Chapter Sixteen: The What-sters?
This isn't a chapter picture, but it's a picture at least. xD
“A-are you sure...?”
“Yeah; how could she get past Splash? We all know he’s challenged, but...he should have stopped her.”
“Well...she looks nothing like a threat. I don’t th—”
“Huh?” I murmured, inhaling deeply to fuel my lazy self and stand up. My eyes were presenting blurs to me, and I hardly knew what was going on. “I may be small,” I started, sounding like I had trouble speaking for one odd reason or another, “but I’m tough!” I had raised my head for the few words, plonking it back down and feeling liquid squirt onto my face. I then licked it from my nose. “Mmm...oran berry.”
“S-see?” panicked a soft voice, although I wasn’t sure why she sounded that way.
“She looks kinda...out of it...to me,” mentioned another, certain scepticism about her tone.
A few moments passed...and then I snapped open my eyes.
“Waah!” I yelped, startled by the sudden appearance of a group of pokémon, and I hopped to my feet. “Wh—who are you?” I swallowed, my eyes darting between a navy blue pokémon whose body looked plated with armour, a large bird pokémon with puffy, snow-white wings and a tall, and a hovering white thing with blue, purple and red in certain areas. “And where...?” My mind turned as I remembered the night before...when I had not been paying attention to where I crashed...
“Usster Colony!” I blurted, and I received surprised glances. I heard only the sound of birds chirping outside and other expected sounds as I waited for someone to reply.
The dark coloured one with an elongated horn protruding from his forehead raised one of his strangely shaped arms, looking about to talk, but the flying type, not noticing his gesture, spoke before he could. “What are you doing here?” She sounded defensive and stern, but I really had nothing to hide or be afraid of. And if need be I could totally take on these three pokémon...possibly.
“Uh...well, see, I—” I felt a fruit squash under my front paw, and I looked down. Then I realised something. The strange shack I had taken shelter in looked to be some sort of storage room for berries. And rotten ones, it looked like.
“You’ve been eating our stash!” the altaria accused, and I flinched in astonishment.
?” I questioned. ‘And a stash of rotten berries? Seriously?’
“It would make sense,” the heracross mused, a claw on his chin.
“What? N-no!” I wiped my face against my mane – as best I could – to rid it of false evidence. I had only stepped in some; I didn’t eat any of it. “I think you’ve got the wrong idea.”
“I know a thief when I see one,” snapped the flying and dragon type, and I narrowed my eyes at her.
“Well if you did, you’d know I wasn’t one.” We engaged in a stare-down before my ears twitched.
Rustling could be heard shortly before a voice began saying, “Yukra, where are those—” A bronze figure appeared at the entrance to the room I resided in, her head nearly touching the doorway’s top. As soon as she laid eyes on me, she let out a roar, but to my surprise it was a completely frightened one. She backed away, and a certain fire in her eyes told me that she wasn’t prepared to be friendly to a stranger. “Intruder!” she exclaimed, her eyes wide and her body frozen up. I had no idea what to do or even if I should have done anything, but I knew throwing myself at the wall instead of her doing it for me was an appropriate action. The instant I did, she struck the now-recognisable mound of rotten berries with her enormous claws. For the first time in a few days I was somewhat scared, and I was unable to regain my attention as she dislodged her massive paws from the berries and stormed towards me in a scatter of growls and grunts.
I screamed as I attempted to flee between her legs, ending up being kicked on my way through, and she rebounded off the wall to stomp after me. I zipped out of the room and into the wilderness before the heracross wrapped me in his strong arms and brought me to a stop. I whined as I realised I was restricted and began kicking and struggling. “G-get off! Let me go!” I was desperate to get away, and being held back didn’t do any good.
“Wynore! Stop!” the cloud-bird pokémon protested, spreading her wings to work as visual barriers. I heard a bellow, and presumably the ursaring had halted upon the flying type’s request. “We don’t think she’s a threat,” she continued, attempting to calm the pokémon.
“Yes—please settle down!” the white, red and blue pokémon added. She used a soft and worried tone, much like the first voice I had heard when I woke up. It was probably the same one.
I heard a reluctant snort before I hesitantly edged my eyes into view of the great bear pokémon and the other two. I was relieved to find that her sanity had returned and she seemed to snap out of her frenzy reasonably quickly. She glanced at me and I was too concerned to look away, but then she switched to the altaria’s eyes, a look of uncertainty and suspicion spread across her face. “Are you sure?” she questioned incredulously, her gaze flicking to mine to coat me in a veil of accusatory suspicion. I swallowed again, wondering quietly to myself what would happen next.
“We’re workin’ on it,” the pokémon tightly grasping me answered, no particular harshness about his voice.
“Uh,” I uttered, “can you...can you, uh, loosen your grip, please? It’s a little...um...” The pokémon obeyed and relaxed his hand. “...Tight. Thanks.”
Silence fell upon the five of us before the delicate upright one (whose species I’d never seen before) asked, “What should we do?”
The altaria needed no longer than a moment to decide. “We’ll take her to Habib.”
I criticised internally, thinking the name was rather ridiculous—and from what I had guessed, he was a decision maker and intruder-labeller (hence these pokémon taking me to him). Which possibly meant a leader of some kind. Personally I found it a...strange name for an authority figure. But then again, I could be wrong. This ‘Habib’ could be their pet rock for all I knew.
Whispers and gasps echoed around me as I was dragged through a strange village-like setting. I found it odd that such a place could exist deep into the wild, but then again, judging the many pokémon I spotted, this community of creatures was pretty large, and they looked relatively capable of building huts such as the ones I spotted around. Master had once told me of humans using strong and muscular pokémon such as machamp and aggron to shift heavy luggage and/or to help construct homes and labour-intensive structures. They were extremely useful for those kinds of things, so I figured it was possible that they had helped with the structures in this clan.
I nearly tripped over a head-sized rock as I was transported towards the place the three pokémon (the ursaring had gone back to what she was doing before her little crazed attack on me) were taking me. “Ow!” I snapped, eying off the two pokémon beside me as they didn’t show a shred of concern. The altaria was in front of me, leading the way, while the heracross and the other pokémon walked either side of me. Running back the way I came would result in a capture by the bug type, with the help of the other one – who looked like a possible ice type – so that wasn’t an option.
It was strange how the one on my right hovered—was she part psychic or flying? Her body was somewhat flimsy and slim and her arms, connecting to her head, were strangely proportioned with blocky cyan at their ends, almost looking like fins, and a red ribbon-like appendage was wrapped around her waist. I had to wonder what the purpose of the two icicle-horns on her head were for, and how she could ever walk with a body that came to a random end before feet could be introduced; although, I came to the conclusion that it was the reason she hovered. I wanted to ask her what kind of pokémon she was, but at the moment she wasn’t exactly a friend.
“Um,” I began, attracting the attention of both pokémon on my sides. I quickly licked my lips. “Where are you taking me? And who’s Habib?”
The heracross only chuckled harmlessly, and the mystery pokémon smiled. “Our colony’s mayor,” he mentioned.
“...Right.” I continued glancing about, observing the ways of these pokémon and how they lived. We only walked through the housing area, however, but I knew there was more to the clan than just that—in the way of facilities. On the way past a few homes, I shuddered as I couldn’t help but notice a giant lake at least the size of the one I had been in when I was abducted, and patches of dense trees around the joint. As we passed near the lake and the far end of the column of huts, lone trees watched as we moved past them, their branches signalling the direction I was headed.
Finally we arrived. The place was pretty large—one of the bigger homes around. It was made mostly of tree trunks and other natural materials, but it looked nothing like the bibarel and bidoof enclosures I had seen. This was properly and professionally constructed, and my guess was that my theory about strong pokémon building places like these for colonies was considerably correct. One would also have to have a knack for designing to form plans one would follow.
We stopped a couple of metres away from the entrance, which was blocked by a slab of firm but moveable stone. ‘If this ‘Habib’ is the leader of the colony, how come his house is shut off?’
I wondered, frowning lightly. But I had to wonder no more as a voice from inside seemed to give permission, and the heracross left his place beside me, along with a random granbull and floatzel who had appeared without me realising.
They all assumed a position around the boulder and the heracross instructed, “On three. One...two...” The two other pokémon prepared themselves before ‘three’ was said, and then at once they all put their muscles to work.
“Heave, ho...” I muttered, and the two females nearby gave me a glance each. I shrugged, wanting to say ‘what?’, and looked back to the working pokémon. The heracross, due to the length of his horn, was slightly taller than the other two pokémon, but they were all nearly level. The floatzel was the smallest, since they were naturally rather little for strong-looking pokémon, but he wasn’t far off. When they had managed to shift the stone all the way across, I forgot my doubt in them and instead acknowledged the butterflies in my stomach which fluttered and bounced off rounded walls.
I wasn’t entirely sure why I was nervous, but I had a feeling I was about to find out as a pokémon stepped forward. “Habib, we’re in need of your judgement,” the bug pokémon stated, standing under the doorway once swinging open a frail wooden door. A voice from inside accepted the request and the heracross nodded, moving back for the altaria to usher me inside with an impatient look on her face. I nearly scowled at her but I was distracted by the inside. Grass coated the entire floor; some was deliberately planted while the rest of it was naturally there. Regular wooden panels making up the ceiling were interrupted by numerous windows to allow insects, warmth and light. A large batch of hay, moss and fresh grass lay at the far end of the hut, and two smaller ones were near the big one against the walls to the left and right. A wooden table composed of more logs (which I didn’t find surprising) was in the centre, where hardened bark and a carved bowl of berries sat.
Waddling steadily with the help of a thick cane, a hefty pink pokémon with small charcoal eyes and a few lemon coloured belly markings appeared before me and gave a soft smile. He bobbed his head leisurely at the heracross, saying, “Thank you, Yukra,” and the dual type pokémon closed the door with care.
Another fuchsia form strode forward—she was smaller and had a grey implement holding a rounded red ruby on her head. Around her neck was a frill streaked with white and blue and she had a very strong resemblance to a slowpoke. I recognised her as a slowking—and a different-to-normal coloured one at that. Perhaps she was shiny!
I waited in silence as the two pokémon wore neutral expressions. I was left to stand there and feel as my eyes darted between the two pokémon. “Uh...h-hi.”
The female regarded me with a nod and a smile while the lickitung placed himself in a seated position at the opposite end of the table. “Have a seat,” he insisted, the slowking also standing at the other end.
“O...kay,” I agreed, cautiously pacing forward a number of steps before sitting. Surprisingly the table was low enough so that I was able to even rest my front paws on its surface if I wanted to. Maybe the table was designed that way for small visitors such as myself.
“Miss Flareon.” I turned. “I will ask you a number of questions, as is my duty.”
“Uhh...alright,” I answered. He had probably figured I was not a threat by this point, as I failed to show any kind of hostility. Truthfully I was a little intimidated by him, being huge compared to me, and since he was the leader of a seemly powerful colony. I figured that if a heracross, a crazed ursaring, Zhol and all the other strong-looking pokémon I spotted were under his rule, he must have had a considerable amount of power and respect from his followers.
The lickitung asked something as I was distracted, and I only caught the last word. When I asked him to repeat, he followed up with, “Are you a traveller?”
“Well...kind of.” I thought the normal type might have been waiting for me to justify my hazy reply, but when I didn’t he continued.
“Do you have reason to come through here?” he questioned. He was friendly...but naturally suspicious.
“Well, I...um.” I paused to scratch my belly with my back leg, however awkward it was to reach. “I travelled here with Zhol. She said I could stay here for a while. She’s...a part of your colony...?”
“Ahh!” responded the pokémon, sparking up at the mention of the sneasel’s name. “Yes, Zhol! She has returned then?” After I nodded, he brightened up. “Excellent!”
“She, um,” I interrupted, not meaning to. When I felt it was okay to continue I did. “Zhol and I were on the same vessel after being captured.”
Suddenly the lickitung’s face clouded over with stern interest and concern. By the looks of things, he had no idea what I was talking about. Instead of questioning my words, he listened further. But when I was unsure of what to say next, silence tapped the air around us.
“The, uh...the vessel that we were being stored on for transportation. We were, uh...we were also in the same...prison, if you like.” I spoke with a calm tone, and Habib and the slowking gasped, the part psychic type resting one of her paws on the other pokémon’s shoulder. They exchanged a worried glace and then met mine. “Is something...?”
The slowking wore a forlorn expression as she hesitated to open her mouth. “Our son and three other members of our colony suddenly disappeared at least two weeks ago. We hadn’t heard from them since.”
At this I was only mildly surprised—Team Rocket had captured many pokémon, and I doubt witnesses of any kind would exist to let anyone know where their friends would have gone. They would either have been caught or...disposed of. “So...Zhol was one of those other three?” I wondered, and Habib replied with a yes. I hadn’t met any other pokémon from their colony on the ship, so it was possible they were in a separate crate or I simply didn’t get a chance to know them. But then I suddenly thought of something. “Wait...” I attracted their attention again as I went over things in my mind. “You said your son disappeared... What’s his name?”
The two flashed looks onto each other before the slowking turned to me again. “His name’s Larse.”
“Larse?” I confirmed, perking up. “Larse! I know Larse! I met him on the ship!”
A hushed cry of joy seeped from between the psychic and water type’s muzzle. “Wonderful!” A relieved and joyous expression painted itself onto both parents’ faces, and I couldn’t help but smile. If only I knew my master was okay...
“Did he return with you?” the slowking inquired hopefully, and I felt sympathy twinge within me as I took a moment.
“Uhh...um...no. I’m...sorry,” I replied, and the shiny pokémon seemed to deflate as she absorbed the information.
“Is he well?” asked Habib, and I nodded, wanting to lift their spirits.
“He actually helped me a few times. He even saved me at some point.” I glanced at my left side, noting the hole that had been healing for a number of days now. It still hurt, but nothing could get in or out—thankfully. “Yeah. I was shot in the leg by a human,” I explained, standing and facing my body in a way so that the wound could be seen. The slowking nearly gasped as she saw it, and her eyes flicked to mine as I went on. “And when no-one else could, your son used his powers to remove the bullet.” Their expressions relaxed, and a sense of subtle pride tickled their faces. “After that, when I was battling...” I swallowed, averting my gaze. “Um, a...well, someone, he really helped me out. I was actually, uhh...really surprised at how fast he could run,” I chuckled, and the slowking’s smile broadened, her eyes soft and amused. “You’re son’s a...great pokémon.”
Habib nodded, knowing well what I meant. “He is.”
Before I let a silence fall upon us for the second time, I cleared my throat. “So, um... Is it...alright if I stay a while?” The two pokémon blinked a few times in a row, and I acted casual as I shifted about on the spot. “Heh, well, I mean, I could gather berries or...or hunt! I-I can hunt... Or, um...look after anyone who needs babysitting.” I shrugged, putting forward the idea even if I was less than keen on the latter.
The two pokémon seemed to consider it, but it didn’t take them long before coming up with an answer. “Of course,” Habib answered, and for a moment I was stunned.
“R-really?” I gave a hearty chuckle. “I can?”
“Of course, dear,” the slowking repeated. As I gave off grateful grin, she added, “We can tell you aren’t a bad pokémon. For bringing Zhol safely here we are thankful.” I nearly laughed at the comment, since Zhol was basically the one who brought me as opposed to it being the other way around, but I concealed my amused thoughts.
Footsteps pattered the grass outside and my ears fluttered to catch the sound. I flung my head around my shoulder as the flimsy door creaked open and a head with fangs, a snout and three spikes at the back popped in. A lime green body followed, and two elongated feet with three claws on each seemed to grip the floor lightly as the pokémon came fully into view. However, as I suspected that he was going to speak, he froze, and I was unsure why. The two dangerous-looking blades that acted as arms hung suspended in midair as I watched for movement. Wings were attached to his back, looking like those of a dragonfly. His torso didn’t, though—it looked armoured with a yellow undercoat, and a striped abdomen rested as his lower half, which was what the legs were linked to.
After analysing this creature, I identified him as a scyther—a bug and flying type. And by the looks of things, he was analysing me too. “‘Sup,” I stated to break the silence, smiling in a friendly manner.
The mantis pokémon just stared, his eyes wary and his body stilled. He looked about to strike if I went too near, which was mildly concerning. I elected to remain seated.
Continued in next post...