Chapter Fifteen: A Wet Quest (Oh, Dam!)
I basically had no choice but to accept the offer. I could say no, but until I knew the power of this colony I didn’t want to risk doing anything stupid. But at the same time...these pokémon were often known to humans, from what I remember whilst travelling with Master, as dopey and annoying as well as easygoing, so maybe I did stand a chance. But since they were part water, it posed another issue. But regardless, the only thing I was interested in was to keep moving and find somewhere to sleep—not battle or build any dams!
“I understand why you need my help for fighting off your enemies, but in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a fire type! I hate water,” I reminded, hoping to jolt some form of memory in the brown, chunky pokémon’s presumably shrivelled mind.
“...Oh. But you could still help us,” the bibarel shrugged, clearly not absorbing the information through his thick skull.
? If I’m not going near any water, th—”
“Carry the logs!” the bidoof side-kick suggested, and in response, I rolled my eyes.
“Once again, how
? I’m no machoke! I can’t carry some half-eaten tree on my back or in my mouth!” I growled, my anger reaching boiling point. I knew I didn’t have to get all steamy over a couple of dumb water types, but they really pushed the wrong buttons. “How about I help you fend off...whatever you need fending off—”
“They’re strong!” the leader intervened, and I had no idea why. I
was in the middle of a sentence.
“...And after that you can build the dam ON YOUR OWN!”
“No, no! We need your help! You can carry the logs!” the bidoof insisted, her buck teeth and goofy eyes racking me off.
“I already told you
I CAN’T!” I yelled, fire leaking between my bared fangs as smoke fogged the air.
“Guards!” yipped the leader, his lardy form edging away from mine.
“H-hey!” I struggled as two bibarel came down on me like a ton of firewood. “G-get off me!” I exclaimed, unable to breathe properly. The crushing feeling spread throughout my body and I cringed, emitting a string of growls before giving in. “O-okay! SO...rry.”
The two pokémon stared at me indifferently before the bidoof motioned with her head for them to un-pile. “Off.” And once they did, it was a great relief to know I could feel the air circulating once again.
“Geez...” I mumbled disdainfully, eying all four pokémon with annoyance. The two in charge seemed to want me to say something else, and I sighed, blinking for longer than normal. “Look... I’ll just do what I can, and then I’m outta—”
“OH, GOODY!” exclaimed the leader and his side-kick too enthusiastically, their goofy grins expanding like a jigglypuff’s body inflating. I rolled my eyes, thinking something about them being overly eager while the duo of body guards appeared at my side. They apprehended me before I knew it, pressing against my shoulders as they attempted to gain grip and dragging me so my back paws were not touching the ground and my tail scraped the floor.
Soon enough I was outside in the dim light, staring at a small dome constructed of half-chewed logs I realised I had just been sighing in. “Oof,” I breathed as I was released and I lay on my back for only a second before rolling to my right and onto my paws again. “Where even...” Before I could ask myself the question, my whereabouts became clear to me. I surveyed the area, taking in the sight of several domes scattered about, some made poorly and some very well. Channels of water streamed through, and for a fair while, each direction was filled with rivers branching like streets in a human city, only more randomised. I was standing on the rightmost edge of the territory, in the only log structure that was the only one on its ‘street’—however, it was more like an inlet that a street, as it was a circular pool of water the house was situated in. Even though I doubted the bidoof and bibarel’s abilities in the first place, I knew that something about their dens was wrong. And as I squinted my eyes to view homes in the near distance, I finally discovered the reason—they were all too high up. Usually they would be on a really small hill so that they would have to swim under to enter and inside they would be on land, but every single den I could see has their ground floor exposed. The water needed to be at least twice the level it was currently in order to submerge the appropriate amount of the huts for grounding purposes, and I began to wonder if that was the reason needed for the dam.
“D-Dusty?” asked a voice, and I spun around to spot my dark and ice friend across a shallow waterway a few metres wide. I got a shock, but at the same time a bolt of relief surged through me.
“They got you too?” I blurted, completely not expecting her to be here. I then recalled her dashing away after instructing that I should not go anywhere—a wise piece of advice. The conversations she had heard must have been the pokémon living in the area, and when they saw her, perhaps more body guards had sprung her and tied her up as well. Until she escaped.
“...‘Got me’?” she questioned, and to that I gave a tiny frown. “Dusty, what are you doing here?”
“Yeah...um... You know how you told me not to move...from that place? Well, I did.” I gave a sheepish smile before I caught her questioning expression. “It wasn’t my decision. Some stupid
pokémon started yappin’ about how I was weaker than a root
. A root, Zhol! Anyway, he lured me outside the bushed off area, and then the next thing I knew I was seeing stars and being dragged into that house thing made of trees,” I growled, motioning to the ‘boss’ office’ behind me where I had been imprisoned. “I’m not here ‘cause I wanna be. Those bozos captured me against my will. And—and get this: now they want me to help.”
“Dusty, these pokémon are vague friends of my colony,” Zhol told me, and I blinked repeatedly.
?” I asked, surprised in a negative kind of way. ‘Why would they want to be?!’
“Yes. They raised one of our members as their own despite him being neither a bidoof nor bibarel.”
“Right... So, do you have any idea why they need me to help them fend off...‘invaders’?” I wondered, hoping she could fill me in. She only returned my question with a blank stare, and apparently it was me who needed to fill her in. “Well...according to them a group o’ pokémon have a problem with them,” I started, muttering that I didn’t blame them, and continued, “and the pokémon here are worried that they’re goin’ to attack.”
Zhol seemed to consider the piece of information I set in front of her, and she looked crowded with thoughts as I interrupted.
“We don’t have
to stay...do we? It’s really not something I’m keen on doing...” She opened her mouth, but I couldn’t resist throwing more out there. “It’s not even our fight!”
“You shouldn’t be so hasty,” she advised, and I looked at her again. “It is true the battle does not concern either of us, but I cannot turn my back on the colony’s friends. In turn I guarantee they will help us when we’re in need of it.”
“Great, so it’s an ‘even if you’re not part of it, you should still care’ kinda thing?” I questioned, frustrated by the idea.
“...Please understand,” Zhol told me, and I assumed since she would have seen me sit, she took it upon herself to cross the stream. About halfway I gasped, nearly getting up as she looked about to be forced over. However, her balance was restored and she made it across alive.
“Welcome...” I neared her face, standing again, and spoke quietly and deeply. “To the dark side.” She almost looked amused, but her confusion got the better of her and she gave a tiny frown.
“Excusing me now, please,” interrupted a voice, and I whirled around and stared strangely at a bidoof slightly bigger than the one that had been inside the log enclosure. She was standing on her hind legs and waved with one of her front ones, and I had to wonder why she was doing such a thing.
We continued to look at her oddly as she waved. “Uhh... I am...excusing you now, please?” I answered, finding her way of speaking odd.
“You are coming with me now, please,” she insisted, and lowered herself.
I shrugged and neared her, but what I didn’t expect was for her to turn around and begin to lead me. “W-Wait,” I called, and she turned around—thankfully. I caught up to her in three leaps while Zhol poof
ed beside me. “Where’re we going?”
The bidoof tilted back her head to think, and it was a full few seconds before she came up with a reply. “I am taking you now to have the battle plan for tonight explained to you, flareon.”
She turned back on course and waddled away. I followed closely. “Battle plan?” I asked with a rather monotone voice. I felt like face-pawing.
We were led through the area and to a large dome. The problem was that it was surrounded by water...and I assumed it was deep
water. “We are here now,” mentioned the duel type, bringing us to the edge of the part of land we were on. As I scanned the dome, I realised that it had no entrances and cocked my brow.
“Uhh...yeah. How exactly do we get in? I don’t even see a way through,” I huffed.
The bidoof made a sloppy dive into the water, drops flying through the air at us. I jumped back, still unintentionally catching some of them, and her head appeared shortly after, having emerged. “We are going underwater now, please, where the entrance is.”
?!” I yelled, my eyes large and unbelieving.
“Is there a problem?” asked our tour guide.
“Uhh, yeah! I’m a fire type
!” I answered, thinking I’d have to spell it out for her. I nearly laughed at the sheer stupidity, my temper rising. “Fire types hate water!”
“Dusty, you have to comply,” the sneasel beside me mentioned.
I FELT BETRAYED...well, to a non-serious extent, but I was still reluctant. “But, Zhol!” I whined, reluctantly chancing a glance at the icky substance so plentiful around the bidoof/bibarel camp. “I can’t even swim properly...and my fur takes forever to dry! Why are you making me do this?”
“It can’t be helped,” she added, her expression tinged with minor empathy. “I’m not too fond of water myself.”
I cocked my head, wondering what she meant. “But you’re part ice,” I replied absent-mindedly.
Zhol didn’t give me that look I know some pokémon like Azure would give me, telling me I’m an idiot for not knowing. “Ice and water are two separate elements, even though one is created from the other.”
“We will not dawdle for any longer!” grumped the bidoof, her tone still plain but slightly impatient. “Be following me now!”
I sighed heavily. It had
to be water. Walking though fire I’d be fine with, even if I was burned. I would have even crossed a clearing with poisonous gas and sludge trails, risking death by inhalation. But going into water? “Ugh...”
That horrid, daunting sound of a body hitting liquid made my ears curl, and I shuddered. Zhol didn’t surface for a few seconds, and I was almost worried. When she did, she seemed considerably uncomfortable. She turned to me, her arms swaying in the water to keep herself afloat. She looked expectantly at me, as if silently telling me that if she could do it then so could I, but she didn’t understand the loathing-with-a-passion I had for water...
“Quickly!” snapped the bidoof, and I eyed her with an angry glare and a scrunched nose.
I breathed in and out again, staring at the water. I held my chest high and met its edge, and it seemed to jeer at me as I contemplated the consequences. I narrowed my eyes. “I’ll show you
... Stupid water...” I dipped my paw in, recoiling instantly. “Bleh-bl-bleh-bl-bleh!” I babbled, showing my disgust with an end whine. “There’s no way I’m going in there!” I backed away and met the bidoof’s agitated eyes, adamant about my decision. “Put me through fire, chuck me into a pit of snakes, but do not
expect me to swim for you.”
Dripping wet and slouching in the cold, a look of scorn was written all over my face. I threw my glower at Zhol for the umpteenth time, finally catching her neutral glance, and hissed under my breath, “This is stupid.” She nearly smirked in response, her eyes flicking to the main bibarel speaker up the front of the room. I was glad we hadn’t arrived when they were setting up—even though the audience filled up most of the large space and therefore the setting was not complicated, pokémon would have taken aaaaages to get in line. Especially knowing these species...
“Commencing battle plan!” The bibarel up front attempted a walk on his hind legs, and though it was shaky and looked rather pointless to try, he was doing fairly well. He had a stick in his maw he used to point to certain marked areas with on the mud-board he had behind him. It was completely dried and had unwanted cracks in certain spots, but when it was still wet someone had drawn...something...up. There were chewed leaves mounted in selected places to show specific landmarks or areas—like the start of their territory and presumably, on the edge of the board, the start of the attacking pokémon’s territory.
At one point the clumsy normal and water type nearly knocked over the large slab, which made me smile with harmless amusement, but at the same time I thought a bit about it. Was this kind of accidental behaviour common among these creatures? It seemed worrisome that it would, and I would hate to have been born as someone who couldn’t help making those unfortunate mistakes all the time. Shortly after, the bibarel tilted his head and released his grip on the twig by accident and nearly choked on it. And as opposed to anyone laughing or rolling their eyes, all the pokémon in the room panicked and stood up, all ready to help their fellow colony-mate. I found that heart-warming...even if it wasn’t necessary for them all to get up since only two or three were needed to assist him. Even if these weren’t the smartest pokémon I had met, they were all friendly (although strangely antisocial) and thought it to be natural to look out for everyone—family, a friend or a stranger.
Half way through the battle plan meeting, I noticed that I had no idea who we were going to be up against. So far the whole discussion had been based around soldier arrangement and the huts to flee to where the young would shelter with a pawful of guards and supervisors. I was unsure of their numbers, as well, and even this colony’s was a mystery. It only occurred to me then that I could ask.
“E...excuse me,” I interjected, and bidoof and bibarel around me met my eyes. “Uhh...hi.” Some turned back around while others kept staring, and I decided to try again, my ears standing tall to be more noticed. “Excuse me!” This time every member in the whole room had their sights on me, including the instructor...or whatever he was.
“...Oh. Are you and the one next to you the foreign pokémon I was told about who are here to help us?” he questioned, the stick having dropped from his mouth.
With all eyes on me I felt a little uncomfortable (even though back in the giant crates it didn’t bother me...probably because I was angry or something), and I took a moment to reply. “W-well...‘here to help us’ is...” I shook my head briefly, deciding not to dwell on the terminology that didn’t quite agree with me. “Um—who exactly are we fighting? And how large is their army?”
All heads turned to the front again in sync. “...I do expect you all to know that we are going up against our regular enemies—the Narrawu Colony.”
They all swung back to me. “How was I supposed to know...?” I muttered, but looked at him again. “Uhh...and they would be...?”
And they turned again. “Our enemy colony,” responded the bibarel.
I sighed heavily, rolling my eyes. “I figured that...”
“N-nothing...um... That’s all.”
The pokémon twirled around, collecting his stick and holding it in place with his large teeth, and began talking again as if I hadn’t even addressed him. I glanced to my left, catching Zhol’s gaze. I raised my brow, silently communicating, and she seemed to understand I was referring to the lack of communication between me and the brown pokémon up front.
We emerged from the dome near an hour later (as much as I did and didn’t want to), and I brushed off the many brown hairs that chose my pelt as their home after leaving those around me, shaking at the same time to fling the pools of water from between each fur strand. “Zhol, thank you,” I muttered as the sneasel shook off by my side. She directed her gaze at me.
“For what?” she queried after waiting for me to give a reason.
“For not being part of this colony,” I answered, nibbling at a knot on my right shoulder. I saw the dark type smirk from the corner of my eye.
“Get ready!” called that head lecturer bibarel after hobbling onto land from the water. More of his kind scurried around like lost rattata, looking determined but going nowhere as they would pause and turn around, only then discovering they chose the wrong way. “We should expect them...” The normal and water type looked about to give a time frame in which they would arrive; however, his expression told me that he did not know when, so he left his sentence where it was.
“Hey, Zhol, we should expect them
,” I mocked.
“Yes...” Zhol responded, and instantaneously rocketed away. She followed the waterline downstream, heading in the toward the end of the colony’s territory. I was shocked, wondering why she had fled so rashly and without even consulting me. Did she plan to escape? But surely she would not abandon a fellow colony in need...not that I wouldn’t, but it was against Zhol’s nature to do something like that—especially since she told me herself earlier. I wiped that choice off the possibilities list.
“Zhol!” I called out, but she didn’t reply as she became smaller the further away she sprinted. “Where on Earth...?” I rolled my eyes and looked ahead, charting my course as I chose to run along sections that weren’t close to the many watery paths. I readied myself and pushed off the ground—only to be yelled at from behind. It sounded like one of the colony members, and they were shouting out ‘flareon’ repeatedly. I groaned, forcing myself to come to a halt. I watched as Zhol kept running near to the edge of the steeply-sloping cliff that was to the side of the normally-sloping land, and I dearly hoped she was going to stop before reaching it. Just to ensure she did, I stayed facing her for as long as I could, but it was cut short as the pokémon who had been trying to address me came closer. I spun around, disapproving of a sneaky approach, and looked the bibarel in the eyes. “What?” I quickly asked.
A little caught off guard by my turning and speech, the pokémon took a moment. “...What are you doing?” Her face seemed clouded with something close to worry and concern. “You weren’t leaving us, were you?”
“What?” It then clicked that that would be an appropriate assumption, on account of how I probably looked about to escape. “No, I was, um, following my friend. I didn’t know where she was headed.”
Continued in next post...