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Pokémon [COMPLETE] The Origin of Storms

Chapter 9

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Chapter 9 – Altered States


Esaax refused to believe it at first. Wake up, wake up, wake up! he screamed silently, again and again. But in truth, he knew better. This wasn’t a dream. There was no denying this new reality.

He’d shut his eyes to the sight of what was befalling him, wishing he could just pretend it away. Now that he was fully convinced that he couldn’t, a sort of morbid curiosity arose in him and compelled him to look again.

When he did, he saw the same thing his eyes had last shown him before he’d closed them in horror: his body was stretching itself out of shape, giving off a somewhat dim white glow as it did so. He was now longer than the bed on which he lay rather than the other way around—and he was still growing.

This surreal warping of his body had confused and terrified him more than it had actually hurt him up to this point, but now it made the shift from mere discomfort to sheer pain, starting when his head suddenly tore away from his shoulders in a single, violent jerk that threw him from the bed and onto the floor.

Esaax lay there in stunned bewilderment. His mind was almost frozen with fear, but his body was writhing and flailing in panic and agony. He vaguely wondered how he could possibly still be alive when it had genuinely felt like he’d just been beheaded.

The answer was that his head was still attached, though distantly now; he’d grown a very long neck. Its curvature gave him a clear, complete view of his transformation from a distance, as if he were watching it happening to someone else.

Still, the sight of his changes wasn’t anywhere near as awful as the way they felt—or the way they sounded. There was an audible creaking and crunching as his face bulged outward into an almost saurian shape. There were snaps and pops as his tail gained new vertebrae. There was a ripping sound as a meager coating of flesh raced to keep up with the rapidly elongating bones in his legs. There was the wet, sickening churning of altering organs, all the while accompanied by the violent pounding of his heart, every beat like brass knuckles to his sternum.

Pain exploded in his mouth as his original teeth were shattered by the sudden eruption of a new, more dangerous set: one row above and two below of curved, serrated teeth. At the same time, something searing-hot stabbed straight through his eyes to his brain, changing his vision.

His hands then seemed to tear themselves apart from within. Esaax watched in horrified revulsion as each of them split wide open, first at the knuckles and then off to one side, near the wrists. From the gashes, spindly, blood-soaked fingers began to emerge, four to each hand.

He wanted to scream. He’d been trying to all the while. But he was nearly breathless, and his voice wouldn’t come to his summons anyway. It was too consumed by its own changes to obey his involuntary commands.

Finally, there came the worst feeling of all, one that slowly spread up his now nearly eight-foot-long tail from the newly-formed bulb at its end that contained his pseudobrain. It wasn’t a pain but rather an impossible lack thereof. The part of him that should have been suffering the most instead felt nothing at all.

And furthermore, as he noted in fearful bewilderment, his new tail appeared to be eyeless… only to prove it wasn’t, right before his eyes. One by one, his new oculons opened in a ring around the bulb at the end of his tail, four in total.

Esaax’s tail twitched suddenly, and slowly, involuntarily, the multisensory organ curled inward. It brought itself to bear before his eyes, locking on to the center of his forehead. In that moment, in the dead stare of his own tail, Esaax’s heart seemed to stop, and he became as numb and still as a corpse. Then his tail and all of its senses came back to life, and with those senses, Esaax discovered an aspect of his new form that terrified him more than any other.

Right on cue, his voice returned. An unearthly roar tore its way out of him that was almost like two voices in one, simultaneously deep and piercing.

The weak light that had surrounded him finally gave out altogether, and the moment it did, the gengar who’d entered the room earlier appeared once more, rising up through the floor on the opposite side of the bed from Esaax. No sooner had she fully emerged than she seemed to melt back into the floor, her body losing definition as it rapidly dwindled, but she stopped shrinking once she was in her true form: that of a ditto by the name of Anomaly.

Anomaly flattened themself against the floor. As they did so, they extended part of their shapeless body in the form of two long, bright blue tendrils that were each as thin as a hair at the end. One of the tendrils reached out to grab the now spent evolutionary stone that lay a couple of feet away, while the other lashed out toward Esaax, who was now panicking, seemingly crazed.

Esaax’s tail noticed the swiftly-approaching tendril and flicked toward it. But Esaax, too absorbed in the fear and pain that still gripped him, gave no further reaction even as its end darted swiftly into the skin of one of his ankles.

The ditto withdrew both tendrils just as quickly, letting the stone rest on the floor right in front of their face for a moment as they hurriedly transformed again. As soon as a pair of white hands emerged from their changing form, they scooped it back up.

The shape Anomaly was taking was so familiar that they achieved it in no time. Where the ditto had sat mere seconds ago, the gardevoir known as Adn now crouched, but only for a moment before disappearing in a burst of golden light, leaving the Haven behind with no intentions of ever returning.

Almost immediately afterward, a small group of chansey nurses, drawn by Esaax’s screams, arrived at the scene to find the result of his unexpected evolution but nothing at all of its cause.

* * *​

Esaax floated, suspended in some strange, viscous medium. Though smotheringly hot, the gel that was wrapped around him was also comforting. He knew it protected him as it held him fast.

There were tubes entering his body from all sides. They fed substances into him that burned like the worst of all acids and brought pain to every part of him, but they also nourished him and gave him life. Despite the hurt they caused, he was grateful for them.

Something appeared in the murky distance, moving toward Esaax with incredible speed and grace. Esaax distantly wondered how it could cut through the gel so effortlessly when he was held so firmly in place by the viscous substance. When the thing drew close enough, Esaax saw that it had the form of a huge, disembodied, four-fingered hand—or rather the shadow of such a hand.

It closed around Esaax the moment he was within range of its long, thin fingers. Its grip felt like being enveloped in icy water. The contrasting cold was sudden yet not terribly harsh. It soon registered as a pleasant and soothing change after having been in such sweltering heat for so long. As the chill sank in deeper, it even started to dull the acidic pain that had been flowing through him.

The hand was snuffing out Esaax’s suffering. It was also snuffing out his life. Little by little, he felt less and less. The coldness filled him completely, consuming his every feeling. And Esaax found himself thinking it was fine to let this chill flush out his soul and leave him hollow, so long as the pain was purged along with it.

The dark hand began to carry Esaax away, and Esaax was perfectly willing to let it. This new void that the shadow-hand offered was comforting. It was good, and it was right. It was where he belonged.

Dragged ever further into the darkness, Esaax felt his nourishing lifelines start to break and pull out of him. Each one lost left him more unfeeling. It was good. It was right. It was…

Wrong! Suddenly panicked, Esaax fought against the tow of the dark hand, straining and thrashing in vain to escape the nothingness—

—and succeeding instead in escaping his unconsciousness. His eyes opened, and he was instantly aware that he’d been moved to another location. There was no bed here, and there was no door, either. There was barely any space at all, just enough to comfortably hold his large, spidery form. This room was nothing more than a place to contain him. It was just a box—or rather a cage, Esaax couldn’t help but think: a cage with soft, padded walls rather than metal bars.

“Nicer than being in a poké ball, anyway,” he thought aloud, and he was immediately surprised by the voice he’d just produced. It was a rasping, guttural kind of voice, sounding somewhere between a hiss and a groan.

I don’t sound like that! Esaax thought fearfully, but the fact was he now did. And oddly enough, he became bored of the new voice just as quickly as he’d been shocked by it. All at once, he felt as if the new voice and all his other changes had always been there.

A movement to his right caught his attention. His tail immediately focused on the source of the motion. A window that had been well-concealed opened there, and a familiar chansey’s face was visible through its thick, reinforced glass.

Esaax pushed his torso up from the floor and got up onto his feet, standing at more than eight feet tall. His neck naturally curved forward and downward, preventing him from having to duck more than just a little to avoid the ceiling.

Teresa watched him stand up, her expression unchanging as he aimed his gaze directly into hers. Her view of the large, blue pokémon was blurred every few seconds by the fog of his breath clouding the glass, giving Esaax an almost miragelike appearance.

“Esaax Evergray,” Teresa addressed him.

Esaax turned his head. The room, he realized, was soundproof. Teresa was speaking into a microphone, and her voice was reaching him through an unseen speaker somewhere behind him. Meanwhile, she listened through a speaker outside.

He turned back toward Teresa. “What?” he responded.

“You’ve evolved,” Teresa said.

“Good eye,” Esaax said blandly. He folded his arms and cocked his head at Teresa. The senses of his tail told him that she wasn’t happy with him, but he found that he didn’t really care. “So what of it?”

“I wasn’t aware that multiple-stage evolution was possible for your species,” Teresa said. “Do you know what you’ve evolved into?”

Esaax only stared at her in response. He hadn’t been aware that wobbuffet could evolve, either. For a moment, he wondered just what he’d become, vaguely annoyed at the fact that he didn’t know. But soon he decided that something else about his current situation was much more important.

“Why did you imprison me?” he demanded.

“Are you honestly saying you don’t remember? Or are you just being a wiseguy again?” Teresa had a hard time disliking anyone, but this creature Esaax had become—or more specifically, the attitude that apparently went along with the change—was threatening to push it. “You exhibited threatening behavior. The nurses who found you following your evolution told me you tried to kick and bite them, so we sedated you and put you here.”

At those words, Esaax wondered how long he’d been unconscious, but that moment of curiosity was as short-lived as the one that had preceded it. He gave an annoyed sigh. “I seriously don’t remember doing any such thing,” he said, “but if you insist that I did, well… sorry. Now how about letting me out of here?”

“I don’t think so,” Teresa said. “You see, wobbuffet are incapable of direct violence. We don’t know what else evolution might have made you capable of. So we’re going to have to keep you in there until we’ve managed to figure you out. Oh, and by the way: if you’ve learned to use any beams or projectile attacks to compliment your new physical advantages, and you’re considering using them to break out, don’t bother. The room is elementproof.”

“Huh. Well, could you at least get me something to eat? I’m starving in here.” The cell that held Esaax blocked sounds but not scents. It wasn’t until he smelled the chansey and tasted her scent of warmth and life and flesh on the air that he realized just how hungry he was.

“All right. Just give us a few minutes, and we’ll bring you something,” Teresa assured him, her tone and expression softening somewhat.

“No,” Esaax said. “I can’t wait that long.” He took a step back, then suddenly lunged forward, trying but failing to kick down the door. His jaws snapped against the window, the sharp teeth scraping the glass again and again with a harsh screeching sound.

Teresa jumped back from Esaax’s futile but nonetheless startling strike. She uncapped a hidden button on her microphone unit and pressed it. With a loud hiss, sleep powder sprayed forcefully into Esaax’s cell from all directions. In a near-instant, the cell was filled with obscuring, bluish-white powder. Seconds later, vents and fans siphoned away the dust, and Esaax was visible once more. He was completely subdued now, curled up and sleeping on the floor.

Teresa sighed, gazing at him with pity. I’ll find a way to get through to you. I swear it, she said silently.

She made her way to the waiting room and the arbok and snorunt therein. Once there, she explained the current situation to them. She then brought them to Esaax’s cell and allowed them both to have a look at him.

“You honestly have no idea what he’s become?” Syr quietly asked Teresa as he held a troubled stare upon Esaax.

“Not at the moment, no,” Teresa answered. As she spoke, she flicked a switch on the microphone unit. The cell’s small window and its view to the pokémon within were closed off once more. With a determined expression, Teresa turned to the others. “Come with me,” she said. “We may be able to find out yet.”
 
Last time on General Hospital

What will happen when Esaax takes the ultimate everything proof drug? Will Syr escape the gordian knot that he has tied himself into? Who still chooses car manufacture as a vocation in the (mostly) post-human future? Find out tonight on the one-hour special episode, starring special guest Les Claypool from Primus.

The 8th chapter - Maury Povich opens the manilla envelope, Esaax falls off the chair

The miracle drug won’t save the world yet. Like most indigestion medicines, it has to reach the bloodstream first, and if we’ve learned anything about Wobbuffet-kun, it’s that his blood is frozen solid from throwing everyone under the bus. An exaggeration perhaps, but I’m not going to back down unless this drug converts his liver into a distillery. The chances of that are in fact non-zero, given the less than stellar car ride.

Back to the drawing board then; a few more outbursts like this and Esaax will officially qualify for the Doctor Phil show. After he gets a dope seizure inducing rock, we turn now on a sharp right to Esaax’s once lover and son, ostentatiously about to conduct some illegal activity. Zer-zekai, who is *not* a Bleach character, is having trouble evolving, a recurring theme as it was in this narrative universe. But it was not fated to be, the prodigal son fails for the forty first time, albeit it’s the first time it wasn’t his fault. Escrow detects Esaax’s psychic seizure from across the earth and will now complete the Iditarod sled race to bring him the medicine that will save his life.

Or something.

The chapter 9 - A deviantart picture worth a thousand words

After being hit with the magical rock equivalent of an as of yet nonexistent (2024 or bust!) plastic surgery gun, Essax evolves into Wobbuffet 2 through the as of yet unexplained machinations of Anomaly, who was disguised as the therapist the whole time I guess. After dreaming of being choked out (and uncomfortably ok with it I might add), he awakens to find not only does he look silly now, his personality has become ANGERY. The horrible magic rock reacted negatively with the syrup that gives you powers and all we’re left with is Esaax Hyde. At least it’s not David Hasselhoff.

I ain't got much to say today. A major turnaround occurred in this here place, which given my dim foresight that I somehow have is another recurring trend in the fictionary. Esaax the myth, the legend, the Wobbulefett, is lined up for a spectacular series of unfortunate events, he’s ugly, his personality shifted 50 years to the geriatric side, and he has a child (again, uh oh). Everyone left to help him doesn’t know how, and the only one who did was really just playing a long con that will end with Esaax ending the world. Another day in paradise as the saying goes, aren’t we all band aids in the wind.

I’m obligated to go off and read Ralph Ellison now. If you ever thought your symbolism was perhaps too on the nose, then read Invisible Man (Ellison’s edition, not the Wells one). It’s not so much on the nose as it is up it.

Will Esaax become an productive member to society the? Can yours truly ever clearly visualize what he turned into? Will Syr still think Esaax is cool? (no) All this and more next time on Resident Evil.
 
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Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Raggy:
Maury Povich opens the manilla envelope, Esaax falls off the chair
Brb; losing it at this image.

My brain seems to have made a paper airplane out of my ability to remember how well I describe the evoffet in the chapters to come. Made a paper airplane, and chucked it over county lines, whereupon it was presumably chewed to oblivion by a deer or something. Anyway, in the (likely) event that the answer's "lol not very well at all actually", the good news is a few folks have done some very nice artwork of aforementioned fakemon; I could probably slide links your way.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 
Chapter 10

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Chapter 10 – Embracing the Predator​


“Can’t you do this any faster?” Syr urged.

“Do you want this done in a hurry or do you want it done right?” Madeline asked crossly.

“But—”

“Just keep your skin on, purple man!” the mr. mime snapped.

Teresa, Syr, and Jen had fetched Madeline, and after briefing her on what had happened to Esaax, they’d gone with her to access the Haven’s pokémon database. In addition to being the first hospital designed to admit and treat both humans and pokémon, the Haven had also been a very active center of pokémon research. Here, an immense volume of pokémon-related data from all over the world was compiled.

Therefore it was odd, not to mention very frustrating for Madeline and those who were gathered there with her, when minute after minute of the mr. mime’s work (which, Syr’s impatience aside, was truthfully very speedy) continued to yield nothing on the subject of wobbuffet evolution.

“There’s something in here,” Madeline said, her fingers continuing to fly over the keys. “There’s gotta be…”

She paused in her work, if only fleetingly, to give an involuntary shiver. “Brrr. Is it just me or did it just get really cold in here all of a sudden?”

“Yes, it is getting colder…” Teresa was well-insulated against the elements, but she’d noticed the chill, too. She cast a questioning glance at Jen. The snorunt caught her eye and suddenly looked as though he’d been caught robbing the cookie jar. With a small, embarrassed noise, Jen made a hasty exit.

“He didn’t have to leave…” said Madeline, who was too busy to sound as sorry for Jen as she felt. She continued her search, her brow knitted in hard focus. Finally, “Argh.”

“‘Argh’?” Syr echoed, puzzled.

“Yes, argh. That’s everything,” Madeline said. “Nothing in here at all about wobbuffet’s evolution.”

“Maybe he’s become an entirely new form of pokémon,” said Syr.

“I don’t think so,” Teresa said. “It just seems too unlikely that this is the first time this has happened. There’s got to be a precedent.”

“Well, then it should be in here. But it’s not,” said Madeline. “We’ve got loads of information here, some of which is very obscure and unusual. History extending back thousands of years. So I seriously doubt the absence of evolved wobbuffet in here is just an oversight.”

Obscure and unusual…

Thousands of years old…


“Karo,” Syr all but whispered, wondering why he hadn’t thought of this sooner. The arbok made for the door, rushing past the other two pokémon in the room.

“What are you doing?” Teresa asked, startled by Syr’s sudden action.

“Plan B,” Syr said. “Stay put; I’ll be right back.” With no further explanation, he left the Haven and set off down the street.

* * *​

After traveling a short distance southward, Syr came to a three-story house in the part of town where the more expensive homes stood. This was the home of Ekunasic Karo.

Karo was a nosepass, aged 6,731 years, which among his kind was still fairly young. He’d once belonged to the gym leader Ren Bridges of the Apex League: the gyms open only to elite trainers. Following the Extinction, Karo was no longer bound by his gym duties and left with little to do apart from looking after his trainer’s house. He thereby had the time to acquire a few new friends, whom he’d occasionally invite over to admire his trainer’s collection of the rare, the unique, and the obscure.

Syr was included among those few. However, he hadn’t spoken to or even seen Karo in over a year. Somewhat recently, he’d asked one of Karo’s other friends what the nosepass might be up to, and the answer he’d gotten was that Karo had decided to go to sleep.

Therein lay the potential problem with Syr’s idea: nosepass could sleep indefinitely and were profoundly difficult to wake. If Karo was still sleeping…

Syr knew he’d just have to find out whether or not that was the case and deal with the situation as it unfolded. He slithered up the walkway and immediately found something amiss: the door was unlocked and ajar. He knew that Karo would’ve had someone coming over periodically to take care of things while he slept, but he doubted any of Karo’s housesitters would’ve so carelessly left the door open.

Cautiously, Syr slipped through the door, not knowing for certain what he’d find. He leaned in and nudged the lightswitch with his nose. In spite of the suspicious front the situation had already presented, Syr was nonetheless shocked by what he saw.

A number of hanging lights illuminated a scene of chaos. Trinkets and artifacts were scattered and broken all about. Furniture was upended, disarrayed, ruined. On top of that, the walls, floor, ceiling, and every other surface in sight was covered in three different colors of what was unmistakably smeargle graffiti—as was the nosepass in the middle of the room, who was just obliviously sitting there like the big rock he was.

Syr slithered over to Karo. The nosepass obviously hadn’t been up and around during the invasion of his home. Even now, he remained more still and inanimate than seemed possible, even for a rock-type. It made Syr wonder if Karo was more than just very deeply asleep.

Concerned now, Syr pressed his head against Karo’s back. He was able to hear something going on in there, working out an undeniable rhythm, albeit a very slow one. Syr let out the breath he’d been unwittingly holding, immensely relieved that the nosepass was still alive.

He glanced toward a nearby closet. I really need to memorize that pattern, he thought ruefully. He could’ve let Karo sleep if he’d already known it by heart. As it stood, he was now faced with the daunting task of waking him.

He tried shouting at Karo. He tried pushing and prodding at him. He even poked Karo in the eye, but still the nosepass kept snoozing on.

Syr was getting desperate at this point. He was on the verge of finding out whether or not Karo would respond to having something shoved up his huge, honking nose. Then he spotted something potentially useful in the corner.

It was a mace, which had caught Syr’s eye when light had glinted off of its surface. It was the only metal object in the entire room, though clearly not a kind of metal that was attracted by Karo’s magnetism; otherwise, the “up-the-nose” question might’ve answered itself.

Syr went over and lifted the mace with his tail. The weapon was good and heavy. Karo, meanwhile, was good and durable, enough so to avoid taking any serious injury from the thing. So Syr hoped, anyhow, as he returned to Karo and swung the mace into the side of the nosepass’s face.

Nothing happened.

Syr tried striking Karo just a little bit harder, this time hitting him just below his massive nose, but Karo still wouldn’t awaken.

Syr’s desperation peaked. He gathered all his strength and then some, raising the mace as high as he could. With a yell, Syr brought it crashing down one last time, dead center into Karo’s forehead.

Crack!

There was a small explosion of gray dust. When it cleared, Syr saw that he had opened a long, shallow fissure in Karo’s head, splitting it like a melon.

Syr stared horrorstruck at the damage for a moment, terrified that he might have just killed one of his best friends. Then a groan issued from the nosepass. Karo rocked back and forth on his short legs a couple of times, then tilted backward and held that position, gazing up unsteadily at Syr.

Then, without warning, the nosepass lunged forward. Syr flung himself out of the way just as Karo’s pointed nose punched a large hole in the floor right where the arbok had been seconds before.

Syr kept himself at a distance as Karo righted himself once more. “Karo, it’s me!” he shouted, but it was no use. The nosepass was still fast asleep, with his cognitive faculties possibly compromised further by the blow to his head.

Worried that Karo might charge at him again, Syr tried to move out of the way. Much to his alarm, he found himself completely immobilized as if he were caught in an invisible vice. When’d he use block? Syr wondered, bewildered. He could do nothing but stare as Karo followed up with lock-on, his huge nose glowing as it brought itself to bear upon the arbok.

Syr knew what was coming next, and he wasn’t looking forward to it at all. He knew he had to get Karo back to his senses… but if cracking the nosepass’s head open couldn’t awaken him completely, then what could?

At any rate, Syr wasn’t keen on being on the receiving end of an electric blast if he could help it. With most of his options locked down at the moment, he prepared to use acid, but found to his shock that he couldn’t even get his jaws open. Damn, that’s a good block! Syr remarked silently as he was forced to swallow his own acid attack, leaving a sickening, burning sensation in his stomach.

An ominous hum resonated through the room, and the air tingled with electricity—Karo was about to unleash a zap cannon. Knowing he couldn’t escape, Syr shut his eyes in dread and braced himself…

ZZZAP.

When stars stopped exploding in Syr’s brain, he found himself lying on his side; the block that had been holding him in position had apparently been diverted to something else, though to what or why, Syr couldn’t imagine.

Meanwhile, one of Karo’s big, stumpy feet was filling almost his entire field of view.

Syr tried to bolt away, but the zap cannon attack had rendered him almost completely paralyzed, his body devoid of sensation and largely unresponsive. He was utterly helpless if Karo opted to crush his skull with that stone foot in his not-quite-conscious rampage.

Instead of attacking again, however, Karo spoke up. He seemed to be much more awake now, but he still sounded rather dazed. “Hey, Syr. Man, I don’t know what’s been going on… was I sleepwalking?”

“No, you were sleep-zapping,” Syr said, struggling slightly to speak due to his numbed mouth.

“What?” Karo was apparently still coming to some of his senses and not having a particularly easy time doing so. “Aw… dude, I am so sorry… did I really?”

“Yes, you did.”

“I am so sorry,” Karo said again. He slowly became aware of his surroundings. “Aw no, I didn’t do all this, did I?”

“No, it was some smeargle. They came in and trashed the place, marked all over everything. Including you.”

“When?” Karo demanded.

“I have no clue,” Syr responded.

“Hmmph. Yeah, it was smeargle, all right. Look at this mess…” The nosepass meandered around the house, surveying the vandalism and groaning ever louder as he stumbled upon more and more damage. At some point, he apparently came across his own reflection somewhere; “Aw crap, they did mark me!” he shouted. “…How’d they put this crack in my head, though?”

“They didn’t. I did,” Syr admitted. “I was trying to wake you up… Does it hurt?” Syr asked, hoping the answer was “no”.

“No, not really,” Karo replied. He came back into the room where Syr still lay immobilized. The hole he’d made in the floor caught and held his attention. “Who did this?”

“That would be you and your massive nose.”

“Huh.” Karo actually sounded as if he were impressed with himself.

Syr was not impressed. “Haven’t you noticed that I’m paralyzed here?” he hissed.

“Whoa… Yeah, you are, aren’t you? But that’s okay. Ren always keeps a good supply of dried cheri berries around—”

“Gee, I wonder why?” Syr muttered.

“That’s assuming those idiot mammals didn’t get into them,” Karo finished, ignoring Syr’s comment. “I’ll go get… oh. I forgot—they’re in the kitchen,” he groaned. “I can’t go in there…”

“And why can’t you go in there, exactly?” Syr demanded.

“Fridge.”

It took a moment for Syr to make sense of that. The arbok then noticed that Karo was heading for the front door. “Wait, where are you going?”

“I’m gonna get help from across the street,” Karo answered as he opened the door and began to step out. “Don’t move.” He stopped in his tracks as he realized he’d just said that to someone who was almost completely paralyzed at the moment. Then he burst out into loud, honking laughter, which was still audible long after he’d shut the door and left.

Syr just lay there on the floor, seething with annoyance and worry at how much time this misadventure was costing him and Esaax.

* * *​

Teresa leaned against the office door, the tip of her tail flicking about restlessly. Whatever Syr had gone to do, she hadn’t expected him to take this long about it. It was beginning to look as though Syr’s search for answers would prove as fruitless as Madeline’s had.

“Might as well look in on Esaax again,” the chansey said wearily. “I imagine he’s still asleep in there, though…”

Madeline turned in her seat to face Teresa. “Do you think maybe I could…?” she asked, fluttering her fingers.

Before Teresa could say anything in response, someone flung the door open. The chansey was catapulted onto the floor, where she rolled for a short distance before she could pick herself back up again.

Regarding the sticky remnants of the now shattered egg in her belly pouch with severe annoyance, she readied an angry glare for whomever was making their entrance. As it turned out, it was Jen. But before Teresa could chew him out, words came tumbling out of his mouth, loud and completely unintelligible.

“Say that again. And breathe this time,” Teresa said, seizing the snorunt by his shoulders.

“There’s-someone-at-the-front-door-and-I-don’t-know-who-or-what-she-is-but-she’s-here-to-see-Esaax-and-she’s-really-freaked-out-and—” Jen very nearly passed out right then and there.

Teresa sighed. “I thought I told you to breathe,” she said. “Thank you for letting me know about that, Jen. Now please go sit down and relax somewhere. Please.”

Teresa went over to the desk where she’d set down the microphone unit for Esaax’s cell, retrieved the device, and handed it to Madeline. “If he’s up, you can tell him he has another visitor. But if he’s not, don’t wake him.”

The chansey left the room, with Jen tottering woozily behind her. Madeline watched them go, then set out herself in a bit of a rush.

Esaax was currently housed in a part of the Haven that was rarely used, usually deserted, and far removed from the greater population of the hospital. This meant a bit of a walk for Madeline, but it was more than worth it as far as she was concerned.

Eventually, she found herself standing before Esaax’s cell. She hit the switch on the microphone unit controlling the window, and once the window had opened, she peered through it eagerly. The dim light fed into the room at all times revealed that Esaax was still sleeping, his slender, spidery body curled up on the floor.

Madeline marveled at the sight before her, impressed with Esaax’s new form beyond even her own expectations. If only he were awake, she wished silently, then I could see him in action

The mr. mime began to turn away, sighing in disappointment. Then she thought she spotted something moving out of the corner of her eye. Turning back, she saw something long, black, and ringed with eyes appear in the window, searching about like a periscope. Esaax’s new, saurian face rose up from the floor after it.

Madeline switched on the microphone and speaker in a hurry. “Aww, did you wake up just for me?” she asked.

“No,” Esaax croaked, at which Madeline wilted in mock embarrassment. “I wasn’t asleep,” he added.

“You weren’t?”

“I was faking it the whole time.”

“Faking it, huh?” Madeline echoed skeptically. “What about the sleep powder Teresa blasted in there?”

Esaax smirked. A lime green aura briefly shimmered around him.

Safeguard… Madeline just stared at him, her mouth hanging slightly open. She wondered how he’d managed to use it without Teresa noticing.

She continued to watch Esaax through the window, and he gazed right back at her almost… longingly… Madeline felt her mouth go dry. Could it be… does he really…? she wondered. “You… you really do understand the way I feel about you, don’t you?” she asked, her pulse quickening.

Esaax merely blinked at her, pressing his vaguely smiling muzzle against the glass.

Whether that was a “yes”, a “no”, or anything in between was utterly irrelevant; Madeline had already made up her mind. She threw a glance over her shoulder at the security camera that looked down upon them. It, like the rest of the Haven’s cameras, had gone out of order a couple of days prior and still hadn’t been repaired, but she still had an odd, fleeting notion that she ought to disable it.

She decided against tampering with the camera, however, and instead turned her attention back toward the device in her hand. She uncapped a tiny green button on the microphone unit and let her finger hover over it for a moment before pushing it. There was a faint tone. Then, smoothly and almost silently, the door to Esaax’s cell slid open.

The gangly shape within stirred, framed in soft light and looking ghostly. Esaax lurched forward and emerged from his cell, bowing his already low-slung head even further as he passed through the doorway. Now that he was no longer contained, he seemed much larger than he’d appeared to be while within his cell, and there was something about him that affected Madeline in a way she hadn’t anticipated. Something her psychic centers were beginning to react to in a primal and increasingly uneasy way.

Esaax moved toward Madeline with slow, graceful steps. He loomed over her, twice her height. He drew an incredibly long, deep breath, his broad chest swelling immensely. A long, red tongue flitted quickly across his lips.

Madeline looked up at Esaax with awe, struggling to breathe more calmly and to stop trembling so much. With a smile that was unusually hesitant to form, she reached for one of his massive hands.

The spidery, blue fingers closed over Madeline’s own with an iron grip. It was all she could do not to yelp in pain.

Esaax moved even closer and lowered his head, his face just inches from Madeline’s. His lips drew back, baring his jagged teeth. He began caressing her face with his muzzle, drawing short, panting breaths, taking in her scent.

Madeline felt a wave of revulsion wash over her. This was not the experience with Esaax she’d fantasized about so many times. He was starting to scare her, and not only with his behavior alone—the discomfort in her psychic centers that his mere presence seemed to cause was still growing, and it was strong and distinct enough now that she recognized its warning for what it was: He’s a dark-type now.

Nonetheless, she forced herself to look at him directly, trying as hard as she could not to appear as unsettled as she felt. She thought, or at least hoped, that if she could continue to treat him with affection, he’d snap out of this disturbing phase. Maybe he’d even start returning the favor.

She reached up with her other hand to touch Esaax’s face, caressing it with fingers that shook in spite of her efforts to calm them. His skin was rubbery and quite smooth, pleasant to the touch. She tried to focus on how nice it felt rather than on the fear that was steadily overtaking her. It began to work, too. But then Esaax’s head moved with alarming speed, the jaws snapping harshly. His serrated teeth sank deeply into the meager flesh of her arm.

Madeline screamed in pain. All the love she’d had for Esaax was gone now, replaced by pure, primal terror. Knowing she currently had access to no attacks that could do him any harm, and aware that she’d likely just get them thrown right back at her at twice the power if she did have any, she tried desperately to free herself from him, but to no avail. Her escape was foiled soundly, not only by Esaax’s sheer physical strength but also by the dark gray aura that flared into being around both pokémon at her attempt to escape. Esaax had retained his shadow tag ability.

He worried Madeline’s arm in his jaws with shredding teeth and sharp, jerking movements of his neck until the appendage was torn away at the elbow, gruesomely freeing one side of her, drawing more cries of agony. His left hand clutched her right hand even more tightly, and there were several sickening cracks as the bones in his grip yielded to the pressure. His other hand shot forward and slammed into her chest, pinning her to the wall.

Now struggling to breathe, Madeline stared through eyes blurred with tears at the empty space where half of her arm had once been. Then, fearfully, she looked up at Esaax once more. His head was already raised for another strike. Her blood dripped slowly and thickly from his jaws, and she glimpsed a couple of her own fingers protruding from between his teeth before they, along with the rest of her severed limb, disappeared into his mouth and down his very long throat.

It was then that Esaax became aware of something new. He’d just discovered the presence of a power he hadn’t tapped into thus far. He summoned it forth, and it rose up through his spine, radiated out through one arm, and gathered in his hand.

Esaax went ahead and released Madeline, letting her slump to the floor in her wavering consciousness, knowing she couldn’t escape anyway. Curious, he gazed at his own hand. Energy in a shade of black he’d never seen before danced in a slow vortex around it with a glow that was intensifying by the second.

He drew that arm back as if he were working an invisible bow. All of his senses focused fully on the bleeding, shaking mr. mime before him. His concentration became heightened to its fullest. At this range, it was virtually unnecessary to take aim, but he instinctively sought out the most lethal trajectory for his new weapon.

His arm thrust forward. With a loud, hollow sound, a glowing black beam of incredible intensity exploded from his hand, blasting Madeline point-blank.

At that exact moment, a horrible, sudden pain hit Esaax like a wrecking ball, taking his breath away. Red light exploded in his vision. His nerves burned for what felt like innumerable seconds, and his head felt as though it were blowing itself apart.

In his suffering, Esaax staggered and fell to the floor. When he rose once more, his mind surfaced from the altered state it had been in for nearly the entire duration of the time since he’d evolved.

His vision returned in the next moment. He saw blood before him, as well as something mangled and twisted—a corpse. Something—someone—who, mere moments ago, had been alive—until he’d killed her.

Esaax recoiled with a scream, suddenly frantic to be as far away from the scene as possible. His stomach violently expelled its contents. His renewed clarity wouldn’t let him believe that this was just a nightmare or a hallucination. The scene before his eyes unflinchingly spoke the truth: he’d murdered this pokémon. He’d tasted her blood. He’d eaten her flesh…

A howl of anguish and horror tore its way out through his throat. With fear, confusion, and disgust like none he’d ever known, all directed straight toward himself, Esaax brought his newfound technique to bear on the wall. He let it linger there until a large area of the wall had turned black and disintegrated, and then he fled into the night.
 
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Chapter 11

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Chapter 11 – The Vault​


Karo returned just a short while after he’d left. He was accompanied by Breanna, a granbull from across the street, who fetched the dried cheri berries from Karo’s kitchen and administered them to Syr. She also provided a couple of sitrus berries from her own cupboard for the nosepass’s injury.

Syr had never watched Karo eat before. After finally doing so, the arbok decided he’d never watch it again if he could help it.

The granbull also tried to get the grafitti off of Karo. She was only partly successful.

After Breanna left, Syr explained what had happened to Esaax at the Haven. He then asked Karo if he knew anything about the evolved form of wobbuffet.

Karo gave Syr an odd, sly look. He beckoned the arbok to a closet that, when opened, appeared to contain nothing other than an obscene message scrawled in yellow smeargle ink. Karo brushed his nose against the back wall a few times, drawing an invisible pattern, and the wall slid aside to reveal another, larger room.

“After you,” Karo said, ushering Syr into the hidden room before entering it himself.

Syr wasn’t surprised by the secret room; this wasn’t the first time Karo had shown it to him. He also wasn’t surprised when he felt the room begin to descend; he’d taken this elevator a couple of times before.

“I take it this means you do know something about what wobbuffet evolve into?” he asked.

“You could say that.” The elevator came to a stop. “Now, you’re not gonna find one hair of smeargle in here,” Karo said, snorting grumpily. “Stupid furballs, scribbling their filth—I’d like to show them who likes to eat their own…”

Syr and Karo exited the elevator and entered what Ren had dubbed the Vault. It was a large room that housed all of Ren’s most valued possessions. Just as Karo had predicted, there were no signs of intrusion by smeargle.

The Vault contained more books than anything else, arranged on towering bookcases that lined the wall directly in front of Syr as well as those off to either side. Syr’s gaze swept over the vast book collection. “Which of these has what we want?” he asked.

“Never mind them,” Karo said, making his way further into the room. “I kinda got the impression that you’re in a hurry—” Syr made an exasperated noise at this, with the face to match. “—so, for the sake of time, just watch the screen.”

The screen Karo was referring to was mounted on the opposite wall to the elevator doors, covering a large portion of it. Syr slithered over to Karo, who produced a deep and very resonant sound. The overhead lights went out, and the screen before Syr and Karo flicked on.

“Number thirty-nine,” Karo said. Words and symbols flashed briefly on the screen, and then a film began to play…

A pokémon battle was about to begin in a gym lit by glowing, pale green crystals. The walls were decorated with carved figures of pokémon over a softly glowing background of shifting colors. The floor was covered by an equally colorful mosaic depicting planets, comets, and stars.

Ren sat on one side of the arena in a dark-colored, metal chair. The strange lighting and the camera angle didn’t allow for a very detailed examination of his appearance, revealing only that he was slight of build, completely bald, and dressed in simple, entirely black attire.

Opposite him, his challenger was seated in a chair like his own. The camera revealed somewhat more of her appearance than Ren’s. Like him, she wore dark clothing, deep blue denim for her jacket and pants and black for the rest of her outfit. Unlike him, she had hair: dark, unkempt, and reaching down past her shoulders.

“You’re sure you want to do this the straightforward way?” the gym leader said in his sly-sounding, slightly lilting voice. “The special features of my gym do exist solely out of consideration for the challenger.”

“Thanks, but I came here to battle a gym leader, not a gentleman,” responded the challenger in a low, cackling voice.

Ren gave a short laugh. “Out with it, then!”

The challenger produced a nest ball. “Go, Alain!”

With a burst of light, an alakazam appeared. Alain gazed intensely at the gym leader, holding both of his spoons in one hand while thoughtfully stroking his long whiskers with the other.

“Oh, that’s
nice…” Ren remarked. “Very nice. A shame, really, considering… oh well. Acheron? Could you step forward, please?”

There was no poké ball of any kind thrown, no flash or sparkle of light to herald the entrance of Ren’s pokémon. Instead, the summoned creature emerged from the shadows at Ren’s side. Rays of pale green light fell upon Acheron, revealing…


“Okay, Syr, is that what you saw?” Karo asked.

“Yes. Yes, it is,” Syr answered almost breathlessly. The arbok could barely believe his eyes, but the sight they presented told the truth: whatever Esaax had become, Acheron was the exact same thing. “They’re desperate for information about these things back at the Haven. To think there’s been one here this whole time…”





“Eh, not really,” Karo said. “We didn’t spend a whole lot of time at home back during the gym days. Afterward, the big guy ended up wherever Ren did.”

“Right…” For a moment, Syr worried that the conversation was about to take a sad and awkward turn, but thankfully it did nothing of the sort. He returned his attention to the footage, watching the battle begin in earnest…

In the gyms of the Apex League, the trainers weren’t allowed to issue commands to their pokémon. Ren and his challenger had to sit back and watch their pokémon carry out the battle on their own terms.

Sensing the presence of the dark element within his opponent, Alain knew his psychic attacks were useless in this match. He furthermore identified Acheron by sight as a former wobbuffet; as such, Alain knew the rest of his attacks risked doing more harm to himself than to Acheron.

Alain quickly formulated a plan to get around that, however. He transferred one of his spoons to the other hand, then summoned one of the techniques he’d inherited from his medicham father. The air around the alakazam crackled with electricity, and miniature bolts of lightning began a frenzied dance around one of his hands.

Meanwhile Acheron stood calmly on the other side of the arena, his long tail waving as he watched his opponent with a faint smirk. Alain surged forward and leapt high into the air, his psychic power letting him hover over the head of his eight-foot-tall opponent for a moment before slamming a thunder punch into the back of Acheron’s neck.

Small tremors rippled through Acheron’s body as electricity briefly coursed through him, but he kept silent and showed no visible signs that the thunder punch had caused him any actual pain—until an orange aura blazed around him, sending the alakazam flying with the force of his counter attack.

Grunting in pain, Alain telekinetically righted himself in midair and looked intently at Acheron, hoping to see evidence that he’d successfully paralyzed him—the less pain Acheron could feel, the less he could inflict. But Acheron’s tail was waving just as fluidly as it had been before he’d taken the thunder punch, and his legs stayed steady beneath him.

Accepting this, Alain lowered himself back down to the ground and implemented the other aspect of his plan, hoping that it, at least,
would work on the first try. He transferred his other spoon back into his empty hand, and then a dull red glow filled his eyes. A ball of energy in the same color gathered between his spoons and then fired at Acheron, bursting into jagged red streaks that snaked over his entire body on impact. The streaks gave a single red flash, then turned black and vanished into Acheron’s skin. Alain smiled—Acheron’s counter technique had been successfully disabled.

Acheron regarded this new development without any concern; he hadn’t planned to rely solely on that technique, and knew he could do just fine without it. He shut his eyes, letting his mind sink into a deep meditation.

Alain wasted no time in launching more attempts to paralyze his opponent, hoping to succeed before the effects of his disable technique wore off. The gym was filled with the crackling sounds of electric power as he delivered three more thunder punches in quick succession. Acheron reacted to none of them.

Alain moved back from him, once again checking to see if Acheron was showing any signs of paralysis. Acheron’s skin was blistered and raw at the site of each thunder punch’s impact, and he reeked of charred flesh and trembled on the spot.

Those tremors subsided very quickly, however, and the moment they did, Acheron’s body suddenly took on a bright red glow. The light expanded outward in a bide attack, forming a shockwave that knocked Alain off his feet and blasted him clear across the arena—he almost went flying right into his trainer’s face.

Acheron grinned as he watched the alakazam on the other side of the arena struggle to catch his breath and get back onto his feet. This, Acheron decided, was a good time to bring out the big guns—as weak as his opponent had become, he might only have to do it once. Besides which, he figured he’d played around with him long enough.

He let a dark-type charge build around one hand, seeing a faint, off-white glow surround Alain as he did so. The alakazam was trying to heal himself—but too late. No sooner had his injuries begun to mend themselves than a black beam came roaring forth from Acheron’s hand and struck him. Alain screamed in agony—and curiously, so did Acheron.

The attack ceased. Alain, covered from head to toe in black scorch marks, twitched briefly before falling unconscious and still. Acheron fell to his knees, still gasping in pain in the wake of his own attack, but he stayed conscious. The match was over. The challenger had lost.


“So that’s it, then,” Syr said, knowing that Apex gyms allowed only one pokémon to each competitor.

“Yep,” Karo confirmed. He produced the same low sound that he’d used to activate the video screen, and it shut off once more.

“That pokémon fighting the alakazam… what was that?” Syr asked.

“That,” Karo said, “was a kwazai.”

“Kwazai…” Syr echoed. “And that last attack he used…” Syr had never seen anything like it before, especially not from anything like a wobbuffet. This was no retaliatory technique—Acheron had attacked proactively, something wobbuffet were unable to do. Apparently evolution freed them from that restriction. “What in the world was that?”

“That would be reflux,” Karo answered. “It’s a dark-type attack, and it’s one of the nastiest ones there is, too.”

“So does this mean kwazai are dark-types?” Syr asked.

“Only half that. Psychic/dark-type, to be specific. But that’s only the guys. The girls, now, they’re another thing altogether…”

“What?”

“Yeah. The guys evolve one way, and the girls evolve another,” Karo explained.

“…Just how much do you know about kwazai?” Syr asked, astounded.

“Meh… pretty good amount, I guess…” Karo replied nonchalantly.

“Okay,” Syr said. “Okay then. I’ve gotta get back to the Haven. And you need to come with me.”

* * *​

Syr and Karo arrived shortly thereafter at the Haven. Once through the doors, they were immediately greeted by a scene that neither had expected to find.

Teresa was unloading a small bundle of assorted medicines onto the nearest counter when she noticed the arbok and the nosepass. “Oh good, you’re finally back!” she said.

But neither Syr nor Karo really heard her, particularly not Syr. This was because they’d noticed the tall, blue figure lying on a bench near where Teresa stood sifting through her portable remedies.

Syr moved closer to the unknown being. He was almost completely certain that this pokémon, with their blue skin and their black tail that held a presently-closed oculon in each of its four branches, had something in common with Esaax. He turned to Karo. “Is that…?”

“Yep, that’s a kwazai,” Karo confirmed.

Teresa joined them by the bench, carrying a spray-bottle of potion and a faintly glowing revive crystal. “Karo, I presume?” she asked of the nosepass. Karo responded affirmatively with a small grunt and an action that would’ve been a nod if he’d had a neck.

“What happened here?” Syr asked Teresa.

“Well, she showed up here and managed to let me know she was looking for Esaax, but something was driving her madder by the second. There seemed to be no calming her. And when we tried to restrain her, she started psywaving everything in sight before screaming bloody murder and passing out. Unfortunately, one of those psywaves hit Jen…”

What?” Syr said, instantly worried.

“He’s not hurt,” Teresa assured him. “The poor kid’s just had his brain scrambled a little. He got so dizzy that he just tipped right over and hasn’t been able to get back onto his feet yet. But other than that, no damage done. He’ll be just fine before you know it.

“I put him right over there,” she added, pointing. “You can see for yourself.”

She was indicating a chair off in the corner, where the snorunt was lying with his eyes half-closed. Syr, distracted by the kwazai, hadn’t even seen him there. “How are you feeling?” he asked as he slithered over to Jen. Jen only groaned softly, rolled over, and turned his back on Syr in response.

“Best not to stimulate him too much right now if you’d rather he didn’t throw up,” Teresa said.

She took the revive and held it against the kwazai’s forehead. Its glow intensified for a moment, then went out entirely, leaving the spent crystal darkened like a burned-out lightbulb. The kwazai stirred slightly and gave a soft moan, her consciousness returning. Teresa then began spraying potion over the scrapes and bruises covering the kwazai’s arms; the wounds began fading away at once. “Poor thing. She must have taken a nasty spill on the way here,” the chansey said.

“Who is she?” Syr wondered aloud as he gazed down at the kwazai. “Did you manage to get any personal information out of her before she passed out?”

“I tried to get her name,” Teresa said, “and I think I succeeded. It sounded like ‘Intro’…”

“Ntairow.”

Everyone’s attention turned to the kwazai. “What?” Teresa said.

“It’s N-tair-row.” The kwazai’s voice was breathy and lilting. She also sounded rather groggy at the moment—she was still in the process of waking up. “Is that all you want to know?”

Teresa opened her mouth to answer, but before she could get a single word out, she was interrupted by another chansey, one who was bawling her eyes out as she came barreling in. The new arrival just barely managed to come to a stop in time to avoid colliding with Teresa.

“Rebecca? What’s the matter?” Teresa asked, clearly alarmed.

Rebecca tried to speak, but then froze, her mouth quivering as she stood paralyzed by some unknown horror. Finally, she burst into hoarse, violent sobs.

The noise abruptly brought Ntairow to her senses. She got up onto her single pair of long, stiltlike legs with a suddenness more befitting teleportation than standing. She held her tail high, its branches fanning out.

“What is it, Rebecca?” Teresa asked again, more slowly this time. She took Rebecca’s paws in her own and gave her an imploring stare.

“It’s… just…horrible,” Rebecca managed to gasp out. She then backed away from Teresa and cast a fearful glance into the hallway she’d emerged from just moments before. Returning her tearful gaze to the others, “Here. It’s over here,” she said breathlessly, then took off down the hallway.

Teresa rushed after her as fast as her short legs would allow, accompanied by Syr, Karo, and Ntairow. Ultimately, Rebecca came to a halt, and once all of the others had arrived at their apparent destination, she wasted no time in fleeing the scene. She had not wanted to come back to that place and the sight that it presented, and upon seeing it with their own eyes, no one she’d brought there had to wonder why.

There was Madeline, lifeless and mangled. There was her blood, cast all over the floor and walls. And there was the door to Esaax’s cell, left wide open, with a hole burned through the far wall that was more than big enough to admit an escaping kwazai.

Cries of shock, sorrow and revulsion filled the air. Karo immediately looked away from the slain mr. mime. Syr turned and retched, though nothing came up. Ntairow cried out and buried her face in one of her left hands while reaching out with both of her right hands to prop herself against the wall.

“My God… no…” Teresa’s voice sounded very fragile. She leaned over the corpse, reaching for Madeline’s remaining hand. The fingers, broken and burnt black, crumbled into dust at her touch. Teresa immediately began sobbing.

Shakily, Syr turned to Ntairow. The kwazai swayed slightly where she stood, as if she were about to pass out again. She was clutching her head and chest simultaneously, and the tension in her face told Syr that she was in very real pain.

“The darkness…” Ntairow said almost voicelessly. “The residue of it still hangs in the air. But he’s not here.”

She pushed herself away from the wall and began striding determinedly toward the exit Esaax had made, avoiding the blood on the ground with sure, graceful steps. But then she found the end of a long, purple tail coiled around one of her arms as if to try and stop her.

“Wait!” Syr called out, struggling not to be dragged along as she kept walking.

The kwazai finally stopped and turned her long, flat face toward him, wearing the glare to end all glares.

“…Listen,” Syr said. “Esaax is my friend, too. If you’re going after him, I’m going with you.”

Karo approached Ntairow and Syr. The expression on his stone face was unreadable. “And if he’s going, then I’m going,” he said. “I’ll look after you, buddy, don’t worry,” he told Syr.

Ntairow didn’t feel as though she had the luxury of time or patience enough to argue with them. The urge to seek out the terribly troubled creature that Esaax had become and rush to his aid was hardwired into her brain—she couldn’t easily resist the demands of her highly developed powers of empathy, and she flat-out wouldn’t resist them when it was the suffering of someone she loved that spurred them into action. She nodded to Syr and Karo, and Syr released his hold on her.

The arbok looked back at Teresa. Tears fell silently from his gray eyes. “Take care of Jen,” he told her. Then Syr turned away, and he and Karo followed Ntairow out of the Haven in silence.
 
Around 24 hours ago in a foreign land far from home, but also conveniently close to a Target, I emerged from a manhole covered in 1000 island dressing. The purpose of this aside was to inform future historians how I might have spent some of my last 48 hours alive. Reading fanfiction will come right after this part in the documentary.
If the contingent east coast of the United States somehow doesn’t end like the gmail told me it would, then I’ll certainly look like a fool.

Speaking of fools, last time on Heroes of the Storm, Esaax was violently genetically repurposed into an enemy crab. We now turn to Syr live on the scene with the fire department.

Chapter 10: WebMD still sucks in the future

The encyclopedia of Pokemon, Humans, and where to find good Mediterranean food has no clue what Esaax has become. I wonder if an encyclopedia would take pains to catalogue Spinda variations... of course in most people’s perfect pokemon worlds, variation in appearance is a given compared to canon. Maybe there’s a career to be made of reading Spinda patterns like hands, oh yea- that’s a sideband travelling from the shoulder to the waist, you’re gonna die in seven days.

New character! Apparently this one’s a fan favorite like ice cream and pickles.

In a world where pokemon like Nosepass live tens of thousands of years, where is the fairness in loan repayment? If Karo lives in an expensive house, he could spend three hundred years paying off a modest mortgage repayment without breaking a sweat. But if by this logic on the opposite end of the scale- say- bug types live for 40 years then explode violently, how do they stack up? What if renters and landlords discriminate tenets based on upper age limits? We now know why bug types are so damn angry, they don’t have time to be nice. Sure he inherited it, but what makes a house expensive after the end? Did the spectre of property value live on through the new poke-centric society? How has he kept the house for this long if he just sleeps all the time? 251 pounds is heavy, but not impossible to move. What if someone just keeps moving him from house to house? Can he tell the difference? Housekeepers or no, it’s a really precarious situation.

I wrote all this right before I read the paragraph about the house being shit, so I am simultaneously redeemed somewhat and reminded that the author is infinitely smarter than I am. What is the point of continuing to read if they can anticipate my every tangent? I’m gonna play platinum for a bit to take out my anger on those ace trainers that give me 17000 dollars.

I got a text message from myself from the future asking what the point is of essentially a play by play generally unrelated to the story. To that I say, I can’t write, you got any better ideas? In the interest of maintaining relevance, I should think a bit about the situation.

The dilemma is couched in the wild card factor of Esaax’s bad day, the preceding circumstances notwithstanding. Syr’s solution is to visit Eu-nasty Karo, who is so old (but also young by Nosepass standards) he was alive before he realized he could evolve (I still can’t believe there were 2 years between diamond and platinum). But Karo is such a sleepy bitch that his house was robbed by liberal arts students and the only way to wake him up is to hit him.

Oops, it became a summary again. Anyway, Syr gets shocked for his troubles. Too bad. At this point Esaax looks like Zaccoum from SMT to me. His one time fling has arrived because she sensed a disturbance in the space time Wobbuffet energy. But alas, too late, he already killed someone. What a dope.

Chapter 11 - The police arrest Esaax but release him because he only killed a Mr. Mime, no big loss right?

We return to Syr and Co. This refrigerator problem could have been entirely avoided if the pokemon world just used the old style latch close fridge. And it’s entirely justified, latch fridges were banned because children playing hide and seek in the wilderness would get locked inside and die. In the pokemon world, children have pokemon and thus much better things to do than playing hide and seek in junkyards. Also, pokemon can tell when someone gets locked in a fridge, so they’d just let them out. Rip to the late 1900’s but the pokemon world is different.

One Breanna ex machina later, the race to cure Esaax of terminal weirdness is back on, and not a moment too soon. Anyway, it’s time for some exposition in Kero’s (ha frog) secret laboratory. Someone recorded a gym battle for posterity, and as it turns out, Wobbuffet 2 (excuse me, K-wazai (Kwanzaa)) is just cheater mode. Their weakness in their ultimate move is that it’s really violent so they subconsciously hurt themselves as a reminder that they too feel pain and must not fall victim to cruelty.

A call to adventure then! Everyone comes up on the murder scene like a TV drama, except the Imogen Heap song already played in the last chapter. Now they gotta find him before he kills again and becomes evil. What sinister forces have led to Esaax becoming a Kazoowa and how does it relate to the return of Puritanics from space? Beats the hell out of me.

What is the fakemon? In the context of the times, there were only 300 or so of the buggers, so maybe making ones up was more of a rage than it was now. While I’m not opposed to it, not having a basis for appearance is messing me up, like every time it mentions saurian face, I’m going through a valiant effort to rectify it (I am informed theoretical pictures exist, but I must suffer this indignity to truly appreciate it). Until further notice, Esaax is CGI the Rock from the Mummy movie.

I am finish. Maybe next time I’ll have some actual insightful commentary for once.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Raggy: New, fun game: pick up Karo while he's sleeping (just pick him up) and relocate him. Take a wad of wet tissue paper rolled in heal powder and menthol and shove it up his nose using a stick or something (unless you feel like you have too many appendages). Record results.

What if I retconned kwazai!Esaax as looking like Zaccoum with a bunch of uncanny-ass Dwayne Johnson-faced heads hanging off the branches, meanwhile. No other kwazai. Only Esaax. What if.

What if.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partner
charizard
Alright, as promised, time to finally get started with this thing. I've been curious about you for a while, and it seemed that simply reading this first entry is leaving me feeling curious all over again. I only read the first chapter so far, but I'm still not completely sure what to make of it. I'm going to be relating this back to Starlight in particular, because at this point I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that it's a similar writing style. You definitely have one.

Wobbuffet, male,
Here's the first thing that I noticed. About... a quarter of the way into the chapter, and I finally figure out his species. But it isn't really a horror genre anymore, at least not for this scene in particular, so I don't think the mystery is doing you too many favors here. I understand the want to not say the species immediately--particularly Wobbuffet--but I once again found myself distracted trying to figure out exactly what I was dealing with in this fantasy setting in this third person limited perspective.

Maybe that's a 'me' problem, but I definitely hope that we can get an idea on what species a person is sooner rather than later. It's fine for other works where there aren't too many varied species, but with Pokemon? The shorthand is almost a necessity for grounding.

Specifically, this was a mr. mime
Small remark, not really a nitpick or anything, but the need to lowercase Pokemon names is especially odd on that one species in particular.

--

Anyway, it's an interesting start! It's sort of nebulous in terms of where I think the story is trying to go, and I can sense a few pieces of world building (I think?) going on with how Poke Balls operate in this setting, among other things. But it's all referenced halfway that I don't think I have a full handle on how it all works, and that's fine for a short first chapter. I just hope that it'll seem a bit more clear to me going forward, maybe within the next few chapters, so I don't feel like I'm walking through a fog in the same way Esaax is.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Namohysip: I can't even remember what my line of thinking for keeping his species in the dark (unintentional pun) for that long was, so I'm just going to figure there probably wasn't one. Iirc the other chapterfics are a little better about establishing that sort of thing early, but it's possible that I'm currently brainfarting where they're concerned.

I will forever (facetiously) curse the franchise for putting titles in some of the English pokémon names, failing to recognize that someone, somewhere, would prefer not to capitalize them. And now we've got ANOTHER one with a name like that in the mix! I appreciate that the mime finally has an evo, but gdi all the same. :p (I mean, yeah, I'm not writing pokéfic anymore, but what about everyone else who lowercases, hmm?)

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partner
charizard
So this just occurred to me a little bit ago, but after looking at your content warnings, I do find it funny that you have strong violence, blood, and gore, but also, heaven forbid, a little swearing. …I’m more or less guilty of the same thing without the gore, though, so I guess I’m one to talk.

Anyway, I ended up reading through chapters 2 and 3 since yesterday, and it’s been quite a ride! Your fic is the first one that I’ve read in a while that’s simultaneously lowkey while also fast-paced in terms of what’s actually covered. A lot of that is because of the summary dialogue that generally covered large swaths of the story without really grounding itself in any particular scene. This was especially true for the therapy/memory session which, while likely a means of showing backstory in an efficient way without having to actually go through it chronologically, was still very useful.

One thing that has me a little curious about the story you’re trying to tell here is the story that is made like it had already been told. Had you not told me that this is the intended/chronological order to read things in, I would have thought that I had accidentally read the sequel first. A LOT has happened in the past of this story, and is simply being glossed over now, everything from the demise of all of humanity to the grief and rebuilding that came after. This largely feels like I’m reading a “postgame” to a story than anything else, and that goes double for the fact that these are canon characters!

That was actually the biggest twist for me, and I’d say it was a good call to save that for a chapter that wasn’t the beginning. This was a clever way to introduce it, actually—essentially, you wound up getting me interested with the prose (which is pretty solid—while I’m not fond of all these summary scenes, your way of resenting them was good enough that I still enjoyed myself going forward) for you to hit me with the premise / backstory a little while later. Kudos to that.

I think one thing that drew on a bit long near the beginning, though, was the ‘fight’ scene in chapter 2, if I remember right. I guess some of it was meant to show aspects of the world or the “game mechanics” of how Type advantages, attacks, techniques, and so on worked—especially the clear foreshadowing of Esaax, his disorder, how his biology worked, and so on. The problem is I think the specific portion that may have gone on for too long—perhaps one of the few things that could have used a summary after the first iteration?—was when Syr had to use Acid and Bite on Esaax. I didn’t really see the point of lingering for so long on each attack, the counter, and so on with such meticulous detail after the first one.

In the same set of chapters, though, I also get some fun hints at the world building going on of Pokémon becoming significantly more, uh, civilized, more or less filling the societal vacuum that humans left behind. The shining example of that, ignoring the fact that Pokémon in general ran an entire facility for psychological help, is the car retrofitted for a Snorunt to drive. Funny image indeed.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Namohysip: I think I'll always be pleasantly surprised whenever someone speaks well of the session scene, seeing as I have made just so very much fun of myself over the years because of it, heh. It's a big ol' infodump, but it does get the job done.

I'd love to take full credit for the timing re: the canon reveal, but I think the fact of the matter was that it just plain didn't occur to me to mention that sooner. Call it a happy accident, I guess. (I love when those happen. :D)

Weird things driving cars will always be funny to me. Always. This isn't even the only fic where that happens, in fact.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 

canisaries

voted most likely to be edgy
Location
the middle of nowhere
Pronouns
she/her
Hi there! I decided to check this out, and I've now read the first chapter. Here are some thoughts.

So, Wobbuffet. Now that's a mon you don't often see used in fanfiction. And when you do, it's usually a comic relief side character. Here, though, it's almost eldritch - a memory of some sort of mind-melding at the start, an affinity for darkness, detaching jaws, implications of no hunger and a lifespan of hundreds of years. And well, now that I think about it, a mon as strange as Wobbuffet would fit to be strange even with a more fleshed out take (and I have to admit I'd totally forgotten Wobbuffet even was Psychic before this). I also remembered that you were the author with the Alien-esque Wobbuffet evolutions, which definitely fit for this kind of oddity.

This Haven place has an eerie feel to it, having such a positive name but an unclear function. Currently, it seems like it's some type of rehabilitation center for (or at least allowing) Pokémon. Though these mon seem to be far more than just animals, having jobs and hobbies by the look of it. I have something similar to that myself, but I've gotten the image that it's actually rather rare in pokéfics. Along with the choice of Wobbuffet, this too makes this fic feel more unique.

For a first chapter, this felt relatively short and uneventful, but the setting and strange protagonist do already bring intrigue. The odd dream, mention of "spontanous extinction", who this Adn is (I'm already wondering how to pronounce his name). I don't know how well it works as a hook, in its current state, at least. I sort of feel like I know too little to get invested, like the drip of information is a bit too slow to get me thirsty. This may be contributed to by the style of the prose, though, as I'm personally not the biggest fan of more complex prose due to it taking longer to process.

In terms of characters, we don't have much, though it's understandable giving the length. Only the strongest personalities really come through in snippets as short as this, and here it would be Madeline. And speaking of Madeline... her scene is a little uncomfortable to me. I mean, switch the sexes and it gets a strong feeling of sexual harassment. Of course I'm not saying not to write about such things - I'd be the biggest hypocrite - I just want to make sure you're aware.

Now for some shorter notes:

This was not his hand. This was not his point of view.

Something sky-blue appeared over the pale hand—his own, much simpler, fused hand, surrounded by a soft, multicolored glow. He looked into her eyes, though he knew he didn’t need to.
It's a little disorienting to hear that he looked into her eyes right after he said he had her point of view. He must have moved (however it works within this psychic phenomenon) to see her eyes from that angle, right?

Specifically, this was a mr. mime by the name of Madeline.
Mr. Mime is very strange to read uncapitalized, but I also understand the need for consistency with other species being uncapitalized as well (another trait shared by my fiction, actually). My own idea for how to handle the name in a context like this would be "mister-mime", reflecting real species names such as lily-of-the-valley or daddy-long-legs, but even if you were to prefer that, I imagine it'd be a little late to change it now, lol.

Esaax just scowled, his face flushed in the deep blue shade of his humiliation.
Blue blood? Intriguing. It does explain the color.

That's it for me, now - I don't know if I'll be reading on, but this certainly was, like said, unique. I hope my feedback is useful.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
canisaries: Wobbuffet are weird as hell. :D Thery're weird as hell, and I love them for it. I think that's something that most if not all of my favorite pokémon have in common. Almost none of them have much if any basis in real animals, which I think offers all the more room for creative license, and I do enjoy that. :D

I also enjoy pronunciation questions! :D Probably the most accurate way to approach Adn's name is to try and pronounce all three letters simultaneously. It's almost a yawning sound.

Madeline is absolutely behaving inappropriately. It's heartening to see someone else actually acknowledge that after all these years.

The dream excerpt was a bit of a clarity fail on my part, oops. The part where the narration notes that Esaax is experiencing the other person's perspective actually marks a point in the dream where he becomes aware that he's doing this and promptly falls back into his own POV.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 
Chapter 12

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Chapter 12 – Hunter of the Shadows


As silently as he could, Esaax staggered through the forest outside of Convergence. He’d put a considerable distance between himself and the Haven in quite a short time, having run at full speed the entire way. But now he was slowed down by exhaustion and impeded further by the rain-induced softness of the ground, as well as the maze of surrounding trees.

Though lightheaded and aching everywhere, Esaax nonetheless fought to keep his breathing calm and inaudible in spite of his lungs’ demands for more air. He wouldn’t allow himself to be heard if he could help it. He didn’t want to be noticed by any living thing.

He knew what he’d do if anything did show up. Thoughts of it—desires of it—were taking over his mind. The simple, undeniable fact was that he’d never known a hunger as savagely strong as what he now felt, and Esaax knew the next living creature to cross his path would be fatally obliged to stop it.

Going into the forest had been a wise move, he reckoned. There were pokémon here, but they were fewer in number and more scattered than the pokémon back in the city, where Esaax could effortlessly seek out his prey door-to-door…

He shook his head fiercely to clear it of the notion of running back to an easy feast. In his growing desperation, he silently called out, Stay away! Many pokémon feared psychic-types, and so he figured a mindvoice would likely keep most of his potential victims at a safe distance.

But, as Esaax quickly realized, his new form was no more telepathically gifted than his prior form. His silent message might have reached the mind of another psychic, but it was completely undetected by the hoothoot who appeared from the branches above, oblivious to Esaax’s desperate warning.

The bird was quite small, quite young. He was out on his very first hunt, but rather than spotting some relatively harmless and tasty prey creature, he’d instead found Esaax. Puzzled and curious, the hoothoot began flapping his way closer to the kwazai.

“No, no!” Esaax urged under his breath, but he was really trying to stop himself. And he was failing.

His heart raced as the hoothoot approached. The overwhelming power of his instincts flooded his brain, driving his mind beneath their currents. His senses lit up, and his muscles tensed—he was ready to strike. The hoothoot drew closer and closer—and then Esaax’s arm lashed out suddenly, his huge hand snatching the hoothoot right out of the air, his desire to avoid doing any further harm completely unreachable in an instant.

The hoothoot struggled in the kwazai’s strong grip, scattering feathers and screaming. The commotion brought another presence into Esaax’s company: that of the father noctowl.

Without a second’s hesitation, the noctowl attempted hypnosis, but Esaax had already raised his safeguard on the chance that the hoothoot might try the same thing. The kwazai merely stared into the pulsing, red light in the noctowl’s eyes with an utterly unconcerned expression.

“Let him go!” the noctowl cried, then surged forward in a take down attack, not caring about the pain the recoil would inflict upon him in the process. His strike ended up hurting him much more than he’d expected, however. An orange counter aura flared up around the kwazai a split-second before the take down could connect; the noctowl went reeling backward with a scream of pain and surprise.

With the noctowl now writhing on the ground, incapacitated for the moment, Esaax decided that he could finally eat in peace. His fingers closed around the hoothoot in his grip with all their strength. One last, piercing squawk escaped his prey, and then warm, thick streams of blood flowed freely over Esaax’s wrist and forearm as he squeezed the life out of the hoothoot. The kwazai then opened his mouth as wide as it would go. He shoved the bloody remnant of his victim into the back of his throat and swallowed it whole.

Esaax relocated his jaws and sighed happily. Then he caught sight of the furious father noctowl, who shrieked wordlessly in grief and rage as he managed to get back onto his feet and then leapt into flight. The noctowl’s wings shimmered and transformed into gleaming, metallic blades as he wheeled around in midair, ready to strike with steel wing.

Esaax was more than ready for him. His predatory eyes, which focused sharply on anything that lived and breathed, kept an unbreakable gaze upon the noctowl. His multisensory tail, meanwhile, guided his target acquisition with deadly precision. Just as the razor-sharp edge of one of the noctowl’s wings was about to slice into his neck, Esaax blasted the noctowl with a reflux attack. The noctowl was sent crashing into a tree several yards away, knocked out cold.

Though Esaax hadn’t given the slightest concern to the drawback of his dark-type attack prior to using it, he now found himself vaguely surprised that he felt so little recoil this time, particularly considering that he’d blasted the noctowl almost head-on and at very close range. While the price he’d just paid for using it was nothing to scoff at, it was nowhere near as terrible as what the reflux that had killed Madeline had earned him.

The shock to his body from blasting the noctowl unconscious was gone fairly quickly, whereas the shock to his mind that he’d experienced the last time he’d used reflux was absent altogether this time. As for his hunger, the young hoothoot he’d just devoured was too small to satisfy it. Quite eagerly, Esaax stepped forward to feed upon the noctowl, as well.

* * *​

Ntairow had followed Esaax’s trail into the forest, with the arbok and nosepass close behind. The terrain had become more difficult upon entering the woods; there were patches of mud everywhere, some of them rather deep, in which the three pokémon had to avoid getting stuck. Within a matter of minutes, however, Karo failed in that endeavor.

“Move, you guys. I’m gonna try and blast my way out,” Karo announced. He began charging up his nose with an ominous hum.

“I get the feeling you should save your electricity, Karo,” Syr advised.

“Not to mention that you should consider the noise that might make,” Ntairow added.

Ntairow and Syr got as good a hold on the nosepass as was possible. Fortunately, they were both quite strong, so once they had a good grip on him, the going was easy enough.

“You can still stay behind,” Ntairow pointed out to Karo as she worked to free him. The nosepass only scowled at her as she pulled him out from the mud.

“He doesn’t need to stay behind. He just needs to watch his step,” Syr countered. “Are you all right now?” he asked Karo.

Karo just grunted inconclusively in reply. “Stupid mud,” he griped to himself. “I hate that stuff…”

“Well, on the bright side, it did cover up the rest of that smeargle graffiti,” Syr said.

The three got moving once again, picking their way through the trees and minding the scattered puddles of mud all the more carefully.

“Are we still on the right track?” Syr asked.

“We are,” Ntairow said, “but…”

“‘But’…?” Syr prompted her.

Ntairow sighed. “His spirit has closed itself off to me. I no longer share any of his sensations… it’s like the greater part of him has died…” The thought of what that could mean brought tears to her eyes that immediately began flowing down her face in steady streams. “I can still sense his physical presence—his body, that’s all—meaning I know where he is but not what he’s experiencing or doing—though I do have some idea,” she said darkly. “Very recent death hovers nearby…”

For quite a while in the wake of those words, the three continued after Esaax in total silence. As the quiet persisted, something crossed Syr’s mind and ultimately compelled him to ask about it.

“So…” he spoke up. “Ntairow, was it?”

The kwazai made a vaguely affirmative noise.

“There’s something I’ve been wondering…” Syr said.

“And that is…?”

“Well… you’ve known Esaax for a long time, right?”

“If you consider roughly a fifth of a century a long time, then yes,” Ntairow answered.

“I do,” Syr said, though what really struck him about the length of time that she’d just described was that it meant she actually hadn’t known Esaax for much longer than he had, which surprised him a bit. While Syr and Esaax had encountered others of the latter’s kind during their previous time together, they’d never really gotten the chance to get to know any of them under the circumstances. As such, Syr had assumed that Ntairow had come from wherever Esaax had, that the two kwazai had grown up together.

Since that apparently wasn’t the case, he reckoned Ntairow wouldn’t have gotten as many chances to have witnessed what he wanted to ask her about, but he figured it was worth a shot anyway.

“Anyway…” the arbok went on, “well, when you knew him… did you ever see any signs of it? Of his illness, I mean?”

Ntairow sent an odd look back at him. “What he’s going through right now was caused by his evolution. He only just evolved tonight.”

“No, not that… I’m talking about something else,” Syr said. “Something I saw earlier today. We… we lost an old friend today.” His voice cracked on those words, and he had to struggle a bit to continue. “Before we went to see her… and during… I saw this strange, multicolored aura try to form around him a couple of times.”

Ntairow didn’t stop walking, but she did tense up noticeably. “You’re certain it had many colors?” she asked, sounding somewhat awed and alarmed at the same time.

“Yes,” Syr confirmed. “And… I think it has something to do with grief. When I went to meet him at the Haven, they told me why he was in there. They said it was some kind of psychic illness, and they described something that happened… right after we lost one of our other friends.” Thinking about her brought out the tears that had been welling up in Syr’s eyes ever since he’d spoken of what had happened to Faurur; he shook them away as best as he could, which wasn’t terribly well at all.

“They said he’d apparently seen a multicolored aura appear around himself then,” he continued, “and then he couldn’t tell whether he was alive or dead or what. It broke him, Ntairow. It took the people at the Haven years before they got him back to anywhere near normal… but it looks like he needed more time.”

“Dear Night…” Ntairow said, half-whispering. “We were right about him all along…”

“What?” Syr asked. “Did you see the aura, too?”

“No,” Ntairow responded, “but I did see something just as important, something in his psychic signature that apparently none of his people recognized—or believed us about. Even Esaax himself couldn’t quite believe what we told him about what we saw. Some of us took their word for it—just assumed that there genuinely weren’t any among the Evergray and that we must have been mistaken in our perception of him somehow—but others weren’t so quick to dismiss it, including me…”

“Ntairow… what are you talking about?” Syr asked, trying not to sound as confused as he felt or as frustrated as he was beginning to feel. “They assumed there genuinely weren’t any what among the Evergray?”

“Healers,” Ntairow clarified. “Esaax is a healer. Most of our kind can only share our pain. Those like Esaax can share their lifeforce, as well. They use this ability to help others, to strengthen and heal them.”

“Wow…” Syr said, astonished at the notion that his friend could have been harboring such a secret all this time and vaguely wondering why he’d been keeping it a secret. “That’s amazing if it’s true… but I don’t know. It didn’t sound or look like he was really helping anyone—just hurting himself.”

“That’s part of how it’s supposed to work,” Ntairow told him. “Like I said, it involves sharing one’s lifeforce—giving of one’s self. But it’s not supposed to hurt the healer in the ways you described.

“And if it really wasn’t helping anyone… well, I’m not surprised. It sounds as though no one among his kind or anyone else he’s lived with over the years has known for sure that he was what he was any more than he’s known it. And his healer abilities have been compelling him to use them—and since he had no proper guidance, no way of really knowing what he was doing… of course he’s made mistakes. Of course things went wrong.” She sighed. “Dear Night, do I ever wish I’d reunited with him sooner…”

“Yeah… I wish I had, too,” Syr said, finding himself at a loss for anything else to say. “Not that I could have really helped him, but…”

Ntairow lowered her head slightly, acknowledging his words, but said nothing else for a moment. Then, “So how long have you known him, then?” she asked Syr.

“Not quite as long as you have,” Syr answered. “Only since just a few years before the Extinction. We… hadn’t been in touch for a while before today,” he admitted. “Me and… and another of our friends had to take care of something important—someone was threatening some of her kind and mine—and, well… He couldn’t come with us, and we couldn’t go with him.”

“Hmm,” was apparently all that Ntairow had to say to that.

Syr didn’t attempt to get anything more out of her for the time being, not on that subject or any other. He had a lot on his mind now, even more than before… and among those thoughts was something that had made its way back toward the forefront of his mind. Someone who’d so recently departed his life once and for all had been brought up more than once in the conversation he’d just had.

He felt fresh pangs of grief as his thoughts lingered on the subject of Faurur, and he tried but failed to hold back a fresh surge of tears as well as the sobs that accompanied them. Ntairow cast a concerned, sympathetic-looking glance over her shoulder at this but said nothing.

Karo, however, hastily waddled up to the arbok, fighting to stay alongside him. “You all right there, big guy?” he asked. “…Is this about that friend you said you lost earlier?”

Syr could only nod in response.

“Well—” Karo broke off into a swear as he nearly tripped on a branch. “…Whoops, sorry about that. Anyway… uh… crap. I kinda suck at this… I wish you’d been able to tell me about this sooner, like back at the house, maybe. I could’ve had Breanna bring us over some pie or something, and we could’ve talked about all this… Maybe she’d have had a better idea of what to say than I do.”

“It’s okay. I appreciate what you’re doing just fine,” Syr said, and he meant it. Still, he did have to agree with Karo’s wish that they’d had more of a chance to discuss what had happened with Faurur earlier—especially since the nosepass might have been in a position to help him carry out some of Faurur’s last wishes. Syr knew very little about what she’d asked him to start warning people about, but Karo, with the wealth of information that he had lying around at his home, might have been a little more knowledgeable about the things in question.

Even without ready access to those stores of information, Karo still might know something useful offhand. Deciding to find out for sure, “Hey, Karo… have you ever heard of deranics?” he asked the nosepass. “And something to do with them called—ah, what was it? …Oh yeah. ‘Seterhath Zulo-Denvenda’. Are you familiar with these things at all?”

“Hmm… I’m not, but Ren might be. When he gets back, I’ll ask him,” Karo said.

Syr sighed. “I really wish you’d stop talking about your trainer like that.”

“Like what?” Karo asked.

“Like… well, like he’s still alive,” Syr answered quietly.

“And why wouldn’t he be?” Karo asked.

“Well… because he’s human, Karo,” Syr said.

Karo snorted. “Whatever you say…”

Syr looked at him pityingly for a moment, as he usually did whenever Karo insisted on entertaining the notion that Ren was still alive. But with the weight of his own recent loss on his figurative shoulders, he let the subject drop early this time. Let him believe, if that’s the only way he can deal with it, he told himself, with some small part of him wishing he could do likewise.

* * *​

Ceaselessly moving as if possessed, Esaax found the trees around him thinning. His wandering had brought him back toward the city, which was now perfectly fine by him. He was no longer hungry in the slightest anyway. He’d found the abandoned, partial carcass of a stantler minutes ago, and there’d been just enough left to chase away the last remaining traces of his hunger.

He’d eaten too much, actually. He felt slightly ill and sought to sleep it off as soon as he could find a decent place to do so. Before long, he spotted an unfinished mini mall. He figured he could go into one of the empty stores and at least avoid direct exposure to the sun, which was due to rise in just a matter of hours.

Esaax entered one of the stores through a large, smashed window. To his surprise, he was instantly greeted by a trio of voices:

“Hey, what’s that?”

“Huh, I can’t tell…”

“Who cares what he is? He doesn’t belong here!”

The owners of the three voices came forward to reveal themselves as three smeargle—needlessly, as Esaax had already seen them through the darkness. The one Esaax had heard last spoke again, introducing himself and his companions.

“Why, hello there! I’m Mark,” he said. “This is Tom—” He pointed at the smeargle to his right. “—and this is Travis.” He pointed at the one to his left. “And this,” Mark said, spreading his arms wide to indicate the space surrounding him, “is our territory. Thanks for the visit. Now get out!”

Mentioning that this place was their territory had also been unnecessary, as Esaax had already seen that, too. It was literally written all over the walls. It looked as though they were trying to convince themselves more than anyone else that this place belonged to them.

Esaax took a step toward the smeargle. The smeargle all took a step back. “Maybe you should get out,” the kwazai said.

“Hmm. Looks like blue-butt won’t listen to reason. What a shame,” Mark said, shaking his head. “Okay, then, if that’s how you wanna play…” He took a great leap backward and called out, “Go!”

Tom attacked first, using spark. Electricity crackled all around his body as he tackled the kwazai’s shoulder and held on tightly, allowing his electric charge to keep on flowing into his opponent.

Esaax snarled at the sizzling pain and retaliated with counter. The attack shocked Tom out of his electric technique, but the smeargle still refused to let go of him. Esaax solved that problem by grabbing the smeargle with his jaws and pulling him off, shaking him briefly before throwing him forcefully to the ground.

Esaax was sure that Tom was out of the fight, but then the smeargle began to emit the telltale glow of the recover technique. Tom’s wounds began mending swiftly. Esaax moved to try and foil Tom’s recovery—but then Travis seemed to launch out of nowhere with a blazing dynamic punch—

—and missed. His attack had been ruined by Esaax’s watchful tail, which had allowed the kwazai to sense its unsubtle approach and sidestep it almost lazily.

Snarling and muttering curses under his breath, Travis spun on his heel to face Esaax once more. He raised his fist, and it burst into rust-colored “flames” of fighting-type energy as he readied another dynamic punch. But he never got a chance to launch his second strike, for at that moment, Esaax fired a reflux attack at him. The force of the dark-type blast sent Travis flying into a junk-filled corner, where he was impaled upon a shard of jagged sheet metal. The smeargle’s eyes froze wide open as his body slid slowly down upon the daggerlike protrusion.

Esaax staggered at the jolt of his attack’s recoil. It compromised him for a moment that was just long enough to let Mark blast him right in the head with the reflux he’d just sketched from the kwazai himself.

The strike itself only hurt somewhat… but the moment after the last traces of its dark energy seeped into Esaax, a strange, harsh noise swelled to a painful intensity inside his skull. He gave a ragged, tormented-sounding cry and swayed on the spot as a dizzying wave washed over him, and then he dropped like a stone.

Just before he blacked out, he heard Tom say, “No, don’t shoot him again; let’s just get out of here!”
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partner
charizard
(Chapters 4 ~ 6)

These ones were pretty well connected (and a pretty irritating cliffhanger in the middle of a scene, by the way—I’ve got other things I need to do that I can’t get to it right now!!) that left me easily flowing from one chapter to the next. For being such a lowkey story so far, being able to make such an easy page-turner is no easy feat. Kudos for that. I think the first two chapters of this section, the ones centralized around Faurur (a name incredibly hard for me to type out properly for some reason) really highlighted what I think is a central theme of this story—loss, and the pieces to pick up afterward.

It’s sort of a big theme at the beginning with the original flashback, and how Esaax lost Jessie and how a literal part of him had become damaged, deep within, when that happened. I think that’s a pretty literal example of the emptiness that can follow a loss, and how it’s never quite the same afterward—something explicitly stated regarding the damage to his tail. And now we’ve moved to this entire tragic backstory for Esaax that had followed after extinction, and how the Pokémon that had once been under Team Rocket’s silly goons had drifted apart after so long.

That’s a really odd undertone to this, but perhaps not in a bad way? I think by having this happen to canon characters, you helped give a sort of familiarity yet unfamiliarity to the story you’re trying to tell, despite how far removed it is from anything else that I’d dare call canon. But back to loss, the natural death of Faurur, and the world building that came with it with lifespans and even some spirituality for under and overtones, continues to build upon this theme.

I see that this story is listed as a tragedy, so I wonder just what this will all culminate to. As an aside, six members of Team Rocket were mentioned, and so far we met three if I’m counting correctly. I wonder if the other three will have any relevance down the line? Particularly Meowth, or whatever name he goes by here, perhaps his “Pokémon” name that humans simply can’t pronounce (that’s my guess for how everyone’s names are, at least.)

Another scene that stood out to me—and something I really appreciate in this work in particular—is that brief, comedic moment of Jen trying to bring Esaax back to a proper resting position despite the total size difference, among other things. There’s something about the “quiet comedy” that really jumped out at me, and I had no trouble at all envisioning the struggle behind it. As another aside that just occurred to me, I’m also a bit perplexed at some of the things Esaax does, or at least how it’s described. Not sure how he walks, or kicks things, for example, at least with those particular verbs… But that’s really a minor nitpick than anything.

Speaking of minor, Hope and the others winding up in the minor section! I feel like there was a very deliberate choice in picking a Glalie as the Pokémon that kept staring at Esaax and Syr, and I’m pretty sure that reason is neither of them, but Jen. Can he sense that Jen’s close to evolving and can barely suppress it? How many times has he Leveled Up and then pressed B? Or are they related? Or is he mistaken for a minor due to his size? This seems like a subplot that’s being explored briefly, but given how short this work is as a whole, it’s probably going to reach a resolution sooner rather than later.

Closing thoughts for this reading session: The one lingering mystery I have is what Esaax failed to do, and what he might be doing with that in the future. Some kind of psychic link? Is this some kind of special ability that only he has? Very curious, and we’re already about a third of the way into the story—god, I’m NOT used to stories that are actually a proper ~novella length—so maybe in the final third, we’ll see it?

Anyway, that’s all for now, but thanks for the read!
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Namohysip: I don't know if "irritating" was intended as a compliment re: the cliffhanger, but it sure as heck feels like one. >:D

If I didn't know better, I'd say "Faurur" was one of those names I deliberately designed to be mistyped. See also: Esaax. And Adn. Oh god, Adn. Why did I have to give someone that's that close to an extremely common word? I think I lost count of how many times I caught myself typing And (or mistyping "and" as "adn"). Also, word processors seem to like autocorrecting to And. Fun times. :P

The answer to how Esaax kicks something is "very awkwardly". :B For real, I still haven't figured out exactly how wobbuffet feet (wobbuffeet) work. I kind of vacillate between "they function sort of like crappy little tentacles" and "they're basically like weird, fleshy hooves". This has been one of my favorite pokémon since gen 2 was new. It's still my second favorite pokémon of all time. And yet I still haven't entirely gotten my head around it. Sometimes I just plain do not get myself. :P

Glad to hear about the readability. :D Also the comedy. Having a gag land well is always a really, really good feeling.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partner
charizard
(7 ~ 10)

And a change of pace we had! I don’t really know where to begin with this one, so I guess I’ll just start with what happened right after this—so, a human! An actual human! To be honest, I’m kind of surprised at how muted this scene was, all things considered. You’d think the reaction would be a little more explosive, but I guess that’s not quite Esaax’s forte. Anyway, that being said, chapter 7 was interesting in that we finally meet our first human—presumably, because the unreliable narrator-sort of feel we have going on makes me unsure if it’s really a human.

But once they meet him and he gets that serum tested on him, I almost felt a little disappointed that he already left. And I think that’s one thing that’s sort of creeping up on my in hindsight now that I’ve read further ahead before writing this review: What was the point of this area beyond just getting that serum? How can you possibly wrap all of these plot threads up in a few more short chapters?! I mean, I guess I’ll find out later, but I’m really curious why we’re more than halfway through this novella-length story as of this reading, and still there are way more questions still being raised than answers. I suppose if you’re setting things up for future works (since this is a trilogy, I believe) but otherwise, I’m almost worried how rapidly you’re going to have to get through these questions raised at the start!

And then, chapter 8 rolls around and suddenly the genre takes a shift from the subdued, almost mourning sort of feeling of the beginning which I enjoyed, to what I believe is transformation horror?! Which… honestly really surprises me, both because I didn’t really expect nor catch any foreshadowing for it specifically, nor did I really get the sense of this sort of thing happening tonally. Maybe if we had stronger senses of it early on, or something? But as of now, I think that this is a bit of an odd thing to suddenly throw forward at the middle of the story. I think my judgement might be a little clouded here, because I know how many chapters there will be to this, but it still came about quite suddenly.

And despite that, chapter 9 and 10 take things even further! I don’t think I recall the story taking any sudden turns away from Esaax until this point, which makes things even more surprising to the tonal shift mentioned above because we’ve suddenly made a jump from an intimate, third person limited on Esaax to what feels like a much more liberal shift to third person omniscient to all the other characters that had been around him. And while I think it works here, it really does feel like a completely different author had taken over starting at around chapter 8. Either way, curious to see where this goes for the second half of the story.

Oh, right, I suppose while I’m here: Since this story is dubbed as a tragedy, I may as well make some kind of prediction about where the story is going to go. Shot in the dark, I think Esaax is going to meet his old lover right at the moment when his psychic tail-backlash condition continues, and he will die that way. As for everything that his Weezing partner was talking about, I’ve no idea there. Probably has to do with what the human was talking about doing. Maybe he’s trying to turn Esaax into some kind of weapon by making use of his serum or something.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Namohysip: I think, with regards to the hovering questions and untied plot threads, that it might be something of a jerk move to not be completely upfront about them at this point. So, cards on the table: many, if not most of the questions get answered. Some of them here, some of them elsewhere. But there are also a couple scattered throughout the series--maybe more than a couple--that don't exactly get answered at all.

Many of my favorite stories failed to answer all the questions--and I think, oddly enough, that might've been a big part of how they became favorites. I think being given room to wonder, to fill in the blanks, just got me all the more invested in them. I kind of suspect that the loose ends in my stories are unfortunate side effects of this, the result of being a fan of that sort of negative space and wanting to play around with it--but maybe failing to understand why omission-as-a-tool might have worked in a broader sense, rather than just on a personal level, in my favorite stories.

Transformation/body horror, meanwhile, mostly just tended to find its way into my stories out of sheer, unabashed author appeal. Either that or it's a consequence of reading entirely too much Animorphs over the years. Or it's both. :V

Now, with regards to your predictions about what'll happen throughout the remainder of the story, I think I can continue to be as secretive as I so wish. :y Exactly how this silly old thing qualifies as a tragedy shall, for now, remain unsaid.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 
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Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partner
charizard
(11, 12)

And now I’m all caught up with this story on TR! As of now, at least. I’d like to point out that Karo is a funny one to meet—I think I forgot to mention this in my last review, but he’s a nice dose of comedy that I think was really needed in this story so it’s not too heavy. I think that also goes for Jen and what I mentioned in one of my earlier reviews. I do wonder, though, how someone like Karo can survive for so many thousands of years if they’re such heavy sleepers and can still be harmed in one way or another. I guess that’s just a question for time scales and statistics than anything, though.

Oh! But one question that did occur to me while listening that seems a little more pressing—So there’s talk in a previous chapter that there’s no data about a Wobbuffet evolution or anything like that, and that they had gone back for thousands of years of archives and information. Despite this, Karo knew about Esaax and what happened to him in no time at all, and in fact the information came to him near-instantly. Why wouldn’t there be other ancient Pokémon with that kind of knowledge around the world, such that an entire species had completely gone off the books? This detail is something that seemed off to me because while it wasn’t a direct contradiction, it left me scratching my head a little on how it could be a mystery.

Anyway, Esaax is part of a species that was already banned to Ubers, and now he has an evolution? Just what sort of base stats does this guy pack that he’s simultaneously an offensive powerhouse as well as a reflection menace? Still, I guess one Bug Bite and he’s dead, so it’s not all bad. The horror related to Esaax killing anything he sees and his slow loss of his sanity as his predatory instincts take over makes me wonder just what he is and why that’s the case, and why his kind are like this to begin with, or if the serum (which now that I think about it, is weirdly common in old-timey tragedy stories, now that I think about it…) is what triggered it combined with the evolutionary stone.

This is actually something that, tonal jarring issues aside, I can really appreciate and learn from. I think you captured the primal reversion Esaax goes through well, and then his sudden return to sanity once something shocks him out of it enough. But I’m still sticking to my ending predictions, if only due to how the genre was laid out on FFN, but I still don’t have a lot of info on the Big Mystery that was brought up again. The ‘gods’ that took the Weezing clan away…

Oh, that tangent reminds me of something else. There’s a LOT of “stuff that happened in the past that we’re talking about now” going on with everyone’s past, and I’m not really sure how I feel about that. On one hand, it’s a very quick way to get the information that’s needed out there. On the other, not only am I kinda curious about how that story actually went, but it also, as it stands, feels more like it was brought up just now, when it’s convenient, and didn’t really have any buildup. This actually happens a lot in this story, and I feel like it kind of weakens the narrative due to how it’s suddenly presented right when it’s relevant… But I guess it’s hard to avoid that when you have a story starting “in the middle” yet it’s only <50k words.

Oh well. I’m still interested! I’ll probably leave a final review once the story is all posted, since I know it’s already all complete. Thanks for the read, and see you then!
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Namohysip: I just had this image of a cute little sewaddle just kind of doodling up to Esaax and gently nibbling at his ankle and then Esaax screams bloody murder and just disintegrates into diced blue tomatoes. I am laughing way too fircking hard at this, and I've been needing a good laugh, I think. So thanks. :D

I haven't gotten around to determining the stats for the things (and may never), and I know precisely heck all about the competitive scene, so I can't say for sure if kwazai would get the banhammer, too. The stat totals would probably be higher than wobbuffet's, but there might be some redistribution from the previous stage. Stats might vary between the male and female forms, though probably not much. Their type differs from one another--only the males have the 4x bug weakness, the loss of fighting resistance, and the fairy weakness. Their abilities also differ (though I imagine they both have the same hidden ability), for whatever that's worth.

Whatever their actual utility would be ingame, part of why they came about in the first place was because I felt 1.) wobbuffet had no business evolving and 2.) wouldn't it be fun to make horrible things happen on account of one evolving anyway. 8D That said, I didn't want to paint the entire species with the abomination brush ( I kind of don't like painting any species with a single brush, really), hence them actually appearing on people's teams without trying to devour the opponents. Esaax is definitely not a typical kwazai, in a number of ways.

Definitely odd that kwazai info isn't more readily available in-universe, yeah. Even Karo only knew about them because there happened to be a pair on his team, but of course that in turn raises the question of how Ren found out about them. There's a story there, certainly. There are a lot of potential stories hiding (and sometimes not hiding especially well) between the lines. Some of them almost got written, actually, but, well. The steam ran out. There are reasons why I'm not an active writer anymore, heh. Anyway, I get the feeling that the Haven's database isn't nearly as complete in general as they might like to think it is.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 
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