Unfortunately I don't have a picture at the moment. I might do one later.
Chapter Thirteen: Washed Up
The ship had exploded into shards and splinters, incinerating anybody or anything that happened to be on board at the time. Raiys had explained to Zhol (who then explained to me) how – and I don’t know how he knew it all – that if all of the evil pokémon onboard weren’t killed because of the impact, then they would have drowned as a result of their incapacity to swim.
When I awoke on land, I was pleased to find that my sneasel friend was with me. I had asked her about everyone else’s whereabouts, but she told me that we had all become separated in the force of the explosion. The seas were rough and the pokémon we were riding on were weak from past events. I had lowered my head at the news, wallowing in the remembrance of three lost friends. However, I was glad to have Zhol around, as I certainly didn’t know these lands—nor did I have anywhere to go or want to be on my own. Master was who I longed deeply for, but knowing that...Izante was now suspected to be a Rocket pokémon, her trainer most likely was too. And our masters were together...
I would find her one day. One day when I would construct sufficient courage to track my human down and sniff her out. At the moment, I would have not the slightest inkling of which way to go, or what I might encounter along the way. I wasn’t inclined to drag Zhol along with me, and neither did I have the desire to traverse unfamiliar lands alone, so until I recovered, found the right companion and discovered the way home, I would set out to find her again. I continuously questioned my reasons for not returning immediately, but splitting away from Zhol would mean I ran the risk of coming across uninvited Rocket pokémon, and she had the same problem.
Zhol had explained that her home colony would happily accept me – or, at least, they would let me stay with them for a while – so following her back would be desirable. I was extremely grateful to hear so, but showing my happiness wasn’t something that was easy to do. I couldn’t act friendly to anyone in my current state even if I tried, and for an understandable reason, I’d assumed. But I was somewhat confident that having something to eat and drink – and also resting – would help me recover...physically, anyway. My mental side would need more time and effort to heal. My current sights were set on chasing after any pokémon I knew from the ship—Raiys, Chance, that slowpoke... I had to know where they were.
“No. Wait till tomorrow,” the ice and dark type had advised, but I was reluctant to listen. “It’s dark, and you need food and rest.”
“I want to find him—any of them!” I had growled, my paws digging themselves into the familiar dirt. I was angry and torn...and I knew I was wrongly taking it out on Zhol. I hadn’t thought it thoroughly through, and the sneasel knew that.
“...Be careful,” she had said at last, and I silently thanked her for understanding—or deciding not to argue.
My trekking had taken me along the water’s edge and away from Zhol. I had not the slightest clue of which way we had come on the ship, and chances were that I was going in the complete opposite direction. I didn’t care though, as I just wanted to know that my friends were alright. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t know what to do. I had lost nearly everything precious to me...Master, Izante, my old, brilliant life where nothing was wrong... I missed the sweet sensation life had been stroking me with prior to the great mess I had become tangled in.
‘You’re not going to find them,’
my thoughts teased. ‘They were all split up because of you.’
I trudged through thick weeds, changing my ways and heading into the forest rather than trailing the sea’s border. I continued to cringe as my two bullet wounds coursed pain through me again, just as they had been since I had awoken. Although the bullets themselves had been taken out by that slowpoke, the wounds didn’t disappear with them. I hadn’t expected them to, especially as the salt water stung, but at least it would have purged the germs. And the blood matting my coat had thankfully washed off...
The weeds were tall and plentiful, and I had to keep my head held high to see through them. Their slimy touch slithered along my fur as I brushed past them, and it was almost as if they began to taunt me as well as my thoughts.
‘You were the one who ran off to chase a lose cause and made them wait for you.’
A cold breeze swooped into my face, jolting me back and forcing me to close my eyes. My ears and tuft also flew back, and I fought it, pushing my legs and opposing the wind. I made it out of the reeds, and the wind subsided.
‘If they had gone when you were about to jump the first time, they wouldn’t have been blown back by the blast of the bomb.’
I tumbled into a hole in the ground, whamming numerous body parts as I rolled clumsily. I came to a halt on my front, my head set out straight as the pressure was put on my jaw. I took a moment to jack myself up with my legs and climb effortlessly out of the ditch.
‘For all you know, they could be injured...they could even be dead.’
I shook my head, becoming more tired with each and every breath. Hoothoot hooted; eyes flashed off the surrounding shrubs. My heart pounded as I suddenly realised I didn’t know where I was. My head was becoming clogged, my chest feeling heavy and my lungs filling with a gas that weighed me down.
‘If you weren’t around...Roarake and Luck wouldn’t have had to die.’
The thoughts became louder, their jeering piercing what remained of my confidence. ‘For a WORTHLESS EXCUSE FOR A FLAREON!’
“JUST STOP IT!” I screamed, shutting my eyes and tossing myself violently.
Voices cackled in my head, and rustling made my eyelids snap open again. I was extremely tense, and I directed my insane glare where I thought the noise was. I shivered wildly, a wicked chill edging on a spasm as my fur still dripped with saltiness. The world spun before me, the trees growing toothy grins and evil stares. More hoots taunted me, and my recurring thoughts brought tears to my eyes. I was so confused...so scared
I screamed one last time before I completely freaked out, failing to control my fear and spiralling into a hollow hole of confusion and blackness.
“...Hhhr...” I groaned, my eyes revealing the world to me as I apparently awoke again. I was quick to observe my surroundings and figure it was still nighttime. I could smell a salty tang, knowing the ocean accompanied me. The sweet saltiness drew my mind from insanity to food, and I groaned, my stomach probably about to leap out of my body to satisfy itself. I heaved myself off my side, shifting into a sitting position. “...Zhol...?” I murmured, coughing a few times in a row while she realised I was conscious and turned. She was sitting about a metre in front of me, preparing a spread of sticks she had gathered while I was busy being zonked out.
“You’re awake,” she said in a curt manner.
“W-what happened to me?” I asked groggily. The sneasel explained how she had heard me screaming in the woods nearby and raced to my rescue. And a good thing too, because she said I had passed out by the time she reached me, and I could have been stalked by unkindly predators or frozen to death. Well, not death
, but something uncomfortably close. “Thank you. I don’t know what would’ve happened if you hadn’t brought me here.”
The sneasel didn’t really know how to take the compliment, and blinked. “It’s only fair. I’m forever in your debt,” she reminded me, and I shook my head lightly as she tended to the twigs again. “The wood requires a small flame.”
I exchanged a stare with her before I shrugged and padded forward. I took a deep breath and exhaled with a fiery spice, lighting the shreds firewood and prongs of sticks. The bonfire shuddered to life and quickly brightened. Satisfied, I was about to cast my glace at Zhol for approval before I noticed the trio of fish laying on a bed of sand. My stomach once again rumbled, tossing restlessly and growling repeatedly at me. I almost drooled, but restrained myself from taking further action, saliva collecting between my cheeks, and I placed my rump on the damp dirt below.
A small noise sounded in a tree to my right, and my head shot up, alert. Focusing on the woods reminded me of the little episode I lived the last time I was conscious. The feeling poked at my stomach and rose to my chest, almost returning, and it felt terrible... But I forced the imagery from my head and filled my nostrils with the scent of fish again.
Grass surrounded one half of the area along with countless tall-stretching trees reaching for the sky, and the ocean was nearby to our other side – on account of how we barely walked a few metres from the shore – and there was a constant breeze eddying around the both of us, mingling with smoke from the fire in graceful wisps. The water didn’t bother me, however, nor did it provide comfort. It was just...there.
I didn’t know why cooking the fish would be necessary, as I usually ate meat raw, so I mentioned to Zhol that, in contrary to how she preferred her fish, I would humbly eat mine straight off the sand. Without consideration, she permitted me two of the three, which I gobbled up without a second thought. There was plenty of meat on each fish, and they were fresh, salty enough and altogether filling. She had to wait at least five minutes before she could stick her claws out to the skewer her fish resided to remove the stick from over the flames. She blew on the fish prior to biting at it as she held the stick at each ends with her paws. During that time, I sat watching contentedly.
I thanked Zhol once more before curling up and nodding off, and the sneasel did the same as we were warmed by the bonfire.
I backed up, my hind paws feeling the edge of the ground as sections of dirt crumbled. I turned to see them fall hopelessly into the lava lighting me from behind. I whimpered, knowing that being a flareon didn’t mean I could withstand lava temperatures. In fact, there were only a few species of pokémon I knew of who wouldn’t be killed instantly upon contact with the bubbling liquid.
My ears were down away and I held great fear in my heart as two silhouettes closed in on me, their daunting, single-coloured eyes boring into me. Grins were pasted on their maws, and they didn’t bother to exchange speech with each other to know what the other was thinking. One was significantly larger than the other; however, I couldn’t distinguish between the two pokémon’s species.
In the background lay many lifeless bodies. I could hear shouting coming from somewhere else. My dark and gloomy surroundings told me I was in an unfamiliar place—one I didn’t want
to know about. I didn’t dare think about trying to escape—first, there was nowhere for me to run, and second, even if I did I knew it wouldn’t end well...
But what really got to me were the strange feelings I had—one being the sense of bitter hatred and disgust flowing through me which was greater than the fear that lingered about. My head was lowered, and I began gritting my jaws together with such strain that my teeth gained hairline cracks and my eyes watered. I felt betrayed...and in more ways than one. I was so very angry, my energy focused solely on one creature...and I knew it wasn’t directed towards one of the figures closing the distance between me and them, despite the seething rage I had for those creatures as well.
“Dusty,” one of them sneered, the smaller of the two evil beings approaching. The following speech was jumbled, and I couldn’t make it out.
However, I replied, growling, “No... Get away from me,” with a cold tone. The figure grinned wider, moving closer. It asked me something next that I couldn’t make out again, yet somehow I devised a reply. From what I could understand, the creature was asking me if I would join it in committing hideous deeds. “I would rather die!”
The creature laughed a silent laugh, and screech from a distance in its place made me cringe. “That was the sound...of torture.”
“You disgust me,” I spat. The form stopped grinning and stood upright.
“What’s the matter? Don’t you like the sound of suffering
“Of course not!” I roared, careful not to get too distracted and slip backwards.
The creature glanced at my back toes, lowering its head. “Careful. Wouldn’t want to slip
.” It released a chuckle. “Join us or suffer the same fate as those fallen rocks.”
I emitted a growl. “I would choose death over you in a heartbeat.”
The smaller figure stepped back upon the larger one’s request in time for something in the background to lunge at the two opposing me, and I watched in awe. Someone was coming to my rescue! I was unable to identify my saviour until the second I focused properly. I recoiled in shock. I recognised who it was.
“Ahh, what?!” I spoke, flinging myself into a sitting position. My tuft swayed as I glanced left and right, finally resting as my head stilled. I sat my paws on the ground to prop myself up and looked down past my mane to see a feathered pokémon who appeared to no longer be living. I blinked, silently questioning what I was viewing. I looked up, having to blink again to clear my vision. “Hey, Zhol—did you catch this?” I asked. However, she just huffed and spun around, pouring sand onto the firewood as it rushed between her claws. I glimpsed an angry expression before she turned away, which puzzled me. ‘I wonder why she’s in such a bad mood...’
Zhol was venturing back through the forest, brushing past leaves and bushes. She was headed back in the direction of where she and Dusty had slept, and used her tongue to pick the last scraps of meat left between her teeth. She brushed the tiny white flakes left by bird feathers from her chest – where they had dropped – with a paw, and rose the other one, holding a second starly. The flying type had a brown head and a grey body, with its wings being half tipped with brown on the end feathers.
“I was lucky to get two.” She smiled weakly to herself, having spotted the duo still asleep on a branch. “The early sneasel gets the starly.”
She stared to the east to view the dim light that shone just above the horizon. The beautiful amber illumination of the world was quite a sight to see. But it also meant more pokémon would be waking—which was bad news if the area belonged to aggressive pokémon. Zhol had to pack up her act and get out of the premises with Dusty soon. She was glad she managed to catch a meal before having to head out—and catching something for Dusty as well. She would certainly be thankful for it and happy to eat!
Catching the scent of ocean and nearing the sandy dirt, Zhol was happy to see that Dusty was waking up. She was moving her limbs as Zhol approached—a sign of her presumably stretching. She couldn’t see the flareon’s face, however, as she was lying with her back to the dark and ice type. “Dusty...?” she began, just to ensure her theory was correct. “Are you awake?”
“No,” she replied darkly, and Zhol was surprised. “Get away from me.”
Zhol stood on the spot after her smile vanished. She pretended she didn’t hear the last bit. “We need to leave soon. But first, you must eat,” she said, holding the starly out.
“I would rather die!” Dusty exclaimed, and Zhol frowned, confused and taken aback.
“What?” she demanded, distaste in her tone. But the flareon didn’t reply, her back still turned as she lay on the sand. “I caught you a starly.”
“You disgust me.”
Zhol recoiled, wondering why in the world her friend – if she was – was acting weird. “You...don’t like them...?”
“Of course not!” she yelped.
The sneasel sighed, forgetting the fire type’s strange attitude. “...If you won’t eat, then get up. We have to leave. This isn’t our territory.” She kicked a twig aside and watched it meet with the ash-covered ones used in the fire. “Staying here with unknown pokémon could be dangerous.”
“I would choose death over you in a heartbeat.”
Zhol flinched, astonished. She was frozen with confusion. What in the name of Arceus would make the flareon make a comment like that? They had only met a number of days ago, but Zhol had hoped they could be friends. If this fire type preferred to be apart from her, she wouldn’t object. She had no idea why the flareon was reacting so strangely, or even why she hadn’t gotten up to talk to her properly, but the sneasel needn’t concern herself. She narrowed her eyes, trying not to let newfound contempt control her. She rested her eyes for a collection of seconds. Abruptly she turned and threw the dead prey behind her and onto the eevee evolution’s body. Her legs began to carry her to the fire’s remains as she mulled over the past couple of days, frustration tinting her face.
Suddenly the flareon shot up. “Ahh, what?!” she questioned, throwing her head about. Zhol was leaning down by the burned pile of logs, dumping pawfuls of sand in some attempt to cover them. Dusty seemed to wait a moment before inquiring, “Hey, Zhol, did you catch this?” The sneasel flashed a completely unimpressed expression before going back to the fire, and then stood up. She zipped out of sight and into the forest, rounding a tree and continuing past it.
“Zhol? W-what—wait! Where’re you going?” Dusty called after her, and the shuffling of feathers and paws indicated that she was coming up behind the tree. She arrived, found Zhol leaning against a trunk further up, and walked a few paces forward to take a seat. She placed the bird pokémon on the ground, not taking her eyes of the sneasel, and then raised her head again. “Everything okay?” she queried, and Zhol threw her a stern glare. The flareon made herself appear submissive and puzzled. It was also part of her plan in sitting down—to make herself smaller and somewhat innocent. “Zhol?”
Dusty cocked her head as the sneasel moved off. Dusty sighed, figuring her for the silent type who generally kept to herself. She furrowed the fur above her brow, scooped the flying type into her mouth again, and bounded away in hot pursuit of the zippy sneasel.
Continued in next post...