1. We have moved to a new forum system. All your posts and data should have transferred over. Welcome, to the new Serebii Forums. Details here
    Dismiss Notice
  2. We're currently having an issue where e-mails sent to gmail accounts are not going through and are bouncing back. We're currently working to resolve this matter and apologise for any inconvenience
    Dismiss Notice
  3. Be sure to join the discussion on our discord at: Discord.gg/serebii
    Dismiss Notice
  4. If you're still waiting for the e-mail, be sure to check your junk/spam e-mail folders
    Dismiss Notice

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Pathways of Aspiration

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by pbugle, Oct 22, 2018.

Tags:
  1. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Hello reader, p-bugle here. Just thought I would post my foray into the world of PMD fanfiction. I hope you enjoy it, constructive criticism is always welcome.

    Summary

    There can be no greater gift given than a second chance. To be able to rewrite the mistakes of ones past and live a life only envisioned in dreams. For a human-turned-Bagon, thrust into the tropical region of Faire with a Raichu companion at his side, this seems like the making of legends. But what happens when the world discovered isn't so different than the one left behind?

    Prologue
    A lone Bagon trudged through a system of tunnels, far beneath the ground of some long forgotten patch of land. Both his body and the brown, wool cape that hung over him where soaking wet, knees sore from being repeatedly caked with mud and washed over with freezing water. More than once his conscious had whispered into his ear to turn back, but he couldn't, not when he was so close.

    After what had felt like hours, the endless tunnels before him cleared into a large cavern. Its full range seemed limitless, stretching above and beyond the sphere of light emanating from his small lantern. The darkness should have spanned on forever, but was broken due to several blue beams of light illuminated behind a rocky crevice. The side of the the blue lizard's mouth tilted up into a grin, this had to be it.

    As the Bagon maneuvered around the rocky crevice, the few rays of light transformed into an ambient blue glow. It's source was unmistakeable, coming from a shallow pond at the center of the cavern, the light refracting off shallow ripples to illuminate the stalagmite filled cavern ceiling. A further analysis of the pond revealed the true source, a blue gear with arrows jutting out of the inner hexagon. A pity, thought the Bagon, that an item of such importance would be hidden away in a place so insignificant. No matter, if everything went according to plan, this would be the last time he would be getting his feet wet. Everything that he had worked for, the key to his true destiny, lay in that gear, and he wasn't about to let anybody get in his way.

    With not a second's hesitation, the Bagon stepped into the pond, continuing until the waterline had risen over his the top of his head and he was able to grab the metallic blue gear to set it into the cloth bag at his hip.

    The feeling of fresh air from resurfacing was met with a sharp chill that run down his spine, an oddity given that, unlike the rest of the cavern, the water in this pond had been relatively warm. The Bagon dipped his hand into the water, perplexed to find that it was nearly as cold as ice. No matter, he again thought, a small price to pay for the future he had to guarantee.

    "Hey!"

    A quick yell echoed through the cavern walls. The Bagon jumped up briefly, turning around as his shocked expression morphed into a exasperated sigh. Of course, he thought, it had to be her.

    The her in question was a Raichu, sporting tanner fur and a larger ears than the less tropical variants, as well as an oversized tail haphazardly strapped to her back. On her neck lay a necklace containing a small, white bell, above which two blue eyes starred daggers at the Bagon before her. A quick examination revealed that she appeared just as ragged and disheveled as he was, evidenced by the faint brown stain that covered the lower half of her fur, as well as the telltale scratches from crawling through sharp rocks.

    "I...I've come to stop you," The Raichu said. stance changing into a defensive posture as brief sparks began to emanate out of her cheeks. "I can't stand by while thousands of innocent Pokémon suffer because of you and...them."

    The Bagon only sighed, face moving down to frown at the floor while his arms reached for a metal and steel contraption slung at his hip. He pointed it at the Raichu's body: a horizontal metal band curved to accommodate a piece of sting spanning from end to end, keeping under tension a fletched iron spike held in place by a wooden crevice and trigger. The Raichu grimaced at this action but did not move, ready to take advantage of the period of vulnerability after the Bagon expended his one and only shot.

    "And...I can't let you stop me," he replied, eyes scanning for the telltale sparks of her tail that would indicate an incoming thunder bolt.

    There they stood, a Raichu and Bagon not even twenty feet from each other, each watching expectantly for the first strike of the underground brawl that would decide the fate of an entire region.

    Except...it never came, The Raichu surprised to see that, even in the cold cavern, the Bagon's hand's where shaking more than usual. In the span of a few seconds, his hateful visage shifted from the Raichu before him to the cavern floor, eventually coming to rest on his own scaly blue body as his eyes closed.

    The crossbow lowered.

    "...This is stupid..." The Bagon whispered. "This wasn't how it was supposed to be."

    "What do you mean?" The Raichu asked, eyes still gazing at the crossbow pointed to the floor.

    "I...I...uh...are you cold?" The Bagon quickly replied.

    The Raichu's face scrunched up into a bewildered gaze, "Not any colder than you—"

    "I mean—" The Bagon said with a heavy sigh, "do you want a drink?"

    At this, the Raichu paused, voices in her head stuck in a bitter debate. Of course, the logical option would be to launch a thunderbolt at the befuddled lizard while he was in this vulnerable state. It didn't take a genius to see that hesitation in a time as critical as this could have horrendous repercussions. However, something about this was different. She had long since learned to recognize the rapid blinking and awkward hand gestures that would reveal his dishonestly, but the Bagon before her revealed none of these tells. If he really wishes to parley, she thought, then now is the best time to see if there actually is any humanity left within him.

    She stepped forward.

    "It...it just seemed that you where cold, crawling through all that water and all," The Bagon replied, pouring the steaming brown contents of a silver thermos into a cup.

    The Raichu accepted the cup, face starring at the Bagon until he had poured one for himself. An old trick to avoid poisoning, stemming from that one day of the year that he was so insistent that they pull pranks on each other, where she had been offered a bitter concoction of juice diluted with root powder.

    She glanced down: grepa berry tea, her favorite...

    "Do you want to sit down?" The Bagon asked, already on the ground leaning as comfortably as he could against one of the cavern's rocky walls.

    Surprising a tiny part of herself, the Raichu joined him, unable to decide if the silence between them was awkward or contemplative.

    "Thank you," The Bagon softly replied, raising his own glass in her direction. "A toast, to...to...to—"

    "—to memories," The Raichu finished, half-hoping that the expansive cavern would transform into the cramped apartment they had known so well.

    "Yeah...to memories," The Bagon whispered to himself, before clinking his cup to hers, "to what could have been."

    The Raichu lifted the glass down to drink, feeling body and soul become warmer as the liquid poured down her throat. She glanced up at the blue lizard next to her to see him giving her a melancholic smile and...she smiled back, if only for an instant.

    "I really thought we could have done it," The Bagon said, "explore, save the world, become the stuff of legends, but...the worlds not like a video game." The Bagon glanced up, noticing that from the open corners of his cloth pouch a small beam of blue light went unto the ceiling, forming a blue star against the brown rocks.

    "Maybe the world isn't what's at fault," The Raichu replied with a newfound vigor, eyes tracing that same blue light back onto the pouch containing a time gear.

    "I...you're right," The Bagon slowly replied, "I can't expect the world to hand me my future on a silver platter, nor can I take the route I always thought I would go. But if there is on thing I learned during my time here, its that you accomplish a lot more in life working with the system than against it."

    "What do you mean?" The Raichu asked, having just finished the last sip of her tea.

    "...I'm sorry..." Was all the Bagon said, before quickly pulling an object from his belt. A short steel rod, sharpened into a double sided blade on one end, with the other curved around to form a hand guard. In on swift motion, he stabbed the crude blade into the Raichu's knee. She keeled over, clutching her knee as an endless stream of pain invaded her every thought. With her hands occupied, she could only hatefully stare back at the Bagon walking toward the cavern entrance.

    "This will probably be the last time we see each other," The Bagon slowly said, a stream of tears beginning to flow down his eyes. "I don't expect you to forgive me, you most certainly shouldn't, but...thanks for the memories." With this, the Bagon turned his back to depart, the only indication of his presence being a couple of blue berries and bandages remorsefully set down upon the cavern entrance.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
  2. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 1: The Lonely Type
    On a cool summer day, a lone Raichu walked along a narrow dirt path. She had walked this path many times before, had examined all the small patches of dirt and felt the heat from every stray beam of light that pierced through the forest canopy. Before long, the many winding twists and turns became as thoughtless to navigate as walking a straight line. Whatever bright environment before her fell on deaf eyes and ears, subconscious preoccupied mulling over the day's events.

    I guess now would be a good time to deliver the berry to that Bunar-wait, I did that yesterday didn't I? She sighed, conflicted on whether the realization was in relief or exasperation. Doesn't Buizel need help with something? No, he's away on that expedition. Maybe...no, Migmagius is on watch duty today, is there anything I still have to do?

    The answer provided only by the shaking palm trees, her face formed a modest smile. Expectations of sleeping the day away with a book in one hand and a glass of tea in the other manifested in her mind, only to be cut down by a sudden thought.

    You did that yesterday, didn't you?

    No I didn't, she quickly justified to herself, I helped deliver that berry, than I walked that report over to Mismagius, then I—wait. She stopped, face frozen in shock as the flow of time seemed to slow to its normal pace and the break in the treeline became truly visible.

    That was the day before yesterday.

    Immediately she scoured her short term memory, able only to recall vivid recantations of walking home from work and doing what she always did, not a face or sound popped into her mind despite the promise she had halfheartedly made to herself weeks ago.

    The forest paths end revealed to the Raichu the same sprawling city as before, smooth paved streets filled with no one in particular indicating that she was the first to return from the daily grind. The option of returning home cut short for the moment, only one other location seemed able to fill her daily quota of interaction.

    Guess I'll head over to the cafe. There shouldn't be too many people at this hour.

    With an empty schedule, and confidence that her favorite seat would be open, she departed.​

    ---​

    Ever since this Raichu had first wandered into the Kling Klang Cafe, she questioned whether the two gears that made up the welcome sign should be wearing one bow or two, but over the years hadn't the courage to ask the owner directly, for fear of offense. She always found it a welcome experience to open the doors and be overcome by the syrupy sweet aroma emanating from jugs of ingredients stashed under the serving table, and would likely have made it part of her daily routine if the prices were not so extravagant. A cursory glance revealed not a single soul inhabiting the various tables and stools scattered around the cafe, the sound of silence broken only by a scaly red Charmeleon behind the counter. His body was partly obscured by a number of glass cups studiously stacked into a giant tower, head divulging a blank look of complete disinterest staring at what she could only assume where sheets of paper.

    With a heavy sigh, the Raichu stepped toward the barkeep, grasping at the leather pouch at her hip to hold out several gold coins marked with a large P.

    "Uh, h...h-ello sir," she stopped. Why did this always happen when she tried talking to people? The Charmeleon was still looking at her expectantly, and her mouth wasn't following her minds order to continue speaking, "I would lik...like a pecha berry smoothie, if you don't mind."

    With out a seconds hesitation, the red lizard emptied the contents of a purple container into a glass cup, before sliding it to the Raichu across the table and returning to the loose stack of papers.

    Now comes the hard part...

    "So...d-do you like your work here?" The Raichu asked, staring into her drink as she fidgeting with her cup.

    "It puts bread on the table," The Charmeleon replied, still head still turned away scribbling answers to what looked like some sort of worksheet.

    "Sourdough or wholewheat?" she said with a soft chuckle, waiting halfheartedly for a response only to be met with a groan from the red lizard.

    It was a stupid joke.

    Yeah I know, she replied to herself, I just thought it would...never mind.

    The next couple minutes where spent in silence, any attempt at further small talk being cut off by her minds refusal to let out any more words , Eventually the Raichu was jolted back from her own thoughts by the sharp chime of the entrance bell, accompanied by a boisterous call stemming from two large figures at the cafe door. The one in front was a Graveler, holding a cocky smirk and embroidered with several black and yellow stones around its arms and face. Barely visible behind the large gravel Pokemon was a black skinned Marowak, eyes below the black star on its skull helmet sporting a more subdued demeanor.

    "Hey, Argon! I got the name right didn't I?" Proclaimed the Graveler.

    "Oh...Team Tectonic, yeah you got it right, " she replied. "I thought Migmagius said you guys off on an exploration? "

    "Yeah, we were, until a certain someone got too cocky and used up all of our reviver seeds," The Graveler cast a joking to the Marowak, before applying a mock punch to its side. Only the faintest of subsequent whimpers tipped Argon off to the thick layer of bandages wrapped around the Marowak's opposing arm, as well as the two splinted legs now skillfully concealed under the table.

    "Yeah, yeah, I know I dropped the ball, but that's besides the point," The Marowak shifted his glance to Argon, giving her a chilling feeling as the hairs all around her body started to stand up,"See, the higher ups finally gave us the OK to organizing a little event in the next couple days, ya know, to get to know each other better, you wanna come along?"

    Argon didn't reply, holding an apprehensive wince as if her worst fears had been realized.

    "Come on now, it's nothing too big, just a little something to build some companionship throughout our branch of the guild. No offense, but many of us don't even see you for most of the day."

    Argon tilted back toward the door, suddenly finding the prospect of reading a lot more appealing.

    "I'd love to go but... I... uh...I got a lot of stuff to do for the next couple of days," The Raichu searched her mind, attempting to find an example of what she would do on a day like this. "In fact, I was just about to head over and do some sight seeing, guess I'll see you later."

    Argon rushed out the door, cursing herself that doing anything other than sightseeing now would draw suspicion. As she began her walk towards Solrock beach, she was surprised to find herself absolutely parched.

    ---

    With every step over the long and winding path leading to the coastline, Argon's legs wavered, in an inner debate over whether to increase to a steady jog or turn around and accept the offer from Team Tectonic. Despite every step feeling heavier, her course remained.

    Well, I guess there's nothing I can do now, she lamented. Half the guilds probably back at the cafe, and I'll only look weirder if I suddenly came back after that showcase.

    Nonetheless the debate refused to relent, legs weak up until the point where she finally was able to sit upon a wooden bench, located only a few feet before the sheer cliff that marked one of the edges of the Faire Region.

    The cool breeze flowing sporadically through the cliff side gave Argon a sense of relief from what seemed like one of the hottest days of the year, although with how things were going, she knew that could change quickly.

    As she starred onto the far sandy beaches, listening to the soft swooshing of the current below, her once neutral face turned into a soft smile, while muscles unknowingly tensed finally began to relent.

    Inner voices, once jumbled and interjecting, faded into clear nothingness, as if some mysterious fog shrouding her every thought had been removed. The only noise heard, the only noise that she wanted to hear, was the soft rustle of current blowing against a thin layer of grass on the cliff face. If she listened closely, a soft jingle also resonated from somewhere out in the distance, from what could only be described as a bell chime.

    Argon passively scanned the long line of brown, wet, sand forming between sea and land, as she did so, only a single thought formed on her mind:

    I feel like I could spend the rest of my life here.

    The solitude wouldn't last, however, as on a section of sand Argon spotted the outline of a Pokemon sprawled face down onto the current. With a look of panic and confusion, the Raichu rushed down onto the beach.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
  3. Umbramatic

    Umbramatic The Ghost Lord

    Hello! Welcome to the forums! I see you've joined the PMD Horde™, you'll have plenty of company.

    I really like your opener. Reminds me of the intro of Fire Emblem Awakening, what with the dark tone and the fate of the world at stake and someone getting stabbed by their former best friend. :V

    Speaking of! Your main characters are a solid pair that contrast each other real well - Chimera using the whole affair to escape the grind of his human life, while Argon is stuck in her own grind from what I can see.

    What I'm not as fond of is the lumping of several chapters in one post. I don't think it goes against any forum rules or anything, but it's a bit jarring, makes things go by too fast, and reduces your readers' ability to commentate on multiple chapters. You're allowed to double-triple-etc post fic chapters! From here on out I'd advise you to put chapters in separate posts or merge smaller chapters into big ones if they're going to share a post.

    But yeah this seems like it's shaping up to be a cool PMD fic and I can't wait to see where it goes.

    (Also if you want to get to know the community head over to the Author's Cafe and the Discord server!)
     
  4. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 2: Hindsight is 20/20
    Pain—once the human had regained consciousness there was no time to think, the only sensation felt was the feeling of wet sand on the ground, and a persistent, piercing pain in both of his eyes. He didn't dare open them, the only sounds coming from his mouth being a mix between a shriek and a painful moan.

    "Uh..Sir, are you ok?" A voice came from the darkness. Though he could not identify who it was, it sounded feminine, and it was his only chance of getting help. No sooner had the human attempted to stand was he was sent crashing to the ground, retreating his outstretched hands to cover the source of the pain.

    "Please...my eyes, they—Oh God it stings—make it stop, please!" The human buried his face into the sand, breaths between aching groans becoming quick and sporadic.

    "Uh...here, use this!" Following these words was the sound of a cap unscrewing, and some sort of container being shoved into his hand. Without hesitation, the human raised his head up and forced his eyes open, bearing the excruciating pain long enough to splash fresh water into his burning eye sockets.

    Slowly but surely, it began to subside, though any attempt to glimpse at his surroundings would result in it returning tenfold. Realizing this, the human relented, deciding in the face of the alternative that he was content to be blind as a bat.

    "I..uh...once you can open your eyes, I'd recommend you start rinsing them out more, we should probably get you to town to get checked up."

    The human turned to the general direction of the stranger, the stinging relenting just enough to form cognizant thoughts.

    "Thanks, I really appreciate your help, don't know what I would have done otherwise...by the way, what's your name?" The human extended his hand, waiting a couple seconds too many for one in return. Wait a second, he thought. Why does my hand feel all funny?

    "Oh...no problem, I saw you collapsed on the beach and went to see if you were ok. My names Argon, what's yours?"

    The human searched hastily though his thoughts, finally finding an answer that seemed most fitting, "It's...Chimera, yeah that sounds right."

    ---

    Before Argon stood a blue lizard about her size, sporting two large canines, some sort of bone attached to his head that looked strong enough to smash rocks, and two arms so short that she doubted they could even reach up to his head. The same lizard she had found on the beach screaming bloody murder and begging for help. The same lizard that was, for some reason, sticking his hand downward in her direction.​

    The immediate danger now gone, Argon looked up to this lizard that called itself Chimera, spotting his eyes to be entirely coated with a thin liquid, colored somewhere between a black and a very dark purple. This, she confirmed, must have been what was keeping his eyelids closed, but what was it?

    She scoured her memories, eventually coming to rest on one many years back of her delivering supplies for the repair of a large steal pipeline,

    "Chimera...I...uh...I think i might know what that stuff in your eyes is." Hearing this, the Bagon pulled back his hand, looking on in anticipation at the voice in the distance.

    "Apparently, some of the runoff from that plant a couple miles down can drift here and get into swimmer's eyes, from what's been published about the victims, they recovered after a couple of hours."

    The Bagon had noticeably jumped back after hearing her mention of the word plant, but smiled in relief nonetheless.

    "Thank you. I was worried this might have been permanent...I guess I'll stay here for now, at least until my vision gets better."

    "No problem, glad to see that you'll be ok," With this, Argon turned around and began walking back to town, musing to herself that she'd have to stay up later to finish her evening reading, that is, until she heard a voice came calling back from the beach.

    "Hey Argon, could you uh...stay with me for a couple hours, a-at least until I can get my vision back, I promise can pay you once I get back to my apartment."

    Of course! Argon cursed herself. You can't just leave some Pokémon who was essentially blind on a public beach, how could you be so selfish?

    "Sure, I guess I could stay here for an hour or two, you don't have to pay me though."

    The Bagon looked on like she'd grown a second tail, but, realizing his mistake, quickly returned to a thankful smile.

    The next hour passed quickly, the quiet breeze being all the more enjoyable for Argon. Though whenever her content gaze shifted to the Chimera, she noticed his body seemed to shake sporadically, as if at any moment he was he was going to lash out or run away.

    "Hey Chimera...are you alright?" The Bagon snapped his head in Argons direction, before turning away apprehensively in a manner that seemed to her all too familiar.

    "Yeah, I'm fine, its just..." The shaking had become all the more obvious now, having spread to the Bagon's hands, "do you mind if I ask you about something? It's been bothering be for a long while now...and I guess you're as good a person as any to give me a straight answer."

    Though the prospect of taking in the ocean silence seemed appealing, Argon noticed that the Bagon's jittering had ceased after asking the question.

    "Uh..sure, what is it?"

    With a near silent sigh, the Bagon answered,

    "Do you ever get the feeling that life is just passing by? That in the grand scheme of things whatever one does won't be important or matter?"

    Though Chimera couldn't see it, Argon had tilted her head and grimaced, vision switching between the Bagon, the orange and pink sun beginning its evening decent, and herself, "Occasionally, I guess, why do you ask?"

    Chimera continued, his quiet tone punctuated with several pauses to collect his thoughts.

    "It's just...I'm worried that I won't have an impact on the world, that I'm not going to be able to advance in life and that a hundred years from today I'll just end up forgotten, like most people," Chimera lowering his face and turned away. "Just last week I...I...never mind, it's not important. "The Bagon raised a hand to cover his eyes, though a thought formed in Argons mind that it wasn't just because the inky liquid.

    The former emptiness Argon's body was replaced by a dark, feeling in her stomach, only growing after each moment of silence. With a heavy heart, she replied,

    "Well, I always thought life wasn't all about advancing, It's about being happy. I mean...there are plenty of people out there with fame and fortune who are miserable, or at least aren't any happier than the next person."

    Chimera's head shot towards Argon, instinctively causing her upper body to recline back from her sitting position. A quick glance at the shallow moisture beginning to seep through the Bagons sealed eyelids proved her theory to be correct.

    "But I'm not sure I can be happy, knowing that there are people who have achieved more and have longer legacies than me," Chimera's voice slowly raised, increasing from what was originally a soft whisper to a an exasperated grumble,

    "It seems like everyday I go to the same people, do the same monotonous crap for the same job that you can bet I'd be stuck with for the rest of my life."

    Argon opened her mouth to interject, but was cut off by the Bagon now softly chuckling to the floor.

    "And you know something funny? I actually enjoy it, I always tell myself that this will be the day I'll go out and make a name for myself, but I never do. I say just what you said to myself, that I should be happy where I am, I know it should be true but...but...,"

    The Bagons voice had risen to a vehement yell, Argon could see the Chimera's tears growing, just about to fall onto the wet sand before he turned his back to her and screamed toward the ocean water,

    "I CAN'T BE HAPPY KNOWING I'M NOTHING!"

    The stranger's silence was more than enough for Chimera to gauge her reaction. Immediately, his posture loosened, and his head lowered away from the sole audience member of his diatribe.

    "...I'm sorry...that was out of line of me, I shouldn't have forced you to listen to that."

    Before Argon could muster a reply, the Bagon stood up, only to walk a few feet away before tripping on a wooden log washed onto the beach. He seemed to let himself fall to the ground, then hastily shuffled opposite her direction.

    Argon's mouth opened, but after several seconds nothing came out, instead she closed her eyes, ready to match the Bagon's contemplative mood with her own.

    Come on, think! You can't let this Bagon fall into depression just because you couldn't think of anything to say!

    From Argon's peripheral vision she could see that Chimera had started to run his hands over every part of his body, every so often gasping as if simply touching his head was a completely new sensation. Unable to see the expression on the Bagon's face, Argon again shifted to the matter at hand.

    He's obviously confused about something, for all I know he might not even be from Faire at all, I have to do something, but what?

    What if-

    No...that won't work, you'll just end up hurting him more.

    You know nothing about him! For all you know he could be some tourist trying to play a prank on you, or worse, a thief waiting for you to lose your guard and make off with your poke!

    What if he's completely useless in battle, you don't need that kind of burden in your life!

    You don't even have that much space in your room, which by the way, happens to have a pretty good book waiti-

    NO! I can't just abandon this Pokémon, I have to do something...

    With a glance towards the Bagon Argon's apprehension slowly decreased, gazing past Chimera onto the orange and pink of the setting sun, her memory faded to that of herself, rushing past Team Tectonic for the exit to that little Cafe. Her conscious shouted one thought, overcoming the dozens of objections clanging through her mind:

    If this works, I'll have helped someone in need, and if it doesn't, then at least I'll get to share the rent...

    With a renewed smile, Argon stepped forward to Chimera and put her hand on his shoulder.

    "Uh...Chimera I was wondering if you'd like to—"

    The Bagon jolted upon feeling Argons hand, swiftly swerving around to meet her face, but this was not what surprised her.

    What did was that the eyes once closed and drenched in a sickly black cloud where open wide, fixed onto Argon's body in a frozen stare. The former human finally gazed upon the new appendages he had been denied the luxury of seeing, as well as owner of the mysterious voice who had been keeping him company. Before Chimera stood a Raichu taller than himself, sporting round ears and a blue eyes, as well as an large tail haphazardly strapped to the creatures back. The Bagon gave a terrified shriek, before passing out onto the dark brown sand.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
  5. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 3: Best Left Forgotten
    Slowly but surely, consciousness seemed to make its return to Chimera's body, eyelids attempting to stay closed despite an annoyingly persistent white light taking away the comforting darkness. As the former human took note of his surroundings, a single thought pierced his mind,

    What the hell happened last night?

    Examining his arms, Chimera found that they had returned from the awkward scaly hands of the past to their original form, being used to cushion his head currently hunched over a white desk. His eyes wandered upward, gazing upon the culprit of the irritating white light: his old computer. Displayed on the monitor which made up the rooms only light source was a large white box, It took many attempts for Chimera make sense of the text inside, but with some effort the disorganized letters became legible:

    c. DRoVerSOn

    I hoPE You enD uP gettIng thIs bEfOre It's Too LATE. I KnOw you'vE bEen WORKIng haRd over the pAST MOnth, HeLl, WE alL HAvE, But THE gUy froM cORPORatE WaS furiouS whEN HE SaW You SLEeping. bEFOre wE COULd ObJECT he DEmanDED tHAt If YOU fIniSH thE SPrEadSHeet rePOrt fOR NexT WEek Or hE'd shoW YOu tHE DooR. i WOULD HaVE OBjecTEd, BUT YoU KNoW hoW MaNy iNtERnS THey HAve waiTinG fOR JObs. He'lL Be CoMinG aT 6:30 Am tOMMoROW, gOod lUCK

    BEST rEgaRDs, cgPJQMW

    Before Chimera had time to object, the massive compilation of lettered and numbered charts glowering from the screen popped into existence behind the email, as well as the current time-5:30 AM, Sunday.

    Crap Crap Crap Crap Crap. More than a few swears echoed out of the human's mind before cognitive thought took over.

    Why is this happening? Did I get on the bosses bad side? What did I do to deserve this? How can they expect me to finish this in one day?The questions fell on deaf ears, overwhelmed by the intense demand to get started. Away he went, calculator in one hand, mouse in the other as the hours began to slip by like minutes.

    Alright, and that would make the sales revenuer about $12,000. Wait, did I miss something? Yep...I did, back to the drawing board- 9:46 AM, Sunday

    What the? I just did the math, my calculator shouldn't be giving me this answer.-12:51 pm, Sunday

    Shouldn't the guys at sales be doing this one? Whatever, isn't going to help me now.- 3:34 PM, Sunday

    OK...If I eat and use the bathroom at the same time, I can shave another five minutes to work on this.-12:02 AM, Monday.

    I should have files on how to do this, where did I put them? Never mind, no time...just have to wing it.-2:31 AM, Monday.

    Come on, Think! This isn't difficult stuff, you should be able to get this!-4:10 AM, Monday.

    With every failure, Chimera's breath grew quicker and the room seemed to increase in temperature. More than once, he was forced to pull himself away from the keyboard, unable to type accurately due to the intense shaking of his arms. With only seven more pages to go, the human glanced once more at the clock-6:27 AM, Monday. Three minutes till the end...

    Maybe I'm just not smart enough, The human thought, raising his white colored shirt sleeve up to his face to dampen it with tears. If I had just worked harder, made different decisions, I wouldn't be where I am right now. I could have been like corporate, sitting in some cozy bed telling others what to do, I just needed to figure out how...

    Before long, the metal doorknob behind Chimera began to jiggle and a soft creak came from the office door. Faced with no other option, the human closing his eyes to accept his damnation.

    ---​

    He woke up in a cold sweat.

    Slowly, the darkness began to fade away, being replaced by grey and yellow tinted outline of a limestone ceiling.

    The Human—wait no, The Bagon slowly raised his head from a lying position, consciousness frozen, knowing full well what he'd see when he lifted his hands: the same blue, stubby hands that felt unnatural even before they could be seen. The same two fangs that had punctured his tongue after attempting to retract them into his mouth. The same short body entirely covered in silvery blue scales.

    After an analysis that the pain in his mouth was real, and a quick pinch to the arm just to be sure, Chimera took the time to analyze his surroundings. Underneath himself was a sort of crude mattress, consisting of a puffy material sowed together into a long rectangle lacking any sort of suspension. It left no pain or sore spots, a peculiarity given that a week ago, even a regular mattress would leave him aching for the new day. To his left, Chimera spotted several wooden chests neatly stacked against the wall, as well as various medical instruments mounted to the side. A glance to the right disclosed piles of loose paper pamphlets, barely legible via moonlight filtered through windows on the opposing wall. Further inspection revealed one titled "Proper Treatment of Common Exploring Ailments", while another logo to the left read "Gunky Food: What it is, and How You Can Treat Ingestion". Scouring past memories of human life, the realization dawned to Chimera that this had to be some kind of hospital.

    "Oh good, you're awake, you had me worried there for a second."

    Chimera recognized the voice, though the face was infinitely harder to accept. Whatever shock he lost after seeing his new body returned tenfold, eyes glued to the Raichu standing in front of the door.

    "I...uh...I bought you here after you passed out , had Buizel take a look at your eyes—said they were fine, but he wasn't sure why you just passed out like that."

    Chimera continued to stare deadpan towards the Raichu, whatever memories that had assisted him before failing to provide an explanation. She was returning the gaze, and seemed to be holding her breath.

    "If you're not sure why, I guess we can talk about it later, but..." Argon stopped, fidgeting with her hands and softly tapping her feet before inhaling,

    "Anyway, I was...wondering if you'd like to join my resource team, I...uh..just thought it could maybe give you a little of that variety you've wanted."

    Chimera kept his stone faced expression, despite his already befuddled mind being invaded by a stream of new question,

    Just what the hell is going on? I suddenly wake on a beach on some remote island, with a new body of—whatever this thing is. This weird Raichu-ish thing comes up to me and offers to—wait a second.

    Chimera froze, long forgotten memories crashing like a tidal wave into his psyche. Memories of a simpler time, where the largest priority was to not make any noise while tiptoeing down the stairs to retrieve the glossy red DS charging on the counter top. Vague recollections rose up from their deep slumber. One: holding a satisfied grin after besting the Hypno, who had caused the loss of over half his items. Another: gasping after being pulled into the dark dimension by a massive Dusknore. Another still: softly sighing after besting primal Dialga, knowing full well what had to happen next. Though the entire game, Chimera thought, that little Bulbasaur had prevailed and excelled. And...though all of it, there was a Pokemon at his side.

    Chimera focused his vision back onto Argon, noting that she was scratching the back of her neck , and that the soft tap of her feet seemed to be growing by the second.

    "If you don't want to, that's completely understandable, I just thought that maybe—"

    "Yes," Chimera interjected, a massive grin on his face, "Absolutely...If you really are a partner that I can count on, I'd be more than happy to form a team with you."

    "Really?" replied Argon, mouth open and eyes agape. "I mean, I don't want to convince you otherwise, but are you really ready to join the WFG just like that?"

    Chimera's smile seemed to grow with every second, betraying the fact that he was almost on the verge of tears."Yes, yes, a million times yes. Trust me, there isn't anything else I'd want to do in the world right now, just tell me where to sign up."

    Noticing the Raichu's head slowly tilt, the Bagon continued, "Back in the day I...I made some mistakes, had some decisions I wish I chose differently on. If you're really letting me take you up on this offer, than I don't see why we can't start now."

    Argon nodded in understanding, Chimera's infectious grin starting to take effect on her. After a brief moment of silence spread between the two, Chimera found his attention grasped by the bright moonlight coming from the opposing wall.

    Tracing the luminous effect to a small window, the Bagon walked across the room to peer out for a view of the outside world. In the distance an innumerable amount of wooden ships, both small and large could be seen slowly gliding across the glass-like water. On all these vessels dozens upon dozens of Pokemon, big and small, could be seen. While most where tightening sails and hoisting crates of supplies, a select few stood on the bow, pointing and shouting orders to their subordinates. The majority of the crafts returning to port were of the cargo holding variety, sporting a large collapsible ramp at the front for unloading supplies and adapted to traveling the same routes daily. However, in their large shadows several smaller and thinner vessels could be seen docked and without crew. With V shaped hulls and adventurous names stamped into their sides in bronze and silver, Chimera surmised that the vessels were no doubt intended for glorious and lucrative explorations through unknown waters. Squinting, Chimera could identify that each vessel seemed to have a large stamp, containing bold, green letters labeled West Faire Guild.

    Looking over his shoulder, he found that Argon had silently joined him in looking onto the marina. However, after tracing her vision, Chimera's head tilted, realizing her eyes were focused not towards the docks, but much more to the right. In this direction lay a certain cliff face, containing what he could only assume was a large tree. Why Argon was looking at that black smudge and not onto the well lit marina was beyond him.

    Without turning, Chimera extended his hand to place it on Argon's shoulder. The smooth touch of short, orange fur still caused a bit of shock in the back of the Bagon's mind, but was quickly suppressed.

    "Argon, with you and me together," Chimera remarked, "We're going to go places."
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  6. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 4: A Future for the Taking
    The scribbling of pens synonymous with the Pith Town main office hadn't gotten any less incessant during any of Argon's rare visits, no had the calculated chime of the mechanical clocks and tapping feat. But, this time was different, for she had now a new companion to share in the endless drudgery of all who entered. Occasionally, she would cast a quick glance to the Bagon sitting next to her, wary for any of the periodic shaking that had plagued Chimera when they first sat on Solrock Beach. To Argon's surprise, however, this never came, for it seemed that even bureaucracy could not wipe the ardor from his face.

    Seven signatures on the dotted line and three pages of bubble sheet tests later, Argon and Chimera were finally able to walk away. The latter of the two strolled with his head down, meticulously running his hand over the green and gold colored shield that formed the guild badge. A habit, Argon thought, that would need to be curbed, lest they be accidentally ejected out of their first mystery dungeon because of the Bagon's enthusiasm.

    "So," Chimera asked,"what's next?".

    Argon had been pondering this herself while they walked along the narrow, red-bricked town halls . Thoughts raced on the what to do having another mouth to feed and another hand to help with jobs. The constant pressure that had plagued Argon's eyes for the last couple hours, however, demanded a different course of action."I don't mean to be rude, but I just want to go to be," replied Argon, taking a moment to wipe away the tears that had formed as a result of yawning.

    "Oh...right," Chimera replied, the dim smile on his face fading ever so slightly, before he was shocked to alertness. "Hey Argon, do...uh..do you know that apartment I talked about before?"

    "Oh yeah, they probably should have told you when you signed up," Argon interjected with a quick chuckle. "on site housing is required at the West Faire Guild, probably to compensate for them removing that 90% workers tax a while back."

    "Well...that's a disappointment," Was all Chimera could reply, turning is head away to hide a relieved sigh.

    Informed of Argon's fatigued state, Chimera was content to let the rest of the walk continue in silence. Despite a full view of Pith town being restricted by gloaming darkness, he felt inclined to hum a little melody as he walked behind her, voice substituting for electronic flute to once again signal a call to adventure.

    ---​

    The door to apartment 26 always seemed to give a chilling creek whenever it was opened. Whether that be from poor materials, extended use, or a seeming unwillingness to care, the Bagon would never know. When the door opened, Chimera could barely blink before the Raichu had thrown herself across the room, landing with a solid thud onto the bottom cotton mattress of a wooden bunk bed. In the short distance that Argon had traveled, her feet had landed on several pre-placed gaps in the floor, the only places, Chimera grimaced, that weren't covered with a disheveled amalgamation of items. From featureless blue spheres to knickknacks of various hobbies taken up and set back down, this pattern continued, extending onto the overflowing wooden desk opposite Argon's bunk. A vague and artificial lemon-like smell was detected, most prevalent around the large pile of glass jars reading "Cup O-Oran" loosely stacked together over an already disarrayed pile of papers. Nearly as apparent to Chimera as this was the small size of Argon's apartment, The former human mentally comparing it to his old closet if he were to take out all the cloths.

    These observations were not unnoticed, Chimera casting a glance at the Raichu to see that she had leaned back up, face turned away and hands upward to halfway cover her eyes.

    "I...uh...I'm sorry about the mess. It's just that...I don't usually get many visitors." Argon tossed herself from the bed, crawling across the floor to frantically fold scarves and fling items into loose piles while muttering curses to herself.

    Just as the Raichu was grabbing for the yellow colored spray bottle hidden under a pile of ribbons, the realization dawned on Chimera that the bags and wrinkles under her eyes seemed to become more prevalent every minute. A heavy sigh followed a short period of silence from the Bagon, before he opened his mouth,

    "Argon, do you want to get some rest? I'm pretty sure you've been awake all-"

    "No!" Argon interjected. "It was stupid of me to take you here without cleaning up first. I just need to—"

    "...Argon..." Chimera replied, setting his hand onto the back of her shoulder,"I can handle the cleanup. I've been sleeping ever since I passed out on that beach. And besides," he added,"I still owe you for watching over me then."

    Whether it was Chimera's words or the lethargy in her eyes, Argon relented, handing the spray bottle to Chimera with a soft smile.

    "Thank you so much, this means a lot to me."

    "No problem," replied Chimera, "that's what partners are for."

    The soft mattress greeted Argon easily, within minutes her barely audible breathing filled the atmosphere of the now quiet room. As Chimera continued stacking papers and books from the ground, a key bit of information gave him solitude:if everything went his way, they'd be out of this apartment in a month or so.

    ---​

    In a couple hours Chimera had the room in a somewhat satisfactory condition. With the blanket of clutter covering the garish stone floor removed, and all the offending trash stacked into an overflowing basket next to the doorway, the Bagon was finally able to breath a little easier. This relief was compounded by the presence of his loyal partner, the orange furred Raichu that Chimera knew would become the building blocks for this new journey. The fact that Argon, thank god, was not a chronic snorer, also didn't hurt.

    After giving one last satisfied grin at his handiwork, Chimera hopped onto the wooden ladder leading to the top bunk. To his surprise, the same mattress that lined Argon's bed was present, but had been haphazardly leaned against the outer wall of the bed. The empty space now looked to serve as a makeshift shelf for Argon's expansive novel collection. Chimera gave a quick glance to the covers of every book, surprising a part of himself that most seemed to be either fantasy or poetry novels, before setting them into a loose pile on the floor. At last, the Bagon was able to recline into the small mattress, through the sleep that had come to Argon so readily seemed to hide itself from Chimera. Neither the room's invasive darkness, nor the soft pitted-patter of rain against the stone walls could stem the unending stream of thoughts flooding Chimera's brain. A faint memory of his old life would appear sporadically, only to be quickly quashed in favor of recollection of the day's events. Before long, the Bagon began to fear that his constant shuffling and readjusting would continue until daybreak.

    "Uh...Chimera, are you still awake?"

    The voice emanating from the bunk below, caused Chimera to freeze in his tracks.

    "Oh no...did I wake you up?" asked Chimera.

    "No, its not your fault," Argon replied with a chuckle, "I'm sort of a light sleeper, you'd be surprised how many times I've woken up because of noise outside,this one time—"

    Despite the Bagon's best attempts, Argon's voice was soon zoned out in favor of curiosities about the world he now inhabited. Why am I here? Where is 'here'? How is the world in danger? All screamed in unavoidable truth: if his mind was going to get any rest, he was going to need some answers. And right now, all the answers he needed were lying down three feet below him.

    "—And that's how I learned that the 'mon on the floor above was a sleepwa—"

    "Hey Argon," Chimera interjected,"while you're awake, do you mind if I ask you about a couple things?".

    "Sure, is it about what you were saying at the beach?"

    "No. It's not about that!" Chimera quickly replied, a shot of adrenaline coursing to his face with the express purpose of making his tongue heavier. "I just wanted to know about... say...the guild, I'm not really from this area."

    A few short seconds passed, soft pitter-patters being broken by a muffled crack of thunder in the distance. Though both had head the sound, neither had seen the lightning itself. Reclining her head back towards the upper bunk and taking a deep breath, Argon spoke,

    "You probably saw the spiel on the entry form. We are known as the West Faire Guild, a maritime and continental organization devoted wholeheartedly to ensuring the economic liberty and social harmony of all who inhabit the region of Faire. For 21 long years the WFG has-has...shoot." Argon interrupted her monotone with a sigh, glancing to her desk at the crumpled note sheet buried under a mountain of paper.

    "That's are motto at least, you'll have to recite it every time you interview for a rank increase. What I, or I guess we, actually do is resource recovery, you know what mystery dungeons are, right?".

    If light bulbs existed in this universe Chimera assumed there would be one over his head right now.

    "Yeah, they're randomly generated places where wild Pokémon will attack you if you get near them."

    "Well, yes there are those...but the important factor is that on every floor items and resources will appear. Our job is to fight our way through dungeons, find stuff like cloth, medicine, and gold, and bring it back to the entrance."

    At this, Chimera was forced to pause, Is that really it, going to the same dungeons everyday to lug back bags of items? That can't be right.

    "But don't these teams do other things, like exploring and rescuing people?"

    "Yeah, some do," replied Argon, "But there's not many teams like that out there anymore. My mom said that back in the day, pretty much everybody wanted to be in a rescue team, but after the WFG was formed, they started running out of lost Pokémon to save and outlaws to catch."

    Silence followed, Chimera's mind fixated on the arduous fate in store for both of them. Someplace, somewhere, he thought, there's must be a horrifying prelude to a world ending event happening, and we're the only ones that can stop it. I just have to find out what.

    "You know," said Argon, Chimera jumping at the sudden voice breaking his train of thought,"now that I look back on it all, I have it pretty good here at the guild...it could definitely be a lot worse."

    But it could definitely be a lot better too...thought Chimera, the words just about to escape from his tongue before being being cut off. Regardless, with at least one answer to satisfy his minds cravings, the feeling of languor seemed to come easier. A quick thanks to Argon for the conversation was all the Bagon needed before closing his eyes.

    As of now, Chimera thought, the only thing I need to stress over is what rowdy creature is in charge of waking us up.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  7. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 5: The Most Dangerous Game
    Chimera never liked getting up. More often than naught, mornings consisted of being shocked out of bed and trying to maintain his balance as he stumbled out the door, taking along whatever amalgamation of items from his pantry that could be called a breakfast. For these reasons and more, the blue lizard tucked soundly under a thick layer of blankets lay racked with fear.

    It should still be early, shouldn't it? I still have time, could probably keep my eyes closed for five more minutes. But...that would mean being awoken by whoever they hired as a knocker upper. Uh..why does this have to be so hard?

    With seemingly no other option, Chimera waited, cringing internally at the thought of a creature able to exacerbate the exact pitch of his alarm clock that would make his blood boil. What vocalized in its place, however, brought back memories of happier times: various notes strung together to form a soothing tune, one he presumed sweet enough to wake up even a snorlax, followed by a voice emanating from below.

    "Rise and shine Chimera, time for a knew day."

    The process of rising upward from the pillow came to the Bagon much easier, a peak over the bunk bed rails revealing an orange Raichu with flute in hand, holding a tranquil grin.

    "I take it you're not a morning person?" Argon asked.

    "Well, if you're asking whether I get up in the morning," Chimera replied with a chuckle, "then I am, if you're asking whether I enjoy it...that's a different story." Despite the view of Argon growing blurrier with every rub of his eyes, he drew a quick gasp as a white mug behind her rose from the desk, seemingly of its own fruition. Slowly, it began to levitate towards him, being bordered by a thin, pink layer of light. Glancing back at Argon to see her eyes closed in concentration, Chimera held out his hand for the cup, the contents shaking ever so lightly before he was able to grab hold.

    "I brewed you some tea," said Argon, eyes opening as she sighed in relief, "always thought it helped me wake up in the morning."

    Chimera lowered his head to drink, olfactory senses taking in the cup's herby smell as he lamented that the closest thing he drank to tea in his old life contained enough caffeine to keep a Slakoth active.

    "So," Argon asked expectantly, "what do you think?"

    He shuddered, sweet tooth revolting after being invaded by a decidedly bitter liquid, "This...tastes like crap."

    Argon sheepishly turned away, resuming eye contact with the Bagon moments later to see that he had raised the mug to his mouth and was chugging the rest of its contents.

    "It's...an acquired taste," he continued, holding his hand to his throat to conceal a gag reflex, "I appreciate you showing me it. In a couple more weeks, who knows? I might like it."

    A few brief seconds followed until Argon was unable to contain herself at the display, giggling towards the floor as she motioned the Bagon out of bed.

    "You don't have to keep drinking it for my sake Chimera...come on, we should probably get going now."

    With no recourse, Chimera jumped out of the bunk bed to follow Argon out of the apartment, briefly noting to himself that this was the most awake he had felt during this hour in years.

    ---​

    Immediately upon exiting, the darkness obscuring Faire from the night before was lost, causing a deep gasp to escape Chimera's mouth. Directly across the apartment complex was a monumentous building, adorned with red brick shingles and limestone walls that left the Bagon unable to decide whether it looked more like a mansion or a fortress. The structure's impressive size cast a long shadow over the tiled courtyard that lead to it's entrance, white marble columns supporting the dozens of intricate windows that adorned the front side. The red and white pallet was broken only by a large, green shield placed on the building's highest point, three golden engraved letters spanning the shield diagonally to spell the acronym WFG.

    "I-Uh, I assume that's the guild hall," Chimera inquired, eyes still glued to the building.

    "Yeah, pretty extravagant, isn't it?" Argon replied. "Only the higher level teams get housing there, rest of the space is used for administrative stuff or whatnot." With not a care in the world, Argon motioned Chimera to follow her, periodically having to redirect his attention back towards the city streets as they walked.

    Before long, the duo were at the marble entrance, Argon about to open the doors before feeling a knife-like arm outstretch from the crowd behind her. She jumped back, Chimera realizing the culprit to be cricket-like creature, curled black feelers on its face embellished by a cocked hat and thick green coat.

    "You're the Raichu...uh...Argon was it? My name is Gryllus, Cornet rank of the WFG army division. You can play the flute, correct?"

    She gazed back, unable to respond, "Uh...yes—"

    No sooner had she responded was a uniform mimicking the Krikitune's shoved into her hands, on top sitting a thin, wooden instrument.

    "The military band's flutist just passed out from heat exhaustion, we're marching off in five minutes, and I was informed by the leader of the WFG that you were the only one who could take his place." With this, the Krikitune grabbed hold of Argon's hand, ushering her toward a thin, green line of Pokemon barely visible over a large hill.

    Chimera was just about to run after the Krikitune in protest when he heard a voice call out through the crowd, "I'll take care of this. Just...wait for me until I get back!" His flabbergasted expression refusing to go away, Chimera planted himself on the circular brick bench of a courtyard fountain in silence, mulling over if this was a regular occurrence for the Raichu.

    As the seconds waiting outside the guild hall faded into minutes, he found that the butterflies scattering tumultuously in his stomach had dwindled into what could only be called boredom. With little else to do, he occupied himself analyzing the various Pokemon moving in and out of the guild in a seemingly unending line. More often than not, a passerby would notice his wandering gaze, only to either return to their indifferent glare, or break eye contact and quicken pace. One Pokemon, however, did not fit this description. Ambling out of the crowd was a large, giraffe-like creature, body split down the middle between black and yellow spots, back side protruding a ball and chain like tail with a roguish smile. A look of panic lit up Chimera's face after seeing the tail return his gaze and the rest of the creature turn around to approach him.

    "Hello, old chum!" The Girafarig greeted. "Waiting for something I presume?"

    "Uh...for someone," Chimera replied, "might be a little while until they come back."

    "Well, I can see why you'd be anxious, most new members of the WFG are when on their first mission."

    The Bagon's face twisted into a scowl, "How did you—"

    "The badge," the Girafarig interjected, pointing a hoof at the green and yellow shield pinned to Chimera's backpack, "only new recruits wear this badge, and I'd like to believe I'm on good terms with all of the previous members."

    "I was just going out for a game of hoops," he continued, "seeing as how you have got a bit of a wait ahead of you, care to join old chum?"

    Chimera stared onward, racking his brain for any indication of what 'hoops' was. Eventually, analysis and reasoning provided the answer memory couldn't: laying atop the Girafarig was a cloth bag, open end revealing various sized wooden mallets and solid colored spheres. Tracing the direction the Girafarig was pointing, Chimera spotted a large, open, field endowed with several U-shaped gates plunged downward into the grass.

    Oh...croquet...guess somethings never change. I do have nothing better to do, and I should be able to see if Argon comes back from over there...

    "Sure," Chimera replied, arm outstretched expectantly for a mallet, "Why not? And your name is?"

    "Excellent! Name's Binair, pleasures all mine."

    As Chimera and Binair took their positions at the beginning of the double diamond of hoops that made up the game field, a short mallet and blue ball levitated from the Girafarig's pack toward Chimera,

    "The blue ball goes first, care to start the game off old chum?" Binair asked.

    Chimera squinted at the Girafarig, "I presume that this is a game were going first is advantageous?"

    "...In a way..." he replied, "you will just have to find out."

    With a sigh, Chimera sat the blue orb next to a colored stick dug into the ground in front of the two starting wickets. It took more than a few seconds to find how his hands could hold onto the mallet in the fashion least awkward, the Bagon sarcastically wishing he had taken up golf in his old life. After a few practice tests of the mallet, he swung, the blue orb tumbling toward the first hoop to barely pass through it.

    "Great shot old chum! You've gone through the first wicket, that gives you an extra swing."

    Chimera re-positioned himself, cringing as the sun hidden under one of the many palm trees surrounding the field revealed itself. Surveying the rest of the field now seemed almost impossible to the blue lizard, constantly having to shift his vision back down to the blue orb for fear of causing damage to his eyes. His next swing came much less easy, veering to the left and stopping just before the second wicket.

    "That's your turn," Binair called out, Chimera noting that atop the Girafarig's head now sat a large pith helmet.

    Once Binair was at the starting point, a large mallet at his side levitated towards the red orb now beside the colored stick. With a flick of his mind, the Girafarig sent the end of the mallet towards the orb, directing it in a straight line past the first wicket, sideswiping the blue orb before careening through the second.

    "That's three extra swings for me," Binair called out toward the bewildered Bagon.

    "How...how does that—"

    "One for the first wicket, another for the second, and a third for hitting your ball," Binair interjected, "a pretty good shot if I do say so myself."

    Chimera found himself at a loss for words, retreating towards the palm tree's shade to hopefully hide his look of indignation.

    ---​

    The rest of the game passed by quickly for Chimera, sunlight growing ever more oppressive as the Girafarig maintained a steep lead. Just as Chimera felt like he was making progress as his blue sphere drew closer to passing through final hoop, it was knocked towards the other end of the field on Binair's turn, drawing a maddening roar from the blue lizard as he threw his mallet to the grass.

    "Frustrated, old chum?" Binair asked, the two white horns on his head growing a vibrant pink as the Chimera's mallet was lifted from the ground towards him.

    "I...yes, yes I am, it isn't fair that I have to use these," Chimera replied, holding his stubby blue arms up, "while you can use your goddamn telekinesis on the mallet!"

    Binair gave a quick chuckle, "Well, would you rather I hold it with my mouth? I was born with the ability, is it not natural that I use it?"

    "Not when it puts you at an inequitable advantage," he shot back. "You might as well just play with other psyche types if they're the only ones with a fair chance."

    "A decent point, old chum," said the Girafarig, "however, I believe you fail to consider the world we live in."

    He continued, "Take, for instance, if I were to play a game against that fine gentlemen over there."

    Chimera glanced where Binair was pointing, spotting a large, orangutan-like, Pokemon with a purple cloak.

    "Oranguru are extremely intelligent Pokemon, that one over there would be able to calculate the exact pressure the ball must be hit and the exact angle to achieve the most efficient route. I would have no chance, had I not used the advantages you just described."

    "But you're not playing against an Oranguru, you're playing against me," Chimera replied. "Why even bother playing if you know you're going to win? Kind of defeats the whole purpose of a sport."

    "To...teach," The Girafarig slowly replied, "teach a lesson, old chum, one that those just joining the guild such as yourself could use. You know the theory of the human universe, do you not? Were one species dominates the world and has made a sport of battling Pokemon such as us?"

    Chimera bit his lip, "I'm...familiar with the concept, yes."

    "Consider this, why do we not tell of worlds with Girafarigs or Alakazhams as the dominate species? They would certainly be more intelligent, as welling as being able manipulate objects more efficiently than any appendages could."

    Before Chimera could think of an answer, he continued, "The answer, old chum, lies in their drive. The humans of that universe were not content to stay where they where and coexist like any Alakazham would. They pushed on, taking whatever suited their fancy, inventing ways control creatures with ten times their own mental or physical power."

    "What's your point?" Chimera inquired, "You've said a lot, but we still are just playing croquet."

    "My point, old chum, is that the world follows harsher rules than a game of hoops, and you're bound to encounter other Pokemon who are stronger and faster than you on your journey. I've spent a long time studying scientific theories on the human universe, and I've found that if you emulate them, if you keep that same inventiveness and desire for more, you'll end up with the destiny you've always wanted. Consider that, when we play croquet again."

    Chimera's mind was lost trying to find a counterargument, finding relief only when his eyes spotted a familiar Raichu approaching from an end of the field. Even from a distance, Chimera could she that marching had left her racked with sweat, Argon's face conveying a simple message: I'm not doing that again.

    "Argon!"

    Chimera jumped, surprised to see that Binair was the one calling out to her. "Fancy seeing you here, you'll be heading out soon, I presume?"

    "Yeah," she replied in between deep breaths, "going on a short mission with my new partner over there, had to help some of the soldiers first, though."

    His curiosity peeked, Chimera piped in, "I take it you two know each other?"

    "Well, of course," she replied dismissively, "he's my boss."

    Chimera's head shot towards the Girafarig, demanding an explanation.

    "Guess the game is up," Binair said with a heavy grin, happy to oblige, "before you stands the founder and current presider of the Western Faire Guild."
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  8. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 6: The Test
    No...not again,

    Chimera lay motionless, eyes wide staring unto the Girafarig is his mind shouted accusations toward it's only occupant.

    It's all over now. You ruined it, the things you said...badmouthing the one person you should have obeyed over all else. He's no doubt going to kick your ass to the curb now, unless...

    Chimera's knees weakened, dropping him to the floor as he forced his gaze from Binair to the grassy ground.

    "I am so sorry for all those horrible things I said to you. I-Uh...I lost my temper; it was unprofessional, disorderly, insolent, and plain stupid."

    Binair gazed at the Bagon with an incredulous frown, "Chimer—"

    "I should have known better," he continued, holding a melancholic tone Argon inwardly pondered as almost sounding rehearsed, "I shouldn't have disrespected what you said, please...it won't happen again."

    Binair kept his dispassionate gaze, "Chim—"

    "Please! You don't have to do this, I just need another chance. I'll do anything you ask to make this up, I promise I'll develop into a productive member of the guil—"

    "Chimera!" Binair yelled, tail forming a scowl to match the one on his face. "The only thing you need to develop is a spine."

    Ever so slowly, the Bagon lifted his head from the floor, "What? I don't understand."

    "You're still in the guild, old chum," Binair replied, as if the conclusion was obvious, "only the most thick-skinned of Pokemon cannot tolerate debate from their own subordinates. Luckily for you, I am not one of them."

    Binair peeked over to Argon, silently watching the entire episode, "He's not always like this, is he?"

    Argon hesitated, lifting a paw up to scratch her back as she gazed upon her beseeching partner, "You've b-been a little...emotional since I met you, but no."

    "Good," Binair said with a sideways glance towards the Bagon, "then there is room for improvement, and for Arceus's sake, on your feet!"

    Chimera rose from his knees, adrenaline exiting his body in the form of relieved sighs, "A-Are you sure, not even gonna...dock my pay or something?"

    "Yes," Binair replied with a prolonged sigh, "and I would recommend you stop suggesting ideas for your own punishment."

    Faced with this news, Chimera's frozen continuance returned, lasting several seconds before a solitary giggle escaped from the side of the Bagon's mouth. A few seconds more, and the giggle had escalated until he was closing his eyes and cackling towards the ground.

    "What's so funny?" Argon asked, "was there something important I missed, or—"

    "It's nothing," Chimera puttered out in between prolonged laughter, "it's just, oh Arceus, I'm a fool."

    Argon and Binair starred onward at the unhinged Bagon, creating a discomforting silence surrounding the group, only broken only by the sharp cough of the Girafarig as he opened his mouth,

    "Well, now that the matter has been resolved, I presume that you two will be leaving for your first mission?"

    "Uh..yeah," Argon piped in, "I was going to sign us up for a small resource recovery mission, we should be able to get back before sundown."

    A scowl formed on Binair's face as he looked toward the Bagon, "Would you two be adamant for a more...well paying expedition?"

    "I-I thought about it," Argon replied, arms crossed and feet beginning to tap as she turned to her partner, "b-but I figured that it would be best to start slow, after all, I'm not sure how capable you are at dungeoneering, Chimera."

    "Well, I'm sure he could handle himself, especially when paired with someone as experienced as you, isn't that right?"

    "Uh...yeah!" the Bagon replied, turning towards the Raichu to give his best attempt at a heroic stance. "I won't be a burden, you can count on that!"

    After giving Chimera's eyes a search of confirmation, Argon turned back towards Binair, "Ok...I guess, what do you have in mind?"

    Binair's mouth formed into a grin, Chimera able to confirm that his tail had taken up a similar expression, "An important retrieval exploration. My sources tell of an object of intense power, recently discovered to be hidden in an island just off the coast of Eastern Faire. Sail to this island, fight through the mystery dungeon to retrieve it and bring it back here."

    "That'll likely take the entire day, if not more..." Argon whimpered, peeking at Chimera to see that a smile had taken the place of his former grimace, "n-never mind, tell me, how will we tell what this item looks like?"

    "Let me just say it has a very distinctive pattern," Binair replied, "you'll know it when you see it."

    Before Argon could object, Chimera quickly ran around the Girafarig to hang a hand over her shoulder, "I guess we should head out soon then, we're burning daylight!"

    "Indeed, old chum, gather what equipment you need and head toward the docks, tell the captain of the WFS Draeck that I sent you. You'll need the location of course," the horns on Binair's head flashed a vibrant pink as a folded sheet of paper tucked in Argon's bag surfaced.

    "—here," the Girafarig spoke, quill levitating out of his pack to meet the paper, "I'll mark it on your map."

    Argon grabbed hold of the wonder-map, noticing that a seemingly random point off the eastern island's coast was marked with a small X.

    "We should really get going then," she said, shuffling out of the Bagon's grasp, "I'd prefer if we're not trekking through a mystery dungeon after sundown."

    With this, Argon turned, Chimera following her lead to walk toward the visible large cluster of vessels out in the distance. After a few steps, however, he stopped, turning his head back towards the Girafarig as he spoke,

    "Binair...I'm sorry for the way I acted, few that I've known would so generously hand out this opportunity, thank you."

    "No apology needed," Binair replied, his tail's roguish smile again glaring at the Bagon as he walked away, "I always protect my investments, and as I said, I look forward to our next game."

    Chimera found himself beaming back at Girafarig's tail as the instruments of their game levitated into Binair's pack, "Yeah, so do I.

    ---​

    As Chimera followed Argon through the Pith Town harbor, he couldn't help but notice that the Raichu seemed unfazed by the excessive shouting between various ships and the olfactory overload of saltwater from the heavy breeze. A look from the Bagon towards the docks revealed vessels of all sizes jutting in between each-other like people in a crowded hallway. Before long, the duo arrived at a vessel fitting Binair's description: in between the dozens of crafts lying dormant in the harbor was a moderately sized ship, sapphire wooden planks making up the body creating a deep contrast against the faintly yellow stained sails hanging across the vessel's three masts. The most immediate draw of the vessel was it's figurehead statue: a large, serpentine dragon-like head, bright yellow eyelids bellow pink eyes creating an almost cartoonist appearance.

    "Oi, ye coming aboard or what!"

    Argon starred up at the startling yell, spotting it's source to be an imposing bipedal green snake, leaning over from the vessel with a disheveled scowl. On her head was a cocked hat, recognized by the Raichu as the same type worn by the commanding Kricketune.

    "Well? Executive Officer Binairs paying a lot of poke to see ye two delivered somewhere, I could always wait here and collect the reward if you're so inclined."

    "N-No, that won't be necessary," Argon hastily replied, walking with Chimera across the vessel's rickety gangplank.

    "Better not be," the Servine continued, "would probably take five hours or more to to travel to that island he descried, would hate to spend it here doing jack all."

    Now standing aboard the Draeck, Chimera followed Argon towards the Servine, instinctively reaching his hand out towards her before pulling it back, a memory of his last attempt at such a gesture still fresh in his mind.

    "And your name is?" Chimera asked.

    "Wendy," she replied, "Captain Wendy, to be clear."

    The Servine turned around from the pair, taking her position at the helm in front of the dozen or so crew members scattered across the vessel as they set sail from the harbor.

    "I'd recommend you find somewhere comfortable, we're in for a long trip. Below decks usually a nice spot, but a word to the wise, usually a
    bunch of spare parts and tools lying with the cargo, a sharp wave can send one hurling towards ye if you're not careful."

    Argon nodded at Wendy's warning, temptation to lower a hat over her eyes and sleep in the warm sun cut off as she recalled one of her original concerns.

    "H-Hey, Chimera," Argon spoke, "don't take this the wrong way, but I was wondering if I could...test you on something,"

    "Sure, what's the test?" the Bagon replied, "you won't find a better person to help you with doing your taxes, if that's what you want."

    "No, it's not that, it's just...there's a fair amount of battling in my line of work. H-Had we been doing most other missions the biggest thing you'd have to worry about would be wild Shellos or Caterpie, but where we're going is a wildcard, I just wanted to see if you could defend yourself."

    A bead of sweat began to form on Chimera's forehead, "Uh—Yeah, that's fair. I've got no problem showing you."

    Argon gave a motioning wave toward the vessels stern, Chimera gazing past it to see that they were about a kilometer past the harbor.

    "I-I guess we should start off with some of your elemental abilities," Argon said, motioning to a loose plank of wood floating behind the Draeck, "I believe your species should be able to breath embers, or some sort of blue fire, I think, could you demonstrate?"

    Chimera nodded, exhaling quick, short breaths as he attempted to psyche himself up. He tightened his chest, feeling inside for any unique organ that would provide Argon's stated abilities. With no obvious answer, he closed his eyes, taking a deep breath as he opened his mouth in the direction of the driftwood target. The muscles in the back of the Bagon's throat waited expectantly for some substance to exhale, seconds passing as it became increasingly clear to the pair that none would come.

    Argon spoke up, "Chimera, are you alrigh—"

    "Yes," he interjected, "I'm...fine, just need a few seconds."

    He pounded his chest twice, in an attempt to give his lizard-like body more of an inclination to fulfill it's desired purpose, before trying again. Again, the jaw opened towards the floating plank released nothing but hot air.

    The pattern continued, scowl on the Bagon's forehead becoming increasingly clear every time his scaly snout would open towards the vibrant hew of the increasingly shrinking harbor in the distance.

    On what she assumed was Chimera's dozenth attempt, Argon piped up, "Well, maybe you're more of a physical attacker? I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a headbutt from you, for what it's worth."

    Chimera threw his arms to the ground and turned towards the bow, "I should be able to do this! Everything I need is right here, I can control my arms and my legs, I don't see why this should be any different. I don't...maybe you're right, unless—"

    "Argon, would you be willing to battle me right now?"

    "Battle you?" Argon questioned, "I-It seems a bit early to be sparring, don't you think?"

    "I know, I know," Chimera quickly replied, "but I think I know why I can't exhale fire right now. It must be something in the mind, I've found that if I'm put in stressful situations, I'm able to do things I thought I couldn't before. If I'm in danger, my brain will...sort itself out, survival instincts and all that."

    Argon starred back with a blank expression, "You're probably one of the more out there Pokemon I've met, but if you think it will help."

    She turned back towards the Servine, "Captain Wendy, do you mind if we—"

    "As long as ye don't damage the ship or crew, ye should be fine," Wendy replied with a dismissive wave of a vine, attention taken up concentrating on a large map.

    With this, Argon and Chimera took their positions, standing at the center of the modestly sized ship about ten feet away from each other.

    "Are you sure you want to do this?" Argon asked, "I'll...try to take it easy on you."

    "I'd appreciate it more if you didn't," Chimera replied firmly, "think of me as someone you have to defeat, like an enemy Pokemon in a dungeon. If my theory is correct, that's the only way this is going to work."

    The Bagon gave a short breath, before charging at the Raichu head first, eye's pointed straight towards the vessel's floor.

    Argon waited, Chimera's stone forehead nearly on top of her before she jolted to the right, scurrying to the other side of the vessel as he turned around to meet her.

    "N-Not a bad attack," Argon commented, "but you should keep your head up before you hit them, it's easy to dodge if you know they can't see you."

    Chimera nodded, eyes opening in shock as he noticed faint sparks begin to emanate from the Raichu's cheeks. Immediately, a short burst of electricity launched from Argon's tail, the Bagon just able to dive out of the way behind a large barrel as the wood plank where he was previously standing adsorbed the jolt. Chimera got up and rested his back behind the barrel, a glance to his left revealing a blue turtle tightening a corner rigging looking toward the Bagon with an incredulous stare.

    Chimera glared back at the Wartortle dismissively, before hearing a voice from Argon's location,

    "Pretty good reflexes, now you'll have to either close the gap or use one of your breath attacks."

    The latter option seeming the better one, Chimera peeked his head from the barrel and opened his jaw, slamming his first to the ground when, again, nothing came out.

    "Argon, I appreciate your advice, but this will only work if I'm an danger, you can't hold back."

    Argon's voice cracked, "But wha—"

    "But nothing!" Chimera interjected, "I'm not your partner, I'm your enemy, for my sake please act like it."

    Chimera charged, hurling towards the Raichu with fangs bared. Argon had no trouble avoiding the Bagon's bites, every dodge drawing an increasingly feral roar of rage. After another lunge sent the Chimera stumbling past Argon a couple feet, he turned towards the ground, mind creating imaginary of a humongous blue and red dragon spitting flames towards the helpless Pokemon below. With a stern scowl, he turned his face back towards Argon, belching a soul shattering scream as he commanded every part of his lizard-like frame into launching blue fire at the Raichu before him.

    After a few seconds, he opened his eyes, finding that the only thing that had damaged Argon was his own bad breath.

    "Chimera, do you want to sto—"

    "HIT ME!" the Bagon roared, "I CAN TAKE IT."

    Argon only sighed, sparks in her cheeks being matched by a ball of electricity forming around her left arm. In one swift motion, she darted towards forward, Chimera not even having time to react before he was sent careening across the vessel by Argon's fist. He hit the Draek's floor with a thud, sliding across the wooden planks until the back of his head slammed into the below deck hatch, forcing it open.

    Wendy's voice reverberated through the entire ship, "Oi, Raichu, what just happened?"

    Argon stood with an all too familiar frozen stare, "I...I knocked him out."
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  9. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 7: Arsenal
    The end to Chimera's slumber was significantly less tranquil. Without warning, the Bagon's nose was met with a decidedly bitter olfactory overload as a foul-smelling gas flushed through his lungs and nose. Breaths were short and sporadic as his eyes forced open to take note of his surroundings.

    He was sprawled out on his side, light raindrops audible against wood paneling proving that he was somewhere indoors. His face grew cross-eyed, seeing that a small, glass bottle containing a white powder was being supported against his nose by two vine-like appendages. Realizing that the uncorked container was the source of the irritating sensation, he pulled his face back, right ear being met by a startling voice,

    "Oi, lizard-face, welcome to the world of the living."

    Chimera leaned his upper body towards the voice, quickly raising a hand to wipe the drool that had accumulated on the left side of his mouth. The Servine's piercing stare providing a stark contrast to the Raichu to her side, eyes pointed towards the floor and paw raised up scratching the back of her neck. A few seconds of silence passed before Argon spoke,

    "Chimera, I...we should really stop meeting like this."

    The memories of what had just transpired rushed back into the Bagon's conscious. He gave a short chuckle, being quickly interrupted as needles of pain reverberated from his right cheek to the rest of his body. He raised his hand to the pain's source, cheek feeling numb to the touch,

    "Yep, I'm a glutton for punishment, I guess. Literally."

    Argon glanced to the left, levitating a wooden mug filled with a thick, blue concoction into Chimera's hand. The pain from his right cheek seemed to gradually subside with every sip of the syrupy-sweet liquid. Argon waited until the Bagon hid finished chugging the container, before raising her voice in a soft whimper,

    "I'm really sorry for what happened."

    "Don't be," Chimera quickly replied, "I asked for it, if anything I should be apologizing to you for forcing you to do that. It seemed like an idea that made sense when I thought about it, but in the end I pushed it too far, I'm sorry."

    Her eyes gave a few quick blinks as her head lowered, "Are you sure? Alright, if you insist. The moment you hit the ground, I was just...terrified that I might have given you a concussion, glad to see you're ok."

    A toothy grin replaced the melancholic frown on Chimera's face, "If it's any consolation, it was a really impressive punch, definitely knocked me off my feet."

    A blank stare remained on Argon's face for a moment, broken when her mind recognized the Bagon's attempt at levity and let a chuckle escape from the side of her mouth, "Someday, you have to teach me how to make jokes like that on the spot, really helps to lighten the mood."

    "If ye two are done apologizing to each other, I got a ship to run," Wendy interjected, causing the duo's heads to jump up and stare towards the drips of rain wetting the crew-quarters wooden floor as she stepped out into the storm.

    The Raichu kept her eyes toward the door until it had closed, letting a moment pass before slowly bringing them to rest on Chimera as the room's illumination retreated to the tiny cracks in the door frame.

    "P-Please don't take this personally, but I think there are some questions that should be answered while we're here," she stated, waiting for an approving nod from the Bagon before she continued.

    "Ever since we've met, you haven't exactly seemed like a perfectly normal Bagon. Being passed out on a random corner of the beach, fainting at the first thing you could see, not being able to use attacks that your species innately know. I don't mean to pry, but... is there something you haven't been telling me?"

    "Oh...yes, of course," Chimera slowly replied, reducing his voice to a whisper while peaking towards the door, "if anybody deserves to know it's you. A quick question first, do you know what a human is?"

    Argon spent a few seconds pondering the question, matching the Bagon's tone, "S-Sort of, I remember Executive Binair talking about them a couple times, apparently they're some sort of species in an alternate dimension," she closed her eyes, holding a paw up to her chin, "A few fictional stories exist about them, years back I read a couple about a human being turned into Pokem—" she froze, eyes shot open staring at the Bagon, "you're not saying what I think you're saying, are you?"

    Chimera's silence was the only answer she needed,

    "Arceus...what have I gotten myself into?"

    "Nothing yet," Chimera hastily replied, "this shouldn't change anything, there's no world ending catastrophe about to occur, at least that I'm aware of. I don't know why I'm here, and to be perfectly honest I don't exactly care, just know that that's the reason I might have acting strangely sometimes, nothing else to worry about."

    "One more thing," he added, " you're free to believe or disbelieve my claim, but I'd prefer to keep this a secret between you and me, if you don't mind. I just...feel that things will work out better if few people know."

    A contemplative silence grew between the two, interrupted by the infrequent drop of water from the leaky ceiling. Though Argon couldn't see it, Chimera's body was inwardly quivering, faint whispering in the back of the Bagon's mind suggesting that the she was about to either shout or make a break for the door to have him committed to whatever the Pokemon equivalent of an insane asylum was.

    "So...what's it like?"

    "What's what like?" Chimera replied, subconscious voices vanishing ever so slightly.

    "Being part of the human world," Argon continued, "did you remember anything about it?"

    Chimera closed his eyes and scowled, silently appreciating that his recent forced rest had been relatively dreamless. A few seconds passed until the Bagon was ready to speak, content that he had found the right words.

    "It's wasn't the happiest place, at least for me. Humans have a different...philosophy than what I've seen here, guess it's just in their nature. It's dog-poochyena eat poochyena, the haves and the have-nots. There are similarities, of course, a ship like this wouldn't seem too out-of-place in the human world, at least a long time ago, as well as the less...inviting people who accompany it. If I had to name the biggest difference between the two, I'd say it's in their potential. Here, there's this greater sense of...hope, I think. I have the impression that I can make something out of myself, that if I play my cards right success will be within reach, not so in the past."

    He continued, Argon taking note how his voice wavering as he went on, "I know it's a lot to take in, but...I just don't want this to impact us working together, you've already done me a good turn, and I'd hate for any partnership to feel disingenuous because of this. You're more than welcome to call this whole venture off if you think that's the best choice. Hell, I very well might have if our situation's were reversed, and you were a Pokemon-turned human. At the end of the day, it's your choice."

    Satisfied with what he'd said, Chimera waited expectantly for Argon's reply, a steep turn of the Draeke sending the narrow door frame's beam of light across her face like the hands of fate.

    "You're either a human, completely insane, or the world's best con artist. After what you've said...I'm satisfied to think the former."

    "You believe me?"

    "You haven't done anything to make me distrust you yet," Argon continued, "and it would explain a lot. I can't imagine living in the world you just described, i-if you're looking for a place in this one, I'm content to try and help you find it."

    Chimera closed his eyes, smile created from the Raichu's reply fading as images of blurred faces in clouded scenery popped into his mind,

    "Just know that I appreciate you're faith, I'll try to live up to it. Being in the human world...wasn't all that bad, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some good times, didn't make some nice memories. There were people, not that many, but one or two who put up with me who I enjoyed interacting with. I probably wouldn't have met them if not for the going through all of it. But...it wasn't worth it at the end of the day, not by a long shot."

    "W-What's the last thing you remember?" Argon asked, paw raised to her chin in curiosity. "It sounds like you didn't come here willingly."

    The murky faces disappeared from his mind, replaced by feelings of sorrow and darkness that were no more clear. He was in a tall place, brown glass bottles of various sizes sat strew across the carpeted floor. Every emotion that had been in his mind seemed to have been amplified, accompanied by a dizziness that had plagued every thought. Periodic beeps came from the answering machine haphazardly fallen from a table, increasingly accompanied by the pleading voices of his once forgotten friends. He remembered the sharp chill of the wind, the tiny gaze of red and yellow headlights from above against the night sky, thinking about how the gaze would become increasingly larger after his feet had left the—

    "I...I'd rather not talk about that, " Chimera replied, jamming his eyes closed as he forced the offending memory away, "let's just say I blacked out and washed up on that beach, it'll be better for both of us. I'm sorry about the secrecy, it's just that...I'd rather make a fresh start with that forgotten."

    Argon nodded, conscious suggesting not to press the topic any further. Minutes passed as Chimera's story replayed through her mind, eventually drawing a paw to her mouth as she attempted to hide a few solitary chuckles,

    "What's so funny?" Chimera asked, the toothy grin returning to his continuance, "I thought I was the one who laughed at poor times,"

    The smile concealed by her paw left with short sigh, "I-It's just...think about it, a human, t-the scientific discovery of the ages, is transformed into a Pokemon and taken into this world. He washes up on the shore, and of all the hundreds of thousands of Pokemon who could have potentially found you, of all the famous explorers or historians who would have been more qualified, it ended up being me, Arceus has a strange way of thinking..."

    "Don't sell yourself short," Chimera replied, "there's probably a hell of a lot more worse 'mons who could have found me. And like I said, this shouldn't change a thing."

    Argon nodded as she let the reply fully sink in, Chimera instead being the one to speak up,

    "I'd hate to be a downer, but I still need to find out why my theory failed, and if we're able to fix it."

    At this, the Raichu was forced to pause, vision of the Bagon in front of her loosing focus as her mind pondered. A minute passed before it was shot back into focus, the grin the had formed from having the realization being cut down as its full consequences were considered,

    "Chimera, I-I've put some thought into this while you were knocked out, and now that I know you were a human, I think I might the answer, it's...not good though. I'm not sure if this is correct, b-but you might not ever be able to breathe fire if what you say is true, or it'll at least take a very long time." Argon replied, voice getting ever slower as she stared back at the Bagon.

    "Why not?" Chimera shot back, voice a mix of urgency and confusion, "You said it yourself, any Bagon should innately know how,"

    "B-Because...I-I think it's like evolution in a way. When a Pokemon gain's new elemental powers, like I did when I became a Raichu, it might take weeks or even months for you to be able to accurately use any of your new abilities, because your instincts are still adapting with how your body and mind changes. Turning from a human to a Pokemon in the span of a day...you might not have any of those instincts to begin with, nothing to tell your mind how to control any organs it hasn't already used."

    Chimera stared back incredulously, before slamming his hand to the ground at no one in particular,

    "So that's it then, I'm left with no choice but to charge my enemies head-on? You saw how frail I am, I'll probably get sucker punched into a wall the moment I try to headbutt somebody."

    "Not...exactly," Argon replied, answer synonymous with her opening a canvas bag by her side and levitating a disheveled amalgamation of pebbles, spikes, and thorns onto the floor, "I-I brought some of these for you, just in case. I had a fair amount when I first started at the guild, they're used a lot by some of the fighting and normal types."

    Chimera eyed the various objects, reminiscence of sitting in the backseat of his parent's car staring at two vertically stacked screens reminding him what they were. His mind and hand settled on a silver spike buried under the pile, a quick toss proved it had a hefty weight to it, and a decent enough balance to be considered throwable. The spike's edges were revealed as jagged and dull as he ran a finger across its edge, sections no doubt chipped off due to tosses from its previous owner landing against hard rock. He gave a short glance to Argon and pointed at the empty wooden mug lying on the ground, head motioning upward. Reading the cue, the mug was surrounded by a pink aura of light as it floated to the other end of the room, moving in a slow circle against the room's wall as if an imaginary person was juggling it. Chimera gave one last glance to the silver spike before rising to his feet, balance shifting as he spun his body in a full circle to gather enough momentum for the throw. Once his outstretched hand was pointing toward the target, he released his grip of the spike, sending it souring across the room in an arc.

    He missed.

    A heavy grunt was replaced by a long sigh, as Chimera closed his eyes and looked towards the ground,

    "It's these useless, stubby arms! How am I supposed to throw anything with these?"

    Before Argon could interject, Chimera stomped across the room, giving an audible grunt as he kicked over one of the various wooden crates lying across the floor. The crate was knocked sideways, flimsy top breaking apart as it's contents spilled across the floor. The Bagon was just about to release another yell, most likely audible enough to catch the attention of a particular Servine, when he froze, eyes glued to the various odds and ends strewed across the deck. It was a collection of scrap metal and wooden planks, likely used for emergency repairs to the Draeke in the event of a hull breach. Thin metal beams jutted out of the pile, accompanied by tubes about the length of a line of rebar, if he had the tools, the metal and oak could no doubt be forged into something useful...

    Without another word, he shifted his gaze up, walking slowly to a set of doors leading into the lower decks despite the bewildered gaze of the Raichu at his side. Although the cabin turned darker as he proceeded down the stairway, a cursory glance around the cargo lining the floor revealed what he was looking for:an unassuming steel oven, connected to a brick chimney leading to the top of the ship, of which several simple iron-forged tools hanged. Next the forge's moderately sized anvil was a short wooden desk, of which a barrel full of woodworking tools sat on the far corner. On the other end of the room was an impressive pile of coiled hemp rope used for ship rigging. If he could take some, treat it with candle wax and keep it under tension...

    He ran back up the stairs, again passing Argon as he grabbed a handful of sticks and iron spikes,

    "N-Need my help with anything?" Argon asked is he ran by, perplexed expression not leaving her face.

    "Oh no, you're fine," Chimera quickly replied, smile not leaving his, "it's just...inspiration strikes. I'd recommend you get some sleep, this might take a while."

    Though the Bagon had bolted back through the door, Argon could not help but notice that he had left it open. Curiosity peaked, Argon retrieved her backpack from the door and followed, ready to see just what the human had in store.

    ---

    Argon was half tempted to grab a quill and start taking notes as she observed Chimera scurry through the lower decks. A thin layer of paper began formed on the floor as the hours passed by, designs for inner mechanics furiously sketched in ink only to be crossed with a large X across the page and cast aside. The soothing echo of the Draeke crashing against the ocean current continued as the designing phase ended, accompanied now by a near constant mix of whetstone scraping against steel, steel flicking against wood, and the piercing sizzle of molten hot metal components being taken from the furnace and submerged in a bucket of water. With little else to do, Argon retrieved a wooden fife from her bag and began to practice as the Bagon worked, starting with simple scales and progressing to slow-paced melodies learned through muscle memory. The gesture was highly appreciated, drawing a cheerful glance from Chimera whenever a splinter or burn from the construction process nearly forced a swear out of his mouth.

    Hours more passed, and the Raichu had long since gone into slumber when she was awakened by another swift turn of the Draeke, nearly sending her side towards the ground as she lost her balance. Getting up, Argon eyed Chimera to see him gazing back with a giddy smile, holding the fruits of his labor. In his hand was on object unlike anything she had ever seen, no doubt because, until this point, no Pokemon had ever felt the necessity to see one. The Bagon ran his hand down the contraption of wax sealed string, polished oak wood, and forged steel with an innate sense of wonder, as if he was discovering a passion long-lost to the twists and turns of life. In all honesty, the device did seem a bit...crude to Argon, but the display of its power quickly belayed that suspicion. Chimera reached toward his hip for a short, wooden tube hanging from a freshly sewn canvas belt. From this, he retrieved a spike all too similar to the one used in his previous attempt at throwing, sharpened edge glistening off the dull glow of embers from the forge. Placing the now wood-fletched spike on the contraption in his arms, he pointed it at a familiar wooden mug, lying on top of a crate two dozen feet away. The bolt flew true as the crossbow's extended trigger was pulled, sending it spinning across the room and knocking the mug off of the crate, front tip forming a steep cracks in the grains of wood.

    Though it had been unorthodox, Argon found herself returning Chimera's smile as he turned toward her, happy herself that any assumptions of his prowess had been proven false. As Chimera raised a hand to wipe away the sweat the had long since accumulated on his brow, he gave one last appreciative glance to the devise in his hand and the partner at his side,

    "This should help."
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
  10. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 8: Dungeon Crawl Dilemma
    The sails were reefed, the anchor was dropped, the sea shanties concluded, and the Bagon and Raich unceremoniously lowered into a rowboat as they commenced the final journey to their destination. Chimera had ended up on the losing end of their game of 'fire, water, grass', giving Argon ample time to check and recheck the coordinates of their wonder map as he rowed. The quizzical expression that had clouded her face ever since the Draeke ground to a halt refused to relent, being evermore supported as they inched closer to their destination. Binair's description had suggested the presence of an island large enough to contain a mystery dungeon, and yet the only isle visible for miles was a rocky platform barely jutting out of the ocean waves, sporting a rough surface area smaller than even her own apartment floor.

    "Hey, you alright there?"

    She glanced up, seeing that the Bagon was staring toward her with an expectant look,

    "What? O-Oh yeah, I'm fine, just...psyching myself up for going through the mystery dungeon Binair talked about."

    Chimera's head tilted at the remark, forming a toothy grin as he let go of the oars and stepped up to Argon to pat her shoulder,

    "Come on, where is you your enthusiasm?" he loudly proclaimed, bobbing rowboat nearly causing him to lose his balance as he pointed a hand towards the horizon. "Look at us! A Raichu and Bagon, venturing into uncharted territory for fame and fortune, what's not to enjoy?"

    Despite his best efforts, Argon's neutral expression was only further entrenched, subconscious bringing up images of a familiar, ghostly Marowak,

    "I-I know, it's just...this is the first truly dangerous expedition I've gone on in a pretty long time. I've seen the results of pokemon going against some of the more formidable Pallids, and it usually isn't pretty."

    Chimera's smile faded ever so slightly, his brow doubtlessly furrowing if it wasn't as hard as steel, "Pallids? What are those?"

    "Oh right, I forgot, you don't know." Argon replied, "Pallids are the pokemon found in mystery dungeons. They're...a monstrous aggression, ones that defy the boundaries of reason. M-Most certainly feral, all the ones that I've seen would sooner die then let you pass through.

    She glanced down, tone condensing into a soft murmur, "Most usually aren't a problem, but the ones that can face you on equal or better footing...y-you just have to mentally prepare yourself for facing a brutal enemy in order to not lose yourself in the process."

    The Bagon's smile had faded completely as he processed the information, a few seconds passing until he realized that he was wordlessly staring at her and turned away. He sat back down, continuing to row towards the small archipelago as he glanced at the recently manufactured crossbow at his hip, a debate brewing in his mind over whether the next targets it found were more or less tangible than a shattered, wooden mug. The foes they faced, Chimera reasoned, would be alive, but if they were as unnatural as his partner had stated, was it really worth trudging through moral questions against creatures that would be nonexistent whenever this dungeon would reset? His conscious told him no.

    No more words were exchanged, pensiveness infecting both as the rowboat hit the uneven ground with a dull thud. Stepping out onto the sharp, wet, rocks brought the pair's attention to a large pit near the center of the island, previously obscured until this point. They peeked down, a gasp filling both their mouths as the hole stretched downward in an unending chasm. The dots connected in Argon's mind, a shiver running down her spine at the thought of having to wash muddy sediment out of her fur. She turned to Chimera, reaching into her bag for a thin rope ladder connected to a small hook, kept on hand when dungeoneering for such an occasion.

    "I-I guess this is the mystery dungeon that Executive Binair was referring to, Chimera. I hope you like spelunking."

    The Bagon didn't say a word, eyes lost gazing at the unending blackness of the abyss. A small pebble clattered downward from the edge of the fissure, a few seconds passing before a faint plopping sound echoed back. He was used to dark, enclosed, spaces, likely preferred them at this point, but the the concept of going into a cavern was a completely foreign experience. Was it too late to call this off?

    He shook his head, turning to Argon with a newfound vigor,

    "Of course, couldn't think of a better way to explore. Come on, theres no time to waste."

    With this, Argon secured the rope ladder and began to climb down, closing her eyes as the familiar yet otherworldly sensation of entering a mystery dungeon washed over her. Chimera followed suit, a part of his mind pining for the Bagon that existed just minutes ago as they went down the rabbit hole.

    ---

    Though a small beam of light illuminated from the entrance and refracted against the shallow ripples of the underground pond, going deeper into the dungeon left the pair with little but the soft flicker of a lantern candle to guide their way, accompanied by the occasional crackle of sparks emanating from Argon's cheeks. The minutes passed, the crossbow in Chimera's hands leveled as his eyes darting in every which way as he scanned for any sources of danger. Every time he allowed himself to blink, another image would be conjured into his mind, their towering figures becoming increasingly deadly as the Bagon speculated over what enemy they would be forced to confront. In an effort to fight off the oppressive darkness, he centered his attention onto his partner, surprised to find that she was leading the way with a passive, almost bored gaze towards the unknown.

    "Argon, I'm no expert, but...we should have encountered something by now, shouldn't we?"

    "P-Probably," the Raichu replied, "I've usually go through dungeons were you can barely get your foot through the entrance without being swarmed by rattatas or the occasional bidoof. I'm not completely sure, but this seems...unnatural."

    They pressed on, a weary sound echoing seemingly throughout the entire cavern every time they unrolled the rope ladder to descend deeper. As they rounded a corner, Chimera's ear caught the solitary sound of claw scraping against rock from where they had passed, his head shooting back as he leveled his crossbow at the direction of the noise.

    "Uh...come out," Chimera said, voice quivering just enough to prevent him from shouting through the whole floor, "we know you're there, no use in hiding."

    He could only sigh between jittering teeth as no response came, drawing one last glance at the location before turning his head back toward Argon to walk,

    "M-Must have been a rattata or something," he whispered, just loud enough to be caught by the yellow ears of his raichu companion.

    Argon glanced behind her, feet stopping as she took note of his disposition, "It might, might not be though, best to keep a good lookout. R-Remember, deep breaths, if we work together we'll get through this, but letting the dungeon get to you will only make it worse."

    Chimera paused as he considered his partners words, eventually drawing a deep sigh that, though soothing to his muscles, left his mind in it's overscrupulous state. The effect was slight, but noticeable, periodic shaking condensing from the Bagon's entire body into only his arms. In an effort to reassure himself, Chimera reached into his backpack for a green and gold badge, careful to not send the mental command to evacuate as he ran his fingers over the small shield. Any attempt on their lives, he reasoned, would be fruitless if they were ensured the opportunity for escape, and in this knowledge Chimera returned to his walking pace, content with giving the occasional glance at any unknown forces shadowing them.

    A brief respite appeared from the cavern's near endless corridors as they walked into a small clearing. Argon welcomed the faint sloshing of the caves underground river while sitting down for a brief rest, giving an appreciative glance towards the nearly endless lines of stalactites that lined the cavern ceiling, as well as a particular wall where sediment hanged over each other like a waterfall made entirely of rock, seemingly frozen in time. The Bagon sat down beside her, too preoccupied with soothing the aching sensation in his feet to appreciate the view. Any attempt at rest, however, was interrupted by the faint scraping sound once again bouncing throughout the grotto, hoisting Chimera to his feet as he raised his voice in its apparent direction.

    "Whoever you are, we're right here, if you have something to say, say it. If you don't...then I'd appreciate if you could stop wasting our time."

    Satisfied with his words, the Bagon stood up to challenge their apparent aggressor, Argon not even able to finish her warning before a silhouette rushed him from the darkness.

    Sharp claws pierced Chimera from behind, tackling him to the ground. The lantern and guild badge in his hand were sent crashing to the floor, the faint embers of the latter object rolling against stone before falling into the shallow pond at his side, bathing the battlefield in darkness. As the Bagon fell on his back he could hear his Raichu companion cry out in pain, accompanied by a multitude of low-pitched squeaks and chatters from the same location.

    Chimera raised his arms up in a haphazard attempt to block the claws from whatever creature was pinning him to the floor, deep gashes forming from his arms getting torn apart by lacerations. A booming crack echoed throw the cavern as a thunderbolt ran across Chimera's line of sight and was diffused into the stone walls. The subsequent flash provided the Bagon a brief opportunity to gaze at the face of his attacker, drawing a terrified gasp as he gazed into its lifeless eyes.

    It was...a charmander, but the appearance was something more akin to a ghost. The eyes Chimera stared into were a pupil-less, pale, white, still more than detailed enough to convey a feral sense of hatred and malice toward its target. The skin of the Charmander was not its natural orange hue, but a sickly white and gray tinge, as if half of its body was cast in permanent shadows. The tail...its end was emanating a colorless fire, drawing only more questions through the Bagon's mind as the brief period of light ended,

    How did it sneak up on me? I should have been able to see the light from it's tail, but—

    Chimera barely had time to think as he heard his attacker exhale, causing a horrific burning sensation across his arms and face despite what the room's unending blackness would suggest possible. The pain continued even after the embers had ceased, eventually shifting into a continuous numbness around where he had been hit, amplified around the various more exposed cuts and scratches.

    Clawed hands pinned his own to the ground, terror filling Chimera's thoughts as he heard the Charmander inhale in preparation for yet another rush of lightless fire. Thinking fast, he closed his eyes and jolted his rocky head at the Charmander, causing it to pull its own head back to avoid the strike before spewing more flames at the Bagon. The pain was much less prevalent, his forehead absorbing much of the blast, leaving little but a black scorch mark to show for it. Chimera darted his eyes to his left, realizing that his crossbow had been knocked out of his hand just barely out of reach, one end against the wet rock that marking the beginning of the pond at his side. Another lighting bolt reverberated against the cavern ceiling, Chimera again directing his attention to the grey flame of his attacker, an idea popping into his mind.

    He shifted his weight to the left, drawing on all of his strength to overcome the pressure against his hands as the Bagon and Charmander rolled into the knee high layer of bone chilling water. The grey lizard roared in pain as its tail was submerged, attempting to keep it raised above the waterline as they tumbled. The two grappled until Chimera was on top, now the one pinning the Charmander's claws to the floor. Seeing that he had the advantage, Chimera stomped his feet onto the end of the pale Charmander's tail, forcing it into the water and drawing a sharp sizzling sound from the resulting steam. The shriek of pain returned tenfold, the grey lizard occasionally having to pause to take breaths between relentless screeching. In desperation, it slid its tail past Chimera's feet and forced it up, just able to get the the smoldering end into the open air before it was stomped back down by the Bagon, this time for good. Content where he was, Chimera maintained his position, hands pushing claws to the floor and stone forehead aimed downward to absorb the occasional bite or burst of flames. As the seconds turned to minutes, the Bagon was surprised to see that every attempt to reverse their positions or project fire at his face had grown weaker. Moreover, the defiant cries of his attacker had diminished into a soft whimper, matched by the reduced fizzling of its submerged tail.

    A final flash of lightning blared, this time accompanied by the dull thud and subsequent crack of something being tackled and landing against a wall of stone. With this, Chimera was offered one last glance at the Charmander he was holding in place, his own dark, brown eyes staring into those of pure white. Tears of pain had long since formed across the Charmander's eyes, streaming from both sides of its face into the murky water. The ferocity that had been initially portrayed when they had begun their skirmish was gone, being replaced by a fearful quiver as its countenance stared onward in what Chimera could only describe as a fluctuation of terror and acceptance. As the cavern returned to its pitch-black setting, a faint series of chirps and squeaks came from the Charmander's mouth, one unlike any of the previous feral barks. At this, Chimera paused, raising a nonexistent eyebrow to the grey lizard as he spoke,

    "What?"

    The call came again, this time with a greater sense of urgency, the grey lizard barely able to belt out the end before its voice trembled into nothingness. Faced with what he could only assume was some primitive attempt at communication, Chimera weighed his options, thoughts from both ears whispering into his conscious.

    Let him go, with the amount of time you've submerged his life source, he's no longer a threat.

    You don't know that! What if it's tail simply measures it's vitality, and this is just a trick to get you to lower your guard?

    You don't owe this lizard a thing, it attacked you first, you're under no obligation to relent now.

    This is cruel and you know it, cruel and unnecessary. What if your friends saw you like this?

    Unnecessary? It's survival, what if you let it go and it attacks you or Argon again in the future, this time with friends?

    He's begging for his life! Where is your humanity?

    Humanity didn't get to where it was by relenting when it had the chance to win, remember that...

    Chimera was silent, darkness hiding his scowling expression. Before he could decide, his train of thought was broken by the sound of something glass-like shattering, the room being bathed in an unnatural illumination. The Bagon shifted his gaze from the Charmander to observe the room, spotting the broken components of a blue orb on the floor next to his companion. All around her were the unconscious bodies of a horde of small pokemon, from rattatas to yungoose to zubats, all sporting the same grey coloration as his own attacker, the faint rise and fall of their chests being clearly evident. He drew his gaze from the floor to Argon's face, a chill running down both their spines as they made eye contact. She was frozen, eyes wide and mouth agape as she stared at Chimera, but...she wasn't starring at his eyes, her gape was directed at something else below him, someone else...

    He traced her vision, slowly turning his head back towards the creature retrained against the chilling water. It's head was leaned back toward the ceiling, having long since lost the strength to struggle. Its pale-white eyes refused to blink, Argon staring onward in horror as the fizzling of bubbles from its tail puttered out into nothingness. Chimera took one last look at his companion, silently acknowledging that what he did now could forever stain the partnership he had established. He closed his eyes and drew a deep sigh, his hand had been forced.

    Slowly but surely, the scaly blue feet drowning the lizard's tail relented.

    Immediately, a glimmer seemed to flash in the Charmander's eyes as its tail shot out from the water like a snorkel. Chimera rushed toward the edge of the shore, hastily grasping for his crossbow is he pointed it at the grey lizard, eyes scanning for any suspicious movement. Argon joined him, the duo watching as the Charmander stumbled to its feet, quickly reached a hand to its back to bring its extinguished tail forward. The lizard now seemed to ignore the two, holding the tail toward its mouth as it began to gently blow air into the opening at its end, every breath drawing another obvious cringe of pain. A couple seconds passed, and a minuscule ember began to emanate from the tails end, Chimera subconsciously comparing it to the flicker of light from a wet match or empty lighter. The lizard slowly brought its head to bear at the duo, quivering as drops of cold, murky water ran down from its body back into the pond, but taking no action nonetheless. Chimera gave a sideways glance to the Raichu at his side, seeing that her baffled expression had refused to relent as she stared towards the pale Charmander, her mouth giving off a faint whisper,

    "T-They're...they're not supposed to be like this."

    "Be like what?" Chimera replied, matching her quiet tone, not yet sure if the language barrier was one way.

    "Pallids, t-they're supposed to be naturally aggressive. I've been doing this for years and I have never encountered one that won't attack you outright, never mind one that...begs for its life.

    The grey Charmander looked towards Argon, cocking its head in a neutral expression. Chimera hovered a hand over the crossbow's trigger, scanning the lizard's breath patterns for any indication that it would make use of its recovering passed, gasping as his peripheral vision spotted Argon taking an apprehensive step forward, paw outstretched towards the lizard holding a spiky, red berry.

    "Uh...h-here, this should help you, i-if you want it."

    It was the lizard's turn to stare onward incredulously, Argon lifting a paw to her temple as the berry was levitated from her hand, landing gently into its outstretched claws. It stood still, alternating it's gaze between the Raichu a couple feet before him and the berry in its hands, stuck in what Chimera could only assume was its own inner debate. Eventually, it raised the berry to its mouth, licking it with the edge of its tongue before taking a nibble. The effect was immediate, the grey cinder on its tail raising upward into a continuous blaze, Chimera's body resuming its tremble as his hand drew ever closer to the pulling the trigger. The grey lizard plunged the entire berry into its mouth and began to chew, face seemingly growing in vitality in conjunction with it's tail. With one last gulp of the remaining contents, it turned its attention back to Argon.

    A moment passed as the Charmander and Raichu stared at one another, the occasional droplet falling from stalactites into the stagnate water at their feet as they tried to gauge the other's intentions. Argon took a defensive stance, sparks readying from her cheeks as her mind considered the possibility that she had just made a horrible mistake. The thought, however, was quickly diminished when then the grey lizard's mouth rose into an appreciative grin, one that she was happy to reciprocate, if only to hide the thoughts bouncing through her conscious considering the repercussions of such an action.

    Without another word, the grey Charmander turned its back toward the duo and began walking back toward the way they had came, Chimera lowering his crossbow as he noticed that it's hand seemed to be clenched tightly around a small object. He shook his head, deciding not to give it another thought as it rounded one of the rocky corners. With the only occupants of the cavern opening now being limited to a bagon, raichu, and an amalgamation of tiny pokemon lying unconscious on the floor, Chimera turned toward his partner, both silently agreeing that, at the moment, no more words needed to be exchanged about the recent happenings. With this, Argon closed her eyes, sighing one last time to orientate her thoughts before stepping towards a tunnel leading deeper into the dungeon,

    "W-We should keep going Chimera, we c-can't...can't let this distract us from the mission."

    ---

    Chimera couldn't decide whether he was more relieved or disheartened that the remaining pokemon they encountered seemed to match Argon's initial description. Despite the relentless ferocity of their opponents, most were of relatively small power and constitution, the duo able to end most fights seemingly before they began. Argon took the lead, the Bagon more than happy to provide assistance from a safe distance, cringing internally as the more feeble of the grey creatures were dispatched by a single electrified punch from her fist, or the occasional jolt of thunder from her tail. For the somewhat stronger or more resistant creatures, however, teamwork was required. A rogue gible was able to charge Argon, tackling her to the floor as it opened its jaw before a bolt soured through its mouth, piercing its skin and becoming lodged in the back of its throat. A small dewgong revealed itself from under an underground riverbed, just about to shoot a beam of ice at Chimera when Argon dipped her tail into the water, causing the grey seal to freeze from paralysis. The pattern continued, an unspoken surprise filling both Bagon and Raichu that, in exception to the initial fray, both were progressing through the dungeon without a scratch.

    Eventually, the constant stream of Pallids again faded, and only chilling silence greeted the two as they walked. The dungeon being devoid of any life threatening forces, Chimera was content to let his mind wander as he stared forward at the oversized tail of his partner,

    Just what is it that Binair wants us to find? Why was he unwilling to give even a vague description? Moreover, why send us? There must be more qualified teams to retrieve an item as powerful as he states. Is this...just some convoluted test to enter the guild?

    All good questions, and all that would remain unanswered when a large migraine invaded Chimera's mind, forcing him to shut his eyes and drop toward the ground. It was as if a constant force was pressing against his mind, going deeper and deeper as it dug into the Bagon's long term memory. After a few seconds, however, the force exhibited no more pain, strolling across his subconscious like a reader examining a line of books on a shelf, before reaching for one that seemed the most interesting. As the strange sensation ended, Chimera opened his eyes, able to get one last look at Argon before an unknown pokemon popped into existence behind her, setting a hand on her shoulder before both disappeared in the blink of an eye. The Bagon didn't even have time to shout, swiftly turning his head to see that the pokemon was now behind him. Two closed eyes in the middle of three large, red gems stared into his soul as his whole vision was turned to white.

    ---

    Authors note: Props to honrupi and her comic PMD Explorers of Souls for giving me the idea for the Pallids.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
  11. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 9: Phantom Reunion
    It took a couple of seconds for Argon to adjust as her eyes, having long since adapted to the dark conditions of the cave, were invaded by a flash of white mid-step through her and Chimera's underground exploration. As she brought both paws up to rub the blurriness out and shake the faint ringing in her ears, she heard someone call out towards her, one instantly recognizable since the first day she had crawled into the world to meet the same overwhelming brightness and soothing voices.

    "Hey Mausi, it's great to see you again."

    A brief curiosity entered the Raichu's mind as she considered the unknown voice's words,

    Mausi? I haven't heard someone call me a pet name like that since—

    Argon opened her cobalt-blue eyes, letting out a gasp of equal parts dread and bewilderment as she stared towards the pokemon before her.

    It was another raichu, one whose brown feet and sharp, lightning bolt shaped tail touching the earth just as she did. Around the other Raichu's black eyes were several noticeable fine lines and wrinkles, partly concealed by light orange fur that surrounded her entire body, of which a few hairs around her nose had turned a faint shade of grey. She stared towards Argon with a tranquil smile, the same recognizable smile that once greeted her everyday she would leave the house for another day of school. At the sight, only one word escaped Argon's mouth,

    "M-Mom?"

    The Raichu nodded, a gasp coming from her alolan counterpart born half by the discovery, and half from the reoccurring memory of what had transpired before. Argon broke her mother's gaze, eyes darting every which way as she surveyed her new surroundings. The room that abruptly became her present setting was a steep counterpart to the claustrophobic hallways of before, sporting smooth, rocky, walls that gave the appearance of being either artificial made or in some other way unnatural. And yet...there was something familiar about this space, a couple seconds passing in Argon's mind before the realization hit her that, though the room was otherwise empty, both its dimensions and color seemed offley familiar, if not verbatim to her childhood home. It would have been a soothing sight, if not for the absence of a certain pokemon.

    Argon's brought her eyes to bear on the raichu, head shooting back as her breaths began to quicken,

    "Where is Chimera?"

    "Oh, the Bagon?" her mother replied, tone retaining its euphonic smoothness, "he is in good health, I just...thought that we should have some time to catch up, I'll be happy to take you to him afterwords if you so wish."

    Argon's inhalations returning to a steady tempo as she considered what was said. Her head raised up again at the raichu, blue eyes on the verge of disbelieving what she saw. Every detail since the last time they had met was present, from the long, curly, twists at the end of her ears to the consistent height that once seemed towering in comparison to her pikachu body, everything was there.

    It's her, it must be her. But how?

    She opened her mouth, a rapid amalgam of questions just about to leave her tongue before her lips again closed. With a heavy sigh, Argon gave a sign of acknowledgement at her mothers comment, a couple seconds passing before the alolan raichu raised her voice, mind contempt to see if conversation would give the desired answers,

    "Alright then, I...I trust you."

    The Raichu gave another solemn nod, smile having not left her face. Looking down at a minor angle to maintain eye contact with her mother brought a brief chuckle from Argon's lips, stemming from the fact that, until this moment, her neck would have to be perpetually craned up whenever they conversed.

    "Y-You haven't changed much, four years and you look just like before."

    "I can't say the same for you," her mother replied, "are you enjoying your new evolution? I still remember the look on your face when you unwrapped that thunderstone before you left."

    Argon's smile froze to shock as she raised a paw up to shield herself from her mother's gaze, the other paws reaching to undo a set of straps keeping the bulky tail pressed against her body in place. The tail slid under her feet as she closed her eyes to concentrate, the gradual yet familiar tingling sensation of overcharging electrons returning as soon as the appendage, now emanating a pink aura, broke contact with the ground.

    "I-uh...of course," Argon replied, mind split between struggling through the bouts of tension now invading her mind and trying to come up with a decent vindication, "couldn't be happier. Y-You know, I get so used to floating everywhere that I sometimes like to walk when exploring, helps put me at ease."

    A worse lie could have been told, as with many it had a grain of truth to it. Argon exhaled in relief as her mother's expression remained unchanged, seeming ready to accept the proposition.

    With any luck, the alolan raichu thought, Mom won't ask about anything else, or at very least not—

    "I knew I'd find you here, Mausi" Argon's mother stated, grin forming on her face, "going through a mystery dungeon as perilous as this one. You always promised that you'd become a famous explorer someday, and I have no doubt that you've kept it to heart, just know that I'm proud of you."

    The sharp feeling of dread now coursing over Argon's body amplified by the stress of levitation overcame her mental concentration, a sudden dip of her tail as the rosy light dissipated causing her to lose her balance and tumble to the floor. She hastily shuffled back to her feet, now seemingly unable to look at her own mother in the eye. Thinking fast, Argon raised her voice, a faint hope in the back of her mind saying that a change of topic would make the raichu forget the recent display,

    "S-So...how's Dad doing?"

    A couple seconds too many passed as Argon waited for a response. Despite her minds best attempt to deem her unworthy of gazing directly at the raichu before her, peripheral vision revealed that her mother had shut her eyes and was holding a brown paw up to pinch the end of her nose, the same face, the alolan raichu recollected, that she would make whenever she was asked a particularly difficult trivia question or in the rare instances that she would witness her mother be forced to make up a lie in front of her.

    "Is he alri—"

    "Yes, he's fine," her mother interjected "you know him, always moving around. He took it fairly well when you rejected a managerial position at the guild before you left, but he's since been trying to bury himself in his job. I'll snap him out of it, you need not worry."

    The reply left a gnawing feeling in the back of Argon's mind, one that, despite her best efforts, worked its way to the forefront,

    But...Dads been retired for years. He was always so excited about it to when I got to see him, how can he bury himself in his job if—

    She shook her head, pushing the offending thought away as her mind shifted directions. A mild grin formed on her face as she closed her eyes, one born from remembrances of seeing the first glimmer of a thunderbolt pattern while tearing away the paper wrapping of her families parting gift.

    "Well, I-uh, I hope he's doing well. He was always good to me, both of you were. Arceus knows there wasn't anything I could ask for that you and Dad couldn't provide, I just...wished he could have been around the house a little more."

    "So do I," Argon's mother replied, smile fading ever so slightly, "but it was a necessary sacrifice, one we all had to make, I hope you can understand."

    "Besides," she finished, "you never asked for much, nothing wrong with the occasional indulgence."

    Argon gave an apprehensive nod, reply interrupted as she felt a chill run down her spine synonymous with all her fur beginning to stand on end. While the room the raichus occupied appeared to be otherwise empty, her mind seemed unwilling to relent from scanning every square inch in search of danger. The only other time, Argon pondered, that she was this focused and unable to relax was after hearing the scraping of claws that divulged the charmander previously shadowing them. A voice in the back of Argon's conscious screamed that there was some unknown force watching her, one that seemed ever more oppressive with every change of expression or stance, but her eyes validated none of these claims. She shook her head, letting out deep breaths as she decided to, at the moment, trust the latter.

    "In fact," the maternal raichu stated, "we are very proud of all you've accomplished, but remember your father's offer does still stand. We'd love for you to come back from Faire and live with us, at least for a couple of years. And before you ask, money wouldn't be a problem, I'm sure you of all pokemon know that."

    Argon's previously darting head snapped back to her mother, the feeling of eeriness being temporarily interrupted as she considered the proposal,

    "I-uh...don't take this the wrong way, but I'm surprised you'd offer me something like that. When I first told you I wanted to be an explorer, you and Dad seemed pretty happy that I'd get the chance to live on my own."

    "Pokemon change," she hastily replied, "I been missing you very much, Mausi, we all have."

    The alolan raichu was silent as she considered the offer, not sure if the tingling that coursed through her body before being diffused through her tail into the floor was nostalgia or simply an excess of electrons.

    "I-It would certainly be nice, living with you guys again. Being able to talk to with you and Dad whenever something is on my mind, having help with all the, uh...cleaning, and—"

    She chuckled, the remnants of a once forgotten syrupy sweet sensation coursing through her tongue,

    "—dear Arceus, those pancakes you make are the best things I've ever tasted. I would really enjoy it, but..."

    Argon sighed, the electric, tingling, sensation ending as sentimentalism was cut down by resolution,

    "I can't, you see I've-uh... I've found someone—"

    "Found someone?" her mother interjected. "You mean the Bagon? I must say then that I've misinterpreted your relationship with him."

    A shade of pink flushed on Argon's cheeks, before being replaced by a deadpan stare.

    "T-That's not what I meant and you know it. Anyway...I've found someone who is looking for their place in the world. We've already agreed to work in a team together, and it wouldn't be right to just abandon him like that. Besides...he's certainly interesting company, and I think if given more time, we could become friends."

    "He could come with us," Argon's mother proposed, a few seconds passing before the alolan raichu again spoke.

    "I-I'm not sure he'd like that. Ever since I showed him around the guild, h-he's seemed really adamant on making a life here, I wouldn't want to deny him that. I appreciate the offer, but I'll have to say no, please send Dad my best regards if you can."

    The raichu gave a solemn nod, the brief period of silence being all Argon's mind needed for the feeling of paranoia to return.

    "But anyway, how are you here? I-I was only told the location of this dungeon hours ago, how did you know that I'd be here?"

    The moment the words left the Argon's mouth, she couldn't help but notice a swift change in her mother's continuance. Any notion of levity in her mother's face disappeared, being replaced by a stern glare that seemed to peer into her very being. A sudden chill ran down Argon's spine as the raichu stepped up toward her to speak, voice lowering an octave into one that, while still recognizable as coming from her mother, was said in a tone unlike any she had previously used,

    "The circumstances of my being are...unimportant. What truly matters is the message that I send."

    The brown-footed raichu took another step forward, raising her paw in a manner that suggested she was to place it on Argon's shoulder. The action, however, only resulted in an incredulous look from the alolan raichu when her mother hastily stopped to pull the hand back to her side, as if their interactions were a play and merely touching Argon would be some unretractable breach of character. There was little time to ponder the moment before she continued,

    "You have come here for a reason, to seek an item of great power, is that correct?"

    Argon nodded, an inquisitively sarcastic part of her brain commenting that perhaps she wasn't the only raichu in the room with psychic powers.

    "I know that your journey here hasn't been easy, but I must implore you to decease your quest, for the betterment of all, what lies here must remain unsettled."

    Argon remained silent, inwardly pondering what could be so important as to require a message as direct and personal is this one. The more she stared at the maternal raichu before her, the more surreal the circumstances seemed. The same raichu that, just four years ago, had refused to set foot on a ship of any size for fear of puking her guts out was below an island hundreds of miles away from any hint of civilization. The same raichu that was always a glutton for hugs and affection now seemed unwilling to even touch her. The same raichu that had, such a long time ago, warned her to not become overly concerned with the big things in life was now warning her of world shaking happenings. A theory began to develop in Argon's mind, one that drew an ever harder to shaking feeling in the back of her neck the more sense it seemed to make.

    "Ok," Argon replied, blue eyes staring toward the raichu becoming narrower as her mouth twisted into a frown, "I'll get Chimera and we'll go, b-but first, I need you to answer a simple questions for me."

    Her mother nodded, meeting the scowl with a look of indifference, "Sure, anything for my daughter."

    "When I first hatched, you gave me the name 'Argon', years later you told me why, what was your reasoning?"

    As the alolan raichu said this, she closed her eyes, mind fabricating a memory that would serve for an explanation. Right on cue, the pressing sensation that once precluded a flash of light gazed into her subconscious, before disappearing as quickly as it had come.

    "Of course I know that," the raichu stated, eyes gazing upward in nostalgia, "what type of mother would I be if I didn't? In the weeks before you were hatched, your father had worked on organizing the installation of an experimental source of illumination around the guild. They were clear spheres of glass that could brighten an entire room without any of the smoke or potential for flames that came with lanterns. It never went through, of course, the guild found that it was more efficient to simply use reusable luminous orbs, but when I heard about the innovation from your father, we decided to name you after the gas inside of the glass spheres that allowed them to function, argon. When I first looked into your eyes, I knew it would be a testament to the little pichu that would bring light into our world."

    Argon gazed at the creature before her in horror. While what she said had been accurate to her previous recollections, those recollections were of a memory falsely imagined. None of what the brown-footed raichu said was factual, even the concept of the glass spheres was based on an idle conversation between her and Chimera on the Draeke over the technology of the human world.

    "N-No, that's not even remotely true. Mom and Dad gave me that name because it was simple and easy to pronounce, they said they wanted me to always be first when they called pokemon in alphabetical order. You...you should have known that."

    As she said this, Argon reached a hand outward towards the raichu, her horrified expression only being confirmed when it passed straight through its body as easily as a hand interrupting a stray beam of light. Before she could even gasp, the false raichu imitating her mother disappeared from existence, followed immediately by the clean corners and walls of her former settings morphing into nothingness. A loud voice telepathically burst into her conscious, one that held an exasperated tone only somewhat reminiscent of its former owner.

    "Pokemon such as I make plans, and Arceus laughs...I suppose I should have expected this."
     
  12. Namohysip

    Namohysip Well-Known Member

    This opening sentence is a bit wordy on the first half. In fact, I think it would be better if you actually flipped the clauses here, so we instantly have someone to focus on, and then you can expand out into the context of the scene. For example, “A lone Bagon trudged through a system of tunnels far underground, well below some long forgotten patch of land.” That way, we instantly know who to focus on, and then his location in the tunnels, and then the location of the tunnels in the world.


    __


    Hey, Bugle! I decided it was high time I take a look at what you’ve got going on. I’m probably going to do an in-depth review of your prologue and first chapter, and then from there, I’ll read along and give more general commentary along the way. That is, of course, unless I see something that stands out particularly strongly while reading. Now then! On to the rest of the paragraph…


    The first sentence here is particularly vague about the cloth. What color was it, for example? Everything else about this opening paragraph is pretty solid. I like how it’s going, we’ve got cold, we’ve got mud, we’ve got the struggle to press forward. Strong tone right off.

    Surprisingly, I think this is an instance where you can actually turn this comma into a semicolon, because these are two full sentences connected together. Also, double-the typo.

    I mean, yeah. I know these two characters thanks to previous interactions with you, and I’m genuinely surprised at how this prologue—I imagine being set long after the first chapter—is starting off! Now, I’m generally not a big fan of prologues that begin in the middle of the story before jumping back to the beginning for chapter 1, but that’s just a personal taste thing.


    __


    So, prologue complete. And to be honest, I’m conflicted about what I just read. Here’s the inherent problem with prologues like these: You basically intentionally spoiled what will happen to these two at some point in the story, and it sounds, based on how much was going on and how much was cryptically said, that this could very well be midgame or even lategame content. It tarnishes the relationship that I’m going to see develop between these two characters because of that cynical thought of what it’s going to become.


    The savvy side of my also suggests that there’s going to be more to it. Perhaps immediately before or immediately after, something will happen to give a reversal to what had just been depicted in the prologue, or there’s going to be more significance to enhance what we had seen. But it, right now, is just going to be this thorn in the side of my mind while I read up until I get back to where the prologue left off. It makes me… impatient. Yes, that’s the word. Impatient.


    Okay. Rant about prologue choice over. Let’s read the actual first chapter.


    Let’s hope they don’t abbreviate this.


    __


    I’m noticing that your grammar for your dialogue tags is a bit odd. You capitalize the word after the comma where the dialogue ends. It’s supposed to be, “Words are spoken,” he said, and not, “Works are spoken,” He said—well, unless it’s a deity and you’re using a reverent capitalization, but you know what I mean.


    __


    And there he is, our little Bagon. The thought of the prologue still clouds my mind, but it’s interesting to see how they all started off. One thing’s for sure, though, our partner is incredibly nervous at the beginning. That just makes me even more disappointed that I already know she gets bolder at some point in the story, rather than gradually discovering this over time.


    Anyway, I notice that Argon has a lot of internal conversations with herself in this chapter. It’s an interesting narrative style, and I kinda like it. Is she literally talking with another voice in her head, or is that just her debating with herself, in a sense, like a little mental conversation? It’s a little ambiguous, but I figure that’ll become clearer down the line. It’s a nice characteristic that I didn’t quite see before, at least not in this way, in a while.


    Anyway, that’s all I have going for the first two chapters. It seems that you write very short, bite-sized chapters, and I like those! Though it might take me a little bit of time to catch up and give more thoughts on big parts of the story. Thanks for the read!
     
  13. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 10: An Old Flame Quenched
    The petrified shriek cut off by a flash of light returned from Chimera's mouth with vengeance, overpowering any chance of detecting the faint ringing in his ears. The brief glance he was allowed of whatever strange creature was lurking around the hallways of its underwater dungeon played on repeat as the light faded. The shut eyes, the bright red gem on its forehead, the shade of yellow that ran around its face to its brain shaped head, all told of a pokemon seen many years ago through two LCD screens. And yet...despite his best attempts, both the name and circumstances where he had seen this pokemon remained stuck on the tip of his tongue, just out of reach.

    The Bagon's eyes shot open, not even taking time to survey his surroundings before he shouted to his companion,

    "Argon! W-We have to go, there's something her—"

    She was gone. The raichu once only a few feet before him was nowhere to be seen. In her place, was a pokemon entirely foreign to his new life. Its two legs levitated a couple inches above the floor, stature only a tad smaller than himself displaying a snowy-white body that gave an almost celestial appearance, interrupted only by several blue and red triangular rings. Adding to the pokemon's angelic impression were the short, bird-like wings sprouting from its back, their motionless nature a seeming contradiction to the fact that it was floating midair.

    "Before you ask, Drover, she's alright, I'll take you to her soon. Are you though? You look like you've seen a ghost."

    Even a stun seed couldn't have paralyzed Chimera as effectively as the Togetic's question. Once again, buried memories were brought to the forefront, a part of the Bagon's conscious attempting to resist as if the pokemon before him was some sort of cruel grave robber.

    "W-Why...why did you call me that? Who are you?"

    "Well, it's your name, for starters," the Togetic replied, a knowing smirk on her face, "I may not exactly look the part, but you should be able to at least recognize my voice."

    It was true, the beaming, energetic, voice was indeed a dead ringer for someone he had known, someone he had last heard through the garbled speaker of an answering machine. The more Chimera stared at the Togetic, the more abundantly clear it became that the creature before him was mimicking verbatim the way she would tap her fingers and hold an arm to her side whenever she was waiting for an answer, as well as the innocent smile she could, somehow, still put on even after the worst days of work. All pointed to an answer that made the most, and at the same time the least, sense.

    "It...It can't be you, Evelyn?"

    "Right you are, Drover," the Togetic replied, taking a step back as her motionless wings began to carry her around the room, "In the flesh, well...sort of."

    Chimera was lost in thought as he watched the human-turned Togetic gracefully bounce against the walls, gravity itself seemingly unwilling to effect her. A curious glance from the Happiness Pokemon snapped him back to attention, color leaving the Bagon's face as he forced his gaze to the floor.

    "H-How are your here? How are you a...pokemon?"

    Evelyn's grin lowered a tad at the question, being quickly interrupted by a giggle as the Togetic hovered back toward Chimera,

    "I'll save that answer for later, you have my word on that. In the meantime, how've you been doing, Drover? I'll admit, it's a little refreshing seeing you without bags under your eyes and a coffee-stained suit, I sure hope you've been taking care of yourself."

    "I-uh...yeah, I've been doing fine," Chimera replied. "The exploration, the companionship, the freedom, whatever this world is, its got everything I could ever ask for—"

    Despite Chimera's best attempts to stay focused, he couldn't help but pause at Evelyn's comment of wearing a suit. Analyzing both the scaly blue plates that lined his body, and the white feathers that donned hers, the realization came that, as a result of their former humanity, both were meeting in a form previously unseen to the other. A couple more seconds brought another realization to the Bagon, one that made his feet light as adrenaline coursed through his body: The last time they had met, both of them were wearing cloths.

    "—well...almost everything."

    Chimera's head recoiled ever so slightly as he mentally slapped himself, swatting the offending thoughts away while options for new topics scrolled through his mind,

    "So, how's work been going? I'd imagine the fort's still being held after I...left."

    "Most likely," Evelyn replied, "you've only been gone for about a day, give or take."

    The answer brought a chuckle from the side of Chimera's jaw, accompanied by a faint snort, "Damn shame, knowing you're here now, the place can crash and burn for all I care."

    Though Chimera waited expectantly for Evelyn to join in the laughter, she only stared back quizzically, every second intensifying the newfound feelings of dread as he waited for the Togetic's response.

    "You know Drover...I really do wish you could have been a little more upbeat, would have certainly made working with you easier for everybody."

    "W-What? Why should I have?" Chimera replied, shifting his head away from Evelyn. "There wasn't ever much to be happy about."

    As Bagon and Togetic broke eye contact, the room's surroundings began to catch Chimera's eye, ever more questions popping up as bits and pieces were dragged out of long term memory. On the walls was the same drab, white, drywall that once occupied the majority of his peripheral vision on the average day. The ground below his two-toed, scaly feet was the same rough carpet, an amalgamation of colors so grey that one could vomit on it and barely notice the resulting stain. The last time, Chimera recollected, that he had been in a room in any way similar to this one was during a particularity terrible nightmare. The imagery of the same room now being inhabiting by creatures as alien as a blue lizard and bipedal, levitating bird seemed to the former human an almost otherworldly experience.

    "Do you..." the Bagon continued, "do you remember that stupid corporate holiday party we all had to go to, where they had all the retiring employees gave big speeches about leaving?"

    Evelyn nodded, "Yeah, it was pretty fun, a lot of people got pretty emotional about it."

    "Don't ask me how, it's easy to talk about comradely and how much the company means to you when it's not the middle of the workday and you've just been given a new list of work assignments. Hearing them gush about it... it honesty made me sick to my stomach. Everyone was so quick to forget the toil, the long hours, the deadlines, the boss breathing down your neck, but I never did."

    "But they didn't forget, Drover," the Togetic replied, breaking through the Bagon's spiel, "They worked through it, they balanced their time, they did their best to remain positive and formed connections when they had the chance."

    She sighed, giving Chimera a solemn look, "And I guess that's whats always been the problem."

    "What do you mean?" he cried out. "You've been through as much as I, how is it alright for them to expect you to put on a plastic smile as they boast about how great everything is? It's bad enough they yell at us and threaten to give marching orders if you don't do a job exactly right, I don't want people to think I enjoy it."

    "I'm not saying that, it's just...sitting in the corner of the room next to a potted plant waiting to go home is just repeating a vicious cycle. Going through life with that negative mindset, accompanied by a workload as heavy as yours, it...it turns people cruel."

    Chimera narrowed his eyes, staring intensely at the Togetic, "Go on, I can tell you have something else to say, I can take it."

    Despite his goading, the Bagon couldn't help but notice that Evelyn was holding a remorseful frown, in the same vein as a judge pronouncing a prison sentence. After more than a few seconds, she spoke,

    "Do you remember the last time we talked to each other?"

    "Of course," Chimera replied, "I think it was barely a day ago, but if I'm being honest it's kind of a blur. I had just been...laid off, and you called me when I got back to my apartment, and—"

    He paused, countenance becoming ever bleaker as the full meaning of Evelyn's words became clear,

    "a-and I had been drinking, a lot. I was stressed out about having to find a new job, the rent was due in three ways, and—"

    Again, he wavered, blinking his eyes occasionally as they began to water.

    "you were just trying to be there for me, like you always were. I realized it was you and, dear god, I remember now...the things I said. You didn't deserve it, not in the slightest."

    Chimera fell to his knees, eyes closed and head to the floor,

    "I'm sorry Evelyn, I...I should have remembered the moment I knew it was you, I should have apologized sooner. I've been a terrible friend, just took me until now to realize it."

    The room was silent, being only broken by the occasional whimper that escaped from the Bagon's jaw. As he lowered a hand to the floor to steady himself, a voice in the back of his mind commented that, although the flooring looked like the familiar office carpet, what he actually felt was something more akin to hard rock. He pushed it aside, feelings of remorse flooding his conscious interrupted when he heard a voice call out from the Togetic.

    "I forgive you Drover, it's all water under the bridge now. I just want you to make me a promise, that you'll approach life with more positive mindset, for your own sake."

    The Bagon's eyes opened a smidge, head tilting as he stared at the pokemon before him in a mix of disbelief and awe.

    "I-uh, of course. I promise you this, Evelyn, I'll make a new man out of myself here. Doing what I did then, being who I was then, I see now how it turned me into someone I hate, and you can bet I'll do my best not to make the same mistakes."

    Chimera was happy to return the Togetic's smile as he shot back to his feet. The mutual grin, however, was shattered in an instant when Evelyn turned away, life seemingly drained from her face.

    "What's wrong? Was it something I said?"

    "No, no, no," the Togetic replied, "well...sort of yes and no. The truth is that my time here is...limited. My purpose for being here is to give a warning, that if you keep going down this dungeon and retrieve the item you seek, you'll relinquish any chance you have of returning to the human world."

    "I know you may not think so," she continued, "but there is still a place for you there. There are people who care about you, there's a life worth living, one that you'd be giving up if you were to continue."

    The Bagon was silent, feet growing weak as he considered the statement's full implications. A sideways glance at Evelyn confirmed that the Togetic seemed patient enough to wait for his reply, an open invitation to return to his age-old habit of pacing. As Chimera approached one of the room's corners, he placed a hand on the smooth drywall, peculiar sensation returning to his conscious when he instead felt the jagged, wet, edges of hardened rock. Just as the Bagon's hands and eyes were in conflict, so were his thoughts. One voice in his mind argued for the life promised by Evelyn, a featureless, yet admittedly stable life of relative security. The other voice was more ragged, proclaiming that an uneven life of ups and downs, of promised glory and necessary hardships would be for the best. Chimera closed his eyes, darkened vision providing no reassurances of which one to trust.

    "How would I go back? What's so important here that would prevent me from doing so?"

    He turned around to face her, observing as the Togetic broke eye contact and put her hands to her side, almost is if she were attempting to conceal them in now nonexistent pockets.

    "The details that I was given were...foggy, you'll just have to trust me on this."

    "Of course, of course I trust you," Chimera replied, taking a small step backward, "it's just...I'd be giving up too much by going back, I hope you can understand."

    "Think about it," the Bagon continued, Togetic waiting silently for him to finish, "I have a job, one were I get to stretch my feet and travel to new places. Have you seen the view from a sailboat as it leaves port? It's absolutely gorgeous."

    He went on, voice becoming quicker in the process,

    "I have a boss, one who actually likes me, one that's willing to forgive you and treat you as something more than a rusty cog in the machine. How often did Clarence ask you to play croquet with him?

    Faced with no answer, Chimera continued, voice returning to its normal pace as he considered his words,

    "And I have a...a partner. Someone who trusts me and is willing to help me out of the goodness of their own heart. There's nothing I'd be giving up by staying here, nothing except—"

    He shook his head, averting his gaze from the pokemon levitating before him,

    "I'm sorry. I don't want to sound overly cynical, hell it's probably too late for that at this point, but I've made my decision. I'm going to be someone people will remember, someone who's going to make a difference."

    "You might be one here," Evelyn replied, "but what about back home? I just...if you don't go back, you...you won't even get a grave, nevermind a legacy."

    As Evelyn said this, she reached behind her for a piece of paper, one that seemed to the Bagon not on her person since they had begun talking. The figure plastered onto the poster in black and white ink put Chimera beside himself, a second passing before he realized that it's visage was indeed his own, in a body since departed. Above the humans face were several bold letters in bright red displaying a single word: missing. Also missing below the picture's dreary continence was the lower half of the poster, section where the Bagon's name should have been torn diagonally across in what he could only assume was wind damage. The poster itself was soaked in entirety, bleeding ink giving the paper a bleak appearance, only the word 'Droverson' being barely legible against darkened smudges.

    "How many years will it be until people back home try to think of your name and draw a blank, until the human I knew dies his second death? You can still go back and make a life for yourself, I can help you with that, but if you press on, you'll be forgoing everyone's memory of you in the blink of an eye, myself included."

    The voices in the Bagon's mind returned to their continuous debate, questions and answers entering as quickly as they disappeared over which body deserved to be condemned to the dilapidated poster. If, Chimera figured, the hopeful smile that once greeted him everyday could be preserved regardless, there would be no need for discussion, but something about the Evelyn's reply signaled that it would not be,

    "What do you mean yourself?"

    As soon as he said this, the Togetic's continuance shifted, once piercing scowl disintegrating into resignation,

    "Like I said...my time here is limited. Pretty soon, I'll have to return, and my memory of our time here will be erased. I know this sounds selfish but—"

    Evelyn began to glow, bright yellow orbs now emanating off of her body making the Togetic more transparent by the second. She looked up at Chimera, solemn expressions conveying mutual acknowledgement of what had to happen next.

    "—I don't want to say goodbye."

    Despite a desire flooding through the Bagon's mind to rush toward the pokemon before him, to hug her close and let tears fall to the floor as he wish her farewell, Chimera remained still, eyes dry as a bone. An equally powerful force in his subconscious was pulling him back, one fueled by the knowledge that neither the carpet at their feet nor the walls at their sides were what they appeared to be. Whether fueled by hope or cynicism, a voice in Chimera's head was proposing that the same held true for the Togetic, that she was but another one of the illusions that lined the room. The thought would have died off quickly, drowned in a flood of emotions, but a single memory forced it to hold fast, one that instantly gave identity to the pokemon that separated the Bagon from his partner. There was only one pokemon Chimera now could recall that had the powers of illusions, that had matched his brief glance of the creature that teleported him here, and that had gone to such great lengths to prevent the pixelated sprite of a bulbasaur and torchic from reaching their goal.

    He turned away, putting on his best poker face to hide the epiphany from shut eyes no doubt watching the Bagon from somewhere in the room. Only when Chimera looked back toward the false Togetic did tears drip from his eyes, fueled by the knowledge that, despite the fact that the Evelyn before him was still radiating yellow light, the human he had known was gone, a price paid for a world born anew. With this knowledge, an idea formed, one that created as much guilt in the Bagon's conscious as it did relief. If, he figured, this being of knowledge was willing to use sentimentality to manipulate him, what harm would come in playing along, it least few minutes more?

    "Tell you what, I'll get Argon, we'll leave, and we won't come back, you have my word on that. B-But before you go, could you—jeez, this sounds stupid, but...remember at the party when they began playing music and you—"

    "Asked you for a dance?" the Togetic finished. "Yeah, shame you had to leave so early."

    "Well, that's the thing, would you mind if we...uh, finished it, for old times sake?"

    Her eyes lit up, taking hold of the Bagon's hands with those that, while looked the part of a Togetic, felt the slightest bit off,

    "Never thought I'd hear that out of you, guess you really are changing,"

    Chimera wanted to believe that it was all true, that his co-worker's smile could persist across altered body and world as she took his hands and the lights around the falsified office dimmed to let melancholic melodies play. That if his two left feet turned and went back the way they came, he'd be able to hear the voice that the pokemon before him was imitating for the foreseeable future. However, despite his best attempt and desire to fight it, the knowledge remained that the pokemon holding his stubby arms and dancing the waltz was not Evelyn, nor was it even a Togetic. As the music ground to a slow halt, a simple resolution crossed through the Bagon's mind: what's done is done, what's lost will never come back. Moisture formed around Chimera's eyes as he leaned in toward the false Togetic to speak, not enough to form tears, but enough to recognize that what he said next sealed his fate,

    "I'll admit, Uxie, you nearly got me, it was certainly subtler than a Groudon."

    The two pokemon holding hands would have shared a deadpan stare after the Togetic disintegrated, if not for the fact that the legendary now in her place donned eyes indefinitely shut. In an instant, it broke from Chimera's hands, levitating backwards into the air as the office walls whiffed from existance. A hasty glance to his right allowed Chimera vision of the faint orange outline of his partner, positioned on the opposite end of the expansive room holding an expression only slightly more confused than his own. Taking its place at the center of the underground cavern, the knowledge pokemon sighed, sending out a telepathic message to Bagon and Raichu alike,

    "Pokemon such as I make plans, and Arceus laughs...I suppose I should have expected this."
     
  14. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 11: A Time for Negotiation
    The room itself was awe inspiring. Above the stone floors and shallow rock walls that surrounded the three pokemon was a chamber entirely roofless. Where stone should have been in the dome shaped cavity, only dark blue seawater existed. Despite all sense to the contrary, the seawater that let occasional beams of light filter onto the floor did not submit to the laws of gravity and crash onto the occupants below. Instead, it lay suspended in animation, forming an air-filled cupola against the sea floor. A green and blue radiance coerced downward, providing a faint illumination that stemmed from the epicenter of the ceiling. The object multiple stories above the room's occupants that this luminosity stemmed from was a familiar one, if only for the ten green pentagons of light that jutted out of its source like the arrows of a compass rose.

    Despite Argon's face being locked in a mix of awe and terror gazing upon the creator of their recent phantoms, Chimera couldn't help but crack a faint smile as he rushed to join her in the center of the room, half from the assurance that she was safe, and half from fact that the last challenge to their glory had decided to reveal itself. Another message beamed into their minds, returning the duos attention from their surroundings. This one was much more forceful than the last, though the hint of exasperation remained,

    "Deception has failed, so I will make this perfectly clear to you two. Turn around, never come back, and forget your memories of this place, lest I be forced to take them all with me as a parting gift."

    Argon was the first to speak, thoughts still not entirely snapped out the fact that a creature, once only the product of words printed on fictional novels read in the dead of night, was levitating before her, as real as could be,

    "Y-Your...your Uxie! The pokemon of knowledge, the pokemon that legends say allowed us to improve our lives, I-I can't believe it!"

    ''I am." it replied, telepathic voice a consistently wearisome monotone. "I am also the guardian of this time gear, and unless you've come here looking for the world's must powerful geo-pebble I believe we have a conflict of interests."

    Despite Argon's best attempts to respond, every second under the legendary pokemon's piercing gaze left her feeling smaller and smaller, slack jawed mouth failing to respond. Instead, she turned her head to the Bagon, an unspoken look between the two confirming that both had been victim to the knowledge pokemon's illusions.

    "Chimera, we-uh...we should probably go. I've read what happens when time gears are disrupted, and it's not pretty. I know we have a mission, but it can't be worth this."

    Despite Argon's insistent look, The Bagon only crossed his arms, head alternating between her and Uxie as he put on his best poker face,

    "We're prepared to walk away, I'll say that much, but reliable explorers always accomplish their mission, and I believe there's more to Uxie here than meets the eye."

    Chimera stepped toward the knowledge pokemon, positioning his arms to conceal the fact that they were shaking under its oppressive glare,

    "After what you just put both of us through, the least you could do is answer some questions. You could have teleported us out of the dungeon any time you wanted, you still can, but you choose not to. Why bother with the smoke and mirrors?"

    A small yet exponentially growing migraine worked its way into Chimera's mind as he locked eyes with the legendary. The pain, however, faded quickly, release synonymous with a heavy sigh from Uxie that, so far, consisted the whole of its oral communication.

    "If you must know, after you had fought through the mystery dungeon Pallids, I knew teleporting or knocking you out would simply lead to further suspicion of this cavern. You are right, I could wipe your memories now, but the effects are too...permanent to be morally used on anybody other than the most irredeemably evil pokemon which, judging from what I've seen of your memories, both of you aren't. I thought that if I could take the form of someone you each trusted, I could convince both of you that this wasn't a goal worth pursuing. But...I failed, I suspect Argon has already figured out that my analysis of your memories wasn't perfect, and thus we've come to this."

    Without another word, the crimson jewel on Uxie's head began to glow, accompanied by formations of several purple orbs surrounding the duo, poised to strike.

    "I'll say this only once more, I don't desire your deaths, but if you continue to trespass, I will do what must be done."

    Chimera's bravado disintegrated as the psycic orbs drew closer and closer to Argon and himsely. If, he reasoned, a single electrified punch from the raichu at his side was enough to send him into forced slumber, the effects from a legendary pokemon would doubtless be more...permanent. A glance at Argon confirmed that, though her posture was passive, electrons sparked from her cheeks, tail ready to defend herself in the event of conflict. The Bagon wasn't as prepared, concluding that, even if he could level his crossbow at the knowledge pokemon and fire, the psychic shards surrounding them would be able to pierce through his scaly body ten times over.

    "Wait!" Argon cried out, hands raised to the air. "It doesn't have to come to this, we can leave! We didn't come here with the intention of taking a time gear, you must know that."

    Quick as a ninjask, Chimera joined in, lowering the weapon slung on his hip to the floor. Though Uxie seemed unimpressed by the gesture, he continued moving out of the crossbow's reach, content that, where it would fail, the metaphorical pen would succeed.

    "She's right. We can leave, but before we do, we want to make you a deal, a...proposal."

    The Raichu and Bagon seemed to glare at each other out of the corners of their eyes, an argument over how to handle the situation being conveyed entirely through scowls and eye movement. In that split second, Argon was the one to back down, solemn expression showing readiness for whatever consequences Chimera's pushing would bring. As they looked back toward Uxie, the pressing sensation in their conscious returned, the knowledge pokemon making no more attempts to be subtle.

    "You say this because you understand you don't stand a chance in battle, because you know you're outmatched."

    "Of course," Chimera replied, nonchalant tone masking the occasional voice crack, "but regardless, I'm sure we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement. First of all, what is it you want?"

    Uxie's shut eyes only looked on, judging the Bagon with as much respect as a poker player who had long since seen their opponents hand,

    "I doubt you could offer anything that is of more importance than this time gear, my entire purpose rests on defending it from those who would use it for malicious intentions."

    "B-But aren't you the pokemon of knowledge?" Argon interjected, briefly interrupting the staredown between brown and closed eyes. "There's stories I read that say you were the one who first gave pokemon the ability to solve problems. I know that protecting the time gears is important, but you must have had some other purpose?"

    Uxie's head swerved to meet the Raichu, a nearly imperceptible smile appearing on the legendary's face as the psycic orbs surrounding all three wavered,

    "What you say is the truth, but not the whole of it. I didn't simply create knowledge, I collected it, observed the solutions pokemon would find for the problems that plagued them."

    The liquid dome ceiling seemed to flicker against stray beams of outside light, smile leaving Uxie's face as sunset orange light faded into nothingness to signal the beginning of dusk.

    "But...those days are gone, ended millennia ago when I devoted my life to resting here."

    All around the duo, the threatening purple orbs disappeared in entirety, majority of the maliciousness seeming to have disappeared from the legendary's face. In its place, was an expression conveying what both pokemom could only describe as something akin to nostalgia.

    "In truth, it was enjoyable when I was able to glimpse at your memories, see what advances I have missed since my voluntary confinement. I could never imagine that something such as a sphere of controllable light would be invented in my absence."

    That very same sphere seemed to flash above Chimera's head, the Bagon swerving to mouth a near silent 'thank you' to Argon. As the Raichu returned the smile, she noticed that he was no longer concealing his hands, their periodic shaking having been interrupted by whatever revelation he had experienced. The reason for this was simple: thanks to her, Chimera now had some chips to throw on the table.

    "Yep, they are pretty amazing, and they're a human invention."

    He turned to face Argon, smirk on her face confirming to the Bagon that she would play along,

    "How many humans would you be able to find on this world?"

    "You're the sole one," she replied, "I can tell you from experience, you won't find any pokemon with as much knowledge of the human world as he has."

    "Exactly. About this deal, you let us repossess the time gear and put it under protection of the most influential guild in the region, and in return, I will let you analyze every bit of knowledge about the human world that I know. History, scientific discoveries, the design for that weapon on the floor, all of it will be yours. Normally I wouldn't make such a lopsided agreement, but given the circumstances, I'll allow it."

    "And if you no longer need to protect this gear," Argon added, "you'll be free to explore this world and learn what knowledge it has to offer."

    Uxie only frowned, the same frown, Chimera thought, that people would make when they were considering, or pretending to consider an offer.

    "And what if I simply decide to take those memories from the human right now?"

    "Then we escape," the Bagon replied, "and you'll lose a once in a lifetime opportunity."

    Chimera could see that Argon had laid a paw on the green and gold badge pinned to her exploration bag, and, in order to punctuate the statement, he drew his own hand back to do the same. The stubby blue arm, however, only felt the smooth edges of a canvas backpack, guild badge pinned to it at day's beginning gone. Panic filled his heart, face still staring at Uxie despite the legendary now not needing to read his mind to discern the obvious alarm.

    Luckily for Chimera, Uxie wasn't the only one, barely a second passing before he found a blue orb levitating in front of his face, a pink aura emanating from its circumference. Before the Bagon could even question how his guild badge had been lost, he took hold of the orb, mentally giving the command to escape and setting it on the floor, feet poised to shatter the orb in an instant. His neutral expression quickly returned, again giving a thankful nod to the Raichu at his side.

    "I don't know why the guild would need a time gear," Argon said, "b-but I've been a part of it for a fair amount of time, and I can't imagine them using it for any bad purposes. A-And besides, they definitely know about the time gear's importance, we have thousands of pokemon in the military branch of the WFG who'd be able to protect the time gear from thieves and bandits, which would certainly free you up to explore. I know I don't have as much to offer, but you could also go over my mind, for what it's worth, i-it probably give you a bit of a head start on learning what this world has to offer."

    Both Chimera and Argon could only watch as Uxie shifted her glare between the two, seconds seeming to pass by like hours as the pressing sensation in their conscious returned. With every moment, another curiosity would pop into the duos mind of what the legendary pokemon's scowl implied. Would the injurious purple orbs reform and pierce their minds before either could give the mental command to evacuate? Or perhaps, would it unveil some secret technique to force them into slumber, reading their minds before extracting their memories as punishment for trespassing?

    "I am not going to do that," Uxie said, telepathic communication accompanied by a soft chuckle, "I just find it humorous, generations upon generations spent guarding this time gear, and what rips it out of my hands isn't some malignant beast, but a bagon and a raichu, each running from what they've left behind, fate is a fickle thing."

    "You mean you agree?" Chimera asked, shirking back when a glance at Argon revealed that his expression was the most incredulous.

    "Yes, I now realize I have guarded this time gear for...too long. Every pokemon needs a chance to fulfill their deepest instincts, and I am no exception, I just hope that my siblings will understand. If nothing else, I trust in this pursuit of knowledge that I will return a wiser pokemon."

    Uxie eyed the two, red gemstones emitting a dull glow,

    "The process of analyzing all the information from both of your minds will take hours, are you prepared?"

    Chimera and Argon glared at each other, a couple of seconds passing before they each gave a solemn nods to each other and the legendary pokemon.

    The signal given, both could only stare forward with blank expression as hallucinations filled their vision. The sensation of having their minds read was nowhere as immediate as previous attempts, psychic pressing that once bordered on the lines of pain now being reduced to a dull throb in the back of their necks. A bitter chuckle escaped from Chimera's mouth as more time passed, the Bagon surmising that reliving his entire life, or at least the scenes that Uxie was analyzing over the course of several hours was a dreadfully boring experience. In one moment, he would be in the body of his younger self, wearily skimming over the contents of a mathematics textbook. In another, he was watching a documentary of important inventions across humanity's history, grasping occasionally for a bowl of popcorn. Another still, of himself on a rare visit to a museum, scoffing at the various pieces of modern art on display. Argon's experience was similar, also watching as memories picked to surmise the knowledge of the pokemon world flashed before her, each one disappearing as quickly as it appeared. Eventually, the reoccurring visions ended, Uxie lowering itself to the floor and drawing an empathetic look from the Raichu as it raising a hand to its temple.

    "I...that was...a fair amount to take in, it fills my heart with dread and joy knowing that only more is coming. And I suppose that it's time for me to respect my end of the bargain."

    Without another telepathic word, Uxie levitated to the ceiling's epicenter, grasping a hand on the blue gear, but keeping it in place nonetheless.

    "From your memories, I can only judge that you two will not use this for malicious intentions, please do not make me regret this."

    "Wait!" Chimera shouted. "Before you give us the time gear, I-I...I just need some closure, will I really never be able to go back?"

    "Perhaps, perhaps not, just know that my claim to you before was nothing more than a lie born of convenience. If there is a method for you to return, I do not know it, at least at the moment."

    The Bagon could only lower his head from the ceiling, lost in thought. A faint sound of footsteps against rock floor sounded behind him, followed by a paw being apprehensively placed on his shoulder,

    "Chimera, I-I promised to help you find a place in this world, but...if you don't think you have one, that I suppose we could try to find a way for you to go back to the human world."

    The two exchanged smiles, the Bagon's quickly returning to a neutral expression as he brought his eyes back to the ceiling.

    "I appreciate your consideration, I really do, but what's done is done, all that matters now is that time gear."

    "A quick piece of commentary for each of you," Uxie interjected, "from what I've seen of your memories."

    Shut eyes were brought to bear on the Raichu,

    "Argon, your desire to please is admirable, but you must also be willing to stand by your own ideals and decisions. There are times in life where one must plant their foot down and fight for what they believe in, and I fear that if you choose to run away and avoid the problem, there will be those who suffer as a result."

    Before Argon could reply, Uxie's gaze shifted to the Bagon, time gear ever closer to being released,

    "Chimera, the pathway that you follow is what you make of it. You may be this region's greatest ally, or its most dreaded enemy, just know that if you continue on your present course, you shall be lesser and greater than your former self."

    With this, the time gear was pulled from the ceiling, causing the ten pentagon of light jutting from its circumference to disintegrate. The duo could only watch on with horror when Uxie as well as the blue gear in its hand disappeared from existence, and the liquid dome structure forming the cavern's ceiling collapsed. Immediately, water once frozen in time succumbed to the urges of gravity and crashed downward. Just before the tidal wave of water could submerge both pokemon entirely, each felt a hand placed upon their shoulder, causing a familiar flash of light to envelope their visions.​

    ---​

    A sharp chill enveloped the Bagon and Raichu's senses, both feeling splashes of water sprinkle onto them accompanied by bursts of salty wind. Mutual terrified screams ended as quickly as the began when each took note of their surroundings. Below their feet was the same rocky isle that had been their entrance into the secluded mystery dungeon. Barely visible against the dark ocean horizon was a light blue vessel, figurehead in the visage of a drampa instantly recognizable as being from the Draeck. Between their shared bewildered gazes was an item unceremoniously placed between the two, faint radiance of light from the gear an acknowledgement of the fruits of their labor.

    Chimera could barely keep himself from chuckling as he lifted the time gear into the air towards Argon,

    "We did it!" he shouted. "We actually did it!"

    Argon was happy to join in the festivities, but a part of the Raichu couldn't help but look toward the moonlit horizon, wondering what their journey home would bring,

    "Yeah," she replied, somber smile on her face as she took one last look at the time gear, "we really did."

    ---
    Authors note: Hello readers! I'll be taking a one week hiatus from writing to make way for finals, but I'll be sure to get back to posting chapters after that. I hope you've been enjoying the story so far, here's to happy holidays in the oncoming weeks.
     
  15. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 12: Fork in the Road
    Though each battle against the foul ocean currents brought another rise and dip of the Draeke, Argon was lucky enough to feel none of it, being supported by a cotton hammock that ran from one end of the crew quarters to the next. Despite this, she found herself subconsciously replicating the twists and turns signaled by each creak of the well-worn ship. Bitter voices commented that perhaps the tables had turned between her and the Chimera, the latter barely visible against moonlight filtered though cracks in the walls, snoring filling the room as heavily as a slow stream of drool poured into the Bagon's hammock.

    With a heavy sigh, Argon rolled onto her side, eyes finding focus on a blue radiance seeping through the canvas outline of Chimera's exploration bag. How her co-worker had managed to so quickly lose his guild badge, she would never know, but a quick visit to the Pith Town main hall once they returned would remedy that easily. She couldn't help but chuckle as her gaze briefly shifted to the strange weapon built by the former human, both stock and string dripping water onto the floor after Chimera was finally able to spot it floating above the underwater cupola once housing a time gear.

    Again, Argon forced her eyes closed, mind not willing to comply with recommendations for rest and clarity. A part of her wanted to crack a smile mulling over the lengthy day's contents, but whether from weariness or suspicion, any grin she could form toward the makeshift nightlight was impossible to maintain. Neither shut eyes nor turned head could prevent the imagery of blue light from piercing through her eyelids, the Raichu herself not sure whether it was a making of her minds creation or some adverse effect of the mythological gear. She groaned, not a second passing before time gear now encased in a pink aura levitated toward her hands. One of the many uses, she thought, of a power that provided as much convenience as it did laziness. The gear itself seemed untouched by the effects of time, generations upon generations encased below the sea having done nothing to dull its metallic shine. A chill ran down her spine when cobalt blue eyes met each other across the gear's reflective surface, focus alternating between the gear itself and the visage it was portraying.

    Their mission had been successful, there was no doubt about that. With item in hand, both team members accounted for, and no serious injuries to either of them, such a complete victory would no doubt draw advancement and compensation from the guild. And yet...Argon still found herself unable to smile. She glanced around the room, taking note of the creaky wooden walls that buckled against ocean winds, as well as the ragged hammock supporting her, seemingly the cause of several sore spots across his back. Both of these were a high contrast to the familiar stone walls and plushy mattresses where she usually resided, two luxuries that would no doubt be severely limited should they be pressed into undertaking further missions of this magnitude. She shook her head, stepping out of the hammock in a manor that would not disturb the sleep of her co-worker, perhaps a bit of fresh air would clear her mind? A thought occurred to Argon as she stood up that she was still holding the blue gear told to contain immense power, and with an exasperated shrug she grabbed for Chimera's bag, hastily shoving it inside to hide the obvious blue glow from any suspecting crew members.

    Without another word, Argon followed the stray beam of moonlight through the door. A skeleton crew was manning the deck of the Draeke, their weary faces paying head to the neither the Raichu nor the bag in her hand as she walked toward the stern. Clouds over a moon half concealed with darkness seemed to part once Argon leaned against the back railing of the Draeke, staring into the nearly endless expanse of ocean punctuated by a sharp breeze that ran across her fur. Content with her solitude, she again reached both paws to take hold of the gear, dark blue ocean water visible through the center hole. A voice played through Argon's mind with recognizance of the gear's familiar shape and pattern, her last memory of it being decades ago, through the eyes of a curious pichu gazing toward a threadbare paper cover,

    Before you go to bed, Mausi, I was wondering if I could read you this story, my mother read it to me when I was your age. It's called "Heroes of Time."

    Oh...ok, what's it about? she heard herself reply, cringing internally at recollection of her former voice's high pitch.

    It's the story of a pokemon who becomes friends with this...creature, called a human, who's transformed into a pokemon—

    S-Sounds kind of weird...

    Yes Mausi, it is to a certain extent, but it's a good story nonetheless. Essentially, by forming an exploration team and collecting these items called "time gears", they're able to go on an adventure that results in them saving the world from a dark future.

    Argon drew a deep breath at the memory's conclusion, internally wishing that she had stayed awake long enough to hear the end of the children's story. Despite her best efforts to avoid it, despite four long years of lying in her room with nothing but a book in her hand and a tranquil smile on her face. Despite every infrequent memory of her father coming to their families expansive home and nearly collapsing from physical and mental exhaustion, there she was. Both moonscape semicircle in the sky and cedar plank vessel beneath her feet seemed to move at a constant ticking pace. Each promised that its journey's completion in the coming hours would take away the comforting darkness, bringing with it a life of oppressive heat that seemed as unavoidable as time itself. Afternoons on her cliff side listening to a barely audible chime of bells mix with the rustle of grass, nights used learning the inner tonalities of playing new songs on a fife, years spent with the assurance that the overbearing decisions of life would rest on other's shoulders, all would be at risk once they reached port.

    Unless...

    Her paws wavered, abyss of water ever more visible through the inner pentagon. Just what, thought Argon, would the consequences be if she were to let go of the gear? She was alone, what few crew members running the graveyard shift not even knowing of their mission. If, hypothetically speaking of course, she were to report to Executive Binair that Uxie had relinquished its end of the deal and reclaimed its rightful property, what would happen? What prior experience she had with the Girafarig brought the conclusion that their failure would not be cause for dismissal or even demotion. Chimera would be disappointed, to say the least, but perhaps the Bagon could be convinced of the benefits of a career of resource collection? With mention of her co-worker came another memory, painful cringe forming on the Raichu's face with echoing recollection of the Pallid Charmander. Its cries were unlike any of the feral pidgey and zubats usually encountered on a daily basis, and the back of Argon's neck quivered with the thought that future missions could very well force them against similar foes. Would she, as today, not bear the brunt of it, or would she be forced to adopt the methods of survival used by Chimera, going to sleep every night with similar cries stuck in her conscious?

    Argon gave one last scowl towards her own blue eyes in the gear's reflection before forcing them shut, inner resolution repeating that the ticking hands of fate could only be disrupted with its removal. Without another thought, her grip released, and the time gear went tumbling towards the ocean abyss.

    You know, you're being very selfish.

    Seconds passed, and when it became clear that no soft splash accompanied the gear's fall, her eyes again opened in shock. Seemingly on reflex at her mind's cry, Argon's telepathic powers had activated, stopping the time gear mere inches above the tumultuous waterline.

    No I'm not! she inwardly shot back. 1...I know how much this means to him, but I have too much here to risk it being lost.

    And what exactly do you have to lose? her mind's mocking tone continued. Sitting on your tail everyday by yourself? Going back to your crappy apartment from your 6000 poke a day job? Keeping up some convoluted lie to Mom and Dad despite you having every opportunity to make it true? You still haven't written to them, how many more promises are you going to break?

    Despite a persistent temptation to release the pressure in her mind and let the metallic gear wall into the water with a satisfying plop, Argon found herself unwilling.

    I've known him for what, two days? I've let him share my apartment, I've agreed to form a team with him, it's not selfish to at least have something in return!

    And this is the way to do it? came the instant reply. By going behind his back and throwing away what he's spent his blood, sweat, and tears working toward? Every pokemon on Faire knows how helpless you are, don't let them add two-faced to the list.

    What other choice do I have! He won't back down if I try talking to him, he'll keep pressing and pressing, just like he did with Uxie, and...I won't say no.

    Well, either grow a spine or accept it. You've made your choice, and whether you like it or not you have agreements to uphold. It won't kill you to have a little variety either, Dialga isn't going to come down and destroy your world if you give the time gear to Executive Binair. All you can do now is talk to him and draw a line in the sand, you know you'll never forgive yourself if you destroy that Bagon's dreams.

    Argon's mind went silent, eyes now merely watching as increasingly tumultuous waves ran against the gear's surface, splashing water that could quiet possibly rust what once rested in unending monotony. With no more objections on either side, the shaky pink aura surrounded the time gear stabilized, bringing it back into the Raichu's paws. Such an action, however, could not stem the new feeling that she was being watched, that every single pokemon in Faire, visible or not, was shooting her a spiteful and malicious glare. A quick glance around the deck suggested that nothing could be further from the truth, but the endless sensation of feeling smaller and smaller remained.

    He trusted you, he stood by your side despite all your flaws, the human chose you! How could you even consider doing this? How terrible of a friend can you be?

    A few seconds passed before the reply came, the Raichu not sure herself which side it was on,

    Just get some rest, you're not thinking straight. You can worry about this in the morning.

    Argon found herself giving a slight nod to no one in particular, and with time gear again stuffed inside of the backpack she departed toward the crew cabin, moonlight fading against the newly reformed clouds. And as the Raichu silently scrambled back into the hammock to let conscious fade into nothingness, she could of sworn she heard a faint flickering noise, one that gave no illumination to reveal its source.​

    ---
    "Hey Argon, are you sure you're alright? You look like...well you look like me at this time of day, if I'm being perfectly honest."​

    The Raichu merely chuckled at Chimera's comment, both pokemon's droopy eyes attempting to avoid the harsh morning sun as they passively scanned the port surrounding the docking ship. The journey up to this point had been a relatively quiet one, with Argon anxiously tapping her feet trying to find the right words to use for the inevitable meeting, while Chimera spent the early morning hours attempting to dry off the moisture that had seeped through his weapon.

    "O-Oh yeah, I'm fine, I just...have a lot on my mind."

    Before long, the ship ground to a halt, pokemon one by one evacuating out of the gangplank of the Draeke. Perhaps, thought Argon, their debate could be delayed, at least for the day? Any thought of this was quickly cut off when the visage of a familiar Girafarig came into view, both faces staring anxiously for their arrival from the Draeke. Though her teeth clattered with every step, Argon followed Chimera off of the ship, backpack containing time gear firmly in hand.

    "Great to see you, old chum, I trust your mission was a success?"

    "Yes Sir," Chimera quickly replied, "it was a more...tumultuous process than we had hoped, but we have the item. Argon, would you mind handing it over?"

    Argon stared quizzically at the Bagon's outstretched hand, altering her gaze between the backpack in her paws and the expectant look from Binair,

    "W-Well, before I do, I was wondering if you could answer something. I never thought time gears actually existed before this point, why send us to collect one? W-Why collect them at all, in fact?"

    "The explanation is simple," Binair quickly replied, tail giving her a barely perceptible scowl, "but before I tell you, would you mind if we converse in somewhere with less prying ears? I'm sure you can understand, I wouldn't want any old pokemon on the streets knowing of this information."

    The two nodded, even more questions being silently asked as they followed the Girafarig toward an isolated outdoor cafe, faint crashing of waves still audible against the harbor-side view. The busy hours of the quint establishment seemed to have waned as pokemon left port, and the only witness to the trio's conversation was an unassuming sneasel, one that left quickly after taking their orders.

    "Anyway, as I was saying, time gears hold too much importance to the world to be kept in the hands of so-called lake guardians. If it was not the WFG who first obtained the object in your hands, it would have been an outlaw, or worse, some ignorant explorer who would use it as a paperweight, I hope you can understand. The reason we sent you two, old chum, is that Argon is probably the only pokemon in the guild I could trust to navigate through that mystery dungeon who is not already on an expedition mission. Also, I wanted to see if Chimera had truly learned the lessons from our croquet game."

    "And thus," he continued, voice in a hushed tone, "that brings us to the fruits of your labor. Chimera, you are aware that your team is presently bronze rank, correct?"

    The Bagon nodded, though Argon sank lower with his newfound perturbed expression.

    "And you must know then that Argon has been that rank for the past four years? I would trust no less than a gold rank team to complete the mission, and as such, I am prepared to offer both of you such rank, with only two conditions. One: that you simply hand over the time gear. Two: that you are willing to undertake missions of similar length and magnitude. A fair offer, is it not?"

    Simultaneous with this statement, Binair's two horns emanated a familiar pink light, letting an ornate cane fastened to the Girafarig's side float out. Such cane was directed opposite the ocean-side view, serving as a makeshift pointer toward a momentous red-tiled building, gold-plated initials on its top clear for all to see.

    "I always reward those who show exceptional conduct, and I can guarantee to you, old chum, if you accept this offer you'll be living there in no time at all."

    Chimera was ecstatic, smile beaming from ear to ear as he once again held his arm out expectantly for the bag in Argon's paws. However, the Raichu's continuance remained stuck in a humorless look. Any notion of asking questions had seemingly vanished from the two's minds, dread and exhilaration staring each other in the eye with the notion that their paths would soon be decided.

    "I-uh...t-this is a really big decision to make, don't you think we should talk about it first?"

    "What's to decide?" Chimera quickly replied. "This is amazing! We're not going to get a chance like this again, we have to take it."

    Despite her co-worker's objections, Argon turned toward Binair, clutching the time gear closer,

    "I-I just think we need some time to talk about this, would you mind if we come to you later?"

    "Not at all, Argon. You'll find me at the guild hall when you both are ready, I trust you will make the correct decision," Binair said, roguish tail flashing a grin towards Chimera as he departed.

    With the Girafarig out of earshot, the two pokemon returned their attention to each other,

    "Why?" Chimera asked, tone of the question more genuine than rhetorical. "What do we have to lose by accepting Binair's offer? We've worked so hard for this, we can't throw it away now!"

    Argon jumped back at the Bagon's sudden change in tone, but quickly regained her ground. She had the entirety of her life to ponder this question, and after a few seconds the Raichu believed she had found the right words.

    "Because...i-it's a difficult life when you advance in rank. M-Most of the teams I've seen spend ninety percent of their time traveling for missions and ten percent actually in that guild hall Binair showed you. The last gold rank team I remember seeing came back with one of their members having two broken legs. Remember when you were attacked by that Pallid? I don't want...I don't want that to be a regular occurrence for either of us."

    "I did what I had to do," Chimera quickly replied, once passive eyes now squinting at Argon.

    "I-I know that, but I don't want us to have to spend everyday fighting pokemon that could strangle us to death, it changes pokemon's mindset, and it...it could make them cruel."

    A primal sense of fear seeped into the back of Argon's head as she locked eyes with Chimera. The Bagon's breath was fuming, glare having every so slowly transitioned into one unseen even since they had first met. He looked at the Raichu before him not as one would see a loyal companion, or even a random pokemon. Instead, his visage gave the impression of someone staring toward an obstacle, toward a set of cloths that, though initially promising, were revealed as completely ill-fitting, or toward a pair of hiking shoes that would need to have pebbles repeatedly plucked out if the end of the trail were to be earned.

    "Well then," he asked, "what's the alternative? Say no, spend our days watching the clouds roll by till we're buried in unmarked graves? I've already done that, and I can assure you that it's not pretty."

    "You've...you've misconstrued my position. I-I've seen what happens when a pokemon becomes so absorbed in their work that they neglect themselves and the people around them, and it's also not pretty."

    Chimera took a step forward at Argon's response, Raichu herself staying firmly in place.

    "Well then, I have a question for you. Do you wake up everyday knowing that you're the happiest that you can be? That there's nothing, absolutely nothing more that you could want? Are you content with your life, Argon, or are you miserable with it?"

    At the question, Argon was forced to pause, clutching the time gear closer to her chest. A temptation existed in her heart to shout a spiteful 'yes' to force the Bagon shut, but her mind was too lost in thought to offer anything more than a simple grunt.

    "I...no, t-there are things I wish I could have done differently, promises I wish could have kept, but I can't say that accepting Binair's offer is going to give either of us a better life."

    "You don't know that," Chimera said.

    "And neither do you!" came the response, an indignant glance from both around the empty cafe confirming that they weren't making a scene.

    "Well, I can certainly say that it will for me. And if you're content to just let this opportunity fly by, I can guarantee that you'll regret it later."

    Whispers in the Bagon's mind worked their way to the forefront with the temporary silence. Perhaps, he thought, perhaps he had been a fool to believe that the first pokemon he'd meet would be the assistant toward his future. Perhaps it was true that some partnerships were unable to survive going down the same path. After all, with Binair's offer, Chimera would no longer need to be dependent on the Raichu before him for food and shelter, nor would he be restricted by her seeming phobia of success. The thoughts were a weight on his conscious, and with a deep breath Chimera prepared to vocalize the writing on the wall.

    "Maybe...maybe this whole team idea isn't going to work out, maybe we should just—"

    "Excuse me?"

    A voice pierced through the conflicted pokemon, causing both to jump up with recognizance of the sneasel waiter,

    "Two greppa berry teas and one frappe. Will there be anything else?"

    Stream of conscious having been interrupted by the intrusion, Chimera waved the Sneasel away, suddenly noticing that neither Argon nor himself had actually taken the opportunity to sit down on the many wooden chairs situated beneath straw umbrellas. After a couple blinks the Bagon quickly rectified this, Argon joining him around the small table holding their drinks in a silence that was simultaneously awkward and contemplative.

    With the bitter liquid running down his throat, and adrenaline fading from having the chance to rest, new thoughts began to whisper into the Bagon's mind, having identical voice but a more soothing tone. Perhaps it was he who was it fault. After all, it was the Raichu now staring at her cup in melancholic acceptance who had extended a hand to him when no one else would. Who had offered to help him find his place on a completely foreign world instead of running for the hills. Who had defended him against a horde of feral pokemon and provided him means of escaping the treacherous dungeon when his own method failed. With the torch burning in his eyes being slowly but surely drowned, a stark realization dawned on Chimera: she had chosen him, despite having every reason to pick a more qualified pokemon to form a team with. Argon had done a thousand times more to enable his future than to prevent it, and if there was any person or pokemon in either world worth listening to, it was her.

    "I...I'm sorry. This is stupid, we've both been targeting straw mans ever since we've started talking. I don't understand why you wouldn't want to accept this offer, but...I respect you too much to not offer a compromise."

    Argon's head lifted, shock being replaced by a quaint smile with the sudden statement,

    "A-Alright then, what are you proposing?"

    Silence returned to the cafe as Chimera lifted one of his stubby arms to his chin in contemplation, arguing with himself over what he was willing to relinquish.

    "Lets say...you let me give Binair the time gear and let us get that promotion. In return, I promise to you that in any of the future missions we do together, we'll be close to home, and there won't be anything too dangerous."

    Argon's grin as she raised a glass toward Chimera was all the answer he needed. Though what had transpired between the two was more hostile than what she wanted, the result was the best she could hope for. Inner anxieties seemed to fade away with assurances that Chimera wasn't shackling her toward the fate she dreaded. A large cloud drew a comforting shade over the two as their cups clinked, drinking from tea that, while plentiful at the moment, was assured to run dry in the future.
     
  16. Namohysip

    Namohysip Well-Known Member

    Chapter 2-3

    So, we’ve got some interesting following chapters. Chapter 2 in particular is where we get to Chimera (odd name for a human) and his painfully long amount of time to realize that he’s a Bagon. Seriously, how does he not realize how tiny his arms are? Or, well, everything else about him. Surely he’d’ve noticed his snout or something when he fell over. Well, anyway, that nitpick aside, this was a nice intro to him, but what had me particularly intrigued was the mention of modern technology, or at least industrial-level technology. A plant? Pollution and waste? This is a really different take on the Mystery Dungeon genre, and I can already tell that the atmosphere is going to be unique—at least, if you capitalize on that.


    One thing that was a little strange, though, was Chimera suddenly talking about his helplessness about making a name for himself. It seemed sudden, and I’m not really sure why Argon didn’t immediately react that what he was saying was out of the blue. Because it was. Instead, his initial reaction is to help out—without any remark at how sudden it seemed, at least from what I could tell. More importantly, the suddenness felt like it had almost no foreshadowing or buildup. I feel like you may have wasted a card here early on. The conversation felt like it would have had a lot more weight if you saved it for midgame. As of now, I (and Argon) have zero investment in the guy…


    Chapter 3 is when things got another unique twist. Chimera is still in the human world! He’s flipping between realities. That’s actually really interesting, and I’m wondering where this is going to take him. He must be looking like a total narcoleptic. Surprisingly, I’ve never seen this done before (of the fics I’ve read so far) so this is another unique twist that I hope gets capitalized on down the road.


    Chapters 4-6

    So, Chapter 4 was a bit on the slow side. It was a short chapter, so I’d argue this is one of those transitional chapters between two arcs. A little awkward, but at the same time, I’d argue it was indeed necessary. However, one concern I had about chapter 4 was how much Chimera was leaning on the “something has to happen soon, right?” card that, for some weird reason, a lot of slow-paced PMD fics tend to do when they have a human protagonist. That’s not really accomplishing anything. If I’m reading something, I’m expecting something to happen already. The protagonist saying, “When is something going to happen?!” isn’t really hinting anything to the reader. It’s more just teasing them. So perhaps leaning on that trope was done a bit too often here.


    Thankfully, by the time we reach chapter 5 and 6, some progress is made again, and this time it’s mostly getting to the guild, and then… filler? At least, that’s what I thought it was at first. While reading through the chapter, I could only think to myself, “Why are these words being wasted on this game? What’s the point? Nothing is happening.” But then you drop the bomb at the end of the chapter (which I suppose could have gone a little too long, but that’s just a nitpick) and all is forgiven. The founder! There were hints of it, but I honestly didn’t see it until Argon said he was her boss. So kudos to that. I thought it was a clever way of introducing him as a mentor without me realizing it. We also got a hint at Chimera’s attitude (And while I’m not sure it was said explicitly, I like the little allusion that this is the first time Chimera is dealing with a forgiving boss, so to speak.)


    It seems that Chimera is having some trouble getting his attacks going. I mean, he did just wake up. And while you don’t have any game mechanics explicitly laid out here, if we’re going by standard fare, he’s probably just Level 5 or so, hah! So that explains why he’d’ve lost so easily, among other things. But I get the feeling this is going to be a common trend for him as we go along and he tries to catch up to Argon and her natural abilities.
     
  17. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 13: An Inconceivable Scenario
    "Chimera, behind you!"

    No sooner had these words left Argon's mouth when a pale white pikepek burst out from one of the many tall palm trees making up the forest canopy, perching itself upon the Bagon's rocky forehead and repeatedly pecking at his face and eyes. Finding that his arms were simple too short to pry the ambushing pallid away, Chimera dropped to his knees, bashing his head against one of the many large rocks lying on the narrow dirt trail. The Pikipek fled and was struck down in the blink of an eye by an electrified blur speeding across the Bagon's line of sight. Chimera patted Argon on the side of her arm as she recovered from her charging posture, celebration being cut off when a patrat and beedrill poked their heads out of the brush, grey outlines a stark contrast to the lush green layer of palm leaves making up the mystery dungeon's perimeter. The intrusions were dispatched without thought by crossbow bolt and thundershock respectively, leaving the duo to continue their daily mission.

    Chimera dusted himself off as they walked, taking extra care to confirm that the shiny, gold-bordered badges recently pinned to their exploration bags were accounted for. Though the process of getting Binair to concur with the agreed upon terms had been a strenuous one, their voyage to Eastern Faire's mystery dungeon no. 27, better known as Exeggutor Jungle, had been surprisingly short trip. Passive forward gaze, once limited to Argon, spread to Chimera as he hacked away at the obstructing leaves with sharpened thorn crudely tied to a stick.

    "Nasty little buggers...what pokemon did you say we'd be facing here again?" Chimera asked.

    "Mostly bug and flying types, m-maybe a couple normals here and there. Sentrets, duodo, I-I've even seen some ditto around he—well, speak of the giratina..."

    The brush cleared into a shallow riverbed. On each side on the randomly jutting river were nearly endless lines of trees. Each of the trees curved toward the center of the river, narrow trunks diverging into a sea of roots above the waterline, as if begging for sustenance in spite of the physics defying nature of the dungeon. Standing in the shallow river was single pallid, feral scowl betraying the fact that its visage was a dead ringer to the Bagon at Argon's side. Immediately, the pallid Bagon opened its jaw to let out a short burst of fire toward the Alolan Raichu. The attack caught Argon off guard, hasty dodge to the left forcing her to dip bits of singed fur into the waterline.

    "You sonova...if I can't breath fire, this sad sack of tauros crab shouldn't have the privilege!"

    "I-It seems that the feral dittos do a better job of copying pokemon's instincts than you do," Argon replied with a chuckle.

    Argon dipped her tail into the waterline, attempting to recreate the trick that had worked in the previous dungeon. The pale Bagon, however, scrambled onto a large rock jutting out of the middle of the tropical river, attack having little effect. Noticing that its maneuverability had been severely limited, Chimera took another shot with his weapon from the treeline, bolt breaking into pieces when it collided with the rocky forehead of the Bagon. There was no time for the Pallid to release another draconic burst when the orange blur reappeared, tackling the Bagon from its high ground and pinning it against one of the riverside trees.

    Argon drew her head back as the Bagon struggled, noticing that her partner was rushing over as fast as his tiny legs would carry him. With both paws occupied holding the Bagon in place, Argon closed her eyes, letting a small yellow seed levitate out of her exploration bag into Chimera's hands.

    "H-Here, use this."

    "What is it?"

    "A stun seed. Q-Quick, we don't have much time!"

    The pallid Bagon growled a malicious snarl at Argon. It would have blasted the Raichu with another burst of flames after opening its mouth, had a seed not been lodged into its throat, and two hands forced its lower jaw to chomp down. Immediately, all the muscles in the grey Bagon seemed to freeze in place, every part of its body shaking uncontrollably, but motionless in its standing position nonetheless.

    "Well," Argon said, backing away from the paralyzed creature to let out a relieved sigh, "I-I guess we won't have to worry about him anymore."

    Chimera nodded. He was just about to continue down the winding path alongside Argon when he turned back, lost in thought. While the journey had been short, the actual process of dungeoneering gave to the Bagon an impression of being somewhat tedious. Their foes, while relentless, had been more frail than even those before their recent encounter with Uxie. A part of Chimera questioned if this was the reason his partner insisted on going to this specific dungeon, having noticed that the Raichu seemed particularly familiar with this setting. Nonetheless, the pallid Bagon before Chimera sporting a feral imitation of his own visage was helpless, more of a prop against the riverside treeline than anything. And with this, thought Chimera, came some potential to relieve the monotony.

    "Wait!" he shouted, forcing Argon to turn toward the two bagons with a concerned look. "Argon, I'm the real Chimera! You have to believe me, that bagons... nothing more than my evil clone."

    It took a couple seconds for Argon to comprehend Chimera's playful intentions. Her incredulous stare quickly gave way to light giggling as she raised a paw up to cover her smile, intending to play along. Chimera did a similar movement with his hands, awkwardly positioning the paralyzed Bagon's hand to point towards himself as he attempted to throw his voice.

    "What? No, he's the evil clone! You have to believe me Argon, think of all that we've gone through."

    The grey Bagon wasn't able to resist the crude mockery, mouth being locked open mid-snarl. Eventually, Argon was able to control her snickering at the unexpected display, doing her best to portray a commanding posture toward the blue and grey pokemons.

    "A-Alright...if one of you truly is the pure-hearted Chimera, you'll have to prove it by doing something only they could do."

    "Of course," Chimera quickly replied, echoing the phrase to make it seem as though his supposed doppelganger agreed.

    A moment passed as Argon considered what action would bring the most comedic potential. When a mischievous grin suddenly formed on her face, Chimera knew she had decided.

    "Only the most pure-hearted of bagon can breathe fire. I-If you want to prove that you're not Chimera's evil clone, you'll have to do that."

    She pointed towards the blue Bagon,

    "You first."

    Chimera shot back at the request, betrayed look only broken when he saw the Raichu mouth the words 'play along'. His head hastily shifted between Argon, the paralyzed Bagon, and himself. After a few seconds contemplation, Chimera forced his head downwards to chuckle towards the floor, laughter slowly deepening in tone into something much more villainous.

    "This was all a trick, I deceived you. I, in fact, am the evil clone of Chimera. I am all the negative emotions that cloud his mind, his hate, his anger, his deceitfulness, and you will bow before me!"

    "And as you should know," he continued, again covering his mouth to throw his voice, "good always triumphs over evil."

    Immediately, the blue bagon pointed the weapon slung at his hip downward, releasing a bolt that landed just past his own foot into the riverside sandbar. He collapsed to the ground, shouting cries of pain only partly convincing toward the spectating Raichu.

    "Ahh! Heathen, using my own weapon against me, I guess you win this round Chimera, but I'll be back!"

    Argon out her a hefty cackle as she helped the blue Bagon to his feet, a glance back at the Pallid confirming that it was still paralyzed.

    "Y-You know," she said, turning her back to continue down the mystery dungeon's winding paths, "I think you played that part all too well."

    "What can I say? I love a good roleplay."

    And as they walked, Chimera could have sworn he heard a giggle, though a glance back at Argon found only a serious expression.


    ---


    The two continued down the winding river, fighting off the seemingly endless stream of pallids as the went. Chimera was just about to ask Argon when they could stop to relieve the aching sensation again plaguing his feet when he saw the Raichu's eyes perked up. They had reached the river's end, and Argon instantly rushed toward the loose collection of dirt marking the shoreline. She reached into her exploration bag, revealing a wide yet shallow metal pan just beginning to rust around the edges.​

    "I suppose that dirt is the aforementioned 'resources'."

    "O-Of course," Argon replied, scooping some of the mixed sediment into the pan and gently shaking, "this stuff is pay-dirt, it may not be as much as the teams who travel further inland get, b-but if we keep doing this, we'll have more than enough poke for the roof over our heads and the food in our stomach."

    After some more sifting, Argon revealed to Chimera the fruits of their efforts: between the clumps of dirt inside of the pan were minuscule bits of pure gold, each speck seemingly flickering off of the river sunlight. Chimera gasped at the reveal, eyes seemingly glued to the unassuming pan,

    "That's...amazing! I suppose we're rich now," he said with a chuckle.

    "Not exactly.S-See, I'm not sure if you know, but this stuff is pretty common around Faire. Most of it is used for trading and decorations, but it was either this or chopping down trees and mining ore inside of mystery dungeons to use in construction, so I guess I got lucky in that regard."

    Chimera glanced behind him, maneuvering the exploration backpack so that he was able to analyze his recently awarded badge. While the majority the shield's gold coloration seemed to simply be paint, a further analysis of the change in metal revealed a thin layer of gold forming the badge's circumference.

    "So...you just go to this same mystery dungeon everyday?"

    "Only when somebody hasn't already taken it from the missions list first." she replied. "Going here, taking this to the guild,i-it's a pretty smooth process, all things considered. Then the dungeon randomizes the next day, and we head out to find this spot again. Life's all about balance, and this...it helps me keep it."

    Her head lifted, tension in her neck being relieved after a few seconds of analysis,

    "On the bright side, i-it seems that all the pallids are gone, no harm in being sure though."

    "I'll go and check," Chimera offered, letting out a deep sigh, "I've got nothing better to do."

    "Do you want my help? I-I could always get back to doing this after we've made sure that the perimeter is secure."

    The Bagon pulled his weapon closer to his chest,

    "No, I think I've got this."

    The minutes passed, and before long Chimera had ascertained that they had indeed cleared the area of feral adversaries. With eyesight of his companion long since broken within the dense jungle brush, the Bagon took a short opportunity to rest. However, the moment Chimera sat down, the visage of Argon again returned.

    "Oh...you're back. I thought you were busy with the pay-dirt, do you need my help with anything?"

    The Raichu gave a short nod. What truly amazed Chimera was that his companion had not walked over to his location as she normally did, but was slowly levitating toward him atop her oversized tail. She did so unhindered, despite a sudden reoccurring memory into Chimera's mind of the visual concentration she had exhibited when levitating even a thermos of tea back in their room.

    "Alright then, what is it you want?"

    The Raichu pointed downward, towards the golden badge pinned to Chimera's exploration bag,

    "The badge? I...I mean no offence, but what do you need it for?"

    She only pointed towards the badge again, this time with more urgency. Chimera was forced to pause at this. The pokemon before him was a dead-ringer for Argon, sure, but a cynical part of the Bagon's mind, first born in the undersea cavern, refused to relent. His hand lowered toward the badge, not for the purposes of giving, but protecting. His patrol up to this point had been a silent one, not another footstep being heard ever since he had first stepped out. Unless his partner was as stealthy as she was quick, and had suddenly lost the ability to talk, Chimera's suspicious remained. After all, what was the harm in checking?

    "Uh...sure, no problem. Could you come here for a second so I can give it to you?"

    The Raichu floated toward Chimera. As soon as it was within grabbing distance, however, he shot his hand out towards its chest, suspicious being only confirmed when it passed straight through, stopping at a short tuft of hair unlike anything he had previously seen on his partner.

    "You're pretty good," called out the Raichu, voice while feminine, unquestionably more childlike than his partner, "how'd you catch on so quick?"

    "Trust me, I've encountered far too many pokemon who weren't who they said they were to be fooled that easily," Chimera replied, toothy grin smiling back at the false Raichu.

    "Well then...I guess I'll have to do this the hard way."

    In an instant, the false Raichu vanished, not a second passing before a red and black blur took its place and shot across his eyesight. Chimera raised his arm to protectively hold up the badge, breathing a sigh of relief when it was still in his hand after the unknown creature's maneuver. Unfortunately, such an action left the crossbow slung at his side completely exposed, and when he turned around to face his new threat, the weapon had been ripped from his person.

    The red and black creature was nowhere to be found. Holding the crossbow before Chimera was another Bagon, having figure identical to his own with blue and yellow scales to boot. It stared toward Chimera was a cocky grin all too familiar, holding weapon in one hand and escape orb in the other. Silence again filled the jungle as identical bagons looked toward each other, one protectively holding the guild badge, the other doing likewise with the stolen weapon. The only other perceivable difference between himself and the other Bagon were their new attire. Draped over the other Bagon's ill-defined shoulders was a regal, pure white cape, a high contrast to the dreary, angular black one that had suddenly manifested over his own shoulders. A short poke at the dark adornment found that Chimera's hand passed through it as easily as it did the false Raichu.

    "Well, my evil twin" called out the white-cloaked Bagon, voice the same childlike, high pitched call despite its best attempts at sounding dramatic,"I believe we have reached an impasse. If you won't return that gold rank guild badge to its rightful owner, you shall suffer the consequences!"

    Chimera paused, incredulous look frozen on his face at the absurdity of the situation. He considered yelling into the forest to catch the attention of his partner, but decided against it after glancing at the escape orb firmly held in the new Bagon's hands. While not as valuable to Chimera as the guild badge, the weapon had taken a large amount of effort to construct, and it would be a shame to see it stolen by an unknown assailant. Eventually, the ridiculousness of the predicament overtook its definite seriousness in Chimera's mind, and a resoluteness manifested to see where the impromptu skit would go. After all, a promise had been made with his partner, and the missions they went on in the foreseeable future would no doubt blend together into an unvaried blur. When the day was young, and fresh sunlight poured onto the two bagons like a theater spotlight, who couldn't resist a chance to be the villain of their own story?

    "I...believe we have." he said, again putting on his best mischievous expression, "but before we settle this, may I ask, what is your name?"

    "My name's Chimera of course," replied the white-cloaked bagon, "and I'm here to put a stop to your evil dee—"

    "No, I'm not talking about that. Your actual name, I'd rather have the pleasure of knowing who I have the privilege of being stolen from."

    The white-cloaked Bagon seemed to flicker at the statement, revealing a millisecond view of the red and black fox's terrified expression.

    "Oh don't try to deny it. You're obviously trying to steal this form me. For what reason, I don't know, but...I'll make you an offer. I can only assume we both have nothing better to do, if you'll tell me why you're trying to steal this badge, I'll keep playing along."

    The Bagon illusion reformed, blank expression no doubt concealing a pensive silence.

    "You have my word I won't tell another soul."

    Chimera waited anxiously for the escape orb in the Bagon's hand to shatter, and the thief to escape with his cherished weapon. However, this did not happen. Instead, the thief again spoke, previous boisterous nature being replaced by a voice much more vulnerable.

    "It's...Cerise, the Dread Bandit Cerise for your information. The WFG is having a members only celebration in about a month, and with that badge, I'm gonna pull off the heist of a lifetime! I knew I'd need a gold level badge to access the more exclusive areas, and what better team to take it from than one that's just been promoted?"

    Chimera waited patiently for Cerise to finish. The news of a supposed heist during such a celebration was in obvious conflict to his team's and the guild as a whole's interest, and with this came the conclusion that the thief had to be stopped. However, Chimera found himself unwilling to attack the Zorua, half in the knowledge that closing the distance between them would likely provoke a retaliatory shot from his own weapon, and half from the knowledge that, while Cerise had been a great inconvenience, her intentions and methods were completely nonviolent. If Chimera was to be the better 'mon, he figured that he'd have to surpass the Zorua in some other way. He scanned his memory, concealing a chuckle when he found one that would simultaneously incapacitate the Zorua and continue their roleplay.

    "Well then, Chimera, I propose a battle of wits, in order to truly see who's more deserving of this badge. Though to do it, I'll need to procure some items from my companion."

    The black cloak around Chimera vanished as he departed the way he came, stopping midstep when his counterpart seemed to tighten its grip around the escape orb.

    "Hey, I'm not going to run away. So long as you have that crossbow, you can trust me. I'd figure that there would be honor among thieves."

    With a heavy sigh, the illusion waved him away. Chimera himself was surprised at Cerise's sense of trust, but quickly pushed the thought away. With his walk back toward the river's end came the sight of his true companion, exploration bag at her side doubtless filled with the fruits of their effort.

    "O-Oh, you're back. Are you ok? You were gone a bit longer than I imagined, and I thought I heard some noise back from where you went."

    "Yeah I'm fine," Chimera replied, "just...talking to myself. Anyway, I got a bit of a situation that I got to handle, and I just need some items from your bag."

    Argon couldn't help but tilt her head at Chimera's vague tone, but she offered the amalgamation of item's nonetheless,

    "Are you sure you're alright? I-I'm about finished over here, I could come with you."

    "No," he quickly replied, "this is something I got to handle alone. Although...if I'm not back in five minutes, could you come over? And please, bring some heal seeds."

    The Bagon was definitely up to something, and it was obvious that the crossbow kept almost religiously at his side was nowhere to be seen, but Argon nodded nonetheless. Chimera had been a glutton for his own punishment, Argon figured, and he'd probably be able to deal with the consequences. If not? There always was the extra oran berries she had packed.

    "A-Alright, if you insist. I trust you."

    Waiting patiently in the forest clearing for Chimera was himself, meticulously running its hand over the escape orb. Chimera walked up toward the white-cloaked Bagon and, without another word, set two yellow seeds between them, identical in size, smell, and texture.

    "As I was saying," he said, holding one of the seeds in the air before setting it in front of Cerise, "a battle of wits. Where is the stun seed? You will choose between that seed and this one. When you have decided, you will swallow the seed of your choosing, and I will do the same with the other, then we will see who is right, and who ends up paralyzed."

    The cocksure expression put on by the white-cloaked Bagon broke apart at the proposal. It was all too like looking in a mirror for Chimera, except that, while his own face was neutral, his reflection was looking at him like he was crazy. The confident illusion returned to Cerise in an instant, and Chimera once again saw his toothy grin being mimicked. The white-cloaked Bagon stood up, brandishing its cape in a heroic fashion.

    "Well doppelganger, your proposal is indeed...unorthodox. But as I said, good always triumphs over evil, and I wholeheartedly accept your proposal. Never again will your evils plague the region of Faire, and after you are paralyzed I will pluck that badge from your hand and take my leave from this dungeon!"

    "Oh, and Cerise," Chimera quickly added, "in the event that you are paralyzed, I'm willing to make you an offer. I'll put in a good word for you once you are locked up, and do my best to make sure that you are left with a light sentence. In return, I'll be able to ask you someday for a single favor. I don't know what it is yet, but some time in the future I will decide, sound fair?"

    "That's only assuming that I choose incorrectly," Cerise slowly replied, before quickly returning to character.

    "True enough," Chimera said, lowering his voice to a dark tone, "you'll just have to take your pick."

    A solid minute passed as the white-cloaked Bagon shifted its head between the seed adjacent to itself and the one to Chimera.

    "Well, in your infinite wickedness, you would no doubt set the stun seed next to yourself, judging on my distrust of you to make me choose the seed closest to youself."

    The white-cloaked Bagon reached for the seed, before stopping mid-grab,

    "But...your cruel nature would also have you judge that I knew this, and you would put the stun seed closest to the real Chimera."

    "Take your time," Chimera called out. He turned his head away as Cerise continued monologuing, under the guise of being distracted by movement from the treeline. His poker face returned as he turned back, unable to judge whether a movie script could accurately determine Cerise's actions.

    "I...think I have decided. Shall we eat, my evil clone? I know for a fact that I have bested you in this battle of wits, for you stood no match against me. You have given away everything, and you do not even know it!"

    A voice in Chimera's mind subconsciously joked that the supposed insult was actually a compliment, and with not a seconds hesitation Chimera held the seed up to his mouth, waiting for the white-cloaked Bagon to do the same. A second voice commented that Cerise could merely create another illusion of eating her chosen seed, but something about the Zorua's behavior told Chimera that this wouldn't happen. The white-cloaked Bagon mimicked his action, slowly raising the seed to its mouth while observing that he did the same. Eventually, two soft crunches echoed throughout the entirety of the mystery dungeon, followed by a brief period of silence.

    "Well then, what happens now?"

    "Now Cerise...we wait."

    The cloaks atop both bagons disappeared in a flash, accompanied by one of the pokemon being replaced by a quivering motionless Zorua. Chimera would have let out a hearty laugh at the result, if not for knowing that the exact same fate would greet him. Both Chimera and Cerise lay paralyzed on the forest floor, smug grin on one being met by a look of panic from the other. The minutes passed, and a familiar Raichu walked through the treeline, letting out a sigh half of shock and half of exasperation when the scene was fully visible. Argon rushed over to her paralyzed companion, a million questions no doubt running through her mind as she forced a heal seed into the Bagon's mouth. A thankful smile greeted Argon as soon as Chimera had full control of his joints. He turned over to the paralyzed Zorua, giving one last comment before raising his guild badge to teleport her to the dungeon's entrance.

    "A word to the wise Cerise, never take risks on something you can't afford to lose."

    "What happened," Argon asked, "a-are you alright, who was she?"

    "Just a petty thief, no more no less, one that tried to steal my guild badge. I'll..explain the rest of it on the way back."

    "Huh, a thief" Argon commented, paw raised to her chin, "I can't say I've seen one of those in a while. W-We can take her back to the guild, they'll take care of her after that."

    She looked upward, smile forming with the fact that light seemed to radiate through the jungle canopy as heavily as when they had arrived.

    "I suppose we've done our job then, are you ready to go?"

    "Of course." Chimera replied, giving one last grin toward Argon before the two were bathed in a flash of light. "Oh, and also...you wouldn't happen to know about a certain get together at the guild happening in about a month, would you?"
     
  18. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 14: The Party
    "I'm still a little confused. The celebration is today, why don't you want to go?"

    As if to punctuate the statement, a flat-blunted crossbow bolt soared through the air towards Argon. The projectile would have caused a nasty bruise, had the distance between her and Chimera not allowed the Raichu to preemptively levitate one of the many pieces of driftwood cast onto the sandy coast, absorbing the blow. A sense of normalcy seemed to have developed in both pokemon since the last month. Resource missions came as quickly as the went, the temperature grew moderately less oppressive as calendars shifted to the poorly named cool season, and Chimera was able to wake up without instinctively lunging to turn off the incessant beeping of a metal rectangle now nonexistent to his new life. In the periods where they were separated during their copious amounts of free time, Chimera occupied himself between occasional games of croquet with Binair and satiating the nearly irresistible urge to jump off the familiar cliff overlooking their present location. Argon found herself content to sight-see where her partner would jump, and left the occasional oran berry for when he fulfilled his species's instinctual desires. Still, every exploration by day and every finished bedside story by night found her partner equally unable or unwilling to replicate his species offensive techniques. The soothing bells chimed ferociously as ever when Raichu took Bagon along for an afternoon picnic, one that had quickly devolved from Chimera's insistence into an impromptu sparing session.

    "I-I...I'm just not a fan of parties, ok? The noise, the crowded spaces, the constant demand for small talk, it's just not something I enjoy."

    With the Bagon scrambling to reload his weapon, Argon dropping to all fours and charged, easily outrunning his attempts to keep a safe distance between them. In recognition of Chimera's alteration of his weapons for the spar, Argon herself held back when tackling his backside, only using a half of her electric abilities. Despite this, she was still surprised with how quickly the Bagon was able to get to his feet after being sent skidding across the sand. He dusted himself off, not a hint of malice in his expression despite the recent attack,

    "I've learned that events like these are what you make of them. I can definitely understand the urge to not go, I...had my reasons for being sort of a hermit around them in the past. But they can definitely be worth it, it's better to go and decide for yourself than let go of the opportunity."

    A brief silence ensued as they gave each other a moment to think over what was said. Gray clouds finished their formation, letting light rain drops drizzle onto both. Argon remained unshaken, having long adapted to exploring a familiar rainforest dungeon. Chimera was also relatively unfazed, if only because of the crudely fashioned rain cape that ran over the back half of his body, its color identical to the clouds above. Finding the right material for the apparel had been difficult, but well worth it in the face of the on and off showers that greeted them.

    "I know that, I-It's just...I'm not good with other pokemon, I know that much. When I try to talk to someone I don't know, they'll be times where my brain just...freezes up, and I'll try to say something, but it won't let me."

    Argon raised her paw, warning that their battle would continue. With his weapon unloaded and his enemy right in front of him, Chimera was the one to charge, making extra sure to watch for the Raichu's movement before lowering his rocky forehead. In the brief second it took for Argon to snap herself back to attention between her mind's conflicting suggestions, she was sideswiped by the attack, sending her careening to the sand. Chimera jolted to the floor over top his partner, about to hurl his forehead toward hers before stopping. Instead, he reached into the short pouch at his side, pulling out another crossbow bolt and holding the blunted end to her neck, as if about to stab. With his short arms, Argon had no trouble shooting her own paw to his throat on reflex. Brief sparks emanated from her cheeks as silence again overtook the beach, and rain drops pitter-pattered onto Bagon and Raichu alike.

    "W-Well...you're definitely improving," said Argon, releasing her grip on the Bagon's throat.

    "I'd say that's probably only because you're distracted," Chimera replied, likewise retracting the bolt.

    Realizing their somewhat awkward predicament, Chimera moved away to let both pokemon stand up. An orange radiance spread over the calm waves as dusk appeared.

    "Anyway, I can't say I relate to your situation, but I do know that avoiding it will only exasperate the problem. You do want to be able to go out and meet new pokemon, don't you?"

    She turned away, raising a paw up to shield her eyes even as raindrops pelted her fur.

    No you don't. This'll end poorly, you'll make an embarrassment out of yourself again, just like you did at the cafe...

    Shut up.

    They'll laugh at you, they'll all laugh at you.

    Shut. Up.

    They won't forget, they never did. You're out of your depth, and the only thing you can do now is run.

    No, I can't...I won't, not today.

    She turned back, shaking her head to remove the excess of water that had soaked through her fur,

    "I...yes, yes I do. Y-You're right...I've been running away from this for too long. I actually made a promise before you washed up on this shoreline, that I was going to do my best to do just that, to meet new pokemon, but I could never find the willpower to actually go through with it beyond some pathetic small talk. T-Then I run away, my mind starts insulting itself, and...it's stressful to say the least. If I'm going to get myself out of that state, I suppose this is the first step."

    Chimera was stunned. It seemed, even when his partner was able to stroll through a pallid-infested dungeon like one of her many evening walks, she still had her own demons to overcome. The Bagon's smile lit up from ear to ear as he retrieved two oran berries from his own bag, offering one to her,

    "Well then, I'm glad to hear you say that. I can't say it'll work out for the best, but I can promise I'll be there to help. At the very least, it'll probably be less difficult if you have someone you know at your side. So...shall we get ready then?"

    "Y-Yeah, we should probably get going now, if we're going to make it."

    They departed, bites into oran berries signalling a feeling of rejuvenation that both suspected wasn't simply from the cured wounds.

    ---

    They could hear the party long before they saw it. Even as the duo procured the proper attire at their humble apartment, jovial shouting accompanied by music more akin to belonging in a tavern wafted through the window. It was a short walk to the guild hall, one that led both past several houses silhouetted against the moonlight in varying states of completion, a testament to the seeming endless construction that had taken place around Pith Town even before Chimera's arrival.​

    Only when they had both set foot on the expansive courtyard could the controlled chaos be fully seen. A septet of musicians around the center fountain, proudly labeled as the 'seven treasures' attempted to play over the rowdy cheers and screams surrounding them, with moderate success. Chimera seemed especially distracted by the Togetic leading the group with recorder in hand, but the Bagon's disappointed continuance turned away before his peculiar mutterings of the name 'Evelyn' could be questioned. All throughout the courtyard were pokemon of every size and stature, a good portion without any identification to even relate them to the guild, conversing over each other and dancing to their heart's content. An entrepreneurial Ivysaur hastily ran up to the two, offering the fermented berry juice contained inside an especially large bottle in exchange for a sum of poke, but was quickly distracted as another group called to its attention, coinage in hand. The once clean floor seemed littered with fallen decorations and the discarded remains of bottles that had run dry.

    Argon lifted a paw to her neck, scratching to alleviate the uncomfortable itchiness of the ornate, blue bow donned for the occasion. Much to her apprehension, in the time it had taken her to wash and comb her fur, Chimera had discarded neither the crossbow at his side, nor the worn, gray rain cape over his back.

    "Well, it's certainly...festive. Honestly, now that we're actually here, I-I'm not sure if I'm over dressed or you're under dressed."

    "Hey," he said with a chuckle,"at least it will make me easy to identify if I pass out. I don't intend on getting ****-faced, but...I also don't have a history for the highest tolerance, and I suspect this new body won't make it any better."

    She sighed,

    "Just don't do anything too embarrassing, and we should be fine.I-If you can believe it, I've seen pokemon put on special dye over their fur or scales to look like they were shiny, at least I don't think anything like that'll go on here. Also, we shouldn't have to worry about that thief you talked about, should we?"

    "Eh...probably not," he replied, cheerful music growing fainter as they skirted the party's edge,"if Pith Town security is anything to be accounted for at least. And by the way, I know you had some reservations about coming here, if you don't feel comfortable, just say the word and we'll leave."

    "Y-Yeah, I should be fine, I'll find you if that happens. If you want to head out and do your own thing, don't stop on my behalf."

    With the crowd mostly out of their way, Chimera glanced over at the large, grassy field surrounded by palm trees, recognizable as the same familiar field he had his first conversation with Binair. It had been converted into a sort of outdoor game arena, with chairs and round tables being hastily assembled to let cards, dice, and chips be placed upon them. The modest group of pokemon around the arena appeared to be somewhat wealthier than those celebrating in the courtyard. Many of the more militaristic pokemon were donned in ornate tricorns and green coats, while those less so conversed in feathered or topped hats. The duo was surprised to not spot Binair in such a location, though their question was quickly answered when two intricate silverware cups levitated before them.

    "Well old chum, fancy seeing you here, care for some punch? And Argon too! I can't express how happy I am that you decided to come."

    They turned around to see the familiar Girafarig, dark green bow fashioned around his neck,

    "Good to see you too Sir," Chimera replied, taking hold of the glass, "we're glad to be here."

    Argon also took hold of the cup, but inconspicuously held it to her partner after sniffing the alcoholic contents,

    "A-And if you don't mind me asking...this seems like a bigger celebration than just the guild."

    "I suppose that was bound to happen," Binair replied, "these things always are a messy endeavor, but a fair amount of the teams were insistent, and who am I to deny some harmless bread and circus? Whether at the guild or the assembly plants outside town, I'm sure every pokemon here has done their fair share, let them have their fun."

    A chatot, recognizable to both as the same one they would take their missions from everyday, walked up behind Binair with quill and clipboard in hand. A malevolent glare from the Girafarig's tail froze the Chatot in its tracks, and with the nonverbal cue it scurried back into the hall.

    "You can never really get away from work, can you?" Binair said with a sigh. "And it's 'Binair', not 'Sir" old chum, I'd prefer to keep things as informal as possible during events like these. Speaking of which, Argon, would you mind if I take Chimera aside for a little game? I want to see just how lucky this Bagon really is."

    After a moment's considerations, Argon nodded. A look shared between the two as Chimera left with Binair toward the field confirmed that their previous agreement still stood, and with this in mind she turned back toward the courtyard. After a few minutes wandering the chaotic scene, Argon was forced to keep her head to the floor to alleviate dizziness, and was thus caught unaware when a different voice again sounded from behind,

    "Excuse me Madam, are you enjoying the party?"

    The Raichu's head tilted with recognizance of the speaker's identity. Standing before Argon was a charmander, not unlike many she had seen that were either members of the guild or simply residents of Pith Town, except for its unusual attire. Over the Charmander's eyes were a pair of black, opaque goggles. A sort of metallic cone covered where the Charmander's flame would have been, only flickers of smoke noticeable out of the decorative garb. In her brief acquaintance with fire types with exposed flames, Argon could recall that such a chimney-like accessory was sometimes sold to parents of the newly hatched, in order to alleviate concern of accidental fires while they were being taught to control their flame. The sight of it on a Charmander who looked nearly as old as she was, however, peaked the Raichu's interest.

    "I-It's...It's alright, a little too tumultuous for my taste, but I could get used to it."

    "If it is too much," the Charmander asked, "may I suggest we head inside to the higher ranking quarters of the party? I have heard it is much more orderly there."

    She glanced toward the guild hall, taking note of the Rhydon and Watchog inspecting the guild badges of those who entered. Such a location was bound to be less crowded than the conglomerate of pokemon assembled outside, and Argon found herself curious of the Charmander looking toward her with a quaint smile. She was hard pressed to remember the last instance a pokemon had taken the time to approach her during one of these cerebration, and if the goal of coming here was to be more social, who was she to deny his offer?

    "Y-Yeah," she replied, "I suppose it couldn't hurt. By the way, I'm Argon, what's you name?"

    "My name...call me Eoin."

    The change in atmosphere as both pokemon entered the guild hall and went upstairs to the assembly area was nothing less than jarring. Eoin seemed reluctant to unveil his badge when they were inspected, but whether from Argon's assurance that the Charmander was with her, or the guard's own lack of attentiveness late into the night, they passed through without issue. The drowning noise of outside was quickly alleviated through a mix of soundproof walls and ballroom music. Its orchestral source was significantly larger than the outside septet, and Argon couldn't help but notice that leading the group was the same Kriketune that had conscripted her into a summertime march. Ornate carvings and paintings as well as a large clock lined the concave roof, illuminated by luminous orbs and moonlight from the many large windows on one side of the massive room. Any furniture that recently donned the marble floors had been removed, and in its place were around two dozen pokemon, all dressed in various levels of elaborate fashion and spinning in pairs to the leisurely music.

    "Care for a dance, Madam?"

    When she turned back from analyzing the room, Eoin was on one knee, hand raised up to her in a sign of offering. The gesture brought a befuddled look from Argon, if for the fact that the Charmander had not only walked straight up to her, but lead her here with seeming knowledge of what was taking place. Beneath its opaque goggles, Eoin's smile placated the Raichu as much as it unnerved her. Something about the grin drew in a definite sense of familiarity to Argon, though its source seemed to make even less sense the more she thought about it. She rubbed her eyes, looking between goggles, tail cover, and Eoin himself, were charmander scales always that shade of orange? Regardless, he was waiting, and with butterfrees in her chest she lowered her own paw to his. Answers would come, she thought, the highest priority now was ensuring that the stranger's courtesy was reciprocated, and that she didn't look like a fool in front of the many onlookers.

    "I-I appreciate the hospitality Eoin," she said, locking right hand with his left and placing her other paw at his side, "and I can certainly say this type of thing doesn't usually happen to me. If you don't mind me asking, this is kind of a weird question, but...do I know you from somewhere?"

    A part in the back of Argon's mind knew exactly where she had seen the strange Charmander, and the solemn grin that followed further hampered her disbelief. A couple misaligned steps with Eoin proved that the Charmander was nearly as inexperienced as she with ballroom dancing, but with downtempoed music playing, and 1, 2, 3's no doubt being counted in the back of their minds, they were able to come to a rhythm that allowed both room to think.

    "You do in fact, I suppose there is no need to keep up the facade with you. I have...changed a lot since the last time we met, but as long as you are willing to keep this a secret, I see no trouble in revealing it."

    The Charmander glanced over his shoulder, checking to make sure that neither the other dancers nor onlookers were watching before raising a hand to his black tinted goggles. In the brief moment they were removed, Argon's blue eyes stared into a pupilless, pallid white, still drawing a gasp from the Raichu with her inconceivable theory being confirmed.

    "Y-You're the—"

    "Pallid that attacked your friend in Uxie's cave?" he finished, keeping his voice to a whisper. "Yes, and I cannot begin to apologize for my actions. I know this does not excuse them, but I was a different pokemon back then, with a different way of thinking. And before I forget, I would like to return this to you both."

    He reached for a short bag at his side, before holding an object to her. In the Charmander's hand was a shield-like green and gold badge, dented and with a faint line of rust forming around the edges, no doubt from being knocked from her partner's grip into chilling water. Argon was only moderately less surprised at the offering and, noticing that they had stopped, quickly levitated the badge to her own traveling pouch, in order to not arouse too much suspicious from onlookers as they joined hands to continue their short, counterclockwise circle across the marble floor. Whatever dark inquiries Argon had been able to suppress after first seeing the pallid Charmander smile at her with the remains of a tamato berry in its hand returned unrelentingly. Her opinion of the beings she had encountered for the last four years across mystery dungeons had always been of them being nuisances at best, and ferocious monsters at worst. Memories of pallids consisted of feral barks, of unrelenting aggressiveness, of wounds that had to be healed at the day's end. The Raichu would of preferred to not confront any at all, if not for the fact that their existence was the soul reason she was still in a job. And yet...here she was, holding hands and dancing with a being who once fit the worst of her conceptions.

    "I-I...I have a lot of questions," she said, also confining her voice to a soft murmur. "How did you even get out of the mystery dungeon? Pallids aren't supposed to be able to do that. How...how are you even speaking? I-I mean no offence, but I've never seen a pallid that was sapient enough to do anything other than attack, until you of course. And why are you here, why come to me of all pokemon?"

    "You have already seen the answer to your first question. As for the second, I will explain that and the rest in good time. The third...well, there are many reasons."

    The music picked up in tempo. Such a change was unexpected, but by then both were in tune enough with each other's footsteps to keep pace. They passed another pair in their movement across the marble floor; a beedrill and bayleef, with the two vines of the latter gently wrapped around the former's stingers. A part of Argon was thankful that the stranger who had walked up to her had the same number of appendages as she did, for the process of matching her opposite's movements would be indefinitely harder if she had to be in sync with either four or no legs. She turned back to Eoin, returning the eye contact that the dance required.

    "I cannot express enough how thankful I am for the impact you have had on my existence. It may have been another being who gifted me the ability to rise above my former self, but you were the one who showed me the potential to do just that. Your kindness in offering a way to heal my fire instead of putting it out proved to me that I could do more than just fight and steal in my brief existence. I...I suppose I brought you here so I could do justice to meeting such a pokemon."

    Butterfrees flapped incessantly in Argon's stomach, though the slight tinge of pink seeping through Eoin's cheeks proved he was almost as nervous as she was. Whether from knowing of the now familiar Charmander's origins, or simply from the room's languid atmosphere, Argon found her mind much more organized when speaking to Eoin than what felt like ages ago to the Charmeleon at the cafe.

    "W-Well, I can't thank you enough for the sentiment, Eoin. I never thought I could mean that much to a pokemon. It must have taken a lot of effort getting to where you are now, you really did all this just for my sake?"

    "In truth, I...I also came here to discuss something else with you," replied Eoin, a hint of melancholy in his face, "but that can wait. The night is young, and I'd rather not burden you with those details at a time like this."

    Argon nodded, letting a tranquil silence fill the narrow space between them as contentment overcame curiosity. The orchestral music again slowly picked up pace, and both pokemon were more than a little surprised when she took the lead. A paw lifted to let Eoin twirl around the Raichu's arm was reciprocated in kind, before the distance between them again closed.

    "You dance well," said Eoin, shifting posture to let Argon dip and her head look toward the ceiling.

    "I-It's nothing special," she replied, "I had a lot of hobbies when I was a pikachu, would pick up something for a few months before loosing interest. Dancing was one of them, I practiced enough that I learned the basics, although...I was always alone when I did."

    "It suits you, you have a lot more experience using your feet than most members of your species, I presume. I can relate to your predicament, I have had to learn a lot in the past month, never got much of a chance to talk to another pokemon when I did."

    Argon's head lowered at the compliment, not sure whether the feeling in her chest was pride or shame. She hastily returned his smile, chiding herself for letting the carefree atmosphere be diminished. As if my mutual agreement, neither pokemon spoke another word as their bodies moved in sync, even when the small-talk of once numerous dancers were replaced by audible yawns from the orchestra. If any noise from outside pierced through the guild hall windows Argon didn't hear it, nor did she want to. Their increasing solitude as the hours passed and music faded into nothingness brought peace of mind where awkwardness should have spawned, and Argon found that imagery of a familiar cliff side appeared into her conscious whenever a blink interrupted her vision of the Charmander's opaque goggles. The Krikitune was the last to exit, leaving only moonlight to filter onto the two occupants when the luminous orbs on the walls faded to black. With their solitude, and judging that no other pokemon would be able to judge his identity in the dark conditions, Eoin lifted a hand to reveal his white eyes. Argon smiled at the gesture, and would have danced with the pallid Charmander until daybreak, if not for silence being interrupted by a soft creak from the assembly area door being opened, and the visage of a familiar Bagon peaking into the unfolding scene, drink in hand,

    "Hey—hick—Argon, are you ready to go? It's pretty late and—"

    Chimera stopped, being met by a beaming smile from his partner. In that smile was a thousand words of unspoken gratitude from the Raichu, no doubt for helping overcome her apprehensiveness as she lifted her paw to again let the Charmander twirl. The Bagon happily returned the smile, though was shook by a soft bell that rang from the ceiling, signalling the start of a new day. The bell chime occurred in tandem with Chimera catching view of Eoin's exposed face when the Charmander returned to Argon's side, forcing all three pokemon to freeze. Time stood still as brown and white eyes stared at each other for the second time, both trying to decide whether the emotions in their hearts were bewilderment, curiosity, unadulterated rage, or a combination of all three. Only one sentence escaped the Bagon's mind as he pieced things together, one that perfectly summed up the thoughts of all three.

    "Well...this is awkward."
     
  19. Namohysip

    Namohysip Well-Known Member

    Chapters 7-10

    What a ride! And I mean that literally. I listened to all four of these chapters in succession on a particularly congested ride home in extreme traffic. But I don’t regret it! This review is going to be more along the broad side, though I’ll bring up some specific moments that stood out to me, starting with chapter 7.


    This felt like a bit of an interlude chapter, with Chimera finally getting some of his weaknesses out in the open, in addition to, well, confessing to Argon what’s going on with him. Being human and not being able to use Pokémon techniques because of lackluster instincts is interesting, though I’m curious how that’ll go down the line. It’s implied that Chimera is very humanlike, but will soon gain Pokémon traits, but at the same time, most of the Pokémon I’ve seen are largely humanlike as well—aside from the ferals, at least. When Chimera gains some sort of Pokémon instinct—perhaps when he suddenly feels an urge to throw himself off cliffs to fly? Who knows—will he also gain some abilities to attack? I sure hope so. That crossbow is going to be suuuper useless if he evolves into his awkward middle stage.


    Anyway, it’s at this chapter that I also want to point out something that I noticed throughout the work so far, but I’ve finally been able to pinpoint what my problem with it was. Chimera’s characterization is a little awkward, but only when he has his outbursts. They’re sudden, and disproportionate. Out of frustration, he quickly kicks over a whole crate with surprising strength. Back in chapter 2, he’s suddenly whimpering and pouring his heart out to a complete stranger. And later on, in chapter 10, he breaks down crying at the tip of a hat. They’re all very sudden outbursts that I feel don’t have proper buildup.


    At first, I attributed this to awkward scene management, but I’m starting to suspect this is actually part of Chimera’s character. Is it? If so, that’s an interesting flaw to implement. But that introduces another problem: Nobody has acknowledged it directly. For how unstable Chimera is behaving, I feel like Argon should be pointing this out more, or at least trying to placate him about it, comment on it more often, show concern, something to give a nod to the reader that Chimera is behaving with rapid emotional outbursts, and the author knows it.


    That being said, if it isn’t part of Chimera’s character, I’d recommend toning that down, or otherwise having a more subtle and gradual buildup toward it. I think the closest you’ve ever gotten to this was the scene with the Gloomander (Yes, that’s what I’m calling it) and Argon being taken aback by how chimera was behaving, and how the Gloomander was, too. Which, by the way, is an encounter that I look forward to seeing a bit of an explanation down the line than a mere inspiration from another work.


    Let’s get to my personal highlight of this session, though. Chapter 9 and 10 take the same scene in two ways, and I’m genuinely surprised at how differently I feel about each one. First things first, chapter 9 was actually a little weak. I knew straight off that it was an illusion. It made zero sense for Argon’s mother to be there after how strange it was, and I was actually a little irritated at how it was going because Argon seemed so stupid to not realize it on the first few paragraphs. (By the way, I thought it was a Zoroark, but being Uxie was a clever nod!)


    In general, I feel like chapter 9 was a bit contrived for how long it lasted and how strange it all seemed. Surreal was a word used a lot, and yeah, it was. And Argon should’ve picked up on that a lot sooner! But I guess if she did, we wouldn’t have much of this scene going on. A bit tricky there.


    Now, that aside… chapter 10—which did the same exact thing, but for Chimera—was handled much better. The illusion was believable, Chimera’s thought process was much easier to follow (aside from the random emotional outburst mentioned above) and generally, I didn’t have to suspend my disbelief very much to think that Chimera would buy it. And that brings me to my next point…


    Why is this chapter 10? This should be chapter 9. It had all the mystery and all the wonder if chapter 9 except less obvious. That, combined with the (possible, but disappointedly fake) twist that ANOTHER human is in the Pokémon world, specifically to try to bring Chimera back?! You would’ve had me! If only I didn’t already know it was an illusion, you know? But I still have hope that you’ll be toying with this down the line. You don’t have such a tantalizing twist in the reader’s face without playing with it a little more down the line.


    Anyway, I just thought that the revelations here being done through an exchange of an “old friend,” combined with everything else, was clever. And it seems that I was wrong about Chimera “still” being in the real world, if those memories were anything to go by. It sounds almost like Chimera’s flashbacks were just repressed memories… or was it? That’s actually a lingering question I have. Is Chimera still alive in the human world? Is he flipping between realities? Or were those just repressed memories returning to him? It seems heavily implied that Chimera isekai’d himself into the Pokémon world by some way or another, so my original theory that he’s actively flipping from one to the other seems jossed.


    That aside, the actual twists and turns here have me much more interested in what’s coming next. That green object in Gloomander’s hands, the powerful object that Uxie is guarding (Time Gear?) and even Chimera’s human past and how that may play toward his future… yeah. You have a lot going on here. I was right to give this fic a nomination for its potential over on serebii, despite some of its awkward prose.


    Hopefully next time I review, I’ll be all caught up! Or at least nearly.
     
  20. pbugle

    pbugle Member

    Chapter 15: A Matter of Honor
    Chimera thought he had seen everything.

    The room was dark, and the edges of his vision blurred slightly from the drink in his hand, but even he could not forget the gloomy eyes staring at him from across the ballroom. The Charmander's pupils seemed to narrow into a feral continuance, terror and malice fluctuated between them just as rapidly as when they had first met. Painful memories of horrific burning sensations played on repeat in both pokemon's mind, each cringing with recollection of the bitter wounds caused by the other. With an apologetic frown, Eoin released himself from Argon's hold and turned to meet him, defiant stance betraying the fact that he had instinctual re-donned the opaque goggles, and reached a quivering hand to pull his already concealed grey flame from the Bagon's vision.

    "It's you," Chimera stated blankly, quietly placing his other hand on the weapon at his side while searching Argon's eyes for confirmation of the Charmander's intentions, "the pallid from the cave...the feral that—"

    "Do not call be that!" Eoin cried out, voice echoing through the empty ballroom. "I insist. My name is Eoin, and dare I say I am just as, if not more civilized than you."

    He stomped over to Chimera, tail cover barely able to hide the Charmander's now fuming flame. The sudden change in atmosphere shocked Argon to attention, and in an instant she rushed forward, positioning herself between the two pokemon.

    "I-I suppose now's a good time for introductions. Eoin, meet Chimera, we've been in a team together ever since we went on that first mission, and he's one of the main reasons I was able to actually come here. Chimera, meet Eoin, he's much more...sapient than I'm sure either you or I remember, and he's been more than cordial to me so far. I...I know you two haven't gotten off on the best start, but I think it'd be best if you tried to give each other a chance. If Eoin wanted to attack either of us, he'd of already had plenty of opportunity."

    A pensive yet tense silence ensued as both pokemon considered her words, glaring at each other with arms crossed in a posture she could only describe as eerily similar. Each seemed to be scanning Argon's face in a nonverbal plead for support, but for the moment only found neutrality in the Raichu's expression. In an effort to further defuse the situation, Argon reached to her side for the recently reclaimed guild badge, levitating it towards Chimera's hands. A hint of nostalgia flashed in the Bagon's eyes as he ran his hand over the familiar object, but quickly returned to a scowl after remembering the reason for its absence.

    "Here, Eoin wanted to return this to you."

    "Thank you," Chimera spat towards the Pallid, "better late than never. Though Eoin, it would have been a heck of a lot more useful if I had this when Uxie was threatening to forcefully probe my memory. I could of died because I didn't have this badge...or worse."

    "You seem fine," he replied, matching the Bagon's hint of sarcasm, "I can assure you, you were in no danger, I knew Uxie well enough to know there was no way he...she...Uxie would have actually gone through with it. The sole reason I stand before you, and I was not destroyed the next day when the mystery dungeon reset is due to that object. Its possession defined my life, its absence barely inconvenienced yours. Though I should not be surprised, you showed in Uxie's Cave that you gladly place your petty mission over the well being of others."

    Argon stepped back from the ensuring argument, glancing over her shoulder to confirm that the assembly area's soundproof walls had prevented any pokemon being awoken to notice its three moonlit silhouettes. It was now clear to her that the Pallid was only able to escape the dungeon due to the teleportive abilities of the guild badge, through any of the moral questions that plagued her mind with such a conclusion were put on hold until whatever conflict could be resolved.

    "You have no way of knowing Uxie wouldn't of done that!" Chimera shot back, Raichu flinching at her partner's exclamation. "The way I remember it, you attacked me first. You don't get to act so high and mighty when you very well could have killed me."

    "I...yes, I attacked you first," Eoin admitted, "but I never had the intention of killing like most of my kin, I doubt you can say the same."

    Both pokemon looked toward Argon, pleading expressions again being met by pensive silence. Eoin's cry as his tail was drowned echoed through her conscious just as clearly as it did thirty moon ago, but came in tandem with recollection of her partner's own painful shriek after being knocked to the floor. Many a resource mission had been undertaken by Chimera and herself since his arrival, and in that time, she could recall no similar incident had occurred. Part of this, she concluded, was likely due to the differing nature of their missions, but the Bagon also seemed to have taken her words to heart. Of course, the trouble he had since they first met with keeping a cool head had not disappeared, but at the moment, it was difficult to distinguish the flame in his eyes with the one on Eoin's tail,

    "That's a lie and you know it," Chimera replied, "if you just wanted the badge, you would of stolen it when I fell down and ran off. But no, you kept attacking well after you had the chance to run."

    "And you tortured me long after I was no longer a threat!" Eoin countered, cringing to the floor in painful recollection before pointing to Argon. "Your bloodthirsty nature would have killed me if it was not for her."

    He went on, no doubt glaring daggers at Chimera under the opaque goggles,

    "I was not the same pokemon then, I have left that part of me behind. What I did was on pure instinct, nothing more. There is a difference, you...you made a conscious decision to keep attacking, despite possessing a sapience I did not have at the time. That Bagon, is what truly defines a barbaric and uncivilized mind."

    Argon seemed perturbed by the spiteful accusation. A part of her had always chalked the incident up to survival instinct, the unfortunate consequence most teams had to contend with when first faced with enemies that were truly life threatening. After all, Chimera gave the impression of having little experience fighting in his former life, and it very well could have been her that was attacked from the shadows. However, an attempt to raise her voice in evenhanded sentiment was interrupted when a glance to her partner showed him to be more or less unfazed. He lowered his head to the floor, staring into the Pallid's eyes as much as its goggles would allow, before raising it in a dark chuckle,

    "Everyone has their demons Eoin, no matter how hard they try to hide it. You can suppress them, it's admirable even, but you'll never be able to get away from them fully."

    Chimera's wicked laughter as he brandished his grey cape at the Pallid seemed familiar, although she questioned if the Bagon was past the point of simply putting on an act,

    "Tell me this Eoin, if you really are a different pokemon, then why are you angry at me? If you aren't accountable for your actions because the Charmander I faced under Uxie's cave was nothing more than any of the other pallids, then why am I accountable for what I did against it?"

    The question put the Charmander on the defensive. Despite his attempt to hide the grey torch on his tail from Chimera, Argon could see the fuming flames as clear as day.

    "I...I do not—"

    "You hate me, don't you Eoin? I caused you a lot of pain, I very well might deserve it. But the only way you can show that hate is justified is by admitting that under those goggles are the same eyes that attacked me."

    "That," Eoin replied, voice ever so slowly twisting into a nasally snarl, "that does not matter, I have read countless novels on political philosophy, I have studied every major event of Faire's history, that is what makes me more civilized. I am not like you, I am above that bitterness and hate."

    Eoin and Chimera were about a dozen feet away, with Argon in between them. The situation was escalating, and running to alert security before the worst could happen was enticing, but history showed that the two pokemon were more likely to come to blows without someone being there to witness. She stood her ground, a paw raised to each gently.

    "There are some instincts you can lose Eoin," Chimera stated, "I know that for a fact. But the need to live, the gene that causes you to be cruel in your lowest moment isn't one of them. I can't fight the need to survive anymore than I can fight the voice in my head telling me to jump off cliffs. And I'm willing to bet if our situations were reversed you couldn't either. You'd need a lifetime to try, not one month."

    "The way I see it," Argon interjected, "i-it would be best to put this all behind us. You each have decent points, but there's got to be a better way of resolving this. I've seen enough arguments to know you aren't going to change each other's minds by doing this. You can't change the past, but you can change how you act with each other now."

    It was difficult to judge either pokemon's reaction, but after a moment passed Chimera took a step forward, until he was directly in front of Eoin. Argon watched anxiously as this happened, ready to intervene if the Bagon decided to hurl his stony forehead at the Pallid or reach the arm held up against his weapon for a sharp variation of its ammunition. Instead, Chimera held his other arm holding a cup to Eoin, gesturing the strong, freshly filled drink to him in a sign of offering,

    "She's right. If you really stand by what you think, than I see no more reason for us to butt heads with each other, Arceus knows I'd win at that. There's a decent bar a couple rooms over, what do you say we go there and you could enlighten us as to how you turned into the pokemon you are now?"

    Eoin for his part was taken aback by the offer. For a moment, his grey flame retreated below its metallic confines, and the Charmander reached out as slowly as if the object in the Bagon's hand were a tamato berry. The second was fleeting, for he froze in place before the transaction could be finished, muttering audibly to himself in a jumble of snarls and vernacular. The Pallid stepped back as colorless flames again peaked from its tail, removing his hand so Chimera could fully see its source,

    "No. I apologize, but that is...insufficient. If I am going to prove to you both that I am not what I was, then we must settle this 'mon to 'mon. I demand satisfaction."

    Dread accompanied by adrenaline flushed through Argon's body. She again stepped in between the two, tranquil smile that first looked toward Eoin long since removed. Her reaction only added to Chimera's confusion, though he knew well enough to keep the weapon at his side close at hand,

    "You mean...a battle?"

    "Eoin!" Argon interjected, sparks preemptively emanating from her cheeks, "I-If you're doing what I think you're doing, that's not going to solve anything. You told me while we danced that you couldn't apologize enough for what you did, if Chimeras willing to do the same, you're only going to get pokemon hurt...or worse."

    "I...I am not asking for blood," Eoin hastily replied as he held his hands up, "only something to put our minds at rest over this and settle whatever honor has been tarnished. I have learned a fair amount of history in my brief time here, and I believe that what started as barbarity is best settled by civilized behavior. To put it bluntly, I challenge you to a duel, Bagon, right here, right now."

    It was Argon's turn to look toward her partner to gauge for support, and just as before, nonverbal beseechment found only a pensive stare. Recollections of Chimera being slammed against a plank wall by her own hand flashed. She could see a glint in her partners eye, the same glint that had been lost to stagnation after their first mission, and had only reappeared when the Bagon was testing fate against the harsh sands below her cliff-side resting spot. If Eoin had picked most any other pokemon, their answer would have been obvious, obvious and sane. Unfortunately, the consequence of Chimera risking what could be lost so often resulted in her rushing forward with oran berries and bandages in hand, something in particularly short supply currently.

    "Alright Eoin...what are the rules?"

    "Nothing too complicated," replied the Pallid, matching the Bagon's toothy grin, "we stand thirty paces apart, and take turns attempting to launch an attack at the other. Of course, no attacks whose element would be of particular advantage against the opponent. When one yields, the victor is decided. If you wish, I shall grant you the privilege of going first. I can assure you Argon, this will not be fatal, the only thing that could die is Chimera's pride."

    "This is...really stupid," Argon continued, "you both know that right? I-I don't know what you two are trying to prove with this, but I'm pretty sure there are easier and less painful ways to do it. I can't say I know too much about dueling, but if it's to settle honor, you're supposed to do it with a level head, which I doubt either of you have right now. I...I just don't want any of us to get hurt."

    Despite her best efforts, the Raichu could only turn to the floor and sigh after saying this, not even having to look toward her partner to know what his response would be. By the very nature of the game, refusing would no doubt be interpreted by both as an admittance of wrongdoing, something she knew the Bagon was far too hardheaded to accept.

    "Alright Eoin, lets settle this. I understand your concern Argon, but I'm willing to take the risks so long as he is. I'll accept the consequences."

    Had Chimera's opponent been any other, she would of been content to let consequence find the Bagon, but these circumstances were different. The pokemon before her were already bitter from the other's blows, and Argon suspected that more would only result in the divide being lengthened. Was the Pallid's goal, as he claimed, conflict resolution, or was the challenge simply an excuse to inflict harm on a supposed enemy? She looked into his eyes, finding only dark goggles that flickered with reflection of the flame at his side. With this however, came a bout of inspiration, formulating a plan in the Raichu's mind that, if it worked, would gain the former benefits of the duel without the necessity of the latter.

    It started off as a glance. A wink. A shuffle with her legs he knew wasn't natural. In the midst of combat during their now many dungeon explorations, Chimera had grown to understand the importance of reading the subtle gestures and eye movements used to subconsciously coordinate strategy, and this was no exception. The Bagon wasn't as adept as some pokemon he knew, but enough to recognize her intentions when imploring eyes toward the weapon at his side were accompanied by one of her paws soaring past the other.

    "Make sure your heart's in it, I-I guess," she stated, "I suppose the whole point of you doing this is to prove you're civilized, and there's probably nothing more bloodthirsty than attacking a defenseless pokemon."

    Both nodded, though Chimera's nod as he and Eoin walked to opposite ends of the ballroom conveyed more than simple agreement. It was a nod of trust, rather than complete understanding, of putting faith into the plans of ones partner just as she had done with him.

    "I grant you the courtesy of going first, Chimera," Eoin stated, pulling off his goggles so the Bagon could be better seen in the dark conditions, "use it well."

    Chimera intended to. Ever so slowly, he reached for his crossbow, running hand between bladed and blunted bolts before settling on the former. Moonlight reflected off of the deadly projectile's sharpened edge as he sighted his weapon for Eoin's distance. The Pallid's defiant stance remained, but Argon could see the flinch in his eyes as Chimera lowered the weapon to wipe off a speck of dust on the grain, before retraining it on his target. Bagon and Raichu exchanged final glances, in what she hoped was a reaffirmation of their plan.

    A click followed by the signature 'floosh' of the weapon being fired broke the silence. Argon could see Eoin's eyes closes as this happened, breaths hastening to borderline hyperventilation as he waited for the inevitable pain of his scaly body being pierced. One second passed, followed by another, and another still. Each passed like hours for the Pallid, all filled with the expectancy of the room's silence again being broken by his own painful cry. What took its place, however, was a faint clatter, followed by a relieved sigh from their impromptu Raichu second. His eyes opened, and grey pupils looked onward with the same confusion, bewilderment, and rage as when they had were first introduced. About five feet in front of Eoin was the bolt, faint mark visible from when it had met the floor and skidded harmlessly toward him. Chimera hadn't moved, though the crossbow once angled upward before Eoin had closed his eyes was pointed parallel to the flat marble.

    "Your move Eoin," said Chimera, again flashing his grey cape at the Charmander, "this is the true test. I'm willing to forgive you for what happened in the cave, just as long as you're willing to do the same. On the other hand, you have your reasons to dislike me, I suppose now is your chance to act on those feelings. "

    Eoin appeared frozen in time. The Bagon's grin was enough to show that the miss had been intentional, and with this came a dilemma entirely unexpected by the Charmeleon. Grey flames again flickered out of their metallic cover, unable to decide whether they intended to imitate a candle flame or bunsen burner. The Pallid fell to his knees, pupils narrowing to their feral continuance as snarls and words carried over each other. By deloping, Chimera had handed himself to whatever cruel vengeance Eoin's mind could muster, giving way to colorless flames that could finally strike true against his defenseless opponent. And this, Eoin concluded as he looked toward the Raichu witness, was why he couldn't.

    And why I must.

    Attacking that Bagon would be the cruelest breach of etiquette.

    It would be the greatest fulfillment of nature.

    It is the antithesis of everything he tried to accomplish.

    It is the purpose of his creation.

    The Pallid shot back to his feet, letting out a booming roar accompanied by a sharp inhale before sending a stream of colorless flames souring toward Chimera. Just as before, the opponent closed his eyes, and just as before, piercing silence followed. Heat licked the edges of the Bagon's scales, sending a shot of adrenaline through his spine, but nothing more. Eoin's fuming breaths ground to a slow but consistent tempo as he redonned his concealing goggles. He looked between the two, gazing at the pokemon who had nearly ended his life and the pokemon who had saved it, smiling at both with equal intensity,

    "I believe whatever conflict between us has been resolved. I cannot say I don't feel anger toward you Chimera, but it is pointless to continue when one can belay their cruel desires. I...think it would be best if we were to start over, all of us. I have yet to conveyed my full reasoning for why I came here."

    "Well then," Chimera said, cup set to the floor being levitated to his hand by his smiling partner, "what do you say tomorrow we get some drinks and you can catch us up on...everything that we missed?"

    The glass was again held to Eoin, now being accepted without hesitation,

    "Nothing would make me happier."
     

Share This Page