe,” Mae said conspiratorially, leaning over to Darkrai. “Or she could be trying to lure him in to kill him.”

“And why would she do that?” Darkrai asked, rolling his eyes.

“I’m uh, not going to do that,” Shogo said from behind them. “My boss just wants to meet with Arceus to talk about Mel.”

“Huh?” Mae paused. “Mel? We know her too, not personally though.”

Shogo looked relieved. “I uh, wasn’t supposed to let that part slip. Thank goodness you guys know her.” She looked around to see if anyone else was nearby. “Actually, Mel is in trouble.”

Darkrai sat up, staring at Shogo intently. “What do you mean by that?”

“I don’t know the details, but it looks like Mel was taken hostage by someone,” the Furfrou said quietly. “Jaruzaya, err, that’s my boss, contacted her recently. That’s why we were looking for Arceus, she wanted to let him know she was okay.”

“Hey,” Mae said, squeezing Darkrai’s shoulder. “Does Pasa know about this?”

Shogo tilted her head. “I don’t know who that is.”

Mae’s eyes widened and she looked at Darkrai expectantly.

“I know, I’ll call him,” Darkrai said, walking away from the two.

Watching him leave, Shogo picked up the finished stack of posters. “I know this might be a bad time, but are we still going to do that wayfinding?”

“Definitely,” Mae said, distracted, “But let’s figure this out first, okay?”

“Let me tell Jaruzaya what happened,” Shogo said, “Maybe I won’t have to spend all afternoon putting up these posters,” she added hopefully. “I mean I kind of want to, but I’m kind of embarrassed.”

“Put them up anyway,” Mae said offhandedly, “If pokemon think your art is great, they’ll tell you about it. If not, they’ll keep walking. Whatever.”

The Furfrou processed Mae’s words, her mouth moving wordlessly. “I didn’t think of that!” she replied, “I... I’ll do it! Before I go, here’s my number.” Producing a pen, she scribbled on the back of one poster and gave it to Mae. “Call me when you can get a hold of Arceus,” she hesitated, “Or if you’re ready to start on the wayfinding. You know, whichever comes first.” Smiling slightly, the Furfrou bounded out of the room.

“Right,” Mae said, holding her head in her hands. “Ugh, I can’t focus anymore.”

--

“Hello?”

Darkrai suddenly found himself unsure of what to say. “Ngh, hello, Pasa,” he managed.

“Darkrai? It’s been a little while. You know, I actually ran into Seyka recently,” Pasa replied. The Nidoking sounded slightly winded.

“You did? Tell me about it later, there’s something I need to talk to you about.” Darkrai tried to stay calm, but he couldn’t help speaking slightly faster than he normally would have. “It’s potentially urgent.”

“Potentially?” Pasa was disquieted. There was a thud from his end. “Nice try, Lozow. I don’t get distracted that easily,” Pasa said to someone. “Sorry about that, I’m working with another guy right now,” he added, “Anyway, just tell me what you’re talking about.”

Darkrai took a deep breath, glancing over at Mae, who was watching from a distance. “We heard from... someone, that Mel was in some sort of trouble.”

The other end of the line was silent.

“I know it’s probably hard to believe, but they’re looking for Arceus because they have something to tell him. We confirmed we were talking about the same pokemon,” Darkrai said, hoping that Pasa would believe him.

Darkrai was beginning to think the Nidoking had dropped the call when he finally replied. “Let me know where you are. I’ll check it out- but you’ll have to give me more details.”

“Like what?” Darkrai asked.

“Tell me about the circumstances,” Pasa said sharply. “I... Sorry. I know Mel is in trouble, as you put it,” he said, quieter. “But this isn’t some widely known fact. Who told you and how are they related to her?” Pasa grunted, a loud crash in the background. “Ah damn it, I think I hit him a bit too hard there. Sorry Darkrai, I have to go. But listen-” The Nidoking’s tone was suddenly sharp. “I’m leaving it up to you if you’re thinking of talking to Arceus. He’s been looking for Mel too with his other friend, so I’m sure he’ll come right away. If you trust this pokemon, then go for it and I’ll follow up soon.” There was a click as the call ended.

Darkrai let his hands fall to his sides, thinking. Pasa’s words ran through his head as he thought about what Shogo had said.

“Well?” Mae asked expectantly as she walked over. “What did he say?”

“He knew already,” Darkrai murmured, “But he’s suspicious about Shogo and doesn’t trust her. It’s up to us whether or not we tell Arceus.”

Mae stared at Darkrai strangely. “Up to us? Mel is his daughter and he leaves that kind of thing to us?” Mae swore and started pacing the room, kicking the copier as she passed. “Does he even care?”

“I’m sure there’s a lot we don’t know,” Darkrai said, trying to placate the Lopunny. “Let’s wait until later to pass judgement, okay?”

“You can wait,” Mae replied angrily, “When I see Pasa, I’m going to ask him myself what his deal is. And if I don’t like the answer, you know you can’t stop me.”

“I know,” Darkrai said weakly, “I’m going to call Arceus, alright?”

Mae nodded, glaring intently at the wall.

=====================

The chutes lining the ceiling groaned and creaked insidiously as a new package slid down the ancient system. Reaching the conveyor belt along the wall, the half opened box rolled haphazardly down to the waiting Typhlosion. Swaying back and forth, the Typhlosion looked down at the box as it came to rest in front of him and promptly vomited into it.

From across the room, Mallys tried not to stare. “Is that someone’s delivery?” he asked.

Sniffling, the Typhlosion shrugged. “Guess it’s mine now.” He picked it up and set it to the side, turning back to give the Haxorus a thumbs up before falling backwards.

“There he goes again.”

Mallys turned to see another Typhlosion.

“You’re the new guy right?” the Typhlosion continued, “I’m Mihascho’s brother, Naffe.” As he spoke, Naffe leaned down and picked up Mihascho, the other Typhlosion moaning something inaudibly. “Sorry about him, he’s always like this.”

“I know,” Mallys replied, “I’ve only been here for about a week, but he always seems about to pass out.”

Naffe sighed. “I used to be envious of him. He worked for some fancy company up top in the past. I don’t know what happened.” The Typhlosion looked around the decrepit room sadly. “Now he works for me... for a shipping company that barely ships anything.”

Mallys followed his gaze. “Why’d you hire me then?” he asked, resting his claws on the conveyor.

“For once, there’s more work coming in,” Naffe replied, “And it’s not the kind I can let my brother.... throw up on.” He glanced at the other Typhlosion slung over his shoulder, frowning. “So uh, you’re Mallys? How did you end up around these parts?”

Mallys hesitated. “I was looking for work. That’s it really.” The Haxorus was a little frustrated. He hadn’t managed to learn anything and though he wouldn’t say so, he was starting to miss Arceus. “I appreciate you taking a chance with me. I know I don’t have any references or prior work history,” he added.

“Where do you think you are?” Naffe asked, smiling softly. “You’re the first pokemon that’s asked to work here in over a decade. The lower city just doesn’t do mail. It’s a lot more personal, for better or worse.”

“Hm, that makes sense,” Mallys said thoughtfully, “But thanks anyway.”

Naffe nodded. “I should thank you. Anyway, I guess I should get this lump out of here.” He grinned, patting his brother on the back. Mihascho grunted, saying something about a Blaziken as Naffe carried him up a short staircase and out the door.

Alone in the mail room, Mallys sighed. “I should ask Pasa for tips,” he muttered, staring down at a green band wrapped around one claw. The Haxorus still wasn’t entirely sure how GSEL worked, but he was confident he could figure it out.

I should ask if Pasa knows Arceus’ number.

I really want to talk to him.


======

“H- y! Get u-! I need your help.”

Slowly, Trumme came to. The Noctowl’s entire body ached, and he almost didn’t want to open his eyes.

“Trumme. Are you going to lay there and let that bitch take Zekrom away from us?”

His eyes snapped open. Trumme struggled to remember what had happened. “Am I hurt?” he asked.

Dynyrsch was looming over him, the Golisopod chewing on one of her claws. “Not really. I thought you were hit hard, but I guess I was wrong.”

“Oh.” Trumme looked over himself and took a deep breath. “How long have I been out?”

“A few hours,” the Golisopod said. “The Lucario took Zekrom to his office, and I haven’t seen them since then.”

The Noctowl shook his head. “Ugh, what is her problem? I should go check on him.”

“Don’t bother,” Dynyrsch said, holding him down. “She’ll just hit you again.”

Trumme paused. “Wait. You mean Lyluoyv?” He shook his head. “Urgh, I can’t remember what happened.”

“She kicked you down that stairs, that’s what happened,” Dynyrsch hissed, still keeping Trumme in place. “Now she thinks that she’s Zekrom’s sole representative, and we’re not allowed near him.”

“I remember her saying something about that,” Trumme said. “So she’s keeping him away from us?”

Dynyrsch nodded. “This is the board’s doing. They hired some psycho to keep Zekrom in check so they can micromanage him. But we’re not going to let that Lucario walk over us, are we?” The Golisopod leaned in with a maniacal expression. “We’re going to kill her.”

“Kill? What are you saying,” the Noctowl replied, trying to wiggle out of her grasp.

Dynyrsch lifted him into the air, shaking him. “Zekrom is your friend right? If you let them have their way, he’ll be nothing- a husk that talks.” She gripped him tightly. “I know we have our differences, but I promise you, if I’m in charge, the two of you can do whatever you want. Maybe you could even leave the ministry. I’m sure we could think of something.”

Trumme was about to protest, but Dynyrsch’s last words stopped him. “Leave...” he murmured, his face scrunching up. “We could just...”

“Zekrom is the face of the ministry,” Dynyrsch said softly, “But I’m sure we could pivot.”

The Noctowl was silent. “What- what do you have in mind?” he asked.

Dynyrsch smiled grimly. “Glad you’re on board,” she said. “Let’s go somewhere private. We need to talk about some things.”
 
29

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
I've written 29 of these? Wow!
Super fast turnaround on this one, and not only that, I like this one a lot too!


Chapter 29 - Still Waters



Everything was silent. For once, the ever present dripping had stopped and the water in the ditch was stagnant. Mel had plastered herself against the far wall, breathing slowly.

“I can’t wait an entire week,” she whispered to herself. “I’ve already been here for one.”

Mel wasn’t sure if the Tranquill would return, and she wasn’t keen on finding out either way. The Lurantis had little doubt that she would be killed eventually- a fact that gave her a renewed sense of desperation that had faded over the course of the week.

“What can I do...” Mel mused, trudging about the room. The water level had risen slightly, almost reaching Mel’s waist.

Nothing came to her. In the silence, the sloshing of the water was magnified, the walls seeming closer by the second.

“Damn it!” Mel sobbed, lashing out with her scythes. They raked across the wall, leaving a visible scratch. Ignoring the discomfort in her arms, Mel slashed again, this time catching the sealed door in her rage.

The heavily scarred door groaned in protest, the first sign of wear since Mel had been brought there. Caught off guard, Mel stopped her assault, her scythes falling to her sides. Her gaze travelled slowly from the door to her arms.

For a moment she was silent.

“Fuck it,” she said finally.

The Lurantis began railing on the door. She slashed in every direction, jumping at the door from different angles. As the door showed more signs of breaking down, Mel became excited, accidentally leaping straight into the door. Her head banged against it and she fell backwards with a cry, only to immediately leap up again.

The door seemed to taunt her, wobbling as the consecutive cuts wore it down. Blood ran down Mel’s forehead as she feverishly attacked, the water splashing up around her as she dashed back and forth across the small space.

Her barrage continued for what felt like hours. Mel had taken to bludgeoning the door over and over, her scythes little more than blunt hammers after so much punishment. As exhaustion filled her, Mel began to feel dizzy. The Lurantis was tired, starved, and weak, and she wanted nothing more than to leave.

Mel thought of her father. I want Pa, she thought, Or Arceus. Or even Mallys. Why is this happening to me?

With a roar, Mel launched herself at the door with the last of her energy. Emitting a loud groan, it gave way, nearly bent in half. Delirious, the Lurantis stumbled forward, collapsing on top of the ruined door. The trapped water rushed out around her, spilling into a large canal in front of Mel.

She was now in a large tunnel with a curved roof, the sound of Mel’s ragged breathing echoing off the dark stone walls. The canal ran along the center of the tunnel, lit on either side by sickly green lamps. Propping herself up with her scythes, Mel glanced behind her at the tiny room she had been trapped in.

As she stared, it was like a dam burst. The Lurantis rolled onto her back, laughing as tears streamed from her eyes onto her lenses.

“What did I do wrong?” she murmured, “Where is everyone?”

Shaking her head to clear her mind, Mel activated her GSEL and called Jaruzaya.

Picking up, the Huntail sounded distracted. “Mel? Did something happen?”

“I got out,” Mel replied simply.

“You what? Where are you now?” Jaruzaya demanded.

Mel looked around. “I still don’t know,” she said apologetically, “It’s some kind of tunnel with water running through it.”

Mel could hear the Huntail groan. “I need more details, Mel. I’m not a detective.”

“Sorry,” the Lurantis replied, slowly getting up. “There are these green lights here- square shaped.” She rubbed her head with a scythe, wincing at a sudden pain. “Umm, the water is not really flowing, it looks still.”

“Any writing on the walls?” Jaruzaya asked, “Everything helps.”

Scanning the walls, Mel spotted some writing. “There’s something here,” she said, squinting, “Uhh, it says EAST-288?”

The Huntail hummed. “Can’t say I know what that means, but it’s a start.” He groaned. “I just sent Shogo to the print store too. Maybe I can catch her before she gets back here.” Jaruzaya paused for a moment. “Anyway, are you okay?”

“I’ll be fine when I get out of here,” Mel replied, “I’m going to start walking. If I see anything, I’ll let you know.”

“Be careful, Mel,” Jaruzaya said, “I- I would rather not see you hurt.”

Mel blinked. “That’s nice of you.”

“Believe me, there’s nothing sentimental about it,” Jaruzaya said quickly, “It’s just that I’ve put a lot of my time into this. So it’s like an investment.”

“Right.” Despite everything, Mel found herself able to smile a little. “I’ll get back to you soon.”

Hanging up, the Lurantis took a deep breath. “Ugh,” Mel said, looking at her scythes. “I need to get these sharpened again.”


=========


“Ehhhhhh...”

Goucie squeezed the pastry in his hand lightly, idly examining it.

“Cannoli- how does anyone come up with this stuff anyway?” the Combusken said idly, leaning back. As a blue filling leaked out of one side, he caught it with a talon, examining it for a moment before sticking it in his mouth. “Ah, sweet!” he said, grasping the cannoli with both hands to take a bite. He chewed silently, ignoring the juices running down his beak and onto his feathers.

“Wow, this is messy,” he murmured, holding the remaining half of the cannoli at arm length. He rubbed his beak, glancing at his bluish talons with a twinge of irritation. Reaching behind him, he wiped his claws before he remembered that he was leaning against Arceus. Looking back, he cringed, spotting a big blue stain on Arceus’ belly where he had been leaning. “Uh, sorry,” he said sheepishly.

Arceus slowly raised his head from where he had been laying. He stared at the spot for a moment. “Whatever. It’s- it’s fine.” Arceus went back to the position he had been in.

Goucie sighed, silently licking his talons and trying to clean the blue.

“So what now?” Arceus asked as the Combusken continued rubbing his stomach. He liked what Goucie was doing, but was too embarrassed to say so. “Who do you think we can talk to?”

The last few days had been a total failure. Frustrated after running into dead end after dead end, Arceus and Goucie were sprawled out on a wide staircase leading to a large office building overlooking a plaza. The Combusken’s confidence in his own skills had waned considerably as he slowly realized that although he thought he knew the city, he had been gone too long and it had changed. On the other hand, Arceus was starting to feel like a burden and was racking his head for a way to help. After another day of uncertainty, the two were exhausted to the point that they had simply decided to take a break on the spot. They had gotten a few odd looks, but no one had bothered them.

“Well...I was thinking that we should double check the places we checked before, we might have missed something,” Goucie said. In his mind, he knew it was more or less an admission of defeat. A sinking feeling of despair was beginning to set in.

“You two look pretty down. Want any help?”

Cehdomu sat down awkwardly on the stairs next to them, the Arcanine smiling broadly. Goucie glared at him, his beak moving but making no sound, while Arceus shifted slightly to look at the Arcanine in alarm.

“I know we’re not on the best of terms, but we can still talk right?” Cehdomu asked lightly, “Just want to make sure you’re okay Goucie. You seem distracted.”

“How would you know?” Arceus asked, standing up. He stepped towards Cehdomu, placing himself between the Arcanine and the Combusken. “Are you following us around?”

The Arcanine nodded. “Arceus, right? More or less. Although, it’s not me personally, it’s my assistant.” He gestured across the plaza to a cluster of tables where some pokemon sat eating. A Granbull sitting alone raised a glass in their direction. “He better not get drunk again,” he muttered with a frown before turning back to Arceus and Goucie. “Anyway, if someone like Hedtch can trail you this long, then there’s a bit of a problem.”

“Thank you for your concern,” Goucie said, his voice strained, “I’ll be fine.”

Cehdomu shrugged. “If you insist. Regardless, you certainly need to work on your... skills.” He paused, considering something. “Let’s make a trade. I can tell you what we know about that Lurantis if you tell me why you’re interested in them.”

Goucie stiffened. He glanced up at Arceus who was visibly agitated. “Don’t do anything stupid,” he said quietly, grabbing Arceus’ leg with a claw. “I’ll have to decline,” he said simply, addressing Cehdomu. “It’s a sensitive matter.”

“I can guess that much,” the Arcanine replied idly, “The two of you have been running around nonstop asking. Not particularly subtle about it either.” Cehdomu studied one of his paws for a moment. “Alright, what if I give you a push in the right direction if you tell me a little bit about your friend here.” He looked at Arceus. “Arceus here is- well- he stands out, which is why I suppose Hedtch had such an easy time tailing you.”

“You want to know who I am?” Arceus replied loudly before Goucie had a chance to speak. “I’m no one. Nothing.” He decided not to mention his lost memory. “Goucie’s helping me because he wanted to. And that’s it.”

In the face of Arceus’ outburst, Cehdomu barely reacted. “I see,” he said, glancing at the blue spot on Arceus’ belly. “You know, that’s good enough for me, so here’s my end of the bargain. That Lurantis is definitely not in the city anymore.”

“Then where is she?” Arceus demanded.

Cehdomu’s expression flickered. “She? Thanks for the tip, Arceus. But I can’t help you more than that. Goucie needs to figure it out from here, and I know he can do it.” The Arcanine smiled again at the Combusken. “I see this is a bit more of a personal affair than I thought. I’m sure we can leave it at that. See you later, Goucie.” Cehdomu stood up and walked off.

Arceus watched the retreating Arcanine dejectedly. “I- I messed up, didn’t I?” he asked.

“I know you didn’t mean it,” Goucie said, feeling drained, “But now he’ll definitely use that against us if he finds Mel first.”

“His little hint barely told us anything,” Arceus said, watching the Arcanine argue with the Granbull over the small tower of glasses piled on the table. “It really only makes it worse.”

“He’s being cocky,” Goucie said, burying his face in his arms. “We don’t stand much of a chance by ourselves. Since we haven’t heard anything from Mallys, I doubt he’s any better off.”

Arceus was silent. “Then if we can’t do anything...” He looked over to Goucie, a fierce glow in his eyes. “We’ll wait until he finds her, then we’ll get her back ourselves!”

“Ourselves?” The thought troubled the Combusken. “But we might end up fighting him.”

“He can’t be that strong, especially if we work together,” Arceus said confidently.

Goucie shook his head. “It’s not just that. If we go against him, then we’re essentially going against the entire CTB. And- and my father too.”

Arceus was surprised. “Your father?” He slowly sat down again, looking at the ground.

Goucie opened his mouth to speak when Arceus spoke up again.

“Then I guess we’ll have to beat him and everyone else too.”

The Combusken was dumbfounded. He stood up, not fully comprehending what Arceus was saying. “What?” he whispered.

“You said that Cehdomu would use Mel against us,” Arceus said. “And I don’t know how your father is involved in this, but from your tone it sounds like he would be the same way.” He looked at Goucie, his eyes boring into the Combusken. “Mel is my friend- and you are too. Without you guys and Mallys, I have nothing. So, apologies in advance, but I’ll beat up your father if that’s what it takes to save Mel.”

“Arceus...” Goucie couldn’t think of anything to say in response.

Arceus would have smiled if he had a mouth. “And- and we’ll help you too! You said the job you worked at wasn’t your choice right?”

“You... you’d do that for me?” Goucie looked away, his claws trembling slightly. “That’s not something to worry about.”

Arceus shook his head. “I think I have to decide that part for myself.”

“O-okay.” Goucie looked at the ground, the barest hint of a smile on his beak. “Sorry for acting like this, Arceus. I was just, uh, afraid.” He glanced up, meeting Arceus’ eyes. “Thanks. But you don’t have to worry about beating up my father.” The Combusken crossed his arms. “There’s not much love there.”

Arceus’ gaze softened. “Oh,” he murmured sympathetically.

“We’ll worry about that later,” Goucie said, changing the topic. “Anyway, if it comes to that, we’ll make a plan to beat Cehdomu. But for now, we can keep looking.”

“But Cehdomu said Mel isn’t in the city anymore,” Arceus said, slightly confused.

Goucie nodded. “I wasn’t thinking straight earlier, but that actually helps. Now that we know for sure Mel left the city, we can try and figure out how she left.”

Scraping one hoof on the ground, Arceus considered it. “That makes sense. Uh, how would we figure that out?”

Goucie started walking down the stairs, motioning for Arceus to follow. “There are official and unofficial channels for entering the city. I’m guessing we’re looking for the latter, so I have an idea where to start. I’ll explain as we go.”

“Alright!” Arceus said, reenergized. Walking up to Goucie, he leaned down, scooping the Combusken bodily onto his back. “Just tell me where to go,” he said to Goucie. With that, he set off at a gallop, Goucie grabbing onto his ring.

“Okay, but tell me next time you’re going to do that!” Goucie said, scrambling to find a comfortable position. “So up ahead, turn left...”


=============


Mel poked one of the green lights lining the tunnel, recoiling in surprise at how hot it was. Grimacing, she looked up along the upper curve of the tunnel.

“East 267?” she said to herself. “I guess those are directions.” She found herself vaguely annoyed. “Hey!” she shouted, “Is anyone down here?” At that point, she didn’t care if the pokemon who had kidnapped her came, she just wanted to see something.

Listening to her voice echo, the Lurantis felt a little silly. Starting to walk down the tunnel again, she was stopped by a splashing sound. As she looked down into the canal, a head popped out of the water, chitinous and bright red.

Mel stared at the Kingler for a moment. “Hi?” she said hesitantly.

“Hi hi,” the Kingler replied, looking at Mel strangely, “Was that you shouting?”

“Y-yeah,” Mel said, “I didn’t think anyone was down here.”

The Kingler blinked. “In a tunnel, no. In a waterway? Yes. I’m here, see?”

Mel wasn’t sure what to say. “I see- that you’re there. You live in the canal?”

“No,” the Kingler said, “Well, yes,” she added quickly, “If you live in the water, you might as well be living in all water in a sense.”

Though she struggled to follow the Kingler’s logic, Mel nodded anyway. “That makes sense. Uh, can I ask you a question? Have you seen anyone come through here in the past few weeks?”

“Can’t say I have, nope,” the Kingler said, “You looking for someone? Maybe you should take a break first, you look ragged.”

“Huh?” Mel looked over herself. She was caked in dirt and grime, more brown than pink. “I’ll be fine, just got a little dirty.” She glanced back at the Kingler. “You are?”

The Kingler jumped out of the water, landing near Mel. “I’m Yuteraiko,” she said, tapping herself on the head with one huge claw. “I can break metal if I want!” She paused. “Er, that was a fun fact- they’re supposed to be good conversation openers.”

“I think it was a great opener,” spoke a Crawdaunt from behind Yuteraiko.

Mel inadvertently stepped backwards, she had not even heard the Crawdaunt approach. Yuteraiko looked similarly surprised.

“Sorry if I scared you,” the Crawdaunt said good-naturedly, “I’m Exdhroyhna, Yuteraiko’s brother. I love to scare her, isn’t that right, sis?”

Yuteraiko smiled, but it was strained. “You know I hate that.” The Kingler glanced at Mel. “You scared her too. Sorry about that, uh-” she stopped short.

“Mel, I’m Mel,” the Lurantis replied, “Do you two know the way out? I’m kind of in a hurry, so I can’t stay to talk.”

Exdhroyhna pointed in the direction Mel had been walking. “You’re on the right track. Just keep going that way and you should find an exit. Need any help?”

Mel shook her head, sufficiently creeped out by the two. “I’m fine, thanks. Uh, have a great day.” Turning around, she took off as fast as she could.

Yuteraiko watched the retreating figure with an expression of annoyance. “I wanted to ask her more questions,” she said to herself. She turned back to Exdhroyhna. “So er, who-”

The Crawdaunt lunged at Yuteraiko, claws outstretched. The Kingler responded in kind, their claws catching each other. As she met Exdhroyhna’s glare, she smirked.

“My brother?” Yuteraiko said, “Who would use that as an opener?”

“Hey, you went along with it,” Exdhroyhna said playfully, grunting in exertion as he tried to overpower the Kingler. “If you want, I can settle for knocking you out right here.”

The Kingler frowned. “You’re with the bureau I’m guessing. I really would rather not fight you, not at all.”

“What a coincidence. I wouldn’t either,” the Crawdaunt replied, “I’m here for the Lurantis, nothing else.”

“If you play nice, you can have her,” Yuteraiko shot back, pushing forward. “All I want is some information.”

Exdhroyhna hesitated for a moment. “Let’s make a truce. On the count of three, we both pull back, okay?”

The Kingler said nothing but nodded.

“One.” The two of them locked eyes, watching each other carefully.

“Two.” Exdhroyhna’s gaze flicked to the tunnel beyond. Mel had disappeared from sight.

“Three!” At the same time, both of them jumped back. Yuteraiko landed gracefully, giggling as Exdhroyhna stumbled backwards.

“Right,” the Crawdaunt said, regaining his composure. “If you could, I’d appreciate some clarification. So far as I am aware, your group is the one that took the Lurantis hostage in the first place. What do you need to know from her?”

Yuteraiko shrugged. “Yes, we did it, but no one quite knows why, not at all. She was kind of pawned off on us and we’re expected to watch her. So we’re just a little curious, got it?”

“I see,” Exdhroyhna murmured, “How about we catch up with her then, get some information out of her, then I’ll take her off your hands. Does that sound fair?”

“Fine. You first,” the Kingler said, gesturing with a claw.

“Sure,” Exdhroyhna said lightly, “Remember though, you’re my sister when we talk to her.”

Yuteraiko groaned, snapping a claw angrily. “You’re really pushing your luck.”

“I know.”


=================


“It’s right up here! Slow down a bit, we don’t want to seem too out of place.”

Arceus walked under a large arch, entering a wide rectangular space. On his back, Goucie tapped him on his head, pointing up.

“This is where I wanted to go,” he said, “It’s where I work.”

A gigantic tower stretched upwards, the top obscured by the bright lights beaming down from above. Dotted with hundreds of windows, it was almost as white as Arceus was.

“It actually goes through the ceiling and into the top layer of the city,” Goucie explained, looking around warily. He climbed off of Arceus and walked in front of him. “Just follow my lead and we’ll be fine. Walk straight and don’t look anywhere. No one will ask questions- if we’re lucky.”

Arceus was staring at the building. “And if we’re unlucky?”

“We’ll figure it out if it happens,” Goucie said, “Just in case though, do you feel ready to fight?”

“I think so,” Arceus replied. He was a little scared, but he brushed the feeling off. “I’m ready.”

--

No one paid them any mind as they walked in. Goucie nodded to a receptionist before ducking down a side hallway, Arceus right behind. Coming upon a flight of stairs, Goucie motioned to Arceus and started up them.

“CTB stands for Carigara Tourism Bureau,” Goucie said quietly as they ascended the stairs, checking quickly to see if anyone was around. “I’ve been around this place my whole life.”

“Tourism?” Arceus tried to imagine Cehdomu in charge of a hotel, but failed. “How does that work?”

“The bureau doesn’t encourage tourism, it maintains it,” Goucie answered, “Facilitating communication between public departments, controlling information flow, and curbing the undesirable element. Honestly, it’s a crazy amalgamation of stuff that I still haven’t been able to wrap my head around.”

“That sounds complicated,” Arceus said, “But I don’t like the sound of the last two parts.”

Goucie shook his head. “I’m not fond of it either. But that was the way my father made it, more or less in line with his ‘vision’.”

Arceus tilted his head. “His vision?”

“Don’t ask me,” Goucie said, “I made a point to ignore him when he started rambling. What matters is that he has the knowhow and the resources to accomplish whatever he decides to do.”

“Why would he and Cehdomu care so much about Mel then?” Arceus asked.

Goucie’s expression darkened. “Remember back when I was talking to Pasa? He and I, and everyone here too, think that the ones who took Mel are the KBA- that’s Katabatica.”

“What do they do?”

“Years ago, they were a- a civil advocacy group that campaigned for the betterment of the middle and the lower city, especially the latter.” The Combusken chose his words carefully. “Eventually, their tactics evolved into bombings and hostage taking among other things. Similar to what happened to us, but...” Goucie trailed off. “Something is different.”

Arceus twitched, reminded of the attack. “And that is?”

Goucie hesitated. “From what I remember reading, their acts were largely to make a statement. They would hold some official hostage for a while, then release them. Even in their bombings, they hardly hurt anyone. In Mel’s case, I don’t really see any statement beyond simple revenge.”

Arceus said nothing, but looked at Goucie expectantly.

“Mel didn’t do anything,” the Combusken clarified, “Her, uh, father, Pasa- he killed the previous leader of the KBA. Still though, the group has been dormant for years, for their first move back to be something like this is worrying.”

Arceus looked down. “Their new leader is more violent?”

“We can only assume,” Goucie said, “The former leader was Echaeska. He was extremely charismatic apparently. Anyway, we’re here, don’t worry about saying anything, I know this guy.”

As they entered the office, Goucie stopped suddenly, Arceus barely avoiding knocking him over from behind.

“Okay, new plan,” Goucie muttered, frowning. In the center of the room, a Masquerain flitted around a bank of monitors, talking quietly to themselves. Spotting Goucie and Arceus, they stopped.

“Hi, Goucie. Mongo is out right now, do you need something?”

Goucie clasped his claws together with a strained smile. “I just wanted to check some footage, Kohubiko. I’ll be out of your way.” He pointed at Arceus. “This is just someone I was showing around, don’t mind them.”

“Hi,” Arceus said politely, feeling out of place.

Kohubiko briefly waved at Arceus before following Goucie over to a monitor. “You know Goucie, I was wondering today. Do you think Parmon has a girlfriend?”

“Mmm, I wouldn’t know,” Goucie said, trying to ignore the Masquerain.

She persisted. “I’m pretty sure I saw him recently when I went out to dinner. It was a really nice place actually, Mongo gave me a gift card because we had to pull an overnight recently and I was excited to try it- but I can hardly remember the food because I was distracted by Parmon being there, cause you know, the chief never does stuff like that.”

The Combusken struggled to contain his irritation, quietly grinding his beak. “And you’re sure it was him and not some other Klingklang?”

Kohubiko made a face. “Well I have no way of proving that to you, now do I? I know though, it was definitely him. I could feel his presence, and I know you know what I’m talking about.” The Masquerain leaned in, watching Goucie filter through data. “I actually thought about checking the cameras to see if it was him for sure, but it’s too exciting to imagine.”

Goucie was silent for a moment, reading something. “Oh, uh, how does him going to dinner relate to whether or not he’s in a relationship,” he said, “Does he even need to eat?”

“Here’s the thing,” Kohubiko said, “He was alone, but he looked kind of lost. What if he got stood up?”

“Huh. Could be,” Goucie replied, surprised to find himself a little curious.

As the two chattered, Arceus stood in the doorway, unsure of whether or not to go in. In the middle of debating whether or not to interrupt them, there was a ring from his GSEL.

“Hello?” Arceus recognized Darkrai’s voice. “Arceus are you busy?”

Arceus looked at Goucie and Kohubiko. “A little, but I can talk.”

“It might be related to what I need to talk to you about.” There was a pause. “Mae and I heard about Mel, and we met someone who might know where she is.”

Arceus’ eyes widened. “Where are you?”

“We’re heading there now,” Darkrai replied, “Meet us at Jaruzaya Brokerage. You should be able to find it on one of those public maps posted around.”

“Okay...” Arceus said, troubled, “Did you tell Pasa about this?”

“Yeah, we did. I think he’ll be here, but I’m not sure. Anyway, I’ll make sure to wait for you.”

“I’ll be there soon, along with my friend Goucie,” Arceus said. “See you, Darkrai.”

Hanging up, Arceus was about to say something when Goucie walked back over to him, Kohubiko trailing behind him. “I found something,” he said, “Were you talking to someone?”

“Yes,” Arceus replied, “Darkrai said he might have found someone who knows where Mel might be.” He was about to continue when something crossed his mind. “Um, you haven’t met Darkrai, have you?. He’s another friend. They’re going to meet us there- can you tell me what you found while we go.”

“Alright,” Goucie moved to leave, but stopped, turning back to the Masquerain. “Sorry to leave so soon, I’ll catch up with you later.”

“Sure thing,” Kohubiko replied, glancing past him at Arceus curiously. “I don’t know what you’re up to with your assistant here, but good luck anyway!”

“Thanks,” Goucie said, managing a smile. He looked at Arceus. “Let’s go, ‘assistant’.”

As the two walked back down the hallway towards the staircase, Goucie groaned. “That didn’t go as bad as I thought it would.” He looked at Arceus strangely. “I know you’re in a hurry, but try to keep an even pace. It’s less suspicious.”

Arceus would have jumped out a window at that point if it were faster, but he forced himself to walk slowly, if stiffly. “You were expecting someone else back there?” Arceus asked, trying to calm himself down.

“I was hoping Kohubiko’s boss, Mongo, would be there. I mean, she’s nice, but she talks a lot.” The Combusken shook his head. “And if you’re wondering why someone like that is second in command of a huge surveillance net, it’s not that she can’t keep secrets. She just likes gossip.”

Arceus glanced back the way they had come from. “That’s bad in this case?”

Goucie nodded. “It might be a lot of little things, but if you encourage her, you can easily figure out a lot.”

Arceus thought about it for a moment. “So Cehdomu will know we’ve been here?”

“Almost certainly. While it’s not a bad thing right now, it’s not something he’ll forget. It could come back to bite us.” Goucie rubbed his beak. “What’s done is done, let’s get out of here.


==========


Sitting alone at his desk, Pasa scratched the table with one claw. Deep in thought, the Nidoking didn’t hear the Yanmega enter.

His wings slowly beating, Chocolate stared at the deep gouge in the table as Pasa’s claw ran along it. “Remember when we used to be a team?” he asked quietly.

“Before I was promoted to Director? I think about it sometimes,” Pasa said, “I still regret taking the position sometimes.”

“Director or Commander?” The Yanmega settled on the table, reaching forward and gently pushing Pasa’s claw away from the worn spot.

Pasa laughed bitterly. “Both, depending. I never would have thought it was so hard to just arrest someone.”

Chocolate murmured in agreement. “Mmmm. We’ve known each other for years, so I’ll be up front. What’s bothering you?”

“Hm? Nothing really, just the usual-”

Chocolate cut him off and gestured to the spot Pasa had been scratching at. He shook his head silently.

“I...” Pasa’s face fell as he sagged in his seat. “It’s my daughter, Mel. I don’t think you’ve met her.”

“Nea has told me a good deal,” Chocolate replied, “What’s wrong with Mel?”

The Nidoking hesitated. “It’s a long story.”

“Then get started,” Chocolate said without missing a beat.

The Nidoking crossed his arms and seemed to prepare himself. After several false starts, he began speaking. As he relayed the events of the past week to Chocolate, the Yanmega’s expression was unchanging.

Finishing his story, Pasa leaned back, feeling exhausted. “That’s about it,” he said, “I’m just waiting, that’s all.”

Chocolate’s reply was immediate. “You think she’ll get hurt like I did?”

Pasa flinched. “You almost died,” he replied, “I don’t want to risk losing her.”

“At this point, you have to take that risk,” Chocolate said, “It’s been this long and there’s been no demands or a body.”

“I just want Mel to be okay,” Pasa said, tears running down his face. “I’m scared that they’ll kill her because my actions. But- but if she’s gone because I did nothing...”

“Then you have to go!” Chocolate said, “It might hurt to know, but it’ll be worse to sit here and imagine.” The Yanmega paused, taken aback by his own emotions. “I’m- not good with these sort of things. There’s nothing left for you to do but trust whatever lead you might have.”

Wiping his tears, Pasa nodded. “It’s my fault Mel was caught up in this. If I, no, when I see her again, I have to apologize to her.”

Chocolate sighed. “I know you’re trying to be considerate, but don’t keep these things to yourself. I want to help you; you’re still my partner.”

“Chocolate... alright.” Pasa stood up. “I’m going now. I’ll let you know what happens.”

The Yanmega’s wings buzzed. “Knowing you, it will be just fine.”


=======


Staring into a bowl of noodles, Sachozume turned his chopsticks over in his hands. “Thanks for coming out here with me,” he said, “This place is really good.”

He turned to his companion, Qiyoha. The Watchog had stuck his chopsticks in his nose.

“Nice one,” the Simisage said dryly.

“Hehe, just thought it would be funny,” Qiyoha replied, pulling them out. “Usually, Postcard would have yelled at me if I did something like that.”

Sachozume nodded, thinking about the Pupitar. “I swear, until now I’ve never seen the two of you apart. If you don’t mind me asking, why do you stick together so much?”

“Me and Postcard have known each other since we were little,” Qiyoha said, smiling, “Since Postcard can’t move around as easily as she used to, I always carry her around so she doesn’t wear herself out.”

“Mmmmm,” Sachozume murmured. The Watchog was something of a mystery even in the secretive ranks of KBA. Along with Postcard, the two often disappeared for long stretches of time, turning up seemingly at random to offer assistance. The Simisage wasn’t sure if they even reported to the boss, but he wasn’t particularly keen to find out. The one thing he was interested in was Qiyoha’s raw power, one of the main reasons the two were generally left alone. “I wanted to ask, does carrying Postcard around like that all day double as training? I’ve heard Pupitar are supposed to be heavy.”

Qiyoha considered it for a moment before shrugging. “I guess? She’s not that heavy to me. I suppose I might just be used to it though.”

“How’d you get that strong in the first place?” Sachozume asked eagerly, “Was it from your parents, or have you trained your entire life?”

“I really don’t know,” Qiyoha said apologetically, “I guess it’s from my parents. I never knew who they were.”

The Simisage slurped down some noodles, looking disappointed. “Ah, damn. I was hoping I could learn your secret.” He smirked. “I guess you’re just lucky to some extent.”

“Ha, maybe.” Qiyoha looked thoughtful. “Oh! I wanted to ask- what did you do with that Lurantis we handed over to you guys?”

Sachozume shook his head. “Viytoya took care of that, I didn’t stick around. From what I heard, she took them out of town.”

Qiyoha jabbed his chopsticks into his bowl with little success. “What is she going to do to them?”

“Beats me. I’m wondering if she’s going to be alright though,” Sachozume frowned, “The boss is sending the new recruits out to assist.”

Qiyoha gave up on the chopsticks, holding the bowl up to his mouth. “Is there something wrong with them?”

“Not really, no,” Sachozume admitted, “But they really creep me out, like, more than Viytoya does normally. Something just seems wrong with them.” He paused. “Well, most of them aren’t too bad. It’s that Toxicroak, Reecie, that makes me uneasy.”

“At least they’re on our side,” the Watchog said, shrugging.

Sachozume sighed. “Definitely. I’d hate to be her enemy. Knowing Viytoya though, they’ll probably get along.”

Qiyoha smiled. “Oh well. That’s not our problem is it?”

“You said it.”
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. flygon
  2. charizard
  3. milotic
  4. custom/zoroark-soda
  5. sceptile
This one is for chapters 3 to 5! It's been a while since I've read this, but rest assured I'm certainly still interested, and I'm glad to see that Arceus is still his quirky, amnesiac self. The following will be a stream-of-consciousness thought wall.

Ah yes, and so they are now ascending the shrine. I forgot a bit about that but the details are now starting to come back to me. Arceus is definitely still on the clueless side, so now I wonder what will happen when they run into some real trouble. It already looks like they've run into some of that with those odd folks up the mountain. That's a good opener for the chapter to begin a micro mystery right off. Even when we get to their perspective, we don't totally know what's going on.

The idle remark that he doesn't think he needs hair is funny to be taken in such a mundane way. Then again, there are probably a lot of Pokemon who naturally don't need air for one reason or another, so maybe that's more mundane to them. I do like the idea of at some point they try to hold Arceus hostage and shove his head underwater to drown him, and he just thinks they're giving him a baptism or something.

And there we go, once they have an actual clash where Arceus has to do battle. Arceus is a god, or at least extraordinarily powerful. Aren't even aware of himself and he can already take on a reasonably seasoned fighter, or something akin to that. He's incredibly naïve, but he has the strength where he can afford to be, I guess.

One thing that was a little unclear to me was how Mallys reacted to being injured and knocked out. I'm not sure exactly what happened there, but he was constantly coughing... Was that the mushroom or something? It was unclear exactly what happened, so I thought he was just reacting in an odd way to being sliced or something.

Coming back to this, yes, it indeed seemed to be the mushroom. I was unclear what happened in the moment, and it made sense in hindsight. The way everyone is always so casual about it all is what often strikes me.

Overall, though, nice chapter to get back to this. I'm wondering if the story will continue to have odd interactions like this, or if Arceus will be given an challenge or two in the future...

Onto the next chapter--"You stomping in my face was pretty forceful" is an amazing line. Another one that got me to really laugh.

Still fascinating how all these characters can take this kind of action in stride, but then again I suppose as Pokemon it's only natural. Mel and Arceus seem to get along very well. Arceus seems to be the glue that holds Mel and Mallys together, because there's no way those two would be friends otherwise.

The remark about Arceus giving off a calming aura is definitely going to be important later. Maybe that's the way he can gather up followers or something, just demonstrating his calming aura? Makes some sense to me, at least, if he just has a passive Friendship Aura going on... so long as he doesn't abuse it. Maybe Mallys has a point down the line about bad influences.

Oh my god, Mel wandering in to see Mallys shoving a donut in Arceus' face and hoping it would somehow work is amazing. One of the funniest scenes so far, I think. And the scene before with Mel deliberating on following them was slightly unexpected. I thought at first that they were going to just be an episodic group, but Mel following make sense in retrospect. There was a whole chapter named after her, after all.

She's definitely somewhat of a rogue for the party, I guess. Maybe I have party composition in mind. And as Mallys goes in the next chapter, I do share some concern for the questionable influence that Mel would bring to the table when talking to Arceus. Mallys seems to have a bit of a guiding guardian feel at this point, deferring to what Arceus wants otherwise kind of like a retainer. Actually, that's almost exactly what it's becoming at this point, even if it's it necessarily by a means of duty, just happenstance and not having anything better to do.

I wonder what's going on with Darkrai, though. Arceus being strong is one thing, but I recall Darkrai being particularly weak. Is Arceus simply that powerful, even in this reduced state? That could be it.

Ah, and Darkrai has escaped, and he made use of his more ghostly tendencies this time as well. I guess while Darkrai is still strong in his own way, it isn't really the same as the strength Arceus has. And, to go with that, he's out of practice compared to Arceus as well.

But they've escaped! How these two stories will now intersect later is what I want to know more. They already met at the start. Will they now go off on different paths for a while, only meeting far later in another arc? That might be it.

The chapter closes off with some traveling from the new trio, this time in some kind of oil field during an incoming rainstorm. Seems that it's much more treacherous than usual, and falling directly into the Adventure genre with going from place to place. I think I'm starting to get an idea of the (current) rhythm of the story, if you continue this route. My hope for progress would be perhaps an overarching plot showing signs of progress, and a more pressing mystery of what Darkrai has to do with all of it. Until then, though, thanks for the read!
 
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