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[Support] Other Storms

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The Burning Shrine: Soul and Celeste
  • Shiny Phantump

    Through Dream, I Travel
    Location
    Hallownest
    Pronouns
    She/Her
    Partners
    1. sylveon
    2. absol-mega
    3. silvally-psychic
    4. custom/ninetales-phantump
    5. cosmog
    Celeste found himself in the shrine back home. Was this it? Had he died? No, if so, he wouldn't remember that he'd ever left. This place wasn't really what it appeared to be.

    Soul was here, too. She had her back turned, staring into the brazier holding the sacred flame. Or, this place's imitation of the flame, as it may be. Her voice shook as she spoke.

    "I remember."

    The flames grew taller, as if fueled by Soul's words.

    "Back before, soon after you arrived, you killed a shade."

    "I'm sorry..."

    She ignored him and proceeded. "You thought it was pointless, trying to keep us alive... I would forgive that. You didn't know we were any more than parasites. But you just couldn't admit you were wrong. Once you got my egg, you treated me like an object, because it was better than admitting I was alive. I spent the beginning of my life trying not to exist so that I wouldn't break that delusion."

    "Soul, liste-"

    Soul's snapped around to look at him. Her eyes were burning red with indignation. "Silence! I don't have to listen to you. You've given me nothing, and so you've earned nothing in return. I've spent my entire life fighting tooth and claw to fix the way you screwed me up."

    As Soul's voice grew louder, the flames in the brazier swelled to such enormous size that the tapestries set on the wall behind it began to burn.

    "I... I hate you! All I needed was a family that wanted me, but I ended up with you instead."

    The shrine was swelteringly hot as it caught fire and burned around him.



    Soul didn't know where she was, or how she ended up here. Perhaps it was a place of importance to Celeste, but that was no reason for her to care about it. It wasn't as if like she had any shared memories of it. It was cathartic to watch it burn. She was furious in a way she'd never been able to feel before. The storm had granted her resolve to confront the past.

    "All I needed was a family that wanted me, but I ended up with you instead."

    A smirk broke out on her face. She laughed. "Don't worry about me, though. I'll be fine. I found a way to go on without you. I found my own family, my siblings... and soon I'll have a mother, too."

    I am my mother's daughter.

    Soul raised her legs off the ground, holding still in the air. Her hind legs began to disappear as her forelegs shifted into claws. Wingbones emerged from behind her shoulders. Her tails fused into a single bladed end.

    Yes. This is how things were supposed to be.

    Soul flicked her tail out and sliced the strap off Celeste's bag, catching it in her claw. It was still the same bag. She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. It hurt to look at, hurt to think about.

    "So many memories..."

    Soul hurled the bag into the brazier. The flames leapt in response to the fuel, dancing through several unnatural different colours as invaluable magic-imbued items were reduced to ash.

    She expected to see Celeste's eyes begin to glow with radiance, like they did before every fight. Yet nothing happened. She stared into his eyes, seeing the sadness, the regret, and the fear.

    It's too late to start having regrets.


    Still, though, there was no radiance in his eyes. Did he think he could fool her into think he trusted her if he just kept his combat vision off? As if he fact he was afraid wasn't written across his face. She wouldn't allow herself to be fooled by fake trust.

    "Please, Soul, jus-"

    Soul slashed at his throat with her tail. He sputtered staggered back, eyes widening. She felt him switch to trying to speak over the mental link. This time it was her turn to block it out.

    "I don't care! I'm done dealing with you!"

    Just yesterday, Soul had been finding it harder to call upon the spiteful energy for her hexes. Today, storm whirling around them, emotion burning in her core, she had no such difficulty. She called on that strength for one last hex...

    Soul used Ruin on Celeste! He was inflicted with Curse!

    There was nothing left for her here. Soul flew through a spot where the ceiling had burned away and left.



    Celeste tried to call out to Soul as she fled, but his lungs fought to breathe.

    Celeste took 253 damage from the curse...

    He watched Soul disappear. Maybe he deserved this...

    Celeste took 253 damage from the curse...

    He did deserve it, didn't he? He hoped Soul would be able to move on.

    Celeste took 253 damage from the curse...

    He tried to reach out again, even though he doubted she was listening.

    Soul. I'm proud of how much you've grown... But, please, don't let this consume you. You had found a way to be happy. I don't want this version of you to replace that. Please... Move on. Forget me.

    Celeste took 253 damage from the curse. Celeste fainted.

    He saw Soul turn back to look at him before consciousness failed him.



    ...

    Soul felt Celeste reach out again. Having burned out her anger, her curiosity got the better of her.

    Soul. I'm proud of how much you've grown.

    As if he had any right to-

    But please, don't let this consume you. You had found a way to be happy.

    She was happy! This was her why to get closure. Then why wasn't she satisfied?

    I don't want this version of you to replace that.

    This version of her? She hadn't become someone else! The storm had just-

    Please... Move on. Forget me.

    Soul turned around and looked back. The fear was gone from his eyes. Why? There was nothing he could do to stop the curse from consuming him. Didn't that mean his fear was about to come true? But no, now there was just sadness, a pleading look in his eyes. Pleading for what? For her to... move on? To forget him? Why would he want to be forgotten?

    Oh. He'd just told her why, hadn't he.

    She had found a way to be happy. He didn't want this to replace that. She just didn't understand why he cared. The two of them had barely had any connection at all. Why did he care? Why did he want her to be happy? Why wasn't he more concerned about the fact he could die in that burning shrine? She was going to be a murderer, why was he still worried about her?

    In the end, he did care. You just didn't notice.

    She might never know now. A burning beam could fall on his unconscious body any moment now, and she would never see him again, and she would never understand why he seemed to care all of a sudden. Because she would have killed him. Are you happy now? Do you have your 'closure?'

    There was one thing left she could do. She swooped back down and took him into her claws. Felt his real, living heartbeat against her false shade projection. Why were things like this? Why was she like this?

    Why did she have so many questions all of a sudden? She was supposed to be done with questions.

    Soul felt... something. Nausea? Heartache? The ever-elusive "pain?"

    She felt like her heart was going to break. But she didn't have one. The closest she had was her core, and it was almost indestru-

    Soul felt something crack inside her.

    She examined herself, and saw her core had cracked. Was Eien's storm going to hatch her? This could've been a happy moment. You ruined it.

    She recalled her projection into the shell. If it would make any difference, she wasn't sure, but if she was going to hatch she wanted to do it properly. Was... Was this really happening? If not for the circumstances, she would be thrilled...

    When she returned, there was no eggshell. Nor anything left of her core. Her senses were stronger, her appearance more solid... but... she was still...

    It didn't matter. What right did she have to complain right now. She lifted Celeste up off the ground and carried him out of the shrine. The storm... Was it getting clearer somehow? Perhaps her mother was saved. Or dead.

    "I'm sorry..." she whispered to her unconscious host... former host? She wasn't sure anymore. But now that he was safe, she had one more thing to do.

    Soul flew off towards the place she felt the eye of the storm would be.
     
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    Some place nice: Seyka
  • RJR Basimilus

    Arceus is nice I suppose...
    Location
    the Lovely Planet
    Partners
    1. arceus-fighting
    2. lurantis
    3. arceus-poison
    (CW: Kind of violent)

    Seyka had hung back slightly from the rest of the group, idly watching the storm as it raged. The Skarmory was hoping he wouldn’t have to help this time when he found himself abruptly lying flat on his back, his wings spread out.

    “I guess this means we lost,” Seyka said to himself. “Too bad, I had fun.”

    “No, you didn’t.”

    Startled, Seyka turned his head. To his left, a shadowy Archeops sat cross legged, staring at him. It looked down at Seyka in disgust, it’s eyes a deep red.

    “Hey- you evolved.” Seyka frowned. “Mmm, I don’t know what to call you. It doesn’t feel right to use my brother’s name.”

    The Archeops-shade shrugged. “Why don’t you call me Mar then?”

    The Skarmory stiffened. “Inno, you promised you wouldn’t make jokes like that.”

    Inno laughed. “I love seeing you angry. But I don’t remember promising anything like that.” The Archeops stood up, looming over the Skarmory. “Anyway, you called me Inno. Change your mind?”

    “How you were before now- checking on me, asking me if I wanted anything -that was nice, but... that wasn’t you.” Seyka made a face. “But now you’re normal again.”

    “Is that a problem?” Inno sighed. “I thought you would be happy.”

    Seyka slowly got to his feet, looking around. They were in a grove of trees, surrounded by blackened branches. The ground was covered in pink leaves, a few falling off of Seyka’s head. For a moment, the Skarmory was silent. Then, he smiled.

    “I am happy,” Seyka said. “But why do this now?” He looked around again. The tips of some branches were covered with a light layer of frost. In the distance, the Skarmory could see an indistinct shape. As he looked closer, his eyes widened for a moment. “Oh. Here. This must be just a joke. From what the others said, these weird energies do things like this.”

    Inno followed Seyka’s gaze. “You say I’m normal, but you’re still talking.”

    “Because I know it’s not ‘you’ you. You’re just like him, but you’re-”

    “The difference is negligible,” Inno interrupted, reaching out and grasping Seyka’s lower jaw. In his other hand, he produced a rock. Before the Skarmory could protest, he placed it in Seyka’s open mouth and rammed his arm upwards, forcing Seyka to crunch down on the rock. “Only a little while away from home and you’re already soft. Looks like we need to work on that.”

    Seyka staggered backwards, his eyes closed. He shook his head, spitting out fragments of rock, as well as bits of teeth. “You’re right. I was helping out the team though, so I kind of forgot.”

    “Helping?” The Archeops looked amused. “With what? You’ve never learned any of those techniques the rest of them rely on- radiance or whatever. You barely function as moral support, let alone physical.”

    “Ah.” Seyka looked away. “Damn it.”

    “Well, it’s okay,” Inno said. “I’ve never expected anything out of you, and I’m sure they feel the same.”

    “Mmm, oh well. I still enjoyed it,” Seyka replied.

    “And I already said you didn’t.” Inno was annoyed. “Nothing that has happened has truly meant anything to you. You’re the same as at home, a walking corpse without meaning or purpose.”

    “You don’t have to say it like that,” Seyka protested.

    The Archeops’ expression was unchanged. “You don’t have the right to ask for something like that.” Inno straightened up, walking a distance away. “Alright then, I’ve decided to kill you. For real this time.”

    “That’s what you said last time,” Seyka said glumly, “I can’t die- you can’t die- it’s pointless.”

    “So you say...” Inno trailed off. “But you two both know exactly how to kill each other. And since it looks like your brother, for all his talk, still has a shred of love for you, I can pick up where he left off. You said it yourself, I’m not him.”

    Seyka thought for a moment. “Well... alright, go ahead. I don’t mind dying.”

    Inno took a deep breath, then stomped on the ground, kicking up a cloud of dust. Remaining perfectly still, Seyka’s eyes flitted around in anticipation until the dust cleared, revealing Inno in the same spot he had been, now sitting.

    “I thought about it,” Inno said idly, “And it’s just too much trouble to try and attack you. Your body is just really tough, you know? So- I have a question. What do you feel, talking to me?”

    The Skarmory pondered the question. “I feel like I’m able to say what’s on my mind. That talking to you is like practice for the real thing.”

    “Right, I see.” Inno blinked, his red eyes gleaming. “I think I’ve had an epiphany here.” The Archeops got up. “I’m leaving.”

    “Huh?” Seyka was confused.

    “I’m going to go find Mar. I’d rather stick around my older brother, who is reliable.”

    Seyka’s expression twisted into a scowl. “Cut that out! I don’t want to hear that name ever again.”

    Inno shrugged. “I’m only acting how I feel my real counterpart would act. You’ve been a waste of space for this long, so there’s hardly a point in extra chances. Don’t you think he would reach this conclusion too eventually?”

    Seyka shrunk back from the Archeops. “No, no no. We’ve been together for this long.”

    “Hence why we’re both fools. But at least I learn from my mistakes. It’s taken half a millenia to do so, but I’ve learned.” The Archeops glared at Seyka. “What have you learned?”

    “I uh... Inno.” Seyka struggled to find words.

    “That’s what I think Inno- the real Inno -would say,” Inno said. “So unless you have something to show me, some proof that you have something worth my time, then... you will be on your own.”

    The Skarmory froze. His beak opened and closed, but nothing came out.

    “I’m leaving now,” Inno said in a singsong tone. He started exaggeratedly walking away. “Good riddance to my stupid younger brother.”

    “Wait,” Seyka cried desperately, “I- have something, I know it. Just... give me a moment.”

    “Oookay,” the Archeops said, circling back around. “I’m listening. Be careful though, if you fail to live up to expectations after getting my hopes up, then it’ll just be worse.”

    Seyka nodded and squeezed his eyes shut. He thought about Inno and about himself, trying to tell himself that he could do something, anything.

    What am I waiting for?

    What can I do?


    Seyka’s thoughts wandered aimlessly, until suddenly, he thought about Mar. A shiver ran through his body. Pushing the thought out of his head, Seyka found he couldn’t continue, shaken. He stood silently, despairing, until a little voice popped in his head.

    What about Mar?


    The Skarmory shook his head to clear his thoughts. But he found himself thinking about Mar again. And again. And again.

    Inno watched silently, examining the Skarmory’s face. Something caught his attention, and he leaned in. Slowly, his expression curled into a smile.

    Seyka’s thoughts were a whirlwind. Thinking about Mar had opened a floodgate of meaningless memories- happy, sad, ambiguous. Then, in a single moment, years of ignoring himself caught up to Seyka and he felt a thunderous burst of emotion.

    Seyka found something he could give, something he could express. That something was rage.

    “You can’t leave,” Seyka said quietly.

    “Is that a statement or a request?” Inno asked.

    “Shut up,” Seyka growled, “If you can’t tell what I mean when I say it, then ask for clarification.”

    “Well, thank you for the ‘clarification’” Inno said. “Are you going to show me what I asked for?”

    Seyka snapped up, glaring at the Archeops. “I owe you nothing. You owe me, as my brother. I’ve done everything you asked for centuries, and you think I owe you?”

    Inno smiled innocently. “If I owe you, then you’re going to have to beat it out of me, because I can’t find it.”

    Seyka stared at the Archeops before advancing towards him. “If you insist.”

    When the Skarmory was feet away from the Archeops, he lunged, Inno stepping to the side to avoid him. Seyka leaned to the side, turning to follow Inno as he extended his wings, slicing through the air in Inno’s direction.

    “This is worth seeing,” Inno commented, as Seyka continued to attack him. “If you applied this energy elsewhere, then that would be great!”

    “I hate you, Inno,” Seyka said, his expression blank as he attacked the Archeops over and over to no avail.

    “Hmm, I don’t think that’s quite right.” Inno moved to the side, catching one of Seyka’s wings as he swung them again. His right leg shot out, catching one of Seyka’s legs and sending the Skarmory toppling to the ground. “I get that you’re excited, but think about where to direct your emotions.” He stepped back and found himself backed up against a tree. “Oops.”

    Seyka leaped up and rushed the Archeops one last time. Inno, leaning against the tree, seemed to not be making any moves to dodge, simply waiting. As Seyka met him, the Skarmory cried, slowing slightly. He stretched his neck down to one outstretched wing and with a flick of his neck, tore out one of his steel feathers. Holding it in his mouth, he thrust it at Inno, who watched with interest.

    The feather rammed straight into the shade’s neck, piercing straight through.

    Inno laughed. “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” His arms shot out, grabbing the Skarmory by the neck and pulling him forward.

    Seyka barely had time to gasp before Inno pulled him into his own feather, the steel wing piercing Seyka’s chest. Looking down at it in shock, Seyka glanced back at the Archeops, who flashed him a peace sign. Gritting his teeth, Seyka summoned one last burst of strength and thrust his wing forward. With a roar, he pulled another feather from himself and jammed it into Inno’s head, the Shade’s visage collapsing into a shadowy mess.

    For a moment, Seyka breathed slowly, not speaking.

    “Okay, let’s break this down.” In the mass of shadows, Inno’s red eyes reformed. “We’re both impaled, myself worse off than you. Lucky for me, I can take this kind of punishment. That was a good move with the head. Never giving up is essential for winning.”

    And with that, the gates closed. Seyka felt drained, all the energy leaving his body.

    “So- you done?” Inno asked.

    “Yes,” Seyka replied. “Ah, that was embarrassing.”

    “Hey, don’t worry about it. Just want to clarify though, who do you hate?”

    “I... hate Mar,” Seyka said.

    “Because he abandoned us,” Inno stated.

    “Yeah.”

    “Because he broke the promise we made.”

    “Yes.”

    “You don’t hate me right?” Inno made a face.

    Seyka looked away.

    “I thought so. Sorry for saying those things earlier, Seyka.” Inno’s expression was inscrutable. “I love you.”

    Seyka was silent. Slowly, he backed up, the steel wing sliding out from his chest.

    “You want to take a break?” Inno said, phasing out from where the wing was embedded in the tree. “We can fight more later.”

    The Skarmory nodded. “I think... I will go and cry.”

    The Archeops stuck his tongue out. “You do that.”

    ---

    Seyka was crumpled on the ground. The Skarmory made no effort to move, sniffling as he stared at the Archeops.

    Inno examined his handiwork with delight. Seyka’s feathers stuck out of his body at odd angles, the longest one running straight through him and pinning him to the ground.

    “I never said I wouldn’t attack you while you were busy,” Inno admonished, slowly pulling one feather out of Seyka’s body. “Also, see how your earlier attack backfired? I learned from that that your feathers are very good for stabbing.”

    “Mmmm,” Seyka murmured.

    “Take a moment and think about it. We’ll continue when you’re ready. No surprises this time, I know you can do it.”

    ---

    “I’m finished,” Seyka said to no one in particular.

    Some time had passed. A ways away from the Skarmory, Inno was lying on his back, laughing to himself. His midsection was pierced by several of Seyka’s feathers, and the shade’s own shadowy feathers lay in clumps around him from where they had been ferociously ripped off.

    “Yeah, that’s good,” Inno said loudly. “That’s what I’m looking for. Now if only you could show that to the real Inno. Wouldn’t that be great?”

    “I’ll think about it,” Seyka replied. He sat in a pile of pink leaves, feeling a little sorry for himself. “I hope no one was watching that.”

    “What’s there to be bashful about?” Inno asked. “You did great.”

    Seyka groaned. “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

    |
     
    Nate
  • Negrek

    Shadow Falling
    Staff
    Nate came to with the sounds of battle in his ears. Attacks whizzing and sizzling, people shouting. Something roaring, deep and furious. Eien?

    Of course. He'd been on the way to--Nate pushed himself to his feet, hands already balling into fists, heart pounding.

    Except Eien wasn't there. Nobody else from the team, neither. Around him was something like the smoky suggestion of a forest, hazy trees and bushes done in insubstantial vapor. Up ahead shadowy figures yelled and struggled, pokémon brawling as a gentle rain fell, turning the indistinct ground to muddy goo. Meowth, sneasel, mienfoo, raticate, nidorino, geodude, litleo, and a fearow, diving and soaring up and then diving again.

    Nate watched for a moment, puzzled. The pokémon seemed like they were ganging up on another shadow, bigger than the rest. It was this that was roaring, looking over the rest with its edges twisting and contorting, constantly shaping and re-shaping, from arms to scythes to wings to tentacles and back to arms again. It wasn't until Nate caught sight of the ball of light in the middle of the shadow, glowing red and golden. A core. Rocky.

    Nate cursed and raced forward, already gathering water. Whatever these shadows were, they weren't exactly expert battlers. Nate's first hydro pump exploded the meowth in shadowy wisps. But Rocky's attacks weren't very powerful, even if he knew a lot of them, even though he kept changing to beat whatever pokémon was hurting him most. And unlike his host had been, when the fearow came spearing down at them, Rocky was alone.

    "Rocky!" Nate yelled breathlessly, shoving away the raticate when it came bounding at him, burst it to harmless vapor with a couple punches and another jet of water. The pokémon were turning towards him now, though a couple kept on heckling Rocky, shadow limbs shredding the edges of his rippling ectoplasm.

    "You called them here," Rocky said in a hollow voice. The soft red-orange of his eyes had gone a burning, brilliant shade, something between pink and purple. "You told them to attack me. You did this."

    "What? No. I just fucking got here," Nate said. He glanced around wildly and was confronted only by more trees, trees in every direction. Shit. Which way to go?

    "You did," Rocky insisted, and kept a flat glare on Nate even when the marshtomp had to shove him aside to avoid a dive-bomb tipped by the fearow's wicked, stabbing beak. "You told them to come here so they could catch me. So you could get your pokémon back. You told Team Rocket to come and get me so you could get what you wanted."

    "Rocky, that happened to somebody else. You ain't the fucking freak, okay? You never were. This is just some shitty illusion, probably from that shithead on the moon. Snap the fuck out of it." Nate fell in beside his familiar, trying to keep his eyes on the sky and the ground at once. Needed to take out that fucking fearow. This was ridiculous.

    "You think this doesn't matter?" Rocky shot ink-black flames at the hazy mienfoo. It ducked and swayed around them, then sprang forward at Rocky only to be swatted aside by Nate. Not that the familiar was fucking grateful. "This is coming from your memories. It's happening because of you."

    "My memories?" The sneasel swung his claws Nate's way, unleashing a barrage of icy shards. One grazed Nate's arm, leaving a bloody cut behind. "Sure. Whatever," Nate muttered. Memories? Illusions... but ones that were real somehow, that could actually hurt. Actually kill, even.

    It was just like that nightmare forest. A cursed dungeon. That's exactly what this was, wasn't it? Dungeons were even supposed to come from eternatus. Bahamut had to have said that at some point, hadn't he? So. Eien had made her own cursed dungeon for everyone, and maybe Soda or whatever was controlling Soda had put some of his own batshit and illusions into it. No big deal. That forest had never been any kind of big deal.

    It had rattled the fuck out of Soda, though, hadn't it? Completely shut him down the first time they visited, put him out of commission for a while the second. Could they use that? If they got Eien on-side, maybe she could conjure up a place like this for Soda, distract him enough to take him down? Maybe he had divine power, but that wouldn't do shit to change the fact that his mind was like, what had Breaker said, a broken mirror or some shit? His body was strong, but his mind was weak, so obviously they needed to attack--

    One side of Nate's body went hot, light white and burning even through his closed eyelids. He fell over sideways, gasping and clutching at the burn spreading across his side. Jesus shit, that was a fucking solar beam. Goddamned ground typing.

    The solar beam had come from beside him.

    "What the fuck was that for?" Nate yelled at Rocky, struggling back to his feet.

    "You're not listening to me!" the familiar said, eyes burning red and dangerous.

    "Look, can we save the heart-to-hearts for after the stupid illusions are done trying to kill us?" Nate asked. "We kinda got more important shit to deal with right now."

    "No," Rocky said. His core crackled and sparked, turning his ethereal body ruddy. "You never want to talk. You always have important things to do. Because you never want to talk."

    The sneasel-shade was creeping up behind Rocky, who glared unflinching at Nate, furious, oblivious. The marshtomp spat a hydro pump at the sneasel, angled out around Rocky, but not trying especially hard to avoid the familiar's ectoplasmic body. Asshole deserved it. "You want to talk?" Nate said, water dribbling down his chin from the remnants of the attack. "Then get fucking talking. We both know how this one goes." Out among the shadowy suggestions of trees were the sounds of pokéballs opening.
     
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