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Pokémon [COMPLETE] The Origin of Storms

Tanuki

Pikachu Enthusiast
Location
Rhyme City
Pronouns
He/him/his
This is a really interesting story so far. A whole lot of mystery that I'm having fun speculating with. Namo suggested it to me, actually, though I've forgotten exactly why. Whatever his reason, good call, because I'm loving it.

Odd to start with speculation, but I kinda can't resist, hope you don't mind. If it's a world where pokéballs exist, yet pokémon can also drive, and there's an intensive program getting pokémon used to their abilities, I'm thinking some Detective Pikachu esque event caused all humans to turn into pokémon. That'd explain the mass exctinction bit, at least.

I liked how you used scientific jargon and such to explain the pokémon's moves. It gave it a really good, clinical feel to it that made me feel like I was really in a hospital. There were a few times where the prose felt a bit overdone, where less would've been better than the more we got, but it was nice for the most part.

In general, I enjoyed the prose. It has a bit of a tendency to be wordy, but that's closely tied to its strength of how incredibly descriptive it is. I love the detail, but perhaps just a bit more tweaking on where exactly you need to put it. And a shorter sentence or two here and there wouldn't hurt.
which would only open the light-adjustment process was finished.
I assume you meant "only open once the..."
“But I’m not alone. I adopted a son.”
Naked dialogue isn't always bad, as sometimes it's just how conversation goes, but this feels a bit weighty to just leave hanging. I imagine the arbok would have some sort of body language going on here. Even if it's rather nonchalant, I'd kinda need to be told that because this is a pretty chalant thing to just half-mention.

I think a lot of your naked dialogue would benefit from a little bit of character action. Like above, it's just a nice opportunity for characterization, and it really helps get an image of the character in that moment. Maybe not with every single bit of dialogue, that'd bog down the prose, but here and there, it's nice. Like salt: some enhances the dish, too much ruins it. I'd be particularly mindful of too much since you already have very descriptive prose.

As an aside, I love that you included a female mr. mime. There were plenty of little tidbits of humor that I liked, but this one really hit my humerus.

These were a great two chapters to read (if a bit short)! I'm excited to see what else you've got.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Tanuki: Glad the jargon's going over well! Sometimes I've had my doubts about it because, cards on the table, I frequently didn't (and don't) entirely know what I'm on about. :B So for anything along those lines that I've gotten right, odds are I've just sort of fallen bass ackwards into something that makes sense. But hey, nothing wrong with happy accidents!

At any rate, clueless or not, I did enjoy coming up with all these terms and speculations. It's fun, trying to piece together how something I'm interested in works, especially when it comes to something as bizarre as wobbuffet. They're weird, and I love them for it. :D

I think, wrt the "oh hey btw I'm a dad now" reveal, I might've been going for a sort of record-scratch effect--hence the starkness. That said, I'm not even altogether sure how well it landed in my eyes, either. There were lots of spur-of-the-moment gags that got thrown in over the course of the series (even though said series as a whole is honestly pretty dark), but not all of them have worked.

Meanwhile I have no clue how that "once" got away with not existing for so long. Maybe it's been there all the while, or maybe it accidentally got thrown out with the bathwater during some revision or another. Either way, it's wild how easy it is to overlook missing words while reading, heh.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 
Chapter 13 New

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Chapter 13 – X


Esaax wasn’t unconscious for long. He awoke and immediately wished he hadn’t; he was fatigued and nauseated, and pain pounded in his head and seared down the length of his spine to the end of his tail.

He tried to stand, but found that he couldn’t. Instead, he fell into a four-legged version of a kneeling position. He looked around, sweeping the space surrounding him with a gaze that wouldn’t quite focus. Grumbling, he buried his face in his hands and tried to rub the haze out of his eyes.

When he looked up again, he spotted movement off in the corner. He turned his head toward the motion. There, he saw Travis the smeargle crawl out of the junk pile, brush himself off, and begin walking up to him. The smeargle was covered in black scorch marks, with the metal shard still pierced right through him.

“Feeling all right?” Travis asked amiably.

Esaax stared blankly at Travis for a second. Then he tried to get back onto his feet again, succeeding this time, and started backing away from Travis in as much of a hurry as he could manage. His legs gave out from underneath him before he got very far, forcing him to kneel before the undead smeargle once more.

“What are you running from, huh? Can’t we have a little chat?” Travis asked.

“I’m not talking to you,” Esaax said flatly.

“Yes, you are, you just opened your mouth and said—”

“You’re a hallucination!”

“I’m a damn good hallucination, though, you have to admit,” Travis said, fidgeting with the bloody piece of metal that protruded from his chest.

Esaax shut his eyes and shook his head. To his dismay, Travis was still there when he opened his eyes once more. Esaax groaned. “I feel like crap,” he mumbled.

“Well, of course you do! I mean, think about it. You keep using that crazy black beam of yours, and you hurt yourself every time you use it, no matter how much you hold back when you do. And it’s cumulative, you know. That damage adds up over time.

“But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, isn’t it?” Travis went on. “See, every time that nifty little attack bounces back at you, that’s pure dark energy hitting your system. Psybane. Which really shouldn’t bother you that much, right? After all, you’re half-psychic, but you’re half-dark, too, aren’t you?”

Esaax sighed. “Yeah, that’s right.”

“Well, now, wait a minute. Suppose that’s… not exactly right.”

“…What do you mean?” Esaax asked, perplexed.

“Botched evolution, my friend,” Travis answered. “Or are you gonna try and tell me that there wasn’t something distinctly… off about your evolutionary experience?”

Esaax only growled in response.

“The problem with you evolving is that you weren’t supposed to,” Travis said. “Wasn’t supposed to be possible, was it? My friend, you got forced into this form. You got forced into this combination of elements, and it’s not one that’s meant to be fooled around with.”

The smeargle began to pace in front of Esaax. “Dark and psychic. That’s a completely one-sided matchup right there. One is devastatingly dominant; the other, totally helpless. Now, maybe somewhere out there in the wide world of nature and supernature, that works just fine. But not here. Not in you.

“You just can’t go forcing these things, man. Yet someone—I repeat, someone—forced it on you. Now, I want you to take a moment right now to think back. Can you figure out who might’ve done this to you?”

After a moment’s hesitation, Esaax did as he was advised, but his present illness made it hard for him to focus well enough to recall his memories clearly. As he managed to remember some of the most recent things he’d done, he was sickened even further, swallowing hard as his stomach gave a threatening lurch.

It wasn’t until he managed to recall the period of time immediately preceding his evolution that anything even remotely resembling an answer to Travis’s question came to him. “I… I don’t know who it was for sure, but… I remember something hitting me right before I evolved. And I thought I felt someone in the room with me… I think it was a ghost.”

Travis cocked an eyebrow at him. “You thought you felt a ghost in the room with you, huh?” he said in a skeptical tone. “May I remind you that you… weren’t exactly feeling so great at the time? In case you haven’t noticed, sometimes the mind plays tricks on you when you’re feeling under the weather.”

Esaax just glared dully at him.

“But anyway,” Travis went on, “try looking a little further back than that. Is there anything else you’ve experienced recently that had any kind of significant physical effect on you?”

Esaax combed through his memories again, trying to keep his thoughts moving in a straight line backward from his evolution without overlooking any potentially important details. He remembered being brought to the Haven, then remembered the ride in Jen’s car from Syr’s house, and then remembered the ride to Syr’s house from…

Esaax’s eyes widened, and he felt his mouth go dry. In his mind’s eye, he could see the private counseling office at the Hope Institute, wherein a needle sank into his arm under the guidance of a human hand…

DeLeo,” Esaax said hoarsely.

“Bingo.”

“It was that serum he gave me… that’s what started all this…”

“You’ve got it,” Travis said, beaming proudly. “You’re miserable now because of that sorry excuse for a human. He just tacked another type on you, and that screwed up the one you already had. Your new body was elementally unstable from the start, and it’s growing ever more so, I’m afraid…”

Travis came to stand right in front of Esaax. He stood on his toes, brought his paintbrush-tail forward, and painted a large “X” across the kwazai’s chest in bright red ink. “You’re a goner, Evergray.”

“What if I just don’t use that dark attack anymore?”

Travis shook his head sadly. “I’m afraid it’s too late now, my friend. Too much damage and too much stress in a period of time that’s much too short for your poor body to cope with… and there’s no fixing it, man. You’re on your way out, and there’s no turning back…”

Esaax spent a few moments in silence. “So this is really gonna kill me,” he said finally, wearily.

Travis made a small, affirmative noise, nodding. “And it’s all thanks to Mr. Sylvester DeLeo.”

Esaax sighed and knitted his spidery fingers on top of his head, covering his face with his large palms. “Maybe I should go,” he whispered. “I hate what I’ve become. Do you realize how many people I’ve killed just tonight?”

“You’re a predator now, so what? You’ve gotta eat, right?”

“I killed you on a full stomach,” Esaax pointed out.

Accidentally. And no, you didn’t kill me, anyway; I’m just a hallucination, remember?”

Esaax groaned miserably and lowered his gaze to the dirty floor. “This is all just so wrong…”

“I agree,” said Travis, lowering his head somberly. “I wish that there was some way to change your fate… but there just isn’t one, man. Sorry. Oh… but there is something you can still do about it…”

“What’s that?” Esaax asked, lifting his gaze.

“DeLeo put this misery on you. Why don’t you go pay him back?”

“What?”

“Come on. You know you wanna.”

“I don’t know,” Esaax muttered. “I’m just so tired…”

“There, you see? Your time is running out. So go on, get going. It’s not too far from here.”

“I don’t know if I can walk there right now, even if it is close. I’m sure I can’t run,” Esaax told the smeargle. “And besides, I… I just don’t think I have it in me… I mean, going over there, and then hurting him… killing him…”

“But you do have it in you, my friend,” Travis said with more than a hint of enthusiasm. “You can do this. You can pull this off. There’s just one thing you have to do.”

“And what’s that?”

The smeargle gave a bloody grin. “Surrender, Evergray. Let me take over.” His green eyes shifted dramatically in color, becoming black all throughout like a pair of deep, dark holes. The rest of him followed suit, the scattered scorchings of his coat spreading until he was pitch-black all over. He became an animate shadow, a dark mass that rapidly changed shape and grew into a dramatically different form.

Esaax now beheld another kwazai, one made out of softly glowing shadow-substance. He stared at them, and he quickly found himself moved by the sight and presence of them. They were beautiful, incredibly so, and he wondered why he hadn’t allowed himself to look at them and what they represented in this way before.

The shadow-kwazai lifted Esaax’s head in their hands, comforting him as if he were their child. They took him by the shoulders and lifted him back onto his feet, supporting his weight easily. They gazed deep into his eyes as they held him steady. “May I?” they asked in a hollow-sounding voice.

Esaax’s surrender was silent. He opened his arms to embrace the darkness, which melted into him like ice and left him feeling virtually nothing: no remorse for his recent actions or trepidation about what he was about to do, no pain or illness, not even the tiredness he’d known mere minutes before. All that was left was the cold simplicity of his new resolve: Go. Find him.

Esaax rose, left the empty store, and strode over to the curb, stepping over it onto the street. Headlights appeared from around the corner a short distance away, and the moment they did, he collapsed onto the asphalt.

The approaching car came to a stop just short of where Esaax had fallen, and the golduck who’d been driving got out and rushed to his side at once, leaving the vehicle running.

“Are you all right?” the golduck asked, concerned—then gave a squawk of surprise as a massive hand lying at his feet suddenly seized him by the ankles and pulled him to the ground. Esaax’s other hand came down hard in a fist against the golduck’s head immediately afterward, then did it again for good measure, knocking the golduck out.

Esaax got back to his feet once more, then went over to the car. He determined that he could probably fit into it and operate it just fine if it weren’t for that roof. With a fair bit of effort, he managed to tear enough of it away to suit his needs. He then smashed the window in his way and stepped over the door to get in, not noticing the shards of glass that bit into him as he did so. Somewhat awkwardly, he turned to face forward and extended his hind legs up and over into the seat behind him.

Had he been in his right mind, Esaax might have felt a thrill at the fact that he was going to drive for the first time in over a decade, with no Syr or anyone else around in any position to tell him that he couldn’t or shouldn’t. As it was, though, he was still focused entirely on the task that awaited him. Without a second’s hesitation, he sped off toward the Hope Institute, very nearly running over the golduck in the process.

* * *​

Just as the three pokémon seeking Esaax left the forest, Ntairow abruptly stopped in front of Syr and Karo. Syr very nearly ran right into her, reeling back and veering off to the side just in time.

“Ntairow… what’s going on?” he asked her.

“I’ve lost him completely,” Ntairow said heavily. She turned to the others. “I can’t sense anything of him now. It’s as if he’s simply gone.”

“You don’t think that he’s… that he’s no longer alive, do you?” Syr asked fearfully in barely more than a whisper.

Ntairow lowered her head. “I don’t know,” she said quietly. “I honestly don’t know.”

Out of nowhere, two shapes burst onto the scene: the two surviving smeargle. They stopped dead at the sight of Ntairow.

“Run for it, it’s another one!” said Tom.

“No, it’s not…” said Mark.

“Yes, it is,” said Ntairow. She swiftly grabbed both smeargle by their tails and raised them to eye level. “You two have seen Esaax, then?”

“If by ‘Esaax’, you mean that big, blue thing who killed our friend, then yes!” Mark said, flailing in a futile attempt to escape.

Syr and Ntairow both winced at the news of yet another murder committed by their friend. Karo, meanwhile, came to stand before Ntairow and looked up at her two captives.

“Give them to me,” the nosepass said. There was an ominous weight to his voice that hadn’t been there before, and he seemed to be bearing down on the smeargle even from below.

It was then that the smeargle finally noticed Karo. Their nervousness visibly increased, and they began to struggle even more desperately to get away.

“Karo, you have no way of knowing if these are the same smeargle who broke into your house,” said Syr.

“Are you sure about that? Cause I’ve gotta say, they’re looking pretty guilty from here.” He edged even closer to the smeargle, and their reactions made it clear that they badly wanted to be somewhere else at this point. “See how they fear me,” Karo said with a laugh. “They know what they’ve done. And they know what’s coming. Now, let’s see…” he said, examining the ink that was beginning to leak from their tail-tips under the pressure of Ntairow’s grip. “There’s Mr. Blue… there’s Mr. Yellow… hey, where’s Mr. Red?”

“I already said, schnozzo, that ‘Esaax’ thing killed him! He tried to kill all of us!” Mark said angrily.

“And he was the one trespassing in our territory!” Tom added.

“Yeah, but then I blasted him with one of these—” Mark raised his hand and shot a reflux into the sky, at which Ntairow nearly dropped him. “—and down he went.”

“…You didn’t kill him, did you?” Ntairow asked shakily.

“No, Tom wouldn’t let me finish him off,” Mark said acidly.

“Cause when you shot him, it hurt you, too! You might have died if you’d killed him!” Tom responded.

“You can’t possibly know that any more than I can!” Mark argued. “Well, okay, then. When that blue freak wakes up and decides to come after us, I’ll just tell him he can go ahead and blast your brains out first since it’ll have been your bright idea to show mercy to the monster that’ll have made that lovely scenario possible in the first place, you dumbass!”

“Stop it, both of you,” Ntairow said firmly. She knocked the smeargles’ heads together. Karo cheered. “Is he still where you left him, then?” Ntairow demanded of the smeargle.

“Urgh… I don’t know,” Mark replied after he stopped seeing lights bursting in the back of his eyes. “If he’s stayed unconscious, then yes, he’s probably still there.”

“Actually… he’s not,” said Tom. Everyone, including Mark, turned to stare at him. “Over there,” Tom said, pointing.

Everyone looked in the direction that Tom was indicating. There they saw a kwazai in a mangled blue car hurtling down the street at an incredible speed.

Ntairow threw the two smeargle facefirst to the ground. “Come on!” she shouted, taking off at a run after the car. “And leave them alone!” she added over her shoulder to Karo.

“Awww…” the nosepass groaned, disappointed. He turned to the two smeargle, who were still sprawled out on the ground and rubbing their sore muzzles. Now he really was bearing down on them. “Make no mistake—I am so gonna squash you one of these days,” he told them, using the “ominous” voice once again. Then he shot off a tiny bolt of electricity to send the smeargle scurrying off on their way.
 
Chapter 14 New

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Chapter 14 – Chasing a Rumor


Esaax rushed recklessly through the streets of Convergence, which were fortunately more or less deserted at the time. Most of the local pokémon were diurnal, and with sunrise approaching, most of those who didn’t keep daytime hours were getting ready to go to sleep.

The kwazai found what he was looking for fairly quickly, recognizing the squat box of a building that was the Hope Institute right away. He entered the parking lot and parked at an odd angle across two spaces, then jumped out of the car, landing less than gracefully and struggling for a couple of moments to keep from toppling over.

Esaax didn’t bother making his way around to the front door. He could sense living presences just a couple of yards past the wall that lay before him, two of whom were familiar—one of whom was his target.

He fired a sustained reflux into the barrier in front of him. As soon as enough of the wall had been weakened to admit him, he stepped forward right into it, causing the weakened portion to crumble into powder around him as he passed through it.

It turned out there was another wall between him and his quarry, but this fact didn’t faze him; he simply decided to repeat the process that had gotten him into the building in the first place. His body was somewhat less willing to oblige this time. There was a slightly longer delay than usual before the black beam came to his summons, and when the dark energy began pouring from his outstretched hand, his senses faltered a bit, his vision briefly dimming, the raised voices from the other side of the wall temporarily drowned out by a ringing in his ears.

Just as he’d done the time before, Esaax pushed his way through the wall and into the room beyond it as soon as he could. He was met with the sight of a small crowd of glalie with dark blue protect auras, and he could sense DeLeo’s presence behind them as the human used them for cover—but before he could try to leap over the glalie and get at his quarry, there was a loud crack, and he was down in an instant.

DeLeo stood and made his way over to the now unconscious kwazai, then looked down at him and sighed. “You could’ve just knocked, Esaax.”

* * *​

When Esaax awoke, he was greeted by the sight of a long, spindly, robotic arm that extended from somewhere above him to a point right in front of his face. It clutched a now-darkened revive crystal in its metal fingers. Esaax considered biting the arm and tearing it down as he watched it swiftly ascend once more, but lingering grogginess kept him from acting on that idea before the arm had vanished.

It was then that his senses reawakened enough to detect the familiar presences from earlier very nearby: DeLeo and Solonn—the former of which provoked a very strong reaction. Esaax’s eyes and oculons both locked on to the human before him, and his exhaustion seemed to shatter into pieces; he promptly rose and began snapping and swiping at the wall of glowing, green energy that separated him from DeLeo.

In the next moment, however, he was no longer interested in trying to break out, lowering his arms and sinking to his knees. A calming gas had been released into the containment field from above while he’d been so distracted by his target.

“Shh… it’s all right, Esaax,” DeLeo said. “You’re exactly where you need to be right now. I’ll bet you’ve got a lot of questions about what’s happened to you, and I’ve got all the answers.”

DeLeo looked at him expectantly, but Esaax only stared back. The kwazai still entertained thoughts of attacking and killing the human, but no longer felt any need to act upon them.

DeLeo approached the containment field. He came to a stop right in front of it and leaned against the glowing wall as if it were ordinary glass. Doing so apparently didn’t hurt him in any way, just as it hadn’t hurt Esaax.

“You probably didn’t know you could evolve, did you?” DeLeo asked. “I know most wobbuffet don’t. So I’m gonna tell you a little story, Esaax. One that’ll explain why this has been kept from you—and why you shouldn’t be scared of it. No, you should be anything but scared…” he told Esaax with what sounded like awed excitement.

DeLeo took a step back, clasping his hands in front of himself. “There’s a legend,” he began, “hundreds of years old, about a king of the Mordial region named Asotura. His reign was glorious but short—he was killed by an assassin who was never found.

“The king’s body was discovered by his most faithful pokémon friend. And that friend was a kwazai, Esaax. Just like you are.

“Anyway, according to the legend, this kwazai refused to let the king be taken from him, and so he called on his ‘ultimate inner power’—and actually raised Asotura from the dead.

“Now, that was the good news for the king. The bad news was that his people decided they didn’t want his reign to continue. They didn’t exactly like the tale of Asotura’s resurrection, you see. They called it unnatural, and they called him an abomination.

“And the kwazai became demons in their eyes. The ancient Mordialans decided to just slaughter every single kwazai they could find. And they did the same thing to wobbuffet and wynaut, too, in order to make sure the kwazai were exterminated completely. Asotura’s own army even sided with the public. They went against the king’s orders to put an end to the killing and instead joined in the effort to eradicate your species. Doesn’t it just make you sick?”

Esaax neither said nor did a single thing in response. His two eyes and four oculons continued to hold the human in a dead, silent stare.

“Well, anyway…” DeLeo resumed, “as for Asotura himself, there wasn’t anyone around who didn’t want him dead—and permanently this time. But when they stormed the castle, he wasn’t anywhere to be found. Nobody knows how he got away, but he did, and he also managed to rescue a handful of your kind along with himself.

“After he escaped from Mordial, he looked for a place where your people could continue to be protected for generations to come. Apparently one was provided right here in Hoenn by a legendary pokémon—nobody knows which one. Whoever they were, they gave their home to the refugees. Then they used their legendary powers to hide the refugees’ new sanctuary before taking off for who knows where. You might’ve heard of this sanctuary, Esaax. These days, it’s known as Mirage Island.

“Anyway, the people of Asotura’s former kingdom tried to keep his story and the secret of your people’s final evolutionary form from surviving the ages. But their efforts ultimately proved useless, because that story was recorded—supposedly by Asotura himself—on a little something called the Tablet of Asotura. The tablet went missing for centuries, but it was eventually found by a human explorer from Pacifidlog. But before he could go public with his discovery, well… you know what happened fourteen years ago,” he said quietly.

“Luckily one of the explorer’s pokémon bothered to take care of the tablet after the explorer passed away. That pokémon eventually decided he wanted to see kwazai brought back into the world, and ultimately he found us and sought our assistance in that matter. Once he told me the story of Asotura and what his kwazai could do… well, there was no question about it. None. I knew I had to help him.”

DeLeo stepped back up to the containment field. “Do you remember what I told you earlier, Esaax?” he asked. “About why I founded the Hope Institute? This—” He gestured toward Esaax. “—ties into that. We turned you into this for a very special purpose, Esaax. A very, very important one.”

An expression that managed to look sort of hopeful and pained at the same time overtook his features. “I know what you’ve lost, Esaax. I know exactly what you’ve lost,” he said, and his voice cracked audibly on those last six words. “I’ve lost the exact same thing—the exact same people. But we’re gonna bring ’em back, Esaax. You’re gonna bring ’em back, as soon as we’re sure you’re strong enough.”

DeLeo pressed his hands against the wall of energy between him and Esaax once more. “You’ll see,” he half-whispered, sounding slightly crazed, his smile broadening. “It’s gonna be just like the old days. Only better.”

He then turned away from Esaax and made for the room’s exit, striding past Solonn as he went. Solonn had kept silent the entire time that DeLeo had been speaking to Esaax, and DeLeo had actually managed to forget the glalie was there until he walked past him.

As he spoke the voice command that opened the doors before him and then ushered Solonn out of the room ahead of him, part of him noticed that the glalie was wearing an expression that was severe-looking even for those of his kind, his large, luminous, blue eyes burning rather brighter than usual. DeLeo gave these details next to none of his mind, however, too absorbed in thoughts of how close he was to finally accomplishing the goal toward which he’d been striving for more than a decade, a goal that meant more to him than anything in the world.

A few seconds later, however, a low voice from behind him cut into those thoughts.

“How could you do such a thing?” Solonn demanded, sounding both angry and hurt.

DeLeo stopped in his tracks and turned to face the glalie. “…What? What’re you talking about?”

“You did this to him,” Solonn hissed, shaking slightly as he spoke, “without his consent? Without even so much as his awareness that he could be changed in such a way?”

DeLeo blinked at him, bemused. “What… what’s it to you?”

Solonn’s eyes narrowed. “You have no right to inflict a change on someone who doesn’t ask you for it first,” he said, moving even closer to DeLeo, causing the human to take a step back involuntarily. “No one has that right. You disgust me, DeLeo.”

Fear began showing through DeLeo’s expression insofar as it could. “Look… I’m sorry you don’t like how we’ve gone about this whole kwazai business, okay? I really am. But… don’t you understand what we’re trying to do here?” he asked, pained frustration in his voice. “Were you even paying attention to anything I said in there other than the parts you didn’t like? We’re trying to restore lives, Solonn! And let me tell you something: once we’ve restored certain lives in particular, I promise you Esaax is gonna be so happy that he’s not gonna care that he didn’t have a say in whether or not he evolved.”

“And what if this legend you spoke of is just that—just a legend?” Solonn asked. “What if it turns out that you’ve only been chasing a damn rumor all this time? Did you consider that possibility for even a second? Did you consider what it might do to Esaax if he were told that he can bring back people whom he cares about when in reality he can’t, to find out that he was subjected to a change—one that has obviously upset him very much—for nothing?”

DeLeo only stared at him at first. Then his face twisted into as much of an anguished look as it could. “…It’s more than just a legend,” he insisted. “I’m sorry you can’t see that… and I’m not gonna let you get in the way of our proving it!”

With an inhuman speed, DeLeo’s hands swung out toward Solonn and split down the middle with a faint click, each of them simultaneously opening up like the covers of a book and exposing dark, metallic nozzles. In very nearly the same instant, jets of fire came roaring out from the newly-revealed weapons—only to dissipate harmlessly against the dark blue aura their intended target had conjured around himself just in time.

Solonn hissed and recoiled in reaction to the fiery attack despite its futility. His eyes then blazed a bright white, and a crack echoed through the hallway as he unleashed a sheer cold attack on DeLeo.

The strike hit its mark—DeLeo immediately fell unconscious and dropped to the floor. Solonn briefly looked down upon him in lingering disbelief, still shaking in primal fear for a few moments, then called out to his co-workers in the Hope Institute, uncomfortable with the notion of leaving DeLeo unguarded despite the human’s present condition.

He couldn’t undo what DeLeo had done to Esaax. But he was determined to at least see to it that the human paid for it.
 
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Chapter 15 New

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Chapter 15 – The Swarm


There came a point when Ntairow’s patience for Karo’s speed—or rather his lack thereof—finally ran out. Without warning, she broke away from the party at a very fast run, ignoring the others’ shouted pleas to let them catch up.

Syr might have been able to keep relatively close to Ntairow, but he wouldn’t abandon Karo. Likewise, Syr wouldn’t abandon the search for Esaax, but having lost sight of him, and now separated from Ntairow and her empathic connection to Esaax, Syr could really only hope he was still moving in the right direction.

It was by pure chance that he and Karo eventually managed to reunite with Ntairow, several minutes after she’d left them. She was standing with her back against the front doors of none other than the Hope Institute.

“Of course…” Syr rushed to Ntairow’s side. “He’s here?” he asked her.

“Yes,” she answered.

This is where it started,” Syr said, his eyes wide with realization. “Esaax got sick right after he left from here…” The arbok shook his head in disbelief and shame. “I should’ve figured it out much sooner, but I’d already made scapegoats out of the poor staff at the Haven… Looks like Esaax knew, though. And now he’s come back for answers.”

“Or blood,” Ntairow said grimly.

Syr immediately had to drive out a mental image of a massacre at Esaax’s hands. “…So how long have you been waiting out here?” he asked Ntairow.

“Too long. All the doors are locked, and I couldn’t force any of them open. Esaax opted to take a shortcut through one of the walls, but the hole’s been covered over with ice. And not normal ice, either. I was able to chip away at it somewhat, but it immediately grew back, almost as if it were alive…”

Syr shuddered, feeling his throat go dry. “Living” ice needed no further explanation—he could already imagine the sort of creatures that could be responsible for such things, could all too easily picture their hellishly glowing eyes, their massive teeth…

Nonetheless, he tried to brace himself as well as he could for what he might have to face beyond those doors. You’re doing this for Esaax, he reminded himself.

The arbok studied the doors for a moment. “I think I can help you get in,” he said. He motioned Ntairow out of the way with a jerk of his head, then spat a dark spray of full-strength acid at the metal doors. The attack caused them to soften and deform slightly and give off harsh, stinking fumes, but the poison-type technique failed to burn all the way through.

“I’m sorry,” Syr said, backing away from the doors once more. “It normally eats right through…”

“You’ve actually weakened it well,” Ntairow said. “I could certainly tear it open now if it weren’t for what the lingering acid would do to my hands in the process.”

“The acid won’t bother me.” That was all the warning that Karo gave before plowing into the doors. His large nose punched right through the softened metal, and the rest of him followed.

The others entered after him, careful to avoid the sharp, torn, acid-coated edges of their makeshift entrance. Once they were all in, Ntairow managed an impressed smile at Syr and Karo. “Great job, both of you,” she said. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Syr and Karo said, almost in unison.

As the three of them entered the building, Karo turned back briefly to look at the hole that he and his nose had just created. “Wow, that’s even bigger than the last one,” he remarked. “Awesome.”

* * *​

Purposefully, Moriel made her way through the corridors of the Hope Institute. The glalie kept a mindfully quick pace as she moved; she had a fairly important task to carry out.

Their employer apparently wasn’t quite the good guy that he’d made himself out to be. Solonn had told Moriel, as well as the rest of the glalie and the claydol and steelix among them, that DeLeo had tricked one of his clients into evolving, which was against the law in Convergence. As such, someone needed to go and alert the authorities, as well as contact the staff at the Haven so they could come to the victim’s aid.

Moriel had readily volunteered to take care of this matter. Having once been in league with their enemies, she still wasn’t entirely certain that she’d gained the full trust of the other glalie she now associated with, even after she’d fought alongside them. Any help she could provide for any of them was an opportunity she gladly seized.

As she navigated the winding halls of the building, she felt grateful that she’d been working there as long as she had. The Hope Institute’s internal layout could be a bit confusing for newcomers, but by that point, Moriel had memorized it fairly well. It also helped that the building was closed at the moment; it was easier to focus on where she was supposed to be going since it was largely empty.

Then she rounded a corner into a rather large room and found that the Hope Institute wasn’t as empty as she’d thought it was.

Moriel had stumbled upon Ntairow, Karo, and Syr. The former two looked upon her with largely unreadable expressions, but the arbok looked distinctly and increasingly afraid, his mouth hanging open and his eyes wide.

“Whoa, hey!” Moriel exclaimed. “Who are you, and wh—”

She was cut off as first a terrified shout and then a spray of acid escaped the arbok in a moment’s panic. Moriel shrieked in pain as the burning fluid struck her face, and she retaliated immediately and automatically: in an instant, the room was filled with a small army of illusory glalie, and at the same time, three loud cracks rang out in rapid succession.

All three of the sheer cold strikes hit their targets, but only Syr was affected. As he dropped to the floor, unconscious, the swarm of glalie began rushing around in circles around Ntairow and Syr—independently, at varying speeds, with some moving clockwise and others moving counterclockwise.

Then Moriel and her illusory copies all turned toward their targets just long enough to fire ice beams in unison, sending jagged, bright blue bolts of ice-type energy flying in a crisscrossing web around Ntairow, Karo, and the insensible arbok at their feet. Most of them passed inconsequentially through or around the nosepass and the kwazai, but one of them—the real one—struck Karo on the left side of the head, causing him to curse and stagger a bit.

A pale bluish-purple light filled Ntairow’s eyes as she tapped into her psywave technique. The branches of her tail were already fanned out and moving around independently, their oculons trying to pick out the telltales that would distinguish the real, living glalie from the nonliving copies, but something about the glalie was confounding her psychic senses. Unable to pick out her target directly, Ntairow instead spun on one foot, firing a quick volley of psywaves in a circle around her—but succeeding only in causing three illusory glalie to vanish before a protect aura went up around the remaining copies and their maker, foiling the rest of her attacks.

The swarm fired another web of ice beams, hitting Karo once again—Ntairow scowled, wishing she’d been able to tell where the real ice beam had come from so she could have dived in front of it. Using the glalie’s attacks to fuel mirror coat responses—and ultimately to fuel a devastating anguish attack once the kwazai had taken enough of them—seemed like the best hope for taking her out at this point. Psywaves were much slower, much easier to avoid than the instantaneous reactions that her retaliatory attacks were, and for all the help that Karo was providing in the fight, he might as well have been in the same state as Syr.

“Why aren’t you doing anything?” Ntairow demanded of the nosepass.

“I’m trying!” Karo insisted, and he was indeed trying. The trouble was that he had a very limited selection of techniques to use against their adversary, the consequence of his trainer having decided to limit the number of attacks he could learn to a mere four out of a belief that it’d make Karo hone those four to a greater potency and learn to use them more creatively.

Karo might not have minded this so much at the moment if one of the moves he’d been left with had been a nice rock-type attack, preferably one that would simply drop rocks on all of the glalie at once and thus weaken the real one enough to put an end to her double team illusions. His zap cannon was terribly difficult to aim and terribly easy to dodge, and being unable to pick out his actual target in the first place meant he couldn’t use lock-on to overcome those drawbacks.

The only hope he could see lay in his remaining two techniques, one of which he was trying to use not on the glalie but rather on Ntairow, Syr, and himself. Specifically, he was trying to impose a block field around the three of them. Blocking more than one target at the same time was never easy, and the current circumstances weren’t helping matters.

But then he saw Ntairow go completely rigid with a look of alarm, halted right in the middle of unleashing another series of psywaves. Satisfied as he could be that the field was secure around its targets, Karo focused on intensifying it so that it would not only prevent anything from breaking out of it but also prevent anything from breaking in.

A third ice beam came Karo’s way—only to dissipate harmlessly against the force field he’d summoned. Karo felt a spark of pride ignite within him—he’d succeeded. With a faint sense of relief, he let the block field withdraw from him, leaving it clinging to Ntairow and Syr as he unleashed the last of his four techniques.

All at once, the space was filled with blazing light and thunderous noise.
 
Chapter 16 New

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Chapter 16 – Balance


Syr awoke to a very different scene. From where he was lying, he now had a sideways view of shattered floor tiles illuminated by scattered moonlight, as well as of an irregular hole in the wall through which Ntairow was leaning partway.

There was also a sound in the air that hadn’t been there before: a very faint moaning in an unfamiliar voice. Puzzled, Syr pulled himself up from the floor. A bit of a daze still lingered in the wake of his unconsciousness, making it hard at the moment to guess whom the voice belonged to.

He made his way over to Ntairow to see if she had any clue what its source was. The sound grew louder as he approached her, though not by much. Once he was by her side, he found out exactly whom he was hearing, and the answer snapped him back to full awareness in an instant.

Just on the other side of the ruined wall lay a glalie; Syr could only assume this was the same one who’d knocked him out. Even in her current state—her right horn missing its tip, her ice armor broken off in places, and a small pool of nearly colorless blood at her side that was already turning to pale mist—her presence made him distinctly uncomfortable. His breaths began escaping in worried hisses, and he automatically began moving back away from the broken wall.

Syr shifted his gaze to Ntairow and held it there, the glalie now entirely out of his sight. In the corner of his vision, he noticed a bluish-purple light glowing briefly through the hole in the wall. When it subsided, so did the moaning.

The arbok moved ever so slightly closer to Ntairow as she ducked back out of the hole in the wall. “Did you…?”

“She’s alive,” Ntairow said, which didn’t answer the question Syr had actually had in mind. “But she won’t be giving us any trouble again anytime soon,” she then said, which did. “You have nothing to fear from her now. Although I have to say that you undoubtedly scared her every bit as much as she scared you.”

“Yeah, well…” Syr began irritably, doubting Ntairow’s claim. Then he noticed the gray-and-orange shape lying several feet away from Ntairow, back in the direction they’d come from. “Karo!” he cried. He rushed over to him, ignoring the way the broken floor and scattered debris scraped and dug into his belly—but he stopped in his tracks when he got close enough to see just what sort of condition his friend was in.

He was looking at roughly half of a nosepass.

“Oh God…” Syr whispered.

“It’s all right,” Ntairow assured him. “He’s still alive, and he’s already begun to repair himself.”

Syr just stared for a moment at what was left of Karo, his horror giving way to a strange sort of awe. “He wasn’t kidding…” he said, more to himself than anyone else. Karo had once bragged to Syr that nosepass lived indefinitely if no one or nothing else could kill them, and that killing them wasn’t easy. The nosepass had said that even if he were smashed to pieces, he’d just regenerate. Syr had always just figured that Karo must’ve been exaggerating.

“He said it’s a very slow process, though. Regenerating, I mean,” Syr said, then sighed. “He needs to go to the Haven. They can speed up his repairs with their revives and potions. Otherwise… God, from the look of him, he probably won’t see the next hundred years. At least.”

“He’s perfectly stable for the time being,” Ntairow told him. “The same can’t be said for Esaax.” And with that, she turned away from the broken wall and the glalie beyond it and set off in search of Esaax once more.

Syr didn’t start following her right away. Leaving the glalie behind struck him as a very good idea, but leaving Karo behind didn’t, no matter how indestructible the nosepass claimed he was. Syr took a moment to wrap his tail securely around Karo, then proceeded onward after Ntairow. This time he noticed and dodged every bit of debris in his path, trying not to think too hard about where some of it had come from.

His efforts were in vain, however, foiled by two things in particular. One, he was literally carrying Karo’s weight, aware that there was less of it than there should be. Two, he still wasn’t entirely certain what had left Karo in such a state in the first place. “What did this to him, anyway?” he asked.

A couple of Ntairow’s tail branches curled toward Syr. She stopped and turned around, then sighed and closed the distance between her and the arbok; dragging Karo along had prevented Syr from catching up to her.

“He used an explosion,” Ntairow answered him as she went over to take hold of Karo. She saw a look of astonishment on Syr’s face—the arbok had craned his neck to watch what she’d been doing—and gave him a nod that silently said, It’s true, as well as a forward wave of one hand that silently said, Now let’s move along, please.

Syr followed her unspoken directions, slithering somewhat faster now that Ntairow was helping him carry the unconscious nosepass, still in disbelief at what he’d just been told. “God… what possessed him to resort to that?” he asked as they left the room for the corridor beyond.

“That glalie seemed to have a particular talent for using double team,” Ntairow said. “There were just too many copies, and they were indistinguishable from their maker. He decided to just take them all out at once, I suppose.” She smiled very faintly. “I do have to commend him for managing to do that—or to come close, anyway—without taking us out, as well. I’m still not completely sure how he did it.”

“I’m not sure either, but wow…” Syr said. I have got to make this up to him someday, he thought.

Meanwhile, something else Ntairow had said was striking him as a little odd. “…You said you couldn’t tell the real one from the copies, right?” he asked her.

“Yes, that’s right. I think her dark subtype may have been overdeveloped; it was deflecting my psychic perception.”

“Oh,” Syr said at first. Then, “Wait, what do you mean, ‘subtype’?”

“An elemental factor that’s strong enough to have an effect on its owner but not strong enough to figure into their actual type. All pokémon have—”

She fell abruptly silent, and Syr didn’t wonder why—he could see the reason for himself. It was another glalie encounter, but this time there were four of them, all of whom looked at least somewhat alarmed. On top of that, Solonn was one of those four; Syr immediately wished he’d been able to go through life without learning that glalie could get that large. There was also a claydol in the glalie’s midst, to whom Syr gave almost no real attention despite the creature’s typing; the arbok was aware of almost nothing beyond the glowing blue eyes that were quickly approaching and the frantic pounding of his own heart.

Distantly, he felt the weight he was helping to carry sink to the ground, then saw Ntairow move into his peripheral vision. “Stay put,” she hissed as she swiftly made her way around to stand beside him, “and try to stay calm. Please.”

Syr gave neither a word nor a motion in response. Her words had managed to get through to him over his urges to attack or flee or do something, but while he was managing to keep stock still for the time being, he was sure he could break at any moment.

“What are you people doing here?” one of the glalie demanded as he and the rest of his group came to a stop a few feet away from Ntairow, Syr, and Karo. He shifted slightly to look past Syr, his eyes finding the partially-destroyed nosepass still held in Syr’s coils. “Actually, never mind that. I think we’ve already got our answer,” he said, nodding toward the unconscious rock-type.

“You were responsible for that explosion?” Solonn asked Ntairow and Syr.

“Yes,” Ntairow began to answer evenly, at which Syr immediately threw her a sanity-questioning look, “but we hadn’t intended to. It was all just a misunderstanding. We ran into one of your people unexpectedly; he—” She gestured toward Syr. “—attacked her out of panic; and things just sort of escalated, unfortunately. Don’t worry—she’s still alive, although she does need to get some medical attention soon.”

The glalie who’d spoken first swore at this, and all of the glowing blue eyes that regarded the intruders widened. “Where is she?” he demanded.

Ntairow pointed back toward the room behind her. Two of the glalie rushed off in that direction at once, as did the claydol. “You will need to come along with us,” said one of the remaining glalie, at which Ntairow nodded and gave Syr a nudge, then went back to help carry Karo once more.

Syr felt a tug on the end of his tail, a signal from Ntairow that he needed to get moving. He was anything but enthusiastic about spending more time in the company of that many glalie, but the notion of offending them further by disobeying them scared him even more. Still, it was with considerable reluctance that he turned around and headed back to the site of the explosion; his body tried to fight him the entire way there.

As he and Ntairow carried Karo into the room, with two of the glalie following them, the two who’d gone in ahead of them turned to regard them from the spot by the broken wall where they and the claydol hovered. One of them stayed there with Moriel, while Solonn and the claydol approached the intruders. One of the glalie who’d just come in moved forward past Solonn and the claydol, pausing very briefly to assess Moriel’s condition before heading off toward an exit.

“Why did you come here?” Solonn asked of Ntairow and Syr, his tone heavy.

“Because someone here desperately needs help,” Ntairow said. “I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there’s a pokémon here who’s been forced to evolve. He’s elementally unstable—he needs a psychic-type of his own kind to serve as a vessel for his excess darkness. Please… you’ve got to give me a chance to try and balance him out. He won’t survive otherwise.”

“Do you mean Esaax?” Solonn asked her.

“Yes, I do. You’ve got to let me see him,” Ntairow said urgently.

“She could still be lying,” the glalie over by the broken wall pointed out.

Solonn sent him a brief glance, then sighed and turned his gaze back toward Ntairow. “Would you consent to a psychic scan in order to prove that you’re telling the truth?”

Ntairow didn’t quite bother to keep herself from scowling. “Will it be quick?”

<Yes,> the claydol assured her, speaking telepathically while what Syr could only assume was their actual voice rattled on incomprehensibly, <and it will be painless.>

“Fine, then,” Ntairow said.

Without hesitation, the claydol moved to hover right in front of her, lowered their head, and closed all but the foremost of their eyes. Soon afterward, <She is completely truthful in her claims,> the claydol confirmed.

“All right, then,” Solonn said quietly. “If you’ll follow me, I’ll take you to where Esaax is being kept.” He made his way back toward the hallway that Ntairow, Syr, and Karo had tried to pass through before. “I hope for his sake that you succeed in saving him,” he said as first Ntairow and Syr—carrying Karo once more—followed him out of the room and then one of the other glalie did likewise. “He’s already been through enough that he didn’t deserve.”

“I hope I succeed, too,” Ntairow said quietly. Syr, still too uncomfortable in the presence of the glalie to speak, only nodded in agreement.

* * *​

Not very far away from his would-be savior, Esaax stirred in his containment field, his eyes widening. Two words, nearly voiceless, escaped on a breath exhaled as if he’d been holding it all his life.

She’s here…”
 

Raggy

Double bind!
Location
The Queen City
Last time someone died. This time someone lives. That’s a preemptive guess, but I’m fairly confident for once.

12 - A lot of pokemon die

I’m going to ignore any potential irony in my saying that right before the hunting affair. That being said, good job Esaax for returning to the hunter gatherer roots of the Wobbuffet species. He might not really be one per say anymore, but old habits die hard, even if this habit just came into being an hour ago.

Literary juxtaposition or something. So much for Esaax being a healer, so far he’s not very good at it. Impaling people and such. He’s trying though! Alone, he’s no good at stopping himself, but at least he wants to. Esaax has friends to support him! Worry about the murder thing later.

13 - *Law and Order gavel sound*

In a starkly despairing conversation with a dead guy who was alive for all of three paragraphs before, Esaax learns he got the raw end of the deal from the free heroin injection a few chapters back. While generally unsurprising, one would wonder why this new dark force would choose to take the form of a nearby dead Smeargle. I mean, it showed Esaax that it was a Kawaii *_^ too, so why not just lead with that? Melodramatic evil I guess. Just put the whole scene in black and white and you got Sin City.

The darkness can’t be that bad though. The first thing it does when it controls Esaax is to commit grand theft auto. We’ll use that as a starting metric for how bad it can be. The possession part doesn’t count because Esaax let it happen.

So much for search and rescue when everyone sees Esaax speeding away in a car. That, and Karo’s serious voice do lighten the mood a bit (at least I think so, I’m not very cognizant of atmosphere).

Chapter 14 : Previous scenes in the anime would show the character like he had real eyes, so when it was revealed he was a robot, it was kind of an error of internal consistency. But like, if you showed his eyes being that blank, it would clue everyone in right? This is the problem with hidden robots, you either gotta have 22XX realism tech or just assume everyone is too busy looking at their shoes.


A bit of exposition here and there. Ancient kingdoms always cause problems. But problems are not ancient history, because there are present problems too. DeLeo is revealed to be a naruto puppet (or more precisely, robot) which makes sense because if the world ended there is no chance a person with a name like that would survive.

Funny ice ball gets angry at non-consensual change, who would’ve seen that one coming? Those kinds of lines are the best though, ones with contextual and non-contextual meaning. DeLeo commits the sin of promises, with grandiose ideals of a better world coupled with a suspicious lack of detail as to what it actually entails or how it’s accomplished. As usual with these kind of things, everyone else is not on board, even the narration takes a few pot shots with the descriptors. Maybe this kind of stuff would go over better if he explained himself. But then again, that’s what we always say in retrospect. But like, Esaax is still possessed by darkness. Did he get any of that? Might want to say it again.

C15 - Something something african or european Nosepass

Breaking and entering. There’s the concept. Now next time, try not to get in a big fight.

Ch16 - Why have the parts magnetically reattach when you can just regenerate 2 different rocks!

Luckily everyone gets out ok. Psychic types are great.


In an overall sense, the struggle continues. People are revealed to not be people, pokemon are killing other pokemon, and no one’s even worried about that alien stuff from earlier. Priorities first though, Esaax has to deal with being a super predator *and* an evil force. Maybe it’s Xaase (Za-sey). Hopefully his girlfriend can set everything right. If not, then this has been a very special episode of SVU.

The judge granted parole, thanks for asking.

Bits and bobs
Ever wonder if Smeargle just draw the short end of the stick and get a shitty color like brown? Not to diss on brown, but at the very least, the “implication” is there that Smeargle are born with a color for life. Now that would be a branch of plastic surgery, tail color replacement. Platinum blonde or bust renaissance wannabes!

For a king with such a glorious reign, Asotura really must not have had that much goodwill. I can see resurrection being a very scary thing in the world proper, hence why they didn’t crucify a guy twice, but this is pokemon land. At the least, some people could have viewed it as more of a miracle than a curse. In the end though, it’s a tale of yore, and it’s better to deal in absolutes when it comes to ancient history to get the point across without having to address the devil’s advocate. Then you have the bible. How many people do you know that have actually read the whole thing?
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Raggy: Dear holy frick I wish you could've heard the noise I made at "kawaii" being substituted for "kwazai". Or the one brought out by DeLeo being called a "naruto puppet". Or the dumbass faces that accompanied each of the noises.

People tend to be super spooked about resurrection/immortality in general, I've found, especially in fiction. There's a number of reasons why this sort of mindset emerges. In the case of Asotura's people, the reaction probably came from superstition more than anything else.

Smeargle who produce brown ink and are mocked for it frost cakes with their tails out of revenge and get a dark sense of satisfaction out of people's reaction to the horrible paint taste, probably.

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

OldschoolJohto

Never not editing
Pronouns
She/Her
Partner
solrock
Hey Sike -- responding to chapter 1!

You don't see wobuffet as a protagonist too often! Will be interesting to see what you do with his unique skillset.

The dream sequence at the beginning tripped me up. I'm okay with being unclear about what happened to the trainer, but I wanted to be less confused about what was literally happening. At this point, I don't know whether Esaax was imagining himself as her because of the dream or because that was the human-pokemon bond they had -- was that the same way he'd experienced it in life or not? I think getting more clear (and more in Esaax's body) would amp up the emotional impact too. Does he think she's dead or only sleeping? Is he worried or something else? Can't quite tell.

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
Like, I thought this was literally the sky on first read.

The interactions with Teresa the chansey gave me pause in a couple places too. Felt like a violation of patient privacy to tell Esaax that a relicanth was currently being seen. And I was fine with the idea that Madeline the Mr. Mime has a crush, but I didn't like the implication that she'd been left alone with him to... feel him up? Also didn't feel professional, which took away some of the atmosphere that this is a medical facility of some kind.

I can't tell how long he's been there or what's being healed -- body, mind, or both? -- but it's an unusual place to start and an unusual setup. Esaax doesn't seem too upset right now about the loss of his trainer or about the prospect of rejoining the world -- will be interesting to see what does rattle him and what that looks like.

Some nitpicks:

He lay down upon a cold, wet patch of grass, though it may as well have been a bed fit for a queen.
Suggestion: The grass was cold and wet, but he was as grateful to lay down in as if it were a bed made for a queen. (And maybe even--) He had never been so tired.

“Still working out, I see. Bet we’ll fill this place twice over after you get out with all the women you’ll drive crazy, you handsome blue devil.”
Long sentence here and a little tricky to follow. Could just be, "Still working out, I see. You'll drive all the women out there crazy, you handsome blue devil.”

feeling awfully puzzled for someone who was supposed to have achieved clarity at last.
What unclear about what the clarity was. Might be that I don't know what state he was in before.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
OldschoolJohto: I think I meant the dream to be screwy and detached in general, but... maybe not to that extent. Whoops! The blurring of perspectives between Esaax and his trainer was a result of involuntary psychic shenanigans on his part--which, in retrospect, might have been clearer had I not insisted, for whatever reason, on waiting until after he woke up to actually bother mentioning what he is (and, by extension, why he'd be experiencing anything psychic and why he'd have blue hands).

Teresa gives me pause, too, absolutely. There are certainly real-world analogs out there--people who turn a blind (or worse, approving) eye to co-workers' inappropriate behavior, but that doesn't make it less unpleasant to read about. (If anything, it makes it even moreso.) It's possible that I originally intended for there to be something psychic in the mix, something of Madeline's doing, as an explanation for why Teresa puts up with said mime being a creep--but even that wouldn't explain the confidentiality breach re: the relicanth. All that's certain in the end is that Teresa's not altogether a great person.

Madeline makes me cringe, as well. Like, even more than she did when I wrote her, as a matter of fact.

The good news: some of the questions about Esaax's condition do get answered down the road, at least, though some of those take their dear sweet time about it.

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

windskull

Bidoof Fan
Staff
Partner
sneasel-nip
Hey there! Only taking a look at chapter 1 for the moment, but what you have so far intrigues me, so hopefully I'll be back sooner rather than later.

Your opening sets up a lot of intrigue, in a way that makes me wonder just what the heck happened. I can safely make the assumption that someone, likely Essax's trainer, died and that Essax has some sort of trauma due to the event, but the details are still hazy for me. Guess I'll find out later. It definitely feels intentionally hazy.

Also, very much enjoying the choice of protag. I don't think I've seen wobbuffet used before, and it was really amusing imagining a wobuffet getting buff. There was also the entire interaction with Madeline. Can't blame him for being uncomfortable lol.

I do want to point out a typo.

As he got to his feet, the lights came on slowly, gently, a feature for which he was quite grateful. It allowed eyes like his, accustomed to near-total darkness, to more gracefully adjust to the brightness on the other side of the door, which would only open the light-adjustment process was finished.
Missing a word between "open" and "the"

Anyways, the only critique I have about this chapter is, well, that it ended! It felt just a wee bit abrupt. But on the other hand, I guess it feels more like a chapter I'd read out of a book instead of something I read out of a fanfic, if that makes sense? It ends sooner than I usually expect chapters in something serialized like fics usually are. Just something minor that caught my attention.

Anyways, overall you've got an interesting hook, and hopefully I'll have time to look back again soon.
 

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
windskull: It may never cease to amaze (and amuse) me, how there'll be words that I fully intended to type that just did not materialize. And how I can reread the affected passages many, many times yet completely fail to see the missing words. Or rather, fail to not see them. I think a lot of brains like to fill in blanks when it comes to these things. They're like, "Relax, eyes. I got this." Great for reading. Not so great for proofreading, heh.

This one's definitely got short chapters in general. To what extent that works, I can't say, and is probably wholly subjective anyhow, but yeah. My third chapterfic (which has yet to be posted here and won't be for quite a while) has shorter chapters, too, but Communication's might be a bit meatier.

Thanks lots for the read 'n' reply! :D
 
Chapter 17 New

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Location
*aurorus noise*
Partner
glalie
Chapter 17 – Lifeforce


It was like resurrection.

His spirit rose up from the depths of the nothingness that had been occupying him. His voice rose, as well, in a crescendo that kept growing with each repetition of the truth that had brought him back to his senses:

“She’s here! She’s here!”

She was here. Even after all these years, to his great surprise and even greater delight, she still remembered him… and, he hoped, still loved him. And at long last, she was back in his life. Any moment now, she might enter the room where he was being held, rescue him, and take him back into her embrace…

You fool.

The hollow voice droned from deep within his mind. Its strength and the way that it addressed Esaax so directly, completely unbidden, made its true nature horribly clear to Esaax. The cold and empty voice that had just spoken to him represented none other than the warped and malignant darkness residing within him. That darkness was no longer merely a part of him—they’d become a separate entity lurking within him, a parasite trying to take his life for their own.

Your senses lie. Your joy is an illusion.

That’s not true! Esaax argued internally. He felt and recognized the distinct psychic signature of Ntairow’s presence and couldn’t deny that he did. What that signature represented had changed, but who it signified was unmistakable.

You delude yourself. You will not have her.

You’re wrong! Esaax said, silently and firmly. She’s here for me—

But she will not stay. She abandoned you before and will only abandon you again. Forget her.

“No!” Esaax shouted, speaking aloud now. “She’ll be here soon, and we will be together forever. She’s gonna save me!”

No one will save you. Nothing is left for you. Forget her. Forget yourself.

No! You’re wrong!” Esaax shouted, trying to defy and destroy the darkness through sheer force of will.

But the living darkness wouldn’t be denied. They literally rose to the surface, manifesting in thin streaks of black energy that snaked over his skin like dark vines. The streaks crept out over his entire body and then merged together, leaving every square inch of his skin emitting the black glow of the parasitic darkness.

I am this body now, not you, they said. Your time is long past over. Give up.

“No, I refuse to!”

The darkness erupted into a seething, black aura around Esaax. Give up, they pressed.

I REFUSE!”

As the kwazai’s defiant roar faded, the darkness found themself possessed of a cold, absolute hatred, a feeling stronger than anything they’d felt in their hours-long existence. In the face of what seemed like real hope for salvation, Esaax had become too strong to simply erase—this wouldn’t do, the darkness determined with a vicious resolve.

There will be no hope, no strength, no life for you, they declared hatefully. I will make you accept this. I will make you pray for oblivion!

The darkness unleashed a massive, hollow roar within Esaax’s head. They seemed to retreat back into the corners of his mind, the dark aura vanishing and revealing his blue skin once more—but then the darkness sent a bolt of their power shooting down Esaax’s spine. There was a burst of pain in the end of his tail, temporarily distorting the perception of his oculons.

A split-second later, there was a bright, orange flash that shocked Esaax out of breath and onto his knees.

* * *​

As Syr slithered along behind Solonn, trying very hard but with little success not to think about just what he was following, he felt something pull sharply on his tail and heard a loud thud. He looked back and saw that Ntairow had dropped Karo and gone totally rigid.

“What is it?” Syr asked.

“Esaax,” Ntairow said, pain and fear both present in her tone. “He’s returned to my perception—and he’s in pain…”

What? How bad is it?” Syr demanded worriedly.

“It’s horrible… Dear Night, it’s like his own body is rejecting him…”

“We’re almost there,” Solonn tried to assure her from where he now hovered in place, but his tone and the look on his face suggested that he’d become fairly worried himself.

His assurance was unnecessary, however—no sooner had he spoken than Ntairow rushed out in front of him, staggering slightly and clutching her head in pain but still managing to move fairly quickly, using her fully restored perception of Esaax to guide her.

Now that Ntairow was no longer helping him carry Karo, Syr couldn’t hope to keep up with her. Still, he tried, not wanting at all to be left behind with the glalie—but before he could move an inch, he felt something lift the nosepass in his grip off the ground. He looked back and saw Karo rising on a pillar of ice, which then deposited him on top of a glalie’s head, with the end of Syr’s tail still wrapped around the unconscious nosepass.

With most of his body now off the ground, Syr was forced to either try to convince the glalie to put Karo back down or else release his own hold on him. The former hardly felt like an option, however; the glalie simply intimidated him too much for him to challenge what she’d done… and besides which, underneath it all, he did recognize that she was sincerely trying to help. As much as he would have preferred not to need the help of any of her kind, he fell short of ingratitude.

“…Thanks,” he managed, his voice coming out as little more than a squeak.

“No problem,” the glalie said, securing the nosepass to her head with ice as she spoke, and then she took off after Solonn and Ntairow. Syr hastened to follow her, still not altogether comfortable with the notion of leaving Karo unsupervised with one of them and spurred on further still by the sound of Ntairow screaming.

Soon, they caught up with Ntairow and Solonn, who’d just halted before a large pair of metal doors, the former leaning against the latter. Ntairow was silent now but grimacing in pain, one hand still holding her head.

Once everyone had come to a stop there, “This is Sylvester DeLeo, requesting entry,” Solonn said, at which Syr’s eyes widened in surprise—not because of what the glalie had said but how he’d said it. He’d sounded nothing like he had before; the voice he’d just used was quite a bit higher. But what really caught Syr’s attention was that Solonn had just spoken in a human language—some corner of his mind fleetingly wondered if Solonn was just mimicking the words or if, like someone whom Syr had known so many years ago, this glalie actually spoke the language fluently.

“Voice recognition confirmed,” said a computerized voice from an unseen source. “Please state password.”

“Password,” Solonn responded, still using the higher voice and the human language.

“Password valid,” said the computerized voice. “Access granted.”

The doors slid open, and with the unconscious nosepass in tow, the four entered a moderately-sized room that was more brightly lit than the rest of the Hope Institute. The scene now surrounding them was like a gallery of pre- and post-Extinction high technology.

And in the center of it all was Esaax, slumped in his containment field. He was all too plainly suffering, panting and groaning with his tail lashing and his hands gripping his head.

Ntairow rushed to him at once, pressing all four of her hands against the wall of energy as tears streamed from her widened eyes. The need to help this creature whose agony she shared burned within her, made all the more urgent and painful by the fact that this was the suffering of someone she loved. Right before her eyes, not to mention her more potent senses, Esaax was careening toward a highly volatile state. He direly needed her… but she couldn’t get to him.

“How do you get him out of this thing?” she demanded.

“Over here!” Solonn called, and he led Ntairow over to a control panel.

“I don’t know how to use this!” Ntairow told him.

“It’s all right; I do. Just do exactly as I tell you, and we’ll have him right out in no time,” Solonn said.

Syr very briefly watched Ntairow and Solonn work, hoping they would indeed free Esaax as quickly as Solonn had claimed. He then looked back at Esaax with some difficulty, swallowing against a lump in his throat. “You’re… you’re going to be all right,” he told Esaax as consolingly as he could manage, moving closer to the kwazai as he spoke.

Esaax shook his head and raised a hand as if in warning, at which Syr halted. The kwazai’s jaws parted as though he were about to say something, but his voice was cut off before he could form a single word when a burst of searing, orange light suddenly blazed into being around him. He then cried out yet again as a enormous spasm tore through his body.

At that same instant, Ntairow convulsed likewise, echoing Esaax’s scream in her empathy. She staggered, and Solonn moved quickly to break her fall.

“Dear Holy Night, he’s tearing himself apart!” Ntairow cried.

“You’re almost finished!” Solonn assured her.

Sure enough, the containment field soon vanished with a faint humming sound. Ntairow ran back to Esaax, dropping into something like a kneeling position and throwing all of her arms around him, crying against his chest as she embraced the newly-freed kwazai tightly.

Esaax lowered his forehead against hers and held it there as steadily as he could given that he was now shaking uncontrollably, his own tears sliding swiftly down his muzzle and falling to the floor. “Ntairow…” he said, his voice hoarse and quavering. “I’m—” He broke off briefly, giving another pained groan, at which Ntairow embraced him even tighter. “I’m glad you’re here. I’d… given up on us ever finding each other again,” he admitted, closing his eyes in shame.

“I should’ve found you sooner…” Ntairow lamented in a pained voice, nearly whispering. “Dear Night, look at you… you’re so broken…” Esaax had gone into autoempathic crisis. That was something she couldn’t repair—it was something no one could repair until he was elementally stabilized. He just had so terribly little time…

“I don’t think you can fix me now,” Esaax said quietly. “I’m… I’m not gonna make it.”

“No,” Ntairow said fiercely, resolutely. “You will survive this… and your son will finally get to know the father he’s been missing all these years.”

Esaax just stared at Ntairow for a moment, his eyes filled with disbelief and wonder. Then a smile spread along his muzzle in spite of his pain. “…You’re serious?”

Ntairow nodded. “He is called Zerzekai. And unless I’m mistaken, he’s just begun his life as a wobbuffet,” she informed Esaax proudly.

Esaax managed a faint but joyous laugh, then wrapped his arms around Ntairow, squeezing her as hard as his rapidly-waning strength would allow.

Though Esaax’s body was growing steadily weaker, his spirit seemed to have grown much stronger. Ntairow knew that made this an especially good time to try and help him shed his excess darkness. Concentrating deeply, she tapped into her psychic element, aggravating and intensifying its susceptibility to psybane in the hopes of drawing the darkness in like a gravitational force.

She immediately found that something wasn’t right. Esaax had a massive surplus of dark energy, one that seemed to be growing by the second, but the excess of elemental power wasn’t responding correctly. Instead of spilling over into the receptive psychic who’d opened her element so readily, the darkness remained stubbornly in place, continuing to build up inside of Esaax.

Then the darkness chose to respond in their own way.

With no warning, a black aura flared around Esaax. In virtually the same instant, under the control of the darkness, Esaax roared in a voice as vast and hollow as the depths of space and fired a reflux attack at Ntairow. Her aura immediately flashed bright pink in an involuntary and futile mirror coat response as she collapsed, scattered black patches forming on her skin as she hit the ground.

The recoil from the reflux blast was enormous and instantaneous, and as it struck Esaax, he was simultaneously assaulted from within by a massive autoempathic shock. The dark aura that surrounded him then suddenly tore free and took to the air with a hollow-sounding howl, revealing an erratically-flashing, orange counter aura around the now screaming kwazai they’d left behind.

An ice beam and a volley of poison sting needles were launched in an attempt to arrest the shadow’s flight, while the sharp sound of a sheer cold attack fired off with the same intent rang out at the same time. The disembodied darkness evaded all of the attacks effortlessly as they rushed swiftly through the air, destroying equipment and killing the lights as they swept in a circle around the room. They finally smashed into the wall and burned a hole through it and the walls beyond to the outside, where they seemed to dissipate and vanish completely.

With the shroud of living darkness lifted from him, Esaax was left as a regular, ruined kwazai. A final few sparks of orange energy flashed around him, and then the autoempathic attack ceased. Esaax then toppled over onto his side, panting arrhythmically, blood flowing freely from his eyes and mouth.

As if in slow motion, Syr was only just beginning to feel the tears escaping his eyes as he stared at the two kwazai before him. “…Esaax?” he spoke up tentatively, his voice barely coming to his summons. He heard Solonn say something in the background about checking to see if the paramedics had arrived yet, but the words didn’t quite register in Syr’s brain as they might have otherwise. All he could really focus on was the sight of Esaax before him, who gave not a single word in response. “Esaax!” Syr cried out, fearing the worst.

There was a slight movement before Syr’s eyes. Esaax raised his head, albeit just barely. Syr called out to him again, but Esaax seemed not to notice, and the arbok quickly realized why.

Esaax had found Ntairow, and he gave a very faint, pained sound at the sight of her. With an immense effort, he rolled onto his belly and pulled himself up to lie beside her. As he lifted a shaking hand and extended it toward her, he prayed that he had enough lifeforce for what he intended to do.

Esaax laid his hand upon Ntairow’s greater right arm, upon a patch of skin that hadn’t been scorched by the dark attack. A soft, multicolored glow surrounded him, then spread from the point where his hand rested upon her until it radiated from every square inch of her skin, as well.

Syr stared at him with fear, his breath hitching in his chest. He felt a strong urge to rush over to Esaax and stop him—if Esaax succeeded in what he was doing, he’d be giving up some of his lifeforce, and Syr was all too sure that the kwazai had terribly little to spare.

Before Syr could even begin to act on that urge, the light surrounding the two kwazai suddenly grew to such an intensity that he recoiled from it involuntarily, his eyes shutting tight. Unseen by any in attendance, the shared aura swelled into a small, bright dome around Esaax and Ntairow as the lifeforce of the former flowed into the latter. The aura then burst into a cloud of tiny, colorful sparks, which fell in a brief, luminous shower over the two kwazai.

As the last sparks fell, Esaax looked down upon Ntairow, who was now fully restored. He smiled gently and kissed her forehead. Then he lay down next to her and quietly exhaled his last breath.

Ntairow drew a sudden, sharp breath, awake in an instant. She sat up abruptly, then immediately rolled over onto her hands and folded legs, her shoulders heaving as she coughed and sputtered uncontrollably.

Once her body relaxed, she began looking about frantically in confusion. Her eyes fell upon Esaax, who was surrounded now by no colors other than the deep blue of his own shed blood. She instantly recognized what had just happened.

Her cry of sorrow rang out for a very, very long moment.

Meanwhile, Syr could only stare at the scene before him at first. He began to slowly approach the two kwazai as Ntairow’s cry faded out, still dragging Karo behind him. He finally reached them, and for a moment he just looked down at Esaax through blurred vision. Then he looked at Ntairow and saw her burying her face in two of her hands while the other two cradled Esaax’s head, her whole body shaking as she wept.

Without really thinking, Syr released his hold on Karo and draped the end of his tail across Ntairow’s shoulders. She turned to face him, and at first she looked as though she wanted to tell him to go away… but then that expression faded, and she only looked weary and broken. Her head sank, and she extended an arm to embrace Syr, and as the minutes passed, the two of them mourned Esaax without a single word.

* * *​

From the bus, Syr watched street sign after street sign go by, the distance between him and the cemetery closing fast. As many times as he’d gone there since the burial, it still felt strange, far from routine.

Doing nothing at all to help things seem less surreal was what he’d learned about one of the ones responsible for Esaax’s evolution, specifically Sylvester DeLeo. DeLeo was currently being tried for his crimes against the former wobbuffet alone; both the one he’d claimed to have worked with toward bringing about Esaax’s evolution and the strange, dark entity that had detached themself from Esaax had yet to be found—though Syr did have theories as to what had become of them. And if he was right, neither would be a threat to anyone any longer.

DeLeo’s fate had yet to be decided, and under different circumstances, Syr would’ve simply hoped for him to be locked away for a good long while. But after he’d seen the footage of that mechanized human disguise opening up and recognized the meowth within it… Between the genuine pity he’d felt for DeLeo upon learning why he’d made Esaax evolve and the sickening, heartbreaking recognition that DeLeo had betrayed some of the meowth’s best friends, Syr hadn’t been altogether sure what he wanted to befall DeLeo, and still wasn’t. All Syr knew for certain regarding that whole matter was that he might never be able to bring himself to speak to that meowth again.

There was, at least, one of his friends who’d taken a turn for the better in recent times. Karo had recovered swiftly in the wake of his explosion, having been given ample encouragement to heal by the staff at the Haven. Syr had also been informed that the glalie who’d been injured as the result of Karo’s attack had survived and made a full recovery.

Syr had tried for the most part to focus on the things that were going well. More than ever, he felt an obligation to show strength for Jen’s sake, especially with the Hope Institute still closed and the fact that Jen hadn’t reacted well to the news of what DeLeo had done there.

Still, Syr neither could nor truly wanted to pretend the recent sorrows away, even though he couldn’t always give audience to those matters without letting it show. He continued to visit the graves of his fallen friends even though he still tended to return to the bus visibly upset.

The bus arrived its destination, and Syr made his way out. In silence, the arbok went down the street a short distance, crossed the graveyard, and soon reached the place where Esaax had been laid to rest.

Syr coiled there, drawing a deep breath as he looked down upon the plaque before him. There were three names engraved there in unown-script; in addition to marking Esaax’s grave, the plaque also memorialized Faurur and Drasigon, at Syr’s request. This way, he’d reckoned, the family could be together again in this way, at least, if no other.

Not long after he’d arrived at the grave site, he noticed footsteps approaching. Turning toward their source, he found a kwazai standing a short distance away—Ntairow, he recognized a beat later—with an unfamiliar wobbuffet at her side.

Ntairow and the wobbuffet had stopped in their tracks the moment Syr had looked up at them, and the former now looked as though she’d decided to leave and come back another time, laying a hand upon the wobbuffet’s shoulder as if to shepherd him off and beginning to turn away herself.

“No, it’s all right,” Syr called out to them. “You don’t have to go… Come on over if you’d like.”

The other two pokémon hesitated to take him up on his offer, but only very briefly. Soon, they were both standing at the arbok’s side. Syr moved aside a bit in order to give them a better view of the grave. Almost as soon as he did, Ntairow knelt down before it, then extended and opened a hand over it, allowing a small, gray stone to fall onto the grass before her. As Ntairow stood once more, the wobbuffet placed a stone upon the grave, as well.

So that’s where they’ve been coming from, Syr thought, having found similar gray rocks lying upon the grave on some of his previous visits. He’d considered clearing them away on a couple of those occasions and was now glad that he hadn’t.

Syr was curious about the ritual he’d just witnessed, but he felt somewhat less than comfortable asking about it somehow. He decided instead to ask another of the questions that had formed in his mind upon the arrival of the other two visitors to this grave.

“Is he…?” he spoke up, nodding toward the wobbuffet, letting the question hang.

“Yes,” Ntairow said, “this is Zerzekai, my son and Esaax’s. Zerzekai, this is… I’m sorry, I never did get your name.”

“Syr,” the arbok supplied. “I’m Syr.”

Ntairow nodded in acknowledgment. “Syr was one of your father’s friends,” she told Zerzekai. Her gaze then shifted back to Syr. “…I would like to thank you for that,” she said to him. “For being there for him when and where you could. I could tell during our time together that you genuinely cared about him and wanted him to be well.”

Syr lowered his head, averting his gaze slightly as he felt tears beginning to sting his eyes. “Yeah,” he said solemnly. “Yeah, I did.” And… and I still do, he added silently, and he meant it. He didn’t know for certain what lay beyond life, if anything… but he hoped that somewhere, in some way, Esaax and everyone else he’d ever cared for and lost were happy and well, with all their troubles left behind forever.

It didn’t ease the pain completely, didn’t quite stop him altogether from wishing they were still with him. But it was some comfort, at least, however small, and as the minutes passed in silence, he hoped that the two who stood sharing those minutes with him had found, or would find, at least some small comfort of their own.


FIN
 
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