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PMD: Abnormality


you should've known the price of evil
  1. inkay-shirlee
  2. houndoom-elliot
  3. yamask-joanna
  4. shuppet
  5. deerling-andre
Hey all! This is that mystery dungeon -centric PMD oneshot I've been talking about. It's my first time writing an actual mystery dungeon, and I hope I did the concept justice. Special thanks to @GumPlum for betareading this! His insights were really valuable.

A note on content - this story contains violence, injury, brief sexual themes, body horror and death. Due to these, it is rated teen. It is kind of at the upper end of teen, though, so know that.

To any fans of Star Trek: Voyager, try to spot which characters are expies. I trust it will be pretty obvious. Now, without further ado, here is Abnormality. All feedback is welcome and encouraged. Enjoy!



Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Abnormality

After rumors of a new mystery dungeon having formed in the White Caves, the holding place of the Blank Plate, Team Tide is sent to the scene to investigate.


Completed oneshot.

11,000 words
(measured 31st July 2023)


A dewott wearing a fierce bandanna kneeled in the center of a marble hall, head bowed. The eyes of dozens of mon were on her, following her every move.

Before her stood a steely mon of teal armor and two gnarled, sandy brown horns. A red scarf embroidered with golden thread was tied around his sturdy neck, and a golden badge was attached to the scarf, depicting the bust of the same mon that wore it.

“Do you, Dewott Meer,” Cobalion boomed, ”pledge to serve and protect?”

“I do,” the dewott said, keeping her head bowed.

“Do you vow to fight for those in need of aid?”

“I do.”

“Do you swear to respect and value the lives of all creatures of the earth, sea and the sky?”

“I do.”

“Then rise up.”

The dewott stood up, now raising her head and meeting the guildmaster’s stern gaze.

“As head of Cobalion’s Guild, I bestow upon you this symbol of honor and authority,” Cobalion said. A medicham stepped up, handing off a badge to the awaiting dewott, who gripped it firmly and brought it to her heart.

Cobalion smiled. “Welcome to my guild.”

A bump in the road brought Meer back into the present. The quiet present, where the only sounds were the clip-clop of mudsdale hooves against cobblestone and Gordon’s soft snoring.

Until Tristan spoke up.

“Hey, Aideen.”

The mawile turned her head to the manectric. “What?”

Tristan leaned in. “Show it again.”

Aideen rolled her eyes and sighed. “You just saw five minutes ago.”

“Come on, just show it!” the manectric pressed, mouth in a toothy grin.

The mawile shook her head, but complied. She reached her hands into the bag in her lap, rummaged around and produced a shiny, pastel-colored crystal orb. Looking through it, whatever was on the other side appeared distorted.

Tristan’s grin grew wider. “Ohoho, it’s so shiny!”

It was Meer’s time to roll her eyes. “A lustrous orb is not a toy,” the samurott reminded, leaning against her seamitar. “Put it back.”

“Aye, Captain,” said Aideen and slipped the orb back.

“Aw, spoilsport,” Tristan said, frowning.

“Can we really trust him not to be weird with the Blank Plate?” Aideen asked.

“We’ll just have to,” Meer said, cracking a slight smile.

“But you gotta wonder,” Tristan said. “A plate imbued with the essence of the normal type. What will it look like?”

“I doubt it will be impressive,” Kiel chimed in, “precisely for that reason. If it is meant to represent the normal type, its appearance cannot be awe-inspiring.”

“Kiel’s right,” Aideen said, nodding to the dark gray meowstic. “It’s not like it’s the Icicle Plate or the Pixie Plate. There’s no reason for it to be sparkly.”

Tristan smirked. “Want to make a bet?”

Aideen quirked a brow. “1000 poké.”


“As your captain, I should discourage you from spending your money unwisely,” Meer said. “But, in the end, it’s yours to lose.”

“We’ll just have to see,” Tristan said.

Aideen leaned against her elbow. “I wonder when we’ll be there…”

“It’s not long!” a chipper voice responded from outside, startling the mawile. “We’re entering the city soon!”

“That’s good news, Bennett,” Meer responded. “Let us know when we’re at the square.”

“Will do, Captain,” Bennett shouted back.

Awoken by the shouting, Gordon stirred. The mabosstiff opened his eyes and yawned. “Have we arrived?”

“Not quite yet, but soon,” Meer said. “It’s a good time to wake up.”

Gordon stretched. “Perhaps,” he said, “but I was having a good dream.”

The team did not speak for the rest of the way, only listening to the outside noises and how there were more and more of them as they advanced deeper into the city. More horses walked on the cobblestone and vendors began shouting about their wares, making sure Gordon stayed awake.

Fifteen or so minutes later, the wagon came to a halt.

“Alright, we’re here!” Bennett shouted, and the members of Team Tide got up and exited the wagon at the maractus’ call. Meeting them was a bibarel wearing a black tie around his neck.

“Welcome, welcome to Tavali,” he said, hurriedly grabbing and shaking Meer’s hand. “I’m so glad to see you. I’ve just received news that another citizen has gone missing. It’s insanity!”

“I am glad to meet you as well, Mayor Bibarel,” Meer said. “Tell me everything.”

“W-well, it started about a month ago,” the mayor started. “People that had gone to or near the White Caves - the holding place of the Blank Plate - stopped coming back. We-we suspect a mystery dungeon has formed. Or there’s some kind of monster!”

“Calm yourself,” Meer said. “Team Tide shall investigate the matter.”

“Please,” the bibarel pressed, “if there is a monster, you will kill it, won’t you?”

Meer stood up straight. “Mayor Bibarel, we are not mercenaries. If there is a hostile creature, we will attempt to make contact and negotiate first. We will not dispatch the creature unless it is absolutely necessary for our survival.”

“What?” The bibarel grimaced. “People may have died! You have to --”

Meer unsheathed her seamitar, and the mayor quieted. She took it before herself and plunged it into the ground.

“Do you know what happened to the thylastripe?” she boomed.

“Oh boy, the thylastripe speech again,” Aideen mumbled, rolling her eyes.

“The… the what?” the mayor asked.

“On South Nanab Isle, there was a mon called a thylastripe,” Meer began. “It was a striped quadruped with a large jaw. When settlers came to the island, they found their livestock and children killed in the night. The blame fell on the thylastripe, the only predator native to the island. The settlers made it their mission to hunt it down, and they succeeded. The thylastripe was brought to extinction.”

“S-sounds like a job well done to me,” the mayor said, but flinched as Meer continued speaking.

“Except,” she said, “it was later discovered through analysis of bones that the thylastripe’s jaw was actually weak for its size, and could not have inflicted the killing bites. The true culprit was a pack of rabid mightyena that had escaped from the settlers that had brought with them.”

“I… see.”

“I sincerely hope that you do,” Meer pressed. “Jumping to conclusions and picking up pitchforks has rid this world of many unique mon. We honor all creatures’ right to live. That is the principle of Cobalion’s Guild.” The samurott tapped the badge on her fierce bandanna. The claw clacked against the raised form of Cobalion's bust, a tall, skyward horn growing from the mon's forehead.

As the mayor fiddled with his fingers, a machoke wearing a deep blue scarf and a police hat entered the square.

"Sorry I'm late," he said. "Is everything alright here?"

"Quite alright," Meer replied. "Are you the officer to escort us to the White Caves?"

"That's me," the machoke said, keeping his face serious. "Officer Toro, at your service. Are you ready to go?"

Meer nodded.

"Let's head out, then. Follow me."

"Hey, where do we park our wagon?" asked Bennett.

"I-I'll arrange someone to take care of that," the mayor said. "You folks go on ahead."

"Thank you very much," Meer said, and the team began to follow the machoke out of the square on foot.

Some moments later, Meer spoke up again. "Do you know the names of the citizens that have gone missing?"

"Names, no, but species, I believe so," Toro said. "If I remember right, they were a noctowl, a dedenne, a pawmo, a beautifly, a magmar and a furret."

"Noctowl, dedenne, pawmo, beautifly, magmar, furret," Bennett repeated. "I got it, Captain."

Meer smiled. "That's Bennett. He's good with mon."

"I see," said Toro.

A spell of silence passed. Then, Toro spoke again.

“Hey, Meowstic,” he addressed Kiel. “What’s that thing hanging on your forehead?”

Kiel turned around. “You mean the Charm of Wisdom?”

“I guess that’s what I mean,” Toro said, rubbing his chin as he studied the small metal idol representing the legendary.

“It is a symbol of my devotion to the teachings of Uxie,” Kiel explained. “I have chosen the path of knowledge and forgone the path of emotion.”

“Really? What’s that mean? You don’t have emotions?”

“Negative,” Kiel said. “I do experience emotions. I just do not allow them control.”

“I guess something like that’s understandable to want for a former espurr,” Toro said.

Kiel nodded. “Precisely the reason why I chose this way of life.”

Toro scratched the back of his neck. “But isn’t that a little sad? Not being able to smile and laugh?”

“I am still able to take pleasure in things. But it is a peaceful, restrained kind of pleasure.”

Toro shrugged. “Well, whatever floats your boat.”

The conversation did not continue.

Some twenty minutes later, they approached the entrance to the White Caves. Large holes in the limestone connected in tunnels big enough to walk through, the largest of them right up ahead.

A sudden bellowing cut through the air. From the tunnel, heavy thumps came, and a rhyhorn charged out. The team had to jump aside to dodge the mad feral and watched as it ran further into the fields.

"Is that a common occurrence?" Aideen asked.

"Didn't happen the last time I was here," Toro said. "Must have been spooked by something."

"Good thing we're here, then," Tristan said.

"I'll wait out here," Toro added. "You be safe in there."

"We will," Meer said, and the team entered the cavern.

Large stalactites hung above as they made their way deeper. Here and there, woobat stuck to walls with their noses, apparently sleeping, and rattata skittered away from the team.

"No signs of a mystery dungeon yet," Tristan said. "Maybe it is some big strong mon."

"What do you think, Kiel?" Meer asked.

The meowstic closed his eyes and concentrated. "I sense a distortion up ahead," he said. "Follow me."

The other team members followed Kiel as he took the lead. Not too long after, they arrived at a wall with a gateway torn in it. On the other side was a room made of living wood.

"That's odd," Tristan said. "What's a forest dungeon doing near the Blank Plate?"

"Another mystery we'll have to solve," Meer said. "Let's go."

Lush grass welcomed their feet as they stepped through the gateway. A thick canopy hung above, too dense to see through. Despite this, the dungeon was still lit - like many dungeons, it seemed to have a constant ambient light with no apparent source.

"This grass is so soft," Bennett said. "It's like a sprigatito's fur."

"Dungeon mon spotted!" Tristan shouted, raising a paw as he pointed to the left with his snout. The team turned to meet a tangela. Its vines glowed green, and it threw out some razor leaves at Meer.

Meer unsheathed her seamitar and blocked the leaves effortlessly. She then raised the blade, which glowed sky blue, and rushed the tangela in an aerial ace. The mon flew far back and lay motionless on the grass. Its form began to turn pink and gooey.

"A ditto," Tristan said. "I guess that's more normal."

"Not a very strong one," Meer said, sheathing her seamitar. "Let's keep going."

They headed into a corridor, roots running back and forth beneath their feet, and emerged on the other side. On the floor was a totter seed and a slumber orb.

"Can we take --" Bennett tried, but Meer interrupted.

"No," she said. "Our bags are full."

Bennett frowned, but didn't complain. The team continued their way to another corridor, seeking a room that would house the slope that would take them deeper into the dungeon.

They encountered more mon: a sunflora, a dolliv and a gloom, all of which turned out to be ditto in disguise. They didn't seem any stronger than the tangela, but there was time yet for the foes to become stronger.

One more corridor later, they reached the room with the slope. Meer first, they descended, and found themselves on another floor of wood, grass and leaves.

Getting through this one was barely different from the previous, and the same went for the next three floors. Upon arriving at the slope, the team was surprised to see a floor of snow and ice on the other side.

"I guess it's not just a forest dungeon," Tristan said. "Do you figure we'll see more types pop up?"

"I guess we'll find out as we go further," Aideen said.

"I have a theory," piped up Kiel.

"Let's hear it," said Meer.

The meowstic brought his paws behind his back. "Just as white light is a combination of lights of all colors, it has been suggested that the normal type is a combination of all types. The distortion coupled with the Blank Plate could be resulting in dispersal of its components."

"Well, it's the best theory so far," Tristan said.

"Only theory," Aideen pointed out.

"We're lucky not to have our lives depend on it," Meer said. "All that matters is that different types are present. But this is why we've chosen our moves to be as diverse as possible. We're prepared." She turned to the slope. "Let's keep going."

"Aye, Captain," responded the team members in unison, and they all advanced to the next floor.

The change was drastic. The temperature dropped by a good twenty degrees, and flakes of snow fell from the ceiling. Bennett soon began to shiver, emitting a constant shuffle from his head-growths as the seeds inside shook about.

"I h-hope this doesn't last for many floors," he stuttered. "Oh, to have a tamato berry now…"

"If you knew how to do a sunny day, you could warm yourself," Tristan said.

"And attract every hostile mon to us," said Aideen.

"And make any fire types burn me up even worse," Bennett added. "I like my moveset plenty. Not about to change it."

"Dungeon mon," Meer interrupted. "Tristan, Gordon, you know what to do."

The two canines nodded and leapt forth to meet the two glalie up ahead while Bennett hopped back, hiding among the other teammates. With a flamethrower from Tristan and a fire fang from Gordon, the ice types were quickly dispatched and left to melt into pink goo.

"Oh, so weak," Tristan groaned.

"Better too weak than too strong," Gordon reminded.

"Yeah, yeah."

The team continued their way through the icy halls, easily defeating the ditto wearing snorunt, glalie, delibird and frosmoth disguises that came their way.

"Peculiar," said Kiel.

"What makes you say that?" Tristan asked.

"These ditto know how to take forms of mon that do not normally live in this area," the meowstic elaborated. "There is a mountain range a few days away from Tavali. These ditto must have migrated from there."

"But why would they do that?" Gordon asked. "Did the Blank Plate attract them, perhaps?"

"Perhaps," Kiel said.

"Hey, look over there!" Aideen shouted, pointing at a pile of snow in the corner of the room. She ran over to it, and the others followed. Upon closer inspection, there seemed to be a snover's arm sticking out underneath the pile.

"Could that be one of the missing people?" Tristan asked.

"There was no snover in the list the officer gave," Bennett said.

"Let's check it out anyway," Meer said. "Tristan, Gordon, start digging."

The canines nodded and got to digging. Soon enough, the pile of snow was gone, and revealed was… a disembodied arm of a snover.

"I… don't get it," Tristan said. "There's no wound. It just… ends."

Indeed, the arm ended in a white nub, no sap anywhere to be seen.

"Hmm." Meer scratched her chin. "Let me see."

She unsheathed her seamitar, charged it with flying type energy and brought it down on the arm. It split into two halves like putty and turned pink by the edges.

"Another ditto," she said, unsheathing her blade.

"No," Kiel said, "it did not react. It is only part of a ditto."

"Can ditto split like that?" asked Tristan.

"When a portion of a ditto is separated from its body, it still retains the ability to transform to an extent," Kiel explained. "Usually the ditto reclaims this lost matter right away, but it may leave some behind as a decoy."

"Like a slowpoke dropping its tail," Gordon added.


"So… did something scare the ditto this thing came from?" Tristan asked.

"That seems to be the likeliest explanation."

"We did see that rhyhorn running from something," Aideen reminded.

"There must be something fearsome in this dungeon," Meer said, standing up straight. "Remember that. We can't let ourselves be taken by surprise."

"Aye, Captain," the team responded.

They resumed their search for the slope, and found it not too long after. More ditto came their way, still weak and easily beaten. One did come close to creating complications when it nearly broke a totter orb on the floor by trampling it with its piloswine feet, but missed it by a few centimeters.

Thirty minutes had passed since they had entered the dungeon. After one more slope and a transition to yet another new type of environment, this time a dark, wet cavern, Bennett suggested they take a break to eat. Meer authorized it, and the team settled in an empty room.

Aideen set down the sunny orb she'd been holding for light in the middle of the floor. Bennett took off his bag and passed each member an apple from within.

"Happy eating," he wished, and they all chowed down. In a few minutes, everyone was done, but they decided to take a few minutes more to rest their feet. They didn't know how long the dungeon mon would stay harmless, after all. They had to take a break while they still could.

"So, who wants to hear a story?" Bennett asked.

"Ooh, I do!" Tristan shouted, and agreeing noises came from the rest of the team. "What kind of story do you have for us this time, Bennett?"

"Oh, this one is quite humorous," Bennett said. "I read it in a book just a week ago. Let's hope I tell it right."

He leaned in, and so did everyone else. "So, once upon a time, there was a lazy grimmsnarl that lived under a bridge. The bridge overlooked a river of clean, fresh water that had plenty of fish for the grimmsnarl to eat. But then, day by day, the river began to dry up. The grimmsnarl caught less and less fish, until there was nothing left! He decided he needed to hunt. But his days of lazing by the river had left him out of shape, and he couldn't catch a single bunnelby to eat. He then decided he had no choice but to eat the travelers that would cross the bridge!"

"Or he could've just gotten a job," Aideen interrupted. "Instead of resulting to cannibalism."

Tristan shushed her, while Gordon spoke up. "Remember what we've said about your commentary?" he said, tone disapproving but gentle.

"That no one wants it," Aideen flatly said, leaning back against her jaws.

"Alright, now where was I?" Bennett cleared his throat. "The grimmsnarl decided to prey on the travellers crossing the bridge. Not too long after, a young skiddo came trotting over. The grimmsnarl jumped out from the bushes and bared his fangs, ready to tear into the poor mon, but one look into the skiddo's beady eyes, and he was putty! He couldn't bring himself to harm the little guy. That's when the little skiddo said, 'Hoo-wee! Did you chew on a koffing, or is your breath just that stinky?'"

Chuckles rung out from the team. Bennett smiled at the response he got.

"The grimmsnarl was shocked," Bennett continued. "He raised a finger and wagged it. 'Young mon,' he said, 'show some respect! I am your elder, after all.'

"'Yeah, like a hundred years old,' the skiddo said. 'Where's your cane, grandpa?'

"The grimmsnarl snarled, hands in fists, but the skiddo only grinned. 'I'm gonna find your parents and tell them about your behavior.'

"'Go ahead, they're on their way here right now,' the skiddo said, then shouted without warning, 'Think fast!'

"Before the grimmsnarl could react, the skiddo reared on his hind legs and brought his forehooves down on the grimmsnarl's toes. The poor dark type screamed in agony while the skiddo ran away, laughing.

"But the grimmsnarl remembered what the skiddo had just said about his parents coming here, and he rubbed his hands together. Soon, he would have his meal.

"So he waited until another traveller came, and this one was a gogoat. He waited for her to come close, then jumped out, ready to dig in with claws and fangs, when the gogoat gasped and said, 'Oh, my, how fearsome you are!'

"The grimmsnarl paused. 'What?' he asked.

"'You're so large and muscular, and your claws are so sharp,' the gogoat continued. 'Nothing like my husband.'

"'Thank you?' the grimmsnarl said.

"'Oh!' the gogoat moaned. 'You must plan to take me like the wild brute you are. Well, you mustn't! It would be… most improper!'" The gogoat threw back her neck and crossed her legs."

"Hold on, now," Meer said, holding up a palm. "Is this story decent, Bennett?"

Bennett giggled. "It is, it is, don't worry." He resumed his story. "So, the grimmsnarl blushes deeply, his green skin turning a darker shade. He raises his arms and says, 'Listen, madam, you're a very… pretty lady, but I just don't feel that way about you. In fact, I was going to eat you, but you've made this weird. I think it'd be best if you just left.'

"The gogoat looks at the grimmsnarl, mouth agape, then rears on her hind legs and drives her forehooves down on the grimmsnarl's toes. The grimmsnarl yowls in pain as the gogoat turns up her nose and huffs, 'Fine! If this pretty lady isn’t good enough for you, that’s your loss.’

“The gogoat runs away, and once again, the grimmsnarl is left preyless. But he recalled the skiddo’s exact words - his parents were on their way, plural. So he crept behind the bush and crouched in wait.”

“Alright, that’s a good moment to pause,” Meer said, getting up. Disappointed groans sounded from the audience - mostly Tristan. “Now, now,” Meer said, “he can finish the story on the next break.”

“Captain’s right,” Bennett said. “It’ll be more exciting when you have to wait for it.”

“But what if the dungeon mon get so strong, we can’t take a break?” Tristan asked.

“Then he’ll finish the story when we get back,” Meer said. “No buts about it. Let’s keep going.”

“Fine,” Tristan said, and the team stood up. Aideen picked up the sunny orb and the group continued on their way, searching for the slopes on each floor.

Soon enough, the environment changed again, this time to a sandy plain with orange rocks for walls and the ceiling. It was much drier and warmer now, and the ambient light had returned, making Aideen able to bag the sunny orb again.

The mon of the environment stayed roughly the same, though, with rock and ground types dominating the scene. As they were becoming more frequent, the team decided to split the duty of disposing of them so that Meer wouldn’t burn through all her mana through her water attacks. The mon seemed to be getting a bit stronger, too, indicating that they’d eventually be tough enough to pose a challenge.

Meer concentrated water type energy in her blade, extending its edge with light blue, and struck a graveler. The mon received the strike with arms raised in a block and stood its ground.

Meer blinked, surprised to see her opponent still upright, but didn’t hesitate for long. Another strike knocked the graveler out. “Must have been an outlier,” she said. “I’m out of mana. Toss me a max elixir.”

Bennett took a max elixir out of his bag and tossed it to Meer, who downed it and threw back the bottle, which the maractus slipped back in the bag.

“Hey! Over here!”

The team turned around at the shout, spotting a small, orange mon that had just emerged from a corridor. It was a dedenne wearing a sneak scarf, which made her presence easy to miss.

“Oh, thank the Gods,” the dedenne said, skittering up to the team. “I’ve been lost in here for days! I-I had a friend, but we got separated! She’s a pawmo! You have to find her!”

Meer sheathed her blade. “Worry not. Once we repair the distortion at the core of the dungeon, this place will revert back to a normal cave system. It’ll be much easier to find her then.”

“Oh, thank you,” the dedenne said. “Now, can you get me out of here?”

“Certainly. Gordon?”

The mabosstiff, who was closest to the dedenne, padded over to her and crouched. “Tap the badge three times,” he said. “It’ll begin to charge.”

The dedenne did as asked, and the badge lit up in a golden glow. But, ten seconds later, the light flickered out.

“...That’s odd,” Gordon said.

“What? What? What does that mean?” the dedenne asked.

“Try again,” Tristan suggested.

The dedenne tapped the badge thrice again, but this time, it didn’t stay lit for even two seconds.

“...So it’s that type of dungeon,” Meer said.

“What kind of dungeon? What is it?” the dedenne asked, becoming more panicked by the second.

“There exist dungeons where the distortion is so strong that badges do not work,” Kiel explained. “This must be one of those dungeons.”

“W-well, use an escape orb!” the dedenne demanded.

“Unfortunately, badges and escape orbs utilize the same technology,” Kiel said. “Trying to use one would likely only cost us one of our two escape orbs.”

“S-so what are you saying?” the dedenne shouted. “That I have to stay with you guys as you go deeper?”

“‘Fraid so, little pal,” Tristan said. “But don’t worry! We’ll protect you.”

“You can ride on my back,” Gordon said, crouching further. “Come on, giddy up.”

The dedenne’s paws balled into fists and she groaned, but did get up on the mabosstiff’s back. “Alright,” she said, grabbing onto the gray hairs of Gordon’s back. “Let’s go.”

Gordon got up and positioned himself in the middle of the group for added security. After that, it was back to dungeoneering. The dungeon mon kept coming, but as floors passed, there seemed to be fewer of them again. It did, however, seem like they were also growing tougher.

Tristan yelped. Meer turned around to see him on the ground next to a donphan. It had apparently just rolled out onto him from the corridor.

“Tristan!” Aideen shouted. “Are you okay?”

“Ngh… yeah, I’m okay,” Tristan responded, leaping back to his feet and away from the donphan. “Someone take care of this one for me!”

Kiel’s eyes glowed in many colors, and a pink-hued rainbow beam shot out, targeting the donphan and blasting it against the wall. Aideen followed up with an iron head, her jaws glowing silvery as she slammed them into the donphan. The mon did not get back up.

“Two more coming!” shouted Bennett, pointing to the mouth of another corridor where two boldore stood. Meer quickly blasted them with a water pulse, and they fell. The team could breathe again.

“Ugh, this is totally the last time I’m taking the caves as a shortcut,” the dedenne said. “I thought me and my friend would be fine off-road if we just wore our sneak scarves.”

“Overreliance on items is the cause of many preventable accidents,” Kiel said. Gordon gave him a mean glare, and he quieted.

But it was too late. “What, so you’re saying this is my fault?” the dedenne asked, putting her paws on her hips.

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it like that,” Bennett said. “No one is blaming you.”

“Better not be,” the dedenne said, upturning her nose.

The mon only strengthened from there on out. What used to take one well-timed super-effective attack took two, then three. Thankfully, the mon didn’t seem to be getting any more intelligent, making their attacks easy to evade for the group of experienced combatants that Team Tide was. Or skillful dodgers, in Bennett’s case.

Still, every now and then a hit was taken, sometimes head-on. The dungeon mon were especially fond of targeting Tristan with their earth powers, guided by an instinct that told them that ground beats electric. The manectric's position at the heart of the team did little to mitigate the ranged attack - in fact, it turned out worse for the team as it was forced to scatter time and time again. Other times, dodging simply wasn't possible in time, leading to direct hits whittling down the team's health. Each time Tristan was hit with one of these blows, which had been thrice so far, he needed an oran berry to energize him back up.

“I hope this dungeon doesn’t go on for much longer,” Tristan groaned after the latest hit.

“I hope so too,” Kiel said. “We only have one oran left.”

“Not what I was getting at.”

"Kiel's right, though," Aideen said. "The prognosis isn't good. Should we begin using our items?"

Meer paused. "No," she said. "We can still power through the mon. We’ll wait until we’re unable."

The entrances of three of the five corridors connected to the room suddenly began to shrink. In seconds’ time, they were gone, leaving behind more rugged rock where there used to be an aperture.

“Dungeon’s shifting,” Tristan said.

“Right, I’ve been wondering,” the dedenne started, “how come some corridors disappear when this happens and some don’t?”

“The corridors that don’t disappear are really part of the cavern’s structure,” Kiel explained. “The ones that do are actually only portals to rooms and corridors somewhere else in the cavern. When they change, it produces the illusion that the dungeon itself is changing layout, which is why it is said that the dungeon ‘shifts’.”

“Well, I’ll be,” the dedenne said. “What about the slopes?”

“The slopes also shift, but they consistently lead towards the dungeon’s core.”

New apertures appeared in the room’s walls, spreading out to meet the floor and ceiling. One made its place right next to the group.

“Guess we’ll take this one,” Tristan said.

The group entered the corridor and followed it. It was a long and winding one. Thirty seconds after entering, a horrible, pungent smell met Meer’s nostrils. She stopped and covered her nose.

“What’s wrong?” Tristan asked, but his question was soon answered. His face wrinkled in disgust and he pawed at his snout. “Yuck! What is that?”

“Smells like barf,” Aideen said, pinching her own nostrils shut.

“Is it toxic, Kiel?” Meer asked the meowstic, who showed rare emotion on his face in the form of revulsion.

“I do not think it is. It is merely unpleasant.”

“What could be making that kind of smell?” Tristan asked.

“Let’s find out,” Meer said, and the team pressed on. Not too long after, they arrived at the end of the corridor.

What Meer saw made her freeze.

“What? What is it?” Tristan asked, his view still blocked.

What used to be rock and sand was replaced by something soft, wet, pink and undulating.

From halfway across the room onward, writhing flesh made up the floor, walls and ceiling. Colorless slime like spit - probably spit - dripped down along it and into the pools of vaguely yellow fluid on the floor.

The smell was rancid.

Meer felt a push from behind. She moved into the room to let the others see the grotesque sight in front of them. Their reactions made her wonder if it had been a good idea.

“What the hell is that?” screamed the dedenne.

Meer turned to Kiel. “Any theories?”

“I have one,” Kiel said. “Strike that flesh.”

Meer brightened her blade in an aerial ace and cleaved a wound across the floor. The flesh melted into pink goo.

“That -- that thing is a ditto?” the dedenne shouted.

“It is not just the flesh,” Kiel said. “It is everything around us.”

“What?” Tristan gasped.

“The forest, the ice, the rocks and the sand,” Kiel said. “All along, it was one large ditto that had transformed into the landscape.”

“O-oh my Gods,” Bennett said, bringing his claws to his mouth. “Th-that grass felt like sprigatito fur… maybe it actually was!

“Entirely possible.”

Aideen gestured to the flesh. “So this is…”

“A stomach,” Kiel said. “A very big one.”

“I think I’m gonna be sick,” the dedenne said, making Gordon flinch.

“Not on my fur,” he said.

“So… where do we go now?” Tristan asked. “Surely we’re not going to travel on that… thing?

Meer turned to the flesh. “Guess again,” she said, gesturing to the floor. It had a fleshy slope going downwards. “We don’t have a choice.”

Tristan shuddered. “Of course.”

Slowly, and very hesitantly, the team stepped over the boundary on the floor and onto the flesh. It squished underneath their feet, giving a little way. Sticky, warm spit clung to skin, fur and plant stem alike. Nausea on their faces, the team made their way over to the slope and descended.

The room they arrived in was especially large, but there were no mon to be seen. Similarly devoid of mon was every other room they visited, all the way until the next slope and beyond that.

“Did the dungeon mon disappear?” Aideen asked. “I mean, I get it. I wouldn’t wanna be here, either.”

“You’d think there would still be lost ones wandering about,” Meer said. “Where could they have gone?”

“At least that solves the oran berry issue,” Tristan said.

Meer was about to respond when a hole snapped open in the floor underneath her. She fell in, warm yellow fluid splashing high as she landed in a waist-height pool of Gods-know-what - but she could feel there was something else breaking her fall under the surface.

“Captain!” Kiel shouted. He ran up to the edge of the hole and looked down.

“I’m fine,” Meer said, “I think.”

“You shouldn’t stay in there for long,” Kiel said. “That looks like stomach acid.”

“Just a moment,” Meer said, reaching down into the fluid and feeling for the mass underneath her. She found a firm hold and pulled upwards.

She pulled out the corpse of a pawmo, half digested.

Meer let go, trembling.

In her mind’s eye, she saw the pawmo falling in, struggling, shouting in vain until thirst or acid burns snuffed out her life.

A horrible fate. And this creature… this creature was killing them this way.

“Lift me up,” she said quietly.

A telekinetic hold seized her and lifted her out of the hole. Immediately after she landed, she shot a water pulse at the ceiling. The water rained down and washed over her, partially mucus, but mucus was better than acid.

“Give me a heal seed,” she said, just in case of burns.

Bennett rummaged through his bag and hopped over to hand her one. She popped it into her mouth and crunched to break its shell. A wave of calm came over her, and she spat out the depleted seed. She looked over to see Kiel staring at her.

“Are you going to tell them?” his telepathic voice asked.

“Not before we get out,” she thought in response.

Kiel blinked and turned to the others. “I’ll feel out for any more holes in the ground from now on. Step only where Meer and I have walked.”

The team nodded in response, and they continued on their way.

With Kiel keeping a psychic lookout for any apertures in the floor, they travelled safely, avoiding all pools of acid. Dungeon mon continued to be absent, and Meer now had a good idea why.

I can’t wait to get out of here, she thought, not allowing herself to wonder if they’d really make it.

After a while, Gordon cleared his throat. "I had a dream like this once, you know," he said. "There was a wailord with a stomach ache and we went in to investigate."

"Unrealistic," Kiel said. "While the mouth and stomach of a wailord is large, its opening of its throat is only the size of an orb. One could not pass through."

"Of course you'd know that," Aideen muttered, then stopped. "Whoa. Are those…"

Meer turned around to see the mawile and the rest of the group staring at a series of sharp, white growths embedded in the ceiling.

"Yeah, I think those are teeth," Bennett said, unnerved.

"Gods," Tristan said. "I can't wait till we get rid of this thing."

The words made Meer pause.

It would feel like the justified thing to do. To get rid of this thing so that no more mon would meet the death that that pawmo had. To purge this world of this abomination.

But that’s not what she had promised. What any of them had promised.

"Tristan," Meer said, "what did you vow to do during your initiation into the guild?"

Tristan tilted his head. "To serve and protect?"

"Besides that."

"To fight for those in need of aid?"

"Besides that."

"To… respect and value the lives of all creatures of the earth, sea and… the sky.” He frowned. "Are you saying --"

"Yes," Meer said. "This ditto, or whatever it is, is still one of those creatures. We should not harm it if we can help it."

Tristan's jaw hung open. "But -- just look at all this! This isn't natural. This shouldn't exist."

"We don't get to decide what creatures should and should not exist," Meer said. "It's a lifeform. It might even be intelligent. We need to respect its right to be alive."

"But --"

"No buts," Meer ordered. "After we repair the distortion, we will try to use an escape orb before the dungeon is fully gone. Once outside, we will tell the people of Tavali to stay away from the Caves and leave it at that. We will not attempt to kill the ditto. Is that clear?"

Tristan looked as if he was going to protest, but gave up under Meer's steely gaze. "Yes, Captain," he said, and the group continued walking.

A minute of tense silence later, Bennett spoke up. "We all look like we could use some levity," he said. "How about I continue the story?"

"Oh, please do," Tristan said, and the others agreed.

"What story?" the dedenne asked.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Bennett said. "It would take too long to recap. You'll have to deal with only knowing the latter half. Anyway…

"The grimmsnarl waited impatiently for the father of the skiddo to arrive. After a few minutes, he did - a dubwool arrived at the bridge.

"This time, the grimmsnarl knew better than to jump out in front if his prey. This time, he would go for a sneak attack. So he waited until the dubwool had passed him by, crept out of the bushes and leaped at the dubwool, claws ready to tear the mon to shreds!

“But when he landed on the mon, he found that his claws could not dig past the wool. It was simply too thick and soft. He could only watch in horror as the dubwool slowly turned his head, those massive, sharp horns following along.

“‘Well, howdy there!’ the dubwool greeted, smiling. ‘Greeting me with a hug? You must be a very friendly fella.’

“‘Um… yes,’ said the grimmsnarl. He wanted to smack himself. Another ambush had gone wrong.

“‘You should join my family and me on our visit to church,’ the dubwool said. ‘We’re on our way there right now. And we have a special guest coming! He should be passing by here soon.’

“Another guest? The grimmsnarl rubbed his chin. Maybe this one he could successfully hunt. ‘I’ll be there,’ he said, ‘but I’ll catch up with you later, alright?’

“‘Alright,’ said the dubwool. ‘See you at the church!’

“With that, the grimmsnarl let go of the dubwool, and the dubwool left. One final time, the grimmsnarl hid in the bushes and began to wait --”

“Look out!” Aideen yelled.

Meer turned around to look and just caught the sight of a silvery tentacle slamming into Bennett, knocking him up against the wall. The tentacle lost its glow and receded, and Meer noticed that the fleshy thing was growing out of the back wall. Up above, embedded in the ceiling, were yellow eyes looking down.

“It’s attacking!” Tristan shouted, spinning around on his paws. Electricity crackled in his fur, and a thunderbolt quickly arced across the air and struck the tentacle’s base. It melted into pink putty, and the rest of the extremity fell to the floor, losing its shape.

“Bennett, are you okay?” Aideen shouted.

“Ugh…” Bennett grunted, still lying down. Where his spikes had hit the wall, the flesh had turned pink and gooey. “I don’t feel so good…”

But the respite didn’t last long. Another limb formed next to Aideen, grew the jaws of a salandit and whipped against the mawile. She cried out in pain, the teeth digging into her skin, but opened her jaws and bit down on the flesh in a crunch. The tentacle broke off and melted.

“I think that poisoned me,” she said. “Damn salandit venom. Someone get a heal seed from Bennett!”

Light on his feet, Kiel dashed over to the downed maractus and dug out a green seed from his bag. His eyes lit up with cyan light, but before he could telekinetically float over the seed, a crimson-black shockwave spread across the air and hit him, causing him to grunt. Meer looked over to the left and saw the likely culprit - a mass of black feathers at the tip of another tentacle.

“It’s an onslaught,” Meer shouted. “Kiel, light screen and reflect!”

Kiel opened his eyes again and glowed with violet light. Soon after, the same kind of light enveloped the other members of the team and formed a transparent shield along their bodies. The same repeated soon after with light that was golden.

More tentacles had had time to grow while Kiel was setting up his protective barriers. Each of them had a part of some mon at the tip, from the head of a sunflora to the arms of a lucario.

Aideen grunted, the poison settling in. Tristan nabbed the heal seed from Kiel, who was otherwise occupied with keeping up the barriers, and brought it to the mawile, who bit down on it post-haste.

“Thanks,” she said, then reached into her own bag. “Permission to use items now?” she shouted.

“Permission granted,” Meer said, blocking a barrage of bullet seed from the sunflora-tentacle. After it was done, she lit up her blade with an aerial ace, but the tentacle moved out of range before she could hit.

The lucario arms formed a sphere of aura between their paws and shot it outwards at Gordon. The mabosstiff was quicker and jumped out of the way, with the dedenne screaming and holding on to the fur even more tightly.

Free of any tentacles harassing him at the moment, Tristan was able to charge up another thunderbolt and launch it at the eyes in the ceiling. The shock made the area of flesh turn pink, wiping out the eyes. For a moment, the tentacles seemed to stop.

“I got the eyes!” Tristan shouted. “Now it can’t see!”

“Good work, Tristan!” Meer shouted.

But the ditto had other plans. A new tentacle slithered out of the wall, morphing its tip into the foot of a rhydon, and smacked down against the floor. Orange shockwaves swept across the fleshy ground, tripping Tristan and everyone else.

“It’s strong,” Tristan groaned. “Bennett! Oran!”

The maractus struggled upright and dug into his bag. He produced the blue fruit and threw it before the manectric, who gagged before going for the berry dipped in the monstrous ditto’s spit. The maractus rummaged more through the bag, then shouted, “That was our last oran! Be careful!”

A magmar’s face appeared in the wall behind him. A cold fist seized Meer’s heart.

“Bennett!” she shouted, but it wasn’t quick enough. A flamethrower erupted from the magmar’s mouth and enveloped the maractus in flames. Bennett screamed.

Meer sheathed her blade and dashed across the floor. She gathered a sphere of water before her snout before launching it as a ring towards the magmar face. It hit true and melted away, but Bennett was still burning. Meer skidded to a halt before the maractus and shot another pulse at the ceiling, raining water down on Bennett, who was finally put out. He collapsed right after.

“Are you alright?” Meer asked.

“Still conscious,” Bennett wheezed. Then, his eyes widened. “Captain, look out!”

Meer felt something collide with her back, and white-hot electricity course through her body. She groaned in pain and fell to her elbows and knees. She turned her head to see the fist of an electabuzz, but soon it cracked and melted as Gordon bit into it with a crunch. She gave him a thankful glance, and he nodded.

More eyes had popped up in the ceiling by now, far more numerous than before. Meer clenched her teeth and turned towards Aideen. “What’s the holdup with those items?”

“They don’t work!” Aideen shouted back, the shards of a broken orb evaporating off the floor. “It must be too large to register as a mon for the orbs and wands!”

“Damn!” Meer shouted, scrambling up to her feet. “Alright, everyone, let’s move! We need to get to the dungeon’s core!”

“Aye, Captain!” shouted the rest of the team.

“Someone help Bennett up!” Meet shouted as she ran to an opening at her left. A tentacle tried to block her way, but the slash of a razor shell made quick work of it. She charged into the corridor and the others followed.

“If you see any eyes forming, strike them!” Meer ordered, affirming her command right after by cleaving through a triplet of eyes that had appeared in the wall.

She pushed on, hearing the sound of attacks striking the walls and ceiling behind her as they advanced. In a few moments’ time, she emerged on the other side in a room that hadn’t had time to sprout any eyes yet. On the opposite side of the room was the slope.

“Let’s go! Quickly!” Meer shouted, and the team charged forward. Eyes began to form in the room, but the team ignored them, focusing on the slope and the slope alone.

“Hey!” Bennett shouted, and Meer looked over her shoulder. A tentacle, tipped with three prehensile vines, had grabbed Bennett’s bag and was dragging it away. It was soon enveloped in cyan light, Kiel’s telekinesis, and pulled back - but another dark pulse from somewhere hitting him made him lose his hold.

The tentacle brought the bag beneath another magmar face in the ceiling and opened it. A full-power flamethrower dove in, no doubt incinerating everything to ashes. Meer cursed under her breath.

“So it is intelligent,” said Kiel. “It knew to get rid of our healing items.”

“Alright, let’s not stay and grieve!” Meer shouted. “We need to go, now more than ever!”

The team pushed on. Eyes that had appeared in the ceiling watched as they advanced, coordinating more tentacle attacks that the team managed to dispel. Staying in a strict line helped them keep their ground.

Suddenly, purple gas vented into the room from above. It bled right on top of the team, causing them to cough.

“Great,” said Tristan, “now we’re poisoned!”

“And you guys have nothing to heal yourselves with,” Aideen added.

“Don’t get discouraged!” Meer shouted. “We’re almost at the slope! We can make it out of here!”

They reached the slope and descended. Immediately, they could tell it was a special room they had arrived in. It was high and wide with no corridors leading out. At the very end of the room, something glowed a bright white, and a pink mass hung above it - a gigantic brain. Meer knew exactly what to do.

“Kiel! Try to make contact!” she shouted, bounding for the source of the glow. Kiel shouted an affirmative and hopped on Gordon’s back, behind the dedenne, able to focus fully on his telepathy as he no longer had to run.

As she approached the light and squinted, she saw more clearly. It was the Blank Plate. It looked like a slip of pristine marble, as polished as it could be, but there was something wrong. A black rift in space split it in two, bleeding a dark aura. The distortion.

“Aideen, get out the lustrous orb!” Meer commanded, and the mawile soon arrived, producing the beautiful orb from her bag.

By Palkia, I command this distortion to heal!” Aideen chanted. “By Palkia, I command this distortion to heal!” The rift began to glow.

“Keep that up!” Meer said. “I’ll watch your back!”

It was necessary now, eyes having emerged all around them. With Kiel otherwise occupied, the team no longer had their protective barriers, meaning they had to be even more careful. And they were all poisoned. The toxin burned in Meer’s veins, and she was sure the same went for the others.

She smacked away a tentacle, this time with the head of an ekans. “Kiel! What’s it saying?”

“It wants us to die,” Kiel responded.

“No kidding,” Tristan said, firing off another thunderbolt. “It’s a waste of time to try and talk! Protect us!”

“No, keep trying!” Meer pressed. “Tell it we do not want to harm it! That is an order!”

A groan came from Bennett, and the maractus collapsed.

“Bennett!” shouted Tristan, studying him more closely. “It’s the poison! It got him!”

“Protect him!” Meer shouted back. She turned around to Aideen. “Are we any closer?”

“Yes!” Aideen shouted, then returned to chanting. The rift had begun to heal.

Then, a new sound cut through the room as the battling quieted.


Laughter as faces of mon morphed into the fleshy walls. Rhydon, magmar, pawmo, dolliv. All laughing, laughing at them.

Meer clenched her teeth.

It wasn’t enough that this ditto had to attack them. It wasn’t enough that this ditto had to poison them. It wasn’t enough that this ditto had to destroy all their healing items.

It had to mock them, now, too. Mock them as Bennett fell. Possibly died.

Meer turned around.

The giant brain loomed above, soft and unprotected. It had to be what was controlling this creature. If it was destroyed fast enough, it would die.

Meer concentrated her energy on her blade again, but this time she marched past Aideen. The mawile shouted something, confused, but Meer couldn’t hear it. Right now, all that existed was her and the ditto.

She raised her blue-glowing seamitar and aimed for the center of the brain.

Her vision went white.

A marble hall appeared. Mon lined the walls, all focused on the dewott and Cobalion in the center.

“Do you swear to respect and value the lives of all creatures of the earth, sea and the sky?” asked Cobalion.

“I do,” said the dewott.

Meer looked down. She saw the dark gray and white legs of a meowstic.

Her vision went white again, and she returned to the hall of flesh. She turned around to see Kiel staring at her.

Thank you, she thought. Kiel nodded. Then his eyes lit up with rainbow colors and he shot a psybeam at another tentacle.

Meer decided to do the same. With a shout, she ran back behind Aideen and slashed through a koffing-faced tentacle. It melted into pink slime.

“How much longer?” shouted Tristan, releasing another thunderbolt.

“It’s about halfway,” shouted back Aideen, then returned to her chanting. Meer stole a glance - Aideen was right, the rift had closed halfway.

“Great, ‘cause I’m out of mana,” Tristan yelled and shoved his way into the center of the group. “Cover me!”

“I’m almost out myself,” Gordon said, having just finished an ice fang on a bust of a sandslash. The dedenne on his back kept her eyes screwed shut and gripped the mabosstiff's fur tightly.

“Just hold out for a little more!” Meer shouted, but as she swung her blade once again on the neck of an ekans, it dimmed and would no longer light again. The flame at her core had depleted.

“Kiel!” she shouted. “I’m out of mana! Come cover Aideen!”

“Coming,” the meowstic said and ran to her side. His eyes lit up in another psybeam, and a nidorino-spiked tentacle melted.

“No luck with connecting with the ditto?” Meer asked, raising her plain blade and striking another tentacle. It left the limb with a wound, but couldn’t cut through entirely.

“No,” Kiel said. “It’s still only hostile.”

“Not surprised,” Meer grumbled. She chopped at the tentacle again, and managed to sever it this time.

“Alright, now I’m out,” shouted Gordon.

“Aideen, let me take over,” Meer said to the mawile, who quieted and turned to her. “I can finish the chant. You go fight with the others.”

Aideen nodded and handed off the lustrous orb to Meer. The samurott cleared her throat, focused on the rift and began to chant. “By Palkia, I command this distortion to heal! By Palkia, I command this distortion to heal!

The rift closed an inch more. Meer clenched her teeth. It was still so slow…

She continued to chant, the orb faintly glowing as she did. She heard more and more grunting behind her as her teammates struggled to fight without elemental powers and took hit after hit. She glanced behind herself a few times, but it seemed like Kiel was taking good care of any tentacles trying to harm her.

“Earthquake!” Aideen shouted, and Meer turned around again just in time to leap over a shockwave.

But Tristan wasn’t as lucky. The shockwave barreled into him and he was flung back with a scream. He didn’t get back up.

“Protect him!” Meer yelled.

“We can barely protect ourselves!” shouted back Aideen.

“Then protect what you can!” Meer shouted and returned to chanting. The rift was a third open. It was starting to hurt Meer’s eyes to keep looking at the light.

It had barely been ten seconds when Meer heard Aideen speak again.

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

She turned around to see a dozen emerging from the walls around them.

“Kiel, light screen and reflect!” Meer shouted. “Aideen and Gordon, cover us! Our best hope now is to repair the rift!”

“Aye, Captain!” shouted both mon, rushing up to the samurott and meowstic. Kiel concentrated, and soon Meer felt two energy barriers envelop her.

“Aideen, get ready with the escape orb!” Meer shouted, and Aideen did as asked, producing the sphere of darkness and light from her bag.

But they just could not hold their own against the numbers. Several tentacles, nothing tipping them but flesh, quickly seized Gordon by the limbs and neck, making him unable to bite back. The dedenne screamed as another tentacle coiled around her and tore her off Gordon's back. Aideen tried to save the two mon, but got entrapped herself, a tentacle wrapping around her jaws and rendering them useless. No time to attack back, Kiel was quickly seized, too, and soon, Meer found herself in the same position. She hugged the lustrous orb tightly, determined to hold on.

“What do we do now?” shouted Aideen, hugging her own orb.

"We chant!" Meer shouted. The priest that had given them the orb had told them that multiple people chanting wouldn't necessarily speed up the process, but their options were short. "Focus on the orb and repeat after me! By Palkia, I command this distortion to heal!"

By Palkia, I command this distortion to heal!" repeated the others. “By Palkia, I command this distortion to heal!"

Meer watched the rift as she kept chanting. It was closing. Just a little bit more…

The tentacles around her legs and neck tightened. Meer thanked the invisible shield of Kiel's reflect that her throat wasn't crushed and she could still keep talking. She suspected the others had similar experiences.

Another tentacle descended in front of her face - one with the head of a sunflora. It smiled as its leaves started glowing green. A solar beam.

A quick glance back at the others confirmed that they, too, were at the mercy of super-effective assailants. Gordon's chanting was cut short by a machoke-arm's uppercut to his abdomen. He gasped for air and fainted, falling limp.

"Gordon!" shouted Aideen.

"Just keep chanting!" Meer ordered. “By Palkia, I command this distortion to heal! By Palkia, I command this --"

The rift closed the rest of the way, the dark scar replaced by glowing white. It shined brighter, bright enough to force Meer to close her eyes, and then dimmed. The rift was gone.

A high-pitched hum emanated from the sunflora's leaves, growing louder by the second.

"Aideen!" Meer shouted. "Break the orb now!"

Aideen took the orb to her left hand and punched into it with the right. Its glassy surface shattered, and the light within escaped. Everybody gained their own veil of white light, ever brightening.

Meer looked at the sunflora again - the leaves and the rest of the face had turned white. She could feel the heat radiating off of it.

The high-pitched hum reached its peak. She knew the next thing would be a white-hot shower of light.

The world lit up, and the tentacles disappeared. She fell on something soft and moving.

She got up on her hind legs, still holding on to the lustrous orb, and looked around. They were still in the caves. A coating of pink slime broke off into lumps that fell down and didn't move, revealing white limestone underneath. Remnants of grass and branches still stuck out of some globs of pink, melting away slowly.

On the ground lay her team and the dedenne, only Kiel and Aideen conscious. The dedenne must have fainted.

"We… we made it," Aideen breathed. She looked at the pink mass around her. "What's happening to the ditto?"

"It must be reacting to the distortion disappearing," Kiel said. "Perhaps it can't keep itself together any longer."

Meer frowned. Despite the lengths they had gone to keep it alive, it was dying anyway?

"As long as it won't attack us anymore," Aideen said and stood up. "I'm gonna check on everyone."

"I can do that," said Kiel and closed his eyes. In a moment, he opened them up again. "Everyone is fine except for Bennett."

"How is Bennett?" Meer asked.

"He's gone."

The words twisted Meer's stomach. Even though she knew Kiel's judgment could be trusted, she placed down the lustrous orb and walked over to the maractus. She slipped her claws underneath Bennett's zinc scarf, feeling for the motions of breath and pulse. Neither was there.

Aideen walked up to her and lowered a hand on her shoulder. Meer sighed.

"I let this happen," she said.

"No," said Aideen. "You did the best you could."

"I should have done better."

Aideen didn't respond. She stayed there with her hand on Meer's shoulder for the next unknown amount of minutes that Meer stood there over Bennett.

After that, Meer walked off towards the lustrous orb - but collapsed.

"Captain!" Aideen shouted. Meer heard her steps, but they, too, ended in a thump as the mawile fell.

"Exhaustion," Kiel said. "It's getting to us."

"I’ll say," Aideen chuckled against the ground, then curled around to see her teammates. “Wait. You guys were poisoned. Are you gonna be alright?”

As if on cue, Kiel grunted and fell. “There is a good chance we will make it. Poison isn’t super-effective on either of us.”

"Kiel's right," said Meer. "We're going to be okay. We just need to rest."

"Well, just if you happen to be wrong…" Aideen said, "it's been an honor, Captain."

Meer smiled. "It's been an honor to me, too."

Within the following seconds, the world went dark.



Meer opened her eyes. She was dead tired.

"Are you okay?"

She recognized the voice as Tristan's. He must have come to while she was out.

"I'll be fine," she said, though her pained delivery didn't sell the statement. "How is everybody?"

"Me, Aideen and Kiel are awake. Gordon's waking up, and so is the dedenne. But Bennett is… gone."

Meer blinked slowly. She sighed. “I knew about Bennett. A grand loss.”

Tristan nodded, sorrowful.

Meer stretched her heavy limbs and slowly got up. She looked around. "Where's the lustrous orb?"

"I put it back in my bag," Aideen answered.


Meer heard a yawn and turned to Gordon. The mabosstiff got up. "Morning, Captain."

"It is evening," Kiel said.

"You know what I mean."

Meer smiled. "Good to see you up, recruits," she said. "Now… we've been here long enough. Let's head back to Tavali and find an inn."

"Aye, Captain," responded her teammates. The dedenne nodded along.

It had become dark in the caves since Meer had last been awake, and now Aideen carried the sunny orb again to light up their way. Gordon was made aware of Bennett's condition, which he accepted gravely, and he was made to carry the maractus' body.

An exit out of the cave was not far away. Walking out, everyone took a deep breath of the evening air, and realized they must have stunk to high heaven.

"I hope that inn includes a bath," said Aideen, and the others agreed.

"I think I need three," sighed the dedenne. "My fur has never gotten this dirty."

"We've been dirtier," said Gordon. "Remember Sunless Swamp?"

"Yeah, Bennett started growing roots on his skin," said Tristan, laughing, but quieted quickly. So did everyone else.

After a while, he spoke up again. "You know, we're never gonna hear how his story ended now."

"Don't be so sure," said Kiel. "I have read the book it was from, too."

"Really? How did it end?"

"As the grimmsnarl waits in hiding, the 'special guest' of the dubwool's family arrives. It is Arceus himself. The grimmsnarl is shocked and terrified, and he hides. But Arceus calls out to him and tells him he has seen his struggles. Arceus makes him promise he will never attempt to kill and eat another civilized mon again. Then, Arceus stomps his hoof, and the river floods, brimming with fish for the grimmsnarl to eat. Arceus bids the grimmsnarl goodbye and leaves. The end."

Tristan hummed and sighed. "Bennett would have told it better."

Kiel paused. "I know."


The first thing the team did upon returning was to speak to the mayor again. The bibarel was relieved to hear the distortion had been taken care of and assured the team that the visit to the bathhouse would be on the city. He had then asked about the missing civilians, and Meer had given him the bad news - him and everyone else, including the dedenne. She had broken down over learning the fate of her friend. Meer had nothing she could say other than she was sorry for her loss.

The mayor also arranged for the transportation of Bennett's body to the morgue, where he would remain for the rest of their stay until they would pick him up again to transport home to his family. Even knowing that they would see him again, though, it hurt to part with the maractus.

They continued on to the bathhouse and took their time in cleaning themselves off. The warm water was nice on Meer's fur, helping to relax the muscles underneath. She needed that after the day's events.

After drying off, they settled down at an inn. Meer and Kiel shared a room while Aideen and Gordon had their own. Tristan, who usually bunked with Bennett, was left alone. He tried to hide his sorrow at this, but Meer could tell. Nevertheless, there were only rooms of two, so the manectric had to sleep by himself that night.

"Goodnight," they had all said to each other in the hallway and closed the doors behind them.

Meer had turned off the lights and crawled into bed, but she hadn't fallen asleep for minutes.

Kiel's voice cut through the silence. "Are you unable to sleep?"

Meer sighed. "Yes."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Meer turned over and looked Kiel in the eyes. He was just barely visible in the city lights bleeding in from outside. His Charm of Wisdom was off his forehead, lying on the nightstand.

"You saw what I almost did," Meer said, "and you were the one that stopped me."

"I hope my vision did not come off as intrusive."

Meer shook her head. "No, I needed that. I needed the reminder of who I was and what I stood for."

"And you're troubled by the fact you almost went against it?"

Meer nodded. "Even now, I think of what that creature did, and my blood boils. But I shouldn't have let that feeling take over me."

"You had a momentary lapse of judgment," Kiel said. "It can happen when one is struck with intense emotion."

"A mon in my position shouldn't have such lapses. Very bad things could come from that."

"Don't sell yourself short," Kiel said. "You could still have attacked after I gave you that vision, but you didn't. You acted according to your values in the end."

"It came close that I didn't."

"One mustn't dwell on past possibilities. What matters is the future. You have, inevitably, learned something from this."

Meer paused to think. "I suppose that's true. I've learned that there are creatures in this world that I could never have imagined, and that the principles of Cobalion's Guild still apply to them. That, in the face of what seems evil, I must still retain compassion and respect life."

"Do not forget the most important lesson of all," Kiel said.

"What's that?"

"That you can."

Meer smiled. Suddenly, she felt tired.

"Thank you, Kiel," she said and turned around. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight, Captain."

And the night took her in its embrace.


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Blackjack Gabbiani

Merely a collector
  1. shaymin
  2. dusknoir
That was exciting! You have very strong dialogue and characters and I enjoyed reading them.

Next time perhaps break the scenes up with division, because as it reads, it's one singular format instead of separating each scene on its own. It would make it a great deal easier to follow if you broke it up into different scenes.

Bennet WOULD have told it better, that's absolutely correct. Poor guy. Like that you used a Maractus. They always seem fun, especially in Pokepark.

Also I love your character designs. I also like that Gordon wears his scarf around his waist instead of like a dog bandanna.

It's interesting to see a character dull their emotions in a meditative way instead of just denying they exist (Cyrus could learn a thing or two).

The idea that the dungeon was a giant creature itself was quite shocking but it worked very well. I like how visceral (quite literally in some parts) that realization and exploration was and it made me ponder if they could pull something like that off in some sort of canon (hey if it works for Mario games...)

Anyway overall, very nice. Only issue was the lack of scene breaks.
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Junior Trainer
  1. samurott

Hey cani, this is my final review for the blitz! Haven’t had any experience with anything you’ve written yet, so I decided to try out one of the oneshots you sent my way.

Anyway, I picked this one because the concept was the most interesting, and I can’t say I’m disappointed. It’s some pretty fucked up, visceral body horror, not gonna lie. Reminds me of the Many from System Shock 2 if all the voices were laughing at you while you were being ‘assimilated’. Got quite the rise out of me for sure.

Big kudos for the attitude of the group the deeper they go into the dungeon as well - at first they’re just kind of riffing, then they’re trying to lighten the mood with that story about the Grimmsnarl under the bridge, then it’s desperation as they’re in a fight for their life, before finally ending up at a mix of relief and grief at getting out, minus one of their members. It’s one thing for the atmosphere to be tense, it’s another for the characters to react to it properly. Really helps sell the tension if the characters react to it properly.

If there’s one complaint I do have, it’s that the flow from scene to scene is on the choppier side - there’s times where a line break or any sort of greater distinction between scenes would’ve been nicer. Prime example for me would be the flashback at the start - it abruptly cuts to the present day without much grace.

Overall, this was solid. Thanks for the one-shot, keep on keepin’ on.
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