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Old 10-25-2010, 12:07 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Fifteen Now Posted]


They put a fair amount of distance between themselves and where they had parted ways from the snorunt, stopping at Oth’s signal at the point where the path first branched. There, they positioned themselves just within one of the tunnels leading out from the fork, simultaneously watching over the chamber that was the furthest point from Virc-Dho through which all people going there must pass and the tunnel behind them. They waited there for a time, giving the guild members within the border cavern a chance to deal with what had just run into their midst.

Solonn gazed out over the heads of those who were in front of him in the general direction from whence the party had come. He hoped as he stared into the presently empty chamber that the children had indeed gotten safely into the figurative hands of the Security Guild and were now being reunited with their families, or at least that they would be reunited with them soon.

Then it finally, truly hit him that some of them might not have families to return to any longer, and he turned away involuntarily as another wave of heartsickness rolled over him.

Eventually, <It should be all right to proceed now. Zilag, are you ready?> Oth asked, at which Zilag nodded from just inside the entrance to the cavern just in front of them. There was a flash of light in the claydol’s eyes that signified its connection with Zdir being broken, followed almost immediately by another that signified a new link being forged with Zilag. <It is done,> Oth told Zilag. <We are now connected.>

Telling him this seemed somewhat unnecessary to Zilag; he was sure that he had sensed, in some way, something entering his perception but staying just out of reach. It struck him as being rather like a memory that he couldn’t quite recall, with one difference: he could tell that it was most definitely not of his own mind.

Trying not to let that alienness distract him too much, he instead opted to test the connection. <Can you hear this?> he asked.

<Technically no, but I am receiving your message.>

Zilag couldn’t help but nearly laugh, wondering if Oth had actually intended any joke there. <Guess it’s time for me to head out, then, huh?> he asked.

<Yes,> Oth responded.

<Okay.> Zilag acknowledged, but didn’t depart right away. He held the rest of the party in his gaze for a few moments more, seeing varying degrees of concern and unspoken well-wishes in the faces there, with the eyelight particularly unsteady and the brows drawn tightly together on the largest face that he beheld. <Tell them goodbye for me,> Zilag said. <And tell them not to worry too much about me; I’ll take care of myself. You all just concentrate on taking care of yourselves, okay?>

Oth relayed the message, drawing acknowledging nods from the other party members. Satisfied as he could be that he was ready to part ways with them, Zilag then turned away and began making his way back toward the warren alone.

<There may well still be Security Guild members in the border cavern when you arrive there,> Oth told him as he traveled, <even if the ones whom we saw going in earlier have gone further on inside since the children joined them. Zdir believes that there may now be guards posted at the entrance and that it is to them whom the guild members we saw were speaking.>

Zilag absorbed this with very little surprise; he had been steeling himself as best as he could to have to deal with Security Guild members ever since Zdir had spoken to him of the interest that they might have in him. <So I should probably just expect that there will be, then. But I shouldn’t act like I expected to find them there if there are.>

<Correct,> Oth responded.

<Okay, then… They’re probably gonna want to know what I’ve been up to out here, right?>

<Most assuredly. You are advised to tell them that you had gone out hunting.>

<Yeah, that’s what I’d planned to do,> Zilag said. He’d been rehearsing the lie in his head from time to time since the evening prior. He just hoped to all gods that if anyone had been questioning Hledas in his absence, she hadn’t told them anything that would clash with his story. <I’m gonna tell them I couldn’t find anything, though. I just don’t trust my stomach to keep quiet enough for them to believe me otherwise. Gods, I can’t wait to get some real food again…>

It wasn’t long before Zilag found himself approaching the barrier at the entrance; <All right, I’m here,> he sent back to Oth. It appeared that there were indeed guards posted there; three glalie hung in midair before the barrier, and while none of them made a move to intercept him, their eyes followed him keenly as he drew nearer.

Hoping that he looked sufficiently surprised to see them there, “Uh… what’s going on?” he asked of them as he came to a stop a couple of feet in front of them, wearing a perplexed frown.

None of the guards answered the question, at least not right away. “How long have you been out?” one of them asked, though not harshly. “And what have you been doing?”

Zilag had expected to be hit with questions upon his arrival, though the fact that he’d managed to get a question in first did surprise him somewhat. “Too long,” he answered, half-sighing. “I was out hunting… or rather trying to. Went out late the night before last and found not a damned thing since. Had to sleep out there and everything.”

There was a moment of silence and a very brief look exchanged amongst the guards. “You’re lucky to have woken up,” another of the guards said seriously. “The steel creature and the psychic escaped while you were gone.”

Zilag’s eyes widened dramatically. “What?! Oh gods, my family…” he said at once. “Are they all right? I need to get in there—”

He’d made a move toward the barrier as he’d spoken, trying to vaporize it as he did so, but the barrier remained fully intact, and the guards moved in unison to block him. “Your family is fine, I assure you,” the second guard said. “There have been no further attacks since the prisoners escaped.”

Zilag didn’t have to fabricate the relief that showed through his features at this. “Oh, thank the gods…” he murmured.

“Now, I’m sorry you weren’t successful in your hunt,” the first guard spoke up then, “but we’re going to have to ask that you not go out and try again on your own, at least not anytime soon, all right? It’s not safe for just anyone to travel alone right now. You’ll need to go with the next hunting party.”

“Okay,” Zilag said, nodding, “okay.” He looked questioningly at the barrier, hoping that he would be let in soon. He wasn’t altogether certain that the guards were buying his story, and every moment he spent with them made him ever so slightly less comfortable around them. He was somewhat grateful for his unease, though, and didn’t make any real effort to hide it at this point, hoping that any nervousness that was showing could be interpreted as a reaction to having just learned about the escape.

The barrier vanished, but before he could enter the warren, “I’m going to be going home with you, all right?” the first guard said. “Like I said, it’s not safe for just anyone to travel alone right now.”

Zilag nodded in acceptance, unsurprised and figuring that he had no real choice in the matter anyway, especially given that the guard seemed to have decided on his destination for him. He only hoped that by “going home with you”, the guard simply meant that he would be escorting Zilag back to his family’s place of residence and not staying with them for any length of time.

Zilag entered Virc-Dho, his escort following, the barrier immediately reforming behind them once they were past it. <I’m being escorted home,> he told Oth. <Looks like Zdir was right about them not wanting to leave me entirely alone. They haven’t acted blatantly suspicious of me yet, though—not that I imagine they would, of course. They’re just claiming concern for me, what with the escape and everything.>

<There does remain a chance that they genuinely do not suspect you,> Oth responded. <Still, remain cautious. Continue to do as you have been advised and you may yet avoid trouble.>

Zilag heard the guard behind him draw a rather deep breath and felt something inside him tense as if anticipating a strike, but the guard only spoke. “I’m afraid I have something to tell you that you’re not gonna want to hear,” he said.

Zilag stopped, careful not to turn to face his escort too quickly, and fixed him with a troubled look. “Oh?”

The guard sighed. “You’re friends with a Mr. Solonn Zgil-Al, right?”

There was no use in denying it; as Zilag had been told, the authorities certainly knew who associated with those whom they didn’t trust, and the fact that the guard had asked such a question seemed to confirm it in Zilag’s mind. He nodded.

“Have you seen him recently?” the guard asked.

“Well, I saw him at the service,” Zilag said quietly, “but I haven’t seen him since then, no. Why do you ask? What’s going on?”

“Well, we think that he might have been the one who freed the steel creature and the psychic. Now, I know you might not want to believe that, but there’s something you need to consider: if it was him, odds are he wasn’t doing it of his own accord. We think he’s under some kind of psychic control.”

Zilag cast his gaze to the icy floor, his brow furrowed, trying to look deep in thought. “This… this wouldn’t be the first time he’s run into trouble with something psychic,” he said quietly, slipping a hint of dawning epiphany into his tone.

“No, it wouldn’t,” the guard said. “We do have reason to believe that the same thing that took him way back when is responsible for what’s going on now. It’s even returned the children it stole, just like it brought him back.”

Zilag’s gaze shot back up to meet the guard’s, the light in his eyes brightening. “Really?”

“Just earlier today,” the guard confirmed.

“Oh, that’s good to hear…” Zilag said with a sigh of relief. He then turned back around and resumed his drifting. “At least something’s gone right lately…”

“Well, we don’t intend to let anything else go wrong if we can help it.” The guard’s tone suggested that he was trying to be lighthearted in his response, but there was also something vaguely affronted-sounding in his voice, which sent a little wisp of worry through Zilag; had he said something that he shouldn’t have? “Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that Solonn’s whereabouts are currently unknown and that if you see him—be careful, all right? He’s probably not himself, and he might attack you. If you see him, you should probably strike at him and call out for help right away. If it turns out he’s not being controlled after all, I’m sure he’ll forgive you if he really is any kind of friend.”

“…Okay,” Zilag said quietly.

Soon after, the two arrived at the Zir-Arda residence. “So this is it, huh?” the guard asked.

“Yeah,” Zilag answered.

“Okay, then. Stay safe, all right?” With those words, the guard backed away a short distance, but he kept his eyes on Zilag.

Figuring that the guard wouldn’t leave until he went on in—if indeed he did intend to leave—Zilag opened the entryway and passed through it, sealing it shut at once. Inside, he found Hledas holding a gaze that was both troubled and questioning upon him, while Ryneika chased a somewhat irritated-looking Kavir around the main room. The young child broke off her pursuit almost immediately, however, having noticed her father’s arrival, and she ran up to him with a squeal of joy. Kavir sent Zilag a smile, grateful to have been rescued from her sister’s pestering.

“We need to talk,” Hledas said almost inaudibly.

Zilag shot a look back at the entrance. He saw no light beyond it to indicate a glalie lingering immediately outside, but figured that the guard would know better than to be so obvious anyway. Not knowing for certain if his escort was still within hearing range of anything said in the main chamber, as well as not exactly wanting his children to be privy to the conversation, either, he merely gave a quick nod of assent and made for the couple’s sleeping chamber. Ryneika tried to follow him in; “No, no. Play with your sister,” Zilag told her, earning a groan from Kavir.

Once both Zilag and Hledas were in the sleeping chamber, the latter moved to hover directly at the former’s side. “Did you succeed?” she asked right into his ear, still using the faintest whisper she could manage while remaining audible.

“Yes,” Zilag said, keeping his voice equally low. While it was true that Jen was still brainwashed in Convergence, Zilag was still confident enough that the snorunt’s mind would be restored to normalcy and that the rest of the party would ultimately be able to go back and retrieve him to consider the rescue mission a success.

“Thank the gods,” Hledas said as she moved to face Zilag once more, “both for that and for your return, as well.” She sat down. “The authorities came in while you were away,” Hledas then said. “They asked questions, Zilag. They asked where you were and if I’d seen Solonn lately.”

Zilag swallowed, turning to look her in the eye. “Well… what did you tell them?”

“That you were just out hunting and that the last we saw of Solonn was at the service.”

The light in Zilag’s eyes brightened, and he had to bite back a miniature peal of laughter that threatened to break forth at the relief he felt. Grinning, he moved forward to press his forehead against Hledas’s. “Oh, thank the gods you said that…” he breathed happily.

“Well, what did you think I would have said?” Hledas responded as Zilag drifted back once more. “I already could have lost you as it was. Do you really think I’d have done anything that could have even remotely run the risk of getting you thrown in a cell if you did make it back?” she asked, looking somewhat hurt.

Zilag’s smile faded a bit. “No… no, of course I don’t.” He drew close to her again, his eyes closing, letting his forehead rest against hers once more. “Thanks for taking care of things. I appreciate it,” he said sincerely.

To Oth, he then said, <I’m back home. That guard who was following me may or may not be hanging around outside, but at least he’s not in here with us. I think he might actually trust me—don’t worry, though; I don’t intend to get careless. And Hledas did get questioned, but her story matches up with mine—and… well, I’m not gonna get careless with her, either. I’ve decided not to tell her about our little connection here.> It had occurred to him prior to being linked with Oth that Hledas might become mistrustful of him or inclined to go to the authorities with his well-being in mind if he was known by her to have come home with a psychic link that he hadn’t had before.

<That seems like a prudent course of action,> Oth said. <From what I heard of the conversation that you two held with Solonn, she seemed… somewhat more inclined toward believing that I was at all responsible for the recent tragedies.>

<Yeah…> Zilag said, with a touch of vicarious guilt in his mindvoice and a further shrinking of his smile, though he also found himself possessed of something of an urge to defend Hledas in that moment. <But again, it seems she’s already saved my hide once, so…>

<She most assuredly has,> Oth concurred. <It seems as though you really can take care of yourselves, all of you.>

A sense of pride washed over Zilag, and his smile widened once more. <It does, doesn’t it?> he said. Now that there seemed to be at least a bit more hope than before that he and his family would be able to carry on without any harassment to speak of from the authorities, he felt a fair bit more confident in such claims.

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 10-26-2010 at 02:21 AM.
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Old 10-25-2010, 12:09 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Fifteen Now Posted]

<The Security Guild appears to have shifted its focus from maintaining the silence of the witnesses to keeping an eye out for potential threats,> Oth said to the small crowd of glalie gathered before it within the deep chambers that were Grosh’s home. After taking some time to hunt and feed, the party had decided upon this location as the place where they would take refuge, at least for the time being, and they had been there for roughly half a day by this point. <Zilag and Hledas, as well as friends of the latter, have seen known witnesses to the attack going unescorted and have seen known guild members patrolling the warren, and I am told that guards are indeed now posted at the entrance at all times.>

“I’d figured as much,” Zdir said in the hushed tones that had become the norm for the group, nodding. “At least as far as the shifted focus is concerned, anyway. Now that his prisoners have escaped and Hagen’s been forced to let the people find out as much—to let them recognize that they need to be on the look out for trouble from other glalie, even if they are being led to believe that said glalie are merely illusions concealing something else—he’s undoubtedly well beyond the point of feeling that he needs to keep people believing that they’re in no danger.”

“But Zilag and his family still don’t know for certain whether or not they’re being watched, do they?” Solonn asked.

<I am afraid not,> Oth answered. <Zilag wishes to assure you that both he and Hledas continue to do their best to keep the possibility of the guild monitoring them in mind at all times, however.>

“Hm…” was Solonn’s only reply to that, sounding somewhat less than fully assured. He hadn’t really expected for either of them to be careless in dealing with the guild, or at least not for Zilag to be, but the notion of them possibly being watched like that still kept a degree of gnawing worry and a vicarious sense of indignation attending him.

<He also has mentioned that there are rumors of the Security Guild intending to increase its numbers,> Oth then said. <There has been no official word from the guild on the subject, however. It may only be wishful thinking on the part of the public.>

“Hopefully that rumor will prove to be true. I’ll admit right now that I don’t exactly have the utmost faith in the guild’s current ability to defend the warren. At the very least, a small pack of guards at the entrance isn’t going to keep the Sinaji out if they show up in even only a third of the numbers I suspect them to have,” Zdir said grimly.

“Sounds like they’d do best to just do away with the Security Guild,” Narzen mused aloud, which earned him a couple of sanity-questioning looks. “What I mean is, they should probably just train everybody to fight like they do,” he clarified. “Just make everyone one of them, basically. From the way you’re talking,” he said with a glance at Zdir, “it sounds like they’re gonna need damned near the entire warren to stand a chance against the Sinaji.”

“I don’t imagine that that’s literally the case,” Zdir said, “but I do agree that making sure that as many people as possible are capable of defending themselves is something that should happen, yes. And that, incidentally, includes all of us, especially since we still have more than just the Sinaji to be concerned about as long as we remain here.”

“Which is unfortunate,” Ronal said. “I for one would like to have the guild on our side, especially with their numbers bolstered. I would prefer to take the fight to the Sinaji rather than let them make another move against the warren.”

“Under those circumstances, that might indeed have become an option,” Zdir said. “As it is, though, we are still fugitives and accomplices thereof in the guild’s eyes. We may be able to seek out allies once we can be teleported from this place—then, perhaps, we can deal with the Sinaji. For now, however, I don’t imagine that most of us are truly ready to face more than a stray exile or a guild member or two. You all need to be made ready. You need to be trained to fight for your lives. We need to make damned certain that we’re all truly prepared to face whatever lies ahead of us.”


Next time: You’ll see. :3 See you then!

-Sike Saner

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The Origin of Storms

Last edited by Sike Saner; 11-29-2010 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:23 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Sixteen Now Posted]

Wow. Takes guts to go into the lion's den, eh?

Yeah, I agree. I'm trying to make my chapters longer, at least two or three posts. It's hard sometimes. I love reading your story, even if there are long breaks in between - such an interesting plot! You really out due yourself.
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Sixteen Now Posted]

Originally Posted by Grassy_Aggron View Post
I'm trying to make my chapters longer, at least two or three posts. It's hard sometimes.
Oh, no doubt. I've definitely found myself that if a chapter doesn't "want" to be *insert length*, it's almost like it goes out of its way to avoid being extended or chopped to that length. That's another reason why I tend to do longer chapters: they tend not to "want" to come out shorter anyway. X3

And aw shucks, thanks. I'm glad you're enjoying reading this so much. ^^ Thanks for reading and for replying, too!

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The Origin of Storms
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:20 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Sixteen Now Posted]

Chapter 17 – Safe


Pale eyes turned his way, and Solonn thought he detected a hint of weariness about them as though their owner were dealing with a tiresome child.

“Zdir… what if they hadn’t been Sinaji?”

No response, or at least none spoken. Her expression became harder to read.

“What then?” Solonn’s voice lowered of its own accord. “What would we have done?”

A pause. Then, “They could have joined with us if Oth had found them to be inclined and able to do so. If not…”

The lines of Solonn’s face sharpened, his eyes narrowing. Something turned to lead inside of him.

“If not,” she resumed, but then sighed. “I think you already know the answer, whatever you feel about it—and for what it’s worth, no, Solonn, I don’t like it, either. I would hope that any Virc who might find their way to us in future would prove to be no liability to us, but if not…”

She let it hang. Maybe it was that she couldn’t seem to bring herself to speak of it that stopped him from going off on her any further; maybe it made it easier for him to believe that she really did hate it as much as he did, or at least close enough to suit him.

He turned away, closing his eyes against the orange glow of the beams that were working to vaporize the lifeless intruders in the adjacent chamber, wishing that he could block out the accompanying sound and taste on the air likewise.

* * *

The days were starting to shorten again. The forest behind was beginning to change its colors, and the river far below was hosting a different set of creatures than before.

All of these changes to his surroundings served as reminders to the large, silver figure loosely coiled on the cliff of one constant that had persisted the entire time that he had been here in southern Mordial: throughout every day since, he had waited for the burst of golden light that would bring news of what had become of his family. That light still hadn’t come.

Grosh had feared for Solonn and Jen from the start, but had tried to maintain some measure of faith, some hope that the rescue effort had a chance in hell despite Zdir’s projection that their enemies outnumbered the search party several to one. He had known that they would largely be operating blind, scouring a network of tunnels that Grosh knew from personal experience to be vast and sometimes confusing, and that as such it could take quite a while for the party to return even if things worked out all right in the end.

But even given that, Grosh hadn’t expected for quite this much time to pass without seeing any of them again. And he had by no means forgotten what he had seen back in the Virc temple. Things could all too easily have gone horribly wrong, and he had no way of knowing for sure if they had.

He hated not knowing. He hated being kept across the sea while God only knew what was happening to the last surviving people in the world who meant anything to him. Grosh had never stopped wishing that there had been no reason why he couldn’t have gone with them. But he had, with no small degree of effort and despite recurring internal questions as to whether or not he was really making the best choice, nonetheless stayed more or less in the same area where they’d left him, not wanting to give them a scare with his absence should they return.

But his last drops of belief that they still could were starting to dry up. His waking thoughts were now very nearly as certain that something terrible had befallen them as his dreams had been ever since he had been brought to Mordial. His restlessness had grown as his faith had waned, and so had his hatred of the ones who had murdered Azvida and stolen one of her sons.

That they could have taken the life of the other—and by this time, Grosh couldn’t help but suspect to the point of near-assumption, they surely had—sickened him to his core. The notion that Azvida’s dying wish for her children to stay safe could have been shot down tormented him, and there came a point at which he just couldn’t wait around with that torment any longer. He had to act. Maybe it was too late to bring Solonn and Jen back to safety, but perhaps, somehow, he could make the ones responsible for that answer for what they had done.

He knew, though, despite the fact that his agitation was rising by the minute and threatening to fill his mind with haze, that he couldn’t do it alone. He couldn’t even reach Virc-Dho without aid, let alone attempt any sort of assault against what might very well amount to a miniature nation of glalie and snorunt.

Rising, he turned his back on the river and entered the forest, silently and occasionally not-so-silently cursing the noise he made as he twisted and crawled among the trees. He could hear the sounds of native pokémon fleeing as he made his highly conspicuous way through their territory, no more keen on interacting with the massive metal serpent than they had been when he’d simply been hanging around the outskirts of the forest. Just stopping someone long enough to hear him out about his need for transportation and support in mounting an offense against his enemies was going to be a challenge.

After some time, and with no real luck on his part in flagging down anyone who might be able to help him thus far, the forest thinned before him. Not far ahead, a dilapidated highway stretched across his path. He drew closer to it, sweeping a glance from left to right over its cracked, faded surface and the weeds sprouting up through its fissures. Where the road led, Grosh couldn’t exactly tell; it extended all the way to the horizon in both directions with no clear destinations in sight.

Before he had any real chance to decide whether or not he wanted to try following the road, a piqued instinct took hold of his attention. An elemental telltale was setting off a familiar warning that fanned out across his nerves in an instant, and it was accompanied by a light rumbling in the ground whose source was several yards off in front of him and approaching rather quickly.

Someone was coming, someone who might be of some use to his cause… or who might already be aware of his presence, unhappy about it, and intending to try and drive him off the hard way. Grosh moved a short distance backward from the disturbance, his eyes trained on it and following it as it moved despite being unable to actually see it at the moment, the end of his tail held up off the ground and shining even brighter than usual as he held an iron tail attack at the ready.

Once it was just a couple of feet away from him, whatever was approaching from underground decided to make a proper entrance. There was an upward eruption of soil, following which three fuzzy, brown heads popped out into the open air, blinking and twitching their noses under the sunlight. Almost immediately afterward, a section of the street behind the newly surfaced creature burst apart, scattering chunks of asphalt as a pokémon identical to the one who’d just appeared emerged.

“Oh, so that’s what that was!” said the second of the dugtrio.

“Certainly wasn’t what I was expecting,” said the first.

“Or, well, not the silveriness, at least. That I wasn’t expecting. But I knew he’d be big.”

“Oh, same here, same here.”

“But he’s not big; he’s huge!”

“I’ll say.”

“Could probably snap one of us up in two bites, I’ll bet.”

“In one bite, even!”

Grosh had no such intentions—he had even decided against bringing the iron tail he’d readied to bear against them, letting the steel-type energy dissipate—but as the two rattled on, he did find himself tempted to speak a bit less kindly to them than he might have otherwise, his segments twisting in impatience and a touch of lingering anxiety at the presence of the two ground-types.

He held down the outburst trying to shove its way out of his mouth, however, not wanting to scare away the only creatures he’d encountered in the area thus far who seemed at all willing to share his company. Instead, he merely cleared his throat to try and get the two dugtrio’s attention, though that still resulted in a deep, grating rumble that could easily be misinterpreted as a growl.

Thankfully, the noise didn’t appear to register as anything threatening to the dugtrio; all twelve of their eyes locked onto his in unison, and neither of the dugtrio looked terribly worried despite having been discussing the possibility of being eaten by the steelix mere moments ago.

“Hm?” the first of them said, cocking one of her heads. “Something you’re wanting from us?”

Grosh opened his mouth, but then: “Now come on, surely he can tell we don’t have anything on us,” the other dugtrio countered, his rightmost head turning to face the first dugtrio as he spoke, his other two faces still turned up toward Grosh. “Have you ever tried digging and carrying things at the same time? It’s not easy! I’ll bet Silvery here understands what I’m talking about; just look at him. Looks like a burrower himself, doesn’t he? Like a great big worm, don’t y—”

“My family and I need help,” Grosh cut in, his voice easily overpowering those of the dugtrio, who quickly fell silent at his interruption. “I’m wondering if you know of anyone who can get me to where our enemies are and help me fight them.” He didn’t imagine that they would be of much help themselves—however swift they were, he had his doubts that they could last long against a horde of well-trained ice-types and was prepared to dissuade them if they expressed interest in joining the fight themselves.

“Oh. You’ll want Valdrey, then,” the second dugtrio said.

“Oh yes, she’d be absolutely elated to help you out. Poor dear’s probably not seen a really good fight in years,” said the first dugtrio. “And she’s got friends all over; perhaps some of them’d be willing to pitch in, too.”

Grosh’s eyes widened and his head rose a bit further, but he made an effort to stop himself from getting too optimistic too soon. The dugtrio’s response seemed fairly promising, but there was no way of knowing just yet whether nor not this Valdrey person would really be as enthusiastic about joining his cause as the dugtrio had claimed she would be. There also wasn’t any way to know if she would have enough interested friends—if indeed the dugtrio were right about whoever they were referring to even being Valdrey’s friends—to stand any sort of chance against the exiles. His search for aid wasn’t guaranteed to end with this lead.

“Where is she?” he asked of them before they could get into another conversation amongst one another.

Both of the dugtrio jerked one or more of their heads back and to their right, toward the old highway. “That way,” they said in near unison.

“Just follow that path to Wisteria,” said the first dugtrio. “You’ll know it when you see it; humans used to live there.”

“Oh, now don’t assume Silvery knows what humans were,” said the second. “Doesn’t seem to be from around here; who knows what he has and hasn’t seen.”

“No, I’m perfectly well aware of what humans were,” Grosh assured them. “Thank you both kindly for your help,” he added, then made his way around and past the two dugtrio and set off down the road.

“Don’t mention it!” the first of them called out to the departing steelix.

Stone walls began cropping up to either side as Grosh made his way toward Wisteria. They soon rose high, higher than his line of sight; along with the way the road was now curving, this prevented him from being able to see where the path he had chosen was actually taking him.

Grosh hoped that the dugtrio hadn’t in fact sent him off in some useless direction—or worse, had pointed him toward trouble. It was only now, with the faint glimmer of hope that the dugtrio had put in front of him taking just enough of the edge off to clear some of the haze from his mind, that it occurred to him that the two ground-types might have been feigning their lack of mistrust for him in order to guide him into a trap.

He started to berate himself silently for trusting them so readily when no one else in Mordial had seemed friendly toward him prior to that point, but caught himself short. Come on now, don’t beat yourself up over it too much, he tried to placate himself. This might still work out. And you had to give it a try. You know you did.

The steelix carried on in the direction he’d been shown, trying to focus on the name of the person to whom he was being sent in case he needed to ask someone else for an audience with her. Eventually the stone walls shrunk back into the ground, and a cluster of buildings soon came into view.

It was then that Grosh realized that he’d left the dugtrio’s company before giving either of them a chance to perhaps tell him just where in Wisteria Valdrey was to be found.

Grumbling in annoyance at himself, Grosh slithered along the downward slope that the road took toward the city below. Now he had more asking around to do—he could only hope that it would go better than it had back in the forest.

Inauspiciously, the first few pokémon that caught his eye darted away as soon as they were sure his attention had fallen upon them, while others, remaining unseen altogether, could be heard scuttling away from him, evading him among largely empty and decrepit shops and houses and down slowly darkening alleyways whenever he tried to follow those sounds.

At some point, he faintly heard what sounded like a whole crowd of people gathered and chatting somewhere neither too near nor too far. Before very much longer, he pinpointed the source of the noise: there was a large, circular building up ahead, and as he got closer to it he could see a faded sign with a symbol on it that he recognized from his time as a trainer’s pokémon as a symbol of the IPL. He was looking at an old gym, he reckoned.

Grosh figured that if there really were as many people hanging around in there as it sounded like there were, then at least someone among them might hear what he had to say before they could get a chance to flee the building.

Granted, they were sure to know that he was headed their way before he got there, but he still hoped that being all cooped up in a large building as they were would impede their escape long enough for him to get a chance to make someone among them hear him out.

As he continued to approach the gym, trying not to move too fast in an effort to at least minimize the noise he made as he dragged himself along, he saw a sawsbuck emerge from it, using his red-leaf-covered antlers to push his way out through the large double doors warding the building’s arched entrance. The moment that the sawsbuck raised his head once more, his eyes met Grosh’s across the remaining distance between them, and he immediately turned tail and went right back in through those doors.

“Damn it!” Grosh spat, not quite under his breath. He was sure that now they’d have even more of a warning and more motivation to get the hell out of there, what with their apparent lookout letting them know exactly what was coming for them.

Nonetheless, he decided not to give up on asking about Valdrey at the gym. It could still work, he willed himself to believe as he kept on moving toward it. Hell, maybe this Valdrey’s in there herself. She doesn’t sound like the type who’ll run—not if those two were right about her, anyway…

Just as Grosh was about to reach the doors, they opened again. This time, three pokémon stepped out into the parking lot. There was the sawsbuck from earlier, accompanied by a rapidash and a golden-armored centaur pokémon that Grosh didn’t recognize: an aurrade.

Both the rapidash and the aurrade awoke little threads of elemental unease in Grosh, and the look on the former’s face suggested that the feeling was mutual between him and the steelix. The aurrade’s expression was a little harder to read; there were hinged plates of her armor covering most of her face, leaving only her eyes visible.

“Hi,” she spoke up crisply then, her voice resonating a bit oddly from within her armor. She clasped her hands in front of her waist. “Care to share what brings you to these parts?”

There was a faint sense of relief at the fact that these three seemed sufficiently uninterested in running from him, but Grosh maintained a degree of wariness; they also seemed like they might be well-trained, much moreso than the dugtrio had, and he wasn’t so sure that he could take them all on if they decided that they didn’t like what he had to say for whatever reason.

“I’m looking for someone named Valdrey,” he responded.

“Well, mission accomplished,” the aurrade said; Grosh saw the dark gray skin around her eyes crinkle in a way that made him wonder if she were smiling behind those faceplates. “Any particular reason you were looking for me?”

“I need help,” Grosh said. “Me and my son, and his brother, and their whole nation. They’ve got enemies, horrible ones. They…” He suddenly felt like a stone was lodged in his throat. “They took the love of my life from me,” he said, his gaze lowered. “They’ve taken many lives. And I don’t doubt for a second that they’ll take more.”

Valdrey cocked her head slightly. She cast a quick glance to each of the creatures at her sides; both of them looked somewhat less apprehensive toward the situation than they had before, but neither’s expression had quite softened completely.

“Sounds like they need to be taught a lesson,” she then said as she looked up at Grosh once more and folded her arms across her chest. Her tone was notably softer, more sober than before.

“Yes,” Grosh said, nodding. “But I can’t do it alone. I can’t even get back to where they are on my own—there’s an ocean and God knows how much distance in the way. Please… if there’s anything that you or anyone you know can do to help…”

Valdrey stepped forward, then made her way around the sawsbuck to the doors and pushed one of them open. “Come on in,” she said. “Let’s see what we can come up with for you.”

* * *
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:22 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Sixteen Now Posted]


A solid body was smashed against a stone wall. One of its horns snapped clean off, falling to the floor and rolling a short distance away. Ice cracked audibly, bits of it flying everywhere.

With the impact still ringing faintly in Solonn’s bones, he withdrew his horn from the side of his attacker’s head. He pulled back, panting, staring down at the broken form before him.

In the next moment, his victim dissipated into thin air.

“Well done,” Zdir said from nearby. “And that goes for you, too, as always.”

The other one to whom she was speaking was Oth. It had been puppeteering the “glalie” against whom, or rather which, Solonn had been training, just as it had been doing for him and the other fugitives in the months since it had volunteered the idea.

The ice dummies were conceived to reduce the amount of injury and thus need for recovery experienced by the fugitives during their training, though they did still continue to include some sparring against one another for the purposes of increasing their elemental power.

Though the glalie could manipulate the dummies themselves, Oth’s telekinesis was significantly stronger and ultimately proved better suited to making the artificial glalie move with the same speed and force that the real things used.

Oth was unquestionably grateful to be able to provide this service for them. Solonn was glad for it, as well, and not only because of its usefulness in training. Throughout all this time, the claydol still hadn’t regained the ability to teleport; being able to do another sort of good for the fugitives in the meantime seemed to be helping Oth to finally stop casting blame upon itself for this fact.

“I think that’ll do for now,” Zdir then said. “Back to the chasm, everyone.”

While Grosh had abandoned the place where he’d been waiting, the Virc fugitives and the claydol among them had stayed put for the most part, only venturing out of Grosh’s home to hunt.

They descended into the chasm a couple at a time as usual. Shortly after they had all made it down, <I am receiving a report from Zilag,> Oth announced, at which everyone gathered around it, awaiting whatever news it had to relay this time.

Thus far, the news had been largely good. Zilag’s reports from Virc-Dho told that the Sinaji had stayed out of Virc territory since the initial attack on the temple and the snowgrounds. The Security Guild had indeed swelled their ranks as rumors had suggested that they might, adding to the likelihood that the Virc might be sufficiently defended in the event of another strike. And while neither Zilag nor Hledas were quite ready to assume that the guild no longer kept eyes upon them, the authorities had avoided being overbearing toward them all this while.

After a few minutes, <A hunting party apparently had an encounter with two exiles yesterday,> Oth told the others. <All of the Virc survived. Beyond that, there has been no trouble among the Virc.>

“That’s good to hear,” Zdir said.

“Yeah,” Narzen said. “Sounds like two fewer problems for us to deal with.”

The fugitives had had to deal with some of the Sinaji themselves during their time up in Shoal Cave. They had had a couple of run-ins with them during hunting excursions, which had left a couple among their number with some new scars and had partially depleted their stores of the revival herbs that they’d dried and frozen.

On top of that, the hole in the ground that had become the fugitives’ erstwhile home had proven that indeed it wasn’t impervious to being found by outsiders. A pair of Sinaji hunters, having gotten separated from the rest of their party and lost following a skirmish with a gang of walrein, had stumbled upon the hole in the ground and opted to descend into it. They had been struck down almost as soon as they had appeared, and once they had been identified as Sinaji, their fate had been sealed.

Following the report from Zilag, the evening proceeded as most evenings since taking refuge in Grosh's home did, with the five glalie conjuring ice for themselves and conversing in lowered voices among themselves and with the claydol. At some point, “All right, let’s resume,” Zdir said, at which everyone who wasn’t already hovering rose and gathered behind her to begin filing back up into the cavern above for some more training.

She had barely begun to generate the ice platform for them to ride on when she immediately dissipated it. No one questioned her actions. They all heard the faint voices coming from outside just as she did.

The tension in the chamber where the fugitives now warily and watchfully huddled together seemed to harden the air, making it difficult to breathe. Solonn stared into the adjacent room, keeping himself as still as he could manage, his heart pounding. Its pace only quickened at the sound of ice slithering audibly down the walls of the chasm leading toward them.

As every other glalie alongside him did likewise, he tapped into his sheer cold ability and put it on standby, hoping to the gods that if it came down to his shot saving their lives, it would succeed. The rigorous training that Zdir had put everyone through in the past several months was intended, among other purposes, to put the advantages of the knockout attack firmly into their figurative hands, but both the Sinaji and the Security Guild were well-trained, too, and so there was always the lingering doubt that it had been enough.

The fugitives waited for their uninvited guests to descend sufficiently, and Solonn was less than fond of the suspense. He accepted it, though, understanding well why they waited. Zdir had explained how it was better to get a clear line of sight before attempting to strike, how it was preferable not to knock out whomever was generating the ice platform from below and risk the bodies riding on it crashing down before their innocence and what should be done with them could be assessed, how the intruders should be allowed to come down far enough to make getting back out and bringing knowledge of the fugitives’ location with them more difficult.

A silver of deep blue light framing the lower halves of gray-and-white bodies lowered into view. The eyes watching it maintained their color, the turret-hands pointed toward the approaching intruders holding their fire. No sense in striking at shielded targets.

And then there the intruders were. Just a few feet away, three glalie in a triangular formation and a fourth actually sitting atop their heads were staring with wide eyes behind protect auras that were due to fade at any moment.

“Wait, don’t strike!” the foremost of them cried out. “We surrender! We don’t want to hurt you!”

“Oth,” Zdir prompted, not missing a beat.

<We must subject you to a psychic scan to verify your claims,> it said.

“What?” another of the intruders said in response, sounding more than a little alarmed at that prospect.

But, “Fine, fine!” the one who was being carried said, nodding rather frantically, raising an unpleasant noise as the armor covering her belly scraped against that which covered the heads of the ones underneath her. Then, as a few seconds passed with apparently nothing happening, “Is it done yet?”

“No,” Zdir said.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” the intruder who had spoken first said, then winced slightly as if fearing that she might be pushing it. A second later, her protect shield fell, as did those which surrounded the others among her party.

“That,” Zdir responded, at which Oth drifted forward. The rest of the fugitives maintained their stare at the intruders, ready to strike again at any moment.

Oth rose and stopped in front of the glalie who was still perched atop her party members’ heads, and said glalie made a valiant but not entirely successful attempt at concealing some degree of unease at its presence. Solonn narrowed his eyes at her, hoping that her discomfort wouldn’t lead her to try and attack the claydol.

Meanwhile a faint and familiar discomfort of his own reared its head, but it was fleeting. The scan was voluntary this time, after all, and the awareness that he still might have to strike in order to save his friend at any moment was taking up too much of his mind to allow for much else to linger there.

Eventually, <Our visitors are Moriel La-Virj—> Oth pointed toward the glalie whom it had just scanned. <—Evane and Viraya La-Zyar, and Alij Van-Zaria.> It swept a hand from left to right over the other three as it named them off. <Moriel intends no harm to any of us, and from her knowledge of the others, it appears unlikely that any of them do, either. They are all deserters. They have all fled from Sinaji territory, and all of them have expressed strong disinterest in re-affiliating with them.>

Moriel watched Oth as it moved backward away from her, then turned her gaze toward Zdir. “…Can I please come down from here?” she asked tentatively. “This is really rather awkward.”

The set of Zdir’s brows suggested that she was at least somewhat deep in thought, but nonetheless she spared a nod for Moriel. Acknowledging this, Moriel extended a sheet of ice downward between Evane and Viraya’s heads, descending the ramp she’d just made toward the stone floor and then making it vanish in a cloud of vapor.

“You can come forward as well,” Zdir told the others, who did so a bit hesitantly.

“Will we need to have a scan, too?” Alij asked.

“Possibly,” Zdir said, “but probably not. For now, I’d like for you to tell me what finally convinced you to leave the Sinaji.”

“There’s something wrong with their leader,” Moriel said. Her response was met with a derisive noise from Narzen, which she ignored. “He hasn’t been acting like himself. Not since they were invaded. Some enemies of theirs got in and out without anyone even noticing, and ever since then… I swear, the leader’s gone crazy. He’s been babbling something about ‘repayment for the blood of the rannia’, whatever that means.”

“And something about the honor of the ‘Vanished Ones’. Maybe they’re the same thing,” Evane supposed out loud.

“Maybe,” Moriel concurred. ”All I know is that he didn’t even sound like himself anymore, and neither did the ones closest to him. And there near the end, before we got away, they were threatening us, threatening our lives. And they made good on it with some of us.”

“We’re not the first to try and get away from them,” Viraya said morosely. “Just the first to survive trying.”

No one said anything for a few moments after that. Then, “Understandable that you’d want to get away from such a climate,” Ronal said. “But I do find it troubling that knowing that these people had been involved in murders and kidnappings wasn’t enough to convince you that you should want nothing more to do with them.”

All of the apparent defectors turned to him with what looked like genuine shock. “What… When the hell was this going on?” Moriel demanded.

“Right before that invasion you mentioned. Are you telling us that you honestly weren’t privy to these doings?” Zdir asked.

“We had no idea,” Alij said hollowly.

“None whatsoever,” Moriel said. “You can have the psychic look in our heads again if you don’t believe us.”

“Sanaika and his gang have had a bad reputation in Virc-Dho for a long time,” Narzen said. ”Surely you knew what sort of people you were involved with from the start.”

“Whatever reputation they had down there is news to us,” Evane said. “We haven’t lived in Virc-Dho since we were children. Not since the humans took us.”

“So that’s what became of you,” Zdir mused aloud.

“You knew they’d gone missing?” Solonn asked, only for it to dawn on him as soon as the words left his mouth that of course she’d had the means to know such things. The Security Guild, and by extension the Council, had found out when he’d been taken. The same was likely true of all abductions, he figured.

“Mm-hmm. And I know the names of Virc-Dho’s exiles. None of theirs are among them. So,” she then said to the deserters, “I suppose when you finally got back here, you encountered Sanaika’s people first?”

“Yes,” Evane said. “A clefable brought us here—teleported us to just outside these caverns, under the sun. The Sinaji told us that Virc-Dho had become corrupt. That their leaders had been overthrown and anyone who acted against them was being attacked and driven out. There was a lot of fighting going on up in these caverns when we arrived, and the Sinaji told us that we were only safe at all with them. Since no one else seemed to win when they took the Sinaji on, we believed them.”

“They trained us,” Moriel said. “Trained us in case the Virc showed up and we had to defend our new nation against them. We made them regret it.” She smiled, but there was something rueful in it. “We had to use every last trick they taught us, plus spring a few surprises we picked up on the outside. It was just barely enough… well, mostly enough.” The light in her eyes dimmed considerably. “Wasn’t enough for Kanjara, but…”

“Well,” Zdir said at length. “We are willing to provide sanctuary to you if you’re willing to accept it.”

“Yes, yes of course,” Moriel said; the other three nodded in concurrence. “Thank you.”

“Now, considering the training the four of you have undergone, we would also appreciate it if you were to aid us in any confrontation with the Sinaji that we have in future,” Zdir told them.

“Of course,” Moriel repeated. She lowered her head slightly, averting her gaze. “It’s… the least we could do.” She shook her head and sighed. “I regret ever having had anything to do with them.”

“We all do,” Viraya said. “I would definitely have liked to have given them more of a… parting gift, but… well there were only five of us against nearly three dozen of them.”

“Three dozen of them and some unseen mind-controller,” Narzen said.

“I suspected as much,” Evane said, and she sounded distinctly uneasy. Her eyes shifted toward Oth. “It would explain why some of them have been acting so strangely.”

“The fact that we know next to nothing about this psychic, or whatever it is, that they have in their midst is still a strike against us,” Zdir said. “But the numbers of the Sinaji being as they are is welcome news. I had allowed for the possibility that there could be thrice the number you’ve reported.”

“It’s a good thing there weren’t. We wouldn’t have had a chance if…”

Alij’s voice faltered, a look of vaguely troubled confusion on his face as, from above, a strange, continuous grinding sound from above came rumbling downward through the stone overhead. Solonn, Oth, and Zdir, meanwhile, looked notably less perplexed.

Eyes wide, Solonn shot a look at Zdir, feeling a thrill of hope surge through him. “Gods, that sounds like…” He found that he couldn’t quite dare to finish the sentence. “Is it… could it be possible?”

<Conceivably. Perhaps he found a way to return somewhere in Mordial,> Oth said.

“What’s going on?” Evane asked, sounding a bit concerned.

Solonn stared up toward the wonderful, presently invisible possibility that had just reared its head, hearing the sound slowly grow fainter as its source kept moving onward. He’s not coming down here, he reckoned, suddenly unable to help further entertaining the notion that yes, he was indeed hearing what he hoped to be hearing. He didn’t doubt that they would still be able to track the source of the sound by its sheer loudness and catch up with it easily, but he wanted to know if he was right about what it was, and he didn’t want to wait. ”We’ve got to go check it out,” he said.

“Agreed. Come on,” Zdir said with a dip of her head toward Solonn, then led him into the chasm leading upwards. Solonn promptly set about forming the ice platform that would lift them out of there, his eyes blazing and his heart racing as he willed it to ascend as fast as it could.

Please let it be him, please let it be him, please…

The two of them reached the top, and the sight that greeted them halted Solonn’s thought processes at once.

There was Grosh… and there was a small, multispecies army alongside him.
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:23 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Sixteen Now Posted]

For a moment, Solonn could do nothing but gawk at the sight. Then, “Father!” he greeted him.

The steelix turned his head immediately, as did most of those who accompanied him. His face lit up like the sun. “Oh my God, you’re all right!”

The pokémon accompanying him parted as he turned and began making his way toward his son as fast as his coils could carry him. Solonn had begun rushing toward him in nearly the same instant and soon reached him. He buried his face against the steelix’s chest, shaking with joy and relief, and as Grosh gently brought his coils around him in an embrace, he felt tears fall upon his head from above.

“Father… how did you get here?” Solonn asked.

“That’s how,” Grosh answered, nodding toward a lanky, red-furred biped with a long, skull-like face and a black mane. “Quiul here was kind enough to help round up these people for us and bring us here.”

Solonn met the gaze of the mercirance to whom Grosh had referred. “I can’t thank you enough,” he said sincerely, the light in his eyes wavering. He’d had legitimate reason to wonder if he would ever see Grosh again, and now here the steelix was. And Solonn recognized that now he could perhaps also be reunited with some other loved ones from whom he’d been separated…

“Oh, it was nothing,” Quiul responded with as much of a warm smile as her face could manage.

“I do hope one of you will consent to a scan,” Zdir spoke up. Solonn looked up in initial disbelief… but then he followed her line of sight. There was a pack of unfamiliar glalie there. None of them looked particularly hostile, but that didn’t mean anything.

“I… what?” one of them responded.

“We’ve been under threat of attack from not only our own kind but collaborators of an unknown kind for months now,” Zdir said.

“Those guys are from Sinnoh,” the aurrade who stood next to Quiul said. “They’re here for the same reason we are: to make your enemies wish they were never born.”

“Valdrey’s telling the truth,” Grosh said. “She and Quiul spent most of the past couple of days getting these people together. I was with them the entire time.”

“I don’t personally suspect them,” Zdir said, “or you. But it would be irresponsible of me to not seek confirmation.”

“That’s fine,” said another of the newly-arrived glalie, drifting forward a bit. “I’ll volunteer.”

“Very well,” Zdir said. She turned an expectant look toward Solonn, who followed her back to the hole in the floor and descended with her.

“So what’s the situation?” Narzen asked them once they reached the bottom.

“We may have just received reinforcements,” Zdir answered him, “as well as access to teleportation and a safer place to stay.”

“Ha, excellent!” Narzen responded. Several of the others mirrored his enthusiasm in some way, particularly among the defectors.

“So it’s really happening, then?” Moriel asked. “We’re really gonna take them on?”

“So it would appear,” Zdir said. “But we do need to have one of them scanned first, just to be certain of what we’re dealing with.”

Wordlessly, Oth moved forward, accompanying Zdir and Solonn as they returned to the cavern above. Zdir indicated the glalie who had offered himself up for scanning, and the claydol went to work at once. <This is Roskharha Nharitas,> it eventually reported. <He is not of this region, nor has he ever been here before, and the same is true of the rest of the glalie who are with him. They are soldiers of the Hirashka people.

<These are allies,> it said, and there was distinct hope and wonder in the tone of its mindvoice. <All of these people—> It indicated the entire crowd of various pokémon gathered there. <—are here to try and deal with the Sinaji.>

Zdir looked back toward Valdrey and Quiul. “We’ll aid you in your endeavor,” she told her. “We and our new associates. They were formerly involved with the enemy and have already yielded useful information about them. They may have more to offer us all.”

Valdrey tilted her head back, making a faint, intrigued-sounding noise. “Sounds like your people and mine could do with a good chat.”

“Yes, we could,” Grosh agreed. “I’d like to know how you all have been holding up these past few months.” He cast a look down toward Solonn as he said this, one that told that he hoped for the best.

And not only for himself and for Zdir and Oth, Solonn was sure, but for Jen, as well. He tried to put on a face that suggested good news on that front—they had, after all, indeed successfully delivered him from the Sinaji, and he was, as far as anyone was aware, still someplace very safe. But he didn’t imagine that Grosh would be altogether happy about Jen having been left behind, and he suspected that the steelix was hoping to be able to see him tonight.

It’s all right, Father. We might still have him back very soon. With a teleporter available, they could indeed possibly retrieve Jen that very night.

Valdrey swept a glance over the room. “This doesn’t seem like the best place for that though. Mind coming back to my place? It’s safe and spacious.”

“That sounds fine,” Zdir said.

<I will go inform the others,> Oth said, at which Zdir nodded in assent. It drifted down into the chasm, and soon after, glalie began filing up to join the pokémon gathered above them a few at a time.

Once they were all up, “All right now, gather together, everyone,” Valdrey instructed them. When it looked as though everyone had, “Are we all ready to go?” Valdrey asked, at which everyone gave some form of confirmation that they were. “All right then, let's go!” And with those words and a burst of light, the small crowd vanished from Shoal Cave.

* * *

The fugitives and their new allies all reappeared under a night sky, but there was a degree of somewhat harsh, artificial light shining upon them from nearby, at which Solonn initially winced. Once he had adjusted sufficiently, he took in his new surroundings as best as he could given the fact that he was partially surrounded by other pokémon, some of whom were taller than he was.

But he didn’t have to see much before he realized that he recognized this place as the Wisteria gym in Mordial. He had been here before, back when he was traveling the world to spread word of the Convergence project. The gym had been lit by sunlight back then rather than by the few among its lights that still functioned, and there had been humans dotting the bleachers, watching as the gym leader’s pokémon raced each other for fun on the track that ran around the actual battle platform.

“Welcome to Wisteria,” Valdrey said as the rather tightly packed crowd began dispersing a bit, the eyes of some of its constituents sweeping the alien environment in curiosity or wonder or mild wariness. She stepped out in front of Zdir. “This is my home, and for as long as you have need of it, it can be your home, too.”

“Thank you for your hospitality,” Zdir said. She settled herself at the edge of the racetrack, and the rest of the Virc fugitives, along with Oth and Grosh, joined her there. Many of the other pokémon clustered off into little groups, as well. “Of course, I do have to wonder what inspired you to come to our former nation’s aid.”

Valdrey shrugged, spreading her arms wide. “It’s just the kind of thing we do. Me and most of these guys here used to do this kind of work all the time back in the days after the Extinction. I guess we just never tired of being able to lend a hand. Or, well. A figurative hand, in some cases.”

What the aurrade was describing sounded awfully familiar… “You wouldn’t happen to know an alakazam by the name of Sei Salma, would you?” Solonn asked her.

“Hmm… no, I can’t say I do. What about you?” she asked Quiul.

“I’m afraid not,” the mercirance replied. “Sorry.”

“That’s fine,” Solonn said, supposing that he shouldn’t be too surprised. It wasn’t as though Sei and her group of psychics were the only ones capable of deciding to come together and aid people in the wake of humanity’s end.

“So I take it you—” Zdir nodded up toward Grosh. “—found her, or the other way around, and she took it from there,” she surmised aloud.

“Some locals directed me toward her,” Grosh said. “But yes.” He drew in a breath and let it out on something of a sigh. “I… do regret not seeking help sooner than I did. I was just worried about not being there if you came back to where you left me.”

“It’s all right,” she assured him. “No real harm came to us or to the Virc as a result of your timing. They’ve been lucky these past few months.”

No sooner were the words out of her mouth than her eyes darted almost imperceptibly toward where the defectors were gathered together, and there was a hint of guilt in her expression. Solonn remembered Moriel mentioning one of their own apparently not making it away from the Sinaji. He could only wonder if indeed that person could have fared better had help arrived sooner.

<I would nonetheless have liked to have been able to have come back for you sooner,> Oth said. <Unfortunately, I lost my ability to teleport shortly after we rescued the abducted snorunt. We have yet to determine what caused this, and I have yet to regain the technique.>

“Hmm…” Quiul approached the claydol. “What you’re describing sounds rather like a case of spontaneous move deletion.”

Solonn’s eyes widened. That was a phrase he hadn’t heard for many years, not since the days of his involvement with the IPL. He’d heard of humans inducing the loss of techniques via artificial means for various reasons, and he supposed then that he must have been taught of it happening on its own at some point but had merely forgotten it.

“Can it be cured?” Zereth asked.

“I can’t say for certain,” Quiul said. “All I know is that it’s not within my capability to heal.”

“It might be within the capability of the people at the Haven,” Solonn pointed out. “And… we might be able to get Jen back while we’re at it.”

Grosh frowned. “You didn’t get them back?”

“We did,” Zdir said, “but Oth’s teleportation misfired and then failed altogether before the mind-tampering that Jen was dealt could be undone. He was left behind at the Haven.”

“Well then we’ve got to get him back!” Grosh said, throwing a glance at Quiul.

Solonn sighed. “It… might not be that simple,” he said. “Considering how long it’s been since he was left there, they might have come to figure that we abandoned him. Even if they haven’t, they’re not necessarily keeping him there. And even if we knew where they were keeping him, it might not be a simple matter to get him returned to our custody.”

Grosh stared down at Solonn all the while as the latter spoke, and Solonn knew that whatever was going on behind those red eyes, it probably wasn’t acceptance. Solonn wasn’t fond of the way things were, either, nor was he especially fond of the way Zdir had told him to approach these complications back when he’d first recognized and spoken of them. But ultimately, he had come to understand with and agree to them.

“If it is, it is,” Zdir said, addressing them both and holding the two of them in her gaze as best she could. “We’ll bring Jen here. He’ll be safe. If not… he is, as Solonn has said, safe there, too. Safer than the Virc are in their own homes. We should tend to doing what we can for them first. We mustn’t delay them that help for too much longer, and we mustn’t squander the time and generosity of our new allies.”

“I’m ready anytime,” Quiul said. “Just say the word.”

“Would it be all right if we could bring Zilag’s family here as well?” Solonn asked. “It would in all likelihood be a single trip.”

“Sure,” Quiul answered.

“See if they’re ready to go first,” Zdir instructed Oth.

Oth nodded in its fashion. A couple of minutes passed, during which a couple of the groups of gathered pokémon began conversing among themselves; then, <They are.>

“Very well,” Zdir said, and nodded toward Quiul.

The mercirance made beckoning gestures toward all those who had spoken on the matter of retrieving Zilag’s family and Jen. Only Solonn and Oth moved toward her, however.

“I… think I ought to stay here,” Grosh said, though he sounded somewhat regretful about it. “Jen’s obviously been through a lot since he was taken, and even though he knows about me, it might be a good idea for you to let him know well in advance that I’m gonna be here before he sees me. And… I don’t need to be in Virc-Dho again. Not even briefly.”

Solonn almost tried to reassure him on the first point, at least, but decided against it just as quickly. It made sense, he realized, especially if, gods forbid, Jen’s memories still hadn’t been restored and he had to learn about the massive steel-type all over again. As for the second point, he didn’t even think of arguing against it. Grosh would probably never be safe in Virc-Dho after what had happened, nor would he likely ever be comfortable there again.

“I’m going to stay behind, as well,” Zdir said. “There are a few things I wish to discuss with Valdrey; I might as well get to them.”

“I guess everyone’s ready, then,” Quiul said. “I assume at least one of you has been to the places we need to go?”

<Yes,> Oth answered. <I will transfer the memories to you at once if you wish.>

“Please do,” Quiul said.

As soon as the memories were transferred, “We’ll see you all later, then,” Quiul said, and then teleported away, taking Solonn and Oth with her.

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 10-08-2012 at 11:27 PM.
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Sixteen Now Posted]

Solonn, Oth, and Quiul appeared in front of the Haven after making a stop in Virc-Dho to retrieve Zilag and his family, as well as a stop back in Mordial to drop them off there.

Though the family had agreed well in advance to leave Virc-Dho one day, it was clear when the time had finally come for them to do so that they weren’t doing it wholly without regret. Oth had long ago raised the possibility that they could still live among their own kind, in some other nation, in the hopes that letting them retain some familiar element in their lives would make the transition easier on them, and the Hirashka had proven perfectly willing to give them a home in Sinnoh upon meeting them. But while they and especially Hledas had latched on to the idea, the fact remained that they were still leaving their home and their lives as they’d known them behind. As they had sat there, all at once in this alien environment and surrounded almost totally by strangers, their faces told that only now was the change that they’d chosen truly sinking in.

Solonn felt for them, and as he entered the Haven with the mercirance and claydol at his sides, he hoped that his newly displaced friends would be fully at peace in their new situation soon. At the same time, however, a good portion of his thoughts were trained toward Jen and Oth and the hopes, however cautious, that he would be leaving Convergence tonight with the former at his side and the latter in full possession of all its techniques once more.

The three crossed the lobby to the front desk, where a chansey sat watching them approach. “Can I help you?” she asked when they stopped before her.

<Yes,> Oth said. <We came here several months ago with eight snorunt who had suffered mental tampering. One of them was left behind when I involuntarily teleported before his treatment was finished. I subsequently lost the ability to do so, voluntarily or otherwise. We have returned to retrieve him, as well as to perhaps have my lost technique restored.>

The latter was even more of a longshot than the former, Solonn knew. He had recalled there having been humans who could restore techniques just as there had been some who could erase them, but he didn’t know if anything of that art had survived the Extinction. And similarly to the situation with Jen, if it was determined that it would take too long to restore its teleportation ability, that restoration would be postponed.

“…One moment, please,” the chansey said, and turned her sights downward toward something on her desk and out of sight. “Teresa?” she said to what was apparently some sort of paging device there. “Could you come to the front desk, please?”

Soon after, another chansey arrived on the scene. “You came back,” she said simply.

Solonn nodded. “We never meant to leave,” he said.

“They claim that something went awry with the claydol’s teleportation,” the chansey behind the desk said. “Something that caused it to teleport away with the others involuntarily and prevented it from coming back.”

“Have you been trying to teleport without any success all this time?” Teresa asked.

<Yes,> Oth said. <It’s as though I never even knew the technique.>

“Hmm…” Teresa’s mouth drew into a thin line. “We might be dealing with a move deletion here,” she said. “We can run a couple of tests to confirm it, but in the event that your teleport technique has deleted itself, I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do.”

<We had anticipated as much,> Oth said, though it still sounded a bit disappointed all the same.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to work this out. If you’ll follow me, we can find out.” Teresa began leading the way out of the lobby, and Oth and those who accompanied it followed.

When they reached their destination, Solonn somehow expected to find the same gardevoir there as he and the rest of his party had dealt with before. Instead, it was a hypno who stood behind that door, casting an inquiring look at them. Teresa explained the situation to her, then motioned Oth into the room with the hypno, closed the door behind it, and began ushering the others toward a waiting room.

“What about Jen?” Solonn asked as he and Quiul followed her lead. “The snorunt who was left here,” he clarified. “My half-brother. Were his memories ever successfully restored? Is he here?”

“I’m afraid the answer to both of those questions is ‘no’,” Teresa replied.

Solonn’s heart sank. He had dearly wanted what was done to Jen to be undone, and the thought that he would be greeted with confusion or disbelief or even fear whenever he finally reunited with Jen was hard to bear. Especially since it was now really starting to look like that reunion would lie further in the future than he’d hoped.

“Is—” He tried to remember the gardevoir’s name but failed. “Is the gardevoir here? Can I speak with him?”

“If you’re referring to Adn, then I’m afraid that’s another ‘no’. He’s not here right now and won’t be back before the weekend is over.”

Solonn sighed, vaguely wondering to himself what, exactly, he’d hoped to accomplish anyway in talking with Adn. “Could you tell me where Jen currently is, at least?” he asked as the three of them entered the waiting room, turning to face Teresa directly as he spoke.

Teresa gave no response at first. Then she took a deep breath. “He was declared abandoned,” she told him. “He was placed in another’s custody, and I’m sorry, but we’re not at liberty to mention whose.”

Solonn stared at her. That they’d decided Jen had been abandoned didn’t exactly come as a surprise to him, but he hadn’t expected to be barred from him quite so completely. “Is anyone?” he asked.

Teresa shook her head, insofar as she could. “I’m sorry.”

For a moment, Solonn couldn’t respond. The light in his eyes dimmed, and his throat threatened to close up on him. Then, “But… he’s safe, right? He’s being cared for?” He almost couldn’t continue. “…He’s happy?”

“I can assure you that he is,” Teresa said consolingly.

“…Good…” Solonn managed, very quietly. “That’s good…”

Beyond giving the two of them a quick rundown on where certain facilities were, she said nothing more to them before departing. Solonn watched her leave, then sank to the floor.

He heard Quiul sit down beside him. “This doesn’t mean you’ll never see him again, you know,” she told him gently.

“I know,” he said, though in a way it still sort of felt as though he definitely wouldn’t despite his knowledge that that wasn’t a certainty. “I just… wish I could see him with my own eyes. I wish I could really confirm that he’s all right… insofar as he is. And I wish I weren’t being treated like I can’t be trusted around him, for the gods’ sakes.”

Quiul laid a hand upon his back. “Someday this will all be sorted out.”

Someday… Solonn drew in a breath that shuddered slightly, hoping that she was indeed right.

Eventually, Teresa returned with Oth beside her. Solonn and Quiul both rose to greet her.

“I’m afraid it was move deletion,” the chansey reported once she and Oth had entered the room.

<It is all right,> Oth assured everyone present. <I do not need to be able to teleport.>

Solonn supposed that it was right, especially what with Quiul on their side now. Still, he would have liked for at least some part of their endeavors in Convergence that night to have been successful. “Thank you regardless,” he said. “and give the hypno my thanks, as well. At least now we know for sure.” Teresa nodded in acknowledgment.

“I suppose that concludes our business here,” Quiul said then. “Thank you for your time.” Oth joined her and Solonn where they stood, and then the three of them departed.

In the wake of their vanishing, Teresa stood for a moment blinking the lingering flash out of her eyes, then turned and left for elsewhere in the Haven. As she walked, she felt a strange sense of something being off, and not for the first time in the past few months.

She frowned at it, wondering if she should see Adn about it. But that would have to wait. For now, she simply carried on about her business, as did everyone around her.


Fakemon info:

Blade Pokémon
Type: Fighting/Steel
Ability: Battle armor, light metal (hidden)
Average height: 6'2"
Average weight: 505.2 lbs
Evolution: Aurcent -> Aurrade (Lv. 20 if attack and speed are equal)
Appearance: A centaur covered in gold-colored armor. What skin can be seen between the plates is gray. Its "helmet" has two bladelike protrusions at the sides that stick out in a V-shape, and there are hinged plates covering its mouth most of the time. Its eyes are green. Its tail is like a horse's and covered in long, golden hair. Shiny aurrade are closer to yellow-green and have purple eyes.
Additional info: Aurrade are able to generate and wield blades made of steel-type energy. They are one of three different evolutionary forms of aurcent, the others being aurrail and aurrow.

Wandering Pokémon
Type: Normal/Ghost
Ability: Healer, scrappy (hidden)
Average height: 5'0"
Average weight: 99 lbs.
Evolution: none
Appearance: A lanky, red-furred biped with a hairless opossumlike tail and a stringy black mane growing from its long, low-slung neck. Its face is also hairless and resembles a long-snouted skull. It has spindly fingers and rodentlike feet, and its eyes are bright yellow. Shiny mercirance are blue with a bit more of a greenish tint to their eyes.
Additional info: Mercirance travels about in search of sick or injured pokémon and humans to heal using its abilities. It is able to tell when a patient is beyond hope of salvation and their spirit is longing to be set free; the mercirance will usually help it do so in that case.

Next time: The Sinaji are paid a little visit. See you then!
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