I'm glad you're liking the dialogue and descriptions so far. ^^ Thanks for reading!
I will be merciful and warn you all that the following installment is particularly dark… As a matter of fact, it’s specifically chapters like this one that led me to give this story a PG-13 rating.
Chapter 10 – Embracing the Predator
“Can’t you do this any faster?” Syr urged.
“Do you want this done in a hurry, or do you want it done right?” Madeline asked crossly.
“Just keep your skin on, purple man!” the Mr. Mime snapped.
Teresa, Syr, and Jen had fetched Madeline, and after briefing her on what had transpired regarding Esaax, they’d gone with her to access the Haven’s pokémon database. In addition to being the first hospital designed to admit treat both humans and pokémon, the Haven had also been a very active center of pokémon research. Here, an immense volume and spectrum of pokémon-related data from all over the world was compiled.
Therefore it was quite odd, not to mention very frustrating for Madeline and those who were gathered there with her, when minute after minute of the Mr. Mime’s work (which, Syr’s impatience aside, was truthfully very speedy) continued to yield nothing on the subject of wobbuffet evolution.
“It must be super-obscure or else we’d have it already,” Madeline said.
“Keep looking,” Teresa directed her.
Madeline did not pause, her fingers continuing to fly over the keys. Meanwhile, she shivered and said, “Brrr
. Is it just me, or did it just get really cold in here all of a sudden?”
“Yes, it is colder in here…” Teresa was well-insulated against the elements, but she’d noticed the chill, too. She cast a questioning glance at Jen. The snorunt caught her eye and suddenly looked as though he’d been caught robbing the cookie jar. Uttering a small, embarrassed noise, Jen made a hasty exit.
“He didn’t have to leave…” said Madeline, who was too busy to sound as sorry for Jen as she felt. She continued her search, her brow knitted in hard focus. Finally, “Argh
“‘Argh’?” Syr echoed in puzzlement.
“Yes, argh. That’s everything,” Madeline said. “Nothing in here at all about wobbuffet being able to evolve. It can’t even conceive
of such a thing.”
“Then he must have become an entirely new form of pokémon,” said Syr.
“I don’t think so,” Teresa said. “We’d thought that wobbuffet were unable to evolve, but this proves that they actually are. They’ve probably always been able to—it just seems too unlikely that this is the first time that this has happened. There’s got to be a precedent.”
“Well, if there is, it should be in here, but it’s not,” said Madeline. “We’ve got just about the most complete recorded history of pokémon you could ask for here. That includes some very obscure and unusual information, some of which is thousands of years old. So I seriously doubt that the absence of any information about wobbuffet evolving is just an oversight.”
Obscure and unusual information…
Thousands of years old…
“Karo,” Syr all but whispered, wondering why he hadn’t thought of this sooner. The arbok made for the door, rushing past the other two pokémon in the room.
“What are you doing?” Teresa asked, startled by Syr’s sudden action.
“Plan B,” Syr said. “Stay; I’ll be right back.” With no further explanation, he left the Haven and set off down the street.
* * *
After traveling a short distance southward, Syr came to a three-story house in the part of town where the more expensive homes stood. This was the residence of Ekunasic Karo.
Karo was a nosepass, aged 6,731 years, which among his kind was still quite young. He had once belonged to the gym leader Ren Bridges of the Apex League: the gyms open only to elite trainers. Following the Extinction, Karo was no longer bound by his rather demanding gym duties and left with little to do aside from the maintenance of his trainer’s house. He was thereby given the time to acquire quite a few new friends, whom he would occasionally invite over to admire his eccentric trainer’s collection of the rare, the unique, and the obscure.
Syr was included among those few. However, he had not spoken to or even seen Karo in over a year. He’d somewhat recently asked one of Karo’s other friends what the nosepass might be up to, and the answer given was that Karo had decided to go to sleep.
Therein lay the potential problem with Syr’s idea: nosepass could sleep indefinitely and were profoundly difficult to wake. If Karo was still sleeping…
Syr knew that he’d just have to find out whether or not that was the case and deal with the situation as it unfolded. He made his slithering approach up the walkway. Right away, he found something amiss: the door was unlocked and ajar. He knew that Karo would have had someone coming over periodically to take care of things while he slept, but he doubted that any of Karo’s housesitters would have so carelessly left the door open.
Cautiously, Syr slipped through the door, not knowing for certain what he would find. He nudged the lightswitch that was just inside with his nose. In spite of the suspicious front that the situation had already presented, Syr was nonetheless shocked by what he saw.
A number of hanging lights illuminated a scene of chaos. Trinkets and artifacts were scattered and broken all about. Furniture was upended, disarrayed, and ruined. On top of that, the walls, floor, ceiling, and every other surface in sight was covered in three different colors of what was unmistakably smeargle graffiti—as was the nosepass in the middle of the room, who was just obliviously sitting there like the big rock that he was.
Syr slithered over to Karo. The nosepass had obviously not been up and around during the invasion of his home. Even now, he remained more still and inanimate than seemed possible, even for a rock-type. It made Syr wonder if Karo wasn’t more than just very deeply asleep.
Concerned, Syr pressed his head against the stone surface of Karo’s body. He was able to hear something
going on in there, working out an undeniable rhythm, albeit a very slow one.
Having confirmed that the nosepass was still alive, Syr now faced the daunting task of waking him. He tried shouting at Karo. He tried pushing and prodding at him. He even poked Karo in the eye, but still the nosepass kept snoozing on.
Syr was quickly losing patience and getting desperate. He was on the verge of finding out whether or not Karo would respond to having something shoved up his huge, honking nose. Then he spotted something potentially useful in the corner.
It was a fairly large mace, which had caught Syr’s eye when light had glinted off of its surface. It was the only metal object in the entire room, though clearly not of a kind of metal that would be attracted by Karo’s magnetism; otherwise, the “up-the-nose” question would likely have answered itself.
Syr went over and lifted the mace with his tail. The weapon was good and heavy. This ought to do it,
he thought. He returned to Karo, swung the mace high, and struck the side of the nosepass’s face.
Syr tried striking Karo a bit harder, this time hitting him just below his massive nose, but still Karo would not awaken.
Fairly frustrated now, Syr gathered all his strength and then some, raising the mace as high overhead as he could. With a loud yell, Syr brought the mace crashing down one last time, dead center into Karo’s forehead.
There was a small explosion of gray dust. When it cleared, Syr saw that he had opened a long, shallow fissure in Karo’s head, splitting it like a melon.
Syr stared horrorstruck at the damage for a moment, afraid that he might have just killed Karo, but then a groan issued from the nosepass. Karo rocked back and forth briefly on his short legs, then tilted backward and held that position, seeming to gaze up unsteadily at Syr.
Then, without warning, the nosepass lunged forward. Syr flung himself out of the way just as Karo’s pointed nose punched a large hole in the floor right where the arbok had been seconds before.
Syr kept himself at a distance as Karo righted himself once more. “Karo, it’s me!” Syr shouted, but it was of no use. The nosepass was still fast asleep, with his cognitive faculties compromised further by the blow that he’d suffered to his head.
Concerned that Karo might charge at him again, Syr tried to move out of the way. Much to his alarm, however, he found himself completely immobilized as if he were caught in an invisible vice. When did he use block on me?
Syr wondered, bewildered. He could do nothing but stare as Karo followed up with lock-on, his huge nose glowing as it brought itself to bear on the arbok.
Syr knew what was coming next, and he was not looking forward to it at all. He knew that he had to get Karo back to his senses… but if cracking the nosepass’s head open could not awaken him completely, then what could? At any rate, Syr was not keen on being on the receiving end of an electric blast if he could help it at all. He prepared to use acid, but found to his shock that he couldn’t even get his jaws open. Damn, that’s a good block!
Syr remarked silently as he was forced to swallow his own acid attack, leaving a sickening, burning sensation in his stomach.
An ominous hum resonated through the room, and the air tingled with electricity. Karo was about to unleash a zap cannon. Knowing that he could not escape, Syr shut his eyes in dread and braced himself…
When stars stopped exploding in Syr’s brain, he found that he was lying on his side; the block that had held been holding him in position had apparently been diverted to something else, though to what or why, Syr couldn’t imagine. Filling almost his entire view was one of Karo’s big, stumpy feet.
Syr tried to bolt away, but the zap cannon attack had rendered him almost thoroughly paralyzed, his body now devoid of sensation and largely unresponsive. He was utterly helpless if Karo opted to crush his skull with that stone foot in his not-quite-conscious rampage.
Instead of attacking again, however, Karo spoke to him. He seemed to be much more awake now, but he still sounded rather dazed. “Hey, Syr. Man, I don’t know what’s been going on… was I sleepwalking?”
“No, you were sleep-zapping
,” Syr said crossly, struggling slightly to speak due to his numbed mouth.
“What?” Karo was apparently still coming to some of his senses and not having a particularly easy time doing so. “Aw… dude, I am so sorry… did I really?”
“Yes, you did.”
“I am so sorry,” Karo said again. He slowly became aware of his surroundings. “Aw, no, I didn’t do all of this
, did I?”
“No, it was some smeargle. They came in and trashed the place, marked all over everything. Including you.”
“When?” Karo demanded.
“I have no clue,” Syr responded.
“Hmmph. Yeah, it was smeargle, all right. Look at this mess…” The nosepass meandered around the house, surveying the vandalism and groaning ever louder as he stumbled upon more and more damage. At some point, he apparently came across his own reflection somewhere; “Aw, crap, they did
mark me!” he shouted. “How’d they put this crack in my head, though?”
“They didn’t. I did, and I was just trying to wake you up. Does it hurt?” Syr asked in concern.
“No, not really,” Karo replied. He came back into the room where Syr still lay immobilized. The hole that he’d made in the floor caught and held his attention. “Who did this?”
“That would be you and your massive nose
“Huh.” Karo actually sounded as if he were impressed with himself at this news.
Syr was not impressed. Rather, he was quite annoyed. “Haven’t you noticed that I am paralyzed
“Whoa… Yeah, you are, aren’t you? But that’s okay, cause Ren always keeps a good supply of dried cheri berries around—”
“Gee, I wonder why?” Syr muttered.
“That’s assuming those idiot mammals didn’t get into them,” Karo finished, ignoring Syr’s comment. “I’ll go get… oh
. I forgot—they’re in the kitchen,” he groaned. “I can’t go in there…”
can’t you go in there, exactly?” Syr demanded.
It took a moment for Syr to make sense of that. The arbok then noticed that Karo was heading for the front door. “Wait, where are you going?”
“I’m gonna get help from across the street,” Karo answered as he opened the door and began to step out. “Don’t move.” He stopped in his tracks as he realized that he’d just said that to someone who was presently almost completely paralyzed. Then he burst out into his loud, honking brand of laughter, which was still audible long after he’d shut the door and left.
Syr just lay there on the floor, seething with annoyance and worry at how much time this misadventure was costing him.
* * *