The blood-curdling thought pierced my brain, sending more tingles down my spine. I bound my eyes shut, squeezing them with extra effort before releasing the pressure. ‘I wonder...’
“Raiys!” I snapped my head to face forward, my eyes large and my mouth small and insignificant. The volcano pokémon did the same.
Hakumei materialised before us, his face serious and his body stiff. He stopped panting to talk. “It’s back. The monster came back.”
“What did he mean by ‘monster’?” I asked as I shoved the floor with each running step.
Raiys’ expression held undetermined thoughts. “I know something you don’t,” he admitted.
“Yeah—what he meant!” I waited, almost expecting that statement to act also as a conversation provoking mechanism.
He shook his head a little, and I barely noticed as his whole body flexed while he ran beside me. “A pokémon turned,” he began, and he hesitated to continue, his eyes on track while mine were set on his. “An artificially modified pokémon...”
We were running with many other pokémon. Hakumei led proudly, constantly dispelling his aura sphere to dispose of those who hindered his goals. The shiny umbreon was a nice guy, but when he was in a state of fury...well, you’d wanna be on his good side.
I knew Raiys desired privacy to discuss the matter, and he wasn’t inclined to continue unless that want was fulfilled. Following the thought, the fire type jerked his head to the left, and it was easy for me to catch his drift. Leaping over some and racing between others, we escaped the pokémon stampede and ended in the space of two crates near the edge of the ship’s left side.
He panted again, regaining his breath. He looked up at me. “The monster that attacked Luck is pure evil. Yes, it used to be a pokémon, but now it’s a feral monster... Destruction and death is all it knows.” He bound his eyes closed, as if recalling something painful, before he let them see again. “Don’t let it get too close, or it might deal a fatal blow. All it needs is one chance to strike and you’ll be gone. Your friend is lucky to have lived. He must have high endurance...”
I was having trouble absorbing the information, but once I did, I still couldn’t think of anything to say. Instead, I just thought about it. I finally decided on a question to ask. “What...what did you mean by...well, when you said it was ‘artificially modified’?”
He swallowed hard. “It...means that the pokémon...was toiled with.” It took me a moment to think that over, whispering his words to myself for repetition. “Put differently... That pokémon was experimented on.” At those words I felt a wave of ice wash through my veins.
“...Where did this...monster...come from?”
I could tell the quilava wanted to talk, but something was stopping him. I didn’t know what, but bugging him about it wasn’t going to help him find his voice. I changed the subject.
“...How many of the Rockets are defeated? And their pokémon?”
Raiys shook his head again, but not at me. He waited before he answered. And to my surprise, that sneaky grin returned. However, it was a small grin—just a devious smile with slightly lowered eyelids. “We’ve defeated a lot of them. Maybe more than half, even. Including the pokémon.”
I nodded. “Oh, good.” I swung my head around, noticing the rampaging pokémon had passed...finally. “I’m gonna go back to Luck. I trust all of you can fight off that...thing. I’ll come to your rescue if you need me to.” I smirked before running off, bolting through the darkness of the night.
The bottom half of the ship was virtually empty—apart from the abundant corpses, of course... I caught too many scents to distinguish between each one as I neared Luck motionless on the floor, obviously still unconscious. The pink slowpoke Raiys had attained help from in order to telepathically communicate with me was lying beside him on guard—although, since he needed protecting back when I met him and Chance properly, I thought that maybe he wasn’t the right pokémon. However, as I approached, I noticed a lot more pokémon guarding him. ‘But...wait a second...’
I skipped closer, increasingly furrowing my brow with every step. Upon arrival, I sensed something not right. Something completely not right. All the guards were down. And I knew they weren’t just snoozing. “Hey,” I barked, but there was no response. “Uhh...are you awake?” I approached at the psychic and water type with a concerned look. ‘Clearly not,’
my thoughts growled at me.
“Urrgh...” he murmured, his lips not parting. There was nothing before his eyes slowly shifted in place.
“W-what happened here?” I questioned, lowering my head as I stood.
More breath-groans escaped the pokémon’s...nose. His mouth didn’t move. But then again, every other inch of his body was completely still, apart from the barely notable inflation of his belly. I could tell he was desperate to say something...but it appeared he couldn’t. He began to whimper nasally, his eyes whipping about. They met mine, and I could suddenly see through them.
‘I think he’s paralysed...’
I thought, wondering who or what could have attacked him and all the other pokémon. On top of that, why would they not properly injure them? With the number that was here...nine or so, they could easily have stood up to a group of pokémon. And if this slowpoke wasn’t knocked out to the point where he wouldn’t be waking up to anything anytime soon, then why were the other pokémon? Or, at least, that’s how it appeared.
I threw the assumption aside, focusing on the matter. By the time I drew my head back to the slowpoke, his eyes were not as frantic.
he screamed inside my head, my ears having the popping feeling again. I blinked, crimson and blue swirls surrounding the slowpoke’s head.
“What? Why?!” I answered, speaking aloud.
“It’ll be back!”
he explained, and I hesitated.
“...W...what is ‘it’?”
A bone-trembling screech shattered my focus, and I was thrown into questions as a stream of blue and black fire scorched the floor at my paws, and I was forced to jump backwards to avoid it. ‘WHAT THE?!’
From behind a nearby crate to the slowpoke’s left stomped two strong legs the height of my body. It was huge and its skin was dark. It had a thin waist and chest, and its front was dark grey. It had a semi-circled patch below its front’s colouring which was a light grey, the same as the star pasted on its jutting-out head. Its jaws were intimidating as well as its strange arms which both ended with a hooked spike each, and I shuddered at the thought of a puncture wound. Its tail was long and spiked twice at its tip, and I immediately knew it would make a powerful weapon.
I could tell it was larger than a normal garchomp, and definitely scarier. The dramatic colour difference struck me as bizarre, and increased the frown marks deepening my concern. I knew that pokémon were different colours, but the bright, deep red eyes piercing my very soul suggested that this pokémon was far from natural.
I blinked in succession. “This one’s gone!” I exclaimed, spinning to face Zhol.
“A pokémon?” she asked, catching up with me. As she did so, I turned to the tank.
“I swear there was one in here a second ago! When I had my fire lit...the tanks were all full with a pokémon!”
I bit my lip, cursing silently. This must have been the escaped pokémon—the evil creation Raiys was telling me about!
“The monster that attacked Luck is pure evil,”
he had said. “All it needs is one chance to strike...and you’ll be gone.”
‘Don’t let it get too close...’
I told myself, imprinting the imperative thought into my mind. I held my courage high as I drew energy from my rage and fear, from the shadows around and the darkness blanketing the Earth. A wicked ghostly sphere formed strong in my jaws, a deep purpley-black matter resulting from its power source. Glimmers of white and pink among other assorted colours were present in grains, and the ball was, in a short time, as big as my head, and soon enlarged to finish once it became as large as my body.
The biggest shadow ball I had ever composed stopped its growth, the very innards flickering and seeming to spark and crackle with ghostly energy. My negative emotions were contributing to the attack, helping it to reach its peak in power, and when the garchomp was close enough to be unable to evade, I jerked backwards as I released it. It tore up the floorboards, leaving them a wreck, and hammered into my opponent with a small explosion. The expectation I was hoping for was to knock it out instantly; however, I knew that such a creature was capable of withstanding powerful blows, and my shadow ball was no exception.
The creepily sustained pokémon took the mighty attack with little effort. Although being pushed back a metre or so, it only seemed to affect it slightly if at all. I knew that shadow balls reduced a pokémon’s endurance for non-physical attacks, but I had no idea how. All I knew how was that the next time I fired such an attack at the beast it would have slightly more of an effect.
In return, another jet of flames came in a flurry towards me, just barely skimming my tail as I turned and fled! ‘That’s no ordinary dragonbreath!’
I thumped the floor, my pace building until I suddenly slammed flat into something that crumbled my body and initiated somewhat of a headache. I shook my head, my tuft swaying about. I blinked a few times, cocking my head. I...hadn’t run into anything. Well, I had, but there was nothing in front of me. Hearing the beast not far away, I got up and plunged into an invisible wall for a second time. “W-what?!” The desperate need to escape held me by the neck in the place of where my collar used to be wrapped, and squeezed my throat. “An invisible wall? At a time like this?!” I began to sweat – something I didn’t often do – and my breathing became heavier as I sensed the dragon and ground type was stalking me. I whipped around, my head low and my contracting pupils staring up in fear at the beast. The luminosity of the deep redness bordering its pupils swirled into mine and began stirring my mind, hypnotising me. I fell into a trance, unaware of the nearing predator. My head felt light, my body becoming limp...like I was melting...
“DUSTY!” a muffled voice screamed, jumping me back into reality. I was shocked to find that Raiys had situated himself just outside the invisible force field, and was staring hard at me. His head flare was alit, the burning sensation becoming almost tangible as I stared through what appeared to be glass. My heart fired up, but I knew all those hidden flame sacs needed time to recharge. I required energy to keep going, and the food I had recently consumed was far beyond nutritious. Thinking it over, I would only assume that every pokémon on the ship was malnourished—probably including the tools used by Team Rocket they claimed to be their pokémon.
“Help!” I exclaimed, feeling the creature creeping up on me, its shadow stretching backwards in a menacing pattern. My claws dug into the wood as much as they were able, and I was prepared to keep them stuck until my toes bled. My maw was clenched, the stress on my teeth nearly as much as what my heart was dealing with. I attempted to reach out to the quilava with my longing eyes, but I knew he couldn’t touch me.
“Behind you!” he yelled again, and I was quick to flick ‘round. The giant monster groaned, and if I hadn’t taken off the second I had, the foul flames would have consumed me. I raced, not looking back, towards where Luck was. To my great relief, the large brown pokémon was shaking his head as he sat somewhat clueless on his hide. The slowpoke was still conscious, and he was moving as well by this point.
“Luck!” I pounced onto his chest, setting him down on the floor again as he grunted with surprise. He blinked in succession, and my terrified face must have set in realisation for him. A ground-shaking roar from not too far away must have rocked the entire ship, and Luck gently pushed me off and made it to his feet. I couldn’t bring myself to smile considering the circumstances, but at least he was alright.
“Wait,” I protested as I predicted his movement. “Don’t try to fend it off!” I looked at him, eyes brimming with fear, and he took a moment to breathe. His frown remained, but he intended to listen. “That thing is cursed. Raiys told me that it could kill even a mighty ursaring with just one strike!” His face didn’t change, and by that stage I imagined he knew so already. “Luck, please don’t put yourself in danger!” I inhaled and exhaled frantically, trying my very hardest to persuade him. “...It’s evil
Luck’s shoulders relaxed and he contemplated his options. “Very well,” he decided, but I still couldn’t smile. Neither could he, by the looks of it.
“How are we going to defeat it?!” I spluttered, hanging my head. I couldn’t hide the anger, fear, sorrow and lack of hope strangling my face. A giant paw rested itself onto the side of my mane.
“Not you,” my friend decided, and I looked up with puzzled eyes. “You’ve done enough for us already.”
“Wh-what?” I started, but he didn’t seem keen on changing his mind.
A splintering smash gave way to a shattering wood only a couple of crates away, and I could only imagine the garchomp had impounded a portion of one of the many crates that previously held hundred of pokémon. It didn’t take me more than a moment to realise its full potential, or even the small fraction of it that it used to destroy something that seemed so impenetrable not hours before.
Fear gripped me tighter, and I strained every tendon in my body as I began to panic further. “I know I can’t do much, but I can’t not help you! We have to work as a...as a team!” I shook my head, blinking over and over to rid fuzziness from my eyes. I couldn’t feel anything in either of them, but...Luck was blurring. I bound them tightly shut, raising a paw and rubbing my left eye, following up with the opposite. When I reopened them, it had cleared up. I focused back onto the normal type.
“Dusty, you have to rest. You’ve done a lot of thinking and battling today. Leave it to us.”
“W-wha—?!” He wouldn’t let me protest, and instead looked about in the darkness. “Luck!” He looked at me. “I’m not tired!” I lied, and he could tell. “I’m still full of fire!” He puffed a sigh, and I let myself charge up. I aimed at the invisible barrier and shot a burning trail of fire. However, its volume was suddenly much less than I expected. I stopped my attack, recoiling. I flashed the ursaring an accidental look, and remembered my target. Crackling flames were spat pathetically from my maw, and the stream quickly dissipated. “Ahh!” I reacted, trying my hardest to release lines of fire again and again. When it failed every time, Luck made his move.
“Dusty, please stop,” he advised.
“No! I’m not...” I cringed, shutting my eyes again as the blurriness flowed back. “I’m not done!” I inhaled lengthily, almost swaying too much as I shook my head. When I exhaled, beautiful flames follo—
There was nothing. Nothing but heat escaping my mouth. I shrieked, and with embarrassment written all over my face, I fluffed up my mane around my face. No flames? No fire?! NO FLAMETHROWER?! Without anything left to do, I did the one thing I did know what to do—and it wasn’t an attack!
It was a poor sight to see Dusty without her signature element. Fire was, as it appeared, her way of life. Without it, she would surely go insane. “Excuse me,” the slowpoke inquired, getting Luck’s attention in a slow voice. “What is she doing?” Luck’s eyes followed back to the very same flareon who had saved hundreds of pokémon and led a determined mob of the captured creatures into rebellion.
She was running in circles. With a confused expression, the overtired pokémon was running in simple circles. She might even have been chasing her puffy tail.
Luck softly placed a paw on his forehead, shaking his head. “Please keep her away from the monster.” Luck gave more suggestions as to what the slowpoke could do, and the pokémon nodded. “Dusty needs...some time.” The pink pokémon didn’t quite understand why, but he followed the normal type’s commands anyway. He approached the fickle flareon and ushered her to the sidelines, the pokémon uttering phrases like “no fire”, and “all gone”. Luck frowned delicately, thinking it was a shame that such a soul stumbled into the deranged world she had gone.
Surprisingly, the whole time the creature had kept out of eyesight, and hadn’t shown up since Dusty had come back to the newly-conscious pokémon. Luck recalled the deafening bellow the monster dealt to the supposed indestructible crate, and could only imagine other pokémon were currently fending it off. Its claws so sharp and those blood red eyes so piercing. He could almost feel its harsh, callous attack for the second time. The same attack that rendered him unconscious on its first turn. ‘I think what she said was true...’
the ursaring mused. ‘One hit is all it takes.’
He reassured himself and mentioned that the task had to be done, regardless of who was to be sacrificed for the heroic act.
With a last roar and a rare, heated temper, Luck the ursaring stormed in the creature’s direction, hoping to at least be able to weaken it.
“Are you alright?” panicked a voice, and I lifted those heavy eyelids. I unclenched my teeth and set my sore tongue free, hoisting myself up into a sitting position.
“Ugh...” I moaned, reaching up with a paw to rub my left eye. There was a pokémon in front of me. He was staring with a worried look, yet it wasn’t a strong one. “Uhh...hi,” I said. He seemed almost surprised, and I frowned. “Are you okay?” I waited for a reply. My eyes were drawn to an empty, rectangular plastic item lying on the floor, and I cocked my head to one side. “What’s that?” I got up off my butt and sniffed it, picking up a human scent. It smelled like a Team Rocket human! But...it looked like a small container Master used to carry around with her. It was a battle item. It held pills capable of aiding a pokémon inside or outside of battles. She had rarely used them on me, on account of how she preferred feeding me berries instead. I then realised that small particles seemed to be present on my tongue. They felt hard at first, but with the tiniest bit of pressure from my teeth they disappeared. ‘Hmm...’
I began to think, ‘I wonder...’
I backed up, facing away from the slowpoke. I readied it, felt it about to be spewed from within...
And, surely enough, a raging line of flames hurled its way through the air, singeing any trace of dust floating about. “Yes!” I shouted triumphantly, turning immediately to the slowpoke. “Thank you!” I bowed my head in respect, and the young psychic type smiled back.
“You’re welcome,” he replied, the mellow quality abundant as usual. I took off after Luck’s scent, aiming to help him.
‘No doubt I went crazy again once I figured I was out of fire,’
I thought sheepishly. ‘Argh, it’s been a problem since my youth... But what fast working pills! Lucky, too...’
I shook the thoughts from my head, telling myself to focus. We had to bring this evil thing
down, and I was prepared to go to extreme lengths to do so. I...was a flareon. A strong-willed fire type ready to fight some big ol’ monster endangering those that posed no threat.
Continued in next post...