“Hey, Zanna.” I cocked my head to the side at Tali’s call. Her smile had vanished, and she was peering at me intently. I watched as she reached deep within her fur retrieving two, small, black bands. Those bands. She glanced at them with a look that seemed full of longing and sorrow. “These bands were given to me by Rakai. They are meant to harness the darkness within a Pokemon and allow them to control it. In essence, any Pokemon can use the powers of a dark Pokemon without the fear of being dark themselves. They will still retain their sanity and be able to control what is within. I was trying…I was trying to use my dark side to reconnect with him, but Rakai is lost to me now.” The Buizel lowered her head sadly and tossed the bands to me. “Here, you can have them. I don’t want any reminders of what he is. I want to remember him for what he was. Maybe you can use them to defeat Deoxys, or somethin’.”
I stared wide-eyed at the bands Tali had given me. The bands which she’d put up such a fight before to keep away from me. It was obvious that her encounter with Rakai had made something shift gear within. She didn’t seem so cold. Maybe she had come to see the fact that she couldn’t save him at this point in time. There was nothing she could do. I felt guilt in my heart at her predicament, for it was almost the same as my own, granted Rye still had his sanity. For now. Whether or not I would see him again remained to be seen.
These bands were obviously powerful tools. If what Tali said was true, and I could learn to control the darkness within myself with these bands, it could very well give me an edge over Deoxys. However there was a strong feeling of uncertainty resting in the pit of my stomach. I was a Light Pokemon. I had no idea what would happen if I tried to use these bands. The two could very well react badly and reject the other, in which case it would probably try to tear me apart from the inside out. There was only one way I could gain an answer to my question. I was sure Altair would know. Perhaps if I slept, connected with him in my dreams, he might be able to answer it. Right now it was the only hope I had left of being strong enough to defeat the legendary Pokemon.
I had hoped to gain the Missionary’s support, but it looked as if that wouldn’t happen, at least while Virok was in charge. My main priority now was to escape and warn the others, if I could, before they too fell into the same trap. Once we were out, there was a hard task I had to do. From Tali’s tale it was clear that Virok was not the Pokemon, nor father, he once might have been. He was placing the whole of the Marble City in danger and had to be eliminated. What was worse, though, was the fact he was Rye’s father. Could I do away with someone who was so important to him? If he was important to him. I knew Rye wasn’t close to his father, but they were blood all the same. If he had already lost his mother, it would kill me to take another parent away from him. But there was no other option. With Virok in charge of the Missionary the experiments on Pokemon and Dark Pokemon alike would continue. He would grow more twisted in the hope of defeating Deoxys, probably only destroying himself in the process. He had to be dealt with.
I sighed and clicked the bands onto my wrists before I turned to Tali with a sour note in my voice. “You know Virok can’t be allowed to do this anymore. You know he has to be dealt with, right? Him and Rakai.”
The Buizel inhaled deeply through gritted teeth, but her eyes told me she knew it had always been coming. “I don’t like either of them more than the next, but I wish there was something we could do. Rakai, he…And Rye, he lost his mother…”
“I know,” I replied, none too happily. “They don’t need to die, but they do need to be put in their place. They have to go. You’ll help me, won’t you?” I had never asked Tali for help before, nor did I want it, but this wasn’t something I could do alone. I needed everyone behind me, not just for strength, but the moral support to get me through. How in the name of Arceus I would face Rye after this I could not think.
The Buizel bowed her head gently, returning to stare at the bars of the cell. “I’ll do what I must. I owe the Missionary that much at least.”
Jarre hauled himself through a grate after Codan and Dash, the latter of which neglecting to help when he got stuck. He muttered irritably under his beak, but followed in silence none-the-less.
They had been in the Marble City for a few hours now, but had not yet made an appearance before Virok at the Missionary. At their moment of arrival Dash had drawn them aside. He had said he sensed something wrong within the confines of the Missionary, but could not fully determine what it was. When Jarre had questioned how he knew, the Sneasel merely replied that he had been with Tali for quite some time to know when she was in danger. He suggested they keep to the back alleys until dark and find a way in through one of the many underground passages.
Dash was now to be their leader in the expedition, and Jarre was not happy about it at all. For one, he didn’t trust the Sneasel with a single feather in his body. Two, he couldn’t be sure if any of it was true, or if a trap was laying in wait for them as well. There was nothing for it but to follow Dash and hope that he would guide them safely. Jarre snorted as his eyes caught the back of the Sneasel. He would never place his trust in him after what he did. Likely the Sneasel would do the same.
“Hold it.” Dash stuck out a paw to the side and motioned for them to be quiet.
Guards no longer patrolled the underground tunnels of the city, or they weren’t meant to, but something was clearly coming their way. The Torchic strained his ears to hear what the Sneasel did. His feathers stood on end as a scraping sound grew closer, just around a corner to their left. The footsteps weren’t heavy; it was obviously a smaller Pokemon. But it was more trouble they didn’t need. And what was worse, there were no indents within the wall to hide; so the three were stuck in the centre of the tunnel. Wide open.
Jarre crouched low to the ground, Codan towering over him. If anything, at least the Dragonite could provide decent protection. Better to provide a counter-attack. Dash stood at point, claws arched, ready for a deft assault if need be. But as the footsteps seemed to be upon them, they stopped, barely inches from where they stood. Though whoever, or whatever, it was, was still hidden from view.
“Come out, Sneasel. I know your scent; I know you’re there.”
Jarre’s eyes widened in surprise. It was the voice of a female, rasp and cool sounding. Was she talking to Dash? She must have been for he was the only Sneasel here that he knew of.
In answer to the Pokémon’s call, Dash lowered his claws and hesitantly stepped forward, ignoring Codan as he reached out towards him. The Sneasel seemed surprised himself, as if he couldn’t be sure who it was that spoke to him. “What are you doing here?” he questioned, lowering his brow. “No one has seen you since…” The Sneasel trailed off and covered his mouth with a claw, speaking through it slowly. “I mean…you were announced dead. And you just show up now?”
The female Pokemon snorted in derision at his words. “’And I just show up now’”? What’s that supposed to mean? I’ve been hiding, trying to survive in secrecy, for mostly my entire life and that’s how you greet me? You haven’t changed at all, Dash. As arrogant as ever.”
Dash’s fur bristled. “Excuse me?!” he cried out to the Pokemon, taking a step forward. “I have actually been worried about you, as hard as that might be for your pea-sized brain to understand!”
“MY WHAT?” The female Pokemon rounded the corner and glared up at Dash with a blood-red gaze. She glanced around at the three Pokemon with contempt before her eyes swivelled back to Dash. “Who are these two? I don’t see your little orange girlfriend amongst them.”
Dash huffed and raised himself to his full height, thinking how glad he was Tali wasn’t with them right now. She would have cross-chopped the little Pokemon straight to the Farplane. “Tali is not my girlfriend, and these two are friends of the Light Pokemon.” The Sneasel lowered his voice, glancing around to be sure no one else was there before he spoke. “We’ve come with the Light Pokemon to gain the aide of the Missionary.”
The Pokemon before them was silent as she seemed to ponder this. After a few moments, however, the tunnel erupted loudly with laughter. “You’re kidding, right? Even if I believed this fabled Light Pokemon was with you, Virok would have her bound in chains before agreeing to help her. Maybe not even then. Don’t tell me you’ve been away so long you have forgotten what he’s like. What he…”
“No, no, I haven’t forgotten.” Dash intervened quickly.
“Then why did you allow the Light Pokemon to come here?” she questioned. “You know what he’s capable of, so why lead her directly into danger?”
“I couldn’t be sure!” Dash hissed. “She was so adamant to come, I just…”
The Pokemon sighed. “You let a pretty face walk over you again?”
“That is NOT it!” The Sneasel stomped a claw on the ground, turning his head away from her. “Besides, Tali and a Houndoom called Lani are with her. She’ll be alright.”
Again, silence passed throughout the stone walls of the tunnel. Dash turned his head back to the small Pokemon and frowned. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“Rakai is here.”
Every hair molecule within the Sneasel’s body shivered, as if laced with ice. He cursed that name; he hated that name. It was the very reason Tali acted how she was. “Tali, she’s…”
“In trouble.” Dash’s sentence was finished for him.
“I-I have to get to her at once.” The Sneasel turned to Jarre and Codan, both of whom wore puzzled expressions. “I’m sorry I don’t have time to explain everything to you. Just know that it is not safe for us right now. Remain hidden in the shadows until you reach the Missionary, and even then. Under no circumstances are you to confront Virok or anyone else. I have to find Tali. You two focus on finding Zanna. We can meet up after that.”
Jarre looked up at Dash with a glare on his face, clearly not buying any of the words he said. “I can’t trust you, Sneasel.”
“Look,” Dash sighed. “If there was one time in your life I needed you to trust me it’s now. If you don’t do as I say we could all end up dead – or worse. Now just go find Zanna.”
“Be aware,” the little Pokemon chipped in, glancing at the other two, “that there are also dark forces at work here. There will be Dark Pokemon. You two had best take care of yourselves.” She turned without waiting for a reply and raced off down a tunnel adjacent to the one they were now in.
Dash nodded his head brusquely and followed her at a steady pace. Before long the two had abruptly disappeared, swallowed by the shadows surrounding them.
Jarre looked up at Codan who blinked once in response. “Great, more Dark Pokemon. As if one erratic Elekid wasn’t enough.” Then he cursed himself and bit his tongue, changing the subject. “Codan, do you think Zanna is alright? Did she know?”
The Dragonite merely shook his head. “I don’t know how much she knew, but I’m certain she knew something was wrong. Always taking burdens by herself when she would be better off sharing them with others.” A slight smile graced his face. “Your friend is as stubborn as she is deadly. But there’s no time to waste here. We have to find her before anything happens. We can figure out where to go from there when everyone is safe.”
“Alright. Lead the way.” The Torchic took a deep breath and followed in Codan’s wake, thinking to himself. Whatever thoughts ran through his head right now were scrambled and unclear, but… “That Pokemon…I think we’ve met before.”
It was dark within the confines of the Missionary; much darker than it had been when she left. And it wasn’t just the absence of lights that caused the thought. She could almost sense the trouble rising as a sixth sense. She was always attuned to such things these days; she had to be if she was going to survive. In all her life there was but one memory she cursed, one memory she could never forget.
The green Pokemon shook her head lithely, sliding through a narrow hallway into the dungeon. This was where her worst fears had first come to fruition. The many Pokemon that had been housed within the holding cells had been great. All their cries came back to greet her as she slinked through the darkness towards the light at the end of the hall.
Left, right, but there was no one. It was only the eerie sounds that made her shudder. She was much too wary these days, spooked. It had caused her to do accidental harm to civilians. But she could hardly be blamed for that.
As the light grew closer, brighter, the green Pokemon picked up the sound of voices from the far holding cell. Female. Two. For a moment she closed her eyes, reaching out with her mind to sense the Pokemon. They were small, and she was sure one was the Light Pokemon she had been told was here. It was madness if Virok thought he could keep her cooped up. She didn’t belong here, she was meant to fight Deoxys! The old fool really had lost his senses.
With a last step she halted in front of the murky grey bars and stared within. Two dim silhouettes appeared before her, and both glanced up immediately at her arrival. One was a Buizel, the other a Pikachu. The Light Pokemon. However, she turned her gaze to the Buizel, a spark of recognition slowly lighting in her eyes. She never thought…
“Well, well. It’s been a long time, Tali.” She opened her mouth to greet the Pokemon gruffly.
The Pikachu glanced at the Buizel who warned with her eyes to keep silent, that she was not deadly. Not yet, at least. The slightest trace of a smile played about her lips as she spoke, though somewhat coldly.