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Creative Writing Share your fan fiction, stories, poems, essays, editorials, song lyrics, or any other related written work. All written must be your creation. Start a new thread, and keep replying to that thread as you add on more chapters. Anyone can join in at anytime.


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  #31  
Old 06-14-2009, 12:50 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13)

(CONTINUED FROM LAST PAGE)

Jal’tai winced. He then turned the most wounded expression that Solonn had ever seen upon the human. It did nothing whatsoever to bring down the fear and outrage that was growing clearer by the second in Solonn’s eyes. “Please, my dear boy… please… you must believe me when I say that I never wanted to cause you suffering. My course of action was for the sake of mercy, and, yes, it precluded your choice. For that, I am sorry, Solonn, sorrier than I could ever adequately express. But it had to be done. I need you, Solonn.”

For a moment, Solonn had nothing to say to the latios, remaining silent save for the rasping of his long, hard breaths, his shoulders trembling from the violence of his respiration. He merely maintained an unforgiving gaze straight into the eyes of the creature who had subjected him to this change and torn him from his mother element, feeling fresh tears making his way down his face as he thought once more of what he had lost. At length, he closed his eyes and allowed his head to sink to his chest, his hair almost completely veiling his face, and he remained this way for a very long moment.

Finally, he lifted his head and opened his eyes, and he turned an incredibly cold, penetrating stare upon Jal’tai, his brows drawn tightly together, the already severe lines of his angular face sharpening further. “You’re no different,” Solonn said, his voice uninflected save for the places during that statement where it threatened to break. “You want to use my abilities to serve your purposes. You seek to exploit me, Jal’tai, just like the humans did in Lilycove. You are no different from them.”

The latios pulled his head back as if the human before him had just taken a swing at him. His eyes widened dramatically, then narrowed sharply. “How dare you!” he hissed in outrage. “There is a tremendous difference between myself and those—” In lieu of a word, Jal’tai chose to describe the abductors of Lilycove with a short blast of acrid-smelling, sickly-yellow dragonbreath over his shoulder. “I,” he went on, his voice dripping with indignation, “respect you.”

“You respect me?!” Solonn said sharply, incredulously. “Is that why you’ve lied to me and subjected me to a physical transformation without my consent? Is that why you insult my intelligence by expecting me to just sit here and swallow everything you say after that?”

“Solonn, please…”

Solonn shook his head. “No, Jal’tai. There is no reason why I should listen to you, not when you’ve been dishonest from the moment we met.” The birth of a sudden suspicion flashed across his features. “Answer this, Jal’tai: if running the city required me to be made human, why didn’t the same job require that of you?”

“Because you can’t do this,” the latios said simply, and with another rippling shimmer, the dragon was gone. Sitting there instead was an elderly, goateed human man, one whom Solonn recognized immediately as the man pictured on the sign at Whitley’s.

“This is what the citizens of Convergence, as well as those with whom I do business outside of town, see when they look at me,” Jal’tai said. “And this—” He suddenly sounded the part of the old man, too, with the human language to match. “—is what they hear. To them, I am a human by the name of Rolf Whitley. Under this guise, I became a very important, albeit not widely recognized figure in human society. In addition to being the mastermind behind the Convergence Project, Rolf is also a very important senior member of the International Pokémon League. I could not have attained that kind of power and the resources that come along with it in my true identity as a pokémon.”

Jal’tai reassumed his latios form. “Now, under less demanding circumstances, I could simply apply a mirage to you, too. In fact, when we entered Convergence and when I brought you into this hotel, I presented you just as you now appear. However, the method does have its limits, limits that make it impractical as a full-time, twenty-four-seven solution. For one thing, I cannot maintain a mirage over you from a distance, and not much of a distance, either. You would have to remain within the sphere of my psychic perception, which in my old age is, I’m afraid, quite small. I think we can both agree that it would be quite impractical for me to follow you like a shadow everywhere you go, right?”

Solonn gave him a look that suggested that he was not even inclined to agree with Jal’tai on the sun being bright and the night being dark.

“Furthermore,” Jal’tai said, “it is not enough to merely look like a human. You must support the image you present accurately in the physical sense, as well. You must feel like a human. What if another human wanted to shake your hand? You would have to be able to offer one that he or she could clasp, one that he or she could feel. Now, while I am able to produce ‘solid’ mirages, as I use for my own needs in portraying a human, I’m afraid it is outside the scope of my abilities to project a ‘solid’ mirage over you and keep some kind of mirage or cloak over myself at all times. And it would be necessary for me to conceal my true identity somehow if I were to remain near enough to you at all times to maintain your disguise; again, being what I am, I must not let just anyone see me about. Furthermore… I will remind you of the fact that I will not be around to conceal your identity forever. Therefore, the only feasible way for you to meet those particular demands of this position was for me to subject you to the transfigure technique.”

Jal’tai sighed very heavily, lowering his head slightly and passing a talon backwards over it as if raking it through hair in another curiously human gesture. “Solonn… do you not recognize how very important it is to the future of the world that the Convergence Project is kept alive and running? This community must be maintained, for it is a shining example of the fact that pokémon and humans can and should live and work as equals, that anything they can do, we can do, too. It’s an example sorely needed by the world. The state of relationships between humans and pokémon desperately needs to be changed. Solonn… did you know that most humans do not realize—or else deny—that pokémon are intelligent beings?”

Solonn only stared back with wild eyes. His throat worked, but he did not answer.

“I didn’t think you were aware of that,” Jal’tai said softly, reading Solonn’s blank silence correctly. “It’s true, though. The majority of humans regard pokémon not as people, but as mere animals.” Potent vehemence rose up through his voice at those words, and it danced within his eyes, almost seeming to set them alight. “That is why they will only respect one of their own kind,” the latios said. “Hence the unfortunate need for our façades.”

Solonn was silent for a moment after Jal’tai finished speaking. He appeared to be deep in thought. Then, with a look in his eyes that spoke both of dawning epiphany and the prelude to a volley of fresh accusatory barbs, he said, “You said you needed me—me, specifically, because I have ‘the Speech’, as you called it…” A hint of disgust played about his features, telling of how he found the name that Jal’tai had pinned on his abilities to be utterly ridiculous. “You said that the person in charge of this city has to have this ability—it’s necessary because the person running this city has to be able to communicate just as well with both humans and pokémon, because the job requires you to deal with both, do I understand right?”

Jal’tai blinked in surprise, and then his features relaxed into an expression that looked equally relieved and impressed. “Yes, that’s correct,” he confirmed.

But to the latios’s surprise, Solonn shook his head. “No, Jal’tai. There was another way. Telepaths, Jal’tai,” he said. “Telepaths can make anyone understand them, including humans. How can you have not even considered this? You’re probably a telepath yourself!”

Jal’tai lowered his head slightly and sighed. “That would certainly be very convenient if it were a truly viable option, but unfortunately there are reasons why it cannot be one. There is no shortage of people in this world who are mistrusting, even fearful of psychics and the abilities commonly associated with psychics, including telepathy. Their insecurities and superstitions make those of any species who would have to rely on telepathy to communicate far less than ideal candidates. Convergence and its mission will not be accepted by as many as is needed by this world if its leader is one to whom so many would not listen.”

<Even with our measures to respect their privacy in place, many species still do not trust us.> Sei Salma’s words echoed in Solonn’s memory, and a twinge of guilt for forgetting the plight of her people struck him. At the same time, however, he found that he couldn’t help but also find sympathy for those who were wary of psychics—the notion of another creature being able to reach and affect his mind was harder for him to abide by when he thought of that latios having trespassed there so recently.

After a moment of desperate scrambling, his mental faculties managed to scrape together another possible argument. “The unown-script, what about that?” he asked. “Both humans and pokémon understand it—and everyone here is made to learn it…”

Jal’tai tried to speak then, but Solonn pressed on, something fierce in his expression. The human was now all too certain that he’d found proof that Jal’tai had not had to do this to him, and that certainty stoked his fury to new heights. “Any human who knows the unown-script could have been your replacement, and there are plenty of those here because knowing unown-script is mandatory here.”

Solonn’s face was contorted almost grotesquely by anguish and outrage at this point; he looked positively deranged. “You didn’t need me,” he said. It could have been any of them! You didn’t need me!” he cried, sounding almost hysterical.

“Solonn… you must get a hold of yourself,” Jal’tai said, sounding genuinely concerned for Solonn—however, there was also the slightest hint of a warning along the edges of his voice. “Calm down, please…”

But Solonn was inconsolable. “You didn’t have to do this to me! You didn’t need me!” he practically shrieked, spit flying from his mouth, his face red with fury.

Jal’tai let out a long, slow exhalation and met Solonn’s feral stare with an expression like that of a parent who has finally lost the last shred of patience for a child’s behavior. “I said, calm down,” he said, rising into the air to look down upon the human with displeasure. There was an ominous gravity to his voice that hadn’t been there before, a far cry from the jovial tone that he had once used with Solonn.

Jal’tai raised his talons, then brought them swiftly together and pointed them at Solonn as the latios’s eyes suddenly blazed with a fuchsia light. At once, the human’s eyes went massively wide with shock, and he began gasping madly at the air as if suddenly unable to breathe.

“I cannot have you losing your mind, Solonn,” Jal’tai said gravely. “Not when you have such a demanding future ahead of you.”

Solonn could only stare back in mortal terror at Jal’tai as the latios’s telekinetic onslaught continued, preventing his lungs from filling. His vision was failing, growing dark around the edges and hazing out of focus, and he could feel a smothering oblivion beginning to consume his mind. He was certain that was about to die.

But before he could succumb to the lack of air, Jal’tai relented. Solonn immediately took a massive, involuntary gulp of air, pain exploding within his chest as his lungs refilled themselves harshly. His body immediately slackened, slumping over against the dresser, his head hanging low. After several more sharp, gasping breaths racked his aching ribs, he weakly raised his head to look up at the latios, his face a pale, sweat-drenched mask of pure, primal terror.

Jal’tai regarded the former glalie with a potent, displeased glower. “I’m very disappointed in you, my boy,” he said heavily. “I had thought you would understand the crucial importance of this project. This is about something far greater than you, Solonn. This is about the future of our world, a better future. An equal future. Without our efforts, pokémon will never get the respect and dignity in the eyes of humans that we deserve.”

He set himself back down on the floor before the traumatized human, who immediately shrank further into the corner from him. The latios sighed, the sound carrying equal measures of exasperation and seemingly earnest sorrow. “You must accept your destiny, Solonn,” he said quietly. “You must realize that you were blessed with the Speech for a higher purpose.”

He laid a talon on Solonn’s arm in an attempt to console him; Solonn immediately flinched at the contact but didn’t have the strength to resist further. “Please, Solonn. This is a most wonderful and important calling that has chosen you… you should be honored, Solonn. At the very least, you should recognize that losing your head over this is not going to make things any different for you, and it’s not going to make things as they were. You must find the serenity to accept this. Please…” he said, squeezing the human’s arm gently, “do not make me have to pacify you again. I told you that I never wanted to cause you suffering, and I meant it…”

The latios sighed sorrowfully again and rose back into the air. “Now, to answer your earlier questions regarding unown-script—as I was attempting to do then, but you wouldn’t allow me to get a word in edgewise—it is true that unown-script is mandatory for all citizens of this city to learn. However, it is not required learning in the rest of the world. As the mayor and as part of the Convergence Project, you will frequently have to deal with outsiders, both human and pokémon, with whom you will have to be able to speak on their terms. A human who possesses the Speech is the only one who can speak freely to all peoples, to whom all peoples would listen. Hence you are as you are. It is as simple as that. So you see, I do need you, Solonn.”

Jal’tai cast a glance off to his right, toward the bedroom. “In time, I hope you will be able to see things more clearly. Until such time, I’m afraid you will have to remain in this suite. I will give you the code to exit the room using the transport tile when I feel you are ready to re-enter society as a human, and I will gladly speak more with you in order to help you prepare for your future duties, but only once I can be sure that you have regained your composure enough to listen to me. For now, though, I think you could do with some quiet time alone to relax and contemplate your destiny.”

Jal’tai’s eyes once again took on the fuchsia glow that accompanied his telekinesis, and once again, he applied the psychic force to Solonn. However, he merely used his powers to gently lift Solonn from the floor this time. Panic showed plainly on the human’s face; he desperately wanted to be released from Jal’tai’s telekinetic hold, but it was just too strong. He could not put up any sort of a struggle against Jal’tai’s power.

The latios guided him through the air, bringing him into the suite’s bedroom, then set him down upon the bed. “Be at peace, my dear boy,” Jal’tai said in a warm, paternal tone. He relinquished the light in his eyes and his hold over Solonn along with it. Then a golden light blossomed around him. A second later, it faded, and Jal’tai was gone.

Solonn lay there where he’d been placed, alone now but finding no comfort in his solitude. Jal’tai was gone for now, but in making his exit through teleportation, he had revealed that he could return at any time, without any warning—knowledge that only added to the miseries that had already been inflicted upon the human.

He felt a pang of anguish as he thought upon what he had become and what he could no longer be. With his identity and element gone, he was certain that there was now no returning to the life that he had once known. Even if he could escape from this suite, this prison, this city and the one to whom it belonged… what then? As far as he could figure, he couldn’t go back to anyone that he once knew, neither Morgan nor his own kind—or what had once been his kind—back in Virc-Dho. None of them would recognize him now, and he couldn’t imagine that they would believe that he was not as he appeared, that he was the pokémon whom they had once known, just trapped in a human body now…

Solonn moaned softly as if in defeat. Trembling, he drew his arms and legs up against his chest in a fetal position, almost as if trying to collapse into himself and disappear, and broke into tears once more as he fully realized the impact of this new reality. His life as he had known it was over.

_________________________

Next time: Jal’tai wants to begin grooming his replacement as soon as possible. His replacement has other ideas… See you then!

- Sike Saner
__________________

-=CHAPTER 17 POSTED=-
Banner by Saffire Persian

The Origin of Storms
-=COMPLETE=-

Last edited by Sike Saner; 10-18-2011 at 08:51 PM. Reason: Revisions.
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  #32  
Old 07-18-2009, 11:10 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eight Now Posted]

Chapter 9 – Anywhere but Here


Solonn lay listlessly on the bed, staring up at the ceiling fan above him as if mesmerized by the whirling of its blades. Through vision blurred by sheer exhaustion and an almost continuous stream of tears shed in silence, the sight before Solonn’s eyes was that of a shimmering vortex of light and motion, and part of him felt like it might just draw him right into it.

Hours had passed since the loss of his identity, his element, and his freedom, but he hadn’t regarded the time as it had crept by and didn’t mark the passing moments now. Physically, he was utterly drained, but his mind was host to too many troubles to allow him any rest. He still ached from the telekinetic punishment he had suffered at Jal’tai’s hands. His body complained of hunger, of lying in the same position for a considerable while, and of many other things. But lost as he was in barely-willing contemplation of his situation, Solonn somehow couldn’t really care about his physical discomfort or even truly notice it, for the troubles from within just seemed so petty in comparison to what—and who—now troubled him from the outside.

A voice from outside the suite broke the near-silence then, managing to cut through all of the other things that were attending Solonn’s mind. It was the familiar voice of Jal’tai. “Are you awake? I’d like to come in and have a moment with you if you don’t mind,” the latios called to Solonn from the hall outside.

Solonn didn’t respond, not even so much as to turn toward the voice that had just addressed him, but regarded what the latios had just said with a weak but nonetheless present derision. Since when do you care what I do or don’t mind?

“Prepare to receive a visitor,” announced the voice of the suite. Jal’tai was using the transport tile, Solonn realized. It seemed strange to him that Jal’tai would bother with such considering that the latios could simply teleport in whenever he pleased with no need to warn his prisoner before entering. Solonn didn’t cast even the slightest glance back toward the place in the adjacent den where his visitor would materialize, remaining motionless.

Once inside, Jal’tai drifted silently into the bedroom. He appeared at the edge of Solonn’s vision, and the form he presented was his true form; he no longer bothered with any disguises, any pretense. Solonn shut his eyes, curling up and turning away from the latios. A second later, Jal’tai set himself down on the bed beside him.

“Good morning, Solonn,” he said amiably. “How are you feeling today, my boy?”

Solonn gave no response.

The latios frowned; this was already not going well for him. “I wanted to have a few more words with you about what lies ahead for you,” he said, his tone considerably more reserved than it had been moments ago. He drew closer to Solonn, looming over him for a moment before craning his neck downward to look right into the human’s face.

“Listen,” Jal’tai said, something slightly authoritative in a paternal sort of way creeping into his voice. “I know this has been quite an overwhelming experience for you, but you are going to have to adjust to things as they now are, and preferably before terribly much longer. There is much that you will have to get used to, but I know you can do it.”

He lowered a talon and gently took hold of the human’s face, lifting and turning it toward his own. Solonn didn’t bother to resist the contact, his face expressionless as he finally looked at Jal’tai again through glazed eyes. Somewhere deep within him, a bitter, smoldering hatred was stoked at the sight of those red eyes, that kindly face, but Solonn didn’t dare to give audience to that feeling and allow it to take over despite being sure that it would be wonderfully cathartic to unleash his loathing upon the latios who, in his mind, thoroughly deserved it. He knew how dangerous Jal’tai’s displeasure could be and was very mindful of the fact that any voiced dissent on his part might once again invite that wrath and the mortal threat that had come with it.

“You know,” Jal’tai then said as he continued to hold his would-be replacement’s gaze in a very literal sense, “there are certain positive aspects of your current situation that I don’t think you’ve taken the time to consider. Perhaps they’ve simply failed to cross your mind in the midst of all the activity that must surely be buzzing about in there, or perhaps you didn’t even know such benefits existed.”

Jal’tai paused momentarily to allow Solonn to ask what he was referring to, but no such question came. Managing to at least appear unfazed by Solonn’s continuing silent treatment, he resumed. “I happen to know that you have a particular aversion to eating meat,” he said; this revelation of Jal’tai’s knowledge surprised the human slightly, but not even the shadow of that surprise showed through his expression. “I inadvertently learned this about you at the same time that I confirmed your possession of the Speech. Knowing this about you, I did lament then and do apologize now for having to make you partake of the Specialty of the House the night before last, but the fact was that you needed it in order to have the strength to endure your transformation.

“However, you need never consume meat again if you don’t want to. Humans are omnivores, Solonn. They don’t have to feed on the flesh of others; they can obtain their protein from other sources. Good news for you, wouldn’t you say?”

The notion of never having to eat meat again might have been quite appealing to Solonn under different circumstances, but he could not see such a luxury as being worth what his transfiguration had cost him. Through silence, he rejected Jal’tai’s appeal.

Jal’tai let go of the bright, hopeful look in his eyes at this point, his brow and mouth setting into hard lines. “Well, Solonn,” he began, his tone quite stern now, “if you can’t see the merit in this for yourself, I certainly hope you can at least be glad for what your cooperation will help to make possible for others. After all, when it all comes down to it, this isn’t about you, me, or this city, but rather the world, the future.”

Here he let go of Solonn’s face and rose from the bed, hovering in place above the human. Solonn immediately turned away once more, trying to ignore the shadow that hung over him.

“The fact of the matter is that whether or not you think you’re ready to begin your new life, you must begin it nonetheless,” Jal’tai told him firmly. “I told you that I must soon be replaced as the mayor of this city, and I wasn’t fooling around about that. You have a lot to learn, Solonn, and you must begin doing so as soon as possible.”

Jal’tai left the room then, leaving Solonn alone with the swarm of thoughts infesting his mind, including the newly raised questions he had regarding what else the latios might have absorbed from his mind—and the doubt that that absorption had really been accidental. He figured that Jal’tai had probably just gone ahead and opened his mind wide while he’d slept in that theater, leaving no corner of his brain unscathed by the touch of his psychic powers, taking advantage of the fact that his subject was completely powerless to stop him.

That was the way Jal’tai liked things to be, Solonn determined without a doubt: the latios liked to be in total control of any given situation, to have those with whom he dealt in no position to contest his will. That was certainly the real reason why he had turned Solonn into a creature devoid of elemental power, the human reckoned: so that he couldn’t really fight back.

It wasn’t long before Jal’tai returned. Solonn, determined once more not to look upon him if he could at all help it, didn’t know that Jal’tai was once more in the room with him until the latios spoke.

“It’s time you started growing accustomed to your humanity, Solonn, but for your sake we’ll begin with small steps. Here,” Jal’tai said gently, then lowered something in front of Solonn.

Only part of the item hung into Solonn’s field of vision since his face was half-buried in the comforter underneath him. All that he could see was a length of black, folded fabric; he couldn’t discern what the item actually was.

Jal’tai seemed to recognize that Solonn didn’t really have the best view of what he was trying to show him. He unfolded the item and laid it down directly in front of Solonn’s face. Solonn was now able to clearly see that he had just been given a pair of boxer shorts.

“You do know how these go on, do you not?” Jal’tai asked.

Solonn stared at the shorts. He did have a fair understanding of how they were supposed to be worn; the pants that Morgan had worn were fundamentally similar, after all, albeit longer. Solonn was almost too weary in both body and spirit to bother with the boxers… however, the events of the night before were still fresh in his mind, and the memories of the more painful of those events shone especially vibrantly even through the haze of everything else on his mind. He still feared that if he didn’t do as the latios expected of him, he would risk being subjected once more to that psychic punishment.

Besides which, the boxers did offer the restoration of a small aspect of his dignity, at least. Solonn tried with only scant success to focus on that point in an effort to convince himself that his next actions were motivated by more than just terror as, without a word, he stirred, shifted, and took hold of the shorts. Rather awkwardly, he sat halfway up, staring at them for a moment as he turned them over in his hands, trying to figure out which side was which. Once he was sure that he had it right, he put on the boxers, slipping them over both ankles at once and wriggling clumsily the rest of the way into them.

“Hmm… I’m afraid you’ve got those on backwards, my boy,” Jal’tai said, wearing an odd expression that only partially succeeded in concealing a hint of amusement.

With a faint sigh, Solonn removed the garment and put it back on, correctly this time.

“That’s more like it,” Jal’tai said with a smile and a nod. “Now, wearing clothing, even as little of it as you’re presently wearing, might seem strange at first, but I promise you’ll get used to it quickly enough.”

Solonn found that statement to be a little odd coming from someone who could just pretend his clothes onto himself. Besides which, the notion of covering one’s self was not one that Solonn found strange at all; as a glalie, he had kept most of his body covered in ice at nearly all times.

“All right, then,” Jal’tai said with a clap of his talons, his voice seeming to have regained its former brightness. “Why don’t we take a little tour of this lovely little place, hmm? You will be living in this suite until you are ready to take my office, and so you might as well start making yourself at home here. Also, you’ll need to get an idea of how everything works around here; this suite has everything you need in your day-to-day life, but that does you no good if you don’t know where and how to get what you need.

“Up you get, then,” the latios said. He didn’t bother waiting for Solonn to get up of his own volition, certain that the human had no intention of doing any such thing anyway. Once again, he employed his telekinesis to move Solonn, lifting him off of the bed and onto his feet. He then relaxed his psychic hold on Solonn considerably, keeping him standing upright but not prohibiting his independent movement otherwise.

“No need to worry, my boy; I’ll not let you fall,” Jal’tai assured him. “Now, I know that this method of movement is about as different as is possible from the levitation you’d used to get around prior to your transfiguration, but still, walking on two legs shouldn’t be entirely alien to you. After all, you were born as a biped, were you not?”

That much was true; in fact, it had been less than three months since Solonn had last possessed legs. He had gotten around by walking for nearly two decades prior to his evolution.

You’ve done it before, Solonn reminded himself in a continuous loop as he stood there, but that mantra fell just short of successfully building and maintaining his confidence in his newly gained human legs. They were, after all, quite different from those he had possessed as a snorunt, seeming almost ridiculously long and gangly in comparison, looking incapable of supporting or moving him. He was so mistrustful of them that were it not for Jal’tai’s telekinesis keeping him upright, his lack of faith in them would have certainly caused them to give right out from under him.

Again, though, Solonn was very mindful of the threat that lay at the end of Jal’tai’s patience. The latios expected him to stand, to walk, to follow wherever he was led, and Solonn reckoned that he had better comply if he valued his safety. Inhaling deeply, trying but not quite succeeding to avoid overanalyzing what he was doing, he took one short, unsteady step forward and then another. He stopped then, standing still as he finally remembered to exhale the breath he had taken, trying to will himself to at least appear to relax and seem sure even if he couldn’t actually do these things in earnest. With an effort, he lifted his gaze from the carpet to the latios hovering nearby in an attempt to signal that he was good to go.

Jal’tai seemed to accept this, nodding slightly with a small smile. “Good, good. Come, then, let me show you around…”

He turned to his left and drifted out of the bedroom, then cast a look over his shoulder and made a beckoning motion with a single talon. Unenthusiastically, but mindfully compliant all the same, Solonn followed. He tried to move a little quicker and surer than he had done in the first couple of steps that he had taken on human legs, but his faith in those limbs was still somewhat lacking, and it showed. Though he was successfully moving forward, keeping fairly close to Jal’tai (though the latios’s deliberately slow drift was mostly to credit for Solonn’s ability to keep up with him), his legs were doing nearly as much wobbling as walking. But Jal’tai kept him steady, sustaining his telekinetic hold on the human to support him through his every step, no matter how unstable those steps might be.

He was led by the latios into the den, where there were especially many of those draconic statues. Solonn quickly found himself rather disliking their blithe expressions, the way they smiled as if they approved of what had been done to him. He was shown over to the green armchair next to which he had awakened on his first morning as a human and had witnessed the revelation of Jal’tai’s true identity.

Smiling, Jal’tai motioned for the human to come and stand beside him, the latios gesturing with his other talon toward one arm of the chair as he did so. Apparently, this was something that Jal’tai regarded as noteworthy, though Solonn couldn’t fathom why. He came to stand at Jal’tai’s side, trying once he did so not to shift about too conspicuously despite his unease around the latios.

“Have a look at this,” Jal’tai said as he laid a talon upon the arm of the chair, its soft surface yielding slightly as he clutched it. He then pulled upward on it, doing so slowly to ensure that the human at his side could clearly see what he was doing. The arm of the chair opened on an unseen hinge, revealing a previously hidden compartment from which the latios pulled out a small, silver device.

“This is the remote control for your entertainment system,” Jal’tai told him. “In case you’ve not seen one of these in use, observe.” He drifted over to a large oak armoire against the wall and opened it, revealing a television, a DVD player, and a CD player surrounded by speakers. Jal’tai then returned to Solonn’s side and pointed the remote at the devices.

“Pay close attention, now,” Jal’tai instructed, and indicated first one of the remote’s buttons and then another. He repeated this action a couple of times, seeming intent on making sure that Solonn memorized the sequence, then pushed the two buttons in succession. The CD player came awake with golden LED numbers, and a split-second later, a light, jazzy tune began issuing from the speakers.

Jal’tai allowed the music to play for a few moments, seeming to enjoy it as he listened, smiling slightly, his eyes closed. He then shut the music off, making certain to let Solonn see how he did so.

“If you’re not in the mood for music, you could always enjoy what the television has to offer,” the latios said, then demonstrated how to turn the television on. The screen lit up with an image of a human in a brightly colored suit and tie who was standing in front of a brown car while shouting about being crazy and about offering the lowest prices in Hoenn.

“You’ve got three hundred and fifty-one channels to choose from. These arrows here—” He indicated two more of the remote’s buttons. “—will let you cycle up and down through them one at a time, or you can go straight to a channel by inputting its number with the numeral buttons. I’m sure you’ll memorize the numbers of the good ones quickly enough…” He cast a brief glance back at the television, where a different human was pictured offering the secret to shed excess weight around the hips, thighs, and buttocks; Jal’tai regarded the commercial with an odd look before turning back to Solonn.

“I’ll admit, most of those channels are pure rubbish around the clock,” he said almost apologetically, “but there are also a couple of real quality stations—they’re broadcast from right here in Convergence,” he informed Solonn, his tone colored with unmistakable pride on the last statement. He changed the channel again, and this time images of pokémon rather than humans appeared on the screen. A ledian was seated behind a desk. Beside him, a small image appeared of three smeargle being led out of a building by a medicham in a police uniform and two houndoom with badges affixed to collars around their necks.

“Police have finally apprehended the vandals responsible for defacing storefronts downtown on multiple occasions,” the ledian anchorman reported, while at the bottom of the screen, his words were displayed in unown-script subtitles for the benefit of human viewers. “Whether these individuals were actively trying to claim territory or were merely acting toward their own amusement remains unclear, but the CPD has issued a statement saying that whatever their motives might have—”

Jal’tai turned off the television, then replaced the remote control in its storage compartment within the arm of the chair. “There’s something else I have to show you with regards to the television, but let’s finish having our look around first, shall we?”

Last edited by Sike Saner; 07-30-2010 at 07:44 PM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:11 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eight Now Posted]

The latios departed the den, and Solonn shuffled out after him with a final glance back at the now dark and lifeless television screen. He wasn’t particularly impressed with it; he was already somewhat familiar with television, having watched it with Morgan a couple of times back when he was still small enough to be kept indoors. Even then, though the ability of that device to reproduce images and sounds even more faithfully than one’s own memory could do was certainly an incredible achievement in his eyes, what he’d seen of its programming had fallen short of appealing to his tastes. Under normal circumstances, the idea of the stations this city boasted, run by pokémon for pokémon, might have been fairly intriguing to him. But again, these were far from normal circumstances.

Solonn was guided next into a walk-in closet. It was fairly long and wide enough to admit Jal’tai’s generous, rigid wingspan, albeit only just.

“Now, it was never my intent to have you running around in your underwear all the time,” Jal’tai said, with yet another of his chuckles. “Here, I have provided you with an exquisite collection of some of the finest menswear money can buy. I’ve spared no expense for you, my boy—why, just look at this here.” He gestured to his right, where a navy blue jacket hung.

Much less interested in it than the latios seemed to be, “Hm,” Solonn said with the ghost of a nod, just for the sake of giving some response to appease Jal’tai. In truth, he found nothing at all remarkable about the garment. He was equally unmoved by the other articles of clothing that Jal’tai showed him from what was now his wardrobe, but he gave the latios, who was obviously quite proud of these purchases, an occasional, noncommittal noise or vague nod, feigning at least some interest in and attention to what was being presented to him. In spirit, however, he could not be farther from the closet and the expensive fashions therein, let alone any care for these things.

As there wasn’t room enough in the closet for Jal’tai to turn around, the dragon chose to teleport in order to make his exit. He then resumed his tour, ushering Solonn into a spacious bathroom, one that had been designed with multiple, varying species in mind. It contained sinks at three different heights and four different kinds of toilets. The shower was quite large, and it possessed multiple spigots of varying shapes and sizes; in addition to the standard one that dispensed water, the extra spigots offered bathing options such as “mud”, “sand”, and “acid”, according to a large, yellow label affixed just outside the shower compartment. There were labels of this sort next to each of the fixtures, bearing instructions for their use in human- and unown-script. Solonn noted that there were also small, white labels, apparently handwritten, that designated certain of the fixtures for human use.

There were also mirrors in this room: one over each sink and a tall one that stood alone against the opposite wall. It was in the latter mirror that Solonn saw his new, human face for the first time. The dark eyes that had become his own stared back at him from within the glass, bloodshot and glazed over with a listless despair. The expression on that face seemed to plead to be looked upon no more, as if considering itself a sight that could not be endured, and the man who beheld it could indeed not stand the sight. Their features seized by anguish, both his face and its mirror image turned harshly away from one another.

Solonn did not notice at first when Jal’tai spoke next, the dragon’s words reaching him with a delay through the fog enveloping his mind.

“This, Solonn, is where you’ll attend to your hygienic needs… among other needs,” the latios said. “Be sure to read those labels; they’ll show you exactly how to use these things, as well as which among them you should use and which you should not. Generally speaking, most of this equipment is for the purposes of cleaning and grooming yourself, whereas this—” Jal’tai craned his neck toward the toilets, pointing at the one that was labeled as suitable for use by humans. “—well, its purpose is…”

Short moments later, they both left the bathroom and the topic of its purposes. Jal’tai then brought Solonn to the other end of the suite, where the kitchen was located. The room itself was quite small, as were the appliances within it: the refrigerator, sink, counter, and electric range were much shorter than their counterparts in kitchens designed solely for human use (though the refrigerator was also rather wider than the typical human-style model, so as not to forsake any of its capacity). Cabinets, drawers, a toaster, a blender, and a microwave oven were also set up at heights that were convenient for smaller species. Yellow instruction labels like those found in the bathroom were present here, too, detailing the use of each of the appliances. There was also a modest dining area adjoined to the kitchen, containing a small, low table and a trio of cushioned, wooden stools.

“Here is where you can get yourself something to eat whenever the need or desire arises, as I would imagine it surely must have by now,” Jal’tai said. “You must be famished, hmm?”

Indeed Solonn was hungry, and considerably so; he had not eaten since the evening before last, after all. However, he had been so preoccupied through much of the time since that that sensation, as well as several other physical complaints, had gone very largely ignored. Still, for the dragon’s sake, “Hm,” he responded, yet another minimal noise, with yet another minimal nod as the sole factor indicating his reply as affirmative.

“Mmm-hmm, figured as much,” Jal’tai said with a warm smile (that the latios had just smiled at the confirmation of his hunger was not lost on Solonn, nor did it fail to bother him). He pulled first a bowl and then a box of frosted corn flakes from the cabinets, setting both items down on top of the kitchen counter. He then fetched a quart-sized carton of milk from the refrigerator and a nanab berry from a bowl of fruit that sat on the dining room table and set them down on the counter, as well. Faintly humming the jazzy tune from earlier, the dragon dispensed a small amount of cereal and milk into the bowl, then diced up the nanab with his claws and put the fruit into the bowl, too.

Jal’tai took a spoon out from the drawer and brought it along with the bowl of cereal to the table, then fixed a glass of milk, set it upon the table as well, and beckoned Solonn to come over. The human complied, stopping a couple of feet away from Jal’tai as the latios pulled out a chair for him, indicating with a talon that he expected Solonn to take his seat here.

Having seen Morgan sit down before, Solonn had a sense of how it was done in human-fashion—he knew what the action looked like, at least. At any rate, it was enough for him to just try it without much hesitation. He moved over to the chair, trying to allow his body to fold up and conform to it in a way that matched the image of a seated human in his memory. He did a fairly commendable job of it, too, although he did drop himself onto the stool a little too hard, resulting in a bit of an unpleasant shock to his tailbone despite the chair’s cushioning.

“I certainly hope you like this,” Jal’tai said pleasantly as he hovered beside Solonn. “It’s something for which I confess to have developed something of an addiction,” he said with a chuckle. “Plus, it’s something that’s very easy to whip up; I’m sure that you can do it yourself anytime now that you’ve seen me do it. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is the sort of thing you ought to be living on, but as far as more advanced meal preparation goes… well, no one becomes a master chef in a day, now do they?” He laughed again, then turned an expectant gaze straight into Solonn’s eyes. “Well, have at it, then!” he said cheerfully.

Solonn turned his gaze downward and merely stared into his cereal for a moment. He was not particularly moved to eat despite his body’s need for him to do so, but with the latios hanging around like a second shadow, he reckoned that he’d better just get it over and done. Almost robotically, he began to lower his hand toward the bowl—but it was caught short of descending into the cereal by the swift action of a blue, three-clawed talon.

“Whoops!” Jal’tai exclaimed, laughing. “I can’t believe I could be so forgetful… Here.” He lifted the spoon from where it sat beside the bowl. “Use this; it’s proper human etiquette, not to mention less messy. You just scoop it up like this,” he said, miming the action a couple of times in demonstration before handing the spoon to Solonn.

Solonn did well enough with the spoon; he only spilled a couple of spoonfuls. The sweet flavor of the cereal and berries was not unpleasant to him, but failed to pique his interest. His apathy toward eating made it somewhat difficult to finish his breakfast, but he managed to finish it nonetheless, earning a pleased smile from the draconic face that had been hovering beside him in order to ensure that the human accepted the food and drink that he had been given.

“There, now wasn’t that nice?” Jal’tai asked, earning himself another of the human’s vague responses. He took a small roll of paper towels from the cabinets, tearing one off to clean up the spilled cereal, then disposed of the used tissue and put the bowl, spoon, and glass into the sink. Once he was finished tidying up, he motioned for Solonn to rise and follow him once more, and the human did so without a word, allowing himself to be led back into the den.

Once there, Jal’tai immediately took the remote from its compartment in the arm of the green chair and turned on the television, bringing a rather tone-deaf, singing meowth to life on the screen. “You’ll recall that I mentioned having something else to show you over here, correct?” the latios said as he made his way over to the armoire, opening the cabinet under the television and producing a DVD jewel case from it. Solonn gave even less of a response than he had been giving, but Jal’tai didn’t seem to mind.

The dragon looked over his shoulder and saw Solonn just standing there beside the armchair. “Go ahead and have a seat in that chair,” he instructed the human while carefully prying the DVD out of its case with his claws. “Watch me carefully, now,” he said once he saw that Solonn had sat down where he was told to sit. He turned on the DVD player, inserted the disc into it, and then went over to hover right beside Solonn.

“This is just one of a series of videos I made specially for the benefit of my successor in the event that said successor would come to me in the form of a pokémon,” Jal’tai said as the video started, bringing up a simple menu in unown-script onto the screen. The menu bore only two options: “Setup” and “Play”. “Now, to begin the video, you simply press these.” He highlighted the “Play” option and pressed the “ENTER” button, making certain that his actions were performed in clear view of Solonn and not too quickly to be followed. “This will pause it if you need to take a break while viewing; this one will go back and replay certain parts if you feel you need to review them or if you miss something; and this one will stop it when you’ve finished watching it,” he explained, indicating others among the remote’s buttons. “Then just take the disc out and put it back where it belongs—the ‘OPEN’ button is right there on the device; you’ll also find ‘POWER’ buttons on all the devices there to turn them off when you’re done using them.”

Meanwhile, the video began to play. Rather loud, synthesizer-based music blared forth, and the title “Humanity and You” appeared on the screen in brightly colored letters.

Jal’tai grinned. “I think you’ll enjoy these, Solonn; they really turned out quite nicely, in my opinion. These videos will help you learn the basic habits and skills of living as a human. Once you’ve watched this volume, you can just pop in another one and watch that. Mind you, they are numbered, and you’d do well to watch them in numerical order—some of the later ones might be a bit confusing if you don’t,” he advised Solonn, chuckling yet again.

Jal’tai placed the remote in Solonn’s hand, then drifted over to the wall that separated the suite from the hall outside. “I’ll check in on you again sometime soon,” he said. “Oops… I fear you might have missed some of the beginning of that video due to my talking,” he added, sounding mildly embarrassed and apologetic. “You might want to back that up, then. Well, anyway, I’ll be seeing you!” With that, the dragon left the suite, once again foregoing the keypad and transport tile and teleporting out instead.

Solonn stared dully at the television screen, not really absorbing anything occurring there and not bothering to restart the video from the beginning as per Jal’tai’s advice, either. His mind was still on Jal’tai even though the latios had left. Solonn had stashed much of his loathing for Jal’tai deep within his mind while in his presence, silently detached from it through a sort of numb, temporary resignation born out of self-preservation. But now, with the latios no longer shadowing him, all of the offense, hatred, and bitter indignation that Jal’tai had inspired within him came to the forefront once again.

Solonn very briefly allowed his attention to light upon the video. Almost immediately, he shut the doors of his mind to it once more. He had quickly developed a rather strong dislike for the program, for it was, after all, the handiwork of that latios, just another element of his scheme. Solonn paid the video no further mind even as it concluded, returned to the menu screen, and began playing its loud theme music on a continuous loop.

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 07-30-2010 at 07:45 PM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:13 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eight Now Posted]

Solonn continued to feign compliance during Jal’tai’s next visit two days later, looking at whatever he was shown, doing whatever he was told to do, and managing to show no outward sign of resentment or indignation. As soon as the dragon left, however, that veneer fell away, leaving behind a bitter, despondent man who, for the most part, just languished through the hours, lacking the spirit to look after himself beyond the bare minimum needed to keep himself alive. He barely slept, his mind too besieged by thoughts of what lay behind, what might lie in the future, and what could now never come to be to allow him any peace. He didn’t bathe or groom himself in any way, nor did he bother to further his assimilation into his forced humanity by watching any of the latios’s training videos. He ate only when Jal’tai was actually present to monitor him and make sure that he did.

The self-neglect was beginning to take its toll on Solonn—developments that did not go unnoticed by the latios, as Solonn learned the very next evening on Jal’tai’s third visit.

Jal’tai materialized in the room, and Solonn met his eye at once from where he sat in that green armchair. From the moment the dragon appeared, Solonn knew that this visit would not be like the others. The friendly, jovial countenance that the latios had worn during his previous visits was gone; his face was instead a hard-lined mask, the expression not quite readable, but Solonn was sure that it was not a sign of a pleased latios.

Lowering his head slightly and folding his arms in front of his chest, Jal’tai brought himself to hover right in front of Solonn. His feathered brows drew together as if he were wincing in pain, allowing some evidence of concern to show through his features. He held the human’s dark, flat stare for a long moment, then shook his head pityingly.

“Look at you…” the dragon said quietly. He moved even closer to Solonn, his gaze burning upon the former glalie’s unshaven face from only a few inches away now. “Solonn,” he said, his tone heavy, “I know that you’ve been neglecting yourself and your lessons. This won’t do, my boy. This won’t do at all.”

Though the human’s slackened, expressionless features showed no sign of it, a spark of fear awakened and began swiftly growing deep within Solonn, something not quite conscious, something primal. Jal’tai knew that he wasn’t getting what he wanted from his would-be successor, and Solonn strongly suspected that he was about to suffer for disappointing the latios—and perhaps this time Jal’tai would simply give up on ever getting what he wanted from Solonn and decide to cut his losses. In silent terror, Solonn awaited the fuchsia blaze in the dragon’s eyes and the agony that would follow… but no such things came.

“I told you emphatically that you must find it in yourself to make peace with this life,” Jal’tai said soberly, “for it is something you cannot change. I told you this for a very good reason, Solonn: you cannot live a life that you do not accept. If you keep on like this, you’ll waste away… I cannot allow that, Solonn. There is too much at stake. I will not see the future of my city, my mission, simply fade out like this.”

He ascended higher into the air, stopping just short of scraping the ceiling with his wingtips. From this height, his gaze bore down upon Solonn, its intensity further stoking the human’s certainty that he was about to meet a terrible demise. But still the latios made no move to harm him.

“For the sake of your destiny, as well as that of Convergence and the most noble cause for which it stands, serenity will be instilled in you,” he told Solonn firmly. “Fortunately, I have come across someone who should be of a tremendous benefit to that end. Her name is Neleng, and you will be having your first session with her tonight. She ought to be arriving in less than an hour.

“I dearly hope to see improvement in you, Solonn. There’s no need for you to make things harder for yourself than you already have.” With those words, Jal’tai made his exit in his usual fashion, vanishing in a burst of golden light.

Solonn’s eyes lingered for a while upon the empty space where Jal’tai had just been, resenting the latios’s ability to simply be gone from this place in a flash—he wished that he could do the same. The ease with which Jal’tai could come and go as he pleased only seemed to rub Solonn’s nose into the fact that he was stuck in the suite, unable to leave. Solonn wondered if perhaps that was part of the reason why Jal’tai always chose to teleport out.

As the minutes passed, Solonn merely sat there, doing nothing. He wasn’t really anticipating Neleng’s arrival; he had been too preoccupied with the notion that he was possibly going to be punished and maybe even killed to pay much attention to what Jal’tai had been saying during his visit. The matter of the impending arrival of another visitor had been pushed to the back of his mind.

At length, the computerized voice of the suite announced an incoming arrival; Solonn, expecting it to be Jal’tai again, was faintly surprised to find someone and something very different appearing within the suite: a chimecho. He was a bit confused by the newly arrived guest until the memory of Jal’tai’s mention of a visitor surfaced within his mind. It was someone with an “N”-name, as far as he recalled; he couldn’t remember the exact name.

The visitor made her way into the den at once, her tail trailing from beneath her as she drifted through the air. She stopped before Solonn and smiled.

“Good evening,” she greeted him in an airy voice. “My name is Neleng, and I’m here to help clear your mind. Are you ready to begin?”

Solonn didn’t respond, gazing upon the chimecho with uncertainty. He had no idea of what this creature was planning to do and therefore couldn’t really be ready for it in any way.

Neleng, however, seemed to have been prepared to proceed regardless of any answer or lack thereof that she might have received. She beamed at him as brightly as if he had just agreed with the utmost enthusiasm to whatever she was about to do. “Very well, then,” she said. She rose upward until the golden suction disc on the top of her head met the ceiling and took hold of it, clinging tightly yet effortlessly.

The chimecho gave a few gentle ripples of her tail as she hung there, smiling serenely down upon Solonn. “Just relax… Float away on a breeze of music…” she said. She began swaying there where she hung, very slowly, very gracefully, and then she began to sing.

She began with only a single voice, but it gradually unfolded into a chorus of many, one voice at a time. Harmonies and countermelodies gracefully intertwined, weaving in and out amongst one another, merging, diverging, and reuniting in cycles.

The music surrounded Solonn, absorbing his mind as it seemed to swirl around him. Under the song’s spell, everything else within the scope of his consciousness was washed away. Soon, the world around him was comprised solely of the swirling currents of melody. Nothing else existed. Nothing else mattered.

He didn’t notice at first when the song finally ended some twenty minutes later. Once he did, he began looking about somewhat dazedly for the source of the music, briefly unable to remember from whence it had come. Then the last of the psychic residue that the chimecho’s song had left within his mind cleared… and he realized slowly that as it had gone, the swarming miseries that had plagued his mind during these past few days had faded.

Not that he had been truly and entirely purged of them; undeniable anguish and bitterness remained within him and would continue to do so as long as did their source: the unwanted, elementless body and the suite that both imprisoned him. But by the preternatural qualities of Neleng’s song, all of those thoughts and feelings, though no more pleasant than they had previously been, were now tamed to a degree. They were now organized in a sense, not perfectly but well enough that they no longer smothered him with their weight. His spirit was freed to begin to rise up out of his fog of despondency, awakening as if from a long and muddling trance.

Solonn’s memory realigned with his awareness; he recalled the sequence of the most recent events as they had occurred. Jal’tai had shown up, saying that Solonn would have a visitor, then Neleng had arrived and had begun to sing. After that point, his memory was still very hazy; he couldn’t remember what had happened between the start of the chimecho’s song and its end, if indeed he had ever actually known what had happened at all.

He turned his sights up to where Neleng was still hanging and still swaying slightly. She appeared to be slowly emerging from a meditative state. She did something to me, Solonn strongly suspected, something psychic… Exactly what she had done, he couldn’t be sure. He hoped that it hadn’t been anything harmful, but he was inclined to have a dark feeling about it since she had, after all, been sent to him by Jal’tai.

The chimecho finally fell still, sighing softly as her eyes slowly opened. She detached herself from the ceiling, smiling gently as she descended once more.

“I will see you again tomorrow,” she said. “Drift free until then…”

Neleng floated away then, and Solonn’s gaze followed her as she made her way back to the wall between the suite and the hall outside. She stopped before the lens that was set into the wall and brought the end of her tail up to reach the keypad beside it, folding its prehensile tip and using it to input a sequence of eight numbers. The transport tile below her awakened with green light, and she lowered herself onto it with a quickness that she hadn’t exhibited before. The lens awakened and scanned her, and a second later, she was gone in a green flash.

Solonn’s eyes lingered for a long moment in that direction, looking upon the lens and keypad with a twinge of envy toward the chimecho who had just used them to leave the suite. He longed to do the same, but the system that had offered an open gateway to Neleng also created the barrier that held him there in that suite, for it would only admit those who possessed the codes to open the way in or out.

Jal’tai had shared the codes with Neleng. He had not shared them with Solonn, and he likely had no intention of doing so anytime soon or possibly ever, Solonn was sure. It seemed to him that Jal’tai was intent on keeping him trapped there, while the latios and those whom he employed to aid him could just come and go as they pleased with those codes. Furthermore, Jal’tai himself didn’t even need them; he had the option of teleporting, and he made use of it, too. In fact, he never even bothered with the keypad and tile to get out…

Something clicked into place in Solonn’s brain and clicked hard: Jal’tai never used the transport tile to get out, but he always used it to get in… but why? Solonn found himself locked into puzzling over the matter at once; this habit of Jal’tai’s was peculiar to him in a distinctly nagging way, one that clearly marked itself as significant. He at first chiefly wondered, as he had done on more than one occasion before, why the latios bothered with the tile at all; couldn’t he just instantly, conveniently enter in the same way as he exited? Why the dragon did not teleport into the suite was a matter that Solonn couldn’t seem to figure out… but when his mind inverted the question, wondering why Jal’tai did teleport to get out

The first answer that came to Solonn’s mind at that question was that Jal’tai did it that way simply because he could. But another possible angle occurred to Solonn a beat later: perhaps Jal’tai avoided using the keypad code to leave the suite on the chance that the human might pick up the code from seeing him use it. To Solonn’s mind, it made sense; Jal’tai was just being cautious.

A second later, a powerful realization struck him as his mind was thrown back to what he had just witnessed mere minutes earlier: Jal’tai was being cautious, but Neleng was not…

There was a feeling like a sudden, sharp blow to his chest, seizing his heart in an almost painful thrill. Incredible though it seemed, after all of the work and planning that Jal’tai had clearly put into his endeavor to prepare his replacement, the latios had made a mistake in giving the codes to that chimecho, a mistake whose ramifications had the potential to severely undermine his plans.

All of a sudden, the way from here seemed almost ridiculously clear to Solonn. Neleng held the means for him to escape—he needed only to observe her closely on her departure from now on. He could possibly obtain the code that would allow him to leave the suite by watching her use it.

There remained, however, the matter of what he would do after he got out. No longer being the glalie that he once was and having no real way to prove that he ever was such, returning to Virc-Dho now no longer seemed like an option. The only other familiar place he had to go was Lilycove… and as he thought of that, it occurred to him that if Morgan had been successfully reunited with her other pokémon—or at least with one of the psychics among them—perhaps one of them could look into his mind and confirm to her that he was indeed what he would claim to be. If so, then he could at least have the option of making a new home among some of his friends even if he could never go back to his original home.

But then another thought occurred to him, one that sent a chill straight into his heart: after he made his escape, Jal’tai would be sure to try and find him—and since Solonn had specifically mentioned having fled from Lilycove, that was one of the places where Jal’tai was sure to look.

In his mind, the human saw Jal’tai in the Yorkes’ house with both Morgan and Eliza lying unconscious before him as he scoured their minds for information that might lead him to Solonn. The thought of them having their minds violated in such a manner disgusted Solonn, and the picture that came to him when he imagined what might happen if any of Morgan’s other pokémon were there to try and stop Jal’tai sickened him even further—he suspected that not even all of them combined would be able to take on the latios and that their resisting him could quite possibly cost them their lives.

He sighed heavily; it seemed that Lilycove was out of the question as well, leaving him to wonder just where he could go.

Anywhere but here will do, Solonn decided finally, resolutely, anywhere he isn’t. It seemed that Solonn could not reclaim the life he had once known, that he could no longer share it with the people whom he had known, but he could at least make his life his own again, taking it out of Jal’tai’s talons. He didn’t know what sort of future could possibly lie ahead of him now, but at least now there was a chance that it could be his future, his choice.

With a deep breath, Solonn rose from the chair, shakily but determinedly. He leveled a hard stare at that wall, that barrier separating him from the way to freedom. Soon, he told himself silently, he would surpass that barrier. Soon, he would take back his life.

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 07-30-2010 at 07:46 PM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 07-18-2009, 11:15 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Eight Now Posted]

From the moment that he’d discovered the way by which he would try to escape, Solonn carried on in a very different manner than he had done in the days prior. He knew and accepted now that he would have to prepare himself for the life that he would have to forge once he was free—a human life.

So it was that not long after Neleng had left him, he had sat down and watched one of Jal’tai’s training videos. Though not fond of the notion of partaking of something that Jal’tai had made, he’d determined that he would just have to bite back his resentment of the dragon in this matter. The videos were a source of valuable information and demonstration, offering knowledge that he would need in his new life, and so he had decided that he would watch as many of them as he could before the time came when he would finally succeed in obtaining the code that would get him out of the suite.

He had also regained the strength of spirit to really take care of himself again, fueled by the hope of impending freedom. He tried to get at least a couple of hours of sleep each night and bothered to feed himself whenever he hungered, for he knew that he would need his strength for his upcoming escape. From the videos, as well as from the next couple of visits by Jal’tai, he learned how to prepare a small variety of meals, but was still not quite courageous enough to try and make anything that required actual cooking, for it just seemed too easy to ruin such dishes—it wouldn’t do for him to burn more food than he ate, after all.

The videos also illustrated the importance of good hygiene and dressing well in human society, lessons which motivated Solonn to begin practicing human hygienic rituals. Though his first attempt at a bath resulted in minor scalding and his first attempt at shaving left his face bleeding in no fewer than six places, he generally did a fairly competent job in keeping himself tidy and assured himself that he would improve in these skills with time and practice. He also began fully dressing himself rather than just lounging about in his underwear, for he knew from both those videos and his time with the Yorkes that humans generally kept most of their bodies covered at all times.

During his visits over the course of these days, Jal’tai noticed the improvements in Solonn’s well-being, and as a result the latios’s demeanor around him was even more lively and jovial than ever and with no signs of stern displeasure—it seemed that his would-be successor was finally accepting and growing into the role that had been chosen for him.

Though Solonn’s temperament was definitely improving, Jal’tai still sent Neleng over each night to perform her mindsong therapy; Solonn reckoned that the latios had decided that those sessions might as well continue since they seemed to be doing the human some good. Indeed they were, but not just in the way that the latios had intended—Neleng’s sessions helped to keep Solonn’s mind clear, which in turn allowed him to stay focused and determined to achieve his goal of escape.

The chimecho was fulfilling her role in Solonn’s endeavor most obligingly; at the end of each of her visits, she let herself out by means of the transport tile. From that green armchair, he had watched her out of the corner of his eye on the evening of her second visit, trying not to be overtly conspicuous about it, but had found that this did not provide the best angle from which to get a good look at precisely what she was doing.

But shortly thereafter, he had thought to shift that chair just ever so slightly toward the wall that bore the lens and keypad, just enough to hopefully give him a somewhat better view of that area without it being too obvious that he had moved the chair. Sure enough, as he had learned the following evening when Neleng returned once more, this new angle did make it rather easier to see what she was doing. Thus, from that point forward, he had been able to watch Neleng without being too conspicuous about it, trying each time as he did so to discern and memorize the code that she used to exit the room.

It was following the eighth session with Neleng, eleven days after the morning when he had first awakened as a human, that Solonn was ready at last to make his move. After carefully watching the chimecho input that code on multiple occasions, he was now quite sure that he had successfully learned it.

Jal’tai had visited earlier that day, and Neleng had just left an hour or so ago, so Solonn wasn’t expecting either of them anywhere near the suite again anytime soon. If ever there was an optimal time to make a break for it, he reckoned that this was it.

He stood there before the keypad, his breathing shallow as his chest tightened with anxiety. He raised a trembling, sweating hand to the keys, and one by one, his shaking index finger found each of the code’s eight digits as his mind recalled them in sequence:

Seven… three… four… nine… zero… four… six… two…

The next second felt to Solonn like it would never end, a lingering moment of wondering if he had succeeded and fearing that he had not. Then that second passed, and to Solonn’s immeasurable relief, the tile below his feet took on that familiar, green glow and the lens before him scanned him.

The tile gave a bright flash. He felt the tingling sensation over the surface of his skin that he’d experienced the last time that he’d used the transport tile, vaguely noting that it seemed curiously stronger this time. Then he was rushed swiftly through a state of physical nonexistence, emerging from it to rematerialize on the other side of the wall.

His eyes met the scene of the corridor around him, and a giddy sort of disbelief spread through him. A beat later, he dared to believe what the sight surrounding him signified: he had done it. He was out and could now make his bid for freedom.

His mind reviewed the events that had taken place in that corridor the last time that he had been there, replaying them in reverse to recall how he had gotten from the part of the building where the exit lay to where he now stood. It was difficult to extract much detail from his memory regarding those events, for at the time when they had occurred, he had been under the influence of the drugs that Jal’tai had slipped into his food, which had hampered his perception to no small degree. He managed to remember the elevator, however, and seemed to recall that it was nearby. Sure enough, he soon spotted it.

The steel elevator doors before Solonn were shut tightly. There was a button beside the doors, set somewhat low in the wall; as Solonn’s eyes fell upon it, he remembered that Jal’tai had pushed a button to enter the elevator. He stooped down slightly and pushed the button, but for a few moments, nothing seemed to happen, giving Solonn another surge of fear that his escape would fail. But then the doors opened, and Solonn passed through them without a second’s hesitation.

Once he was inside, the doors closed. Solonn tried to ignore the rather bland music that was playing in the elevator as he waited for them to open again and release him into the lobby. Moments on end passed, but no such thing happened. Solonn was first confused by this, then worried—and then he noticed the line of buttons next to the doors, above which was a label reading “Please Select Your Desired Floor”. The elevator was not moving because he had not yet told it where he wanted it to go.

You idiot… he reprimanded himself silently as he looked over the buttons. They were numbered from one to seven; he reckoned that each one corresponded to a different level of the building and that the button marked “1”, bearing the lowermost number, represented the lowermost floor, where the doors that led out of the building were. That was the floor he wanted.

He pressed that button, and a breath later, a funny little plummeting sensation in his stomach signified the elevator’s descent. Soon after, the elevator came to a stop and its steel doors slid open, revealing a view of the spacious lobby—and the exit beyond.

The lobby was currently relatively quiet, with no one present except for the swampert receptionist and a solitary primeape off in the corner, the latter staring with a rather dull expression at a television on which a cartoon was playing. Solonn was very conscious of their presence and quite nervous around them, but knew that he should try to act nonchalant so as not to draw too much attention to himself. As far as those two needed to be concerned, he was just a human being like any other, no one particularly worthy of notice, with no reason why he should not be in that lobby or heading out those doors. He intended to leave them in that mindset.

Without a word, he crossed the room to the exit. Those last doors separating him from the way out of Convergence slid silently out of his way, and he stepped out into a starless, overcast night.

He cast one last look behind him at the towering structure of the Convergence Inn, the place where his identity and element had been lost, the place that had been his prison for nearly two weeks. He averted his gaze from it almost immediately and began moving away from it at a brisk pace with the desire to never have to behold that place again.

Solonn was forced to stop at the next corner, where cars sped up and down the street in his way. He shivered as he stood there; the silk shirt and simple slacks that he had chosen to wear that day offered little protection against the chilly, late-September wind that whipped at him. Not terribly far away, he just managed to identify the dark line of trees that represented the border between Convergence and its surrounding woods—that was his goal. The vehicles rushing by were currently barring his path… but seconds later, the flow of traffic in his way ceased. He took advantage of this at once, hurriedly crossing the street while the way was clear.

His eyes locked onto the boundary beyond which the world didn’t belong to Jal’tai—the sooner he reached it, the better, he knew. He wanted to make a dash for the trees, but having only recently become fully accustomed to walking on his new legs, he was somewhat wary of the notion of running.

He shook his head, trying to clear his mind of doubt. If you can walk, you can run, he told himself silently. Don’t think about it; just do it! Hesitating no longer, he broke into a run with a somewhat awkward start, stumbling over the first step and nearly overcorrecting afterward.

Once Solonn managed to stabilize himself, he silently told himself not to stop running, not until he reached that forest. However, he was unused to running for any great distance, and exhaustion came on quite swiftly. Nonetheless, he ignored his body’s demands for him to stop and take a rest, his sights and his determination fixed upon his goal. But he was forced to stop two blocks away from the Convergence Inn by another red light, another wave of rushing cars in his path.

Solonn gritted his teeth in pain as he waited anxiously for a break in the traffic, the cold, sharp wind tearing through his throat with each harsh, gasping breath that his lungs tore from the air in their need. The forest was now not much further before him than the Convergence Inn was behind him; the closer he got to his goal, the more impatient to reach it he became.

Finally, the path before him was clear and safe again. His body was quite averse to taking off and running again since he had not even caught his breath completely from the last dash, but with such a short way left to go before he could put this city and the latios to whom it belonged behind him for good, he just couldn’t wait to close that final distance.

Amber sparkles of light streaked past him: rays from the streetlights that were distorted by the tears that the stinging wind and everything else that he was presently suffering brought to his eyes as he ran. Shooting pains stabbed into his ribs, and there was a burning ache in his stomach and legs. Still, he kept running, desperate to escape Convergence no matter how it hurt. As far as he was concerned at this point, living free was worth any suffering.

Very nearly at the verge of collapsing, with his heart hammering so violently that it seemed ready to explode at any second, Solonn reached Convergence’s limit at last. He was seconds from crossing the boundary—

—And then blazing jets of fire shot forth from either side with a loud fwooossssh and surged up before him. With an almost voiceless cry of alarm and surprise, he backpedaled at once from the burning line of flames in his path, stumbling and falling backwards in the haste of his reaction. He tried to get back to his feet but failed. Realizing his legs’ unwillingness to support him again anytime soon after what he had just forced them to do, he instead started scrabbling backward to escape from the fire before him only to be stopped very soon after when he bumped into something.

Throwing a fearful glance over his shoulder, Solonn saw two houndoom, golden badges affixed to their collars glinting in the light from the flames. Their jaws dripped with glowing embers as they stared him down, and both of them growled ominously.

“Hold it right there,” one of them snarled menacingly. “You’re not going anywhere.”

As if to emphasize the point, the blazing line suddenly advanced at either side, forming a burning circle around Solonn and the two houndoom. The flames roared as they danced on all sides, but they did not touch him, as if something was holding them at bay.

That something—or someone, rather—seemed to just drop right out of the air in front of Solonn in the next moment, landing without a sound. A medicham in a police uniform now stood before him—Solonn had been so singularly focused on the path directly in front of him that he had failed to see her perched in the trees up ahead, awaiting him.

Her eyes held a fuchsia glow, a sign of the psychic powers that she was using to manipulate the two houndoom’s flames and keep them in check, but Solonn feared that it instead meant that she was about to subject him to the same kind of telekinetic punishment that Jal’tai had used on him. As it was, he found that he now couldn’t move at all, and he was sure that his exhaustion wasn’t solely to blame.

The circle of flames simply and abruptly vanished, and the medicham stepped forward. She took hold of Solonn’s arms, and using a combination of her telekinesis and her own physical strength, she brought him back to his feet. Solonn wanted to struggle but found, to no real surprise on his part, that he was still unable to move of his own accord.

The houndoom stepped aside as the medicham moved to stand behind Solonn. Once there, she took both of his wrists in her hands, gripping them tightly.“Start walking,” she commanded him, her voice soft but her tone unmistakably serious.

Tentatively, not quite daring to believe that the medicham could have loosened her psychic hold on him enough to let him move outside of her control, Solonn tried to take a step forward and succeeded. He then tried to pull himself out of the medicham’s grasp, but it was much too strong for him to break, especially given how very little strength his dash from the Convergence Inn had left him. Resigned to the fact that that there was nothing he could do to resist her, Solonn could not help but allow the medicham to drive him onward, dreading whatever lay at their destination as he walked.

The cops brought him back into town, the medicham telekinetically keeping her captive from collapsing, the houndoom directing nips at his feet whenever he faltered in his steps. At length, they arrived at a very tall, brick building downtown. A brass sign hung over its entrance, lit from below by bright lights and bearing the words “CONVERGENCE TOWER”.

The houndoom pushed the doors open, and the medicham shoved Solonn into the building, still holding on to him tightly. He was steered into an elevator, which made a long ascent before letting him and the cops out into a short hallway with massive, wooden doors at its end.

The doors filled Solonn’s vision as his captors came to a stop before them. A speaker mounted in the wall to his left awakened with a brief crackle of static, and then the last voice in the world that Solonn wanted to hear at that moment issued forth from it.

“Bring him in,” Jal’tai said through the speaker. The cops responded to the order at once. The two houndoom pushed their way through the doors and held them open as the medicham brought Solonn through them.

Solonn now stood in an enormous, richly furnished office. Seated before him at a very large and tidy desk, Jal’tai, in the guise of Rolf Whitley, leveled a stare at Solonn that was forbiddingly stern but held an unmistakable sadness at the same time.

“That’ll do, madam, gentlemen,” Jal’tai said without inflection to the medicham and houndoom, dismissing them. The three cops nodded in acknowledgment, and the medicham released both of her holds on Solonn before walking out of the office. The two houndoom followed her away, and the doors swung shut behind them.

Solonn, still drained of most of his strength and no longer supported physically or psychically by the medicham, had dropped to his hands and knees almost immediately after she had let go of him and had remained in that position since, his head hanging toward the hardwood floor. A winged shadow fell over him as soon as the cops were gone, and a second later, a talon descended upon his head, lifting his face up to look upon its owner.

No longer wearing his human mirage, Jal’tai stared right into Solonn’s eyes with a look of distinct sorrow. “I’m very disappointed in you, my boy,” he said gravely. “I told you not to make things harder for yourself than they had to be, but you just wouldn’t listen…”

The latios sighed heavily, and his eyes began shimmering with tears. “I never wanted it to come to this,” he said, his voice quavering as if threatening to break, “but you’ve left me no choice. I’m afraid that I am now forced to take drastic measures to ensure your cooperation and the preservation of this city’s noble mission…”

_________________________

Next time: Find out what Jal’tai means by “drastic measures”… See you then!

- Sike Saner
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-=CHAPTER 17 POSTED=-
Banner by Saffire Persian

The Origin of Storms
-=COMPLETE=-

Last edited by Sike Saner; 10-18-2011 at 08:52 PM. Reason: Revisions.
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  #36  
Old 07-19-2009, 09:45 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Nine Now Posted]

Quote:
Jal’tai left the room then, leaving Solonn alone with the swarm of thoughts infesting his mind, including the newly raised questions he had regarding what else the latios might have “inadvertently” absorbed from his mind.

He feared that if he did not do as the latios expected of him, he would risk being subjected once more to Jal’tai’s particular, excruciating brand of psychic punishment.

The latios turned to his left and drifted out of the bedroom, then cast a look over his shoulder and made a beckoning motion with a single talon.

He was led by the latios into the den, where there were especially many of those draconic statues, like a small assembly of watchful minions in service to the psychic dragon to whom this place and its unwilling inhabitant belonged.

The arm of the chair opened on an unseen hinge, revealing a previously hidden compartment, from which the latios pulled out a small, flat, matte-silver object that was covered with dozens of tiny buttons.

“If you’re not in the mood for music, you could always enjoy what the television has to offer,” the latios said then, and demonstrated how to turn the television on.

He was equally unmoved by the other specimens Jal’tai showed him from what was now his wardrobe, but he gave the latios, who was obviously quite proud of these purchases, an occasional, noncommittal noise or vague nod, feigning at least some interest in and attention to what was being presented to him.

“This, Solonn, is where you’ll attend to your hygienic needs… among other needs,” the latios said.

The human complied, stopping a couple of feet away from Jal’tai as the latios pulled out a chair for him, indicating with a talon that he expected Solonn to take his seat here.

“You’ll recall that I mentioned having something else to show you over here, correct?” the latios said as he made his way over to the armoire, opening the cabinet under the television and producing a DVD jewel case from it.

His mind was still on the latios even though the dragon had left.

But now, with the latios no longer shadowing him, all the offense, hatred, and bitter indignation that Jal’tai had inspired within him came to the forefront once again.

As if Jal’tai hadn’t done enough to him, the latios had chosen to add insult to injury by coming in on this day with the old, merry façade he’d worn when they’d first met, smiling and acting cheerful as though nothing strange had happened here, as though there weren’t anything wrong done when in fact there was, committed by his own hand.

He had quickly developed a rather strong dislike for the program, for it was, after all, the handiwork of that lying latios, just another element of his scheme.

He did not bathe or groom himself in any way, nor did he bother to further his assimilation into his forced humanity by watching any of the latios’s training videos. He ate only when Jal’tai was actually present to monitor him and make sure that he did.

The self-neglect was beginning to take its toll on the former glalie—developments that did not go unnoticed by the latios, as Solonn learned the very next evening on Jal’tai’s third visit.

Gone was the friendly, jovial countenance that the latios had worn during his previous visits—his face was a hard-lined mask, the expression not quite readable but certainly not a sign of a pleased dragon.
I'm pretty sure Pokemon's names should be capitalized.

Quote:
He held the human’s dark, flat stare for a long moment, and then shook his head pityingly.
Added an 'and'.

Quote:
“Look at you…” the dragon said quietly. He moved even closer to Solonn, his pointed, crimson-irised gaze burning upon the former glalie’s unshaven face from only a few inches away now.

But still, the latios made no move to harm him.
Pokemon names capitalization.

Quote:
...round, pearly white creature with splashes and stripes of red standing out vividly on her face and at the end of her long, ribbon-like tail.
Ribbonlike -> ribbon-like

Quote:
Solonn didn’t respond, gazing upon the chimecho with uncertainty. He had no idea of what this creature was planning to do and therefore could not be ready for it in any way.

The chimecho gave a few languid ripples of her tail as she hung there, smiling serenely down upon Solonn.

...complex and wondrous structures, the song of the chimecho affected him in this way on a far grander scale than any other music, for it was indeed like no other music in the world
Pokemon names capitalization.

Quote:
Soon, all of the world around him was comprised solely of the swirling currents of melody.
All of the world -> the entire. Sounds much better.

Quote:
Then the last of the swirling psychic residue that the chimecho’s song had left within his mind cleared… and with it, he realized slowly, the swarming miseries that had plagued his mind these past few days had faded out, as well.

After that point, his memory was still very hazy; he couldn’t remember what had happened between the start of the chimecho’s song and its end, if indeed he had ever actually known what had happened at all.

The chimecho finally fell still, sighing softly as her eyes slowly opened. She detached from the ceiling, smiling gently as she descended once more.

Solonn’s eyes lingered for a long moment in that direction, looking upon the lens and keypad with a twinge of envy towards the chimecho who had just used them to leave the suite.

Jal’tai was clearly intent on keeping him trapped there, while the latios and those whom he employed to aid him could just come and go as they pleased with those codes. And of course, Jal’tai himself didn’t even need them;

Jal’tai had made a mistake in giving the codes to that chimecho, one whose implications had the potential to severely undermine his plans.

...Jal’tai noticed the improvements in Solonn’s well-being, and as a result the latios’s demeanor around him...

The chimecho was fulfilling her role in Solonn’s endeavor most obligingly;

.., this new angle did make it rather easier to see what the chimecho was doing.

After carefully watching the chimecho input that code on multiple occasions,

The lobby was currently relatively quiet, with no one present except for the swampert receptionist and a solitary primeape off in the corner, who was staring with a rather dull expression at a television on which a cartoon was playing.

His eyes fixed upon the boundary beyond which the world did not belong to that latios

two houndoom stood there, sleek, dark-furred dogs whose curved horns glinted wickedly in the light from the flames, as did the golden badges affixed to the collars they wore.

At once, he began to struggle in her grasp, but could not break free. His head whipped around to see who had taken a hold of him, and there, at a height considerably less than his own, he saw the pale grey face of a medicham leveling a cold, hard stare up at him. Her eyes held a fuchsia glow, a sign of the psychic powers she was using to manipulate the two houndoom’s flames and keep them in check.

The light in the medicham’s eyes gave a sudden..

...the medicham kicked his legs out from under him even as she maintained her seemingly inescapable hold.

the houndoom directing nips at his feet whenever he faltered in his steps.

The houndoom pushed the doors open, and the medicham shoved Solonn into the building,

The two houndoom pushed their way through the doors and held them open as the medicham

“That’ll do, madam, gentlemen,” Jal’tai said without inflection to the medicham and houndoom, dismissing them. The three cops nodded in acknowledgment, and the medicham released her hold on Solonn before walking out of the office. The two houndoom followed her away, and the great doors swung shut behind them.

A ledian was seated behind a desk. Beside him, a small image of three smeargle being led out of a building by a medicham in a police uniform and two houndoom with badges affixed to collars around their necks appeared.

his words were displayed in subtitles for the benefit of human viewers, rendered in unown-script.

“There, now wasn’t that nice?” Jal’tai asked, earning himself another of the former glalie’s vague responses.

singing meowth to life on the screen.

by watching any of the latios’s training videos. He ate only when Jal’tai was actually present to monitor him and make sure that he did.
Pokemon Capitalization.

Quote:
He was so mistrustful of those spindly limbs that were it not for Jal’tai’s telekinesis keeping him upright; his lack of faith in them would have certainly caused them to give right out from under him.
A semicolon after upright.

Quote:
He repeated this action a couple of times; seeming intent on making sure that Solonn memorized the sequence, then pushed the two buttons in succession.
A semicolon after times.

Quote:
He changed the channel again, and this time images of pokémon rather than humans appeared on the screen.
Capitalized Pokemon.

Quote:
He laughed again, and then turned an expectant gaze straight into Solonn’s eyes.

Jal’tai placed the remote in Solonn’s hand, and then drifted over to the wall that separated the suite from the hall outside.

He held the human’s dark, flat stare for a long moment, and then shook his head pityingly.

Jal’tai had shown up, saying that Solonn would have a visitor, and then Knelling had arrived and had begun to sing.
Then -> And then.

Quote:
something not quite conscious, and something primal.
Added an 'and'.

Quote:
It was difficult to extract much detail from his memory regarding those events, for at the time when they had occurred; he had been under the influence of the drugs Jal’tai had slipped into his food, which had greatly hampered his perception.
Added a semicolon after occurred.

Quote:
He managed to remember the elevator, however, and seemed to recall that it was close by. Sure enough, he soon spotted it.
Cloesby -> close by.

Quote:
Not terribly far away, he could make out the dark line of trees that represented the border between Convergence and its surrounding woods—that was his goal.
Two options:
trees that represented the border between Convergence and its surrounding woods—that were his goal.

A tree that represented the border between Convergence and its surrounding woods—that was his goal.

Quote:
before he could put this city and the dragon to whom it belonged behind him for good, he just couldn’t wait to close that final distance.
whom -> which.
__

I love the story so far! Though it's long, it's worth reading. I can't wait for the tentch chapter!
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  #37  
Old 07-27-2009, 03:51 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Nine Now Posted]

Dr. House:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. House View Post
I'm pretty sure Pokemon's names should be capitalized.
Capitalization of the names of pokémon species (as well as other pokémon-related things such as moves, types, items, et cetera) really seems to be a matter of individual preference rather than anything that has any actual rules to it. There are some authors who choose to capitalize all of these sorts of things, some authors who choose to capitalize only some of them (e.g. capitalizing only the names of moves), and some who choose not to capitalize any of them. I just happen to fall into the third of those categories (though I used to fall into the first).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. House View Post
Quote:
He held the human’s dark, flat stare for a long moment, and then shook his head pityingly.
Added an 'and'.
That works, though technically so does the original version of that excerpt. The same goes for all of the other excerpts cited as needing an "and" before a "then". I haven't quite made a decision regarding whether or not to add "and" to at least some of them, though I'm currently leaning towards not doing so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. House View Post
Ribbonlike -> ribbon-like
"Ribbonlike" is a word, actually. I discovered that it's absent from my word processor's dictionary for whatever reason; however, it is recognized as an actual word by a number of online dictionaries as well as by the dictionary that I currently have sitting next to me.

Meanwhile, it turns out that "closeby" is indeed not a word. Thanks for helping to bring that fact to my attention. ^^ However, I've decided to replace it with "nearby" rather than "close by" as a matter of aesthetic preference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. House View Post
All of the world -> the entire. Sounds much better.
That, like the matter of whether or not to capitalize the names of pokémon species, is really just a matter of personal preference. I'm not sure whether I prefer "all of the world" or "the entire world" there, but something I've chosen to do to that passage has precluded the need for either of those options. It was brought to my attention that the presence of the word "solely" in that sentence renders it unnecessary to put anything along the lines of "all of the" or "the entire" before "world", so I've changed it to just "the world" to remove the redundancy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. House View Post
Quote:
He was so mistrustful of those spindly limbs that were it not for Jal’tai’s telekinesis keeping him upright; his lack of faith in them would have certainly caused them to give right out from under him.
A semicolon after upright.
It would be correct to place a semicolon there if both the part of the sentence before the semicolon and the part after it could stand on their own as separate sentences. In that sentence, however, only the part after it is capable of standing on its own.

This is what happens when one attempts to use the part before it as a separate sentence:

He was so mistrustful of those spindly limbs that were it not for Jal’tai’s telekinesis keeping him upright.

If it were not for Jal'tai's telekinesis keeping him upright, then what? It depends on the other part of the original sentence in order to make sense. When this is the case, it's actually incorrect to join the parts with a semicolon.

The same is true of the other excerpts that were cited as needing semicolons:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Original Text
He repeated this action a couple of times, seeming intent on making sure that Solonn memorized the sequence, then pushed the two buttons in succession.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Original Text
It was difficult to extract much detail from his memory regarding those events, for at the time when they had occurred, he had been under the influence of the drugs Jal’tai had slipped into his food, which had greatly hampered his perception.
Because the bolded parts of those sentences wouldn't make sense as separate sentences, I used commas in those instances rather than semicolons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. House View Post
Quote:
something not quite conscious, and something primal.
Added an 'and'.
This is a situation in which adding an "and" would change the meaning of the sentence. The sentence from which that excerpt came wasn't actually intended to say that the "something" in question was both "not quite conscious" and "primal" with those two phrases treated as different and separate. Rather, "something primal" was used there to emphasize the degree to which the "something" was "not quite conscious". It's basically there to elaborate upon something that's already there ("something not quite conscious"), not to add something else altogether.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. House View Post
Quote:
Not terribly far away, he could make out the dark line of trees that represented the border between Convergence and its surrounding woods—that was his goal.
Two options:
trees that represented the border between Convergence and its surrounding woods—that were his goal.

A tree that represented the border between Convergence and its surrounding woods—that was his goal.
In the original version of that sentence, the use of "was" rather than "were" is actually correct because it's referring to a word that's considered singular, specifically the word "line". The trees are plural, but in this context they are being viewed collectively as a singular boundary, a border marking where the city ends and the forest begins. The text refers to a singular line of trees in order to reflect this.

If that second option were used, the sentence would no longer be describing what it was meant to describe--rather than an entire forest, there'd only be one tree there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. House View Post
Quote:
before he could put this city and the dragon to whom it belonged behind him for good, he just couldn’t wait to close that final distance.
whom -> which.
"Whom" was used there rather than "which" because "the dragon" in this context is a sentient being. "Whom" is the correct word to use for people regardless of whether or not the person in question is human.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. House View Post
I love the story so far! Though it's long, it's worth reading. I can't wait for the tentch chapter!
I'm glad to hear (or read, rather) that you're enjoying this despite its length. ^^ As for the tenth chapter, it's already written (as are the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters), so it'll be up sometime fairly soon, probably around the fifteenth of August. I won't be posting it any sooner than that, though--I try to give folks a decent amount of time (or what I hope is a decent amount of time, at least ^^; ) to read one chapter before dropping the next on them, especially in cases such as this one in which both the most recent chapter and the one that follows it are particularly long.
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-=CHAPTER 17 POSTED=-
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The Origin of Storms
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Old 07-28-2009, 03:36 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Nine Now Posted]

Wow. I don't like Jal'tai. I wouldn't want to be controlled like that....0o

Great chapter as always XP
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:41 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Nine Now Posted]

Grassy_Aggron: Agreed about being controlled like that—I wouldn't want that, either. o_o;


P.I.E. ADVISORY!

In reading this chapter, you will experience Prolonged Italics Exposure in the form of large sections of italicized text. P.I.E. has been clinically proven to cause eye irritation in some individuals. Visine will be handed out at the end of this chapter for any who have need of it.

_________________________

Chapter 10 – Deceiving Yesterday


Taloned arms lowered, embracing Solonn as his gaze was held by grave, red eyes. Solonn immediately wanted to be released, to be able to move away from the dragon rather than being drawn closer to him, but he simply lacked the strength to resist the hold of that grip or that stare, too drained to move other than to shudder in the latios’s arms as he was lifted from the floor. Part of him wanted to scream, but he didn’t have that in him, either; his fear could only display itself through his pallor and a continuous stream of nearly voiceless protests, mutterings that were wordless save for an occasionally discernible “no”.

Jal’tai held him there against his chest for a long moment, drawing a deep breath as his somber stare continued to weigh down upon the human’s face. He could barely stand the way Solonn was looking back at him. Hopelessness and terror were etched into every line of the human’s face, an expression befitting cornered prey.

It didn’t have to be like this, the latios lamented silently. It all could have been so much easier, but you just wouldn’t let yourself see the way… and now…

Jal’tai sighed, resigning himself with no small measure of regret to the course of action that he now felt that he had to take. He envisioned himself, along with the human in his arms, in another location, a place that lay hidden below that very tower, and focused his mind sharply on that image. Then he cast a tendril of his psychic power out and projected it into that destination. A fraction of a second later, the psychic force reeled both him and Solonn in toward it, and with a burst of golden light, the two of them teleported out of the office.

An instant later, that light drained from Solonn’s vision, revealing the scene that had replaced his prior surroundings. The room that he and Jal’tai now occupied was longer than it was wide and just large enough to allow the rigid-winged latios to move about comfortably. It was somewhat dimly lit by a single light mounted overhead, which cast a soft, rose-colored glow over the room.

Solonn saw little more of this place than what could be viewed over Jal’tai’s shoulder, but what lay there before his eyes, taking up the entirety of one end of the room, was a sight that he would have never imagined. On a large marble panel mounted into the far wall, an image of a latias stood out in relief. She was depicted hovering in place, her arms outstretched, with a benevolent smile curving across her face. Her feathers were accented with inlaid gold, making her image shine in the warm, gentle lighting. At her feet sat several elaborately carved, earthen pots containing delicate-looking, fluffy white flowers. The pots surrounded a tiny, shallow pool, at whose center a small fountain continually flowed with a soft murmuring.

In a very detached way, Solonn wondered about the enshrined latias and what sort of a place this could be to contain such a thing. His inability to determine the purpose of this place did nothing to assuage his fear, for it made it even harder to guess just what Jal’tai could have in store for him here. However, he remained sure on the deepest level that whatever awaited him, it would not be good.

He allowed his head to loll backwards over Jal’tai’s arm in order to see what lay at the other end of the room. The inverted picture that reached his eyes was very different from his previous view: no shrines, no flowers, no portraits. There was only a metal table, unremarkable and featureless save for a series of slots of varying widths that were arranged in symmetrical patterns all the way down the length of its surface.

In contrast to the seemingly benevolent image of the latias on the other side of the room, the table looked especially uninviting, enhancing the inauspicious feeling Solonn got from it. He strongly suspected that the table would have something to do with whatever punishment Jal’tai intended for him; just looking at it, he could already begin to feel the suffering that he expected he would soon be facing.

Jal’tai let go of him then, but to Solonn’s brief surprise, he didn’t fall. At the moment when he should have hit the floor, Solonn saw that the latios’s eyes carried that familiar fuchsia light once again, telling him that Jal’tai’s telekinesis was being employed to keep him up off the ground. Jal’tai lifted Solonn slightly higher into the air and then began guiding him backward—toward that table, Solonn recognized at once. It seemed his suspicion and dread toward the table had been right on the mark.

Solonn felt the coldness and hardness of the metal against his back through his shirt as he was laid down on the table, its chill seeping unpleasantly into his already aching bones at once. His entire body was then locked into rigidity by the latios’s psychic force, and his limbs were straightened and positioned between pairs of the slots in the table’s surface. The next second, metal bands suddenly erupted from the slots and shackled his arms, legs, and waist to the table.

Slowly, Jal’tai moved forward toward Solonn. The light faded from his eyes as he came to levitate directly above his captive—and then a blaze of another kind seemed to awaken in its place, the exact nature of which Solonn feared to guess. However, the phenomenon was gone just as soon as Solonn had noticed it, leaving the human to wonder if his fear hadn’t caused him to imagine the strange light that had danced so briefly within Jal’tai’s eyes.

The latios closed his eyes, taking a long, steadying breath while clasping his talons as if in prayer. “I had dearly hoped that it would not come to this,” he said, his voice somehow sounding very heavy despite being barely more than whispered. “I had hoped you would see things clearly and understand what must be… I wanted to believe that you would…”

His eyes opened and locked into Solonn’s gaze, his face exuding weariness and disappointment. “But I knew better, really,” he said almost inflectionlessly, “even from the very start—hence the need for our little experiment tonight.”

Before Solonn could even begin to guess what Jal’tai was referring to in the mentioning of an “experiment”, the latios continued. “The events of this night were the final culmination of this experiment, which was designed to test your willingness to serve our cause. On the night you were transfigured, I injected a small transmitter under your skin. I instructed Neleng to obliquely allow you to learn the exit code from her, and the police were told to keep an eye on your transmitter’s signal and to apprehend you and bring you to me if you attempted to leave Convergence.”

An immediate sinking feeling struck deep into Solonn’s chest, while his extremities went numb with shock. “…You set this up?” he asked hoarsely and with difficulty, still quite breathless, his mouth and throat dry and not quite able to coordinate properly all of a sudden. “You—” He paused momentarily, attempting in vain to swallow to relieve his parched throat. “—you let me run away?”

Jal’tai nodded slowly, sorrowfully. “I had to know if you would.”

Pained outrage seized the human’s features. “Of course I would!” he croaked, his voice badly constrained and cracking painfully. “Of course I would, after what you did to me!”

Solonn looked right into the face of his captor, his bloodshot eyes projecting his anguish very clearly and potently through their steady stream of tears and their unflinching, accusatory stare. That the one ray of hope that he’d found since being captured by Jal’tai had turned out to be nothing more than an illusion was almost too much for him to bear, and it elevated his hatred of Jal’tai further than even Solonn himself had thought that he could harbor.

Yet somehow, learning that his “escape” had been staged failed to completely surprise him; in Solonn’s mind, it seemed to fit perfectly with the motive of total domination that he saw in the latios. He was sure that the real main point of Jal’tai’s experiment was to demonstrate very clearly that any resistance on Solonn’s part was utterly futile—that he would never escape.

Jal’tai gave a soft, troubled sound as he turned away from Solonn, seeming to have lost the will to look upon his captive’s tormented face any longer. He hovered there in place for several moments on end, staring at the shining image of the latias who smiled back at him from across the room. Then he lowered his head, and a beat later, he turned back toward Solonn with abnormal haste as if trying to execute the action before he had a chance to be aware of what he was doing.

Though in truth, he knew it was useless to even try, Solonn nonetheless struggled in his restraints as Jal’tai drew close once more, the anticipation of imminent suffering having awakened a desperate, primal urge within him to flee from the oncoming threat. Within a breath, Jal’tai was hovering over him once more, and burning brightly within the latios’s eyes…

Solonn learned in an instant that he had not imagined the strange light that he had seen within Jal’tai’s eyes minutes earlier. There it was again, just as before, but now that it remained burning there rather than extinguishing itself just as soon as it had come, Solonn was able to witness more of its peculiar qualities. As if bewitched, his gaze fixed upon the way that the light in Jal’tai’s eyes pulsed and swirled arrhythmically, constantly shifting its color and intensity.

The light and color expanded outward from the latios’s eyes in a sudden burst, first spreading over the rest of his body, then proceeding to wash over the entire room. Now camouflaged in the psychedelic colors that had consumed everything in sight, Jal’tai was only discernible as a vague outline; if it hadn’t been for Jal’tai’s slight motion in midair as he breathed, Solonn might have easily lost sight of him.

Solonn was stricken with a sudden, sharp pain as the light that surrounded him intensified sharply, lancing into his eyes like burning needles. He tried to close them, but something was holding his eyelids open against his will and their own, forcing him to suffer the harsh light that Jal’tai had set upon him.

The dancing colors abruptly and greatly increased their speed, rushing in every direction around Solonn. In their frenzy, a powerful noise arose: a formless, discordant chorus of screeches and roars. The sound of the phenomenon matched the sight of it perfectly, chaotic and painfully intense for him to endure. In the next second, Solonn found himself seemingly able to taste and smell the chaos as well as to see and hear it; its scent and flavor were extremely sharp and sour, burning his throat as he inhaled it on the air, making him cough and gag.

The phenomenon then assaulted the rest of him, and the instant he began to feel this, he unleashed an agonized cry, its forcefulness belying how weak he still was. Jal’tai’s strange power seared almost continuously against Solonn’s skin and struck deep through his nerves in bolts that stabbed intermittently into different parts of him.

With every passing second, the punishment of his every sense grew stronger. He had never known such absolute suffering in his life. Through a mind throttled by the grip of a full sensory overload, Solonn’s sole conscious desire was for an end to this torture. It seemed impossible that he could still be conscious in the face of such overwhelming pain, and yet he was denied the mercy of passing out.

The outline of the dragon above suddenly became much more distinct then, and the change took an immediate and absolute hold of Solonn’s attention despite the ever-escalating chaos that had consumed him.

<Be at peace,> came a telepathic voice that mirrored the latios’s spoken voice, reaching Solonn as clear as a bell despite the din. Then, all at once, the light, the noise, and all of the pain simply ceased.

* * *

There was a delay before Solonn dared to recognize that the bizarre torture to which Jal’tai had been subjecting him had finally ended. Once he did, he became aware with a shock of his surroundings—or rather, the lack thereof. He could see nothing, hear nothing, taste nothing, smell nothing, feel nothing; there was simply nothing surrounding him to be perceived. He couldn’t even perceive anything of himself other than his own awareness.

This surreal unbeing considerably resembled that which lay within the confinement of a capture ball, and Solonn began to wonder if he hadn’t been sent into a device of that nature. Perhaps this was part of his punishment, he reckoned—maybe Jal’tai intended to keep him imprisoned within this netherscape, perhaps only letting him out to inflict more of that multisensory torture upon him, until his mind and sense of reality were so severely traumatized and disarrayed that he would accept anything…

In a literal flash, the solitude of his unbeing was broken. A shapeless, luminous body shone like a star within the darkness that surrounded him, impossible light in a world without vision. With the same suddenness with which it had appeared, it took on a form, one that Solonn recognized at once.

Jal’tai now hovered there in the emptiness before Solonn, glowing brilliantly, a latios made out of pure, white light. Only his eyes did not emit this glow, appearing as two fathomless, pitch-black holes in the otherwise featureless surface of his luminous form.

The latios then spoke to him telepathically, but in a mindvoice that was different than before, one as vast as the void that surrounded him. <No, Solonn. That is not what I have done to you, nor is it what I intend to do.>

Solonn was immediately stricken by fear at the sheer immensity of the psychic voice that had just spoken to him. He acknowledged Jal’tai’s words, but was too overwhelmed by them to respond.

<I will not let any further harm come to you,> Jal’tai said somberly. <I know you’d never be able to forgive me for all that you’ve suffered to this point… nor would I expect you to,> he added. <I doubt I’ll ever be able to forgive myself… and if She won’t, either, I would understand…>

The glowing latios extended his arms. Solonn felt Jal’tai’s embrace despite having nothing of himself with which to actually, physically feel anything, just as he had seen and heard Jal’tai amidst the emptiness despite being without eyes and ears.

<Your suffering ends here,> Jal’tai told him consolingly. <I will now ensure that you will struggle no more.>

What are you going to do to me? Solonn asked fearfully. He had no voice in this place, but he also had no doubt at this point that Jal’tai could hear his thoughts.

<I could tell you,> Jal’tai replied, <but you would not be able to keep that knowledge.>

With that, the black holes that were the latios’s eyes suddenly gave a single, massive flash of light that was even brighter than that which comprised the rest of his form, and Solonn knew no more.

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:35 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:42 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Nine Now Posted]

A gasp rent the air as lungs in a body that had been suspended in stasis for nearly five minutes suddenly reawakened and resumed their duties. Their owner’s head sank and remained low as he took several moments to catch his breath. His spine arched and his talons flexed, reviving his muscles somewhat painfully.

With something of an effort, Jal’tai made himself look upon the face of the human before him. Solonn stared expressionlessly back at him through blank, dilated eyes that held a faint, silvery glow. The former glalie was still alive, but suspended in a peculiar state between consciousness and unconsciousness. His psyche was subdued and encapsulated within a psychic prison, barred from access to his own brain. The lati had a name for this state: liasa andielenne—the waking death.

Entering this state was an invariably unpleasant experience for the subject, which Jal’tai regretted to no small degree, but he knew that it was crucial for what was to be done next. There was work to be done within this human’s brain, and said human could not be present there to witness or interfere with the task at hand.

Still, even with the necessary preparations made, Jal’tai worried for the outcome of this procedure. Major, intrusive psychic methods such as the one he was about to employ bore a significant risk of unwanted, detrimental side effects, especially in brains with no sort of defense against the psychic element. Of particular concern to Jal’tai was the fact that they could corrupt or even destroy psychic anomalies in the brain—anomalies such as the Speech.

Hence Jal’tai had been severely reluctant to resort to this course of action—it had every bit as much potential to ruin his candidate as it had to secure him, if not more. Nevertheless, the latios committed himself to this act, feeling that there truly was no better option. It had been by an extraordinary stroke of luck that he had come by someone who possessed the rare and crucial quality needed to take the reins of this city. The odds were overwhelmingly against finding another Speaker anytime soon; Jal’tai didn’t know how long he had in this world to wait and furthermore knew that he would rest much more easily at night once he could be sure that Convergence’s future was secured.

Thus he was determined to do whatever could be done to keep Solonn as a viable successor. Though this last resort might bring failure to that endeavor, Jal’tai was certain that any chance for success with this candidate would be lost for sure if he didn’t go through with it; he doubted very strongly that Solonn would cooperate otherwise. Jal’tai needed to be sure that his replacement was loyal to the mission of this city and could be counted on to serve that mission once given his office, and he was therefore willing to take this risk.

It would be all or nothing, he knew. Either he would have his successor, dedicated and willing to take the role that Jal’tai truly believed that destiny had assigned to him, or else he would have something that was useless to his cause, casting the future of his project back into an indefinite uncertainty.

Jal’tai cast an imploring glance back over his shoulder toward the marble panel on the wall behind him. Please watch over him, Rei’eli, he prayed silently to the image of the goddess that smiled at him from the far end of the room. Keep his gift whole.

He turned back toward Solonn, his heart heavy with concern. He placed his talons upon the human’s head, staring intently into his subject’s empty eyes. His breathing slowed dramatically as his focus deepened, stoking his psychic element and manifesting it into a vehicle for his consciousness. As it carried him out of his own mind and into that of the human who lay before him, he dearly hoped that his goddess had heard his prayer.

* * *

Haze enveloped the intruder, hanging calmly over the surrounding mindscape. It was a thick and very murky medium, one that would have offered up no distinction among its constituent elements to less sophisticated senses and would have threatened to erase the lines between itself and any less capable invader.

For Jal’tai, the oppressive haze held no danger of absorbing his consciousness and didn’t obscure his mind’s eye in the least. He could discern the nearly innumerable, individual mental signatures that formed the haze, as well as the intricate ways by which certain among them were connected and associated—a task made all the easier by liasa andielenne; the haze would have been roiling turbulently in an active mind, making it harder to see what lay within it. It also helped matters that this particular mindscape was not unexplored territory.

Jal’tai knew not only how to distinguish these mental signatures but also what they truly were: memories. This was the history of Solonn Zgil-Al, far more complete and detailed to Jal’tai’s perception than it could ever be to its owner’s, recorded through Solonn’s own senses.

Among the archives of Solonn’s mind were records of particular importance to Jal’tai, records that held the key to the human’s cooperation—answers to the questions of both why it had not yet been achieved and how it could be. These were the records of the past twelve days, beginning with Solonn’s earliest recollection of Jal’tai from that morning when they had first met west of Lilycove.

Jal’tai focused on his own memories of that morning as he began to sift through the haze, searching for images of that overgrown field and the guise of the swellow that he had worn there. He was fully aware that these images would certainly appear somewhat different in Solonn’s memory than they did in his own, for there were notable differences between the perception of a glalie and that of a latios. Still, Jal’tai reckoned that he’d recognize those memories once he found them, and sure enough, he did.

He had now successfully located Solonn’s memory of departing the field with him and heading off into the forest toward Convergence. Keeping it within his focus, he traced along its connections to other memories, following a backwards route to the moment when Solonn had first encountered him as a swellow.

Having found the starting point for the chain of memories that were of importance to this operation, he proceeded to anchor a part of his own mind to it. He then began to copy this memory and all those that followed it as he allowed them to unfold in chronological order at an incredible speed. Almost as soon as it had begun, the process was finished. In barely more than an instant, Jal’tai had obtained twelve days’ worth of memories, memories that were not his own.

Now the task at hand was to deal with the original copy of this chain of memories, upon which Jal’tai remained tightly focused. There were two options that he could apply here, he knew. One was to simply erase these memories. The other was to keep them intact but heavily suppressed, locking them away deep within Solonn’s subconscious mind.

Erasure was, of course, the more alluring option to Jal’tai; an erased memory was completely irretrievable, after all. However, it was also a much more intrusive method than merely sealing the memories. In even conducting the steps of this procedure that he already had, Jal’tai knew that he was pushing it, endangering the very aspect of this mind for which he was going to these lengths. Comforting though he was sure it would be to know that these memories were gone for good, Jal’tai accepted that for safety’s sake, it would be better not to destroy any of them unless he truly felt that it was necessary.

In order to judge if these memories could be trusted to be preserved in the shadows of Solonn’s mind or if he should try to remove them without a trace despite the added risk that that method brought, he accessed the copy of the chain of memories that he had absorbed and let the sequence of events play out in his mind somewhat more slowly than when he’d last let them unfold, allowing him to vicariously experience the past twelve days as Solonn had experienced them.

He saw himself, disguised as a swellow, leading Solonn through the woods and into Convergence. Through Solonn’s perspective, he experienced the morning when the human had awakened to find himself in a new form, feeling Solonn’s fearful disbelief at his new form and his bereavement at the loss of his element in a secondhand way. Jal’tai beheld the revelation of his own true form, listened to his own attempts to make Solonn listen to reason, and watched—and felt—the excruciating, telekinetic punishment that he had inflicted upon the human when his failure to convince Solonn through words had caused him to lose his patience…

…And here he paused, bringing the playback of Solonn’s memories to a grinding halt. Suddenly confronted with the suffering that his frustration had caused and made to actually experience the pain and terror that he had inflicted, he found himself overwhelmed all at once by immense horror, guilt, and shame.

What in heaven’s name came over me? he wondered, aghast. By the Goddess… I could have killed him…

Long moments passed before he regained himself enough to continue his psychic work. Even then, he remained somewhat shaken by the reminder of what he had done as he resumed studying the former glalie’s memories of the recent past, watching as Solonn dragged himself listlessly through his first few days as a human and then began planning an escape in more recent days, with the chain of memories ending with Solonn’s foiled escape and his subjection to liasa andielenne.

Having reviewed the memories that were to be censored, Jal’tai made the decision to seal them rather than erase them. Realizing just how very close he had already come to losing Solonn as a candidate once, he was now especially disinclined to tempt fate any more than he could help. And yet… thoughts of that day when he had lost control and of the pain that that had caused remained close at hand, haunting his mind. Not only was he deeply ashamed of it, but if the human were to somehow recall it against the odds, it was certain that that would destroy any trust that Jal’tai instilled in him.

Jal’tai proceeded to isolate the memory of the past twelve days from the rest of Solonn’s memories. He then set a psychic lock upon them and relocated them to the deepest, most obscure and inaccessible layer of the human’s mind—but not before extracting one particular memory from the chain and annihilating it.

The offending history was now subdued, but Jal’tai’s work was not yet finished. As he departed Solonn’s mindscape to proceed with the next step of the process, he tried to draw some relief and satisfaction from the fact that at least now Solonn would never be able to recall his brutal punishment at the latios’s hands again… but his efforts were hampered by the knowledge that he could not purge that memory from his own mind likewise.

* * *

With his consciousness having returned to the physical plane, Jal’tai once again beheld the motionless form of the human before him. Solonn still wore the same blank, emotionless, lifeless expression that he had been wearing ever since entering liasa andielenne.

At least he’s not suffering anymore, the latios thought wearily as he set himself down on the floor for a short break following the work that he had accomplished thus far; the act of sustaining his presence within a foreign mind for extended periods of time was fairly taxing, especially at his age. He rested his head in his talons as he prepared to initiate the next task, which was to create a different version of events to replace the twelve days that he had just sealed away from Solonn’s memory.

Jal’tai still saw promise in Solonn despite the obstacles that had arisen in trying to get the human to recognize his potential. He was quite certain that Solonn was capable of appreciating the mission of the Convergence Project and might have thereby accepted his new role under different circumstances. Jal’tai still felt that no other course of action but the one that he had taken could have securely yielded success, however; he believed that it was the only way to have been absolutely sure that Solonn would take the form that becoming the new mayor demanded. What was done was done, and because Solonn had reacted so adversely to the way that things were done, the next step for Jal’tai was to make the human believe that things had been done differently.

From what he had gathered both from reviewing Solonn’s memories of the days since the two had met and from his own memories of his interactions with the human over the past several days, Jal’tai had determined that one of the main reasons why Solonn was refusing to accept his new form and the purpose for which it had been bestowed upon him was that the change had not been his choice. He had also determined a number of other elements which, if removed or added to the circumstances, would help to ensure Solonn’s cooperation, as well as to enable Jal’tai to earn the human’s trust and escape his resentment.

With all of these things in mind, Jal’tai entered a trance in which he began to fabricate an alternative version of the circumstances surrounding Solonn’s reception of his new identity. If all went as Jal’tai desired for it to go, this rewrite of history would turn Solonn into the ready and willing successor for which the latios so dearly hoped…

* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:36 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:43 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Nine Now Posted]

Go!” Solonn shouted at the terrified creature who cowered before him—the creature who had almost become his prey. He watched as the zigzagoon sprinted fearfully away through the tall grass, sickened by himself as he thought of what he had nearly done.

“Well, that certainly was magnanimous of you,” said a bright, jovial voice.

Surprised, Solonn turned at once to see whom and what had just spoken. He was met with the sight of a feathered, blue-and-gray dragon hovering in midair a short distance in front of him.

The dragon introduced himself as Jal’tai, a latios. After Solonn had introduced himself in turn, Jal’tai inquired as to what had brought him to this area, having never seen Solonn around before. Solonn told him of how he had fled from human abductors in Lilycove and was just trying to lie low until he could find some means to return to his home across the sea.

Jal’tai offered him a place to stay in a city in the west where he could be safe and comfortable. Solonn hesitated to take him up on the offer, reluctant to go into another human city. Jal’tai assured him that the place that he had in mind was nothing of the sort. After a few more moments’ consideration, Solonn accepted Jal’tai’s offer and followed him westward through the forest.

Upon arriving at their destination, a place which Jal’tai identified as Convergence, Solonn couldn’t help but notice certain familiarities about the city—familiarities which contradicted the latios’s assurances about it.

“Jal’tai, I thought you said this wasn’t a human city…”

“Yes, I most certainly did,” Jal’tai responded. “And on closer inspection, you might realize that indeed, just as I stated, this is not a
human city. Here in Convergence, pokémon and humans live and work as equals.” He smiled proudly. “I’m the man in charge of this city, you see, and I would not have it any other way around here.”

The last of the latios’s statements took a moment to fully register in Solonn’s brain. “…Wait, did you say you were
in charge here?” he asked incredulously once it clicked.

Jal’tai nodded, still beaming. “Yes, that’s correct,” he said. “I am the mayor of this fine city. Convergence is my pride and joy—a testament to the equality of all peoples. You see… in the cities owned and ruled exclusively by humans, pokémon are second-class citizens—if even that.” His features gave a brief flash of disgust. “But here, pokémon are afforded the same rights and opportunities as humans. They may own properties like those the humans own. They may learn to operate the vehicles invented by humans if they so wish. Our academy offers them the same education that humans receive and training for those who wish to enter occupations that elsewhere may only be held by humans.

“My hope is that the rest of the human world will learn from Convergence’s example, that they will see that they can and should live alongside pokémon in harmony and equality. This community may very well be the starting point for the greatly-needed change in human-pokémon relations—perhaps then, pokémon will be respected by humans, rather than disregarded, exploited, and abused as we have all too often been in the past. Now do you see what makes Convergence great?”

Solonn could only nod in response, still quite absorbed in thoughts of what Jal’tai had just told him about the state of relations between humans and the other peoples of the world, in the latios’s claim that pokémon were such non-entities in the eyes of humans.

Jal’tai offered to take him to lunch at a local restaurant then, and he accepted. Along the way, he was shown how the pokémon citizens of Convergence were able to utilize the technological conveniences invented by humans to go about their everyday lives—a privilege that they would be denied in the human world, according to Jal’tai.

Once they had reached the restaurant and had been served their respective meals, Jal’tai spoke further about the apparent schism between humans and other intelligent species.

“As I was saying,” the latios said as he paused momentarily in his enjoyment of his fish platter, “the way pokémon are perceived by humans
desperately needs to be changed. Did you know that most humans do not realize—or else deny—that pokémon are intelligent beings?”

Solonn looked up from the steak that had been served to him, which still lay untouched due to the glalie’s internal conflict with his own sensibilities. “…No,” he responded, sounding quite troubled at this information. “No, I didn’t know that.”

Jal’tai nodded sadly. “It’s true. The majority of humans regard pokémon not as people, but as mere
animals,” he told Solonn, a distinct touch of vehemence coloring his words and seeming to shine in his eyes.

“Gods… How could they see us that way?” Solonn wondered aloud.

The dragon sighed sorrowfully. “I have been trying to figure that out myself for many years now, to no avail, I’m afraid. All I know for certain is that they must be made to see the truth if pokémon are to receive the treatment we deserve from their kind.”

Jal’tai resumed his meal then, leaving Solonn to muse on all that he had just learned. It disturbed and saddened him to think of how poorly humans apparently regarded pokémon. At the same time, however, he thought of Morgan—she hadn’t fit the portrayal that Jal’tai had given of humans as uncaring and disregarding of pokémon. She had always treated Solonn and the other pokémon who lived with her with respect instead of as inferiors. If she could respect pokémon, then perhaps the humans who didn’t could learn to do so, as well… maybe, Solonn considered, there was hope for the relations between humanity and the rest of the world’s peoples.

At length, Solonn finally managed to force himself to take the meat that he had been given. Shortly thereafter, he found himself becoming quite tired with an unusual and alarming suddenness—he suspected that the trials of the prior evening were finally taking their toll on him. When he mentioned this to Jal’tai, the latios told him of a nearby hotel where he could rest and brought him there right away.

Solonn fell into a profoundly deep sleep just as soon as he was given a suite in which to stay, and he remained asleep until late in the following morning when he was awakened by a series of loud, shrill beeps followed by the sound of a computerized voice.

“Receiving message,” the voice said coolly.

Solonn only distantly noted those words, not quite absorbing them, as he was still emerging with an effort from his sleep. He was slightly more awake and aware when another voice arose; he recognized it at once as that of Jal’tai.

“Solonn? Are you awake?” the latios asked.

Stifling a yawn, Solonn rose from the floor and turned toward the source of Jal’tai’s voice, but saw no one there. A second later, as his brain finally finished awakening, he spotted the paging device that sat on the nearby table, and remembered being told that he could use it to call Jal’tai—apparently it also worked the other way around.

“Yeah, I’m awake,” he answered finally.

“Good, good,” Jal’tai said brightly. “Is it all right if I come and pay you a visit?”

“Hm? Sure, go ahead,” Solonn said nonchalantly.

“Ah, very well, then,” Jal’tai said. “I’ll be right up in a moment.”

“Connection terminated,” said the computerized voice again, and with another beep, the device shut itself off.

Very shortly thereafter, that same voice spoke up again, this time to announce the arrival of a visitor. Bright green light blossomed from a tile on the floor near the wall, then faded as Jal’tai materialized within the suite.

“Good morning,” the latios said amiably. “How are you feeling today?”

“Meh, just fine, I suppose,” Solonn answered. “Still a little tired, but other than that…”

“Hm,” Jal’tai responded, nodding. “Well, I’m glad to hear that you seem to be on the mend. I was quite concerned about you yesterday, you know,” he said, his tone serious. “I feared you wouldn’t even remain conscious through the trip to this hotel. Never in my life have I seen someone drained of energy so suddenly and completely… those humans in Lilycove must have put you through a most dreadful ordeal, indeed…”

Solonn only made a small, wordless, affirmative noise in response.

“Well, at least you did manage to escape from those scoundrels,” Jal’tai said. “You’ve certainly been spared a most unpleasant fate… Do you have any idea what their motives might have been in taking you, what they might have had in store?”

Solonn hesitated to answer. Yes, he did know why he had been taken—and in the wake of learning such, he was particularly wary of speaking of that very thing that had gotten him into such a situation in the first place.

However, he did wonder how much danger there could actually be in confiding in Jal’tai. It wouldn’t be the first time that he had trusted his secret with another—he had deemed both Morgan and Sei to be safe to confide in, and as he thought about it, he still felt that that had been a sound judgment, even considering what had happened the day before. After all, his abilities had only gotten him into trouble in Lilycove due to completely external forces stumbling upon his secret, something that might not necessarily have happened under different circumstances even given the fact that he had chosen not to hide that secret from Morgan and Sei.

Neither of them had not come across to him as being untrustworthy, and Solonn was finding himself of the mindset that Jal’tai didn’t, either. Ever since he had met him, the latios had been speaking of his disapproval of unjust treatment and exploitation of pokémon—he seemed like one of the last people who would ever make Solonn sorry to reveal his abilities to him.

Solonn got the feeling that if he told Jal’tai to keep the secret, he would do so. And since Jal’tai was this city’s leader, perhaps he had authority enough in this place to help ensure that none of the wrong people happened upon the secret themselves.

So, feeling fairly secure in doing so, Solonn went ahead and told Jal’tai of the reason why he was targeted for abduction.

“They wanted me…” he began, “because I can do something that apparently very few pokémon can do… I can speak to humans. In their own language.” He sighed bitterly. “The humans who tried to take me wanted to show me off because of it, as a
freak,” he told Jal’tai, that last word more hissed than spoken.

Jal’tai’s expression became dramatically sterner as he stared back at Solonn in the wake of the glalie’s admission. “
Sickening,” he hissed, his voice low and rather ominous-sounding. “Absolutely deplorable… what you possess is a gift; you should be honored for it, not exploited…”

Fury radiated almost tangibly from Jal’tai as he hovered in place for a moment, his features contorted with clear disgust. At length, he drew a long breath, seemingly trying to calm himself, and released it on a sorrowful sigh. “I’m afraid such troubles come with the territory of the talents you possess,” he said soberly, closing his eyes and folding his hands. “I know it all too well myself…” He met Solonn’s gaze directly, his eyes staring pointedly into those of the glalie. “It is true that exceedingly few possess the Speech—the ability to communicate universally. As such, I thought I would likely never find another who shared this ability in common with me.”

Solonn stared speechlessly back at Jal’tai for seconds on end. Like Jal’tai, he had not been expecting to come across another person who shared his linguistic abilities. As Jal’tai’s revelation sank fully into his mind, he was left without a doubt that his assessment of the dragon’s trustworthiness had been right on the mark. Jal’tai was a kindred spirit—if anyone could be trusted, Solonn reckoned, it was him.

“So, this thing… this ‘Speech’, as you called it… it’s gotten you into trouble, too?” Solonn asked, earning a nod from the latios in response. “Was the trouble with humans?”

“Not exclusively,” Jal’tai answered, “but mostly, yes. Hence the need for a bit of deceptiveness unto the outside world on my part, I’m afraid… Observe…”

Solonn gave the latios his attention, having no idea what to expect from him. As he watched, a strange, shimmering light surrounded Jal’tai, blurring and consuming his form until it was completely unidentifiable. The mass of light brightened momentarily, then began to take shape once more as it faded.

Once the light was gone completely, Solonn saw that the latios that had been in that very spot had apparently gone with it. An elderly, goateed human in a brown suit stood there instead—one whom Solonn recognized at once as being the man pictured on the sign at Whitley’s.

“This is how I appear to the citizens of Convergence, as well as those with whom I do business outside of town,” he said. “To them, I am known as the human Rolf Whitley—I virtually never work under my true identity. I lament that I must appear to the people as something and someone I am not—it should not have to be this way, but the unfortunate fact is that it is a necessity of my work.

“You see, as a pokémon who can speak human languages, humans may look upon me as a curiosity—a freak, as you so aptly put it,” Jal’tai explained, his tone carrying clear distaste. “They will not listen to or respect something that they regard in such a demeaning way. However, as a human who can speak pokémon language, I am not seen as a freak, but merely gifted. It’s a shameful double standard, but it’s the reality for people like us, I’m afraid.”

With another brief shimmering of light all around him, Jal’tai resumed his true form. “So, you see, that guise is the means by which I am able not only to live with my gift in peace but to also utilize it to do good in this world.”

He turned toward Solonn. “You know, this place, this embodiment of all that I believe in… it could not have been made possible were it not for my possession of the Speech,” he then said. “Because this is a community for both pokémon and humans, its leader must be able to deal with both equally. Thus this office demands the Speech, meaning that there are very few who could take care of this city’s needs.”

An unreadable expression suddenly over took the dragon’s features, but Solonn was given little time to look upon it or to wonder about it before Jal’tai turned away from him. A very long and rather awkward silence followed.

Eventually, Jal’tai turned back, his expression distinctly uneasy. “Solonn…” he began, “I would like to know if…” He faltered, seemingly unable to complete the sentence. “No,” he said in a subdued tone a moment later, “no, I just couldn’t ask such a thing of you…”

Solonn’s brows drew together, the light in his eyes flickering slightly in concern. “…What is it?” he asked. “What are you talking about?”

Jal’tai only gazed back at him for a time, looking almost guilty. He hesitated momentarily before answering, and even once he did respond, he spoke with clear reluctance.

“I’m… well, I’m not a young dragon anymore,” he said quietly. “I won’t be around to take care of this city forever… I love Convergence, Solonn,” he all but whispered. “I worry for its future… I don’t know what will become of this place without me. Who will watch over this city when I’m gone?”

Solonn didn’t know how to respond to that at first. Then he realized just what the latios was saying. “Are… are you saying you want
me to take your place?” he asked, his eyes wide.

“Well…” the latios responded with something of a delay, “as I said, only those who are blessed with the Speech, as you and I are, are qualified to guide and maintain this community. And as I also mentioned, I had not expected that I would ever find another such person… I have been fretting over the matter of who could possibly take my office after me—and what might become of Convergence and its mission if no one suitable could be found…”

Quite overwhelmed, Solonn suddenly felt the need to sit down. “…I don’t know what to say…”

“I don’t imagine I would, either, were I in your position,” Jal’tai said quietly.

“I mean… I understand what you’re worried about, but… are you sure there’s no one else you could ask?” Solonn asked, finding it difficult to get the words out.

“I honestly can’t say for certain,” the latios answered, “but the odds are very much against it.”

With every passing second, Solonn found himself feeling more cornered by the matter. How the guilt had overtaken him so swiftly and strongly, and precisely where it had actually even come from, Solonn could not guess, but there it was, present and undeniable. He understood and cared about Jal’tai’s dilemma… but still…

“…I don’t know…” he said guiltily, “…This is not a minor matter—I mean, you’re thinking of putting me in charge of an entire city?” He shook his head in disbelief. “Jal’tai… I don’t know if I have it in me…”

“There’s no need to worry where that is concerned,” Jal’tai said softly. “I assure you that you would be adequately educated and prepared to take up these responsibilities.”

The latios’s already troubled expression suddenly became even moreso. “Solonn… there is one more thing I need to tell you before you commit yourself one way or another to my offer,” he told the glalie, his tone grave. “I demonstrated the way that I disguise myself as a human in order to live and work with the Speech safely. You would have to take on a human identity as well if you were to take my office. But since you are not endowed as I am with the power to project a mirage over yourself… well, you would have to come by your disguise by a different means. The only other method by which you could pass for a human… is to actually become one.”

Last edited by Sike Saner; 10-19-2011 at 07:40 PM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:44 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Nine Now Posted]

“…What?” Solonn thought he must surely have misheard the latios. “You can’t be serious!”

“I
am serious, Solonn,” Jal’tai said. “In order to replace me as the mayor of this city, you will have to be physically transformed into a human.”

“But… how is that even
possible?!”

“There is an elemental technique that has been practiced by my people for millennia—namely the transfigure technique—that enables the user to change the form of another thing or person,” Jal’tai explained. “Allow me to demonstrate…”

Jal’tai left the room momentarily. When he returned, he was carrying a small decorative pillow in his talons. “Watch carefully,” he instructed Solonn, then set the pillow down upon the floor. He extended his arms, keeping his talons rigid over the pillow. Slowly, spheres of mint-green light swelled around his hands; soon after, an aura of the same color surrounded the pillow.

The light began strobing then; Solonn winced, his eyes narrowing to slits to fend off the flashing light. He kept them open with an effort despite the discomfort, however, determined to see if Jal’tai could actually do what he was claiming to be able to do. With astonishment, he realized that he could see the pillow warping, shifting somewhat jerkily and unevenly into another shape.

With one final flash of green light and one last metamorphic spasm, the pillow was no more. Right before Solonn’s eyes, it had been transfigured into a plant sitting in an earthen pot, its many leafy tendrils spilling out over the rim.

“And that is how it’s done,” Jal’tai said, sounding somewhat winded, as he picked up the potted plant and examined it briefly. He cast a quick look upward at a particular spot on the ceiling. “This would look rather nice right about there, I think…” he remarked, then set the plant back down and turned back toward Solonn once more.

Solonn, meanwhile, stared dumbstruck at the plant. “Oh gods…” he said almost voicelessly. He had risen from the floor without realizing it and was now starting to back away from the plant.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Jal’tai assured him. “If you choose to accept the change, I will do everything in my power to make it as non-traumatic an experience as I can. If you wish, I can render you unconscious during the actual transfiguration so that you can be sure not to experience any discomfort. Afterward, I promise that I will help you to become accustomed to your new form. Furthermore—” He inclined his head slightly further toward Solonn. “—the change is not permanent. It will wear off after about eight to ten years… perhaps by that time, such masquerades will no longer be needed in this world.”

Those reassurances fell short of quite comforting Solonn, and Jal’tai seemed to recognize this. “I know that physical transformation is not something to be taken lightly, but it’s also something with which you have had some prior experience, have you not? I happen to know that yours is an evolved form—perhaps you might try looking at this as just another stage of evolution.”

Jal’tai was right in one sense: this was indeed not the first time that Solonn had been faced with the prospect of transformation. However, Solonn had not accepted his last change hastily; he had only agreed to go through with it once it had truly seemed necessary. Furthermore, after comparing his memory of evolving into a glalie with the process of transfiguration that he had just beheld, he was quite certain that they would be two very different experiences.

“This is just… all too much,” Solonn said finally, wearily, as he set himself back down.

“I understand,” Jal’tai said softly. “I would not expect anyone to make such a major decision in any hurry.” He began to glide past Solonn then, moving toward the wall that bore the keypad and transport tile, but turned back before exiting. “You can stay here as long as you like,” he told Solonn. “And when you come to a decision regarding what I have offered to you, please call me and let me know. I won’t force you to decide one way or another… but I do ask that you consider what is at the heart of this matter. This community was born in the name of a better future, one in which the schism between humanity and all the other peoples of the world is bridged at last. Ask yourself: is this not a future that you desire to see made into a reality?”

Solonn winced, feeling as though a large weight had just dropped into his stomach. He did want to see unity between humans and pokémon, but there was still also the matter of what acting on that desire here would apparently require of him. He couldn’t even begin to decide what to do.

He finally pried his eyes away from the plant and turned quickly to face Jal’tai and ask him how he was supposed to deal with these conflicting notions, but he saw only a flash of green light. The latios had already gone, leaving him alone with the weight of this decision.

For the rest of the day, Solonn’s thoughts were monopolized by the matter of Jal’tai’s offer, and it denied him sleep throughout the night. He agreed with the latios’s mission, and he could not deny that he truly did want to help. But to
become a human… how could he readily accept something that he could barely believe?

As hour after hour was claimed by these thoughts, bringing the morning and then midday, Solonn found himself reckoning this situation by a previous one: that which had surrounded his evolution. He had initially dismissed the comparison, certain of there being a major difference between the two methods of change. As he considered the comparison further, however, he began to see similarities between the two situations.

The last time that he had been faced with the prospect of taking on a new form, he had ultimately determined that it was the right course of action, that it would offer the elemental skill that he would need to succeed in his contest performance. Now, with the matter of physical transformation having been raised once again, he would once more have to determine if it was the right thing to do under the circumstances.

He knew that if he did agree to the change, it would be for the purpose of joining in Jal’tai’s cause—again, he could not deny that it was one with which he agreed. The notion of being made human was quite daunting to him, but if he went through with it, then he could aid Jal’tai in his efforts toward fair and equal treatment for pokémon…

Solonn thought about some of the things that he had learned about the way that humans tended to view and treat pokémon—both from what Jal’tai had told him and from his own experience. His thoughts turned toward his own abduction by humans who had wanted to profit from his abilities—and the fact that they had not been content to merely take him but the rest of Morgan’s pokémon, as well. He thought of those pokémon, friends of his whose condition and whereabouts were still unknown. He thought about Morgan, separated from some of her closest friends, shaken and crying the last time that he’d seen her.

If enough humans could be made to respect pokémon, he considered, then perhaps scenarios like that one would never happen again.

The glalie’s eyes drifted toward that paging device sitting a short distance across the room. There was his answer, it seemed. He had been given an opportunity to do something that he believed could be significantly beneficial to the world—he had to take it, he decided then, even if the knowledge of what it would require of him still terrified him.

He felt heavier than usual as he ascended; it was as though his body were less than willing to rise from the ground. With his heart hammering, he glided across the room until he found himself looking down upon the paging device. Once he had recalled how to operate it, he used it to call Jal’tai.

“Yes? What is it, my boy?” Jal’tai said once the connection went through.

“…I’ll do it,” Solonn spat out before his trepidation could have a chance to foil him.

Jal’tai didn’t respond right away, making Solonn worry that he had perhaps been too vague in declaring his acceptance. But then,
“All right, then,” the latios said simply, and the connection was terminated.

In virtually no time, Jal’tai arrived at the suite, entering by way of the transport tile and immediately coming to hover before Solonn.

“I know this was no easy decision for you,” the dragon said, “but in the end, you have made the right choice.” His mouth curved into a warm, proud smile. “We and our efforts will go down in history, Solonn. And someday, pokémon throughout the world will thank you for your selfless actions here.”

They were nice words, Solonn thought, but the glalie wasn’t feeling quite so long-sighted at the moment as Jal’tai was. He couldn’t quite look to the future and any praise and appreciation that lay there—he saw only the present and what it was about to bring and just wanted it to be over and done.

“Do you wish for me to put you under for the transfiguration?” Jal’tai asked him.

An image of the pillow’s rather spasmodic transformation entered Solonn’s mind along with an unbidden sense of what that sort of a process might actually feel like, and he shuddered. “Please do,” he responded quickly.

Jal’tai nodded in acknowledgment, then moved forward and placed his talons on top of the glalie’s head, giving a shudder at the contact with the glalie’s frigid hide. “There will only be a brief discomfort,” he assured Solonn. Solonn gazed nervously into Jal’tai’s eyes for a moment, hoping that the latios was right—and then his vision, as well as his consciousness, were extinguished in an instant by something that sent a shock through his skull and a burst of red light to the back of his eyes.

When Solonn awakened, the scene surrounding him had changed. He knew at once that he was seeing through different eyes, eyes that were much weaker and more limited in their range than the ones that he’d previously had. He shifted slightly, feeling soft surfaces all around him as his limbs stretched—yes,
his limbs. It seemed that Jal’tai’s technique had worked—that Solonn was now a human.

He lifted his head and saw that he was presently lying in a bed. The sheets that covered him prevented him from seeing most of his new form; he pushed them aside with one of his newly-formed arms in order to have a look at what he had become. He found that seeing the human body that he now possessed actually made it harder somehow for him to believe that the change had really occurred.

A shadow fell over him then; he looked up and to his left and saw Jal’tai there, smiling gently as he hovered in place.

“The transfiguration was a complete success,” the latios said. “Here—have a look at your new face with this,” he suggested, then offered Solonn a small hand mirror. The human took the mirror, and after a moment’s fumbling with it, he managed to catch his own reflection in the glass. “Do you like it?” Jal’tai then asked.

Solonn wasn’t quite sure what to make of his new form; he could still scarcely believe that he actually possessed it. He responded to Jal’tai’s question with a noncommittal noise.

“Well, given time, I’m sure you’ll get used to it,” the latios said as he took the mirror back from Solonn. “Come, now,” he said, offering Solonn a talon to help him up out of bed. “Allow me to show you around your new home and to help you begin to grow accustomed to your new form.”

Not knowing what else to do, Solonn took Jal’tai’s hand and allowed himself to be made acquainted with his surroundings, hoping all the while that he would indeed get used to this new way of life eventually.

On each of the days that followed, Jal’tai paid Solonn a visit, during which he helped Solonn to learn human habits. He brought a series of instructional videos that demonstrated the ways of human life, and he gave Solonn extra tutelage on certain points of those lessons. While Solonn found some of the practices of human beings to be quite strange (particularly where hygiene was concerned), he nonetheless allowed himself to be taught of these habits and picked them up quickly enough for Jal’tai’s liking.

Things carried on fairly smoothly in this manner until the eighth day following Solonn’s transfiguration. Jal’tai had just left after giving a brief lecture to supplement a segment on one of the DVDs, specifically a segment explaining the concept of money. Solonn was sitting in the den, reviewing that segment and trying out of semi-boredom to memorize whose portrait was on each denomination of the paper notes, when a sudden, incredibly strong pain awakened in his head completely without warning.

Solonn shouted in pain and alarm, wondering what in the world could possibly be causing this spontaneous suffering. It worsened with each passing second, making flashing spots explode within his vision and shooting a bolt of nausea down his throat.

Certain that something was terribly wrong, he tried to call Jal’tai, hoping that the latios could get help for him. He reached for the paging device—but as he did so, a powerful spasm tore through his body. His outstretched arm flailed wildly, knocking the device to the floor.

He tried to make a move to pick it back up, but he had still not quite regained control of his muscles. No sooner had he risen from his chair than he collapsed to the floor—and he did not get back up. The last thing that Solonn was aware of before he blacked out completely was a blurred, sideways view of the paging device lying just inches away.


* * *

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:39 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:45 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Nine Now Posted]

Jal’tai emerged from his trance, having constructed and packaged a chain of memories to replace the ones that he had quarantined. The latios allowed himself a couple of minutes’ worth of rest before rising and returning to the table where his subject lay.

Once again, he entered the human’s mind and immediately sought out the chronological telltales that identified the memory that directly preceded the ones that he had locked away, showing him where the new memories were to be placed. Very carefully, Jal’tai implanted the chain, made certain its connections to the preceding memories were secure, and then exited the human’s mind once more.

The procedure was now completed. Anxious anticipation spread through Jal’tai’s nerves as he looked upon Solonn, wondering if the work that had just been done had secured the human as a successor or if it had done quite the opposite.

This was the moment of truth, Jal’tai knew—he needed to see if his interference with Solonn’s mind had robbed the human of the Speech. Focusing his psychic abilities, he stirred Solonn’s consciousness within the confines of liasa andielenne but did not truly awaken it. The human shifted slightly in his shackles, turning his still-blank eyes toward Jal’tai. Solonn was now in a state in which he would respond to stimuli and commands while being utterly unaware of doing so.

“Solonn,” Jal’tai addressed him. He held up one hand and pointed two claws toward his own eyes. “What am I pointing at?”

Solonn maintained his empty stare at the latios for a brief moment. Then, “Vhekahr’syin sierahs hivhassen,” he responded inflectionlessly.

Glalie language, Jal’tai noted, unsurprised. Solonn had spoken his own language almost exclusively in all the time that Jal’tai had known him; he was not one to “show off” his linguistic abilities. However, this situation was one that required Solonn to do just that.

“Solonn, this time you will answer in my language,” Jal’tai instructed, then indicated his eyes once again. He had never heard Solonn speak in lati language and was certain that the former glalie had never done so. Jal’tai reckoned that if Solonn could respond in this language, it would be a good indication that his abilities had survived the psychic procedure. “What am I pointing at?” he repeated.

Like the last time the question was posed, there was a delay in Solonn’s response, but it was a longer one than before, making Jal’tai fear that perhaps the human would not be able to respond as instructed. But then, much to Jal’tai’s immense relief, “Catelisi adiele setali assiria,” Solonn answered.

“Oh… oh, thank the Goddess!” Jal’tai exclaimed almost breathlessly, so overjoyed with relief that he broke into tears. The procedure was a complete success—Solonn now possessed memories that would allow him to accept his new purpose and had kept the skills that would allow him to serve it.

Jal’tai released Solonn from both the hypnotic state and liasa andielenne then, allowing the human to lapse fully into unconsciousness. “Rest well, my boy,” Jal’tai said softly. “You’ve certainly earned it.”

Smiling, Jal’tai then turned toward his shrine to Rei’eli and drifted over to it. Once there, he reached down toward the potted autillia flowers and closed his talons around a pair of them, allowing them to fall apart in his hands. He looked up at the serene face of his goddess as he held the handfuls of petals that he now clutched over the fountain, an almost rapturous gratitude showing through his features.

Thank you, Jal’tai prayed silently and sincerely. With all my heart, I thank you. With that, he let the petals fall from his hands, drifting gently down into the water in a symbolic return of the power that he believed that his goddess had lent him.

* * *

“…which came back negative, thankfully… Oh, look, he’s awake!”

Solonn awoke to the sound of the cheerful voice that had just spoken and was greeted with a somewhat blurry view of its owner: standing nearby was a chansey, who was looking at him and smiling. He also awoke to a splitting headache.

“Oh good, good!” said another voice, a much more familiar one. “Could you give the two of us a moment, Miss Teresa?”

“Of course,” the chansey replied amiably, then departed the room, her tail waving behind her as she waddled out of the room.

Groaning softly, Solonn rubbed his eyes to clear them completely, then cast a glance about himself, confused. He found that he was lying in a simple bed in a sterile, white room. He also found that he was not alone; seated at his bedside was an elderly man—Jal’tai in his human guise, Solonn recognized with a slight delay.

“Good morning,” Jal’tai said warmly. “Or, to be more accurate, good late morning,” he amended with a chuckle. “Feeling all right?”

“Ugh… not really,” Solonn answered groggily. “Gods, my head hurts…”

“Hmm,” Jal’tai responded, sounding concerned. “Well, that’s nothing a little aspirin won’t cure, I’d reckon.”

Solonn cradled his aching head in his hands for a moment, hoping that he would be given some of this “aspirin” as soon as possible. “Where am I?” he then asked.

“You’re in the Haven, Solonn,” Jal’tai told him, “our city’s medical center. I brought you here after I found you unconscious on the floor in your suite. I’ve been so worried about you, my boy,” he said earnestly, concern etched into the deep lines of his aged, presently-human face. “You were out cold for nearly four days.”

With some difficulty amid the pain that wracked his head, Solonn managed to recall his last memory of being in that suite, of that evening when he had been suddenly stricken with a headache that was even worse than the one that he was suffering now and had subsequently passed out. “What in the world happened to me back there?” he asked. “Gods, it scared me half to death…”

“I’m afraid that what you experienced was a side effect of your transfiguration,” Jal’tai said. “That sort of a change can put quite a lot of stress on a body, and sometimes that stress can sneak up on you and hit you all at once—sometimes immediately, sometimes with a bit of a delay, but usually never.”

He sighed. “What you experienced is a rare occurrence indeed; I had truthfully not expected that it would happen. It usually only occurs in the wake of transfigurations performed by less-than-skilled users… I assure you that I am well-practiced in the art, but I fear that age may have deteriorated my skills somewhat. I sincerely apologize for the suffering this has caused you,” he said somberly, lowering his head.

“Mmm,” Solonn said dismissively. “Don’t worry about it. You said you hadn’t expected this to happen.”

Jal’tai gave a small, reserved smile in acknowledgment of the human’s forgiveness. “You’re too kind,” he said gratefully. “Anyhow… as I mentioned, this is a very rare occurrence, and as such, I don’t expect it will happen again. However, just to be safe, I have enlisted the services of someone who possesses abilities that should help to keep you relaxed and well in both body and mind. Her name is Neleng, and I have made an appointment for her to come and visit you tonight. She can also offer a session any and every night after if you so wish.”

“Okay,” Solonn said, grateful for anything that might prevent him from going through this unpleasant experience again.

Jal’tai stood then—or more accurately, his human mirage appeared to stand. “So, then. Do you think you’re up to resuming your education as a human?”

“Yeah… yeah, I think so,” Solonn answered. “Although I think I’d like to get some of that ‘aspirin’ you were talking about first,” he added.

Jal’tai laughed brightly. “Ah, good,” he said, smiling. “Yes, I think we can safely say that all the unpleasantness is behind you now.”

* * *

Not long after awakening, Solonn was released from the Haven. He stepped out into the early afternoon under an overcast sky. A light rain was falling, making pattering noises against the wide, burgundy umbrella that Jal’tai had given him. There was an identical umbrella in the hand of Jal’tai’s human mirage, but whether the latios was actually holding one or simply projecting an image of one and letting the rain fall on him without a care, Solonn couldn’t tell.

A long, sleek, black car waited in the parking lot in front of the hospital; as Jal’tai and Solonn reached it, a uniformed human stepped out of the vehicle and opened a door on either side in the back of the car for the two of them. Solonn took a seat within the car, while Jal’tai went around the back of the car and entered from the opposite side (though in actuality, he was only projecting his human mirage into the vehicle while he hovered above the car outside). The chauffeur closed the doors, then took his seat behind the wheel. Jal’tai’s mirage smiled at Solonn from its place beside him as the vehicle left the parking lot and set off toward the Convergence Inn.

Solonn stared idly out through the window during the ride, watching the urban scenery race past through a veil of autumn rain. As he did so, a most peculiar notion came over his mind: a sense of wondering how he had gotten there, how things had come to be just as they presently were. He was briefly puzzled by it, but then dismissed the momentary confusion as just some temporary malfunction of his mental faculties, some brief and harmless aftereffect of his recent malady that might never happen again. He gave it no further thought, just glad and grateful that the worst of it was over, and serenely allowed the wheels to carry him home.

_________________________

*proffers basket of Visine* Heh heh heh…

It would appear that I have chosen to completely forsake both the “language consisting of the species’ name” route and the “language consisting of animalistic cries” route. Fear not, though—for the record, something of one of those established forms of pokémon speech (specifically the latter version) is kept in my fics.

In these fics, humans generally do not, for whatever reason, perceive pokémon speech as it actually is. What humans hear instead basically amounts to the pokémon cries as heard in the games (or more “lifelike” versions thereof, perhaps). This is why Oth is described as sounding the way it does when it speaks: it’s meant to represent the sort of odd, low, rattling cry claydol have in-game.

Please note that this does not mean that I demand for anyone else to handle pokémon speech the same way I do—I’m not going to give any of you or any other author a hard time about how you or they handle pokémon speech. I respect the personal preferences and choices of individual authors with regards to their own work.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the “glalie language” Solonn used was not Alvayan; it was just a native glalie-language, specifically that of the Virc. Although… it does have a relation to Alvayan—but that’s a matter for another time. ;)

Next time: A new era will soon begin in the city of Convergence... See you then!

- Sike Saner
__________________

-=CHAPTER 17 POSTED=-
Banner by Saffire Persian

The Origin of Storms
-=COMPLETE=-

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:40 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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Old 08-24-2009, 01:36 AM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Ten Now Posted]

*Clapping* Good chapter! Poor Solonn-things just won't go right for him. I get the distinct feeling, however, that Jal'tai's plan is going to backfire.

I mean, those things always snap back eventually XD

Mesa give it three thumbs up! *Holds up hands and stares in confusion when she realizes she only has two thumbs*
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Old 09-17-2009, 08:15 PM
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Default Re: Communication (PG-13) [Chapter Ten Now Posted]

Grassy_Aggron: What will become of Jal’tai’s plan? Time may tell…

Thanks for reading and for replying, and thanks to everyone who’s been reading, for that matter! ^^

_________________________

Chapter 11 – Heart of the City


“Ahh… Sure is good to be back home, isn’t it?” Jal’tai asked.

Home… It seemed a peculiar notion to Solonn as his eyes took in the scene of the Grand Suite once again. He had only lived there for just under two weeks, after all; there were plenty of aspects of living in this place—not to mention this body—that he was still getting used to. And yet… he could not deny that the suite was taking on a sense of familiarity, even comfort at times. It truly did seem to have become home.

“Suppose so,” he responded, semi-absently raking the fingers of his left hand through hair slightly dampened with the rain that the wind had thrown at him in spite of his umbrella.

Jal’tai smiled at him. “Here, let me take your coat,” he offered. Solonn allowed the latios to do just that. Then, still quite taxed from his recent hospitalization, Solonn made his way straight to the armchair in the den and dropped himself onto it, letting his weary body sink deep into the upholstery.

After putting Solonn’s coat in its right place, Jal’tai disappeared into the kitchen; a moment later, there came the rather loud whirring of the blender in use. It fell silent shortly thereafter, and then Jal’tai drifted back into the den with a glass of something opaque and pale purple clutched in one of his talons.

“Here,” the dragon offered, handing the glass to Solonn. “It’s one of my specialties. It has something of an energizing property to it—the effect isn’t quite as strong for humans as it is for pokémon, but it still ought to put a little of the vigor back into you. Plus, it’s quite tasty,” he added with a grin.

Curious, Solonn sampled the beverage. It had a pleasant, creamy texture to it and a strong berry flavor that Solonn immediately and greatly liked. Perhaps Jal’tai had somehow learned that he was particularly fond of such flavors—though Solonn reckoned that it was much more likely that the latios had simply made a good guess. After all, since he had never explicitly told the dragon that he liked it, the only way that Jal’tai could have figured this out was if he had read Solonn’s mind, and Solonn had not seen any evidence that Jal’tai was a mind reader in all the time that he had known him.

He looked up from the drink to voice his approval of it to Jal’tai—but where his eyes should have met those of the latios, they were instead greeted by empty air. “Jal’tai?” he called out, throwing a perplexed gaze about. It landed on the wall bearing the lens and keypad for the transport tile just in time for him to see a green flash there.

Puzzled, Solonn stared at the space where Jal’tai had just been, then set about wondering what the cause for Jal’tai’s abrupt and unexplained departure could have possibly been, taking a drink of the berry smoothie every few moments as he did so. Before he could come up with any real explanations, however, the dragon came back as suddenly and unexpectedly as he had left.

“Sorry to have just popped out and back without warning,” Jal’tai said, having noticed the somewhat bewildered look on the face of the human before him at once. “I’d meant to pick this up on the way here, but it slipped my mind.”

Before Solonn could ask what it was that the latios had just procured, the thing in question was placed under his nose for him to see. It was a paperback book, one whose title instantly caught Solonn’s attention and bemused him slightly; he took it at once to perhaps confirm the impression he’d immediately gotten from it and try to make sense of it.

Parent’s Choice: The Very Best Names for Your Baby?” Solonn read the title of the book aloud, an odd expression overtaking his face.

The latios gave a confirming nod. “You’re going to be selecting a name from this book to use as your own from now on.”

“Is that really necessary?” Solonn asked. “What’s wrong with the name I already have?”

“Nothing, of course,” Jal’tai answered. “However, it’s still a good idea for you to take on a human name. It will help to reinforce your human identity.”

Solonn’s brow furrowed skeptically as he set what remained of his smoothie on the table beside him and opened the book, rifling through its pages without really pausing to look at its contents. “I still don’t quite see the need for it… I don’t think anyone outside my—” He nearly said “my own species”, but caught himself short as he remembered that such a statement was technically no longer true. Managing with an effort not to get too ensnared by that matter, he amended, “No one other than snorunt and glalie would be likely to recognize it as something other than a human name, and what are the odds of one of them showing up here?”

“Considerable enough,” Jal’tai replied seriously. “Your position here will present the possibility of encounters with any number of species. It’s best to be prepared for anything, Solonn. And furthermore, any effort that can be made toward the integrity of your new identity is a step worth taking. Your new occupation and your new life will be much easier to conduct if those with whom you work, especially outside the city, are given as few reasons to ask questions as possible. A name that strikes humans as unusual is one that might lead them to inquire about its origins—about your origins, Solonn. Do you wish to be faced with those kinds of questions?”

“No,” Solonn answered promptly. “No, I wouldn’t.” Considering that he still had a fair deal of work to do in getting used to the idea of being human, he suspected that he might be less than able to construct a history for himself as though he had been human all his life and therefore hoped to never be put in a position of having to do so.

Not that he was exactly thrilled or eager about the prospect of changing his name, however. Though he understood the necessity of doing so in this situation, he still didn’t quite agree with it. He hadn’t been especially keen on the notion of being renamed back when Morgan had tried to do so, either, and his lack of enthusiasm toward the matter was about more than just how ridiculous he’d found the name that she had tried to give him. He saw his name as a pure aspect of who he was; he disliked the notion of having to conceal it, for he felt that it was one truth that, in an ideal world, he should be not only allowed but also entitled to never have to betray.

But, as he reminded himself, this was not an ideal world. And thinking back to what he had experienced in Lilycove and all that he had learned in Convergence, he was certain that denying this fact was a dangerous luxury, one in which his newfound duty to society forbade him to indulge.

Resigned to the matter, he opened the book again, this time bothering to read through it from its beginning. The names were arranged alphabetically, and as he perused one “A”-name after another, none of them seemed to be striking his interest—but then…

“Angela?” he read aloud, somewhat liking the way it rolled off of his tongue. “That one’s kind of interesting…” He looked up at Jal’tai to get his opinion on it and saw the dragon wearing an odd expression. Then, somewhat alarmingly, the latios exploded into laughter. “Oh what?” Solonn asked, baffled by Jal’tai’s reaction.

With a slight difficulty, Jal’tai managed to stem the flow of chuckles enough to let words out, though he still sounded slightly breathless. “My dear boy… you’re looking at the names for girls.”

Stupefied, Solonn stared at the dragon for a moment, then let out an embarrassed groan. He immediately began flipping through the pages in search of the male human names, trying with only mild success to tune out Jal’tai’s resumed laughter as he did so. The names for men didn’t really appeal to him any more than the names for women did; he saw nothing among them that he particularly liked, only a couple with which he figured he might be willing to make do if nothing better was found.

Minutes wore on as he continued perusing the names, then hours, his pace slowed by the further waning of enthusiasm that had been almost non-existent in the first place. All the while, Jal’tai hovered silently nearby, clearly making an effort to do nothing that might disturb the human’s decision-making. Solonn couldn’t help but wonder about the limits of the Jal’tai’s patience, however, and was mindful of the latios’s presence, imagining those red eyes bearing down upon him the entire time regardless of whether or not they actually were. The feeling of being watched expectantly did nothing to make the experience any more enjoyable for Solonn.

Finally, Solonn grew so weary of the whole matter that not even midway through the “M”-names, he decided to simply settle on the next one that he came across that he found at all acceptable and announced his selection to Jal’tai the moment it was made.

“Michael,” he said, meeting Jal’tai’s gaze steadily enough, his voice succeeding in projecting more confidence and like of his final choice than was truly present. “I’ll take that one.”

Jal’tai gave him an inquisitive look, cocking his head slightly. “Are you sure?” he asked brightly.

Solonn only just managed to stifle a wince. Those damned words… “Absolutely,” he replied at once, wanting to get the matter sealed and behind him as soon as he could.

The latios smiled, nodding approvingly. “A fine choice, I say. Common enough, yet also quite stately, in my opinion.” Solonn rolled his eyes in mild embarrassment at Jal’tai’s choice of words. “Well, then. For our next matter of business, it would perhaps be a good idea to choose at least one middle name for yourself.”

Inwardly, Solonn groaned in exasperation. From his time spent with Morgan and her pokémon, he had learned (mostly from Sei) that unlike his own kind, many peoples didn’t find it necessary to give their children more than a single personal name and some sort of a family name, if even that much. Sei had only two names, while Oth had just one. Morgan, however, had a middle name just as he did, one that he had only heard once and had managed to forget.

Solonn had never seen any real point in having a middle name and still didn’t. His belief as a child had been that the middle name existed solely as something that parents could use to severely embarrass their child whenever they were particularly displeased with them; to this day, he had not found a theory regarding such that he believed or liked more. He would have rather liked to be able to do away with having one, but Jal’tai wasn’t really offering such as an option—although he hadn’t explicitly said no to such, either…

Figuring that it was at least worth a try, “Do I actually have to have a middle name, exactly?” Solonn asked tentatively. “I mean, do humans have to have one?”

Another of those inquisitive looks crossed the dragon’s face (Solonn dearly hoped that Jal’tai wasn’t about to break out those words again). “Well, no,” Jal’tai answered. “Plenty of human cultures don’t use them, as a matter of fact. You don’t have to yourself; I just thought I’d offer it as an option.”

“Thanks, but no thanks,” Solonn said promptly. “I’d prefer to do without.”

“Very well,” Jal’tai said. Something of a relief spread through Solonn at this—being allowed to go without adding something to his new name that he neither needed nor wanted made it a little easier to accept. At least it wasn’t quite as reflective of something that he disliked as it could have been, he reasoned, and at least he’d been given a considerable say on what it would be.

All that was left now was to take on a human surname—a name to represent a human family that he didn’t have. The notion of it bothered Solonn, and he couldn’t quite pretend that it didn’t. It wasn’t that he wasn’t convinced of the necessity of such deceptions in what was becoming his position—it was just a matter about which he didn’t feel very comfortable lying. In his eyes, it essentially amounted to denying his family, his mother…

Denying doesn’t have to mean forgetting, something inside him seemed to say then, and that notion immediately struck him as true. The need to take on a new name was required for where he was going, but he could still keep something of where he had been: his memories. Though he didn’t really like having to do this and imagined that he never entirely would, he nonetheless understood and accepted it, recognizing this as just part of the change of what he was, but not of whom he was.

With that settled, he listened as Jal’tai began to suggest various human surnames to him, and stopped the latios when one was mentioned of which he actually rather liked the sound. Jal’tai voiced his approval, commenting on how nicely he thought the names sounded together. Solonn didn’t exactly share Jal’tai’s level of enthusiasm for it, but he did think that it wasn’t half bad. And so it was that on that day, Solonn Zgil-Al became Michael Layne.

“Whew,” Jal’tai exhaled, casting an eye toward the clock. “Well, that certainly took a fair amount of time. Expected it would, though.”

“Yeah, well…” Solonn said, not really knowing how else to respond. Of course it should take a while for someone to choose a name for themselves, he reckoned—who would want a name they disliked or regretted following them around wherever they went? Thoughts of that matter made something occur to him, something that interested him enough to provoke him to ask about it at once. “So, did you have a hard time choosing your human name?”

So fleetingly that it could have easily been imagined, a peculiar, inscrutable look appeared on Jal’tai’s face. “Actually, not really,” he answered with only the slightest delay. “I came by the decision quite readily.”

“Hm.” Not really sure of what he thought of that, if anything, Solonn dismissed the matter.

“Well, what matters is that we’ve gotten this taken care of now,” Jal’tai said pleasantly. “Now you’ve got a human name to match your human appearance—a name under which I can enroll you for your further education at Convergence Academy,” he added.

The look Solonn gave him in response was somewhere between puzzlement and amusement. “You’re going to do what?” he asked with a small laugh.

“You’ll be going to school, Solonn. A place for education, fashioned very much like the sort that humans use. Are you at all familiar with such places?”

“In a way, I suppose,” Solonn answered. “I mean, I’ve never been to one, no, but I know what you’re talking about. Morgan used to tell me about some of the things she did at her school.” An odd little smile curved across his face. “She described it as… well, kind of boring at times…”

Jal’tai laughed. “A common perception of school,” he said. “I do hope you’ll find your experience at the academy interesting and engaging, though, at least during most of your time there. I’ve enlisted the services of a very capable instructor, one who’ll impart upon you the knowledge and skills you’ll need when you go into office. Systan Exeter, your future educator, knows you have a lot to learn, and is sure to keep you very busy—I don’t mean this to intimidate you, of course,” he added with a sort of self-conscious little chuckle.

Solonn gave a dismissive shake of his head, unsurprised by the notion of having a lot of work lying before him. He’d known from the outset that this was an undertaking that would require a lot from him and that therefore he could expect to have a significant amount to learn. He was a little surprised at first to learn that much of his training would not be given by Jal’tai himself but then supposed that he shouldn’t be; Jal’tai still had a city to run, after all. He couldn’t be expected to tend to all of his successor’s needs. Solonn only hoped that this “Exeter” would be likeable enough and hopefully not too strict.

“Now, I won’t be shipping you off to school just yet,” Jal’tai told him then. “You’ve been through a great deal these past few days, and I think you’re entitled to have some time to rest and recuperate before taking on something so major.”

The latios cast a look at the now-empty glass that sat on the table beside Solonn. “Would you like for me to make you another smoothie before I go?”

“Hmm? No, that’s okay,” Solonn answered. “Thanks anyway, though.”

Jal’tai nodded in acknowledgment of the human’s reply, but took the glass in his talon anyway. “It ought to at least be washed,” he said, indicating the pale purple film that was beginning to dry on the inner surface of the glass, then took the glass into the kitchen. Very shortly thereafter, the sound of the blender was heard again, puzzling Solonn. It seemed that his polite refusal had slipped from Jal’tai’s mind.

Sure enough, there was a fresh glass of the purple berry beverage in the latios’s talon when he came back into the den. He set it down beside Solonn with a funny sort of apologetic smile. “Sorry—I just couldn’t resist,” Jal’tai said. “I could tell you really liked the last one, so…” He shrugged.

“Uh… thanks,” Solonn replied politely, albeit a bit awkwardly.

“Anyway,” Jal’tai began, stretching his arms out and flexing his neck in the manner of someone ready to hit the trail, “I’ll be bringing you to the academy on, oh, the Monday after next, I think. I’ll let you have a tour of the facilities and meet Exeter, and you can probably start your classes the next day.

“Now, I won’t lie to you—the workload will seem a bit heavy at times during the course of your education. But I truly do feel that you’ll be able to handle it. And I do have a lot of faith in Exeter—you will be under the tutelage of one of the greatest and most important minds in all of Convergence, someone who’ll make sure that you stay on course and are fully prepared for the responsibilities that lie in your future. You have absolutely nothing to worry about—you’re going to be in excellent hands… well, in a manner of speaking, that is,” he amended, then laughed about it for some reason that Solonn couldn’t guess.

“In the meantime, though, I just want you to relax,” Jal’tai told Solonn warmly and earnestly. “Yes, you’ve got quite a road ahead of you, but it’s nothing to fear, nothing to be stressed about. I think you’ll find that your life will become richer and better as you begin to truly apply yourself to your purpose. Coming into your role is something to look forward to, my boy. Keep that in mind and be at ease in it in your days to come. Of course, Neleng can help you keep your nerves about you—she’ll be here in just over an hour, and again, she can come to visit any evening you wish. Until we meet again, take care.” And with those sentiments, Jal’tai went to the transport tile and exited the suite, leaving Solonn alone with a berry smoothie and plenty on his mind.

* * *

(CONTINUED NEXT PAGE)

Last edited by Sike Saner; 04-11-2011 at 05:41 AM. Reason: Revisions.
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