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Exquisite Corpse: Anything Goes

Negrek

triple wekness for rock-type
Staff
Welcome to our anything goes corpse! Armed with only the last two sentences of a previous writer's work, our authors have constructed for you an epic tale contains pretty much anything you could want: poképrom, the scientific method, deadly neurotoxin, suddenly noir interlude, and cats, this story is all about cats now. Twelve authors worked together to bring this corpse to life:

Dragonfree, Umbramatic, NonAnalogue, Namohysip, Raggy, qva, GrayGriffin, DeliriousAbsol, NebulaDreams, Sike Saner, Chibi Pika, Caliburn

The author of each segment is spoiler-tagged at the bottom of their contribution in case you'd like to try guessing who wrote what. Feel free to leave any comments or reactions in this thread, whether you participated or not.

Thanks to all the authors who helped create this story. I hope you had a good time writing it--it was certainly a lot of fun watching it come together! And now, without further ado, presenting...

Thousand Roads' Exquisite Corpse 2019
Anything Goes


The final bell rang and students of all shapes and sizes shuffled out of their classrooms, celebrating with a mixture of joy and fatigued relief. A Charizard with his snout in a textbook walked alongside a drowsy Milotic; a Lucario and Luxray murmured to one another about some afterschool event; a human ranted about an unfair grade to a Pidgeot, who merely told her to get over it and study next time.

And near the end of the hall, walking counter to the flow of students, was a tiny Bagon shaking in his scales. Nobody said anything to him, too busy with their afternoon plans. He weaved past a Tyranitar and Snorlax, and then narrowly ran into the shins of another human. “S-sorry, sorry!” He adjusted his backpack, filled with textbooks that felt like they were at least a quarter of his weight.

Humans were such interesting creatures; compared to Pokémon, they couldn’t really use any special techniques. They had no elemental attributes. Yet, they were hardy, and very clever. Maybe he was out of her league. But—but he had to try, right? Where was she? Humans looked pretty similar to one another, but she always stood out in his eyes.

The Bagon stopped once he was in the middle of the hall, most of the shuffling of all the students finally dying down. Did he miss her on the way out? No, she usually stayed back a little bit to arrange her locker. She always did that. Her locker was 142. He looked to his right. 126.

His little legs picked up the pace again; even though it would be a short walk away for anybody else, everything was an adventure for someone his size. Finally, around the corner, he found her right in front of him. He recognized her denim jeans and red shirt anywhere—it was her favorite outfit—but he always forgot that she was right at the beginning of the hall.

“H-hi!”

“Ah!” She jolted in surprise, pulling away from her locker door to see who was there. “Oh—Droga, you really need to evolve so I can actually hear you coming.”

“Sorry,” Droga said. “Um, actually, Mint, er…”

“What is it?” Mint asked, shutting her locker.

This was it; he’d have to ask her now. He’d been putting it off for too long, but he knew that she didn’t have anybody going with her yet, and she had been hoping for someone. They’d known each other for so long—since elementary, in fact. And even though maybe he was a little slow to evolve, Mint was the same way! She was shorter than the other humans, and a little more petite, and… well, they just always had grown closer, right? Hopefully that would give him the boost he needed.

A Seviper slithered past the Bagon and human and out of the school’s main entrance, but once she was gone, Droga finally built up the courage to speak. “Mint, w-will you go to the prom with me?”

Namohysip

Mint didn't know what to say. Sure, Droga was cute, but he was a Bagon. Pokemon and humans couldn't go on dates, even if they're sapient that was beastiality, wasn't it? Unless...

"I... I will. On one condition."

Droga perked up. "Sure! Anything for you, Mint!"

"...Follow me."

She led him off to a dark alleyway behind the school.

"Er, what is this?" said Droga. "Some kind of meeting place?"

"Not quite..." said Mint.

She tapped on one brick. Than another. Then another. Then another. The wall opened wide to reveal an entryway to a massive library.

"What... what's this?" said Droga.

"It's his place," said Mint.

"Whose?"

"You'll see."

They went into the library. The books seemed to stretch on forever. Finally they got to a desk.

"Bartelby?" said Mint. "It's me. I need help."

Suddenly a Mew wearing glasses blipped into existence.

"Eh? Mint? What is it?"

Droga gasped and staggered back at the sudden appearance of a legendary. Mint gulped.

"My friend Droga... he wants to go on a prom date with me. But... he's not human. I need you to make him human."

"Wait, what?!" said Droga. "I- I can't be a human!"

The Mew adjusted his glasses and sighed. "Are you sure about this?"

Mint sighed. "Droga, it's the only way..."

"...If you say so," said Droga. "But... Only for the date, okay?"

Mint grit her teeth and turned to Bartelby. "Do it."

Bartelby rolled his eyes and snapped his tiny Mew fingers. Droga shut his eyes, then opened them.

The former mon looked down at his now-human body and screamed.

Umbramatic

There were a thousand questions bouncing around the inside of her vacant skull at that moment. How the hell did this happen? What should she do? Could she turn back? Could she own pokémon of her own like this? Did she have to pee sitting down now? All these urgent issues and many more bombarded her consciousness, rendering her catatonic for a moment or three as she recollected her wits. With time, her pulse and breaths slowed, and she returned to herself.

Her panic slid into curiosity. Pressing her mouth into a thin line, Droga rose her hand, palm outward, and willed an attack forth from it. Nothing happened. She tried again, more forcefully this time, but still her efforts proved fruitless. So she was just a plain old boring human after all, powerless and dull and soft and fleshy. The world felt so big and scary all of a sudden. In nature, pokémon protected themselves from the elements— and from each other— with the powers at their disposal. As a flimsy old human, Droga felt utterly defenseless and weak. What if a braviary fell out of the sky right now and swooped her away? What could she possibly hope to do about that? Flail pathetically and futilely, probably, right up until she was swallowed whole and fed in pieces to the braviary's chirping little chicks.

But then something occurred to Droga. Moments ago, she'd tested the limits of her new form by attempting to use a move, and then observe the results. She'd done that twice, actually. It was through this process of testing and observation that she'd gleaned the constraints under which she now operated. Had she done something like that as a pokémon? She couldn't recall.

But it was at that moment that it occurred to Droga, this poor pokémon made human, just what it was that separated humanity from pokémonkind. When compared to pokémon, humans were soft and defenseless, it was true, but humanity did boast a single, ostensibly simple advantage that had resulted directly in the dominance of their kind: the SCIENTIFIC METHOD.

qva

Now, how should he use the scientific method to return to his original form? Droga tapped his chin and thought, noticing just how fragile and soft human skin felt compared to his original Pokemon shape. Well, of course, the first step was to form a hypothesis.

He remembered having eaten one too many unfamiliar berries and passing out last night after cursing Arceus. Well, that made things quite clear. This was a punishment from above for calling Arceus a "fat llama wearing gaudy jewelry"! Hypothesis: If he repented for this, he would be turned back. Now he needed to test that hypothesis by repenting somehow. On the other hand, that felt like it would take quite the effort. Maybe he could try something simpler first, like going back to that spot where he found the berries.

However, his efforts were thwarted when he realized that he could no longer smell the way back. Human noses were weak and inefficient, and he realized with horror that he couldn't even smell the Pokemon around him, though he could see and hear them quite clearly! Droga had to get himself turned back before it was too late! Maybe Arceus wouldn't mind if he said a quick prayer of repentance instead of doing a bunch of fancy ceremony about it. He quickly kneeled on the ground, bowing his head in a random direction. "Arceus, I'm so sorry! You totally aren't fat and your jewelry isn't gaudy! It's really cool actually! Please turn me back!"

Nothing happened. Droga laid down on the ground, groaning in despair?

"Why are you doing that?" asked a voice. His head shot up and he glanced around, before realizing that there was a human girl staring at him with wide, confused eyes.

GrayGriffin

“Y-you saw nothing!” The Zoroark snarled, glaring as he guarded his harvest from the girl’s prying eyes. And yet, the girl took a step toward him, unintimidated.

“I definitely saw you doing something with all of that stuff,” she said. “I’m not here to hurt you, you know, I just want to know why you took it.” The girl crouched down, bringing her eyes to the same level as the Zoroark’s.

With a begrudging huff, the Zoroark eased his stance and revealed his pilfered bounty. It was a small pile, with nothing especially valuable in it. A few vibrantly-colored flowers and leaves sat atop an array of wooden beads, and beside this was a shallow bowl filled with an indigo liquid. “Keep this a secret, will you? Not like anyone’ll be after my head for stealing a couple daisies, but… Well, I think it should be obvious I’ve got a reputation to uphold.”

“Yeah, sure,” said the girl, waving her hand dismissively. She inched closer to get a good look at the assortment of flora that the Zoroark had just been cautiously tasting. She wasn’t all too familiar with them, but she definitely recognized the red ones from her mother’s garden. Her eyes wandered over to the bowl, and she slowly reached her hand out to it, only for the Zoroark to swat it away.

“You don’t wanna touch that,” he said, “trust me.”

“Fine, but what’s in there that’s so dangerous?”

The Zoroark gave her a morose look before taking in a deep breath. “It’s a toxin more potent than you could ever imagine.”

Caliburn

“A… potent toxin? Wait, you don’t mean…”

“That’s right.” The Zoroark nodded. “I’m referring to a very deadly neurotoxin.”

His erstwhile companion had, of course, been exposed to deadly neurotoxin before – not in the literal sense, since she had not yet died – but it was still somewhat of a shock to hear that it had resurfaced. She pulled out a thick reference tome from the satchel that she’d definitely been carrying all this time and flipped through it, landing with a flourish on a dog-eared page.

Nonarian Ursa, that famed Ursaring researcher, was unique among Pokemon for his unprecedented number of published works, i.e., more than one. His most famous piece was a doorstopper of a book that collected his otherwise-uncategorized essays – of which there were many – into a single difficult-to-transport volume.

This is what Ursa had to say on the subject of deadly neurotoxin:

“Don’t let it get in the hands of a malevolent AI. Yes, this includes Porygon. Trust me on this one.”

She frowned as she finished reading the entry aloud. “That was less helpful than I’d hoped.”

The Zoroark sighed. “It’s worse than that. Since there’s not much known about it, there’s no cure either. And our… mutual acquaintance… has a supply ready and waiting to be dumped into the town’s water supply.”

“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s nip this problem in the bud.”

---

They arrived not fifteen minutes later at The Town’s Water Supply and Southern Restaurant, a run-down shack on the edge of the city that nevertheless had some of the best apple martinis and fried okra the Zoroark had seen in his life. As expected, a figure stood in the front door, a vial in its chubby hand.

“Nya-ha-ha!” the figure said in a nasally voice. “I thought you’d try to stop me!” It stepped out into the light, revealing its form: a Gengar wearing a monocle and twirling the ends of an unhappily-real handlebar moustache. “Sadly, the two of you are too late! Nya-HA!”

It tossed the vial to the ground and it shattered, releasing a sickly green gas that inexplicably made a beeline for the door of the restaurant. Someone inside yelled, “Oh no! That’s deadly neurotoxin!”

The Zoroark fixed his companion with a stare out of the corner of his eyes. “We need to evacuate the restaurant. Do you have gas masks in that bag of yours?”

NonAnalogue

A moment of silence. Gas masks? A likely over exaggeration.

His face was stony serious though. Why did he have to look at me like that? I hated it. Enough with the danger and the philosophy. If he wanted to tell me how much he hated me, then he should have done it years ago.

He asked again pleadingly, but I stopped listening. How can a person be measured by their fear of the intangible? He was weak, I am strong; if he was strong then I’m stronger. Talk about infinite measurement all you would, but there’s no getting around cowardice.

“Are you even listening to me?” he said, glaring at me. “We have to get out of this restaurant.”

I smiled at him and lit a cigarette to celebrate.

~

Gas mask. Gas mask. It wasn’t a mask, it was a leak. A gas leak. Gas leak.

Like that he was gone, not like dead gone though. He went to get help like the good guy he says he is. At least he stopped to call me an idiot before he left. I thought about that a lot while I pulled glass out of my chest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a sentimental type, really.

There’s a guy looking at me now, which really pulls me out of my reverie. Thank god for that. He’s got the look of someone who drives trucks for a living. I can’t explain it past that, it’s that feeling, the kind of stuff one would call uh, ‘je ne sais quoi’. What really sells it is the red baseball cap, courtesy of the Rotary club. Which one? None of them, rotary is a spiritual experience.

“I know a punk when I see one,” he said with a raspy tone. I felt an ice cold feeling run across my shoulders and down my back. This guy was the real danger. The signs were there, quick, lithe movements,an uncanny focus on me, and subtly aggressive hand movements.

I took a deep breath, putting on a smile. “Sorry sir, I’m just having a bad day right now.” I gestured towards the remains of the restaurant. The storefront looked like it had been bombed out, the window frames twisted into unsightly tangles. “Lunch meeting didn’t go so well.”

He scratched his arm idly, his stare unwavering. “I have come here to kill you, as I’m sure you might have guessed.”

Now that was something I wasn’t expecting. I nodded politely, half wishing the explosion would have killed me.

“I apologize for bringing this up so suddenly,” he said with a small frown. “No hard feelings.”

That statement irked me. Here I am staring death in the face and I’m annoyed. I feel genuine one hundred percent anger at this man acting like my death is more of an inconvenience than anything. Slowly, in an almost mystical way, fear gave way to indignity. My blood was boiling, I was on fire almost literally! Then, at the end of the tunnel, the end of the cycle, the cosmic inevitability, hatred. I hated this guy, and if today was still going to be the day I died, then at least I would make a show of it.

“The feeling is not mutual,” I replied.

I turned on my heel and ran as fast as I could. As I ran, I shot a brief glance over my shoulder to see if he was chasing me. The assassin was nowhere to be seen, hopefully I had lost him.

Slowing down, I took stock. Aside from distant sirens, it was quiet. I was in a narrow alley that ping ponged from direction to direction, appearing to lead to everywhere at once. Both sides were lined with cheap sheet metal doors, many pockmarked and scratched in places.

I was coming off my high now, my anger at the assassin simmering into a distaste for myself. I must have looked like such an idiot back there. I could have at least died in style or something, like, pretend I didn’t have any regrets. That was kind of a lie.

Actually, not just kind of. That was a big black lie. I regret everything.

Oh well.

~

I have a sixth sense, but only when I’m about to die. I figured that one out, predictably, when I swallowed a chocolate egg whole. Walking down the alley, I could feel the air change, and I knew then that I hadn’t gotten rid of him at all.

In an instant he reappeared, stepping out from around a corner in front of me. I didn’t have time to scream as he slapped both his hands against the side of my head. I started falling forward in pain before his arm slammed into my chest, clotheslining me into the ground.

I blinked, trying to ignore the ringing in my ears as my stomach seized up in pain. “God, why couldn’t you just shoot me?” I murmured.

The assassin did a little hop before slamming one knee into my back. “That’s a pretty fancy way to die, don’t you think?” He nodded to himself as I coughed up blood. “Street trash like you doesn’t deserve that kind of honor.”

My vision was blurry, my breath was ragged. I managed to glare at him through my peripheral vision. “What are you talking about?” I gasped.

The assassin was momentarily thoughtful, his knee still deep in my back. “To be completely honest, I don’t have the money to afford a gun. It’s uh, probably bad luck to say this, but this is my first job.”

He’s serious. Oh my god he’s serious. He’s an amateur hitman, like a BABY. A baby hitman. I’d laugh if I could. But there was too much pain for that.

“In the novels they always make the hitman a cold force of nature,” he said. “I think that’s kind of an unfair bias.” Looking down at me he smiled. “You know farm to table? All natural food and that stuff? I’m like that, but for contract murder.”

“Y-you mean-” I said slowly. “A local hitman?”

“That’s basically it,” he replied. “I’m affordable compared to some fancy assassin from another continent. Plus for every sale, I’ll put a portion towards local charities.”

I felt... I don’t know what I felt. Embarrassment? Terror? Bemusement???

“Anyway-” I felt a weight lift off my back, “I’m done now, thanks for the help.”

I stumbled to my feet, fighting blurry vision as I looked around in a panic. The assassin was walking down the street away from me.

“What are you- what are you doing?” I shouted to him.

He turned to me casually. “I wasn’t really hired to kill you. That was just practice for the real thing.”

“Huh?”

“I haven’t actually opened yet.” He shrugged slightly. “I’m getting a feel for it, you know?”

“Wuh-”

“See ya around. Actually, if I do, then I’ll probably have to kill you for real.” The man waved and walked off.

Blood leaked from one corner of my mouth. A few of my ribs felt broken clean through. My ears were still ringing. Is this really happening? Is this some sort of joke? I got punk’d by a wannabe gun for hire.

There was no more anger. There could be no more anger. Only sadness. Lots and lots of sadness.

I punched the wall until it felt like no more blood could come out of my hand.

Raggy

Then I felt better. After everything I’d been through today, it was hard to imagine how things could get much worse. You’d think that standing there in a deserted alleyway, no progress made, no more leads, bruised and battered and now the proud owner of several bloody knuckles, I’d be feeling at rock bottom, right? Well, I never claimed to be all that logical, so the idea that things could only go up from here was a pretty good one.

Anyway. Had to focus, couldn’t just stand here feeling sorry for myself. I’d just lost my one opportunity to rescue my stolen Pokémon. I had no idea where to look next. So the only thing I could think of was returning to the usual spot I got most of my info.

Yep. One place to get information in this town. And that, of course, was Muk's Malted Milkshake Shoppe.

How exactly an ice cream parlor had become one of the seediest bars in town was a story lost to the ages, but I’ve been told that it’s a long story involving a few rigged Pokémon battles, some lost bets, some misplaced Voltorb, and a Slowpoketail. The exact details change depending on who you ask. I stopped asking a long time ago.

I walked in through the entrance and nearly waltzed straight into the bus stop sign that had been planted right on the other side of the doorway. I cursed under my breath and shoved it to the side amidst a wave of giggling from the Skull grunts in the corner.

Alright, maybe the place had a slightly more threatening air before Team Skull had started using it as their hangout.

Muk himself had retired years ago so now the bar was run by a Meowth named—you guessed it—Meowth. The purple-furred bartender was currently standing atop the counter, cleaning glasses, completely oblivious to his surroundings.

“The usual,” I said, plunking myself down onto a barstool.

“You got it,” Meowth replied automatically, filling a glass. But then he must have realized it was me who’d said it, because his eyes lit up and he turned back toward me expectantly. “Heyy, how my tip work out for ya?”

“How’s it look?” I replied flatly, without making eye contact.

Meowth tilted his head, sizing me up. “That bad, huh? Well I did warn ya ‘bout messing with those guys, didn’t I?” He slid a root beer float across the counter to me.

“Not sure you ever did, actually,” I said, taking a long drink from it.

The cat paused to consider that. “Huh. Well I was thinkin’ it.”

I leaned forward so my elbows rested on the counter. “Don’t suppose you’ve got anything else for me?”

Meowth scoffed. “Only came in here cause you need more info, I see how it is.” I was about to stammer out some kind of reply, but then the dark-type snorted. “Ah, just messing with ya. Anyway, not sure you really need to track them down at this point—might as well just wait for them to come to you.”

I raised an eyebrow. “After everything I’ve been through today, what makes you think they’ll just come to me?” As if I could be that lucky.

Meowth shrugged. “Well they’re out looking for you right now, so…”

I stared. “I only just escaped from them literally fifteen minutes ago, how could you have heard that?”

Meowth gave me a hard look. “You got any idea how fast news travels round here?”

My eyes drifted over to the gaggle of Skull grunts all sprawled out over bean bag chairs chattering nonstop while on their phones.

“Touché. In any case, how long do you think I’ll have to wait?”

Almost as if on cue, the front doors to the bar slammed open.

“Hey, you there!” a voice shouted.

“I didn’t do anything!” one of the Skull grunts yelled, jumping up and running out the back door, except I was pretty sure the bar didn’t have a back door, and he’d just run into the bathroom.

The other Skull grunts all snapped their attention to the entrance, where a tall, cloaked figure stood. Their hands flew to their Pokéballs, and—

“I’m not here for you idiots,” the new arrival said, taking a few steps forward. Their gaze settled onto me—at least, I was pretty sure it did. Hard to tell with the hood covering most of their face. “You,” they said, thrusting a finger in my direction. “I heard you’ve been picking fights with my underlings. Well now you’re gonna pay.”

There are some people who make good decisions when put under pressure—I am not one of them. I grabbed the first thing I could reach, which happened to be Meowth, and hurled him at my would-be assailant before bolting.

Chibi Pika

Here’s the thing about cats: most of them actually don’t shoot lasers. But Meowth? Meowth is different. Meowth has eye lasers for days if not weeks. I know this because I supervised the installation myself. They weren’t too keen on me being in the OR, let me tell you. But they couldn’t do squat. They knew they’d land on the Laser List otherwise.

Anyway, Meowth went flying and instinctively fired a barrage of little green pew-pew beams whilst in midair. Now you know why I opted to chuck said pokémon at the opposition instead of one of the plentiful nonliving, non-screaming things lying about. Exactly two out of… fifteen-ish of those connected, but two turned out to be more than enough to start a fire.

Way more than enough.

As in gee whiz, I sure did underestimate the flammability of this situation.

So I ran. Ran and ran and then fell on my sorry face because Meowth ran, too, and cats have an incomparable talent for tripping people.

“Argh! You’ve killed me, you adorable fluffball!” I shouted at the retreating kitty cat butt. I lay there shaking my fist in the air for a little too long, and next thing I knew there was a canopy of smoke overhead and things were, in general, just way too toasty for my liking.

Okay. All right. You prepared for this scenario, sort of. Somewhere in my bag was a teleportation grenade. Somewhere else in the same bag was a regular ol’ grenade. Most of the stuff that came out of R&D in the first quarter was grenade-based, for some inexplicable reason.

So here I was, having to pick my poison. Death by smoke; death by fire; or death by instant, catastrophic structural integrity failure. When facing down choices like that, what was I to do, really, other than grab something grenade-ish and pull the pin?

Well, I mean. I guess I could have probably stood to actually look at the grenade first. Telegrenades are purple. I was reminded of that when I found myself in a distinctly flame-free location of a sudden with a purple pin in one hand and a bunch of purple shrapnel scattered about my person.

That said, I didn’t go far. I still smelled smoke. When I turned around, there was the burning building, distant enough to be no threat for now but still close enough to become one again if I didn’t decide to call an end to this ridiculous adventure and head home.

And there was Meowth at my feet, looking up at me like I was the stupidest thing ever to grace this planet.

Meowth proceeded to shoot me in the kneecaps.

Sike Saner

“Yeowww!” I screamed, clutching my poor leg. “What the fuck did you do to me?!”

“Meowth, dat’s right, bitch,” he spoke in human. He twirled the pistol in his paw (which I didn’t even know was possible for a Pokemon) and blew the smoking barrel of the gun. “Ya don’t mess with our turf and get away with it!”

“B-but--” I cut myself off as a new surge of pain pulsed around me body. “Ugh, where did you get that from?!”

“From you guyses, who else?” He looked to his Meowth companions, who all mewled as they closed in on me. “If ya humans are makin’ this stuff, then I might as well hit back da same way.”

I clenched my teeth, forcing myself to speak through the pain. “What are you gonna do?”

“Nyeh, I gots stuff to take care of, so have at ‘im, boys.” The hissing cats closed in on me, baring their teeth and snarling. I was as good as cat food. At least, I thought I would’ve been. I reached inside my pocket, desperate for anything to ward them off, when I found a powdery bag. I expected it to be the drugs Giovanni gave me, but when I drew it out, I found bits of crushed-up silvervine inside it. On the one hand, this was not what I asked for. I got a premium on it, so they clearly tried to weasel their way out of the deal. On the other hand, what were Meowth attracted to? Bingo. That would save me, for sure.

The instant they got a whiff of it, the Meowth all stopped in their tracks, including the head honcho, who turned back to sniff it down.

“You can have this catnip if you spare me.”

NebulaDreams

The words had barely left the riolu's mouth before the lead meowth lunged at him, claws spread, glinting in the street light.

“Yikes!”

He turned to flee back the way he'd come, abandoning the catnip to its feline-frenzied fate. His paws found a door, shoving it open and slamming it shut behind him. He leant against it, gasping for breath, his heart pounding. He could still hear the yowls, both angered and delighted, from the street outside, sending chill after chill down his spine.

Something moved in the darkness ahead of him, and he opened his eyes again. A glowing pair of green eyes stared back at him from beneath an old table, and a low purring growl rose up from the shadows.

His heart froze as he watched the eyes move closer to him. Followed by the lithe form of a purrloin.

Cats. Why did it always have to be cats?

“Mmm.” She licked her lips, taking step after step closer to him. “Is that catnip I smell?”

“Oh great.”

Riolu grimaced, groping for the door handle behind him. He should have known that catnip would have been a bad idea. The scent was clinging to his fur like barnacles to a boat.

“You got any more on you?” she asked.

“N-n-no!” His sweat-slicked pads skimmed the brass door handle and he flinched as the feline stopped opposite him. “I don't have any at all!”

“Too bad.” She sat down heavily and licked her paw. “You go out there smelling like that, those thugs are going to turn you into a pin cushion.”

“And you're not?” Riolu's voice squeaked as he pressed himself up into the door.

“What reason do I have?” The cat looked up and shrugged, flashing him a smile that was meant to be friendly, but on a feline just looked sinister. “I don't exactly kill for catnip. I quit that stuff years ago.” She paused and inclined her head on one side. “Why do you look so terrified?”

“Really?” Riolu stuttered slightly. “You're a cat. I'm a dog...”

“And you're... scared of me?”

Riolu screwed his eyes shut, wishing he was anywhere else. That he'd wake up and it would all be a bad dream.

The purrloin shook her head and laughed. “Oh, that's brilliant. Never seen a fighting type scared of a little purrloin before. You just made my night, Blue.”

Riolu's eyes snapped open, fixing on her green ones. The cat simply smiled and held out a paw, causing him to flinch back at the fear of her claws.

“The name's Purry,” she said. “What's yours?”

“Everyone just calls me Riolu,” he said.

“That's bland.” She grabbed his paw and gave it a single shake. Retracted claws. Not so much as a scratch. “But whatever. Parents usually name their kids. What, are you a stray?”

“I'm not a stray!”

A hot flush spread across his cheeks and he jerked his head away, staring at an upturned chair. Something small and fuzzy scurried around it before vanishing into the wall. He closed his eyes, blinking back tears.

“Wow. Guess I struck a nerve,” said Purry. “You lost, Blue?”

He turned back to her, eyes widening at the sympathetic look on her face.

“I'll take that as a 'yes'.” She stood, tail curling at the tip as she raised it. “I guess I should show you the safer way outta this joint, eh?”

He watched the purrloin's retreating back for a second before abandoning the door. “You... you want to help me?”

“Yeah.” She shrugged and looked back at him. “I mean, those guys out there are gonna be looking for more of that stuff soon, and when they do, it's gonna get real ugly. Not all of us are docile after a lick of catnip, you know. Some of us get wired.”

The playful grin she gave him told him she was of the latter kind. He flinched and looked away, clasping his paws at his sides.

“So, you comin', Blue?” She drew his eye back towards her, still smiling. “There's another exit in the basement.”

Riolu gave one glance back at the door before following the purrloin. She worked her way around the back of a dusty bar, stepping delicately around shards of sharp glass. Most of the glass was concentrated by the bar itself, and the rows of haphazard wine glasses and tumblers still intact on their shelves told him it probably wasn't there by accident.

Cats.

He tiptoed around the glass, following her educated stride, and joined her beside an open door. She nodded into the darkness beyond it.

“Basement,” she said. “Dark, damp, and all the rattata a girl can eat.” She punctuated that with a toothy grin, chilling Riolu to the core. “I can catch you one if you'd like? Put some flesh on your bones.”

“No thanks.” He absently wiped his paws on his chest. “I prefer fish. And eggs.”

“Suit yourself. Not gonna find any of that in here. And you're miles away from any lake.” She vanished beyond the door, her purple fur blending into the shadows like ink.

He followed after her, squinting as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. A long set of wooden steps led down into the basement, where Purry was sat looking up at him. All he could make out of her was her vague form and her eyes reflecting the faintest of light and magnifying it like a pair of torches. He had to tread carefully, not knowing which steps were safe. Each creak was a clear threat to crumble and send him plunging to his death below. The scent of dust and mold assaulted his senses, and something feathery trailed over his ears. He squealed, swatting at it and frightening a spinarak across its web and into a crevice in the cold, wet stones.

Purry laughed and shook her head as Riolu finally joined her side. “Scared of cats and spiders? Boy, are you a wreck!”

Riolu wanted to retort, but a sudden sneeze interrupted him. He wiped his dusty paw across his nose and looked past her at a murky window high up in the wall.

“Where is this exit?” he asked.

“Right there.” She nodded to a door set at an angle just below the window. “It takes you into the main street. Meowth and his hooligans won't find you there.”

Riolu watched Purry cautiously, catching a small smile that showed her fangs.

“Don't worry,” she said. “I won't set them after ya. Got no reason to.”

He clasped his paws together, looking between her and the doors. He strained his ears to hear beyond them, but it was silent save for the dwindling late-night traffic.

“Go on.” Purry gave him a nudge with her nose, eliciting a squeak. “Find your trainer, and maybe let that nervous wreck know there ain't nothin' scary about us cats.”

He jerked his head around towards her, stuttering. “How... how did you...?”

“It's obvious!” she said. “No name, scared of cats and spiders and other small things? Let me guess. Raised from an egg, by a trainer who's scared of anything small and furry. Someone who prefers canine pokemon to cats, so much so they're scared of them.” She paused, watching his face. “I'm right, aren't I?”

He flinched, balling his paws into fists. “Yes.”

Purry chuckled and flicked her tail behind her. “Trainers, eh?”

“You... you have one?”

“Had.” She shrugged. “Left me here.”

“They abandoned you?”

“Had no choice.” A sad smile spread across her muzzle. “I can't exactly follow where she went.”

Riolu shifted from foot to foot as his eyes wandered back to the doors below the window. Those words seemed to haunt him, painting the purrloin in an entirely different light.

“Well?” she said. “What are you waiting for?”

“I don't know where to start.” His voice was thick with regret. “The city is big, and... well... we got separated. And now she's lost... all alone out there. Because... because I ran...” He screwed his eyes shut, letting tears streak down his cheeks. “Because I'm a coward!”

Purry tutted and licked her paw. “Cowards quit.”

He fixed a glare on her, receiving a smile in return. “I'm not going to quit!”

“Exactly.”

A thud came from above them, sending a chill down Riolu's spine. Purry looked back at the stairs, ears pricked and trained on the room above. Voices. Whiny voices. Cat voices.

“Where is he?” said the head honcho. “He's here somewhere, I can smell him!”

Riolu let out an 'eep!' and backed towards the window.

“Go on, Blue.” Purry turned towards the stairs, firing a grin over her shoulder. “I've got you're back.”

Riolu didn't need telling twice. He dashed for the doors, finding them ajar. Too heavy to push, but enough room for a slender cat or a small riolu to wriggle through. His paws found cold, wet tarmac and he made to run. But froze, turning back to the gap in the doors.

Purry was still sat there, watching the stairs, waiting for the meowth and his gang.

Alone. Alone in an abandoned pub, left behind with no trainer to care for her, leaving traps for invaders. Probably as scared and lonely as he felt.

“Hey?” Riolu whispered.

She looked back at him, green eyes reflecting the dim light. He glanced aside, clearing his throat.

“Why... why don't you come with me?” he said.

“You kiddin' me, Blue? You and your trainer are scared of us cats.”

“Yeah, well... I...” He dug his claws into the wood. “You're alone, and... and you know the city better than me. And those meowth... well... together, we... maybe we can...”

Purry chuckled and abandoned the stairs. Whether her chuckle was at him or the meowth cursing and screeching because of the glass, he didn't know. She leapt up at the doors, claws glinting in the street light. Riolu backed away from them, fur on end. But it was only a means for her to drag herself through the basement doors.

Purry smirked up at him and flashed her fangs. “All right then, Blue. Let's find your trainer.”

Riolu smiled down at the purrloin, then joined her side as they made their way through the dark streets of the city.

DeliriousAbsol

“All right then, Blue. Let’s find your trainer.”

Riolu smiled down at the purrloin, then joined her side as they made their way through the dark streets of the city.

“Do you know where he might have gone at all?”

Blue paused. “He liked bars. Maybe he went to one of those.”

“Let’s try that!” Riolu said cheerfully.

He steered them in the direction of the town central, towards more populated streets, more open late-night businesses and human squabble, warm yellow light spilling onto the snowy sidewalks. As they looked in on different bars and restaurants, though, passing between bubbles of faint music and chatter, Blue kept glancing nervously from side to side, jumping at the sight of any passing human under the streetlamps.

“What’s up, Blue?” Riolu said after a few minutes. “You feeling okay?”

The purrloin laid her ears down flat, hanging her head. “I don’t know. What if he doesn’t want me anymore?”

“Oh, no, Blue!” Riolu placed a reassuring paw on her shoulder. “Of course your trainer wants you.”

“If you say so,” Blue said doubtfully.

“Blue, you – look, you’re a shiny.”

The purrloin blinked.

“Shiny Pokémon are some of the most sought-after! There’s no way your trainer wouldn’t want a shiny.”

He gave her a smile he hoped was reassuring, but she only looked miserably down. “Then… I guess that’s all he’d want me for.”

“Come on, no, Blue! You’ve got to believe in yourself more than that! Work on that self-esteem! You’re worth more than your coat and if your trainer doesn’t see that, he’s the problem!”

Blue shook her head, plodding onward along the street, head drooping.

Riolu stared after her. “Blue, do you… do you even want to find your trainer?”

She turned, eyes wide. “Of course I want to find him! He’s my trainer!”

“But… what was he like? You keep talking like he didn’t care about you at all. Why do you want to go back to him?”

“Because he’s my trainer,” the purrloin said firmly.

Riolu shook his head. “Blue. Look, if all you can say for your trainer is that he’s your trainer, maybe he shouldn’t be your trainer. You know? Here you were wondering if maybe he didn’t care anymore, or wouldn’t care except that you’re a shiny. Would you really be wondering that if your trainer was any good?”

Abruptly, Blue bared her teeth and hissed at Riolu, fluffing her fur up to twice her size. Riolu started and tripped over the edge of the sidewalk, falling on his back into the snow.

“…Riolu?”

He shook the snow out of his face and pushed himself back to his feet. Blue winced at him, unable to meet his eye. “I’m sorry, I…”

“It’s okay, Blue. Tell me about your trainer.”

“I was taught… to stick with my trainer no matter what.” Blue was making herself small now, sitting in a tiny crouch.

“That’s not how it works, Blue. Sure, when the trainer is your partner, you want to stick by them. But any old trainer, even one who lets you get lost like that? It’s on them to prove they’re still worthy of having you.”

“But…” Blue shook her head again. “I… I think he sold me.”

Riolu gazed at her for a moment before he stepped up and wrapped his paws around her. “Blue, you’re worth so much more than any money. You deserve someone better. I promise.”

Blue rubbed her head against his slightly. “Promise?”

He nodded decisively. “Yeah. I promise.”

Riolu let the purrloin go, gently. She still looked miserable – but at least now she had someone to trust.

“Come on, Blue. I’ll introduce you to some of my other friends.”

He smiled, pointing the way back along the street. Blue hesitated – but then she nodded.

“Are they good friends?”

“Yeah,” Riolu said, smiling. “The best.”

And the two of them walked together through the falling snow under the warm light of the streetlamps.

Dragonfree
 

DeliriousAbsol

*Crazy Absol Noises*
Staff
Location
Behind a laptop, most likely with tea
Pronouns
She/Her
Okay. Cats rule the internet. We've proved it.

This was awesome to read! =D A bit of a trip that even ends on a nice note! Definitely worth the wait to see ;)

Edit - The meowth laser weapon was freakin' fantastic, btw! 😂
 

Chibi Pika

Stay positive
Staff
Location
somewhere in spacetime
Pronouns
they/them
Ahaha, this was glorious. xD And also... surprisingly coherent? I love how it kind of smoothly drifts from pokemon-turned-human for four segments into deadly neurotoxin for three segments, noir for four segments, and CATS for a whopping five segments. And omg I helped fuel both the noir and the cats, I'm so happy.

I only got three of the authors right (NonAnalogue, Raggy, Neb) and for three others I already knew their position, so I can't really count them (Namo, Sike, Dragonfree.) I love how the name mix-up in the final part resulted in purrloin becoming shiny, and that ending was unexpectedly heartwarming! <3

This was a ton of fun and I love what we all came up with. Thanks to everyone who participated, and thanks for running it, Negrek!
 
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