On the Chase
Ivan kept on tossing the small mirror talismans in the air, and it was getting on Mark Antony’s nerves. Every time he glanced up and caught the glimmer of the mirrors, his soul stirred. It felt like the spiritual seams that kept him tied to Cubone’s body were beginning to fray. With that troubling thought in his mind, the guardian kept a fair distance between him and his charge as they walked back to Lavender Town. Luckily for him, Ivan was too absorbed in his own thoughts to find the behavior weird. When it was his eyes that landed on the talismans uncertainty, hope, and doubt bloomed.
“Den, I don’t know the first thing about catching a ghost,” Ivan told his Pokémon. The kid flipped a talisman and caught it in his hand. Whenever that mirror and the red tags that hung from it touched his skin, there was an unexplainable sensation of power that coursed through his veins.
Mark Antony looked up, an irked glare being the only response he gave. Ivan did not see it. He merely kept on walking, green gaze on the talismans.
“I mean, I see them, but how do I go about capturing
one?” he continued. Ivan gave a heavy sigh. “Miranda made it sound so easy.”
~ “That woman should not be trusted for anything,” ~
muttered Mark Antony to himself. Yet his restless soul told him that Miranda had done something right in giving Ivan those talismans.
“You don’t like her do you?”
Mark Antony halted when Ivan stopped to look down at him. The sudden intensity of the his gaze was unnerving. Mark Antony cursed Miranda for telling Ivan he, who should have been nothing but a normal Cubone, was “touched with the supernatural.” Ivan might have been a bit naďve, but he was smarter than he seemed.
Looking up at the boy, Mark Antony shook his head. Ivan let a small smile run across his face. He turned around and tipped his head back to glance at the sun above them.
“She is scary, I must admit,” Ivan said. He furrowed his brow and turned back to Mark Antony. “After I said me seeing these spirits was a curse… and she grabbed me… Her mood changed so fast. Before I knew it, every word she spoke was so sad. Do you think that people forced her to live out here?”
~ “Sorry, I was too busy trying to maintain my soul in this body to care,” ~
Mark Antony scathingly remarked, his eyes refusing to focus on the talismans Ivan still held in his hand. And really, why should he care? If people really did force Miranda out of town, it was an act that should be applauded. Anybody that was that mentally unstable should be isolated away from everybody else.
Ivan took Mark Antony’s unintelligible words as more proof that he detested the fortune teller and merely continued on his way. A couple more minutes passed of Ivan tossing the talismans in the air and catching them. When Mark Antony contemplated on knocking them away, Ivan stopped dead in his tracks. Clutching the objects close to his chest, he looked wildly around him. Mark Antony tensed and followed Ivan’s frantic glances. He couldn’t see anything, but the feeling of dread settled in his bones.
“I think I saw one,” Ivan started. He began to walk faster. His voice began rising. “It’s still around us, but it’s moving around.”
Ivan was now at a sprint with Mark Antony right at his heels. He took one mirror from his white-knuckled grasp and looked into its reflective depths. While he saw nothing and only felt a trace of an indescribable magic, Mark Antony thought he caught a glance of chestnut hair when Ivan began to wildly wave it around. Ignoring the chills, the Cubone gripped his bone club and tried to let his instincts sense the spirit.
And there it was, that tangible sense of trouble in the air. Mark Antony took in every rock and wilting stalk of grass. There was something around them that cloaked the land, intoxicated it until it died. When Ivan exclaimed that he caught sight of their target, the feeling of dread intensified in the blink of an eye. Mark Antony jumped back in surprise and couldn’t help but whip his weapon around. Not surprisingly, the shadow that had sprung to life was not deterred. It weaved around him, never losing its bond with the ground.
Ivan turned around and saw his Pokémon entangled in long, shadowy fingers. “Den!”
~ “DON’T!” ~
Mark Antony yelled back.
He struggled against the bonds he could now see and tried to reach his dropped club. When he heard Ivan approach, he shot the boy a glare that told him to stay back. He’d be damned if he let Ivan approach another one of these things again.
Ivan glared right back and fingered the talisman in his hand, a movement Mark Antony saw with perfect clarity. The Pokémon’s heart began to race. His harsh expression softened then turned to horror.
No, no, no, NO!
Mark Antony came face to face with his human reflection, scarf and all, for a split second before he felt himself being launched backwards. He hit the ground and looked up, expecting the shadow to whirl around and rush after him. However, much to his disbelieving eyes, he saw that where he once had been trapped nestled a comically cute toy reptile. He stared at the Substitute a while longer, figuring it look like a normal Cubone to everybody else, before standing up and running to Ivan’s side.
The boy turned shocked eyes to him and then to the Substitute the shadow gripped in its wiry tentacles. “How…?”
Mark Antony shrugged and pointed to the talisman. The mirror was glistening while the red tag began to flap against an unseen gust. Ivan took a couple of steps forward when he saw the shadow wasn’t going - or couldn’t - attack. Mark Antony stayed a safe distance away, but he craned his neck to try and catch a glimpse of what the mirror reflected. He spied scraggly brown fur and a hairless tail before the ghoul gave a great lurch and escaped to hide inside the shadow of a tree; the Substitute fell to disappear in a puff of smoke. The duo shared a look and decided to approach.
“Come on out!” Ivan demanded of the spirit. The talisman in his hand trembled the closer they got. “Or we’ll be forced to rip you straight out of your hiding spot!”
He actually sounds threatening,
Mark Antony thought, impressed.
The tree’s shadow gave a shudder. First one large ear poked out, then another. Ivan took a step forward, and the whole body of the spirit trickled onto the ground. With its pudgy frame still cloaked in shadow, it was hard to discern the species of Pokémon.
But it was a Pokémon nonetheless. It was a creature from this world, not something from the great unknown. Suddenly, Mark Antony felt a lot more confident about this.
~ “Quick, he’s getting away!”
he exclaimed to Ivan.
He bolted towards the darting shadow, for once forcing Ivan to keep up with him. The spirit jerked, no doubt turning around to keep an eye on his pursuers, and kept avoiding the talisman’s glimmering reflection by jumping into shadows. Mark Antony kept destroying boulders and plants to rid the path of shadows.
the Cubone mentally cursed when another tree sapling fell, forcing the spirit to jump out of its broken shadow. It’s faster than I expected.
Mark Antony purposely fell back a bit when Ivan brought out a second talisman. The spirit wiggled its whiskers as the aura of the spelled object started to try and pull him back. It let out an agitated growl and picked up speed. Ivan ran faster despite the fact that he saw the first houses that bordered Lavender Town coming into view. The Pokémon at his heels hesitated in his run. When he saw the thirteen-year-old plow right in, Mark Antony felt the first inklings of nervousness trickle in.
Ivan’s running right into the town,
the guardian frantically thought. He willed his small feet to run faster. He’s running into town chasing something that can’t be seen and carrying talismans that shouldn’t exist!
The spirit and the duo were now in Lavender Town. Ivan was forced to slow down as planks of wood were uprooted from nearby houses and shingles were sent flying from the roofs. Ivan hunkered down then promptly crumpled as a flurry of shingles hit his injured arm. He gripped it and tried to regain his footing. Even with house windows being open and the sound of horrified townspeople filling his ears, Ivan couldn’t find the strength to stand up. The pain bit into his arm and reduced him into a trembling child.
~ “Get up! I said get up!” ~
Mark Antony yanked his whimpering charge by his unhurt arm. He glanced wearily at the windows around him; they were shuddering in their frames. ~ “We have to go!” ~
The thunder of destruction intensified as they both stumbled between the two houses. A hair-rising CRACK!
reverberated behind them as the windows gave away to the spirit’s power. Ivan ran for all he was worth, trying as hard as he could to keep the Pokémon shadow in sight. It kept bouncing around from one roof to another, dislodging another avalanche of shingles as it did so.
“This isn’t working!” Ivan yelled to Mark Antony, catching one of the talismans as he stumbled to avoid a shingle to the head. “The mirrors are being blocked by all of this flying stuff!”
Mark Antony dodged a piece of wood, then stopped to glance at the shadow perched on the street lamp at the end of the street. He saw the shadow tilt its head in what Mark Antony thought was a taunt. He began to charge forward when someone grabbed hold of his skull, hauling him up until he was a very perturbed, dangling guardian.
“Den, stop.” Ivan’s voice was a croaked whisper. “People are staring.”
Mark Antony got over his annoyance to glance around them. Ivan was right. The destruction of windows and roofs was apparently enough for the paranoid townspeople to investigate. Their human eyes saw only a boy and his Pokémon running around with destruction left in their wake. The heated glares and scowls were divided between Mark Antony, the creature they believed was uprooting their town, and Ivan, the one who was going around shouting about things none of them were able to see. As the Ground-type struggled out of Ivan’s grip and landed on the ground, the boy was frozen stock still. Never in his life had he seen so much hate and horror directed at a single person. If he could have, he would have slipped into the shadows himself to escape these unnerving stares.
“Boy, does your mother know you’re running around?” came the voice of a man within the circle of people that surrounded them.
“No, she doesn’t,” a woman answered for him, narrowing her accusing eyes at Ivan. “She’s been shouting for him all day. He’d run off without her noticing.”
The realization that her mom had nearly uprooted Lavender Town herself in search for him made him even more willing to look away from the townspeople and to the spirit that still lounged at the top of the lamp post. Its tail swayed behind its plump figure as though it immensely enjoyed Ivan’s squirming. The faster they caught that thing, the faster he could show it to the townspeople and wipe those dark and doubting expressions off their faces.
“Den, at the count of three, we’ll go after the ghost.” Mark Antony didn’t so much as blink when Ivan whispered the command from the corner of his mouth. He glared at the townspeople as though it was all he cared about. Some were coming towards them, either to yell at them more closely or to snatch Ivan away.
“There’s something here that’s causing all this trouble,” the kid began to say to the people. He held his hands out before him as a sign of peace, but he forgot he still held two of the talismans. Half of the townspeople blanched while the rest glared. They spotted Miranda’s crafts a mile away, the crafts she had always used to try and make them believe of evil and strange things. With the boy spouting off the same farfetched claims as the fortune teller, they experienced chilling waves déjŕ vu.
“Den and I are going to set things right.” Ivan was too engrossed in his idea of distracting the townspeople and giving the spirit the idea that it was safe that he didn’t notice the darkening expressions. “We-”
“You brought that woman’s influences into our town!” a man hissed loud enough for Ivan to stop mid-speech. The man separated himself from the ring of people and advanced so quickly that Ivan jumped back and Mark Antony had to peel his eyes away from their prey. “Do not dare
poison this town with your superstitious thoughts!”
Mark Antony scoffed incredulously. If there were any superstitious people about, the townspeople with those cold and wary eyes were the ones, not Ivan. With an ear on the conversation, Mark Antony turned back to the spirit. The man was no threat. It was the spirit that they were chasing that needed to be watched. He wasn’t sure, but he felt that it was relishing in their interruption. Mark Antony knew the phantom couldn’t see it, yet he still sent it a superior smirk. Despite the fact that it had the chance to slip away, it didn’t. It was just as cocky as some of the Kanto regiments he had faced during the war.
And their end result was not by any means pleasant,
he thought. Mark Antony couldn’t help but smirk when he began to count some of those victories.
“We’re not going to do anything of the sort!” Ivan desperately tried to make them understand. His wide green eyes flickered to where the spirit sat; the man he was yelling to shifted uneasily but narrowed his eyes when the boy looked back.
“If we have to drive you out just like that woman, we’ll do it!”
“Oscar!” cried a woman behind him. “He’s just a boy; let his parents set him straight!”
While they argued, Ivan’s head spun in realization. That’s
why Miranda became so outraged when he mentioned he wanted to help the people of Lavender. That’s
why she was so… unstable.
With anger making his fists shake and his thoughts tumble in his mind, Ivan said through gritted teeth, “Den, get that thing down. Now.”
The man stopped arguing with the woman when he heard the lamppost shudder like a bolt of lighting shooting down from the sky. Then the sound turned into a horrible screech of metal against metal that made everybody but Ivan, who was expecting it, and Mark Antony, the one who had sliced the post in half, cringe. The spirit gave a screech of surprise and momentarily forgot it could safely jump to the ground. It came down and immediately felt the pull of Ivan’s talismans. When Ivan had to jump out of the way of the man’s grasp, the shadow managed to get away. Mark Antony saw spots of scraggly brown fur all over it.
Ivan twisted around at the crowd, hoping they could see those bits of fur. When all he
was able to see were frightened and horrified glares, Ivan knew it was a good time as any to bolt and continue the chase.
~ “As though we would stop for them,” ~
Mark Antony quipped sardonically upon hearing the outraged yells behind them.
“Den, do you think you could hold one of the talismans for me?” Ivan did not notice Mark Antony’s alarmed gaze; he had eyes only for the spirit that kept slipping in and out of the shadows. “That way we could surround him from two sides.”
Thinking quickly, the Cubone showed the boy his club and then twiddled the short and clawed fingers of his other hand. Ivan, taking the chance to glance at him, looked a bit abashed and muttered a quick, “Sorry. I forgot.”
Mark Antony did not argue that the idea had been clever. With two sides to cover, the spirit might have been taken by surprise or slip up and turn the wrong way. The idea was so good, in fact, that he was absorbed in trying to come up with a way to make it work. With years of battlefield and training experience, he managed to dodge barrels, stray Meowth, and water some people from the houses they passed threw to slow them down (it seemed word had quickly spread) easily while deep in thought. Ivan was never lost from his sight. Even the beginning of weariness that seeped into his limbs from the Substitute he had used was effectively pushed back to the corners of his mind, away from the gears.
When he couldn’t figure out a logical way to hold the talisman without being sucked in, Mark Antony resorted to asking the inner Cubone for help, since it had worked the day before. Taking a deep breath, Mark Antony delved into the caverns of Pokémon instincts and knowledge. Maybe Cubone were capable of learning a psychic attack that would hold the talisman for him. It was farfetched, seeing as Cubone were Ground-type Pokémon, but then again, the Normal-type Furret native to his home were capable of being taught Surf.
No such attack responded back. Mark Antony’s disappointed scowl was wiped away as confusion settled instead.
As though the inner Cubone was a sentiment being, the soul replied back with a heated, What the hell do you mean by that?!
Though it couldn’t answer back, the inner Cubone kept nudging at his thoughts, assuring him it would work. Mark Antony was not dumb. Why would he, a dead sergeant who had only owned a Rapidash, deny the knowledge of a Pokémon? The thought of coming close to one of the talismans set his teeth on edge, but it had to be done. Besides, he had lived for a long time on risks and wilds schemes. Saying ‘no’ to this would put his pride to shame, to be quite honest.
And Mark Antony Colfax was very prideful.
he told the inner Cubone, too determined to wonder if he would be listened. Let’s go with Fling.
As the pair rounded a house, Mark Antony sped up and gently jabbed Ivan’s leg with his club. His charge spared him a quick glance and frowned in confusion when his Pokémon pointed at one of the talismans. Afraid losing the spirit if he focused too much on Mark Antony’s demand, he tossed the talisman towards him without a word.
The mirror descended with a dangerous air about it. Mark Antony gritted his teeth, filled with the knowledge of the attack but still anxious to the point of gulping. He shot the human reflection he saw for a split second a smirk before jumping forward. The talisman was grasped in his free paw then hurled in the same fluid motion. Immediately, Mark Antony leaped back with a hitched breath. His paw was aflame with needles, and the sensation spread to his shoulder.
But since he wasn’t being ripped away from the Cubone’s body, he stopped long enough to trace the talisman’s path. Ivan froze, floored when he saw it smack the runaway ghoul squarely in the head. With a pained cry only they could hear, it toppled from the roof edge it was running on to land before them. Ivan did not trust the talisman’s mesmerizing rays of light to hold their prey. He quickly ran to the other side and pointed the talisman he still held at the spirit, only for it to be tugged out of his hand.
“What the -?” Ivan said with a gasp. He looked at his suddenly empty hand then at the writhing spirit. The tufts of fur had spread all over its body; its long tail was left bald. Though its head was still cloaked in shadow, Mark Antony noticed sharp incisors protruding from its mouth.
~ “A Raticate!” ~
he exclaimed. Ivan said nothing, but his eyes widened in understanding.