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Pokémon Something Something Metropolitan Spiritual Amaurosis

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
I decided I wanted to write another story. So I did!

This one's a silly story. It's not that serious. I think I'll try and alternate between this one and my other story. Helps keep things fresh and interesting!


Rated for contents concerning foul language, blood, serious injury, and potentially disturbing content.


Something Something Metropolitan Spiritual Amaurosis - A Story about a young man, an old Xerneas, and the things they want to find together

I don't have a title image, but this one kind of conveys the message. Thanks for stopping by!
Strange Times.jpg




Ch. 1 - Magurakera


“It’s now three A.M. and you are listening to the best of yacht rock. So lean back, and let the music take you from coast to coast.”

There was a disgusting smell lingering in the car, a mix of the so called ‘new car smell’ and burnt paper. The windows were slightly cracked, but it didn’t help.

The phone in the cupholder lit up for the second time in minutes, displaying a new message.

Can you guess how many zeroes the old man put on your head?

The young man barely glanced at the text, his knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel. As the radio softly played, a new message came in.

Fucking five! Hahahahah you’re fucked.

As he stared at the new text, he felt his death grip loosen. He slumped in his seat, letting his foot press down on the accelerator. It was at once immensely gratifying and terrifying.

The country road was barely lit, and hardly any stars could be seen in the night sky. The man sat idly, hands falling to his sides as the car got faster and faster. Whatever happened next didn’t really matter.

Trees flew by, illuminated for less than a second by the headlights. They left hazy black impressions, an oscillating carpet of pins and needles close enough to touch.

“I’d like to go to the beach,” he murmured to himself, smiling slightly.

He imagined watching the sunset, feeling the sand shifting under his back. A happy cliche, best enjoyed with a smooth drink, no fizz, no bang, just a lingering sweetness. No one else with him, just the isolation he had earned.

Out of the darkness, something appeared to the left, slamming into the side of the car as it barreled forwards. With no time to grab the wheel, the man could only freeze as the airbag deployed in his face. Careening off the road, it flipped once- twice- until sliding into a tree. Rebounding off the side from momentum, it spun around a few more times before coming to rest.

Miraculously, he was still alive. Pushing the airbag out of his face, he pulled the handle, letting the door swing outwards. Shakily he emerged, slowly circling the car to survey the damage. The right side of the car was crushed inwards, jagged metal only inches from where his head was. Broken glass was scattered in a wide arc, a few pieces stuck in his right arm.

As he pulled a shard out of his leg, he looked up to see a figure in the darkness.

“Are you okay? I hit your car kind of hard.” The speaker stepped closer and the man was dumbfounded to see that it was a large four legged deer. It stared down at him, its expression a strange mix of concern and wonder.

The man blanched. “A pokemon? That’s... kind of funny.” He stared for a moment. “Did they send you to kill me or something? That was really fast.”

“Kill you? I- I would never do something like that!” The pokemon stammered awkwardly. “I’m not supposed to do that I think.”

“Yeah, well you ran into my car. It’s pretty crazy that I didn’t die,” the man replied, “I can hear them now, ‘Look, Julius died in a car crash. Pretty fitting for that loser.’ Argh.”

“Oh...” The pokemon looked at Julius sadly. “Sorry.”

Julius shook his head. “What are you sorry for? Maybe if I’m lucky, they’ll think I died in the crash. Speaking of, I guess I should set this on fire.”

“You want to fake your death?”

“Yeah, it’s complicated.” Julius looked up. “So you’re one of those psychic types or whatever?”

“Not really,” the pokemon said. “My name is Xerneas. I just happen to know the human language.”

Julius eyed Xerneas suspiciously. “Just happened to? Alright. That’s a weird name though, so I’ll just call you Goony.”

Xerneas seemed taken aback. “I’m fine with that,” she said hesitantly, “And you’re Julius?”

“Yeah, but I wish I wasn’t. I’m more or less a dead man walking.” Julius smiled. “I’ve gotten over it though.”

“You’re going to die?” Xerneas looked distant. “I see.”

Julius shrugged, wincing slightly. He pulled another piece of glass from his shoulder. “I’m not dead yet, so I decided I’d try to have a good time before it happens. You know, don’t you have a bucket list before you die?”

The car abruptly went up in flames, illuminating the two of them.

“I don’t have one,” Xerneas replied, “Should I? Is that part of life?”

“Yeah. It’s the same thing as having a dream or a goal. You have those right?” Julius’ gaze flickered over to the burning car. “I wonder if it’ll explode,” he muttered.

“My goal?” Xerneas looked away, troubled. “I... I want to learn more about what life is!” A trail of blood ran down her forehead as she spoke.

Julius stared at her. “That’s a bit vague. How are you going to do that?”

“Um-” Xerneas hummed idly, pointedly avoiding Julius’ stare. “I know! Hit me with your car again.”

He took a moment to process the request. “Now that I think about it, I might just be dead.” He looked over at the flaming wreck. “I’m a ghost, and you’re one of those spirit pokemon.”

“No, no, I’m not a ghost,” Xerneas pouted, “Here, I’ll fix you up to prove it!”

Before Julius could respond, Xerneas stepped forward and pressed her snout against his forehead. Immediately he felt most of the pain disappear, his skin flush.

“Oh wow,” Julius said, “I’ve heard of pokemon healing, but it’s a lot better than I thought.” He looked down at his leg, where a shard of glass was still lodged. “Huh, still got a little bit down there.”

Xerneas followed his gaze, her eyes widening as she saw the glass. “Ack! I didn’t know that was there.”

The man fruitlessly tugged on the piece only to find it stuck. “It doesn’t hurt, I’ll pull it out later.” Julius gazed up at the sky. “I guess I am alive. Thanks, Goony.” He nodded at her and started to walk away.

“W-wait!” Xerneas trotted after him. “Where are you going?”

“I told you, people want me dead, so I’m leaving town. Goodbye Unova and all that!” Julius glanced at the fire. “Would’ve been easier with the car, but I’m not in a position to complain.”

“Can I come with you?” Xerneas asked bashfully, scraping the ground with a hoof.

Julius looked surprised. “I don’t think hanging out with me will help you find out what life is. But if you want, I won’t stop you.”

“Ah, thaaaank youuuuuu,” Xerneas cried, tearing up a little. “I’m in a bit of a rough spot myself and I don’t want to be lonely!” She rubbed up against the man.

Pushing her away lightly, Julius glanced at the blood running down her head. “Don’t you want to fix yourself up?”

Xerneas shook her head. “No, that’s too easy. I...” she paused, “I think pain will help me understand a little better.”

Julius narrowed his eyes at her. “Whatever you say. Anyway, I’m going to Hoenn. Do you still want to come with me?”

Xerneas nodded. “Definitely!”


========================


“Oh damn, looking good today!”

Holding up a shard of glass, a man admired his reflection. The car wreck sat forlornly nearby,

“What do you think Mike?”

Next to him, a Sealeo squinted at him before barking and nodding seemingly in approval.

“Mmm, you’re right. I may be amazing, but not as amazing as you!” He reached down and kissed the Sealeo on the head.

Mike waved a flipper happily.

The man smiled, exhaling slowly. “Okay, time to work.” He tossed the glass aside and looked over the charred wreck. “What do you think Mike? Did he die?”

The Sealeo plodded around the ruined car, peering through the black frame and looking at the ground. Mike looked back at the man and shook his head with a sharp bark.

“Yeah, I didn’t think so either,” the man muttered. “Julius of all people wouldn’t be that lucky.” He knelt down, inspecting the ground. “But it looks like he got himself a friend.”

He pulled out a phone, making a face while he scrolled through a list of contacts. Finding what he was looking for, he winked at Mike.

“Hello, Ludoman? This is Michael,” he said when the call picked up. “Can you ID some pokemon footprints for me?”

Mike stuck his tongue out at him before rolling over on his back.

“Yeah, I’ll send a picture. How long will it take you? That’s fine, keep me posted.” Hanging up, he sighed. “You know, Mike. I don’t think he cares.”

The Sealeo grunted, watching idly as Michael snapped a photo of the tracks.

“I guess he gets a head start,” Michael said, “Unless you’d like to try following his scent?” He looked at Mike playfully.

Mike stared back.

“Ha, just playing!” Michael turned back to the car. “Let’s see if he left any money here. Help me look.”


========^^=========


As the digital signboard scrolled slowly, Julius could feel a wave of annoyance coming. Around them, the port swarmed with activity.

“There’s a fee for loose pokemon? That’s a lot of money that I don’t have,” he said, his eyes trailing over the ship at the dock.

“I could hide somewhere?” Xerneas volunteered, looking hopeful.

Julius was unconvinced. “Maybe you would have a chance if you could take those antlers off. They’re a bit hard to miss.”

Her antlers glittered in the sunlight as he said this. The two ignored the curious glances sent their way.

“If you really want to try it, then I won’t stop you,” Julius continued, “It’s your life.”

Xerneas tilted her head. “What’s my life?”

Julius looked at her oddly. “It’s a saying. Basically do what you want because it’s for you.” He frowned. “Now that you say it though, it’s harder to explain than I thought.”

“Oh! I get it.” Xerneas smiled. “It’s my life, huh.” Her expression became distant. “I’ve... never thought about it like that before.”

“Mmm,” Julius grunted, “We have two options. Either you hide, or we go find a pokeball. Would you be comfortable in that?”

“I don’t know,” Xerneas said nervously, “I’ve never tried it. But... lots of pokemon are in them right? So that is a way of life.”

“You’re really obsessed with this ‘life’ thing,” Julius commented dryly.

Xerneas hummed. “I am. I can’t help it.” She fixed him with a serious look. “I’ll try this pokeball thing, Julius. But only for you, okay? If I come out of that and see anyone else besides you, then I’ll be angry.”

The man nodded. “Alright Goony, I promise to never let anyone else have you.” His face scrunched up. “You sure you want to do this? Normally it just kind of happens, but it’s kind of awkward since you can talk back to me.”

Xerneas hesitated. “I... feel like I can trust you.”

Julius paused. He stared at the ground silently.

“Haven’t heard that in a while...” he said, “Uh, any preferences on what type of pokeball you want?”

Xerneas silently noted his words, but decided not to ask about it. “They have different kinds?”

“Yeah. But I don’t have much money on me, so if you want a nicer one, you’ll have to help me steal it.” Julius flashed a thumbs up at Xerneas. “Can you do that?”

“I’ll try.” Xerneas smiled, “I’m always open to trying new things.”


=========


Michael threw his phone at the ground, startling Mike.

“How does he not know what print it is?” he said to the Sealeo.

Mike shrugged in reply, barking noncommittally.

“Now we’re just fucked,” the man continued in frustration. “This is so annoying.”

“Unfair, isn’t it?”

Michael stared at the glowing green canine that had suddenly appeared next to Mike. As the Sealeo looked at the other pokemon in confusion, it spoke again.

“It’s okay, I’m not expecting an answer.”

“What the fuck?” Michael said under his breath.

With a cry, Mike immediately turned on the new pokemon and shot a blast of ice from his mouth. As it shot towards it, the beam seemed to bend in air, angling downwards before hitting the pokemon’s paw, freezing it in place.

The canine looked down at the paw, its solid green eyes unchanging. “I will regard that as a ‘no’.”

Michael held out a hand cautiously, backing away. “Mike, don’t do anything else.”

The Sealeo let a new jet of ice it was forming dissipate with a low growl. He hopped away from the newcomer and rolled next to Michael.

“Who are you?” Michael asked. He took a long breath. “And why are you so stupid?”

“I am Zygarde,” the pokemon replied, “I do not know the answer to your second question.”

“Wouldn’t expect you to,” Michael said in a low voice. “Anyway, get out of here, we’re on important business.”

“As it would happen, I have business here too,” Zygarde said simply, “I do not mind your presence.”

Michael scowled. “Okay? We mind yours though.”

Zygarde turned to Mike, the Sealeo glaring at it. “Are you in agreement?” it asked.

“You’re kind of killing the mood,” Mike said, the Sealeo glancing at Michael. “And you’re freaky.”

“I don’t know what Mike said, but I probably agree,” Michael interjected, “You were saying something about fair a moment ago right? Well how is it fair you can talk to me and Mike can’t?”

Zygarde paused to consider the question. “You may be right,” it conceded, “Linguistics is not my specialty.”

“Ugh, seriously just go. What kind of business does a pokemon even have?” Michael said.

“Would you like to know or would you like me to leave?” Zygarde asked.

Michael sighed. “Obviously the latter, but I can see you’re not going to, so tell me.”

“I’m looking for an acquaintance,” Zygarde said, nodding. “Unexpected circumstances have arisen, and I am obliged to investigate.”

Michael traded a glance with Mike. “So who is this friend of yours and how did you know they were here?”

Zygarde shook its head. “I doubt you would know her, so it would be of no benefit. That said, I can sense a trace of her energy.” It paused. “And her hoofprint is right there.”

“Huh, really?” Michael was immediately interested. “So you can track this energy as it moves around?”

“Of course. Why do you think I’m here in the first place?”

Michael surreptitiously shook his fist triumphantly at Mike. “So,” he started, his tone disgustingly deferential. “We’re looking for someone too. They were around here earlier, and, well, judging by what we’ve found, we think our guy went off with your... acquaintance.”

Zygarde’s eyes flashed. “Intriguing theory. I would dismiss it as nonsense... but it makes sense.” Its gaze trailed along the ground. “Footprints. Two sets?”

“We can help each other out,” Michael said, forcing a smile. “If they’re together, then great! You get yours and we get ours. If not, no big deal.”

“Those terms are extremely favorable to me,” Zygarde said thoughtfully, “It is rather difficult to move around by myself in populated areas, so I accept your offer.”

“Great! I’m Michael, and this is Mike.” Michael gestured to the Sealeo who hesitantly waved a flipper in greeting. “You said you were Zygarde? Nice to meetcha! Never seen a pokemon as weird as you.”

For a moment, the barest hint of a smile could be seen on Zygarde’s face.

“I will regard that as a compliment,” it said lightly.


=====================


The burly woman kicked open the door, her apron fluttering in the wind.

“Get out of here you bastards!” she roared. Rearing her arm back, she threw a claw hammer before storming back inside.

The hammer flew through the air, nailing Xerneas on the back of the head. She pitched forward but managed to recover, grinning wildly as she ran.

“Did you get it, Julius?” she shouted.

Slightly ahead of her, Julius glanced back. He flashed a great ball before shoving it in his pocket.

“I don’t know about you, but I think this one is hideous,” he shouted back. “Why did you want this one?”

“It’s blue like me!” Xerneas replied.

Julius turned to look back at Xerneas again. He tripped on something and fell forwards.

Xerneas made a sound somewhere between a squeak and a cry. She rushed over to him. “Ah! Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Julius said, lying on the ground. He turned over on his back and stared at the sky. “I think we’ve run far enough.” He looked at her. “Are you bleeding again? That shopkeeper really got you.”

“It’s nothing,” Xerneas said, her eyes flickering to a thin trail of blood running down her neck. “I feel kind of bad for stealing, but it was... exciting.”

“These things?” Julius tossed the great ball from one hand to another. “Not exactly super valuable. Still out of our price range if we want a ticket for the boat though.”

“That much, huh?” Xerneas looked thoughtful. “Why is it so expensive if you can’t afford it?”

Julius looked at her strangely. “That’s what being poor is all about. What a weird way to phrase that though.”

“Oh, my apologies,” Xerneas said, “So how does that ball work?”

“I hit you with it, and you go in. Don’t ask me for anything more in depth than that,” Julius said, peeling a price tag off the great ball. “Maybe it teleports you inside.”

Xerneas nodded. “Uh-huh. I’ll just have to get used to it.”

“This is only for special circumstances, I’m not gonna keep you in there all the time.” Julius stood up and started walking. “By the way, I have to declare what species I’m bringing aboard, so what exactly are you?”

Xerneas paused for a moment. “You can just put down Stantler.”

“You are definitely not. But if you want to risk that, we’ll do it.” The man stopped to stretch. “So, what are you really?”

“Xerneas is my name, and it’s all I am,” she replied, “There’s only one of me. I think the terms humans usually apply are myth or legend.”

Julius continued stretching. “So like, legendary?”

“That’s one way to put it.”

“Cool.” Julius murmured, “Tell me more about it later. Let’s get to the boat.”

--

“Am I carrying an amount of cash more than or equal to the sum of twenty thousand?”

Julius put a hand in his pocket.

“I’m carrying two hundred and fifteen... so no.” He checked the negative box and moved down to the next question.

“Am I carrying any pokemon that are considered ecologically dangerous or invasive?”

He shifted in his seat, scratching his knee idly. Glancing at the door of the cabin, he pulled the great ball out from his other pocket.

“Ah, I’m out!” Xerneas said as she emerged from the ball in a flash of light. “That was weird, but not bad.” She looked around excitedly. “Did we make it?”

“We’re on the boat now, we left port a few hours ago,” Julius said, “Can you tell time in there?”

Xerneas tilted her head from side to side. “A little, but I’ve never been good at approximating.”

“Huh, that’s interesting. Also- sorry for not letting you out earlier, I was a bit paranoid.” The man relaxed in his chair. “It’ll be a few hours. You could probably explore the boat if you want, just don’t answer any questions about yourself.”

Xerneas nodded. “Do you still want to hear more about me?”

“Sure.” Julius pulled a chocolate off of an arrangement on the table. “What’ve you got?”

“I don’t know how much you’ve read about... ‘us’, and I use that term a bit loosely, but certain pokemon are responsible for things. Sometimes it’s fairly straightforward, but it can be a little abstract too.” Xerneas motioned for Julius to give her a piece of chocolate. “Now, can you guess what I’m in charge of?”

Julius threw a chocolate to Xerneas. “Are you the guardian of house fires?”

Catching it in her mouth, Xerneas rolled her eyes. “Of courff thnot,” she said while chewing.

“Water?” Julius ventured, “Since you’re blue?”

“Oh, I wish, but that’s already covered. I’m responsible for...” Xerneas paused for effect. “Life.”

Julius looked at her strangely. “What the fuck does that mean?”

Xerneas stared back at him silently, licking the corner of her mouth.

“Oh. You don’t know,” Julius said, “Uh, how does that work?”

“I can feel all life,” Xerneas said awkwardly, “I can see that you’re alive, and I could tell you how many people are alive on this ship right now. I can give life, though not necessarily create. But- I kind of just ‘do’ life. I don’t really know what it is. Does that make sense?”

Picking up Xerneas’ great ball, Julius turned it over in his hands. “I guess? So if you’re ‘in charge’ of life, but you don’t know much about it, what exactly do you do?”

“I had more to do thousands of years ago, but I suppose I’m kind of a supervisor now,” Xerneas said hesitantly, “To tell the truth, when I ran into your car, I had just woken up after a very long sleep.”

Julius laughed. “The first thing you did after waking up was to run into my car?”

“No,” Xerneas said, looking pained, “The first thing I did was throw up. A millennia of sleep can be a bit disorienting.”

“Right. Thanks for letting me know.” Julius stood up and crossed the cabin over to a window. “So you’ve been doing this since the dawn of time and you only asked yourself this now?”

“The times I was awake in the past were usually to witness some great event or impart long life or vitality on noble figures,” Xerneas said thoughtfully, “I was usually treated with exorbitant reverence, and I didn’t really think much of things beyond what I was supposed to do. So... hitting your car was pretty interesting.”

“Then why’d you wake up now?” Julius asked, watching the waves.

Xerneas was quiet. “I don’t know,” she said finally. “Maybe your car woke me up.”

“You’ve been sleeping on the side of a road for years?” Julius asked, cracking up at the thought.

“That road probably wasn’t there last time,” Xerneas protested, “I took a trip to visit a friend and decided to sleep there. I turn into a tree when I do that, by the way.”

Julius frowned. “Sounds like a pain.” He glanced back at Xerneas. “So in summary, you don’t know why you’re awake, you don’t know why you do what you do, and you think sticking with me will help?”

“Pretty much,” Xerneas replied.

Julius shrugged. “It’s your call. By the way, if your in charge of life, does that mean-”

“Yes, it does,” Xerneas said, cutting him off. “I’d rather not talk about them.”

“I suppose I can guess why,” Julius said, slightly taken aback by her tone. “How’s the chocolate?”

Xerneas smiled. “It’s great. Give me another.”


=========


“Do you need help?”

Michael waved off the worker. “Nah, I’m fine. Just enjoying the ocean is all.” As he stood on the dock, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes. Lighting two, he put one in his mouth and stooped down to give the other one to Mike. The Sealeo accepted the cigarette with a nod.

“What are you doing?” Zygarde asked, perplexed by the lit cigars.

“The good stuff,” Michael replied, “You want one?”

Zygarde cocked it’s head. “What is the purpose of it?”

“Feels good, that’s it. It’s easier to see for yourself,” Michael said, Mike nodding in agreement.

Before Zygarde could reply, Michael lit another cigarette and pushed it into the canine’s mouth.

Zygarde was silent for a moment as it smoked. “I see,” it said, “The appeal is evident.”

The three of them stared at the sea in silence. “You said you detected Xerneas’ trace or whatever here?”

“It would seem she is out on the ocean now,” Zygarde murmured, “Perhaps a boat.”

“Well that sucks,” Michael said. “We don’t know what boat it is or where it’s going. You feel up for a swim Mike?”

“Tell him I’m ready whenever he is,” Mike said to Zygarde.

Zygarde looked at the man. “Mike says he is prepared at your discretion.”

The Sealeo looked annoyed. “Next time, say my words exactly please.”

“Noted,” Zygarde replied.

“Man! I wish I could talk to Mike,” Michael said, “Thanks for translating though.”

“Noted,” Zygarde said again. “Are you planning to swim after the boat?”

“Sure,” Michael said, “Mike’s a great swimmer, and he can probably support us both. Here, let me see-” He stepped over and wrapped his arms around Zygarde, lifting it into the air. “Yeah, you’re pretty light. I could use you as a weight!”

Zygarde was too surprised to reply. As Michael set him down again, he stood in place.

“Alright, let’s go get a wetsuit. Do you need anything, Zygarde? The water might get a bit cold.” Michael looked it over appraisingly. “I’ll probably get a lifejacket for you.”

“Hey, Zygarde. Can you ask Michael if he’ll get me some snacks?” Mike asked, the Sealeo looking thoughtful. “If I’m carrying both of you, I want to fill up first.”

Zygarde turned to Michael. “Mike says he would like some snacks.”

Michael nodded, smiling. “Of course! Mike’s doing all the hard work, so he deserves the best. Now let’s go you guys. Every second we sit here, that boat gets further away.”

As they walked off, Zygarde spoke again. “Michael, I have a question.”

“What is it Zygarde?”

“May I have another cigarette?”

“Sure.”


=============


“So uh, I have a little confession. I don’t know where Hoenn is.”

Julius nodded. “I’m guessing it was called something different before?”

“You know it,” Xerneas replied, “Do you have a map?”

Julius walked over to a drawer bolted to the wall. Rooting around in it for a minute, he pulled out a sheet of paper. “Check it out,” he said, bringing it over to her.

Xerneas looked at it frowning. “Ehh, I don’t recognize anything. The maps that humans made before were different.”

“It’s not that important.” Julius checked a clock on the wall. “They’re opening the buffet soon. You want to go?”

“That sounds nice,” Xerneas said, “It’s been a few thousand years since I’ve eaten.”

Julius quirked an eyebrow. “Do you even need to eat?”

“Don’t know. Maybe we’ll find out,” Xerneas said, smiling.

Julius unlocked the door. “Well, don’t throw up. And watch those antlers, you might stab someone.”

3/31 edit - Apparently I misused "it's" a bunch. Fixed some I saw
 
Last edited:
Plegomekitra

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
Made some paleo bacon today that happened to be in the fridge. Kind of tasteless...
Yay! Finished another chapter!

Content warning for this chapter: Non extensive violence and depictions of sickness. Nothing bad, but not a pretty mental image, lol



Chapter 2: Plegomekitra



“Question, Michael.”

Michael looked back in time to see a cigarette vanish into Zygarde’s mouth, the canine swallowing it without a moment’s delay.

The man tried to keep a straight face. “Uh, what’s your question, Zygarde?”

The two of them were sitting on Mike’s back as the Sealeo glided across the surface of the water. Michael idly tugged at his wetsuit, a little thrown off by Zygarde’s casual snack.

“Cigarettes are very nice when smoked, but they taste terrible. Why is that?” Zygarde frowned. “Incidentally, may I have another one?”

Reaching in his bag, Michael pulled out a bag with a carton of cigarettes inside. He took one out and held it forward, holding it slightly out of Zygarde’s reach. “You might not agree, but generally you’re not supposed to eat it.”

“That seems counterintuitive,” Zygarde murmured, gratefully accepting Michael’s offering. “Although, it is par for the course for human inventions.”

Michael made a face. “Is that what you think? I mean, I guess so.” As he spoke, he lit Zygarde’s cigarette. “Oh shoot-” He fumbled, dropping the lighter into the water.

Mike looked back at them curiously. Michael waved at him.

“Don’t worry about it, Mike,” Michael said, “Just keep going.” He sighed. “Whatever. We’ll be fine until later.”

“Are you not concerned with retrieving it?” Zygarde asked, scanning the water where the lighter had fallen.

“It’s the ocean, it’s gone already,” Michael said, shrugging. He pointed at Zygarde’s cigarette. “Make that one last, alright? Unless you want to go in after it yourself.”

Zygarde looked down at the floaties tied around his legs and stomach. “I am not interested in entertaining that offer,” it said simply.

Michael laughed. “Then that’s that, I’ll just buy a new one.”

They sat in silence for a while longer before Michael spoke again.

“Out of curiosity, how does a cigarette taste?”

[}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{]

Xerneas leaned towards the glass, reading the placard. “Leek soup flavored with liquid smoke,” she read slowly. “Liquid smoke?”

“Huh, that’s a really weird one,” Julius commented, standing next to Xerneas. “Liquid smoke in soup? Must be a Hoennese thing.” He ladled a portion into a bowl. “Might as well try some, no?”

They walked to a smaller table near the corner of the room. Towering over the rest of the room, Xerneas did her best to awkwardly make her way to Julius, apologizing profusely to anyone who would listen. Ignoring the startled glances, she settled down on the other side of the table, shooting the man a small smile.

“I hope my being here doesn’t cause too much trouble,” Xerneas said, looking around.

“You said you were a mythical pokemon or something?” Julius slurped the leek soup. “This isn’t bad,” he muttered to himself. “Anyway, it’s not like everyone is versed in history. Plus anyone who would recognize you would probably convince themselves that you’re not the real thing.”

Xerneas nodded. “I was talking more about how big I am, but that works too.”

Julius rubbed his forehead. “I feel like a smartass now.” He sighed, grinning. “Oh well. Did you try the soup?”

Xerneas leaned down slightly, her gaze flickering up to her antlers. Julius held the bowl out, the deer gently sipping it.

“I hope you don’t have any ancient diseases,” Julius said dryly.

“I feel fine, but I’m sure someone would feel honored if I made them sick,” Xerneas replied, “I’d fix you up anyway!” She frowned. “Not a fan of this soup.”

Julius put the bowl down and started poking at a salad with a fork. “Actually that’s an interesting question. If you’re in charge of life, then are you technically responsible for sickness?

Xerneas blanched. “I err, maybe??” she stammered, “There’s no one in charge of that last time I checked.”

“If you want to be broad, then I’d say so.” Julius smirked. “Do you speak for all life or only some of it?”

Craning her neck down, Xerneas seized a bread roll, furiously chewing it. “I don’t know!” she said in agitation.

Julius pointed his fork at her. “Well do you want to be?”

“Yes!” Xerneas stood up abruptly, banging her front knees on the table. “Ow.” She took a moment to compose herself. “That’s what I was made to do. Or at least, that’s the only thing I know I should be.”

A few people were looking at them, some scowling. Julius waved at them, faking a smile. “Let’s take this somewhere else,” he whispered.

==

“So, for most people, part of life is getting sick,” Julius started. They stood together on a sightseeing deck, the evening sun behind them. The deck below them thrummed with shouting and laughter, a generic rock song playing softly in the background.

“I’ve never been sick,” Xerneas said, “I mean, seen it? Definitely.”

Julius nodded. “Figured as much. Can you even get sick?”

Xerneas looked at the man strangely. “Do you want me to?”

“Well if you don’t know what life is, then that might be a good place to start,” Julius said, shrugging. “Or at least, do later. You’ll probably get sick at some point.”

“No...” Xerneas stared at the ground, her face scrunched up. “I want to get sick now.”

Julius was lost for words. “You don’t just get sick.” He paused. “Alright, you do kind of just ‘get’ sick, but you can’t get sick. Do you know what I mean?”

“It sounds like you know, but you won’t tell me,” Xerneas pouted, “I’ll be fine, Julius. I’ll just fix myself up afterwards.”

Julius leaned on the railing, sighing. “You do you, Goony. If you really want to get sick, lick every surface you can find on this boat. Don’t actually do that.”

“I’m gonna do it.”

Before Julius could say anything, Xerneas ran off, grinning at him as she left.

Julius was dumbfounded.

“Shit.”


{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}{][}


Zygarde tapped Michael on his shoulder with one paw. “I have finished my cigarette. Would you like to eat it?”

“No thanks buddy,” Michael said, wincing as he heard Zygarde start chewing on it. “I thought you said you didn’t like the taste.”

“Regardless of whether or not it is meant to be eaten, it seems wasteful. Therefore, I must do so, even if it is disagreeable.” Zygarde frowned. “What is she doing?” he murmured.

Michael leaned forward, letting Mike snack out of a bag of chips. “Huh? Who?”

“Xerneas,” Zygarde replied, “I don’t recall if I mentioned earlier, but she is the one I am looking for.”

“Oh yeah? You got a camera following her or something?” Michael made a face. “Creepy. I don’t think I’d mind being filmed though, like a reality show!”

Zygarde shook its head. “It’s complicated to explain, but you could say she is my ward. It’s my job to make sure she and her counterpart don’t get in trouble. To that end, I have a vague idea at all times where she is and where she is moving.”

“Still creepy,” Michael said lightly.

“You’re like a bounty hunter,” Mike said, looking back. “Like that movie about that robot Bisharp! Termite something I think?”

“I see.” Zygarde pawed at the scarf-like appendage around his neck. “Michael, Mike says I am like a bounty hunter from the termite movie.”

Michael’s eyes went wide. “Shit, Mike, you’re right. He is like the movie! He’s even got the robot eyes and everything.”

“What are robot eyes?” Zygarde asked, looking worried. “I’ve heard humans refer to Magnemite as robots. Are you saying I have Magnemite eyes?”

“Uh, no,” Michael said, as the Sealeo guffawed. “Don’t laugh, Mike! Zygarde is sensitive.” He reached over, scratching under Zygarde’s chin. “You don’t have Magnemite eyes, you have fantastic eyes. Not that Magnemite eyes aren’t great, but you have your own charm.”

Zygarde seemed caught off guard. “Your... compliments are noted. Thank you?”

Michael flashed a thumbs up. “No problem! Anyway, you said you can tell where this ‘Xerneas’ is?”

“Not approximately,” Zygarde said, shaking its head. “But it’s as if she is running back and forth in the same area.”

“Maybe she’s exercising,” Michael said, “What does she look like?”

Zygarde paused, thinking. “Consider a Sawsbuck, but- bigger.”

Michael pulled out a can of soda. “Yeah I don’t know. Just ask her when we catch up to them.” He took a long swig. “I’m kind of excited though, we’re going to Hoenn, that’s like your homeland, Mike!” He patted the Sealeo on the head.

Mike groaned, the pace of his swimming slowing slightly. “Zygarde, can you tell Michael I was born in a colony that migrated to Unova a few decades ago?” The Sealeo glanced back at the canine. “I don’t know anything about Hoenn.”

“Mike says his ancestors were exiled from Hoenn,” Zygarde relayed, a blank expression on its face.

“Woah, seriously?” Michael leaned down, wrapping his arms around the Sealeo’s neck. “Sorry buddy, I had no idea,” he said sadly.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Mike growled, fuming. “Zygarde, you fucker!”

Zygarde was silent for a moment before speaking. “Michael. I must confess something. I was lying about Mike’s words. In actuality, his ancestors migrated many years ago, thus he knows little about Hoenn. I was deliberately misconstruing his words as a joke.”

The three of them stared at each other before Michael abruptly burst out laughing.

“You don’t explain the joke like you’re reading a dictionary, Zygarde!” Michael said, in between fits of laughter. “You’re crazy! Hahahahaha... sorry Mike.” The man looked apologetically at the Sealeo.

“Hnn, at least you corrected it,” Mike said, calming down. “Geez, you really are a robot.”

“I’ll note that as an insult,” Zygarde said, hiding a faint smile.

Michael held his arms up in an X shape. “Okay, okay, fine.” He took a deep breath, regaining his composure. “So we don’t know a thing about what we’re getting into. That’s fine, we’ll manage.”

“Always the optimist,” Mike murmured, “Hey, Zygarde. When you mentioned Xerneas earlier, you said something about her counterpart. Is that something we have to worry about?”

Zygarde shook its head. “The other one shouldn’t interfere in the slightest. Unlike Xerneas, they should be...”

The canine froze, his mouth hanging open. “Huh? What is-”

“Hm?” Michael looked at Zygarde. “Did Mike ask you a question or something?”

“No, no, no, no, he’s awake too?” Zygarde sounded panicked. “I was focusing on Xerneas, so I didn’t realize that-” It slumped forward, trembling. “This is a problem.”

Michael grabbed the canine’s front paws, holding them tightly. “Zygarde! Tell me what the problem is.”

“W-we need to find Xerneas quickly,” Zygarde said, “Something strange is happening.”

“Don’t panic, Zygarde,” Michael said, trying to calm it down. “Once we get the guy we want, we’ll help you out all you want, okay?”

Michael pulled the pokemon close to him, rolling him on his back. He slowly stroked Zygarde’s belly, motioning at Mike to speed up. The Sealeo rolled his eyes.

“I need to fix this,” Zygarde said, staring at the sky. “Or else this will be a disaster!”


[\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\] [\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\] [\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\] [\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\]


“When I was young, I had a dream. I was floating in space forever.”

The old man hesitated, his eyes drawn to the flashing colors in front of him.

“I’ve never had anything quite like it since, but I think that’s why I’ve always wanted to die there. But it’s not easy to die in space, you know?” he continued, “You have pretty good wings for a pokemon, I don’t suppose you could fly me up there? Haha, just kidding.”

Yveltal hesitated. “If you really wanted it, I... I could try.” He sniffled. “But I don’t think I’d make it.”

“Are you crying for me?” The elderly man smiled softly. “Please don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve had a good life.”

Yveltal nodded, tears running down his face. “I can’t help it. I’ve seen a- a fair amount of death. Usually, I can hold it in until I’m alone, but-” He stopped, burying his face in his arm-wings, crying.

“I used to hear people say that you go numb to those kinds of things if you keep encountering it,” the old man said softly, “I’m glad to see that that might not be the case.”

Yveltal took a deep breath, rubbing his eyes. He stared at the bright screen in front of him. “Why did you come to a casino to die?”

“Ah!” The old man looked around worriedly. “How did you know? Oh, I’m already dead aren’t I?” He laughed. “After all, a talking pokemon comes up to me and I just start telling them how I want to die.” The man pointed a bony finger at Yveltal. “That makes you death then.”

Yveltal stared blankly at the roulette in front of him. “Yes. Yes, I am. I can... I could tell you were dying. I wasn’t sure if death is the same as it has been, but I guess it is.”

The old man nodded. “I see. There’s no special reason I came here to die. All the lights and sounds are just so strange, almost alien, it’s the closest thing I can think of to space. I know it won’t be a pleasant surprise for someone, but I’ll be sure not to make it too hard on them.”

“Do you have any family?” Yveltal asked, reaching out and tugging on the lever on the machine.

“Just my wife,” the old man said, “Don’t worry, she’s waiting for me. I have a lot of friends, but I’ve always said I was going to do something like this, so there’s no reason to be sad.” He glanced at Yveltal. “So, what now?”

Yveltal shrugged. “I’m just death. People are alive. Pokemon are alive. Spirits are alive too. All I deal with is the single moment in between. I can’t say what happens after that.”

“Leaving me to figure it out, huh?” The man grinned. “Sounds exciting.” He leaned forward. “Well, thanks for listening to an old man. I think I’ll take a little nap before I get this all figured out.”

He laid his head down on the counter, the side of his head illuminated by the video screen advertising a jackpot endlessly. Soft guitar music floated through the room, bulbs in a gaudy crystal chandelier overhead flickering slightly.

“The same as ever,” Yveltal murmured, tearing up again. “Why do I even need to be death? It happens anyway whether I want it to or not.” He glanced over at the man, spotting something in his hands. Gingerly, Yveltal pulled out a small leather wallet. He carefully plucked a few loose coins out and slid them into the roulette, staring at the screen disinterestedly.

“I don’t suppose it’ll mean much,” Yveltal said to himself, acutely aware of the deceased man next to him. “But I’ll pretend that we’re in space, just for a little while.”

He pulled the lever.


=====><======


“I aaaam... haappy- urgh!”

“So? Did you learn anything?” Julius asked, ignoring the abysmal retching noises.

“I’m covered in my own vomit,” Xerneas said weakly from the other room, “But I feel great, honestly! Not, like, physically, but mentally.”

Julius cracked a small smile, shaking his head. “Great. Can’t you make yourself better now that you know what it’s like to be sick?”

“No! I have to- ack!” There was a mighty thump. “Oooooohhh~ I slipped.” Xerneas took a deep breath. “I have to experience this all the way through. Getting better is part of being sick, right?”

Julius sighed, standing up from the table he was at. “If you want to think of it that way, then fine. I’m going to go get you some medicine to help.”

“Hey!” Xerneas said, sounding upset. “That’ll ruin the experience.”

Julius wasn’t able to hold back a laugh. “Getting sick isn’t like reading a book, it’s not the same every time,” he said, “Plus I wouldn’t think figuring out life involves getting sick in different positions. If you want to get sick by yourself and roll around in misery, do it some other time. But in this case, you’re sick, so I’m obliged to take care of you. Having someone looking out for you can be part of the experience too.”

Xerneas was silent. “Oh,” she said, “I didn’t think of that.”

“Obviously, you’re not happy at all, right?” Julius asked, “I understand that you say that you’re appreciating the experience, but that doesn’t change the fact that you feel like crap.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Xerneas admitted. “I feel awful.”

“See? Anyway, I’m going to get something that’ll make you feel a bit better- unless you feel like fixing yourself now,” Julius thumbed through his wallet, frowning. “Fuck. Whatever, I’ll figure something out,” he said quietly to himself.

There was a shuffling sound, and Xerneas poked her head out of the other room. “I said I’m going to stick with it, and I will,” she said confidently, her eyes bloodshot. “It’s for the experience.”

“Right then.” Julius turned to leave the room. “Let’s make this the least-worst experience we can then.”

As he left, Xerneas slumped to the floor, shutting her eyes. “Life can suck a lot more than I gave it credit for,” she said, “Maybe that’s why Yveltal was always crying.”

--

As Julius walked along the outer deck, he scanned the ground.

“People drop pocket change all the time,” he said to himself. “But I really should have learned how to pickpocket.”

As he fretted, a glass window near his head exploded. Dropping to the ground, he heard a voice from below.

“Shoot! That was my only bullet. Zygarde, can you shoot anything?”

“I am not aware of what you mean by that.”

“Can you fire anything out of your mouth?”

“To a degree. I would rather not do that.”

Julius peered over the railing. Next to the ship, a man stood atop a Sealeo, a greenish canine next to him.

“You’re a dead man, Julius!” Michael shouted, “Do you know how hard Mike had to swim to catch up to you?”

“His effort is worthy of respect,” Zygarde added as Mike glared up at Julius.

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that,” Julius said, “And I know I’m dead, but can you wait for just a little bit before you kill me?”

“This isn’t negotiable,” Michael shouted back. “I always hated that attitude of yours by the way.”

Zygarde nudged him. “Your plan to kill this man does not extend to Xerneas, correct?”

Michael waved him off. “Yeah, whatever. I’m not going to touch your friend.”

Julius’ eyes widened when he heard Zygarde speak. “Hey, you know Goony?” He pointed at Zygarde. “Do you have any money you can spare?”

“Why would you need that?” Zygarde asked.

“Are you ignoring me?” Michael fumed.

Mike groaned. “Can we get on that boat?” the Sealeo asked Zygarde. “I’m running on fumes here.”

“I’m not ignoring you,” Julius shouted. Hearing a whistle, he turned back to see a man staring at him from the broken window. He pointed at the shattered glass. “Beats me,” Julius lied, shrugging. He looked back down at Zygarde. “I need to get medicine for Goony- I mean Xerneas. Uh, that’s what I call her. Anyway, she’s a bit sick.”

In an instant, Zygarde launched itself off of Mike’s back, running up the side of the boat as Michael and Mike watched awestruck.

Landing next to Julius, Zygarde glared at him with an icy gaze. “Take me to her immediately.”

Julius returned his gaze evenly. “As I was saying, do you have any money? I’ll bring you there after I get what I need.”

“Tch, I will not entertain your excuse,” Zygarde growled, “I will go to her myself.”

Before Julius could reply, Zygarde had run off, leaving him. He glanced back over the side of the ship at Michael. “Do you have any money on you?”

Michael held up his middle finger. “Fuck you!”

“Look, if you can spare me a little money, I’ll let you kill me later,” Julius said, “The reward money will make up for it right? More importantly, were you really going to make your Sealeo there carry a dead body across the sea?”

Mike looked back expectantly at Michael.

“I... just shut up. I’ll be up there in a moment,” Michael looked away angrily, “Just let me find a place to climb up.”

That said, he directed Mike to head around the back of the boat as Julius leaned on the railing, sighing. “This is annoying,” he murmured.

After a few minutes, Michael appeared on the deck, his wetsuit leaving a growing puddle on the ground. Sticking a pokeball in his backpack, he strode over, flicking open a small knife and pointing it at Julius. “Alright fucker, no sudden movements. We’ll get what you need.” His face flickered. “Also, what kind of food do they have here.”

“It’s pretty good stuff,” Julius said, nodding. “We’ll try some later.”


===[&&]===


Xerneas laid on her side, trying to fall asleep. Her stomach groaned in protest as she heard the door open.

“I thought of something, Julius,” she said, not opening her eyes. “Sickness doesn’t have to be a part of life if nothing good comes of it, don’t you think? Maybe I could get rid of it.”

“I would ask that you prepare a formal proposal for that.”

“Huh?” Xerneas’ eyes shot up. Zygarde stood in front of her, looking down with concern. “Z- Zygarde?” Xerneas popped up, scooting backwards. “What are you doing here?”

“That question is more suitable for you,” it replied, looking around the room in disgust. “Has that man forced you to live in this filthy room?”

Xerneas froze. “Err, no. Julius is great.”

Zygarde seemed unconvinced. “Why then are you in this state?”

“Long story,” Xerneas answered, trying to slowly edge around Zygarde. “It was nice of you to visit though.”

The door opened again, Julius walking in followed closely by Michael.

“Hey Goony,” Julius said lightly, “Is that guy bothering you?”

“Not at all,” Xerneas said, smiling. “We’ve known each other for a long time.”

“Huh, guess you’ll have to introduce- argh!”

Michael stabbed Julius in the gut with the knife before bringing it up and slicing his neck. “I think I’ll take my chances,” he said, stepping back to avoid the blood spurting out of the other man.

“JULIUS!” Xerneas screamed in terror, bowling over Zygarde as she ran to him. She rammed Michael out of the way, glaring at him as she did so, before positioning herself protectively over Julius. Her horns crackled with energy as she focused, sea green energy pouring out of her over the wounded man. The wounds slowly began to close, Julius gasping in surprise, reaching to where his wounds had been.

“Goony... you-” Michael struggled to his feet, flashing a strained smile at Xerneas. “That was nice of you- ghk!”

Michael stepped over and stabbed Julius again in the back of the neck.

Xerneas kicked Michael over. “Don’t do that,” she said furiously, leaning down to heal Julius again.

“Stop fixing him,” Michael retorted, watching the wounds close again. He ran over and stabbed Xerneas in the side of the head.

“No!” Julius shouted, jumping up and grabbing Michael. “You bastard!”

“Xerneas!” Zygarde rushed over to her. “What have you done, Michael?”

“Collateral damage, Zygarde,” Michael said, patting the canine on the head. “Sorry, but that’s what happens in the business.”

“Do you know what you’ve done?” Zygarde asked, its voice steely.

“He did nothing,” Xerneas said, thoroughly annoyed. “Everyone just shut up, okay?”

Julius looked up at her. “Are you okay?”

Xerneas’ eyes flickered to the knife sticking out of the side of her head. “I’ll be fine. Pain is part of life too, right?”

Julius glanced at Zygarde and Michael. Zygarde looked away while Michael shrugged and slumped in a chair nearby.

“Fuck this,” he said in annoyance. “Can’t kill anyone here, can I?”

“Nope,” Xerneas said, frowning at him.


\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/\[]/


“Eheheheheehee!”

Yveltal grinned like a madman, trembling as he shoved more coins into the roulette slot.

Grabbing the lever with both arms, he pulled it down, the machine leaning forward slightly from the force. “I love it!” he whispered.

“You like gambling?”

Yveltal turned to see a woman staring down at him, a group of people in black suits behind her. He stared at her blankly for a moment before turning back to the roulette.

“Guess that’s a yes,” she said, turning back to the group behind her and making a face. “How long has this pokemon been here?” she asked quietly.

“We checked the cameras,” a man whispered back. “It just kind of wandered in a few hours ago, sat next to that old man, and just started playing the slots when he died.”

“So he’s been doing this for hours next to a dead guy? That’s wild,” the woman replied, whistling. “And uh, how did you not notice this until now?”

“New guy,” the man said, smiling apologetically. “He got caught up watching the blackjack tables.”

The woman shook her head. “I swear. Counting cards is more romantic than cooking these days. Well, just make sure he doesn’t do it again.” She turned around and grabbed the lever as Yveltal went to pull it again.

“What...” Yveltal looked at the lever forlornly. “Why are you stopping me?”

The woman blinked. “You can talk? That’s a new one.” She patted Yveltal on the head with her other hand. “So cutie, you don’t have a trainer, do you?”

“No? Do I need one?” Yveltal tugged weakly, but the woman’s hold on the lever was firm.

“If you want to keep playing, then yes.” She smiled. “I’m Suzanne. Why don’t you be my pokemon? You can play all you want if you do a few things for me.”

Yveltal looked at Suzanne. “I’ll do it!” he said without hesitation. “Death is non-negotiable. But this... this!”

“Sounds like you’re looking for a thrill,” Suzanne said, gesturing to one of her associates who handed her a pokeball. “Why don’t you take a little break, then I’ll show you how to play blackjack.”

Yveltal hesitated, then released the lever, turning to Suzanne and standing up at his full height. Towering over the humans, Yveltal smiled. “I can’t wait,” he said.

Suzanne poked him in the stomach with the pokeball and in a flash he was gone. Turning to the others, she gave a triumphant thumbs up. “Alright guys, looks like this casino has a new mascot!”
 
3

RJR Basimilus

Arceus is nice I suppose...
Location
the Lovely Planet
Partners
  1. arceus-fighting
  2. lurantis
  3. arceus-poison
There's this sour candy you can buy online called Mega-sour. I had one yesterday and my tongue is still feeling it 12+ hours later. Rooouugggh

: 0

Chapter 3: Kyomoshva


“Oh. I forgot.”

Half way through a large energy drink, Michael looked down. “What did you forget, Zygarde?”

“I was so distracted with everything happening that I forgot about Yveltal.” Zygarde frowned. “I feel an unfamiliar sense of panic again.”

“I’m flattered to hear you still care about me,” Xerneas said, burying her face in a pillow. “But I still don’t like hearing about Yveltal.”

Julius looked at Xerneas. “I was going to make a joke asking about if he was your ex, but you still have a knife in your head.” The man seemed to remember something, reaching into his pocket. “Oh yeah, I got you this too.” He placed a bottle on the table. “Extra strength cold medicine. It’ll knock you out for the rest of the day.”

“Could you bum me some of those?” Michael asked, “I’d like a long nap right about now.”

“Uh, sure,” Julius shook out a few pills and handed them to him. “Are you done trying to kill me?”

Michael downed all of them in one gulp. “Can’t really do that when your friend just brings you back to life. So I’m stuck here with the most unfair crap ever.”

“Come on...” Julius sighed, “Did Ludoman give you some kind of bounty on me? You know he lies about that stuff just to get a rise out of people.”

Michael hesitated. “You wouldn’t know it’s a lie.”

“You’re right, I don’t,” Julius said, shrugging. He held out a few more pills to Xerneas who gratefully ate them, still watching Michael carefully. “If you still want to kill me, then do it while Goony is sleeping or something.”

Xerneas gagged, looking at Julius in dismay. “Why would you say that just when I ate something that’s going to put me to sleep?” She coughed loudly. “Oh no, I already swallowed.”

Julius pointed at Michael. “He just ate a bunch too, just stay awake longer than him.” He then turned to Michael. “Same goes for you. I doubt you could outlast her though.”

Michael banged the table, Xerneas jumping in surprise nearby. “Sounds like a fucking challenge. You just signed your death warrant, Julius.” He stalked over to the door, still holding his drink. “I’m going to go get more energy drinks, you write a will while I’m gone. Zygarde, make sure he doesn’t try to run away.”

“Please do not involve me in your affairs,” Zygarde murmured, looking annoyed. “I have more important things to worry about.”

Xerneas got up unsteadily, looking troubled. “I’m... I’m going to go get something to drink too.” She looked at Julius. “There’s no way I’m going to let you die.”

As she left, Zygarde looked at the man curiously. “I’m intrigued by her interest in you. Usually she only has a passing interest in these things.”

“I think it’s a midlife crisis,” Julius said thoughtfully, “I was pretty neutral on dying before, but now I’m not so sure.”

Zygarde paused. “Can you explain what you mean by that?”

Julius was caught off guard. “Uh, well, in my previous line of work, death was a considerable workplace hazard. So I made my peace with it. If I die, I die, if I live, then so be it.” He smiled a little. “But being with her makes me feel a bit more strongly for the latter.”

“And yet you encouraged Michael to kill you?” Zygarde looked mystified.

Julius laughed. “I’m confident that she’ll win,” he said, “Besides, she’s a big pokemon, wouldn’t she need a larger dose anyway?”

“I do not know how much Xerneas weighs,” Zygarde said, matter-of-factly.

“My point still stands,” Julius replied, “Anyways, if we’re lucky, they’ll be so focused on beating each other that they’ll both just knock themselves out. You know, positive reinforcement versus negative reinforcement.”

“I suppose I understand,” Zygarde said, “Very clever.”

Julius shifted in his seat, sighing. “We’ll see what happens. Anyway, how do you know Goony?

“As Xerneas is life, and Yveltal death, I am balance,” Zygarde said, “The three of us are charged with the order of such whenever the need arises.”

“Hm, you mentioned Yveltal earlier. So do you make sure Goony and him are equal or whatever?” Julius squinted at the canine. “Can’t say you look like you’re up to the task.”

“Equality is not balance,” Zygarde said, sounding pained, “Life and death are not things left to be split into halves. Do I have to explain this to your kind every time?”

“I guess so,” Julius said, “You seemed upset earlier. Is Yveltal bad news?”

“Yveltal is... a little sensitive,” Zygarde replied, “He’s never been well-adjusted or particularly stoic about his role, compared to his contemporaries. I’ve asked- asked the one who assigned us our roles to teach Yveltal to take his duties more seriously, but I’ve largely been ignored.”

Julius shrugged. “Everyone dies regardless, so what does he do? Is he going to kill people?”

Zygarde shook its head. “I’m worried about him getting into trouble again like what happened a few years ago. I felt the same about Xerneas, but it seems you have been taking care of her, despite recent events.”

“Right. So you’re their manager and you want to make sure they’re alright.” Julius nodded. “That’s about all I need to know. You want to come help me get those two in a bit? I’m betting they’re gonna pass out at some point.”

“I will follow your lead,” Zygarde said.

“Pretty funny that you’re traveling with Michael,” Julius said, standing up. “Did he force you to do anything?”

Zygarde tilted its head. “Our relationship is one of convenience. That said, he has provided me with a tangible benefit.” It gestured to Michael’s belongings in the corner. “If you could, get me a cigarette.”

Julius was silent for a moment. “He’s uh, got you hooked on smokes? Fair enough.”


==============


The room was brightly lit, the walls and even the ceiling wood paneled. In the center of the room was a large table covered with a raggedly looking cloth. A tv on the wall was playing reruns of a billiards tournament.

“Alright, you have a three, a seven, and a ten.” Suzanne gestured at the cards on the table. “What do you want to do now?”

“Hit me again!” Yveltal said excitedly.

The woman nodded slowly. “You’re at twenty.”

“I remember the rules,” Yveltal replied, “I don’t care about the results, I love the anticipation!”

Suzanne stifled a laugh. “Anyone who says that is usually lying to themselves. This is the first time I’ve heard it truly seriously.” She flicked another card onto the table, looking at it approvingly. “Looks like you have a bit of luck to go along with that too.”

Yveltal stared at the ace. “Does that mean I win?”

Suzanne shrugged. “You said you remembered the rules.”

“I- I got the twenty one part!” Yveltel protested, “Then you started talking about probability and doubling down and I thought that was just for advanced players.”

Suzanne ran one hand through her hair, frowning. “I suppose that is a fair point. Anyway, you win! How do you feel?”

“R-right now?” Yveltal paused. “Pensive I guess.”

“That’s not usually how winners feel,” Suzanne said thoughtfully, “What’s up?”

“Winning or losing is a result- an ending.” Yveltal gingerly picked up the ace, careful not to bend the card. “But the anticipation leading up to it, the excitement. That’s what I want.”

She nodded. “Alright. Personally, I disagree. In my experience, it’s only an ending if you lose.”

Yveltal considered her words. “And that means?”

“Winners love to imagine themselves winning again. Among other things,” Suzanne said, “You know, you’d probably like sports betting. I’ll show you later.”

A short man entered, holding a sheaf of papers. “I got what you asked for Suzanne,” he said, eyeing Yveltal nervously, “Here’s some printouts.”

Suzanne took them, making a face as she read over them. “Is this from a picture book? I know there’s a good if it’s you, Rick, but still.”

“Mythical pokemon are basically a historiography subset,” Rick said plaintively, “A lot of conjecture and twice the amount of anecdotes. At least the imagery is relatively consistent.”

“Hey, this looks like you,” Suzanne said, showing Yveltal a picture of himself that looked like it had been drawn in crayon. “So you’re Yveltal?”

“Something like that,” Yveltal murmured, still looking at the ace.

“And you’re death?” Suzanne seemed amused. “That makes sense.”

Yveltal grumbled. “I don’t like being death though. Why can’t I be emblematic of something like gambling?”

Suzanne laughed, standing up. “Who said you had to be like that in the first place?”

“Err... someone I know,” Yveltal said, suddenly withdrawn. “I guess you could say a friend?”

“And has that friend ever compensated you for that job? Maybe even just said ‘good job’ every once and awhile?” Suzanne crossed her arms. “You sure they’re a friend.”

Yveltal stumbled over his words. “That’s- it was just what was supposed to be.”

“Well that’s silly,” she replied, “Here’s what I think, your friend is an idiot. You can be whatever you want to be! Besides, you look more suited for gambling anyway, right, Rick?”

“Red and black like a poker chip,” Rick said approvingly from the other side of the room.

Suzanne looked back at Yveltal. “See? Plus, you know that old saying right? Death and gambling or whatever?”

Yveltal looked at her, baffled.

“The phrase is ‘death and taxes’” Rick interjected, “Not quite the same.”

“Gambling is a regressive tax according to economists,” Suzanne shot back. “So it still fits!”

“What’s a tax?” Yveltal asked, “I feel like I’ve heard that word before...”

“Don’t worry about it,” Suzanne said, slapping Yveltal’s stomach. “Pokemon don’t need to worry about that stuff.”

Yveltal stared a moment before nodding slowly. “So... you think I can represent gambling?”

Smiling slightly, Suzanne pointed at him. “I know you can! It’ll be a lot of work to fix your image, but with the right campaign it’ll be no sweat.”

“My image?” Yveltal looked himself over. “Should I trim my fur or something?”

“Not quite, I’m talking about your reputation. You said it yourself, you are death.” Suzanne gestured to Rick. “We need to turn it around so people associate you with prosperity, with riches, livelihood!”

“You mean... life?” Yveltal’s eyes went wide.

“You can generally extrapolate that from it,” Suzanne said, “I’d go a bit further though - as the patron of gambling, you represent the *good* life.”

“Eheheheh, I like that!” Yveltal said, smiling.

“So it’s settled!” Suzanne held out her hand. “This is a business relationship okay? I’ll tell you what to do, but if you can’t hold up your end, then I’ll kick you out, got it?”

Hesitating for a moment, Yveltal reached down, letting Suzanne wrap her hand around a single talon and shake vigorously. “I’ll do my best!” he said, none too confident.

“I’m sure you will,” Suzanne replied, “Come with me, I’ll show you the whole casino.”


==================


“Drinking too many of those in a day will kill you, you know?”

Michael glared at Julius, a half empty can in his hand. “If I can kill you before that happens, then it’ll be worth it.”

Julius blinked. “How?”

“Cause you’ll be dead, that’s how!” Michael grumbled, “Can you shut up so I can concentrate on beating her?”

Across the deck, Xerneas was maintaining eye contact with Michael while noisily slurping a huge container of coffee. She briefly nodded at Julius before returning to her drink.

“It’s good that you’re having fun,” Julius said, ignoring Michael’s withering glance. “But you were going to kill me for the money right? I mean, ignoring the fact that there’s likely no money at all in it, what good is it when you’re dead?”

“It’s not about the money anymore, I’m doing it to stick it to you,” Michael growled.

Julius hummed. “And Mike is fine with that?”

“Nnnn.” Michael hesitated, his grip tightening. “Screw this, the money’s not worth it if you keep being an ass like this.” He stood up and walked away, stumbling a bit as he went.

Watching him go, Julius sighed. “It’s not like he has to save face in front of me.” He made his way over to Xerneas. “Hey Goony, you can stop drinking, he gave up.”

Xerneas looked at him. “How do you know he’s not lying? What if he was... was you know- just kind of...” She swayed slightly, shaking her head.

“Hey, we can worry about that later,” Julius said, watching her nervously. He gestured over at Zygarde who was standing slightly off to the side. “How about you take a nap, Goony?”

Xerneas shook her head. “I can’t take a nap when... when.” She abruptly pitched forward, sending the coffee pitcher rolling across the deck.

“Shoot,” Julius murmured, smiling awkwardly at the few people staring at Xerneas’ sudden fall. “Sorry about that,” he said as Zygarde quietly sidled up to Xerneas, examining her carefully. “It’s her first time on a ship.”

An attendant appeared, surveying the scene curiously. “Hello sir, is everything alright?”

“Oh it’s fine!” Julius replied, “Really sorry about the mess, I’ll help clean if you need.”

“No need, we’ll handle it,” the attendant said, “However, in the interest of our other guests, we request that you keep a close eye on your pokemon so this doesn’t happen again.”

“Right, right.” He reached in his pocket, pulling out Xerneas’ pokeball.

Zygarde frowned at the pokeball. “Please do not use that on Xerneas,” it said, “It is... not proper.”

“Oh uh, sorry, it’s already hers,” Julius said, shrugging apologetically. “I don’t know how else we can bring her back to the room.”

Zygarde was silent for a moment. “Fine, but do it quickly. I’d rather her not be in there a long time.”

“It’s not like pokeballs are made to be uncomfortable or anything,” Julius said, “I mean, not that I’d know. I can see where you’re coming from with it being weird though.” He looked down at Xerneas. “Uh, do you think the knife will stay in her?”

Zygarde stared at the knife still buried in Xerneas’ neck. “I don’t know. If she says it’s fine, I don’t mind.”

“Alright, well we’ll find out soon enough.” Julius recalled Xerneas into the pokeball, sighing, “Michael probably passed out in a hallway somewhere, want to help me find him?”

“I am neither opposed nor in favor of,” Zygarde replied, “As before, you lead. I need to focus on trying to locate Yveltal.”

Julius studied Zygarde for a moment, then leaned down, wrapping his arms around Zygarde’s chest and picking it up. “I’ll just carry you so you can focus, maybe you can tell me a little bit about how this all happened if you know.”

“I cannot promise anything,” Zygarde said, hanging limply in Julius’ grip.

---

Julius stared out at the sea, feeling a dull ache in his arms. “This guy is kind of heavy,” he murmured to himself.

A few solitary clouds rolled slowly across the sky as the rising moon reflected off the ocean. The waves noisily slapped the side of the boat, a slight breeze whistling.

“So you said earlier that you were kind of a mediator between Goony and Yveltal, right?” he asked, watching a cloud.

Zygarde didn’t reply.

Waiting patiently for another moment, Julius looked down to see the pokemon snoozing in his arms.

“Ah.” Julius could find any other words. Instead he looked back out at the ocean. “Fair enough.”

“Hey, Julius.” Michael came up next to him, resting his elbows on the ledge. He glanced over at Zygarde, his face slightly pale. “Hah, Zygarde looks cute sleeping like that.”

“Do you want to carry him... or her, whatever Zygarde is,” Julius said, thrusting the sleeping canine at Michael. “They’re a bit heavy.”

Michael shook his head. “No can do- I’m barely on my feet as is.” His expression grew solemn as he closed his eyes. “I’m kind of stupid, aren’t I?”

“Er, no, I wouldn’t say that.” Julius was caught off guard. “Maybe a little misguided at times, but everyone is.”

“It’s just that I’m pretty much the brute like in the movies. I’m strong, very handsome, but not very smart,” Michael said frankly, “I... really should have known that Ludoman was lying about the money.”

“Well, I just assumed that because that’s what he always does,” Julius said, “Technically, you were right to question whether or not it was true.”

“Are you trying to make me feel better by suggesting you should be killed?” Michael laughed, “What is wrong with you? That big deer isn’t around to help you this time either if I really wanted to.”

Julius nodded. “I guess I’ll take my chances. But if I died, then Goony would be sad, and then Zygarde might get sad too. Is that okay?”

“Oh fuck off,” Michael said, shaking his head. “I said I’m done, so I’m done. Now I’m stuck on a ship going wherever and Ludoman is probably making a fool of me back home.”

“As tends to happen when it comes to him,” Julius said, “Why don’t you come with Goony and I? I don’t think Zygarde is going to leave her either, so you can stay with hi... it.”

Michael coughed. “You know what, fine, let’s do it. I’ve been wanting to take Mike for a vacation for a long time anyway. Not like I ever had much work to do as an enforcer back home.”

“Great!” Julius adjusted his grip so one arm was firmly holding Zygarde before flashing a thumbs up with the other. “I know you and Goony got off to a bad start, but we’ll manage. Anyway, you look pretty bad. How about you go get some rest?”

“Was planning on it,” Michael said, rubbing his forehead. “See you later, Julius. And uh, sorry about everything earlier.”

“Let’s just look forward,” Julius said, “It’s better for everyone.”

“Whatever man. I don’t know how you can just be okay with everything like it’s nothing. It’s weird.” Michael waved at the other man. “See you in a bit.”

“Sure,” Julius said, grasping one of Zygarde’s front paws with his free hand and waving it at Michael.

Michael stifled a laugh, waving back before heading off to the cabin.

Watching him leave, Julius heard a groan. He looked down to see Zygarde blearily staring at the ocean.

“You fell asleep,” Julius said.

“I feel asleep,” Zygarde replied, “This is embarrassing.”

“So I guess Yveltal isn’t too big of a problem?” Julius asked.

“Noo, no, ergh.” Zygarde closed his eyes again. “I worry, but I trust them to at least be able to handle themselves. I was just panicked as to why they were awake.”

“Why?”

“Barring extraordinary circumstances, they don’t usually wake up for no reason,” Zygarde said. “The only other way it could have happened is if I woke them up myself.”

Julius’ eyes widened. “You can do that?”

“Yes, but I didn’t do it, so the only other possibility is some kind of event, and that worries me.” Zygarde looked up at Julius. “You can put me down now- although it... was comfortable.”

Setting Zygarde down, Julius exhaled. “Right, so extraordinary event. Do you know what qualifies for that?”

“The last time was the weapon,” Zygarde said in a low voice. “It can’t be that now, but if it were something similar...”

“Then deal with it when you know what it is,” Julius said, deciding not to ask about the weapon. “Otherwise you’re just worried for nothing.”

“I will note that as advice,” Zygarde replied, “Once I know where Yveltal is and what he is doing, I will feel better.”

Julius nodded. “So uh, figure anything out before you feel asleep?”

“No, and I will not until tomorrow,” Zygarde said, “I am slightly tired now.”

“So is everyone else, let’s head back to the room,” Julius said, “Want me to carry you again?”

Zygarde opened its mouth but hesitated. It glanced around as if searching for something, then looked straight at Julius. “I would appreciate that.”


=====================


Yveltal stared at the bank of monitors, his head spinning. “I can’t focus on anything,” he said, turning away from the screens.

“I don’t expect you to,” Suzanne replied, rummaging in a desk. She pulled out a tape measure, throwing it to Rick. “Do you know your own wingspan off the top of your head?”

Yveltal shook his head. “I’ve never thought to measure it.” He spread his wings outwards, the room barely big enough to contain them. “Um, I’m not good at estimates.”

“This is more than good enough,” Rick said, measuring Yveltal’s wings before starting on his height. “Want me to call in the order tomorrow, Suzanne?”

“That would be good,” Suzanne said. She smiled at Yveltal. “It’s a surprise.”

“For me?” Yveltal stuttered, “I’ve never gotten a surprise before.”

“You’ll see soon!” She gestured for Yveltal to come closer. “Now, here’s the plan. We’re going to sponsor you for gambling.”

“What does that mean?” Yveltal asked.

Suzanne held up a roll of cash she had produced from somewhere. “Basically we’ll send you to poker tournaments or whatever and you’ll wear a hat for us. Doesn’t have to be poker though, are you particularly athletic?”

“I guess?” Yveltal seemed unsure. “I can fly.”

“Can you jump?”

“A little.”

Suzanne clapped her hands together. “That’s great. See, what’s good about you is that you can advertise for us pretty much by doing anything! Even if people don’t gamble, if they still come here to see you and have a drink, then more publicity for us!”

“Ooh, being the center of attention sounds kind of nerve-wracking,” Yveltal said, “But kind of exciting too.”

“Don’t worry about it, it’ll be fun,” Suzanne said reassuringly, “And if you don’t like some particular part, just tell me and we’ll pivot.”

“For the record-” Rick interjected, “- I absolutely do not think this will work.”

“Eh?” Yveltal looked over at the man, a little upset.

Suzanne patted Yveltal’s chest. “Don’t worry. That’s how business works. See, Yveltal, good commerce is usually conducted in pairs, one person is the creative genius who makes the money with great ideas, and the other is the manager who holds the money slightly out of reach.” Suzanne shrugged. “Because sometimes, the genius does have dud ideas. I’m the genius by the way. Rick makes sure I don’t spend too much without results.”

“Send Yveltal to local card games or have him play chess in the park,” Rick said, shaking his head. “I’m not letting you bankroll anything until you can prove people want to see him.”

“That’s the plan,” Suzanne replied, “We’re gonna start with what we just measured him for.”

Rick nodded. “Okay, but don’t let this get in the way of normal operations. Don’t forget you’re hosting the entrepreneurial luncheon tomorrow.”

Suzanne harumphed. “Of course I didn’t forget that.” She turned to Yveltal. “I’ll be busy with that for a bit tomorrow, feel free to wander around and play some games. I let everyone know to take care of you. But make sure to meet with Rick around lunchtime, the thing should be ready by then.” Suzanne smiled. “I paid good money for a rush-job, so look forward to it!”

Yveltal smiled back. “I’ll do my best.”
 
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